Anywho, by the time, bleary-eyed and delirious (and, I might add, having gnawed your way through your entire stash of road trip fruit snacks), you start to see civilization reemerging on the horizon in the form of Miami, you will likely realize you have nearly four hours left to drive before you hit Key West. While weaker souls would, at this point, give up and head to South Beach for a $45 Hypnotic Mojito (True story, George drank such a thing there once upon a time, and while it did not cost $45, I certainly would pay that to see him drink one again), those Conchs-at-Heart like yours truly will press onward, and will be rewarded by a glorious trip down The Overseas Highway, the southernmost portion of U.S. Route 1.
Initially opened in 1912, The Overseas Highway began as the southern leg of oil magnate Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad, carrying passengers from Miami to Key West. On Labor Day in 1935 a devastating hurricane--the third fiercest in Atlantic history-- whipped through the Keys, killing some 400 people, completely flatting structures throughout the islands and wholly decimating Islamorada, and knocking out significant sections of the tracks and bridges of what was then The Overseas Railroad.
The destruction of the rail corridor was simply too expensive for Flagler to rebuild. But never ones to let a little bad weather get them down, Floridians used the former railroad trail as the template for The Overseas Highway, some 127.5 miles of bridge-laden road that today runs from Key Largo (Montego, Baaaaby why don't we go to the Kokomoooo...) to Key West, and treats road trippers to some crazy pretty scenery (not to be confused with pretty crazy scenery, which, I suppose, you also see in the Keys).
While our two trips back and forth on the two-lane highway haven't yielded sight American Croc we're dying to spot (from far, far away, obviously), we did get to take in miniature Key Deer (so cute, and so obviously Duke's long-lost cousins), sunbathing iguanas, mangrove swamps, pine tree and palm tree forests, ocean as far as the eye can see, and plenty of the amazing, backwater shops/bars/marinas that dot the fishing-centric Keys. My favorite views come from the 7-mile bridge, which is exactly what it sounds like. One of the 40-plus bridges that connect the many islands comprising the Keys, the 7-mile is by far the longest, and when driving on it you almost get the feeling that you're just skating along on top of the bright blue water surrounding you. Lovely. And more than a little terrifying.
The Overseas Highway isn't named an All-American Road for nothing (Seriously, who knew that was a thing?), and I suggest you pack up your dog and your fruit snacks (take like triple what you think you'll need. Just trust me), and go for a ramble yourself.