Saturday, March 9, 2013

Relaxing in Paradise, Florida Style

Feb 14 – Mar 7   Boot key Harbor Mooring Field

     We spent the first few days here getting reacquainted with the marina and the surrounding area.  Not much has changed since we were here 3 years ago.  I went to Publix, our favorite grocery store, for fresh produce and bread items and Lynn did the laundry.  The washers and dryers are now $3.00 each per load, quite expensive for marinas even in the Bahamas.  The first weekend brought lots of wind, cooler temps and rain so we stayed on the boat and read.  The temps were low enough to pull out the polar fleece blanket again.
      Friends we have traveled with before are also here and we have spent a bit of time socializing with them.  I took a couple of long walks, over a mile each way, to the CVS for meds and to a local dive shop to pick up a couple of items.  I was able to get our backup propane tank filled right across the street from the marina and at a fairly decent price.
     On 24 Feb, my 65th birthday, I received a phone call at 0900.  I answered the phone to a chorus of Happy Birthday from our friends in the Bahamas.  Laura, Graeme, Bill and Terri were thoughtful enough to make an international call and surprise me.  It was the highlight of my day and great talking with them.  Thanks Guys !!!!!!!
     My brother Kevin arrived later that day for a 10 day vacation.  When he left Ohio it was freezing cold but was in the mid 80’s when the plane landed in Key West.  He actually changed into a pair of shorts while standing at the bus stop.  While he was here we made two attempts to SCUBA dive.  We took our boat out to two different reefs on two different days and both times the water was too rough to even think about going in.  At least he was able to experience the boat ride even if it was under less than optimal conditions.  One afternoon we took our dinghy out to a small island about ¼  mile offshore and snorkeled.  We spent about 2 hours in the water, which was like bath water, and saw conch, star fish, lots of fish, a moray eel, coral, and one dead lobster.   Our orders from Lynn were to bring back dinner, she wanted lobster that night.  Having failed our objective we all went across the street to a great seafood restaurant and stuffed ourselves with lobster sandwiches, stone crab claws, onion rings, coconut shrimp, buffalo wings and of course cold adult beverages.   While there we noticed  they were running a special on fresh lobster tails till the end of the week.  On Friday we walked back over and bought 12 lobster tails and one pound of stone crab claws to cook for dinner on the boat.  I cooked the tails on the grill, something I’d never tried before.  With only 3 of us for dinner there weren't any leftovers.

Our seafood feast on the boat

     One afternoon while Kevin and I went to the store Lynn called our health insurance company.  We are both now officially on Medicare and she discontinued our Cigna policy.  We were able to get a great supplemental plan through BC/BS and should enjoy a rather large increase in monthly income by not paying the outrageous premiums for the group plan from Cigna.  On this note – neither one of us even feels close to being old enough to qualify for Medicare.  That’s something for really old people …………. right????
     The last two days Kevin was here we rented a car to do some sightseeing.  I had reserved a compact but when we got to the rental agency they didn't have any available.  The woman apologized and offered me a choice of either a minivan or an almost brand new Cadillac for the same price.  Sort of a no brainer which car we got, eh?  The caddy drove fantastic and the gas mileage was astoundingly good.  We drove north up the Keys towards Key Largo stopping at a couple of places along the way.  The first was Bass Pro Shops to restock on shorts and shirts (they have the best selection at great prices) and then had a very light lunch at the restaurant outside.  Next stop was Divers Direct.  Kevin was able to get a monitor for his underwater camera and I picked up a couple small items.  I find it very hard to go to  a dive shop and not find something!  We then drove to John Pennekamp State Park and both drove and walked around the grounds.  It was amazing at the amount of “tourists” that were milling about.  Most had just returned from a snorkel trip and several seemed to be either coming or going to the beaches.  We left there and headed to see the African Queen, the same boat that was used in the movie of the same name.  It has been completely restored and is available for canal cruises for $49 per person for about 90 minutes.  Too rich for our blood so we stood and watched some fishing charter boats come back to the docks and off load their catches.  While they were cleaning the fish on the dock  pelicans floated in the water below catching the “treats” from the cleaning process.  The last stop for that day was dinner at the Fish House, a great place for seafood we found several years ago.

 Egret waiting for fish innards
Sign at the dock next to the African Queen

     The next morning we started early and went to the Stuffed Pig for breakfast.  It is a small crowded diner with good food.  After eating the large portions of biscuits and gravy, sausage, grits, hash browns, bacon, and toast we drove south to Key West.  Kevin was flying back home that day but not until early evening so we had time to play.  The drive down was scenic and without any traffic.  Our first stop in Key West was the Most Southern Point in the US.  The traffic now was so bad that we could barely get through stop lights when they changed because of gridlock.  The spot is marked with a huge cement monument and Cuba is only 90 miles off shore.  We worked our way through the streets of Old Key West until we came to Duvall Street.  For those who have never been there I can only describe it as being something from another country.  Crowded with tourist from cruise ships, bus tour people and college students on Spring Break the sidewalks are full and the mood is party, party, party.  We, as tourist ourselves, did our share of shopping and checking out more than one pub.  It’s called the Duvall Crawl when you start at one end of the street and work your way, bar by bar, down to the other end.  We cheated and started 2/3 of the way to the end.  

 Southernmost Point Marker
 Stop #2 of the Crawl
Stop #3

     We dropped Kevin off at the airport with plenty of time for him to check in and wait for the plane.  It was really nice having him visit and I really appreciated all the help he afforded.  Especially with getting water and loading the heavy jugs on the boat and the company while walking to the grocery store and back.
     Our contract here ends on 13 Mar but we will have to extend due to a couple of repairs that have to be addressed.  It could be as long as two more weeks after the 13th before we can start our voyage back north. 

1 comment:

  1. Jerry "Killer" ChristianMarch 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    I was afraid to try grilling our lobster tails (which we bought several more for the freezer) so Lisa broiled them and I just grilled the steaks. Did you go by the color or how do you determine they are done on the grill?
    We did the Duvall crawl and loved people watching along the way. Tourists are so funny looking until you realize that you yourself are a tourist. Ha! And just as funny looking to others?
    Kevin is a big boy! I was called to many bars to escort "unwanted patrons" out the door, and that picture depicts what I would see when I walked through the door. God, I miss the Department! Ha! Good times, noodle salad.