Sunday, May 26, 2013

Curry Hammock State Park

Florida Oldscool Camper Rentals

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A rainbow peaks through the clouds at Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys.

56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida 33050

Curry Hammock State Park is located along both sides of U.S. 1 starting at Little Crawl Key. Mile Marker 56.2, 11 miles west of Long Key. The entrance to the facilities is on the Oceanside of U.S.1

Curry Hammock is made up of a group of islands in the Middle keys, with beach access on the ocean side of Little Crawl Key. The hardwood hammocks found on these tropical island support one of the largest populations of thatch palms in the states. Mangrove swamps, seagrass beds and wetlands provide vital habitats for tropical wildlife. 

The park offers access to swimming, a playground, picnic tables, grills and showers on the ocean side of Little Crawl Key. 

Curry Hammock is quiet, clean, and they have added a beach, which is a hard thing to find in the Keys!  This location is great for shallow water windsurfing, kite boarding, beach combing, and a great beach for kids. 

Kayak rentals are available from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and also inquire about our limited availability of paddleboards. This is a great way to see "...the Real Florida. 

Many guest are not aware of the bay side fishing and swimming/snorkeling area (West side Hwy 1) accessed off the paved bike trail. It is a 2 mile bike ride into town from here.

Ranger led programs are also offered, and they have large back in RV Sites with Oceanview, but most do not have direct access to the beach because of Sea Oats and vegetation protection the Dunes. It is still a bit of a secret that RV's are allowed. 

Camping facility with a 28 site campground, located within view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Great birding area and there is a festival in late September. Florida Key Birding & Wildlife Festival.

Keep in mind, there is no boat ramp in this state park, however several launch sites within a few miles. 

The park offers 1,200 feet sandy beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. The water is shallow. Swimming is available in designated areas. In general, the water is shallow and the currents and waves gentle.

Canoeing-kayaking-SUP (standup paddle boards) are outstanding in Curry Hammock State Park. Human-powered boats may be carried (NO COMBUSTION ZONE) to the waterfront and launched from both the day-use area and campground. Kayaks & a few SUP are available for rental.

Picnicking and playground area is located on the southeast of the park with 4 pavilions, each with a bbq grill and 4 tables.
  • Bicycles are a great way to travel in the keys. In-fact the Overseas Heritage Trail passes through the park, providing easy access to and from Marathon. (16 years are under are required by law to wear a properly fitted helmet. Bicycles are limited to roadways and not allowed on foot paths, boardwalks, restroom ramps, or nature trail. 
  • Fishing is allowed within the park. The flats permit and bonefish, and the channel alongside the park has produced sizable sharks, snapper, snook, and more. Florida fishing regulations apply within the park, and spearguns are prohibited at all times!
  • Nature trail is 1.5 miles long that winds through the hardwood hammock.
  • Pets are not allowed on beaches, picnic shelters, or in the bathhouse. In the area where pets are allowed they must be on a six foot leash and well behaved. 
  • Rest rooms with hot showers is located in the campground for registered campers only. For daytime visitors, a restroom with a cold outdoor shower is located in the day-use area. All facilities are fully accessible.
  • Snorkeling is available in designated areas. The water in the park is generally shallow and the bottom covered with seagrass. This natural community is different from the tropical reef most commonly associated with the Florida Keys, but as one of the most productive marine communities, it is teeming with fish and invertebrate life, and is essential for the well-being of the reef.
  • Wildlife viewing is excellent in the park. The park is an excellent place to observe wading birds and shore life. The park lies on an important bird migration route.  The park lies on an important bird migration route.  

History and Culture

This land became a state park in 1991 and is name for Lamar Louise Curry, a revered Miami teacher, whose father, Thomas, purchased large tracts of land in the Middle and Upper Keys. Two miles of the Overseas Heritage Trail pass through park. This is a multi-use trail which follows the route of the Overseas Railroad, providing foot and Bicycle access to Marathon. The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail also passes through the park.

This photo shows a dirt road winding along the shore with palms and grassy, brushy banks on either side.

Original Beachfront

The land that makes up the developed area of the park was once meant to support housing development. 
Instead, the land was purchased by the state under the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Program
and became became part of Florida's park system. Today, the state welcomes visitors to have fun in the sun
and explore the many varieties of animals and plant life that live on its shores and in its waters. 

Our campsite was occupied!  

Original Road
The portion of the land that had been slated to become a housing development was used to create the developed 
section of the park on Little Crawl Key. Today, this part of the park supports a swimming area, picnic pavilions,
restroom and shower facilities, and a playground.
This photo shows the first park building as it appeared in 1995 - a small, portable white shed next to a building site.

First Building
The first park building to appear in 1995 was not much to look at. Just fifteen years later, 
Curry Hammock State Park enjoys a healthy visitor population and offers the necessary 
facilities to support many options for outdoor recreation.
Newly-paved roads mark the new campground construction which began in 2003.

Campground construction at Curry Hammock began in 2003. In this photo, you can see how much the park 
has developed since its opening in the 1990s.
A cloud-covered campground awaits its first visitors in November of 2004; not long after Hurricane Wilma devastated the Keys.

Completed Campground
The new campground at Curry Hammock opened for camping November 1, 2004, just a week after Hurricane 
Wilma devastated the Keys. Even the powerful winds of the storm could not diminish the beauty of the new 
campground's location.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

History of Diving Museum in Islamorada

Florida Oldsocol Camper on an road-trip 
We love adventure!!!

Florida Oldscool Campers visits the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, Floirda.

Dixie has always been fascinated with 
Jacques Cousteau, 
and Mike has joined 
her in the world of 
scuba diving. 
In fact this trip will be 
Mike's first
 diving experience 
in the Florida keys, 
so what is better to
and get us 
into the mood then this 
fantastic museum!
The History of Diving Museum
82990 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, Florida 33036
Open Daily 10-5

With a low admission price of $12, our expectations were low... but boy were we surprised! 

We went slow and took our time, spending about hour and half. The exhibits are very well thought out with unique and rare pieces of dive gear along with history of diving. It was very educational and very well put together.  This is the "Real Deal". There is over 3,000 square feet of display space. They have a library onsite if you would like to do research, and the staff is very knowledgeable and educated.

I highly recommend if you are a diver or thinking about becoming a diver. But, you do not have to be one to enjoy and appreciate this museum. If you are traveling with kids, it has a great scavenger hunt with little toy scuba divers hidden throughout the museum, hands on exhibits, interactive things to read and learn about scuba diving all throughout history. 

It is camera friendly with
an amazing collection of
historical diving artifacts.
It is truly amazing to see
the amount of artifacts this
couple accumulated over
30 years and the history
that came with it.

History of diving museum

else went faster. A great way to spend a small amount of time.

Very well educated and informative staff.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Windley Key Fossil Reef and Geological State Park

Florida Oldscool Camper Rentals 
                             searching out the real Florida...

Located: MM 84.9 Islamorada, Florida 33036

Windley Key is one of the highest in the chain of Keys formed of "Key Largo Limestone" over 125,000 years ago. Over the centuries the sea rose and fell. At times the water level was approximately 25 fee higher than at present while at other times the ocean levels dropped by as much as 300 feet, revealing the entire Florida Plateau. About 5,000 years ago, the water level stabilized and the ancient coral reef crest that remained exposed created the island we call the Florida Keys. 

Various tribes of Native Americans of Native Americans inhabited the Keys before the first European explores arrived. Middens and other remains are located throughout the islands documenting their earliest human occupation. 

 Indian Key Historic State Park

After Key West was settled "Conch" families moved up the Keys to establish small farming and fishing communities. In the mid-1800's  the Russell family homesteaded Umbrella Key, Windley's earlier name. The Russell family lived on the land until it was sold to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1908 for $852.80. From that time, until the final completion of the Overseas Railroad, the quarries along the tract were used to supply thousands of tons of fill for the railroad and the bridges approaches. 

Below: Fossil Conch

The railroad was completed in 1912 and the quarries and Windley Key Station continued to serve in many ways. Local trains stopped daily to deliver much needed fresh water from the mainland and pick up mail and passengers.

 On return trips, shipment of polished "Keysone" were railed back to mainland. This keystone, a decorative building stone, can be seen on several buildings throughout the United States including the St. Louis Post Office, an alter in a New York City chapel and many other locations. Local examples include the Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center at Windley key and the Hurricane Monument located in the center of Islamorada. 


The quarry was active into the 1960's and today stands as a preserved geological treasure. The clean cuts of the quarry machinery reveal the perfectly preserved fossilized specimens of a variety of ancient coral animals.

 The park offers a rare opportunity to professional geologist and curious visitors to compare the living corals of today with their fossilized ancestors. The limestone cuts also reveal the tin layer of soil that supports the abundant variety of botanical life that thrives in the subtropical environment of the Keys. 

Over 40 kinds of tress can be found along the trails whose fruit, nuts, and berries provide sustenance for several endangered animals and dozen of migratory birds species. 

Self-guided walks of the quarries and the hammock are available. Access to the quarries and trails system is $1.50 per person. Guided tours take place Friday -Sunday at 10am and 2 pm and are $2.50 per person. children 6 and under free. Group tours welcomed. The Alison Fahrer Environmental Education center is open friday - Sunday. Admission is FREE. The conference room is available for public use at a reasonable fee. 

Following the railroad's completion, it was a source for decorative stone pieces 

called Keystone. Now on display are exposed sections of fossilized coral

View from the bottom of the quarry showing how deep it is.

Dixie's interesting find on their hike
Quarry cutting tool sits as if someone just walked away...

Short hikes along the park has  some of the original quarry machinery. 

The Hurricane Monument at Mile Marker 82 in Islamorada is constructed of keystone from the quarry. 

Mike enjoying the sunshine
All the times I have traveled to the keys I have passed this place, even knowing I wanted to stop!

It is easy to miss. It is quiet easy to get lost in the view of the keys with numerous bridges and ever change glimpse of the blue-green water of the keys.
But this time, I made sure we did not pass it! We had just finished three nights camping in Ft Lauderdale and could not wait to make it to the keys! We booked a campsite at Long Key State Park and Curry Hammock before we headed back north to our central Gulf coast home.

Alison Fahrer Enironmental Education Center at Windly Key