A (Mostly) Sunny Holiday Road-Trip Through Florida To New Orleans

My American company forces me to take a holiday week between Christmas Day and New Year Day, and this year it’s the occasion to drive from Key West, FL to New Orleans, LA in a Ford Mustang Convertible with my girlfriend.

Day 1: The Florida Keys

Location: Brooklyn, NY to Cutler Bay, FL

The early alarm at 05:00 in Brooklyn, NY was painful but the goal was worth it: to catch a plane from Liberty Airport in Newark, NJ to Key West, FL. It’s the southernmost point of the continental United States and a small island at the end of an atoll sitting in shallow waters south of Florida.

FLORIDA KEYS, LOWER KEYS — The 126-mile stretch of Highway U.S. 1 from Florida City to Key West is better known as the Overseas Highway or the “Highway that Goes to Sea.” Using 43 bridges, the highway links the Keys to the mainland. Photo by Andy Newman/TDC.

The city itself is a gigantic tourist trap. You can rent bikes, scooters, trikes, jet-skis, hail pedicabs, visit numerous tropical-themed bars with live music or not, but everything looks and feels tacky, forced and expecting much bigger crowds than during the quieter Holiday season. The weather is nice though, 23ºC (73ºF) and not a cloud in sight makes us cover ourselves with sunscreen right when we leave the plane on the tarmac of the small Key West airport.

The small airport hall welcomes us with a weird monument depicting a Spanish family and a white family extending hands towards each other from a distance, and the legend says “90 miles to Cuba”. Unnerving.

Our pony, the 2018 Ford Mustang Convertible

After taking possession of our assigned brand-new silver 2018 Ford Mustang Convertible, we drive aimlessly in the city but we quickly leave the city whose charms don’t tempt us. We have to cover 210 km (140 m) to our first Airbnb destination and we plan on resting on the way on one of the few public beaches along the US-1 Oversea Highway. This is a stunning highway going through the little islands on the atoll named Keys. More often than not, the road is a bridge over shallow water with the sea on both sides. The longest bridge on this route is famously named ” The 7 Miles Bridge”.

Along the usually scenic US-1 route, we find on the highway shoulders piles of various debris, the remains from Hurricane Irma that passed through the Florida Keys in September 2017, just three months ago. Among the trash, we saw trees and palms, fences and boats, caravans and RVs, but also refrigerators and couches.

Pile of flood damaged debris on the side of a road in Big Pine Key, Florida on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA

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