Port Bougainville or rather Port B(as it is called by the park people) is where I am volunteering now 3 days a week. The area is now a 2400 acre state park and the official name is” Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park”. Say What you say. The area lies to the north end of Key Largo, so if you are coming in from the mainland on route 1 you miss it, as you are entering Key Largo in the middle, and travel south. There is not much on the north end of  Key Largo. That was not always the case.


Picture of the proposed development.

Port Bougainville was the name given to a giant condominium site, that started construction around 1980. It was to have 2800 units, a full marina, shopping malls, resturants, plus a town hall and fire department. Built in the medetarainian  style with lots of waterways, canals, everything you could ever want, and that was the problem, it would bring in about 15,000 to 20,000 people. Way to many for the island to take. Before anyone really noticed about 400 acres of pristine hardwood hammock land was virtually destroyed. It was home to many endangered trees, bushs, schrubs and wildlife that was only here in the keys.  A few miles of roads were put in, a full marina was dug , with a channel out to the ocean complete with docks, along with a huge clubhouse and a number of condo units built as models for the public to see. Almost all of this done without permits. Officials took little notice, until the paper did a series on the place and the public went wild. By 1984, after a long battle with the courts and the public, the investors for Port B had, had enough and funding stopped and the bank called in the loan. Almost overnight everything stopped and the state of Florida decided to buy it  from the developer, along with a few other smaller projects that were in the works in the same area. Thus creating the large park of today. Over the years, the park has filled in most of the old marina, demolished all the buildings and let nature retake the area. Today, it is back to a tropical hardwood hammock, with over 70 rare species of trees and plants that only grow here, nowhere else in the US. Almost all of them from the west Indies brought here by migrating birds, over centuries. It is also home to a some rare animals only found here. Along with that it, is a migratory stop for thousands of birds flying south for the winter, and back north in the spring. Birders from all over the world come here in the winter months. This park has the last remaining large tract of hardwood hammock left in the keys.


That is where I work, I set up a table, and greet visitors to the park. I explain to them what it was going to be and now what it is. I point out what to look for and show them a few plants to look for. There are two miles of walking, biking trails, along with a large fountain area that is now a butterfly garden. I am enjoying working here very much and have learned a great deal in a short time. I am meeting people from all over the world. I am now referred to as Dagny Dave.


Me in uniform, Official ain’t I



The park enterance


This is who the park is named after.



Part of the main trail.




A side trail, with a coral wall built.




Some of the ancient coral fossils.


One of the manmade lagoons, all the others have been filled in.


The ocean meets the trail, the mangroves grow here at the waters edge.


Part of the trail flooded by the ocean, mangroves everywhere.


This picture is right at the ocean, where the mangroves grow, up the little rise is where the hardwood hammock lives and grows.


This used to be the main channel coming in ,now filled in.


One of the many anchors for the piers, they are about every 40 feet apart.


Here the channel has not been filled in, about 100 feet wide ,and 18 feet deep.


The channel as it comes to the ocean, blocked by pole pilings.


The channel meeting the ocean. Here there is also a primative campsite , paddlers can come to and stay over night.


The campsite.


Below are some of the rare plants, and trees.


This is a snow bush, when in full bloom it looks like a blizzard.



This is a wild coffee bush, has red berries, which can be dried to make coffee but very bitter. Back in the day they would also dry the leaves and boil it for a better tasting coffee.


This is a wild poienseti, all the ones we have today came from this one as a hybrid.


This is a jamican fish kill plant, it also grows to a tree over 40 feet tall. Back in the day the Jamicans would crush up the leaves and throw them in the water, soon fish would pop up stunned by the fragrance, easy pickings then.


Gumbo- Limbo tree, very prevalant here. It has very flakey bark, said to help in the aid of poisonwood, like a poison ivy. The wood was alos used in the early 1900’s to make almost all of the horses that were in a merry go round. The wood is very soft and carveable.


Flakey bark


Scorpion tail bush


Zebra tailed butterfly

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Julia butterfly.


A tree snail, rare but around, he was about 4 inchs tall.


Two tree snails that have left there shell.





Greetings from Key Largo!

Dave and I are used to being in the keys and with the weather being great, we are thinking of it has the norm. We have to stop and think about how lucky we are to actually be living here.   Our schedule for now is working on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off. Dagny Dave is very happy to be the “greeter” at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. He likes talking to everyone and telling them all about the history of Dagny, which I’m sure he’ll have a section about soon.   I am, I guess a floater, I work at the office, gate and visitor center/aquarium, at least it doesn’t get boring.

Here are some of the sights and activities we’ve been doing on our stay

Saturday the 16th the camp as has a Ranger Campfire Program last lasts thru the winter. Last Saturday evening Ranger Rebecca got together with some Girl Scouts taught everyone there how to build a 5 different campfires, Teepee, Log Cabin, Platform, Star and Lean-To. Thanks to Doug, Dave & I can build a Log Cabin fire in no time.

log cabin fire


The Girl Scouts along with some local veterans had a Flag Burning Ceremony to retire old beat up American Flags.gpin

I thought it was  very well done and felt a bit moved about what they read during the Ceremony.   The speech started “I am your Flag. I appear in many places. I have taken many forms and been called many names. I was authorized by congress in 1818 in the form you see now and have remained unchanged except to add a new star each July 4th after a new state joined the union until I reached my present number of 50.” ”I am more than just red, white and blue cloth shaped into a design. I am a silent sentinel of freedom etc. … …When saying this speech the Girl Scouts cut the blue square with the stars, ripe the white stripes, then red stripes off the flag, they only cut the strips if they can’t rip them. They put the stripes in the fire first and the blue part with the stars goes on top.



The very last part of the speech goes like this.   “Now I am just a memory, but if there is a tear in your eye or a lump in your throat; if you felt a shiver in your spine as you watched me burn, then I will be back the next time you need me and my colors will be fresh and bright and my edges won’t be ragged anymore. When I climb to the top of the flagpole, I’ll wave at you and remember the love and respect that you have showed me here tonight.” flag

The Girl Scouts have to watch the fire until it is completely out. They stayed overnight in the park to do this.   I’m sure I’m a bit biased about how great the Girl Scouts did in the ceremony as I am an ex Girl Scout of Troop #294.


On Sunday mornings we seem to get up later, make a big breakfast and get ready to do small errands and relax for the day.

But on Monday the 18th I thought I would give Dave time away from me as our neighbor Lisa asked me to go to Key West with her for part of the day, I liked that idea! It took us a little over 2 hours to get there from Key Largo which is normal. The weather was perfect and I got to see a small portion of Key West before Dave & I go there December 2nd to the 4th. Lisa drove around a bit and we ended up on


Duval Street about 11:30. We both had to find a bathroom quick so we ended up at The Old Town Mexican Café.   We each had a margarita to celebrate being in Key West .

old town mexican cafe

We walked mainly on Duval Street, where the shops are, Lisa wanted to get some T-shirts and such. All kinds of things going on and it’s only Monday!

Duval Street runs north and south from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, just over 1.25 miles in length. It is named for William Pope Duval, the first territorial governor of Florida.

For lunch we went to the Key Largo Hard Rock Café on Duval Street. I have been to The Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles and in Honolulu, from what I can remember, I liked this one the best.








guitar pic



Duval Street is great for sightseeing, attractions, cuisine inspired with local flavor, cold drinks and shopping! There was lots of activity going on too, live music, people on bicycles, street performers and chickens all about .



duval street

Hen and chicks
Key West chickens


We Love Our Chickens & Roosters, The beautiful Key West chickens are represented as the business logo for At Home in Key West. Nothing says “at home in the keys” like one of our chickens! Even our Maintenance trucks are called the Rooster Fleet. If you are in town and hear a truck horn that sounds like a rooster…it’s our Rooster Fleet! They have a Funk Chicken Gift Store on Duval Street

Dave & I have been out riding our bikes and walking now that the weather isn’t hot and humid any longer. One of the places we walk is Dagny Johnson Park.   We also walk and ride our bikes all around the campground and have visited stores in the area.

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O.K. I’m confused, where are we?  This resort is what you see when you 1st get to Key Largo.  I think their confused.



Cannon Beach at John Pennekamp



Far Beach at John Pennekamp


Left corner of Far Beach at John Pennekamp


A Great place for homemade ice-cream!  It’s so good ! !

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Dagny Johnson Park

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Lots of great sunsets


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It’s always interesting to see what people travel in.  This truck camper is one of them.

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All handmade and ready to travel across the U.S.A.



Brrrrr IT’S COLD

The heat and humidity broke here a week ago, but over the week end we had a cold front come down and hay it got chilly. The week end morning temps got down to 58-60 and that’s cold here. We had to plug in our little heater, both weekend mornings. People were wearing there long pants and long sleeve shirts, but I refuse too. I have been in shorts since we left in the middle of September, and that’s the way it will stay. The weather is slowly warming up to where it should be, close to 80 and low about 70, I like that.

On another note, now that Melissa is working the gate and visitor center here at Pennekamp, and me over at the other park, I got thinking about something. That’s bad to begin with, but, I wonder what the chances are of us coming across someone we know, either from the past or recent. I bet the odds are very high, but I wonder??????????????


We now have been here for a little over 6 weeks. The weather has finally cooled a little, now the highs are still in the lower 80’s but the humidity is gone and it makes a big difference. On the work camping front, a few things have changed since I made my last post a while ago about our duties. Melissa was working in the office with the head volunteer coordinator, for two days and then the visitor center one day. That has now changed. I was working in the shop/maintenance area two days and was then slated to work at the visitor center one day, but that has also changed. Our three days of work were Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. About a week ago that all changed. Melissa is now still two days with the coordinator but one day at the main gate. There she greets people, takes there entrance fee, and gives directions in the park. She is sort of like a cashier, and has to account for how many people come in and the money. There is always a ranger in there with her. Doing this one day a week has a learning curve to it, but she seems fine with it. I have been moved to another park all together. About 4 miles from here is another state park, there sister park they call it. Here I set up a table at the entrance, and greet people, tell them a little history about the park, and then they are off to hike, bike the few miles of mangroves and tropical hardwood hammock area. I am also there as a presence so that people will see me and then pay the entrance fee, which is on an honor system. This park gets very busy during the winter months, so they like to have someone there. Apparently they go from a 30% compliance to a 70% compliance for the entrance fee when there is a ranger there. Go figure. We both now work Thursday ,Friday, Saturday. I will make a bigger post on the park I am at in a few days. It is really quite the place.

Other than that we have been doing some things with our days off, and doing stuff with the other volunteers. In fact last night was the full moon. Some of us went out fish netting, checking out the dock and the beaches for fish. We were able to see, a few lobster, crabs, tarpon, needle fish, jelly fish ,and even saw two, one foot baby sharks in the channel off the bridge. It was great fun



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Dan and Jackie in front, Bill and Barb in back right and us.

I thought this sign was cool, so I bought it. Anyone for a drink.






Wednesday night, all us volunteers and 3 Park Rangers, A Total of 16 got together at our RV, to party hardy for Halloween. It was a lot of fun with a lot of food. Everyone brought a dish to pass or should I say dishes to pass. I put together some games and we all got some good laughs, and got to know each other better. By 9 pm it was all over, most of us including Dave & I had to go to work Friday, the next day.


COCONUTS ??  Dan got some, drilled them out and poured the water (juice) into containers. Then Dave & Dan cut them in half with saws and scooped out the milky white coconut. This was all for making  fresh  pina coladas.  They were delicious and  couldn’t be any fresher.


This is the pina colada table complete with the blender and ice.




Dan was bar tender making the great pina coladas for everyone.


Dave and Lois posing.

IMG952019103195181901232Frank, Lois and us. They are from Ohio, also on there first work camping gig. As you can see Melissa is dressed up as a fork in the road.


Audrey and Lisa on the right. Lisa is a single workcamper and has been here before.


Audrey and Brian from New Hampshire. They are on there first work camping gig.



Mendy and Charles, from the deep south Atlanta Georgia. They have work camped here before.


Barb and Bill from Ohio, they are dressed up as snow birds Ha Ha.  They got The Best Dressed Halloween Certificate at the party. This is there first work camping gig.


Can you guess what Dan’s costume is?  Face Book,  he and Jackie are seasoned work campers for over 4 years, they have been here before. He used to be a drummer in a 80’s hair band that opened for Fog hat


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Elene, she is the park’s Volunteer specialist ,and the one we answer too.

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Jackie, with Lindsey, who is the park’s service specialist in the aquarium, which is in the visitor’s center.


Jackie and Lindsey.


This is Drew, who is a park service ranger, and one of the youngest


Brian, Frank, and Dagny Dave, chilling out. Great party fun had by all.