Seeing a place first from the water is a lot like coming in through the back door. We arrived at Boot Key Harbor on Sunday and began to get situated in our new “yard.” The City of Marathon Marina consists of maybe a hundred moorings, a few spots along the wall near the marina office, laundry facilities, concrete block showers/bathrooms, and a large space called the “lounge” with a book trading library, TVs, wireless internet and several comfortable tables (where we did school this morning while I washed clothes). This is a very cruiser-friendly place, with many folks calling the harbor home all year long. I haven’t been shopping yet, but things like Publix and West Marine are within a mile or so—walking distance. There is a park next to the marina, and the public library is just a few blocks away.
But I haven’t been up the road yet. We’ve explored by dinghy, and that gives us a pretty good behind-the-scenes picture of this community. There’s a lovely little white-sand beach ten minutes away up Sister’s Creek. Along the serpentine route, there are large, beautiful houses with private beaches and docks. In the other direction, there is a bridge, a few marinas and a network of small canals. We saw a seafood place and lots of fishing boats, but the residential part looked fairly shabby. Only in the Florida Keys does a mobile home come with waterfront property! Near where we are moored, there are also homes on the water, more like middle-class cement-block and stucco dwellings. So it looks like a pretty typical American town, with all socio-economic groups represented. I don’t know what I was expecting—I guess I had no idea what it would be like. I’ve only been a tourist in the keys, and that was when I was a kid. I’ve left expectation behind and am just trying to take things as they are and enjoy every day.