Is there a better cure for the blues than these blue waters? I think not. Perhaps deep forests, but let’s save that for another post. When real life becomes too much, the lure of the Keys beckons.

Tired of the news? Tired from the grind? Get on A1A and drive south until mangrove islands dot turquoise horizons.

But the Keys have rocky shores and I like soft beaches. It’s so hot. There are too many dive bars. I prefer all-inclusive resorts. The rebuttals are out there.

Wait … are too many tropical dive bars a thing? Well, perhaps the Keys aren’t for everyone. Then again, that’s what makes it right for the rest of us.

I cringe when rumors of luxury resorts threaten the landscape. The Keys should be salty – just not that way. I want to wallow in it’s gritty beauty, not be protected from it.

A perfect day in the Conch Republic? Dream a little with me …

The Caribbean Club for a gin & tonic if sans camper. It is imperative to leave the mainland behind upon re-entry to conch country. When the trailer is in tow, situating the camper into the lot and setting up camp asap. A margarita in hand (again – do what you gotta do to leave that real world behind!) until my kayak or paddle board finds its way into crystal waters.

Spotted rays, tarpon, peaceful nurse sharks slip by below at a relaxed pace. Relaxed is standard Keys behavior. By the end of the sun-drenched float, I’m yearning a hike through shaded hammocks harbored in nearby state parks. Yes, that will be the plan for tomorrow. Unless… Who knows. No solid plans. Now baptized in the salt water, a late day meal at No Name Pub or similar conchy establishment is in order. (I wish I could say a fresh-caught fish cooked at the campsite was part of my plan. Sadly, my skills are lacking in that arena.) Whether this meal comes before, after, or during the sunset depends on the day.

Can we all agree the sunset is THE most important part of the day? We watch the sun take it’s turn slipping into the water. It’s a true religion on every Key and sunsets are church. At nightfall, gaze at a sky of endless stars and think about the sailors who still use them.

I pray the timelessness of the Keys never goes away. In my twenty years of regular escapes to this locale, I’ve seen the developments. Still, the Real Florida Keys are there to explore and cherish.