Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Keys, More Friends, More Sunsets

We continue to relax and enjoy the wonderful weather in the Keys while doing more exploring of the area.  It has been a great January with the weather being so warm that for the first time in our lives we went through a January being able to wear only shorts and t-shirts.  That was fantastic.
In Key Largo you can take a ride on the original African Queen that was used in the 1951 movie.  The boat has been restored and is still powered by a steam engine.  We did not go on the boat, but it was really neat seeing it.
Dave, the campground host at the Elks, let us use a kayak to explore the waterfront in the area.  We had a grand time even though we did not see any manatee where we thought we would.
We did a day trip to Big Pine Key to visit the National Key Deer Refuge.  These endangered deer, which are a sub-species of white tail deer, are only found on 25 islands in the Keys.  Young fawns only weigh two to four pounds.  This "large" buck was only about three feet tall.  The does are even smaller and the yearling (top right) was not much over a foot tall.   If you visit the Keys make sure you see these small natural wonders.
Some other wildlife we have seen in the Keys; an iguana, a giant crab, a turtle and a peacock.
Also at the refuge we got up close with this gator.  It slid into the shallow water and was sunning with many fish swimming around it without being bothered.  We were on a deck and were closer to a gator than we have ever been.
The sign sure tells the real story.  Gators are meat eaters.
We stopped at the No Name Pub on No Name Key.  We added our dollar to the 135,000 others have  put on the walls and ceiling over the years.  The money is several bills deep making the No Name a great stop, as the sign says, a great place if you can find it.
This building in Key Largo has a Wyland marine painting.  We have seen several of these during our travels.  His building paintings and galleries are found around the world and are always a must see.
The whole gang from the Elks went to the Lorelei for the sunset and an evening of magic and music.  A great time was had by all.
And of course the wonderful sunsets continue.  Each day brings a new, beautiful scene.
And another.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Art, Fish, Friends and More Sunsets

We continued to have great weather to explore the Keys with Tom and Georgie.  Evenings were spent just getting caught up and with the guys getting the best of the girls at euchre.
We went to Robbie's to feed the tarpon.  Some of these fish are as big as a person and they come out of the water to take the bait right out of your hand.  Top right is the warning wall with all the sunglasses, cell phones and other things people have dropped into the water.  Georgie does not look to thrilled about this does she?  To see what happened to Tom's finger here is a short videoHere is another video of me feeding the fish.  The guy with the net was to keep the pelicans away and to rescue fallen objects from the sea floor.
We did the Art Walk in Islamorada.  This event happens the third Thursday of every month and had several vendors and shops offering a big variety of arts and crafts with some entertainment in between.  Nanc liked the BIG chair.
We went to the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon.  This is the center where Flipper of TV fame was trained.  The center is a small facility where you can get up close with the dolphins.  Here are a few tricks they have learned; Carrying a fish without eating it, standing on their heads, doing the back stroke and a back flip.
We were real close to the trainer working with the animals.  They have programs from $25.00 to meet a dolphin to $675.00 to be a trainer for a day.  We opted for general admission and were very happy with what we got to see.  Here is a young dolphin being trained, someone getting a dolphin ride, a mom with a two year old, (bottom left) and dolphins doing their thing.  Here is a short video of two dolphins working together.
Georgie, Tom, Nanc and I enjoying lunch at the Wreck.  A fun time was had by all.
I did a bit of community service at the Elks, helping to park cars for a big event and trimming trees with camp host Dave so our neighbor could get his dish aligned.
Another fantastic Keys sunset.  It is unbelievable how great and how different they are each day.
Even when it seems like there are to many clouds they can open up for a few minutes of wonderful colors.

Friday, January 18, 2013

More Friends, More Sunsets

The good times and sunshine continue at the Keys' Elks.  We had visitors for a week when Tom and Georgie came down with a personal mail delivery and a bit of Keys sunshine.  We had fun exploring the area and just soaking up the sun under clear blue skies.
Nanc welcoming Tom and Georgie.  They had to be careful not to get burned in the sun as they have been bundled up all winter.
Watching the wildlife is a major past time here.  This is a rare triple with an ibis, little blue heron and  iguana all together on the jetty at the Elks.
We did a day trip to explore Key West.  It is a great town for people watching.  You never know what you will see.  I loved the big dog, little dogs walking down the street together.  Of course, roosters rule the roost in Key West and are protected from harm by law.  They have the run of the town.
Nanc and Georgie checking out the sandals at Kinos.  Georgie bought a pair that she had to wear here because she won't be showing off sandals any time soon back in wintery WashPA.
We had not visited The Harry S. Truman Little White House on our previous visits so it was a priority this time.  The house was originally used as the navy base commander's home.  It was used by six presidents; Taft, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Truman, who used it the most.  Truman stayed here 11 times for working vacations between 1946 and 1952.  The home, which is decorated with the original furnishings from 1949, is still available to all presidents and their families. 
No pictures are allowed inside the house.  Here is one of the tropical shirts that Truman and his staff always wore when he was here.  He called it his Key West uniform.  I did get my picture taken with one of my favorite president.  Here is a link to our blog entry about our visit to the Truman Museum and his home in Independence, Missouri.  
Tom, Georgie, Nanc and I in Mallory Square in Key West.
A famous Key West sunset was on our to do list and we were not disappointed.  There are many street performers, from musicians to sword swallowers, who entertain the crowd as they wait for the sun to drop into the water.  Just a tip, if your schedule is flexible make sure you go to Key West on a day that no cruise ships are in port.  Here is a link to the schedule. 
A couple of pics of the beautiful sunset.
Someone on Facebook asked if the sunsets are really that beautiful.  Yes they are and they are very different every day.
Nanc, Bogie and Georgie hanging out at the Caribbean Club where part of the movie Key Largo was filmed.  You never know who you will meet here.
We have heard several bands and this blues band at the Lorilei, another sunset spot, was our favorite. 
The sunset was not that great on this evening, but the reflection on the water was fantastic.
We don't need to leave the Elks to see a great sunset. (See previous post) Many gather every evening to watch and we even had entertainment by Kato, the ball catching dog.  Top left are Karen, Greg, Kay, Todd, Linda and Paul.  Bottom left are Trudy, Paul, Mike, Paulette and Gary.  Top Right is Maureen and bottom are Tom, Georgie, Jim and Nanc.  An grand time was had by all.
We were rewarded with this view.  Another superlative sunset.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Key is the Weather

We have had a great, laid back first week in the Keys.  We took walks, rode our bikes and did a lot of reading all while relaxing in the tropical breezes at the Keys' Elks.  We enjoyed eating at outdoor restaurants as it is warm enough for shorts even for Nanc.  The weather has been the best we have experienced for any of our six winters on the road.  The high temps have been from 79 to 82 and the lows have been from 71 to 75.  The ten day forecast is for more of the same:)  It did rain for about 15 minutes one day, but other than that it has been perfect.  One of the great things about the Keys is the sunsets and here at the Elks we have a spectacular place to watch. 
This the what we see from the RV window and where we have spent most of the week. 
Sunset 1/1/13
Sunset 1/2/13
Sunset with Paul fishing. 1/3/13
Sunset 1/4/13
Sunset 1/5/13
Sunset 1/6/13
Sunset 1/7/13
The sunsets are different everyday with some being just average while others are spectacular!!!
This fish was hanging out on the dock.  Not sure what it is.
There are several iguana living around the Elks.  They love the warm weather even more than we do.
The woodpecker is also a local resident.
This white heron was waiting for some scraps from fishermen who were cleaning their catch.
Our first week has been very relaxing and we are looking forward to doing a bit of exploring in the area.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jupiter - Out of this World

We had two great weeks in Jupiter with our friend, Mary Lou.  We really like the area because there is so much to do and there are many very good restaurants.  Mary Lou had us over for dinner a few times but most nights we went out.  It is wonderful to be able to sit outside and have dinner, especially in late December.  We also watched several movies as Mary Lou is in charge of movie night in her condo.  We saw The Magnificent Marigold Hotel and a great dog story, Red Dog, at the condo and we went to the theater to see Silver Lining Playbook (good) and on Christmas day we went to see Les Miserables and I must say I was "les miserable."  Nanc and Mary Lou loved it. 
We did a couple of bike rides from the campground.  Jonathon Dickinson is a great place to ride and see a lot of wildlife.
There are a lot of gopher turtles in the park.
Here are a Great Blue and Little Blue Heron doing a little fishing. 
In the same spot was this osprey.  Check out the claws.
On Christmas day we walked on the beach and found this sandman.  So much neater than any s**nman I have ever seen. 
I got to take my Christmas day swim in the Atlantic.  The water was wonderful. 
After les miserable movie we returned to Mary Lou's for a fantastic Christmas dinner.  Wonderful salmon with all the fixins. 
Another day we took a bike ride on Jupiter Island, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country.  I checked home prices on Zillow at this intersection and the prices ranged from a low of 2.5 million up to 20 million.  This is a 1% community.  Many of the homes have the names of the owner on these little signs along the road.  I don't know how the Service family made their money, but they seem to own a lot of homes here.  Tiger Woods, Bill Gates and Celine Deon do not have their names in front of their homes.
A gator in the lake across from where the rig was parked.  You never really know what is in the water in Florida.  Every time we have been here there is a story of some out of state visitor throwing a stick in the water for their dog and the dog getting eaten by a gator.  We also saw three different snakes, but stayed to far away to get any pictures.
The Jupiter lighthouse at night with holiday decorations.  We went to the top for the great view of the area on our first visit.
We did a trip to Lion Country Safari to see the many animals.  It was a drive through exhibit so you did get up close and personal with many different animals.  Here is a web album of the many animals we saw.
A high point of the visit for the ladies was feeding the giraffes.  Mary Lou got really close.
Nanc after she fed this giraffe.  There is a picture of her feeding the giraffe on the web album.  We really loved the visit to Lion Country Safari.  The animals were much more active than I thought they would be and you can get really close to many of them because they roam freely. 
New Years Eve was our last day in Jupiter and we celebrated with a great dinner at the Kee Grill and a laugh filled evening with the Capitol Steps, a political comedy group that is a must see for anyone who loves to laugh at our political leaders.  At Midnight we all watched the ball drop in Time Square and had a toast to Jack with Makers Mark.  We had a great visit to Jupiter and spending the holidays with Mary Lou.  We have now moved to the Keys for the month of January.  Our daily view is the picture that is the header of the blog.  Life is Good!!!!