Orchids and Key Largo

Our base for this portion of the trip was Homestead. Originally we had planned to drive and explore the Everglades National Park but after a bit of research, we found had come in the wrong season for alligators and if we ventured into the glades, all we’d see would be swarms of mosquitoes that would eat us alive.

This was pretty disappointing for me because I was really looking forward to seeing alligators and going on an airboat, but we regrouped and worked out what else we could do in the area. I’ll spare you the details of the trips to Aventura Mall and a nearby outlet centre (damage was done) but honourable mention to our pit stop at the Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, so my NFL-crazed brother could get his fix.

Sports remain a mystery to me.

Having set up camp in a legitimately dodgy hotel (think every CSI motel crime scene you’ve ever seen on TV – I half expected to be hacked to pieces in the bathtub) and finally been successful in battling other guests for the use of the waffle maker at breakfast (file under things I wish we had in UK hotels), we found we were very close to an orchid farm. My mum has a fondness for orchids and has managed to lure me into caring for one myself. They are really very delicate flowers so we were both interested to see the secrets used on a farm to see if we could take away any tips for our own plants.

The first and most obvious secret was to apparently hang them from the ceiling. Orchids have aerial roots which means hanging them in this way is really beneficial. I’m not sure how we could construct anything from the ceiling but it was an important reminder to make sure watering doesn’t rot the roots of the plant.

The second tip we learnt was that this farm washes the orchid leaves with Corona to prevent limescale build up from hard water. As bizarre as it sounds to use beer as a cleaning agent, the orchids we saw were so spectacular it must work a treat!

And although I was totally on board with seeing beautiful flowers, I may have become slightly distracted by this extremely chatty cockatoo called Romeo…

And some red parrots…

Also there were lizards everywhere…

Extremely photogenic lizards…

I couldn’t help it, okay. I got distracted.

There were some very weird orchids though.

As well as tiny miniatures.

After saying goodbye to Romeo and the rest of the animals, we set off for Key Largo!

Key Largo is the official start of the keys and was our first experience of the Overseas Highway. It made a spectacular change of scenery after driving south on a single lane highway adjacent to the Everglades but was pretty unnerving to think one wrong swerve to avoid something would land us in the ocean!

We had lunch at Jimmy Johnson’s Fishermans Cove, which was substantially less corny than it sounds and came with a beautiful ocean view. My obsession with mahi-mahi was only getting worse as the days went on and I made sure to order it with sweet potato fries this time around. Their strange swam-into-a-wall appearance did nothing to deter me in ordering it every chance I could!

We headed back to Homestead after finding a little beach and regrouped. Having completed nearly half of it, the drive down to Key West the following day seemed very manageable.

Florida 2015
Universal Studios Orlando Key Biscayne
Cocoa Beach and Village Orchids and Key Largo
Kennedy Space Center Dolphin Research Center
Miami Beach Key West
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