Parrot
©Author Adventures

If you like tropical birds, visit the Keys and imagine seeing it the way John James Audubon (1785-1851) did. He is the quintessential author and illustrator of books on birds, notably A Synopsis of Birds in North America, which you can find at www.gutenberg.org.

His illustrations beautifully unfold magnificent colors and vivid details on the birds of the Keys. Our link does not include his illustrations so you will need to visit a library for that, which you really should do because the visuals are the best part.

Some things have changed since the “Olde Florida” days in the Keys (a.k.a. “The Conch Republic”) and some things, like its underwater wonders, remain pretty much the same. The population is approximately 70,000. If you go, try using the keysaudubon.org/where-to map and follow John James Audubon’s footsteps around the Florida Keys. (He traveled to Sandy Key the most often.) Or plan a visit just to the magnificent Dry Tortugas, which you can reach by ferry, but be prepared because the island has no public phones, restrooms, shops, restaurants, or snack bars.

Personalize

On the long drive down, passengers can watch The Big Year. It’s a bird-centric comedy with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black. It is family-friendly if you don’t mind occasional “fowl” language.

In addition to bird-watching, people visit the Keys for many reasons. We have enjoyed Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West, where fresh island breezes and exotic shores inspire writing.

(Check out the Kentucky and Texas pages to learn more about Audubon.)

This is the eleventh and final stop on Florida Trail #2!

Patricia Smart