Tuesday, March 30, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

We really hadn't planned on doing much for St. Patrick's Day with it being a work day, but friend and neighbor, Dave Johnson let us know he'd be playing at Castaway's and he would greatly appreciate the support. So it was off to Castaway's as soon as Jeff got off work. Several friends joined us and it ended up being a really, nice time. One of the highlights of the evening was when Dave asked Jeff and I to join him on the mike while he performed "Wagon Wheel" [Old Crow Medicine Show via Bob Dylan]

We hope everyone had a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day!

In the pics: Stephanie [S/V Legend], Karen [M/V Magna-C], Jameson [S/V Baby Blue], and Dave Johnson [S/V Choucoune]

We always enjoy watching Dave live whether it be on our boat, at the tiki hut, or at a local establishment...and here's a small clip for you to enjoy as well.

And thanks to Donnie & Janet for Jeff's extra fancy, St. Patrick's Day work shirt. Check out the authentic City logo.
Cool, huh?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good Food & Good Company

~Company Arrives
Our latest wave of company fled a cold, gray, Kentucky morning and arrived to sunny skies Wednesday, March 11th. Meet Donnie and Janet Chambers. Donnie and Jeff used to be beat partners in their early days on the police department. In fact, they still say they've spent more nights together than they have with either Janet or I. Oh well. Good for them.
Since Jeff was working Wednesday, I made the trek to Ft. Lauderdale to pick them up at the airport and greeted them with cold, fruity beverages for the ride back...that's how the Misty Shuttle rolls. They had been traveling since the wee hours of the morning and I had a sneaking suspicion that they might require a stop for sustenance, plus, I remembered from previous visits that Janet requires food every 2 hours. I even had snacks in the car...just in case. We made it to Alabama Jack's without anyone passing out from hunger and ordered fish dip, smoked fish, fried grouper, and shrimp and soon had a table full of delicious food. Once everyone's bellies were content, we headed back to the main road with stops in Key Largo for the African Queen...Yes, they had seen the movie! ...and to re-up our supplies. We arrived at the marina with Jeff waiting patiently under the tree, loaded the dinghy, and headed for the boat. Janus was very happy to see his "Uncle" Donnie whom he loves to take for long walks in the park. He was also happy to see Janet as she had brought him a squeaky baby which he then promptly shredded.
For dinner we were off to Dockside by dinghy and had a pleasant surprise when we got a good listen of the evening's entertainment, Rob Sweet. He played quite a few excellent covers [John Prine, John Hiatt, Todd Snyder] but we were most impressed by his original music. We bought his CD along with a couple of "Sweet" bumper stickers and the CD sounds just as good on the boat as he did in person...a somewhat rare occurrence. We wish him well and hope he returns to Marathon soon.
The next morning, Donnie & Jeff were up at the crack of dawn and headed in for a boys breakfast at the Pig before Jeff had to go to work. Donnie brought us girls back something to nibble on and then while a slightly hung-over Janet and I went to yoga, he and Janus hit the park.
After yoga, we were off to the Keys Fishery for a bit of lunch...cracked conch, fried grouper, and snapper tacos. A little bit of grocery shopping was in order and then we headed back to the S/V Exposure for some suntan time on the deck. We had dinner on board...rotisseried, dry-rubbed ribs; corn on the cob; cheesy broccoli; and garlic bread...and called it an early evening.
We had big plans for Friday.
Jeff took the day off and we all headed to Key West. The plan was to ride the trolley and see the sites so our first stop was Mac's Sea Garden to purchase tickets. We had a bit of a wait for the first trolley and we were a little thirsty so we started walking. We stopped briefly at the Schooner Wharf Bar and then on to Captain Tony's. One of our very favorite people, Brian Paul, was playing so we settled in with a couple of pirate punches. We were having such a good time listening to Brian [Janet was jazzed because he knew some Pearl Jam] that we were reluctant to leave and catch a trolley, but we had already purchased the tickets, so we said our goodbyes and headed to trolley stop #1, Mallory Square.
The great thing about riding the trolley is that you can get on and off at any of their stops. We stayed on until stop #10 which put us at the Southern-most point. So here we are, the Southern-most people having a really good time. Then we walked around the Southern-most block, stopped at the Southern-most grocery shop, used the Southern-most bathroom, and ordered a couple Southern-most sandwiches. Then we were off to the [Southern-most?] Butterfly Conservatory after which, we were back on the trolley. We finished up our tour and then decided to head back to the car. Everyone was talking about the big storm that was supposed to roll in around 6 o'clock and we wanted to get out of town first. We made a stop at Bobalu's for pizza, chicken livers, and fried green tomatoes, and it did pour pretty good while we were eating but with none of the high winds they were expecting. Then it was back to Marathon, back to the boat, and back to a very happy-to-see-us dog.
~The Marathon Original Seafood Festival
Last year, I saw an ad in the paper asking for volunteers for the Seafood Festival. It involved a 2 hour shift, a free t-shirt, and free addmission, so I got my t-shirt, did my shift, and had a really good time. This year when the call came for volunteers, it came directly to my email. I signed Karen and I up right away and as soon as I realized that Donnie and Janet's visit would coincide with the fest, I signed her up too. I even arranged for our t-shirts to be picked up for us, delivered to the marina, and to be altered with a cute v-neck & shorter sleeves.
Saturday morning, we got up and had some breakfast at the Wooden Spoon and planned out our day. The Seafood Festival was a must, but it'd be nice to work in some relaxing and suntanning time as well. We ended up at the fest in our custom T's in the early afternoon, just in time to feed our company. The food was fabulous.
The whole lobster dinners were cooked to perfection and served with melted butter, baked beans, hush-puppies, and a roll. We also tried the smoked fish spread, the conch ceviche, and the fried fish...all excellent.
Afterwards, we perused the many booths of art, clothing, jewelry, hats, purses, spices, and boat stuff and even made a purchase or 2.

The only thing we were looking more forward to than the food was Howard Livingston, and he was up on stage at 5 o'clock. Howard is the consummate showman with his variety of island tunes and crowd-pleasing presence. In the middle of the show, he brings out a blender powered by a Johnson outboard motor and makes margaritas for the audience. But, it's not all about having fun. The civically-minded Howard auctioned off the first pitcher of margarita's for his favorite cause, KOA Care Camp - a special program to send kids with cancer to summer camp. In another effort to raise money and awareness for Care Camp, Howard has started "Hat's Off For Charity" in which his trademark, turquoise blue, Mile Marker 24 hats -which you could only get before when he flung the one he happen to be wearing into the crowd at the end of a special event- are now available for a donation. As you can see in the picture, Jeff made a generous donation and we all got hats signed by Howard long with multiple picture taking opportunities.
Check out Howard's site when you get a chance...The Seafood Festival still isn't up yet in his gallery of events but I am sure it will be soon.

Now how do you top off an evening like that? Well, it was Saturday night, so we went to the tiki hut at the marina. We were all pretty jazzed and feeling no pain...Janet had already switched Donnie to water, but he snuck in a couple of sips of the good stuff whenever she wasn't looking.
Jeff played a few songs along with our musical marina regulars and it ended up a late night for us. But what a good time!

Sunday morning dawned way too early because of the time change but Janet was up, so that means the rest of us got up. We walked across to the Stuffed Pig for breakfast and afterwards, us girls had to report to duty at the front gate. Due to a slight glitch in scheduling, our 2 hour shift was shortened to 1 hour when the volunteer organizer realized she had 8 people scheduled for an hour that the gate wasn't even open. We did our time handing out tickets, stamping hands, and directing people to the raffle booth "for a chance to win a chest of seafood." Then at noon, we were off for the beer tent and to peruse what wares we might have missed on the previous day.
In the meantime, the boys were in the garage fixing our diesel generator. It had a screw broke off in the housing for the water pump and had to be pulled out of the lazarette to be worked on. Well, the thing weighs a ton, and Jeff swore if he had to take the beast out, he wouldn't be putting it back in...hence the reason it is now in the garage.

So, we are now the proud owners of a Honda 2000 portable generator and Jeff seems much happier. The other generator has since sold for a good price thanks to the boys' efforts to fix it, clean it up, and add a little paint to it, and Jeff seems pretty happy about that as well.

After wrapping up at the seafood fest and in the garage, boys and girls met up and we headed back to the boat for some more lounging around in the sun on the deck. We had the most beautiful weather for the weekend. Chamber of Commerce weather - clear skies, sunny with a breeze...warm in the day, cool in the evening. Perfect.
When the time came, we headed to shore in the dinghy and across the street to Annette's for dinner. Good food...great salad bar...and then good night!
~Last Day...
Now, it's Monday, the last day of the trip, and Jeff has to go to work. Donnie, now an old pro at running the outboard, ran him ashore and then to Leigh Ann's for cappuccinos and everything bagels. Today was beach day and since they had been to Sombrero Beach on a previous trip, Janet suggested that we go to Bahia Honda State Park, which they had recently seen mention of on a television show.
But first, I had to do the Cruiser's Net [VHF channel 68 @ 9am] since Monday is my day as Net Controller/Local Celebrity. Donnie and Janet seemed to enjoy listening to the friendly banter amongst the boaters.
Then we were off to stick our toes in the water and our butts in the sand. We set up camp on the edge of the water and then did a little beach combing. Lot's of sponges had washed up on shore as well as many other interesting sea treasures. Donnie and I took turns walking Janet while the other got to relax and read a book in the peace and sunshine. Before we left, we made a trip up the path to the observation platform...an old section of the 7-mile bridge that has been restored and provides an awe-inspiring, panoramic view of the surrounding area.
We were lucky enough to spy a pretty good sized iguana having an afternoon snack along the path on the way back down...and speaking of snacks, by now we were all starving, so, we loaded back into the car and after a quick detour to the bay side of the park, we headed to Porky's for a fabulous lunch of Sebastian Inlet clams for Janet and I and mojo pork for Donnie.
Jeff got off work at 4 and we met up with him for a late afternoon cocktail on the S/V Exposure. We told him all about our day and showed him the pictures. Then we were off to the Sunset Grille for some dinner and a beautiful view of what else? The sunset. Located right at the base of the 7-mile bridge and facing west, the Sunset Grille, formally Chappy's, offers a great selection of tasty seafood, served poolside or in their expansive tiki hut, with the best scenery in Marathon. Donnie and I both enjoyed a raw/steamed combo of shrimp, clams, crab legs, and raw oysters. Jeff had yummy panko breaded hogfish while Janet spooned down some savory conch chowder. We even got Janet to try a couple of oysters...a first. The cooked Rockerfeller variety she'll probably have again but a definite pass on ever having them raw again.
It's always sad to see people we enjoy leave. Donnie and Janet packed up their things Tuesday morning and I drove them to Ft. Lauderdale to catch a plane back north. We made a stop at my favorite Cuban breakfast place, the Blue Marlin, in Key Largo. Donnie and I enjoyed our huevos rancheros and Janet figured out that while she may not like Cuban food...she does like Cuban coffee as she snatched up Donnie's cafe con leche. We made it to the airport on time and without incident & I had to say good-bye. But, on my return back to the boat, I realized that Donnie & Janet were still with us...if not in spirit, then in black sharpie marker! Janet had stayed up late the night before their departure and left us good-bye and thank you notes EVERYWHERE...the propane tank, the water jugs, the liquor bottles, the water bottles, the bottom of a cup, the powder, the aloe vera, Jeff's vitamins, my vitamins, the aleve, the cigarettes, the lighter, the ashtray, the calendar, the butter [?], the parmesan cheese, the old bay, the dog shampoo, the tog toy, the dog pills, the car keys, my apple sticker [ungh!]...all became surfaces for well wishes. Jeff and I both found personal notes in our wallets, bags, notebooks, and hidden on the nav station. All we can say is, "You're welcome!" and "We love you, too!"...and maybe next time we'll hide the markers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All Blogged Up

Life has been a little busy here on the S/V Exposure...
We've had company, then the seafood festival, then St. Patrick's Day, and then more company, and in the midst of all that Jeff has been working on restoring another boat.
But never fear! The blogs are coming!

Here's a couple of pictures to tide you over.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pig Races

Just as I promised, here's a blog about racing pigs...
Everyone who comes to visit knows about the Stuffed Pig...it's a favorite breakfast spot, with a huge tiki hut and garden behind a hole-in-the-wall-esc diner right across the street from the marina and there's just no place better to celebrate National Pig Day. This year, pig day fell on a Monday so all the festivities were held on the weekend prior. The restaurant, which normally closes at 3 in the afternoon, boasted a special dinner menu for Friday and Saturday nights and all you can eat BBQ with all the fixings on Sunday. But the main attraction wasn't the pig on the plate, but the ones on the track. The races ran every 2 hours with 3 heats each segment and parimutuel betting with odds and everything. Another betting option won you prizes for picking the winning pigs...the more pigs you picked the bigger the prize. The proceeds for the event went to Grace Jones Community Center a local non-profit organization that provides affordable child-care to the surrounding area.
I won $4 dollar off a $2 bet...I had apparently picked the favorite, Christina Hogulara. But the rest of my wagers went to charity.
With names like Shakin' Bacon, Pork Chop Pam, Oscar Mayer, Dustin Hogman, and Brittany Spear-Ribs, you can't help but giggle at the announcements as these pigs race around the track. Most of the pigs are quite fast and the race is over before you know it and the pigs are eating cookies at the finish line. That's how they motivate them to run around the track in the first place. The pigs' diet consists of a somewhat salty tasting feed and they only get sweet treats on race day upon crossing the finish line.
[Pic right: Jeff giving Gia a better view]
Click play arrow to start video.

Our favorite pigs to watch are the huge, Asian potbelly pigs. No amount of cookies could make these behemoths hurry anywhere and their "race" can last 10 - 15 minutes.
This year, a new addition to the races was the "Pig Hop" which took place in the center of the track in between racing segments and required human participants to straddle air-filled pigs and by placing all dignity aside "hop" to a win across the finish line. The following video is hopefully the most embarrassing thing you'll ever see me do...but in my defense, I had a strategy. I was going to pick up my pig and use my long legs to run down the track to victory. Makes perfect sense - in theory. But my pig took a dive and I guess you'll just have to see the rest for yourself. I'm the one in the middle, and to my right is Matt McJunkin and to my left Kendra McJunkin, our good friends who just recently relocated to Marathon.
And don't worry, no air-filled pigs were harmed or injured in the making of this video.