Monday, January 18, 2010
I'm surprised we haven't seen T-shirts with that on them yet. While people survived, the cold temperatures were lethal to many species. There are hundreds of dead fish in the marina with even larger numbers farther north. Iguanas were falling from the trees (it was bad enough having to watch out for falling coconuts) as they passed out from the cold. Sea turtles (170 plus) washed up in a dazed condition and were rushed to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon and put in warm kiddie pools. And several Pythons were captured in the Upper Keys when they wandered out of hiding trying to find warm spots (Brenda kept the cabin door and hatch secured at all times). But as you can see the Humans survived to feast on Cuban sandwiches (from Sandy's - White Street - best so far) on Smather's Beach once again.
Key West is a place with a variety of cultural activities. Last Thursday we went to a piano concert (Mozart and Schubert) at noon at St. Pauls Episcopal, spent the afternoon at Schooner Wharf listening to the "tell it like it is" song style of Michael McCloud and endured a portion of the "Pete and Wayne Show" at Sloppy Joes (the only part I can repeat -"She was so ugly even the tide wouldn't go out with her"). We really enjoy Michael McCloud. As a testament to his popularity he has been performing at Schooner Wharf 5 to 6 days a week for the last 16 years.
Another cultural event we attended was a presentation at the Key West Library by the Key West Maritime Historical Society on rum in the British Navy. The presenter was Admiral Edward Vernon who first made captain in 1706. He was a practical man and realized that the reason crew members sometimes fell out of the rigging was due to the daily ration of 8 oz of rum each sailor was given as part of his pay. The ration was originally one gallon of beer a day but once the West Indies started making rum from sugar cane, the switch was made - it took up less space and didn't go bad. Capt Vernon decreed that the rum would be mixed with 3 parts water and half a ration served in the morning and half in the afternoon. He liked to wear a coat called a Grogram and hence got the nickname "Old Grog" . And yes - you guessed it - the mixture became known as "Grog". When a key line on a ship called the main brace parted it took exceptional skill to splice it. And the seaman who did it got an extra ration. Well this led to much grumbling so they started giving every one an extra ration. After that "let's splice the main brace" became a call for drinks ashore. And Key West has got to be the only place where the library actually served "Grog" at one of it's lectures (purely for educational purposes - with free refills).
More history at the Mel Fisher treasure museum - this time Spanish. Treasure ships heading back to Spain hit a hurricane 2 days out and sank near the Marquesas. Part of the exhibit is a 16 carat 72 oz gold bar that you can reach in and touch/lift. Well Admiral Brenda tried every which a way to yank that bar out of the hole until a guard came and told her to stop. If we come again I'm bringing my portable Roto-Zip tool.
This Saturday was the Key West Commercial Fishermen Seafood Festival in Bayview Park near the marina. The picture says it all "see Woody hold the lobster - see Brenda eat the lobster". It is a nice festival with almost no tourists. The residents of Key West are very friendly and we enjoyed talking to many of them.I couldn't resist having my picture taken with this beautiful Burmese Python. Brenda only agreed to take the picture because the camera has a telephoto lens and she could stand far away. Jungle Greg has an exotic animal rescue organization and will bring snakes , iguanas and other reptiles to your birthday party.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Well we're here - 1125 miles south of Chesapeake. Arrived on December 30 and had 3 days of sunshine with highs in the 70's. It was actually hot. New Years Eve we went exploring on our bikes and wound up at the sunset festivities at Mallory Square with about a half a million other people. There are so many people here for New Years that some fear the island will sink. The sunset turned out nice, punching through some low clouds before sliding past the edge of the earth.
After that it was off to Schooners Wharf for dinner and a carribean band. The "Lowering of the Winch" occured at midnight from the mast of a schooner in the harbor next door. New Years Day we went to Smathers Beach which is really nice because of all the palm trees you can lay under when it gets too hot. It started clouding up about 4 o'clock so we went back to the boat just before the cold front hit.
High winds rolled the boat all night making it difficult to sleep but no real problems. Since then we've been in the grip of the longest cold snap (50's and 60's) in south Florida in the past 20 years. It's supposed to be back in the high 70's by Monday.We've played tennis at the city complex a few blocks from the marina. They have round robin pickup matches morning and afternoon and the Key West residents are very friendly. We watched Dallas cream the Eagles at Guy Harvey's Sports Bar (6 different $1 drafts at all times). Hopefully we'll see the same thing again Saturday. Yesterday we went to the Eco-Discovery Center where they have exhibits about mangrove habitat and the Florida reefs. And we went to the Tropical Gardens at West Martello Tower on the south side of the island. This is an old Civil War Fort that the Key West Garden club has turned into a lush tropical setting. It's really something - overlooking the ocean. It struck us as somewhat strange that there were thousands of people walking up and down Duval Street looking in T-shirt shops and there were only 5 other people at the gardens when we were there.
As you can see Admiral Brenda enjoyed it so much she was beside herself.
Woody and Brenda High