Sunday, January 25, 2015

Friends, Key West and Sunsets

We always say seeing friends on the road is one of the best things about our lifestyle and that includes having them stay with us.  We love having the chance to share our adventures with them and having extended time to catch up on what has been happening in their lives.  Tom and Georgie have visited us in California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Florida.  They usually come south in the winter to escape the PA weather.  They joined us for a week of watching sunsets and just kicking back on island time.
 We went to several places just to watch the beautiful Keys sunsets.  They had to be careful that they did not burn, exposing themselves to the warm Florida sun.
We stopped at the local World Wide Sportsman to see the Pilar, the half-sister ship to Hemingway's famed Pilar.  The ship has a great history going back to 1933 when it was built, from being a fishing boat, to taking part in World War II, to being used in the movies "Key Largo" and "The Blue Heron."  It is definitely worth a stop at the store just to see the boat and to have a cocktail at the adjacent Islamorada Fish Company to watch the sunset.  
Sunset at the Islamorada Fish Company, one of many local places to take part in the Keys tradition of watching the sunset.
At the Fish Company they feed the fish at sunset.  Usually, it's just tarpon that show up for the free meal, but the evening we were there these two sharks showed up.  Very cool!
Another day, another place, another sunset.  This one was at the Lorelei.  It is a very popular spot with great local music in addition to great sunsets.
We took Georgie and Tom to another must see local stop, the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.  The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates many birds.  Those that recover are released back into the wild, while those with permanent injuries are housed there.  They range from wading birds, to vultures, raptors and pelicans.
In addition to the injured birds, the sanctuary is a popular hangout for many different wild birds who seem to be looking for a easy meal.  All of these birds were outside of the pens.
This wild pelican was not bothered at all by our presence.  It was almost like they were coming to visit the birds in the pens.
Of course, here at the Elks we do not have to venture out to see great sunsets.  We only have to look out the front window.
We did a road trip to Key West and stopped off on No Name Key to go to the No Name Pub on the way.  The pub should be on your to do list if you visit the Keys.  The background of this collage shows just a few of the $170,000 stapled to the walls and ceiling of the pub.  No Name Key is famous for the Key Deer. The one on the left looks like a regular whitetail with a nice seven point rack.  The picture on the right shows how big he is compared to the car.  About the size of a big dog.
Look at us.  In June we were at the Arctic Circle in Alaska and now we are at US Route 1, milepost zero in Key West. Very neat and much warmer.
Any visit to Key West must include watching the entertainment and sunset a Mallory Square.  
Tom and Georgie soaking up the rays while watching the sunset.  Much nicer here than in WashPA at this time of the year.
There were few clouds but it was still a great Key West sunset with many boats on the water. 
We stopped at The Wreck near Marathon on the way back to Tavernier so we could replicate the picture that we took here on an visit a few years ago.  The place has not changed much and the food was still very good. 
One last sunset for Tom and Georgie before they headed off into the coming winter storm moving across PA.  We had a wonderful week with them sharing our warm weather time in the Keys.  I'm also happy to report that the guys reign supreme winning at euchre three out of four nights.
What did I say about seeing friends on the road.  Not long after Tom and Georgie left we got a text from George and Nan whom we met at Betty's this fall.  They are staying just a few miles south of us on Long Key and are enjoying their first winter in the warmer climes since going fulltime in April.  They stopped by for sunset and we went to dinner to share travel tales.  Life is Good!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

More Keys Sunsets

We continue to enjoy wonderful weather here in the Keys with the exception of a few mornings when it has been foggy.  Not to worry, it usually burns off before noon and gets back to sunny skies and warm temps.  We are now in full island mode where the hardest decision is where do we eat supper after we watch the sunset.  Yes, Life is Good.
The tiki hut and palm trees in the morning fog, neat but not as good as the sunsets.
One of the resident iguanas sunning by the water,
I am on a quest to take the best sunset picture ever.  It is amazing how different it is each day.
Mark provided a sunset serenade one evening.
  Another evening while we were on the dock watching the sunset this manatee swam right under us.  A sure sign the water is very warm.
The boat, the birds, a couple kayaks.  No great colors but still a neat sky.   Oh well, the quest continues.
Another day, another great sky.
This is one of the best we have ever seen.  It stretched across the whole horizon so there was a lot of color in different direction.
And another.
And more.
Check out the drone someone had at the Elks.  It has a camera and can fly as far as a half mile away.  Unlike toy helicopters, if you release the control it hovers in place and if you turn off the control, it automatically returns to where you launched it.  Very, very cool but at $1300 I don't think I will be getting this toy any time soon.
Back to another great sunset.
What can I say we love spending every evening checking out the sunsets and are rarely disappointed.  It's a tough job but someone has to do it:-)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chillin in the Keys

We have now moved south to the Elks lodge in Tavernier for the month of January.  We learned almost immediately why we love it here.  While the rest of the country saw temperatures plunging, we enjoyed warm, shorts and t-shirt weather.  The "coolest" days so far had highs in the low 70's and the night time lows have not been below 63.  Our first and only order of business was to kick back and get on island time.  We have been getting in a lot of exercise and have already ridden our bikes more in 2015 than we did in all of 2014. 
Here is our home for the next month.  There are only a dozen sites and we have a great view of the water.  Life is Good!!!!
This was our reception committee, including Paul and Trudy and Joe and Kathy whom we met here two years ago.  We passed on joining them on the raft as we did not want to enter the race on the last lap but we knew it was a sign of fun times to come.
Our number one activity is watching the sun set every evening.  It is different and more beautiful each day. 
The lodge's tiki hut and palm trees make for beautiful pictures.  This evening the boat came into view to add a bit to the picture. 
Our neighbors, Rick's and Kim's bird Boyd is always the center of attention and greets visitors.
Everyday this fun group finds some excuse to gather and party. It can be a themed pot luck of Mexican or Italian food or just appetizers for happy hour.  Left are Joe and Cathy; right are Bob, Beth, Dick, Jo and Nanc.
More of the group swapping tales.  Left are Mark, Paul, Trudy and Kim; right are Joe, Rick and Boyd. 
Another wonderful Florida sunset.
One evening a guy came into the lodge selling crab claws.  That was supper.  The were great!!!!
Another day another sunset.  It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.
I had a similar picture for the blog header before I replaced it with the one of Mt. McKinley.  It may be time to go back to this picture, but then again why change when we can enjoy the same picture in person everyday.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ending 014 in South Florida

We ended 2014 in Jupiter with another great week with our friend Mary Lou, visiting with friends and even a short visit with family.  We had one of those on the road happenings when, while we were on our morning walk in the park, we were stopped by Jeff, a reader of our blog who recognized us. He and his wife Dawn have been fulltiming for two years and loving it.  We always say meeting people is one of the great things about our lifestyle. 
I have been saying lately that we carry our bikes to prove the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, not any more, we got them out and did a couple of 10+ mile rides.  Not too bad, since it has been a long long time since we rode.  I don't believe in making resolutions but we do plan to do more riding in 2015.
We got a call from my brother Rick that he and Denise would be returning to Port Everglades from a Christmas cruise.  That was only fifty miles from Jupiter so we got together for breakfast and had a chance to catch up on all our travels before taking them to the airport for their trip north.  Another neat thing about traveling.
After we dropped them at the airport we spent some time checking out Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach.  Both are neat areas that may figure in our future plans.
Why I love Florida! The last week in December, it's 80 degrees and I got to swim in the Atlantic.  It really does not get much better than that.
On Sunday it was back to the Double Roads Tavern for another Jupiter Jazz Society jam session.  The jam began with Bossa Jazz featuring Keith Jones, on bass and Emilio Valenzuela on drums.  Then stepping in to play the keyboard was Jon Weber who took over for Marian McPartland as the host of NPR's Piano Jazz.  FANTASTIC!!!  There were also several local musicians who sat in and some wonderful vocalists.  What a treat!!!
We met Mary Lou's neighbors Jim and Nancy (yes another Jim and Nancy) on our last visit.  They are RVers so we invited them over so we could share travel stories.  It was great hearing about their trip to New England and the Canadian Maritimes this past summer.
On our second bike ride of the year we checked out the Jupiter Lighthouse.  There is a huge banyan tree on the lighthouse grounds.  You can climb to the top for a great view of the surrounding area.  If you are in the area check it out.
One of those great Florida sunsets at Jonathon Dickinson State Park.  There are great sunsets in the desert but I think they are better here because they are from the sun reflecting on the clouds, not dust like out west.  Hope to see many more of these in the Keys.
We owed Mary Lou a dinner as she had us to her place a couple times.  Nanc cooked the last of the Alaska halibut for a fantastic meal.  MMMMGood!!!!
On our last night, New Year's Eve, we went to Seasons 52 for dinner and then back to Mary Lou's to ring in 2015.  We had a wonderful stay in Jupiter for the holidays and are looking forward to returning next winter.  Now we are enjoying the fantastic weather in the Keys.  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!  May 2015 bring you GOOD HEALTH and HAPPINESS!!