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Love Key State Park


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Love Key, FL


D. A. Workman

The week had been tedious, fraught with stress, and relatively unsuccessful; so when my captain suggested that it would be good to get away from it all, I was ready to take him up on it. With our chart and a state of Florida pamphlet listing the west coast state parks, we set sail from Naples (Florida, that is) for parts almost unknown.

It was a warm, sunny day, actually a hot, sunny day in May. The breeze was gentle; we needed the help of our engines as we hugged the coast looking for whatever the day would bring us. And eventually we came upon a little cove which was just about deserted. Our map told us that we had entered Love Key State Park, one of the many state parks which dot the western seaboard of Florida.

Love Key was once a popular park with concession stand, ample parking, a tram to transport tourists and campers to the beaches. But according to the locals, a hurricane had swept through several years ago, devastating the foliage and vegetation and destroying the beaches through erosion. On this particular Saturday, only a few hardy souls had parked their vehicles in the almost empty parking lot and ventured onto the beaches.

We entered the North Beach, which is more accessible than the remote South Beach, on our dinghy, a more unconventional way to approach. We found picnic benches, grilles, a narrow but adequate sandy beach and beautiful solitude. We saw a few couples strolling the beach and one family enjoying a cookout who were obviously there for the day. We decided to do the same.  We spent a tranquil afternoon enjoying the calm, clear water, the sand, the sun and cooking a few hotdogs on the grille. 

Love Key State Park may never be rebuilt; funds to do so are not forthcoming in the near future. But there is a beauty in its stark surroundings, in the broken tree trunks and disappearing beaches. Mother Nature has given the park a certain air; one comes away with the feeling that the park has not been defeated. And our weekend there brought peace and contentment, a renewing of the spirit. As a couple who were looking for a getaway, we did not ask for more.



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