Ventured over a few Keys to Big Pine Key and turned off onto the road to the refuge. A careful 30MPH drive through the posted zone, looking for the Blue Hole, lead us eventually to a dead end with some hiking trails leading off into the scrub palmettos. We're not hikers. About-faced and drove back towards the highway. Suddenly, there was a Key Deer ahead, ambling nonchalantly across the road. Stopped, disembarked, dug out camera and turned around in time to see it disappear into the bush. Oh well, at least we were in the right area.
A mile or so further on, we stopped at what we had taken to be another hiking-trail jump-off point to discover that the fine print stated this was the Key Deer National Refuge, Blue Hole that way. A hundred yards into the bush on the paved trail, was an observation deck hanging over the edge of the Blue Hole. A former quarry, it had been abandoned and allowed to return to Nature. Eventually it filled with water and been incorporated into the Refuge. Lazing in the shade nearby were two alligators, completely uninterested in tourists. A small turtle and a few fish went by; no deer.
We ventured further in and were stopped by a German couple who pointed out a piano-winged, Snake-neck bird roosting on a branch over the water's edge. We had walked right past it at a distance of 20 feet and would have missed it altogether without their assistance.
Home to the deck in time to see a barracuda slinking up the canal with the incoming tide, watched attentively by one of our amphibious iguanas.
Too hot for all this excitement, cool drinks all around.