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Card Sound Road – Alternate Route to The Florida Keys

“If it’s your first time driving to The Keys, ya gotta go along Card Sound Road!”

That was the recommendation we received from a totally unexpected source, and one that I’d like to pass along myself. It’s worth a little side trip if you are ever to drive to and through the Florida Keys.

Turn left here.

Heading south on US1. Turn left here.to take the Card Sound Road route.

Roughly a week before we were to depart from a month long stay in Fort Lauderdale and continue southward, we were visiting Flamingo Gardens, a wildlife sanctuary and botanical gardens, just west of town. During a brief talk with one of the staff feeding the rescued birds, the discussion turned to the pungent smell. Not that it was an offensive smell, just very heavy. It brought to mind what a tropical rain forest might smell like and that’s when the talk turned to our upcoming trip to The Keys.

Not Smelly

Before I get any further with this story, I want to make sure I don’t turn you off with any thoughts of a ‘smelly’ or ‘pungent’ Florida Keys experience, so don’t worry. Apart from one or two spots in the Lower Keys where we came upon some dead seaweed stuck along a stagnant shoreline, this chain of islands (or ‘Keys’) has no more smelly sea shore than probably anywhere else in the world. And that’s all part of the charm of being on the edge of an ocean.

Road Less Traveled

When driving south to The Keys, one will head down the Florida Turnpike to it’s southern terminus at Florida City. At this point, it merges with US1, which then continues right down to ‘Mile Zero’ at Key West.

When I was planing our own drive there, I had us following that same route, as it it is the most direct. Fortunately, this little side track only adds about 15-20 minutes to the trip, so it’s not going to hold anybody up. Plus, it’s more in keeping with our laid back, easy going style of traveling. After all, we are grandparents now, so we gotta start acting the part ;-)

Card Sound Road

Southbound on Card Sound Road.

After turning off of US1, we continued southward on what could be described as a secondary road. It’s well maintained and we are able to cruise along at about 45-50 MPH, but clearly not designed for the heavy traffic one would find on US1 when heading into Key Largo. A more ‘out of the way’ vibe is how I would describe the feel of the road.

One Dollar Sir

Roughly a third of the way along, there was an unexpected toll booth – again, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The toll was a whole one dollar and took about as long to get through as it did for the attendant to mumble ‘uh-huh’ when I said thanks and have a great day. I’m guessing the thrill of being in The Keys wasn’t as strong for him as it was for me. Or maybe it was the imminent threat of crocodiles crossing the road at this point that was keeping him on edge ;-)

Card Sound Raod toll booth

Toll booth, complete with a ‘Crocodile Crossing’ sign. Fingers and toes inside the car at all times, kids.

How About a Drink First?

For those who couldn’t possibly carry on any farther – or had better intentions for the $1.00 toll, there is a bar right beside the toll booth. Alabama Jack’s was busy the day we drove by, with vehicles of all sorts parked on both sides of the road. There was even a couple of boats tied up to their docks.

According to their web site, they are only open daily from 11:00 am to 6:30 in the evening. Being located on the edge of a swamp, the mosquitoes apparently make the prospect of hanging around past sunset not much of an option. Maybe it’s the short hours that cause locals as well as passersby to want to get in before lights out. . .

Alabama Jack's restaurant and bar.

Alabama Jack’s restaurant and bar.

As tempting as it might have been, we decided to carry right on through past the bar. Just a little south came into sight the reason for the toll; a long causeway stretching over Card Sound proper. I’d say that it was one dollar well spent as the view was pretty nice. We would learn shortly afterward that this was only the first of dozens of ever increasingly awe inspiring views of the blue-green waters of the Florida Keys.

Card Sound causeway

Driving on the causeway over Card Sound and our first of many ‘overhead’ view of the Florida Keys.

Now that we are seasoned pros at this, I’d like to pass along the very same recommendation we received ourselves; If it’s your first time driving to The Keys, ya gotta go along Card Sound Road :-)

Fort Lauderdale – Florida’s Best Beach?

I can still recall the very first time I set foot on the soft sand beach of Fort Lauderdale. Two things came immediately to mind; first was how soft the sand was, second was how warm it felt on my feet. That last part may sound like a given, after all, this is south Florida. The reason that the warmth struck me was the fact that this was January. January = Winter. Not exactly the warm and squishy feeling I had equated with that time of the year.

Fort Lauderdale Beach sign

The sign that you have made it :-)

Game Changer

Coming from southern Ontario, our winters are mostly, well, crap. Cold, snow and cloudy are the words that come to mind to describe that time of year in the Great White North. Lauderdale, on the other hand, enjoys an average of 246 days of sunshine a year.

Average winter temps? A warm and welcome 77 degrees. Average snowfall? Zero. Yup, right from that first day, I was hooked.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take much to settle into this new way of looking at that time of year and my beach experience had an immediate and far reaching influence. Since our first experience, we have returned to Lauderdale many times, with our most recent stay taking up the entire month of January! Once despising winter, I can now say bring it on!

Walking on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Walking along the miles of uninterrupted beach on a hot & sunny day.

Walk With Me

One or favorite things to do when we are on holidays is to walk. Exploring an area and seeking out new mini adventures are always a treat for us. With seven miles of uninterrupted beach and shoreline to enjoy, this place fits our style perfectly.

Apart from ‘just walking’ the beach, there are a multitude of places to drop in to while out and about. As mentioned, it can get quite warm – scratch that, HOT – throughout the day, but apart from diving in for a swim, there are many places to stop in and duck out of the heat. The main beach strip runs right alongside the ocean on the infamous A1A. Also known as Ocean Boulevard, this road is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist traps that help cool you down, quench your thirst, or lighten your wallet ;-)

beach rinsing station

When stepping off the beach, there rinsing stations like this are all along A1A.

After Hurricane Sandy rolled through here in 2012, the preexisting seawall was extended north, past Sunrise Boulevard. This barrier had been put in place to protect the road and oceanfront buildings from storm surges that often accompany a hurricane. As you can see in the following photo, this structure is not some monolithic looking concrete eyesore, but rather, an aesthetically pleasing part of the landscape. Designed to blend in with it’s surroundings, it is formed in a curving pattern to mimic the waves on the ocean.

With dozens of strategically located openings in the seawall, many of these pedestrian access points offer rinse off showers, as well as feet sprays to clear off that heavenly beach sand.

A1A and the beach

Looking south along A1A and the beach.

Warm & Easy Feeling

With average sea temperatures ranging between 84 – 88 degrees in the summer and 72 – 77 degrees in the winter, one can always expect nice conditions for swimming. The Gulf Stream runs northward, just off the coast to continually brings warm water with it. This is one more reason that Fort Lauderdale enjoys warm air temps throughout the winter. In all of our visits, I can recall having to wear something more than just a light tee shirt only three or four times.

If you are not the swimming type, the view of the blue/green water will be enough to warm you up. It also makes a nice backdrop while enjoying a late afternoon aperitif on the balcony :-)

Atlantic Ocean and the beach

The gorgeous blue/green waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida’s Best Beach?

So, can I categorically state that this is Florida’s best beach? Probably not. But, after having visiting a number of beaches on the east coast, Gulf side and even the Keys, I can definitely say that this is our favorite. With warm temperatures that can be counted on throughout the winter, a large and long area to walk and dozens of great places to see along the way, this place is number one with us. And precisely why we look forward to returning to with eager anticipation each year.

morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Good morning from Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Keep an eye out here on the Blog for more upcoming reviews of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. There’s so many things to see and do in this town and I’m looking forward to sharing ’em all with you.

What’s In A Name?

For anyone who has been following our adventures via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you will have noticed two major developments. I wanted to share these with you, as well as give the background as to why this has happened.

Cabin Fever

Firstly, we have dramatically moved forward with our Life Changes and adventures! Having spent two glorious months in Florida this past winter we had an absolute blast! After suffering through the previous ‘winter from hell’, stuck at home in our northern based home, I developed a severe case of cabin fever and was determined not to go through that again. Our new reality will heretofore include both living aboard our boat ‘Boogaboo’ full time from April to October and then spending as much time in the land of the palms as possible during the off season.

fort lauderdale beach

Walking on Fort Lauderdale Beach in January

A Better Name

Sharing our travels and excitement and being able to connect with so many like minded folks online has been – and continues to be – an wonderful thing. With that in mind, I felt it was time to better define what we are about and, as such have been migrating from my ‘Boogabooster’ moniker to something that is many times more recognizable with the online world. This was the inspiration for the new ‘branding’ under the name of  ‘Boats, Beaches and Bars’. Who amongst us couldn’t find an affinity with at least one of those three things ;-)

With our first love being our boat and our boating lifestyle, the new usernames would have to reflect that. So, ‘Boats’ was an easy one. Even if someone doesn’t have a boat of their own, there are many who simply like to look at them and learn about them. Heck, many times I’ve received comments from people who tell me they are living their boating dream vicariously through our journeys!

Spring launch & the start of another season of living aboard ‘Boogaboo’

Next, as we look forward to and enjoy our winter travels south so much, the term ‘Beaches’ not only provides an instant, connectable connotation for new visitors to my social media feeds, but it’s also something that inspires and motivates me to keep pushing forward with our Life Changes :-) Like the saying goes; ‘Life’s a Beach’ and we love ours :-)

Finally, the term ‘Bars’ was something that I initially had reservations about using. Sounded kinda on the skids, if you know what I mean?? But after seeing how much our Facebook followers seemed to like – and ‘Like – our pics and stories from Florida and especially Key West, it became a no brainier. Besides, ‘Boats Beaches and Bars’ has a nice ring too it.

Duval Street in Key West

Cheers to a great day on Duval Street in Key West.

The final step was to do the same name change on my Google properties. That included my Google+ profile and YouTube Channel. Some of my YouTube followers asked why the change, but when I pointed out that my Channel address stayed the same (YouTube.com/user/Boogabooster), I think they were okay with the new name.

So, after roughly a month since changing those site names over, I’ve seen an impressive increase of new followers on each one. I hope that everyone likes it and I’m able to expand my audience with this change. So far, so good :-)