Key Largo Florida: Photographing plants, animals, and a sunset boat ride!


Every now and then, my family and I take a ride down to the Florida Keys to visit my uncle, hang out on the water, and have a barbecue. There are lots of things to see and do at his beautiful house, not to mention photograph, because he lives on one of the many canals throughout Key Largo. He has kayaks, a boat, and lots of amazing plants!  I guess you could say that a love for nature runs in our family, since my uncle has a passion for plants as well, particularly growing various fruit trees, and collecting Orchids and exotic Staghorns.

Also, kayaks, yay!!!  I had never gone kayaking before this little getaway, and I must say I really loved it! I went out with my aunt, navigating the canals out to the ocean and making our way along the beautiful homes along the coast.   I can't wait to do it again!  Another exciting moment was when a Manatee and her calf swam up to the dock while everyone was hanging out eating and talking, talk about up close and personal.

At the end of the day my uncle took us out for a ride on his boat, then we cruised through some shadowy Mangroves on the way back. The sunset was beautiful, especially its powerful reflection off of the water. I took lots of photographs, I hope you enjoy this visual tropical vacation....

Catherine
xoxo


This is what you see as you cross the large bridge into Key Largo....



Thank the universe he lives in Key Largo and not Key West, or else we'd still have a lot of driving to do at this point. Almost there!

During our drive we spotted these happy ladies taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and having a good'ol time in a classic convertible with the top down...


As you arrive at his house you see these two beautiful pieces of art, featuring impressions of a seashell and its bisection. They have a nice patina and remind me of fossils. My aunt and I found them a long time ago at Marshalls or TJMaxx/Homegoods, I can't remember which one. My mother has one as well, so they definitely caused a sensation in our family. We found some for my uncle's home and saved them for when he was done renovating the exterior...


That glazed aqua planter still needs to be filled with succulents and cacti... I need to get to that soon! Also, speaking of renovation, my uncle has finished the exterior, but is still in the process of renovating/upgrading the second level of the home's interior. Actually, my aunt, who is an awesome long time Interior Designer, is currently helping him pick finishes for his kitchen and bathrooms. Once he's done with everything I will visit again and take a bunch of photos for you to see!

A lot of houses in the Keys are second level homes, the first floor being a covered concrete patio/parking spot, usually with a smaller living space alongside it. I've attempted to find information about this type of architecture, but an overwhelming amount of real estate links frustrated me and I've given up for now. Since I think it's interesting to know, I will share it with you once I find out. For now, my common sense tells me it has to do with the proximity to water, since many homes are on canals or straight waterfront, it would make sense to have elevated homes that can avoid flood damage from sea level rises during storms, particularly hurricanes and associated storm surges.


Anyway, the family went to town cooking and working the BBQ - yummm corn on the cob! (I say that with genuine nostalgia, since it's most likely genetically modified corn, le sigh).... Meanwhile, I went to town photographing everything! Here goes...


First off, it was refreshing to see new type of design on an outdoor stone table!  It looked stunning set against the vibrant sunshine beneath palm trees, especially with the palm frond shadows and glowing white rocks beyond the umbrella's shadow!


My uncle has had this painting for a long time, I was quite amused when I saw it hanging in his downstairs patio area with all these ceramic fish! 


I love his collection of seashells on the exterior windowsill! 



He has a nice little tropical collection of items going on...

    

I believe those metal sculptures with the pretty patina are Cranes, though I could be wrong. That interesting hanging planter on the right is a piece of wood with two Staghorn Ferns and another type of fern growing out of it. More on Staghorns down the page, but first, behold this cute gecko figurine hanging out on some lava rocks at the base of a potted palm...


A red Desert Rose!


Lots and lots of Orchids... My family has a thing with Orchids!


    

I love the beautiful rubbery leaves...


And of course, the unique flowers...




    


I must say, this is by far one of the most incredible Orchids I have ever seen....


I'll need to get the name from him next time, hopefully he knows it!


It reminds me of a spider...


As you can see I was fascinated, and this is only a third of the photos I took...




Back to Staghorns. My family has always had many of them, but my uncle has taken his collection to a whole new level in recent years! Staghorn is just a nickname for Platycerium, a genus of about 18 fern species in the polypod family Polypodiaceae (read more about that here). With that said, you can see below he has taken to collecting some of the more exotic species...


This guy is called Platycerium Elephantotis...

    


This leaves of this Platycerium fern are an example of why its other nickname (in addition to Staghorn) is Elkhorn fern...

    

Each one has a unique shape, texture, color, and leaf formation...



    


I love the velvety texture and detailed veining of the leaves!




In addition to Orchids and Staghorns, my uncle has many fruit trees, including a Guava tree that you can smell the moment you pull into his driveway!  Yes, the smell of guava from the fruit hanging on the tree is that strong, it's glorious!  However, I failed to get a picture of that tree, I was distracted by this one...


It's Guanabana!  Well, at least that's what we call it, I think it's the Spanish nickname.  The actual name is Annona muricata, which according to a quick search on Wikipedia, says it's a member of the family of custard apple trees called Annonaceae.  It's a neat spiky little big thing!  Oddly enough, I have yet to taste it.  I'll keep you posted on that!


Ah yes, and then there is his Key Lime tree!


Remember my posts about making lots of Key Lime Pies?  Well, this is where most of the Key Limes came from.  My uncle's tree is always full of them, yummm, that reminds me, I need to get some more, I've been craving Key Lime Pie!  Check out the adorable little flowers it puts out...


What else?  Well, parrots...


This guy has been with my uncle for a long long time, at least twenty years at this point.  You might be like "awww!" but I assure you, he is nasty to everyone but my uncle and grandmother!  I admire him from afar, or from behind bars... hahahaha...

    

This little lady is even older, I'm talking maybe 50+ years old!  My uncle adopted her from an elderly great aunt who was going to a nursing home and couldn't keep her anymore.  It nearly broke her heart, but she was so happy to keep the bird in our family.  My uncle loves these parrots, and boy do they love him...


I mean come on, FRESH GUAVA!!!!  I would say that's love in her eyes, but it looks more like annoyance at my voyeurism, instead those eyes say get the heck out of my face so I can eat this juicy fruit!  Hehehehe... 



At one point during the day my uncle brought her out of the cage for a while, so naturally I grabbed my camera!





Later on in the day my aunt and I went kayaking!  It was my first time, however when I was a teenager, my family went on a big canoe trip down the Peace River and I did a lot of rowing.  Well, I loved kayaking as much as canoeing!  We navigated through the canals to the open ocean, and we went along the coast for a bit looking at the beautiful homes.  I'll admit, I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to open ocean, I get anxiety when I think about the massive unknown abyss that is below me.  I say that because shortly after reaching open ocean, the novelty of kayaking wore off and I wanted to get back to the canals.  Hey, I have scary ocean stories, ever since we were kids my uncle has lived in the Keys and taken us out on his boat, jet-skiing with my cousins, fishing, and snorkeling...  So yes, the ocean has out me in my place, and that place is on land.  :D


After we got back, we were hanging out talking near the dock and my sister spotted Manatees - a mother and her calf!  It was so awesome to be that close to a Manatee and not be floating by on a boat.  She was very friendly and came very close to the dock...



    


A sweet sweet animal!

    

She lingered for a while and then swam away with her baby... 


Ciao bella!


As the sun started to sink low in the sky, my aunt and I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my younger cousins.  One of my cousins just got her first camera and is really into photographing everything, like me... Hehehehe :)


Going for a walk around a Key Largo neighborhood is a walk full of surprises, like this crazy awesome weird pod full of red bulbs/seeds(?) growing out of a bush.  I don't know what it is, nor have I attempted to search for it, for now I am content with just staring.


Also, Oleander!  Oleander is everywhere...  In this case, pink Oleander...


This bush had some interesting red fruit (or seeds?) on it, I'm still searching for the name...


My aunt's little dog was pretty excited to be on the walk too... :)


I loved the tropical bohemian vibe going on at this house with the painted walls and pretty railing pattern...


And then, at the end of the block, there was this monster surprise...


Yes, that's a CACTUS folks!!  From afar it just looked like a tree, but the closer we got the more excited I was.  I knew.  Yes, I knew.  I can recognize that unique silhouette of a Euphorbia cactus.  I'm not sure of the exact name, but I am pretty sure it's a Euphorbia because I have several.  Anyway, I am always fascinated when I see a cactus that has grown into a massive tree, with a trunk that looks like the trunk of any other tree.  I have another type of cactus in my yard that is reaching that point, and it has grown super fast.  Let it go and it will grow grow grow...

    



I think I could have stood there for an hour taking photographs!!  The owner was outside when we walked by, we talked to him for a bit and he said it had been there ever since he could remember.  He offered me a piece, but I forgot to grab some at the end of the conversation.  I have a cactus very similar to this, but I suppose I could always go back next time I visit my uncle.  


Nature rocks!  It is an artist with so many incredible works of art...



    

And then, we bumped into a beautiful yellow flowered Frangipani on our way back to the house...


This tree was fairly young, so it was a bit sparse, much like our young Frangipani trees.  Nonetheless, the flowers on this tree are so gorgeous!



The yellow glow of the flowers and the soft afternoon light made me go trigger crazy at this point...  There were so many pretty angles!




    


When we got back to the house we hung out in the late afternoon sun for a bit while my uncle prepared the boat...



A pelican flew by as we waited, it was a peaceful moment...


Even more peaceful was our slow ride throughout the canals as my uncle navigated the boat to the ocean.  The sun was setting and the light and shadows were incredible! 

 


I had never seen this gigantic alley of toilet seats, but apparently it has been out here for a long time!  All I can say is WOW...




Mangroves!


More mangroves...


A dead end in the Mangroves....  My uncle wanted to show us how creepy it gets in there when it starts to get dark, yikes!




It was quite a ride!  At one point, we flew past a wood mile marker (or buoy, I can't remember), and a frightened pelican took off flying away above us, aaaaand, well...  You guessed it.  My aunt (the person you see above leaning back at the front of the boat) was the disgusted recipient of a long fishy smelling stream of pelican poop.  It was pretty gross, and the worst smelling thing ever.  Okay, anyway, it was gross but it was hilarious!  We all spend the ride back laughing...


It was an awesome family day, the weather was perfect, and the sunset was a powerful reminder of how lucky we are to be alive to enjoy such beauty.  


These last two shots are my favorite!


(All images in this post are property of Inspire Bohemia, please do not use them without written permission - InspireBohemia(at)gmail(dot)com - thank you!)

2 comments:

  1. What a LOVELY post:) your blog Is SO inspiring and I always leave here with a smile.

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    Have a great weekend dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

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  2. Hi, I'm Becky (thewhimsicalchick.com)I loved this post. I use to live in Key West. Even though it was only for 3 months it was a dream. I loved everything about it. One of the most beautiful places I've been

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