This was Joan’s first trip to Curry Hammock State Park, Stu’s favorite place to relax in the Keys. Curry covers the whole of Crawl Key, just east of Marathon about half way down the Keys. It was at one time the site of a major construction yard for the Overseas Railroad, but much of the island has never been developed thus it is largely old growth jungle common to the Keys swampland.
The developed campground occupies only a small fraction of the park on the South Side of the Overseas Highway. On the North Side there is a developed hiking and bicycle trail and miles of undeveloped trails that remain to be explored on a later trip.
The park is located just the right distance from home. The city life is behind us and the independence of camping is just around the corner.
Lunch at Alabama Jack’s
Alabama Jack’s is just past where the Turnpike ends and the Keys begin. The old open air restaurant has so survived many hurricanes and floods that only the license plates decorating the ceiling remain aged but undamaged. The rest is just aged and replaced.
The food is unique. Our lunch, a Combo plate, centered around a unique pancake of Conch Fritter, had two flavorful baked crab cakes, Joan’s favorite after home grilled salmon, and a large helping of lightly fried fish fingers.
This unique combination of fresh fish, light seasoning, is fully recommended by the American Heart Association to keep your life in balance by counteracting the beneficial effects of kayaking and bicycling that the Keys offer.
It was soooo good, we took home enough for dinner, At just about $20 for the two of us, the Combo cannot be beat for price or taste.
Curry Hammock is a dream for the few people who are lucky enough to get a reservation. Our site, and about half the 28 sites, is located on the ocean facing out to Hawk Channel. The sites are easy back in with water and electricity, some shade, and a picnic table on a clean gravel site bed.
The best part is the location. The site was close to the beach entry, offering kayaking, a nice beach to explore, and a terrific view of the sunrise.
Stu set off in his kayak in glass calm waters and no wind, heading toward Deer Key, a small island about 3 miles away. Part way there, he met up with another kayaker, Granna, who was just sitting and enjoying the terrific view. Together, they rounded Deer Kay and headed back toward the beach where Joan was photographing the scenery and birds.
As night fell, the view became ever more beautiful.
Tired, Stu took a shower while Joan made salads to eat with our second meal from the large lunch.
The next day, Sunday, Stu took off on his bicycle in search of the perfect sunset beach. Joan enjoyed processing her photographs and working on this web site.
Sunset Beach at Colony Key
Stu returned about 12 miles later, having ‘discovered’ Sunset Beach at Colony Key, our go-to spot for the second end-of-day.
Sunset at Sunset Beach was overcast when the sun touched the water. The overcast brought us spectral cloud formations and a full range of colors. Joan enjoyed the colors while Stu watched the people.
Sunset Beach is a perfect location. Nearly unobstructed view west toward the setting sun, a lovely beach, and lots of people enjoying the view and each other.
A nice man from North Carolina sat down on the bench with Stu and they talked about travel trailers. He had purchased a new 26′ Coachman (the big brother of ours), and was just planning his first trip..
It was exciting to hear the enthusiasm in his voice and the optimism that survived his recent bout with inoperable prostate cancer. I hope to see him and his family on the road someday in our respective travels.
Sunset Beach is where many of the Key Colony locals meet each evening. The park has a few dozen comfortable benches aligned to the best view of the sunset. People were gathered in family and neighborhood groups. Everyone was friendly and those who recognized us as “outsiders” were welcoming – several came by my bench to offer greetings. It was typical old Keys.
After our dinner of grilled Cod with a variety of vegetables, we prepared to leave Curry Hammock first thing in the morning. It had been a wonderful place to camp.
The Ride Home
Then came one of the highlights of the trip for Stu, lunch on the way home at LC’s Roti Shop. As good as it gets!
Caribbean Roti are much different than Indian Roti since they are a full meal rather than the bread that may be eaten alone or stuffed. Caribbean Roti are different on each island, but the basic taste is about the same. The roll is a baking powder dough filled with a spicy mixture of potatoes, curry seasoning, and one of many meats, fishes, or vegetables.
We had a shrimp and a conch roti, Stu’s two favorites. Turns out even the mild Roti at LC’s was too hot for Joan so Stu enjoyed the conch at lunch and the shrimp at dinner. Stu’s was more spicy, and neither had the signature Roti sauce common to the Bahamas.
We simply must plan several more trips to the Keys so we can stop at the Roti shop and sample the other flavors. Delicious trip home.