HEAD SOUTH: BAHIA HONDA KEY
Decades before the Overseas Highway connected Key West to the mainland, Henry Flagler's railroad was the only way, other than a boat, to get to the Southernmost City. If you were lucky enough have a seat aboard the train, you would have stopped at Bahia Honda Key, which for many a northern traveler was a true tropical destination. Not much has changed in the hundred years since. There are still balmy breezes, sensational sunsets and most of all, fantastic fishing. You can camp at Bahia Honda State Park or stay in cabins, then snorkel out on one of the local reefs. Flagler's Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway made it to the island in 1908. The old Bahia Honda Bridge, one of 43 such structures, was the most difficult to build because of the deep, fast water in the channel. The railway ran until Sept. 2, 1935, when a 17-foot storm surge from a Category 5 hurricane destroyed the tracks. The old bridge is still there, one of the most photographed abandoned structures in the Florida Keys. Park visitors can soak up the sunshine and enjoy a bit of history from the state's Golden Age. The park has three camping areas with 80 sites, two boat ramps and a marina. The park concessionaire, the Coral Reef Park Company, offers great snorkel trips to the nearby reefs. floridastateparks.org.
PHOTO STUDY: BACKPACKER TOUR
Most backpackers know to carry a tent, sleeping bag and mat, but maybe you should add a camera to the equipment list. Aidan Lynn-Klimenko and Madison Perrins are traveling to 30 national parks for the 100th anniversary of the national park system. The photographers met in the darkroom at the Montana State University School of Film and have previously traveled extensively through South America. America's national parks have been documented by photographers before, including Ansel Adams, who popularized the Grand Tetons' beauty. Backpacker Magazine has featured the work, which the two will share at Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park at 1 p.m. Saturday. Call (727) 576-4169 for reservations.
ROLLING BOIL: X-POT
Who says one pot can't do it all? The new Sea to Summit X-Pot combines the heat distribution of aluminum with the flexibility of silicone. The aluminum base makes for a fast boil time and the stainless steel ring embedded in the rim lends rigidity to the silicone walls for easy lifting. Top it off with a clear locking lid with an integrated strainer and you have a great backpacking pot that packs down to an inch-tall disk. $49.95. seatosummit.com.
SPOT IT: RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
This bird of prey is smaller than its cousin, the red-tailed hawk. The best way to tell the two hawks apart is the habitat where the bird is spotted. If you are hiking in the woods and see a bird of prey moving through the trees, chances are it is a red-shouldered hawk. These woodland raptors focus on small prey like mice, frogs and snakes. These forest hawks are also found along rivers and swamps.