Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Trip to Miami...

We made the trip north to Miami yesterday because Jeff had an appointment to see a neurologist. We left while it was still dark, took large insulated cups of hot tea with us, and watched the sun come up over the Florida Keys. It took us about 2 and a half hours to get there. After spending 20 minutes with the doctor, the news was good: physical therapy and an anti-inflammatory are all that's being prescribed for the time being for the three bulging disks. Now for the 2 & 1/2 hour ride home.

There are only 2 ways to get into the keys and we started off our trip back by taking the alternate scenic route, Card Sound Road, which avoids some of the construction on US1 and is quite a bit more "rustic." If you've read any Carl Hiaasen books [Strip Tease, Skinny Dip, Stormy Weather, et al] you'll recognize Card Sound Road as being the place where some of the wilder antics take place. It is definitely the road less traveled and the people who live there like it that way. We made it back onto the Overseas Highway in Key Largo just in time to stop at one of our new favorite dives, The Caribbean Club...which you may remember from a previous blog. After refreshments, a stretch, and a bathroom break, it was back to the car to finish the drive south.

It may be a long ride, but the great thing about driving the keys is that there is always something to see and no matter how many times you make the drive, there's always something you've missed. This beautiful gate is a prime example. Jeff said he had seen it before, but I had never noticed it. So on this trip, we stopped and took it's picture.

We stopped and had lunch at another example. The Island Fish Company is a restaurant located less then 5 miles from us and we've never noticed it. I saw an aerial photo of it in a local publication with it's boat docks, huge tiki hut, and large outdoor dining area and wondered how we could have possibly missed it.

From the road, it's easy to miss. And although it's only 5 miles away, it's in a part of Marathon that we are somewhat unfamiliar with.

But we were glad we found it. Jeff had a fried oyster po' boy and I had the crunchy coconut lobster sandwich.
Both were really good and you couldn't ask for a better setting under the tiki hut and on the water.

A successful dining experience to wrap up our round trip to the mainland.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Weekend [Plus Some] Project

I know you all think that living on a boat is all fun & games, cocktails & sunsets...but it's not. Sometimes there are projects that need to be done that completely this instance, quite literally. This weekend while you were casually mowing the lawn [or some other land-lubber type of chore], we were removing the holding tank [read: no toilet], removing the hot water heater [read: no shower], removing the water pump [read: no running water], all of which are located under the bed [read: sleeping on the couch]. Now that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?

All of this needed to be done to remove the old air conditioner so it could go to it's new home now that we have the new roof air what you see on a RV. The new AC means fewer hassles, and a cooler boat...but I digress from the project at hand.

Removing all those things was only the beginning because now all the items that are staying on the boat have to be secured back in place. The pumps and the water heater have to be rewired. The holding tank and hot water heater have to be re-plumbed. Plus, everything has to be bolted, screwed, or cleated down. And all this gets done in the very small space under the bed. I am sure Jeff will be glad to be finished...and we almost are...just so he can get out of that hole!

On another note, Janus has been placed on Doggy House Arrest. He has apparently decided that he is big enough to walk himself. Just the other night, we didn't realize right away that he had left the boat and Jeff had to go look for him. He found the dog in the park...we don't know whether Janus wasn't quite ready to come back on his own or if he had lost his way.

Yesterday morning, the dog decided he was ready to go even if I wasn't quite and I had to dash after him in my PJ's. He ignored all my threats of dismemberment and severe beatings & went about his business.
So now, we have fashioned a gate to impede his departures and the boat looks even more like a doggy play pen then it did before.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Walking to Pigeon Key

I did quite a bit of walking when I was in North Carolina for a couple of different reasons. First off, it wasn't as hot as it was in the Keys and getting outdoors for a little exercise didn't seem like such a dreadful thing to do. Secondly, there was a beautiful park near my mother's - The Bog Garden - which made walking a special treat. And lastly, it was a great thing to do with Maddie especially in the hour or so before lunch. I'd slather her up with baby sunscreen, slap a hat on her blond little head, and strap her into her new red push car.
On one of our outings, we rescued a woman who had inadvertently locked herself in her backyard. The large plastic wheels on Maddie's new ride make the same noise as dragging a garbage can down the street. The woman heard us coming and started yelling. Maddie also seemed to enjoyed the ample opportunities to practice her Parade Float Beauty Queen Wave to the mailman, and the landscapers and roofers working in the neighborhood.

Now that I am back, I am trying to keep the walking habit alive. Marathon offers a unique, scenic walking opportunity: the old Seven Mile Bridge. It spans 2 miles to Pigeon Key and crosses over the channel that connects the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits. It has been closed to automobile traffic since 1982 with the completion of the new bridge which runs parallel.
The first day I walked a mile out and then back. The next day, a mile and a half and back.
The wind was a force to be reckoned with both days and the walk back took both more time and effort.

I walked the entire span on the third day, with the palm laden key being the reward at the end of the road. Pigeon Key is an interesting place steeped in an interesting history.

It was originally a work camp for Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad and the 8 buildings on it are all on the National Register of Historic of which has been turned into a small museum with pictures and artifacts detailing the key's colorful past. Last year, Jeff and I attended the music festival on the island and we look forward to it again this year. [Information for the Music Festival to be available soon on the Pigeon Key Foundation website.] Weather pending, we'll be taking the boat and anchoring a short distance away.
So, my plan is to walk to Pigeon Key several times a week, gradually building up my distance by adding the surrounding sidewalks and steps. Luckily for me, I have had company on several of my treks...Tim, a fellow marina resident...which makes the time go faster and more enjoyably.

And on a completely random note, this is the chicken I baked for dinner last night. I thought it was pretty enough to have it's picture taken all stuffed with red potatoes, baby carrots, celery, onion, and lemon slices & it tasted even better. Just because we live on a boat doesn't mean we don't eat well!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tomato Pavillion

Now the Florida Keys have a lot to offer a person: sunshine, water, beaches, snorkeling, boating, fish, lobster...
but,there is one thing that the Keys just do not have and that is good tomatoes.
The grocery store varieties are pale, pithy, & tasteless and the ones touted as being "home grown" come down from Homestead and are mediocre at their best.

So, I brought plants back from North Carolina & we're going to try to grow some of our own. There are quite a few obstacles we're going to have to overcome in order to do so, hence the creation of Jeff & Misty's Tomato Pavillion.
The first thing to worry about is the poor little leaves getting cooked in the's pretty brutal here. I am sure no one ever tried to grow tomatoes at the equator and we are close enough for arguments sake. So, Jeff devised some shade out of some black plastic and stapled it in place.

The fork [you'll have to look CLOSELY] is there merely for's been laying in the parking lot for as long as I can remember, so why not staple it to something? Jeff keeps referring to it as a lightening rod and someone else pointed out that it would keep birds off the top...maybe. Next, to keep the wind from ripping the the plants to shreds, the pavillion can be fitted with a wind block, and will probably need to be staked down at that point.
If a hurricane becomes imminent, we'll implement the Pavillion Evacuation Plan...which will consist of hand-trucking the whole thing into the building.

The last thing that we'll have to worry about is keeping the plants from becoming fodder for the iguanas ...because if it blooms, the iguanas will eat it. We're hoping the dog has made his presence known well enough to keep them away. Janus loves chasing iguanas!

So, they don't look like much yet, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed and keeping track of their tomato progress. The plants are all different yummier than the next. We've got a Better Boy, a German Johnson, and a Cherokee Purple plus 2 plants of a minature variety called Juliann. Jeff also planted Marigold seeds and you can see some peeking up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet Hurricane Maddie

There's not much going on here's windy as can be, hot & sunny...and we're keeping a cautious eye on the weather. We had quite the big blow on Saturday that ended up being named Claudette once it hit the Gulf. The boat rocked a little & we got a deluge of rain, but for the most part, Claudette did her worst somewhere else. So now we're on the look-out for Ana which should be here sometime next week, but has already been downgraded to a depression and isn't supposed to bring us much of anything except more rain. Bill is supposedly headed to Bermuda and won't effect any of us.

So now meet Hurricane Maddie:
Maddie is my 1 year old niece who I recently had the pleasure of spending a chunk of time with. She's full of personality & funny faces, and quite the handful. She learned to walk while I was there, developed an affinity for silverware & feeding herself, and I was able to be a part of her first birthday celebration. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with family in North Carolina & I miss her dearly now that I am back in the Keys.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The African Queen

If you haven't seen the movie The African Queen, you probably's a great old film. Katharine Hepburn & Humphrey a boat. Our local library has a copy of the movie & up in Key Largo, they have the actual boat! So Jeff and I sought it out the other day on our way back south. It's not much to look at, not very big at all [only 30 ft.], & time has taken it's toll...but it was a great stop to make, nevertheless. We had watched the movie the night before, so many of the details were fresh in our minds. The boat has been refitted with life jackets and a VHF and says it's available for charter. Jeff and I have our doubts about that.

And then since we were in that neck of the woods and in a tourist state of mind, we made another stop along the same theme at the Caribbean Club where the film Key Largo was filmed. 99% of the film was shot on a soundstage in Hollywood and most of the original building was destroyed in a fire, so there's not much to compare to the movie. They do have quite a bit of memorabilia and Bogey himself was ready to pose for pictures. There was a dog sleeping on the floor. The bartender was friendly and informative. And one of the patrons told us how he worked there as well...yet hung out on his day off...and told us about all the palms he had planted out back - as coconuts! It was pretty neat, and I'm sure we'll be stopping there again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rain, rain, rain...& TARPON!

. It's a very rainy day here in Marathon. Jeff is working a half day and going to the eye Dr. I am finishing up small choices on the blog & getting ready to load some more pictures. I've got to do a little catching up to get us current so I'll start with our visit to Robbie's.

Everybody who has driven down for a visit has been told by Jeff that they should stop and feed the tarpon @ Robbie's in Islamorada. Nobody ever does because they're all in a hurry to get HERE. But Jeff and I stopped and checked it out the other day and it was well worth it. That's Jeff's hand in the mouth of the fish & that's me holding the fish timidly and at a safe distance. Jeff was bleeding when we left. I was not. So, check out the links for Robbie's, and make sure you read the story of how all those tarpon came to be there and how it all started 18 years ago with a fish named Scarface.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting started...

I actually started playing with the blog yesterday and figured out how to add the webcam. Now I am just trying to make it look good. Then add pictures. Then add people. Tada!