20110324Gilberts-020It’s the WEEEEKEND!  After a long week in St Louis, hello Key Largo, diving and dolphins!  Time to pack it all in before I fly back out on Sunday afternoon.

Colette  picked me up at Fort Myers airport Thursday afternoon and 3 hours later, we’re in Key Largo.  Aaaaah.  Dinner at our favorite Key Largo dive (meaning ghetto, not scuba) spot – Gilbert’s.  Amazing how you can have such great memories at such a dumpy little place, but the burgers and Key Lime Pie (substituting for birthday cake this time) are great, and sitting on the beach and watching the sun go down over the gulf with a few Key West Sunset Ales really doesn’t suck.

20110324Everglades-023Bing Maps wanted us to come across I-75/Alligator Alley from Fort Myers to Miami and then head south, but I made the executive decision to reroute south across 41/Tamiami Trail to see more alligators.  With the beauty of modern technology and wireless broadband cards, Colette managed to be productive and work most of the time while I drove, only looking up occasionally to remark how sparse civilization is in way-south-central Florida.  Water and weeds on the left, water and weeds on the right.  And alligators.  I certainly was not disappointed in my quest to sneak up (well they WERE fat, lazy and sunning themselves, so maybe I didn’t have to do much sneaking) on a few for photo opportunities.

20110324Gilberts-004Check into the Holiday Inn in Key Largo, nothing but good things to say about them.  They upgraded us to a 2nd floor room overlooking the marina and all of it’s hustle-bustle, nice steaming hot tub, great location, and basic clean accommodations.  A good TripAdvisor review is in order.  Dinner and sunset at Gilbert’s and an early night makes up for the long work-week and travel time.

An early morning, crank out some work, and an afternoon spent playing with the dolphins at Dolphins Plus!  More weekend time that doesn’t suck.  Colette put out a fantastic writeup on the Dolphins Plus 20110326DivingKeyLargo-027experience HERE, no sense reinventing the wheel.  Despite being exhausted after all of that exercise, we headed next door to Coconuts for a nice dinner.  Typical marina/tourist fare and pricing, but the food and service were both decent and the short walk took all of the remaining energy that we had left in us.

Cap the weekend off with a great two-tank dive out in John Pennekamp State Park with Sea Dwellers dive center.  The dive boat was a little ‘cattle herd’ mentality with 20+ people on board, but the crew was friendly and knowledgeable, and it was worth it once we got out to the reef and  went sub-surface.

20110326DivingKeyLargo-180Pennekamp is one of 2 living coral reefs in North America, and the first underwater state park.  Gorgeous coral, abundant fish life, nice clear water, and it’s proximity to shore make for a fantastic dive spot.  The shallow, clear diving once again reinforces our preference for reef diving over wreck diving – less to go wrong, more natural beauty, and warmer water Smile

It’s rough to head back to the real world for that mid-afternoon flight to work on Sunday, but you can only play so long before you have to go and pay for it!  This is probably our last dive trip for a  while as we’re headed to Germany in the beginning of May then off to Colorado, so we enjoyed the weekend to it’s fullest and took lots of great photos to help remind us that yes, this weekend didn’t suck.