Saturday, January 23, 2016

Friends, Art and Sunsets

When we went on the road one of our goals was to spend the winters where it was sunny and warm. We soon learned that unlike WashPA there are places where the sun shines almost daily with enough intensity to keep us warm even when the temps are in the high 60's or low 70's.  Another thing we learned was many warm places are also very windy, something we did not have to deal with that often up north. With that in mind I can say the weather in the Keys this year has been less than ideal with many overcast, rainy and windy days. One day this week as a cold (cool) front moved through people's chairs and rugs went flying through the RV park.  I thought the awnings were going to be ripped off Opus before I could get them closed.  That said, it has still been the best place to escape the cold so far this winter.  So we are not complaining.
Here is the proof.  While this map shows the great temps we are enjoying (we are down by the 70) it does not show the massive storm that is threatening the East coast.  Even with the clouds, rain and wind we will not be getting any s**w.
This week we got together with Dave and Lynda who were the park managers the first time we stayed at the Elks.  They are staying further south in the Keys in Marathon this winter.  We had a fun time getting caught up with them at Puerto Vallarta, our favorite Mexican restaurant.  Here are Bill, Mary, Kathy, George, Linda, Joe, Jim, Nanc, Dave and Linda.
A grand time was had by all with a couple glasses of wine and margaritas.
We did have a couple of nice sunny days of which Deb took advantage to get out the sewing machine to work on t-shirts and sweatshirts that she sews to sell at arts and crafts fairs held in the area.  I bought a very neat tie-dyed Steelers tee that has a very warm weather theme.  Too bad it came after that tough loss last Sunday.
A down side of the cloudy weather is that we have not had nearly as many beautiful Keys sunsets.  This was the only one we had last week.
It lasted for almost an hour and changed from minute to minute.
Very nice.
It is amazing how long the sunsets continue down here.
I liked the big X on the clouds and the reflection on the water.
If you are in the Upper Keys the third Thursday of the month add the Art Walk in Islamorada to your to do list.  There are several galleries showing works of art and local artisans' booths with a big variety of work.  There is always music and a great new addition this year, the Florida Keys Brewing Co.  We enjoyed looking and even bought a couple pieces of jewelry.  Of course I tried the beer and it was great. 
You gotta love the Keys.  Where else other than here can an old man meet a beautiful, young mermaid?  Our month here has been flying by and as always it has been fun spending time with all our friends and just kicking back while we wait for it to warm up.  I remember the first time we visited Key West and a guy in the band said, "I'd rather be here drinking a beer than freezing my ass off up north".  Well said, well said!!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Friends, Hollywood and Sunsets

We have moved to the Florida Keys Elks for the month of January to escape the winter chill the rest of the country is having.  While the weather has not been all sunshine and hot temps, it has been the best weather in the country, so we cannot complain.  This is our third January in the last four years here, so we now have many friends who we look forward to seeing.
A couple of mornings our view was a bit foggy, but still beautiful with the palm trees and tiki hut.
Several days that started overcast ended with sunshine that Nanc is really enjoying.
Here are Gary, Nanc, Joe, George, Linda, Kathy and Jean all gathered in the bar at the Elks and who were all here this same time last year.  It is always great getting together with friends on the road.  On our first afternoon here we were asking Joe and Kathy about their 2016 travel plans.  They told us the would be traveling toward New Orleans to take a cruise to Central America at the end of April.  Guess what?  It is the same cruise we are going on!  How neat!!!
Our favorite thing about this RV park is the wonderful sunsets we get to see by just walking 30 yards from Opus to the tiki hut.  The heading picture on the blog was taken here.
The Hollywood connection mentioned in the title is the filming of the Netflix series Bloodline.  We have never seen it but it is neat seeing them filming at several locations around Tavernier and Key Largo.  This scene was just down the road from the Elks.
They filmed into the night with big lights and reflecting screens that turned night into day.
About once a week a big food truck sets up at the Elks to feed the crew of Bloodline.  We did not see any of the big stars, Sissy Spacek or Sam Shepard, but it was still neat seeing the whole operation.
We also went out to dinner with some new people who were here for a few days.  Here are Nanc, Maryann, Larry, Pat, Dave, Kathy and Joe at the Pilot House.  Good food, a fun time and friends.
Another day and another great sunset.  This one may be as good as the one we use for the blog.
They are the greatest when they reflect off both the clouds and the water.  There is no place else that we stay that we can view such beautiful sunsets without having to leave the comfort of the RV park.  Just wonderful!!
Many evenings the sunsets go on and on for almost an hour, changing as the sun is setting all the way down in Key West.  Very Neat Indeed!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Mary Time in Jupiter

Of our nine Christmases on the road we have spent five with Mary Lou in Jupiter, FL.  We stay at nearby Jonathon Dickinson State Park that is very convenient being only about five miles from Jupiter.  In addition to getting to spend so much time with a good friend, the area has a lot of great restaurants and many other things to do.  Mary had us over the first night for a great meal and an evening of catching up.  
On Saturday we went to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre to see the play Billy Elliot.  It is a great play about a young boy, the son of a coal miner, becoming a ballet dancer amid the turmoil of the UK Miners strike of l984 and 85.  The music was by Elton John.  Interestingly, one of the young characters (Billy's best friend Michael) is a 9th grade Musical Theatre major at Lincoln Park near Pittsburgh.  It was a fun start to our stay.
As you know we love to search out music venues during our travels.  Last year we discovered the Double Roads where the Jupiter Jazz Society has a great jam session every Sunday afternoon.  We went both Sundays we were there.
You never know who will be playing.  We saw this young sax player, Dylan Thomas, last year.  This year he arrived with friends on skate boards.  He has a rock band but also has a great future playing Jazz.
Like I said you never know who will be there or what instrument they will be playing.  I don't know that we have ever seen a violinist playing Jazz.  Very cool!
Another day we went to see the new Star Wars movie.  It was very interesting seeing how all the original characters have aged and how there roles have changed since the beginning of the series.  We saw it in 3-D and recommend seeing it that way if you can. 
This is always a great place to bike, nice and flat.  One day we rode in the park to the top of Hobe Mountain, the highest spot in South Florida at 86 feet above sea level.  There is a great view of Jupiter Island and the park from the top of the "mountain". 
Another day we biked on Jupiter Island to check out how the rich and famous who live there are doing.  Looks like they are doing well enough to buy a two million dollar beach front home to tear down so they can build a new house.
My favorite restaurant here is the Food Shack and now as an added bonus they also have great music.  Every Wednesday it is Pam and Dave who play a great variety of contemporary music.  We had two wonderful evenings of food, music and dancing.
Another great part of travelling the country is all the interesting people we meet.  This is Jennifer and Chris who we invited to sit with us while listening to Pam and Dave at the Food Shack.  After talking to them for a while they related a hilarious story about their wedding in Key West.  They had a huge wedding attended by family and friends and were married by the local priest the hotel had recommended.  Eight months or so later Chris just happened to read an article about a guy who had been convicted for committing fraud all over the place.  It turns out it was the priest who had married them and he was not a priest at all.  Not only had he marry them but many, many other couples.  Needless to say they were blown away and had another ceremony eight months later.  They were a lovely couple and took it all in stride. 
On Christmas Eve we went out for another great meal at Portobella.  This has become a tradition for us.  
Every year that we are here for Christmas I take a swim in the Atlantic.  Growing up in Pittsburgh anyone who went into the water over the holidays became a member of the Polar Bear Club.  I guess this qualifies me:) 
Even Nanc got into the act this year, but only in the pool.
After the swim and some pool time Nanc and Mary cooked Christmas dinner.  As you can see they believe that a bit of wine makes for a better meal.
Mary's neighbors Jack and Mervat arrived in Jupiter Christmas day and joined us for dinner.  We met them here a few years ago and discovered they live on the same street as my brother in Pittsburgh.  Small world.
South Florida Christmas decor.  This was one street in a neighborhood where every house was decorated.
Very neat.
We visited the Loggerhead Marine Life Center the first year we were here to see the turtles.  The center's mission is conservation of the Florida coast with an emphasis on saving sea turtles.  They were returning two turtles, Jax and Dru, into the Atlantic.
The event drew a crowd of over 700 people who lined the beach into the water to cheer for the turtles.  After getting to swim with the turtles in Mexico it was very neat to see this release.
New Year's Eve was our last night in Jupiter and we celebrated the day in style.  Mary's friend Pat joined us for a great dinner at Seasons 52 and then we went to the Kravis Center in Palm Beach to see The Producers, a musical by Mel Brooks.  It was a very funny play and a great way to ring in 2016.

It has become a tradition for us to spend the holidays with Mary Lou when we are in Florida and even though we just left we are already looking forward to our next visit in a couple years.  Mary Lou is a great hostess and we thank her for her hospitality.  As we always say, being able to spend time with friends is one o the greatest things about our lifestyle.