Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Key West Sunset

We return every year to the prettiest spot in Key West, the West Martello Tower. It's an old Civil War Fort that the Key West Garden Club has taken over. They've planted tropical plants and trees all through it and part of it overlooks the ocean. If you're in Key West, you should definitely visit it. It's on Atlantic Blvd between the Aids Memorial Pier and Higgs Beach – plenty of free parking. Here are some pictures ending with my favorite flower of all.

Speaking of Brenda – (this message is for Claudette and Jennifer) – when we get back, would you speak to your Mother. As you can see she's gone over to the wild side.

Maybe you can bring her back. Wait – on second thought I think I like it – uh, never mind - just forget I said anything. The upper right picture is at the award ceremony for our “Favorite Key West Bartender”. All the bartenders and especially the ones at Schooner Wharf are terrific, but somehow John has managed to beat out the competition for the second year in a row.

When we were at the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in Big Pine Key, we met Bob and Theresa from Pennsylvania. When it was over, we suggested going to No Name Pub for Pizza. They countered with “come on over to our place for shrimp”. After they twisted our arms for a while we agreed. Theresa is a terrific cook. We met up with them a few more times before they headed back north. Some of their friends came down and we signed up for a bar stroll on Duval Street. Here are some of the places we went. In the upper picture, at Mangoes, left to right are Steve, Judy, Bob, Brenda, Woody, Theresa, and Janet. This was the double tequila shots stop – can you tell?

At the sunset celebration one night a performer asked for some backup singers to help with his version of “Daylight Come and Me Want to Go Home”. I was in the mood so I volunteered. At first, we couldn't get any other singers, but finally four lovely ladies who were also in the mood joined in. The lady to my left from Philadelphia was in the mood more than the rest of us and required some support.

We met Vic and Jeanette at the Conch Festival in Bayview Park. We got our picture taken with Miss Conch Republic. They had never been to the Turtle Kraals Tower Bar so we met them there for happy hour.

Marilyn was in front of the Tropic Cinema when we saw “The King's Speech”. The movie was good and I got an in depth review and explanation afterward from Brenda, the retired speech therapist.

Another one of our favorite spots is the Roof Top Cafe on Front Street. There's a nice view of that part of town and the food is good.

As we said in the last blog, we really lucked out when we moved in to slip #620 at Oceanside Marina. Here's a picture of our neighbor Bev with Brenda at the Pig Roast.

The last night we had a Pizza Party on the dock. We are really going to miss (until next year) our new friends from the marina. Top row, left to right – Max, Don, Gerry, Bev, Bob, Miho, Woody and Ed. Middle row – Tina, Barb, Brenda and Ryan. Front – Captain Bob with Vouve.

Well the sun has set on this year's “Go where it's warm” adventure so here are some sunset picture's from Fort Zachary Taylor Beach to close things out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Islamorada to Key West

Right next to our Islamorada marina is a restaurant with a giant Florida lobster out front. The rumor is a diver caught it and put it in an aquarium. He also happened to be a body builder. Well the word is he kept getting his steroids and the fish food mixed up until the thing got away.

The Theater of the Sea is the main attraction in Islamorada. They have a dolphin, sea lion and parrot show. The dolphin show is really good because you are very close to the dolphins during the show and you get to interact with them.

They do the usual dolphin tricks.

And they have a lagoon boat ride where they get the dolphins to jump right next to you. It seemed like they were going to land in the boat a few times.

The World Wide Sportsman store (really just an upscale Bass Pro Shop) has the original boat that Ernest Hemingway started fishing with in the keys. He liked it so much he had one built.

Inside you can see the desk and typewriter where he sometimes wrote. As you can see I'm finally writing the novel I've been telling you about. In keeping with our activities here I'm going to title it … To Have.... and Have Another.

The Doerfuls (family band with 9 boys and 1 girl from Buffalo) have moved to the keys (they were just coming down in the winters before). They are basically a bluegrass band but have widened their repertoire since last year. At the Habitat for Humanities fundraiser they did a heavy metal set. Howard Livingston (Livin' on Key West Time) was there also.

There is a bird rescue center near Key Largo. At 3PM every day they feed the pelicans by the water. Most fly in in a frenzy but this guy was rather laid back and just casually walked to the feeding.

The pelicans have a yellow neck until the first time they mate. Then the neck turns brown. How embarrassing that must be to show up that first day and and have everyone nodding and clucking about what you did last night.

We are actually in Key West now. The Oceanside Marina is nice. Many big boats.

And us.

The best thing about it is our neighbors on the dock. There are gatherings almost every night. A TV was set up on the pier to watch the Super Bowl and we've had several birthday parties and a pig roast. Many are full time residents and some are snow birds here for 6 months or so. Everybody is very friendly and helpful. This is Gerry and Bev, our next door neighbors. You couldn't ask for better neighbors. Gerry cut the stuck studs off my trailer wheel so I could remove it to replace the bearings.

Bob and Tina live a few boats down. Bob is a captain on the large Sebago boats which do the Sunset and other cruises. If you're ever down here sign up with Sebago. They're the best.

We did the Sunset Cruise with Bob and had an awesome time.

On the cruise we met Vicki and Cathy from Michigan and Crystal, Nathan and Mathew from Denver. We had a great time going out to dinner and partying with them that night after the cruise.

We have a new Top Ten in Key West entry. The upstairs Turtle Kraals Happy Hour has it all. Good drink prices, half price appetizers ($7 bucket of ribs, $5 deep dish nachos, etc..) and a view of the harbor like no other. You get to see all the sunset cruises go out and there's always interesting stuff happening like the blitzed girl in a bikini being taken out to her boat only to fall overboard and then taking a leak over the side as she finally got in and motored away. A guy she didn't know had offered her a ride in his dingy but he brought her back about 20 minutes later to a greeting party of police and EMTs. They took her out on a stretcher. Here's the view (minus the drunk girl).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Changes in Latitude

Latitude 36 degrees 50 minutes (Chesapeake, VA) December 26, 2010

Latitude 24 degrees 57 minutes (Islamorada, FL) January 2, 2011

What a difference 1100 miles can make. Fortunately the roads cleared off well enough for us to head south on December 29 and we pulled in to the marina on January 1, 2011. That's where the first problem popped up. The sign on the dock master door said “Closed Jan 1”. I guess they forgot about our reservation. No problem - I figured that I'd launch and tie up to an open slip and move where they wanted me the next day. Problem – they parked a large truck across the boat launch. No problem – the MacGregor works just as well as a camper – we'll just park in the trailer area and stay on the boat overnight. Problem – one of the people in one of the mega yachts said they patrol the area at night and we would probably be arrested. Dilemma – spend $100 to stay one night at a motel or risk incarceration? Most of you have probably guessed - we stayed on the boat. Fortunately the security here was somewhat overrated.

There are a lot of things to do when transitioning from trailering the boat to launching the boat. I remembered all of them but one. After we launched, I started the engine and backed off the trailer. When I turned the wheel so I could go forward I noticed that the boat was not turning no matter how hard I tried – well, I had forgotten to connect the rudder steering to the motor! Fortunately the boat I was backing toward didn't look too expensive and was motoring. After a lot of hand waving he realized that he should take evasive action. I backed all the way through the marina turning the motor by hand. When I had a lot of space I put it in forward and headed for our slip. It was difficult to steer this way but I only bounced off one piling and the end of our slip in a slow completely under control crash (I've got to make that checklist I've been talking about).

The marina is in a really nice city park with tennis courts, an olympic heated pool, a beach, dog park, botanical park, amphitheater and biking/hiking trails.Here's a birdseye view of the park and marina. If you put 87000 Overseas Highway, 33036 in Google Earth you can see the park and surrounding areas.

It didn't take Brenda long to relax.

Here's a shot of the moon rising over our stern.

The second day we were here brought an official welcome from the resident manatee.

He swam right over to our boat.

A family lowered a hose to him and he sucked it into his mouth drinking large quantities of fresh water.

However this should not be done (it's illegal) because it attracts them to marinas which is where they run the greatest risk of getting injured or killed by boat propellers.

We've gone to Anne's beach several times (MM 73.5). It's nice if you go at low tide when there's actually a beach. When you wake up from your nap and you are surrounded by water you know it's time to leave.