“Its a hot day on the beach”, Etienne said while they strolled on Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard by the sea front side walk.
“Not so muggy since the ocean winds blow the moisture away.”
The initial early morning traffic has passed. The sun was shining bright with blue skies.
“Have you every seen the Milky Way?” asked Etienne.
Angie looked over, Interrupted from a prior thought.
The Milky Way Galaxy is particularly hard to see in an urban environment. Light pollution from populated areas gets in the way. Thr Moon also interrupts your ability to see the heavens. I’m cloudy nights you could hardly see anything unless you look directly up.
To see the Milky Way we should have a cloudless, moonless night far away from the city lights.
You have to be really far away from city lights to be in total darkness to see the full effect of our galaxy. In total darkness you can see a sea of suns like sand on a beach.
“Can’t say I ever seen it” Said Angie. “Where would we go To see the full extent of the milky way?”
Etienne picked up his cell phone and ask Google. “Where’s the darkest places in the USA closest to Florida?”
“The Florida keys” AI reply.
“Let’s try the Long Key State park close to Layton.” Etienne said while inspecting the darkness map he found.
Reservations were made and the next day they both headed out with camping gear south to the Florida keys on highway one past Key Largo and Islamorada towards Layton.
The Jeep was packed with kayaks because the state park had shallow waters with mangroves which was excellent for rowing.
Along for the journey came ribeye steaks, sweet potatoes, beer, water, and a garden salad.
Upon arriving at their designated camping spot. The first order of business was to explore the mangroves in the kayaks while they still have daylight. The coastline was shallow with gentle currents that made rowing easy.
As the sun set, they pulled onto the shore. Etienne captured an image of a pelican perched on a leafless mangrove tree offshore. It produced a silhouette of greys on purple sky as twilight fell.
“Time for barbecue rib eye.” Said Angie. ” I can’t wait to bite into that juicy filet”
The fire was lit. And soon they had barbecued ribeyes, cooked medium, and sweet potatoes Is roasted to perfection.
With premium cuts of beef you need 2 to 5 minutes seared on both sides black pepper and salt.
“So how do we find this milky way?” Asked Angie.
She looked into the sky and saw the moon illuminated.
Night had come. The stars were out in shade. The the moonlight cast a shadow over the night sky.
Etienne looked at her smiling face. Observed her body and smiled himself.
“This may not be the best night to see the milky way with the naked eye. The sun’s reflection on the moon is blocking our view.” Etienne said despondently as he slapped a sand fly on his calf.
“To see the center of the Milky Way galaxy, we find the constellation Sagittarius and look beyond it. One of the galaxy’s arms, In the vicinity of our sun is in the constellation Cygnus.” He continued.
They both search the sky. Neither Sagittarius nor Cygnus, the Swan, could be found.
“Maybe the moon will go down soon. Later maybe better for naked eye viewing.” Angie mused.
They spent the night beer drinking, fly swatting, and observing the heavens.
By 2am the moon had set.
“There goes the Swan” Etienne pointed to the south eastern sky.
They lay back on the benches drinking it all in.
“There is not much to see.” Said Angie. Not like the pictures we saw yesterday.
“Yeah.” Etienne sighed. “The city just north… Layton casts some light and we are only seeing an arm of the galaxy.
“Where else can we go.” Angie said. “We can’t give up now. Let’s continue this journey seeking to find a place where we can witness the milky way Galaxy with our naked eyes.”
Etienne took out his cell phone and found a map of light pollution hot spots nearby. In the middle of Cuba nearby an enclave named Esmeralda.
They gazed into each others eyes and smiled in agreement.
“Let’s head south. We can take a ferry from Key West to Havana and travel towards the center of Cuba. We’ll be deep in the farmlands and folk turn off their lights at night.” Etienne said eagerly.
“Excellent! Let’s do it!” Angie said gazing into Etienne’s eyes.
At sunrise they packed their gear, checked out, headed South to Key West and the ferry to Havana.
The Ferry set sail early before midmorning morning to take advantage of calmer winds and low wave conditions. In Stormy or windy weather difficult waves occur due to the strong currents of the eastward flowing Gulf Stream. The captain wanted to get across as quickly as possible with Havana due South South West. The ship had to fight its way westward against the eastward flowing sea. Then south before making it across to Cuba and finally to Havana.