Florida Keys Screwworm Inspection

Island  Genn and Indiana Bones at the Screwworm Checkpoint with Karen Rozensher, DVM.

Island Genn and Indiana Bones at the Screwworm Checkpoint with Karen Rozensher, DVM.

Perhaps you have heard that since screwworms have been found in the Florida Keys, all animals leaving the Florida Keys need to be examined at the Animal Health Check Station which is located at MM 106, off the shoulder of northbound lane of the Overseas Highway. This is just before the last Shell Station you come to before heading onto the 18 mile stretch and out of the Florida Keys.

The last thing people want to do when traveling is to make an unscheduled stop. But this process is so expedient, it was not a hassle at all when we recently took our dog, Indiana Bones, to the mainland with us. More about this in a minute!

So what the heck are screwworms? I had never heard of them before this emergency was reported. Simply, they are fly larvae or maggots that are able to infest animals through a wound and feed on their flesh. Sounds like a horror movie to me! Really, it is not that bad though. The whole reason for the examinations is simply to keep the screwworm out of other areas, protecting animals and livestock.

Recently, screwworms have been found in the Lower Florida Keys, specifically on Big Pine Key, No Name Key, Big Torch Key, Middle Torch Key, Little Torch Key, Cudjoe Key, Ramrod Key, Sugarloaf  Key, Summerland Key, and Munson Island. No screwworms have been found in the Upper Florida Keys, and none have been found in Key West either.

The Key Deer that have been found to be afflicted with screwworm are being treated by teams of experts with an antiparasitic medicine. In addition, state and federal agriculture workers are working to determine the extent of the infestation, releasing millions of sterile flies to eliminate the screwworm population, and monitoring cases in animals.

So, you were planning on bringing your four-legged friend on vacation to the Keys with you and now you are not sure what to do. There is no prohibition against visitors bringing their pets to the Florida Keys.  Still, caution is suggested. It is best to bring a healthy pet with no wounds down, especially if visiting the Lower Florida Keys.  And keeping your pet indoors as much as possible will also help safeguard him or her.

Back to our stop. We simply pulled off the road and into the inspection area. We lowered our window and Keren approached our vehicle and introduced herself. She briefly explained what screwworm was and visually inspected Indiana Bones as she asked me a few questions. That was it! It took less than 5 minutes!  Easy Peasy!

Over 7,500 animals have been inspected thus far; luckily, no cases of screwworm have been found!

For more information on screwworm in Florida, check out what the Florida Department of Agriculture has to say.

See what is happening on the island during your visit by checking out our Key West Events Calendar, and for other things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Before making your dining reservations for while in Key West check out our restaurant reviews!

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn

Key West Concierge

 

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda, Spanish for “deep bay” is not located on Key West, but it is just a 40 minute drive away. And it is by far my favorite beach in all of the Florida Keys! Bahia Honda State Park has a lot of history. Today, the park encompasses 292 acres of land housing three camping areas, two boat ramps, a marina, a nature center, several picnic areas, and a concession area offering snorkel trips, kayak rentals, snacks, and souvenirs. All of this, along with the amazing beauty of the park makes it a popular destination for campers, boaters, photographers, sunbathers, and snorkelers.

History
Old bridge at Bahia Honda

Old bridge at Bahia Honda

In 1908 Henry Flagler’s Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway began building the Bahia Honda Bridge, one of the most difficult to construct in this project due to strong tides and currents as well as the water depth.  In 1912 when the railroad finally opened, Bahia Honda was one of the stops on the way down to Key West. That is until the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 which wiped out the railroad. The railroad was replaced with the Overseas Highway which opened in 1938. Now people can drive to this majestic park and enjoy the stunning scenery and other activities anytime!

Beach Activities
Bahia Honda beach

Bahia Honda beach

Bahia Honda has several picturesque, award winning white sandy beaches. Calusa Beach is the smallest. Loggerhead Beach is the shallowest. You will find small pavilions and a restroom with outdoor fresh water showers between these two beaches.  Sandspur Beach is the largest beach. There are several pavilions and a restroom with outdoor fresh water showers here.

Bahia Honda’s gorgeous, clear waters bring visitors from all over to enjoy swimming and snorkeling here. Typically, the water temperature can vary from the high 80s to the low 70s. And you can see a variety of sea life close to shore, such as corals, tropical fish, and lobsters.

Other Activities
Walking to the beach at Bahia Honda

Walking to the beach at Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda has 3.5-miles of paved road to bike along. Bicycles are only allowed on the roadways; they are not permitted on footpaths, boardwalks or other trails. This is a fun and non-strenuous ride.

Birding and wildlife viewing are popular in the Florida Keys. At Bahia Honda, spotting animals such as dolphin, shorebirds and ghost crabs delight visitors. The flats are a great place to view a variety of shorebirds including Willets, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Short-billed Dowitchers and Plovers feeding and resting. And it is not unusual to see Great White Herons, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and White Ibis as well. During the fall, hawks are a common sight. And in the summer, White-crowned Pigeons are found in the Poisonwood trees growing throughout the park.  You can also find some great wildlife viewing when hiking on the three nature trails at Bahia Honda. The Silver Palm Trail is self-guided with a brochure available. The other trail is located in the Calusa area and leads to the top of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge.  From here you can see the entire island and the water below where you will likely see sharks, rays turtles and other fish swimming, jumping, or feeding. The Wings and Waves Butterfly Garden located near the Loggerhead parking lot is a small garden and you will see several butterfly species.

Here is a serious photographer taking photos at Bahia Honda.

Here is a serious photographer taking photos at Bahia Honda.

With a marina, two boat ramps, boat tours and kayak rentals offered by the concessionaire, boating is a popular activity at Bahia Honda Stat Park. So, bring your own boat or take a tour and experience some of the most amazing waters that the Florida Keys have to offer.

Picnicking is a fun family activity at Bahia Honda. The Calusa area has many small pavilions with barbecue grills available to rent. The Sandspur area  has three pavilions with barbecue grills, as well.

Bahia Honda Park has many camping options. Not exactly camping, the park has three duplex cabins on stilts overlooking the bay that they rent out. I can attest to the fact that the road to the cabins has a very low clearance under the Bahia Honda Bridge; I felt like I might hit my head on it as I bicycled beneath it one day. Actual camping sites are plentiful, but they do sell out well in advance most months. The sites can accommodate large RVs to small tents. All sites have electricity, water, a picnic table and grill. Bathhouse with restrooms and hot showers, and a dump station can be found for campers as well. And with a full marina, you can camp on your boat too! Campers are welcome to join a park ranger at the outdoor amphitheater near the Old Bahia Honda Bridge for campfire circles.

Here is Island Genn (me) and by friend Pam taking a selfie at Bahia Honda.

Here is Island Genn (me) and my friend Pam taking a selfie at Bahia Honda.

Fishing is probably the most popular activity that people visit the Florida Keys for. And you will find good areas for fishing in Bahia Honda State Park. Fly-fishermen can wade the flats on the Atlantic side for species such as  permit, bonefish, tarpon, and barracudas. And bottom fishing for snapper and grouper can be done from the Old Bahia Honda Bridge sea wall.  Just make sure that you know the local fishing regulations and that you are properly licensed. Or, if you prefer, give Dream Catcher Charters a call and they will be happy to hook you up on a charter.

Because you won’t find many more places with such amazing scenery, you will often find both professional and amateur photographers at Bahia Honda State Park.

Park Amenities & Information
Indiana Bones hanging out in one of the areas of the park that he is welcome.

Indiana Bones hanging out in one of the areas of the park that he is welcome.

Only limited access is available for pets. Unfortunately, they are not  allowed in the rental cabins, bathhouses, pavilions, the concession building, on beaches or in the water. However, service animals are welcome in all areas of the park.

There are several interpretive exhibits located throughout Bahia Honda. You will learn about the local plant and animal life as well as the rich island history. And you can also visit the Sand and Sea Nature Center everyday from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Bahia Honda State Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 a.m. until sundown. There is a nominal fee for entrance into the park, and it is well worth the money.

To see what is happening in Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see  upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or any of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my  restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge

Fish | Review

Seared Tuna Tacos at FISH, the new seafood restaurant on Saddlebunch Key!

Seared Tuna Tacos at FISH, the new seafood restaurant on Saddlebunch Key.

The proprietors of the restaurant at Hurricane Hole Marina opened their newest restaurant, FISH, this past Wednesday. About a 15 minute drive outside of Key West, this new seafood restaurant on Saddlebunch Keys is located in the building formerly home to Kaya Island Eats.

While it looks much the same inside as it did for the last owner, there were fewer tables and the noise level seemed much greater. We were seated in a booth per our request, where we perused the menu with interest. With a name like FISH, you can imagine that there was a good amount of seafood on it; but land lovers need not fret as there were also other options such as chicken and steak.

The roasted half a chicken at FISH Restaurant.

The roasted half a chicken at FISH Restaurant.

To start we ordered the tuna tartare taco appetizer. The tuna was finely diced and deliciously marinated. Served with fried wantons and cucumbers spotted with wasabi and soy pearls, the taste and the presentation were both phenomenal.

For dinner my husband ordered the half chicken with waffle fries. This was served with a vegetable medley on the side. The chicken was well seasoned and tender. A very tasty dish, and we were pleased that this seafood restaurant did a simple, yet very good chicken dish.

I ordered the seared tuna tacos. Yes, I know that we already ordered the tuna appetizer, but this preparation was totally different. I asked for my tuna done medium and it

The tuna tartare taco appetizer at FISH Restaurant on Saddlebunch Key

The tuna tartare taco appetizer at FISH Restaurant.

was served as such. I was presented with three soft tacos, each with a decent size piece of tuna and garnished with shredded radish, cucumber, and cabbage and a light sauce of some kind. I ended up somewhat shredding the tuna so that all of the ingredients inside the tacos could better meld together. While the tacos were tasty and the tuna was obviously fresh, they were missing that something special to make them pop and really be a stand out dish.

Since we were pretty full after this we did not opt for dessert. However, they did have three selections that evening: two pies and a lavender creme brûlée.

Island Genn at FISH on Saddlebunch Keys, about a 15 minute drive from Key West, Florida!

Island Genn at FISH on Saddlebunch Keys, about a 15 minute drive from Key West, Florida!

It took a good while for our food to be served. I will not ding them for this as it was the first week being open and I am sure that the kitchen still has many things to iron out. My husband was a little disappointed that they had no bread at the start, especially with the wait time for our food being brought out. But the food quality was there so I think that they will be fine. Our waitress was very friendly and she made some suggestions for us at our behest. She was spot on by the way.

Because FISH is near my home, we will probably dine here again at some point. The food was very good, although slightly pricey. But the noise level really makes trying to enjoy a meal difficult; I had to actually yell at my husband across the table from me so that he could hear me.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

The Green Turtle Inn | Review

The Green Turtle in Islamorada

The Green Turtle in Islamorada

Every once in a while we head up the Florida Keys to visit with friends. And of course, going to new restaurants is always on my list of things to do. Well, the Green Turtle is not exactly new, but I had not eaten here for about twelve years, so I thought that it was about time to give it a try again when we found ourselves in Islamorada early one morning.

Started in the late 1940’s by Sid and Roxie Siderious, the original roadside cafe served turtle steaks, soups, and chowders to local fishermen and visitors to the area. Soon the Turtle became quite famous. It has had quite a makeover since the old days, and today it is an relaxed yet elegant eatery in the Upper Keys serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My friends in the Upper Keys are always raving about how great the breakfast at The Green Turtle Inn is, so my husband and I decided to forgo our usual Islamorada breakfast haunts and try something different.

We ordered coffee to start, which I am sad to say was awful. I never even finished one cup.

My husband splurged and ordered pancakes which he enjoyed with warm maple syrup. I did taste these and they were fine, but I have to preface this information with the fact that I really do not care for pancakes. I am more of a crepes girl!

I was on the fence about ordering Shrimp and Grits, Captain’s French Toast or the Bimini Waffle, but I ended up going with the Shrimp and Grits and I think I made a great decision there. The shrimp were huge and cooked perfectly and melded great with the big bowl of creamy cheese grits. I was a bit annoyed that the chef left the tails on the shrimp which were difficult to remove as they were covered in grits.

Our waitress was friendly and bubbly, something that I have found to be unusual for the area. All in all we really enjoyed our breakfast and we would likely come back again. Next time I will order tea rather than coffee though!

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge