Florida Keys: Tortuga Titanic & Lobster Warrior

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Excuse me, can you please refill my fruity drink? I’ll just be over here, sun bathing on the beach as my dog crashes through the shallow aqua waters of the Florida Keys.

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Do you know how expensive it is to RV in a the Florida keys in peak season (which is winter, because the “snow birds” are all traveling south)? It could easily cost $80 a night for a parking spot in a crowded campground! Guillaume and I were very lucky to be invited to stay in the Islamorada driveway of Chester and Michelle for six days, otherwise we may have never made it to the southern most point of the U.S.A. 

THGJ Islamorada
Our hosts! Click on the image to view Michelle’s photography
Giant Lobster of Islamorada
Giant Lobster of Islamorada


We had such an amazing time in the Everglades that Guillaume and I decided we needed to go another National Park, and not just any National Park –  one that encompasses an isolated island and a gorgeous underwater wonderland, the Dry Tortugas. 

The problem? A last minute trip to the Tortugas is difficult to schedule. But, once again, luck was on our side and we booked the last overnight camping permit available for rest of the week! The morning of our trip, we woke up at 4am and drove for two hours to catch our ferry out of Key West.

“So, do you want to go?”  The Captain of the “Tortuga Titanic” asked. The boat is actually called the “Yankee Freedom,” but I renamed it. You’ll see why…

I arched my eyebrow, perplexed. “Of course, why?”

“Why?? Do you see the ten foot seas out there? I’m thinking about calling the whole thing off!” He replied, as if the danger was quite obvious.

I peered out at the black ocean as the sun was just starting to sprout over the horizon. The waves beat up agains the dock and the wind howled.  It was obvious.

In the end, we decided not to go. I was hang dog the rest of the day. Why hadn’t I checked the weather? Guillaume tried to make me feel better by taking me out to breakfast at a French cafe, and that’s where we learned about the terrorist attacks in Paris.

So our first day in the Keys was dampened by disappointment and sadness. A somber paradise. But tomorrow is always a new day.

Islamorada sunset
Sunset in the Keys

Unlike her sister keys, Largo and West, Islamorada feels more like a small town than a tourist haven. I noticed that the locals have a special way of describing cardinal direction along the Keys. Every location along the Overseas Highway can be chronicled by a specific mile marker and either by “bayside” or “ocean side.”

Islamorada Points of Interest:

Robbies Bayside mile marker 77.5 –  Feed the Tarpon! It only costs a few dollars and these fish are worth a stop. We also did a snorkel tour out of Robbie’s to Alligator Reef and Alligator Lighthouse. It was affordable, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. Then again, I’ve been spoiled by my adventures to the Great Barrier Reef and the kelp gardens of Catalina Island.

Island Grill– Oceanside mile marker 85 – Nightly live music and decent food right on the waterfront. Try to tuna nachos and conch fritters. I fell in love with conch fritters in the keys and ordered them everywhere!

Island Grill
Conch Fritters, Tuna Nachos and Smothered Potato Chips

Lazy Days Restaurant – Ocean Side mile marker 80 – Enjoy a cocktail on the sandy beach patio, and watch the wading birds.

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Islamorada Brewing CompanyOceanside mile marker 82.3  – Try a flight of the local beers before heading out to dinner.

Anne’s Beach – Oceanside mile maker 73 – Elevated walkways allow you to enjoy a picnic while staying dry. Or, do like we did, and get wet! Walk way out at high tide and enjoy crystal clear shallow high waters.

Mrs. Mac’s KitchenMile Marker 99 – This is actually in Key Largo and (because of that) a little touristy. Still worth a stop for the conch fritters, key lime pie and atmosphere. 

Our very favorite experience in the Keys was spent one night out on Chester’s boat, idling around the mangroves, bully netting for lobsters. Chester had special lights on the front of the boat that illuminate the water. Three of us would stand at the bow, nets in hand, scouring the water for lobsters.

“Got one!” Someone would yell and Chester would slam the boat into neutral. Down the net would go and, with any luck, up would come a lobster! We probably caught five or six throughout the night, but only one was a keeper: MINE! A fireball celebration followed at the local Tiki Bar, as well as a hangover the following day. I wish we had photos of the experience, but it was just too dark. The only photo I can share is the delicious reward.

As I ate the lobster, I realized that I’m 28 years old and I’ve only ever eaten meat that’s been caught for me. This was the first time I’ve actually “hunted.” For a moment, I felt as if I’d gone from a delicate princess to warrior woman. I caught this food! I’m basically Katniss or Xena!!! Not that I let it go to my head or anything… but Guillaume has yet to catch a keeper fish on this trip… just saying.

We returned to Key West for an overnight trip, so that it wouldn’t forever be remember as a place of sadness. We sipped pineapple cocktails, laid in hammocks and drooled over decadent desserts at Better Than Sex (a dessert restaurant).

We didn’t really party in Key West, which is what you are supposed to do. Instead we walked through the shops and enjoyed the artwork at a variety of galleries. A few of them even had live artists at work, which was pretty spectacular to watch. We ended the night laying in a hammock near the Southern Most Point of the United States. A few months ago we were thousands of miles north in Quebec, and a few months before that we were another few thousand miles west in Los Angeles, where this all started.

Pretty surreal.

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Up next: Beaches and babes! 

– Jenna

PS: Thanks again to Michelle and Chester for the hospitality!




  1. January 22, 2015 / 9:35 pm

    Love Reading Your Blog! You Have Such Amazing Adventures 🙂 Can’t Wait To Hear About Your Next Adventure 🙂 Safe Travels My Friends 🙂

  2. Lilly, Vickie
    January 22, 2015 / 5:13 pm

    My son told me you were looking for a place to stay in Orlando. We have a driveway in a neighborhood outside the city limits of Orlando if you want to use it. Our son is building a tiny house right now in the small community of Mascotte, FL. It is now where they will be living…still looking for a permanent place to park it. He has almost completed the outside. Vickie Lilly

    • User Avatar January 22, 2015 / 6:42 pm

      Hi Vicky, we already have a place to park in Orlando. Thanks for the offer though. Does your son have a blog or a way we can see what he’s doing?

    • Jamie Davis
      December 9, 2015 / 10:18 am

      Hi there,
      I’m a producer for a real estate TV show – and we’re looking to film a segment on tiny house beach living. Is your son’s home parked near the beach? Might this be something he’s interested in?

      If so, please email me at jdavis@magilla.tv

      Jamie Davis

      • User Avatar December 13, 2015 / 4:18 am

        Your son? Sorry for being a bit blunt but have you taken the time to explore our website and figure out who we are and what we do? A coworkers of yours already contacted us, thanks.

      • Jamie Davis
        December 13, 2015 / 10:25 am

        Sorry for being a bit blunt, but my comment was a reply to Vicky’s post – who commented that her SON was building a tiny house in Orlando. But thank you so much for your kindness.

      • User Avatar December 13, 2015 / 6:37 pm

        Wow, I have to apologize then. My phone app doesn’t show that your comment is for a reply. We’ve been approached many times by production companies with people who didn’t put much effort in researching our project. My bad for missing that point!

  3. Rhonda
    January 22, 2015 / 2:21 pm

    If you are staying through until this weekend you can hit the crab fest. I was supposed to head south for it but am stuck here in Jacksonville for work. 🙁

    • User Avatar January 22, 2015 / 3:30 pm

      Well, we already left… We are about to reach Orlando right now so I guess we’ll miss it too!

      • Rhonda
        January 22, 2015 / 3:44 pm

        What a shame…. Although Orlando is a great place AND has a tiny house community. If you happen to be going through Jacksonville on your adventures I would love to see your home. We are planning to build one as soon as we both retire and hit the roads like you are…. I wish I had done it in my youth but life and the military kept me in other pursuits!

  4. Elizabeth Denny
    January 22, 2015 / 1:55 pm

    So glad you spent some time in Key West. We live in NC and try to fly to KW every Thanksgiving. It is our favorite spot. Hope you tried the Key Lime Pie! Love your blog. Keep up the great writing and photos.

  5. Sue
    January 22, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    I LOVE reading your blogs! If I can’t travel at the moment, at least I’m traveling vicariously through you both, & I’m loving’ it! I guess it IS surreal!!!

    • Sue
      January 22, 2015 / 1:13 pm

      And Michelle’s photography is amazing!!!

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