The skeeters are pretty fierce in these parts of the keys. We have been trying to stay away from them by not spending much time outside which is a real shame. It is beautiful here. The biggest problem is that the air is so stagnant. There isn’t a breeze at all to blow the bugs away. Also since the sites are on ancient coral, asphalt and concrete instead of sand, water sort of just collects into pools and they make for a pretty ideal breeding ground for these pests.
We are determined to at least go outside today to do something rather than just sitting inside and looking out at the water. Even if it means we might get a few bites from these mean suckers.
We loaded up on all of the bug repellent we had in our arsenal and headed out for the Nature Center. Today we are going to take the girls for a little field trip for their homeschool.
The nature center at Bahia Honda is right next to the parking lot of the beach. We have visited the inside during our last trip but we wanted to see if there are any planned activities for today.
Fortunately for us, there were a handful of other people already gathered outside. Apparently we got here just in time for the walking tour to the old Bahia Honda bridge.
The ranger showed up and we started walking along the path down to the decommissioned bridge. The entire way there, I could feel mosquitoes and other bugs buzzing around and trying to bite me. These are persistent little suckers, too. When I tried to swat one away that had landed on me, it flew up, scooted a few inches up my leg and landed right back down. Come on! I am trying to learn something here! Not to mess around with you blood suckers!
The format of this walking tour is pretty interesting. Not knowing what to expect, as we got to the end of the trail, an old man dressed in a 19th century period business suit came walking up. He starting speaking to us in character as if he was the brother-in-law of the man who originally built this bridge. That man is the American industrialist and co-founder of Standard Oil company, Henry Flagler.
Henry Flagler was a born in upstate New York and the son of a Presbyterian minister. He was an ambitious kid even at an early age. With only an 8th grade education, he took on whatever jobs he could and started making his way up in the world of business. Through many of his business ventures, he became acquainted with John D. Rockefeller.
In 1867, Rockefeller approached Flagler with a business proposition of starting an oil company. Flagler approached a family member and secured $100,000 and became a founding partner of Standard Oil. It was Flagler who developed the system of using rebates that gave Standard Oil a unique selling proposition over the other companies at the time and it made millionaires out of all of them.
With all that Standard Oil money, Flagler entered into other business ventures such as land development and railroads. He was the founder of the cities of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach with several of his luxury resorts being developed there. He also bought a short rail system that eventually became Florida East Coast Railway.
The railway was the original owner of the old series of bridges that connected people from Miami all the way down to Key West by train. After the damage the railroad sustained during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, it was eventually sold to the state of Florida and it served as the original Overseas Highway until the new 7-mile bridge was built and commissioned in the 1980s.
Today, the old Bahia Honda bridge serves as a national heritage site and eventually will be part of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail that will connect Key Largo to Key West as a pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle only path.
I bet you thought our home schooling curriculum was only for the kids. Well, I had to do something to keep my mind off of my itchy legs and arms. After the walk, we hustled back into the comfort of our air-conditioned, bug-free capsule and resumed our usual anti-social stay here at Bahia Honda.
The girls did get to do some more decorating for Christmas around the Airstream.
They made some more paper snowflakes as these are probably the only kind of snow we are going to see this winter.
We even got our act together and made our way to Big Pine Key to order up some Christmas cards to send to our friends and family.
Big Pine Key is just on the other end of the 7-mile bridge and you can get a pretty good view of our campsite from atop the bridge.
‘SMACK!’ There goes another mosquito that snuck into the Mish while we had the door open. I wonder whose blood this guy has been sucking.
“Marlene, can you give me our bug repellent platter? I am going to need some more.”
“Splat! Mila, I just got another mosquito on your forehead!”
over and out,