sunflowers

sunflowers

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Day at Geiger Key Beach

Florida Keys (high 82, low 71)

Our weather has been pretty consistent in the week that we’ve been here. We got a decent rain one of the first few nights that washed off the pollen.  The wind has been gusty most days, but we really don’t mind…in fact it feels so nice, especially at night with the windows open.

Kayaking has been more of a challenge though.  The Florida Keys are situated so that you can boat, fish, dive, snorkel, and kayak either in the Atlantic Ocean or the Bay side (really more like the Gulf of Mexico to me).    Unless we’re having a hurricane, you can usually find a nice calm place to get in the water.

Yesterday, the winds were supposed to lay down, so we chose to have a picnic and kayak trip on what we call Geiger Key Beach, which is on the Atlantic side.  It’s near the little water front bar we like to go for their famous Hogfish Sandwiches.  We decided to stay away from the restaurant…..too many calories.

Here is a picture I borrowed from Margie of the wonderful Hogfish sandwich.  I never seem to be able to focus long enough to take a good picture of it.  I am not a big seafood person, in fact I only started eating fish a few years ago.  It has to be white meat with absolutely no fishy smell or taste. This is one good sandwich!  It’s bigger than it looks.

IMG_0026

Anyway, we set up at this nice little rocky beach which is right across from the Naval Air Station flight line.   We had a nice shady spot to eat our lunch and read.

Geiger Key Beach

We’ve never seen much jet activity there before….until yesterday.  I don’t know what was going on, but their was a lot of activity yesterday.  I love to watch military jets.  There is something about the sights and sounds of those huge engines…..wow!!   We were sitting very near the end of one of the runways.

Every so often a huge F-16 or something similar would take off right over our heads.  Most of them appeared to be the same type of plane, but one was different.  It was so stealthy that I didn’t even know it was coming until it was overhead and then gone in a split second.  Al thinks maybe it was an F/A-18  Super Hornet.  It was SO cool!  It actually gave me goose bumps.  Try as I might, I was unable to get a picture of one of those planes….they move so fast.  It was a thrill every time one would take off though, and then to watch them “playing” in the skies above us.  What a great job those guys have.   Can you imagine the view they have when flying over the Florida Keys?   Probably not nearly as much fun flying over Afghanistan though!

Al just found an article written for the NAS Key West newspaper.  It appears what we saw yesterday was part of a training mission.  A squadron of F-22 Raptors was there for two weeks training.  I don’t know when the two weeks started, or ended, but hopefully we can go back and see them again.  I can’t tell you how cool it was.

One plane that took off appeared to be different.  It was blue and white….No not, Air Force One, but Al thought it belonged to some special dignitary.  I didn’t get a great picture of it.  It was much smaller than Air Force One.

plane over Geger Key beach

Our plan was to kayak the area, but once we arrived there, we noticed it was pretty choppy and the wind was fairly strong.  I decided to go to plan “b” and just jet watch and try to read my book.  It was so nice sitting there.  Al decided to go snorkeling and see what was on the bottom.  He saw a few tropical fish, but nothing too exciting.  No sharks yesterday.

We ended up meeting a couple that was here from Denmark.  You never know who you’ll meet in Florida.

 

Last night, Baxter attempted to get in his blue bowl.  It houses the glass water dish for the cats and every time I  try to fill it up, he used to curl up in the bowl.  He doesn’t really fit anymore, but don’t tell him.

Baxter in Bowl

Here is a picture taken on December 12.  He still fit in the bowl.  He was about half the size he is now.

IMG_8174-001

 

IMG_8178-001

The plan today is to get an earlier start…..and probably kayak the Bay side.  The week-end folks will start arriving today and more and more snowbirds are leaving every day.  We are expecting a rally this week-end, so I’m sure we’ll be getting lots of neighbors.  That’s okay, as long as they don’t stay too long. Smile

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Annual Bird Migration Has Begun

Florida Keys, (high 81, low 71)

Boy these temperatures sure don’t change much from day to day, do they?

The annual bird migration is hot and heavy here in the Keys (Snowbird)  They are pulling up left and right and soon we expect to almost have the place to ourselves.  April 1st should be the end of most of the snowbirds. Of course April also starts the season for the folks that have a summer week-end site.    Lookout Florida, the snowbirds are migrating north!

Yesterday brought some pretty gusty winds, so we decided against kayaking. 

I don’t know if you will remember me telling you about the fabric we bought last winter for a rv rug, but it’s working great in this wind.  It’s from a place in Center Hill, Florida and here is my blog link.   It  doesn’t blow up in the wind….and we’ve had some pretty good winds to test it.  Our site is gravel, with some fairly large rocks.  We hesitated to lay down the rug, thinking it would blow away on those big rocks…but so far so good.  Most people around here have brought their rugs in, unless they are anchored down.

This is a picture of it I posted last year.  You can see it looks like a piece of fabric.  It won’t kill grass either.

IMG_2085_thumb

The fabric is similar to what you put on your front windshield to block the sun, or MCD day shades.

Since it was too windy to kayak, we had thought about catching the bus and making a day trip to Key West.   In the end, we decided to just hang around the house and do a few chores.  Our neighbors here from Colorado, made the trip to Key West, and said everything was so crowded due to spring breakers.  Boy are we glad we didn’t go.  It was like that the last time we were there and we didn’t enjoy it.  I guess we’ll wait until after Easter.  When are those spring breakers going to be done anyway?

I took advantage of the winds to do some laundry.  I love to hang laundry out on our little clothes line, if at all possible.  Yesterday was the perfect day.  Our little Splendide washer/dryer is nice, but it takes quite a while to dry the clothes.  The clothes line sure speeds things up, and especially on a windy day.

I made Al some nice pink Key West shrimp scampi for dinner last night. I had never made it before, but I just cooked the shrimp in some Promise Margarine, with chopped garlic and some lemon juice.  He was pretty happy with it.    I am trying to follow the Weight Watchers diet, so I just had a salad.  I’m not having any trouble sticking with the meal plans, but I want my evening happy hour…..after all, we are in the Keys!

We went over to the fitness center for a while yesterday and did several long walks around the park…hope that will counter-act my evening vodka tonic!

We’ve been thinking about going on a fishing charter while we’re here. We understand the  Tarpon are running now, however in checking their prices, we found a trip cost $450 for a 4 hour trip.   Too rich for us!  There are other deep sea fishing charters all over for $60 a person.  That’s more to our budget.  Al will go on one for sure, but I’m not so sure about me.  I have been known to get sea sick and the Keys has the rocking and rolling-est water I’ve even been in.  Even when you get in and head to the bottom on a scuba dive, you can still feel the surge.  My worst sea sick experience was right here in the Keys and I’m not anxious to repeat it.  I used to always take anti nausea medications, however I am not allowed to take it now with the high pressure in my left eye.  I didn’t get a chance to get that eye fixed before we left Tampa and I have to be careful what I take for a while.  No Dramamine, no antihistamine's, no Sudafed.  It’s a good thing there is no pollen here!

There are some natural things you can use to prevent seasickness, like ginger and a band that goes on your wrist.  I have use the band twice…and got sea sick the second time.  Ginger might be an option, but if it doesn’t work, 4 hours can be a very long time if you’re sea sick.  We’ll see, I guess!

Sunrise at Sunshine Key Rv Park and Marina

sunrise across street from sunshine key rv

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shark

Florida Keys  (high 81, low 71)  breezy

We loaded the kayaks up onto the roof racks of the truck and headed down towards Big Pine Key.   The winds were down in the morning, but by noon, they had started to pick up.  We really need to get started earlier!

Our plan was to find a nice little beach area close to the road, where we could launch the kayaks then sit under a nice shade tree to have our lunch and read a little.

Unfortunately, the place Al wanted to go was not real close to the road, so we had haul the kayaks to the water on the kayak cart.

He had heard this particular area was rocky and we might find some lobsters there.  Lobster season ends March 31st, so we have to get busy!

We had just started our paddle, and were only in about 18 inches of water when Al  spotted a sting ray, then a minute later he saw a small shark.  Al kept seeing the shark all afternoon, but I only got one really good look at it.   I never got a chance to get a picture, unfortunately.  We’re not sure what kind of shark it was.  It appeared black from the surface with a wide head area (not a hammerhead).  We’re  used to seeing sharks while diving, but not from above, so we couldn’t identify it.  I need a good shark book, I guess.  I did read that they sometimes come in close to shore to lay their eggs, or give birth.

I did a little research and found that about 30% of sharks lay eggs and 70% give birth to live sharks.

Here is a picture I borrowed from the internet of a shark egg casing with a baby shark inside.

Ms J s Marine Ecology Class  Shark Reproduction

And another picture I borrowed of a live birth.

Mating and Reproduction of Sharks

The water was crystal clear and the bottom rocky.  It was a great place to kayak and snorkel, but the darn wind made it difficult to kayak.  Every time I put down my paddle to snap a picture, I lost ground and had to paddle like crazy to get back to were I had been.  The further offshore we got the windier and rougher it got.  We hope to get back there and do some snorkeling and more paddling on a calmer day.

We saw several conch shells.  Here is Al showing me one.

Al kayaking off Big Pine Key, with conch

He found it easier to walk around than to fight the wind and paddle.   You can see how shallow the water was.

Al kayaking off Big Pine Key

On that dock in the above picture, sat a handsome fella.

iguana

There are lots of Iguana’s here in the Keys.

The next picture is a beautiful sea grapes bush.

Sea grapes

I think they are so pretty when the leaves start turning red.

sea grapes

On our evening sunset walk, Al spotted a bird (Grackle) floating alive in the water by the marina.  He couldn’t reach him, so we found someone to loan us a big net.  Al finally fished the little half drowned bird out of the water.  We left it in the net so that we didn’t scare it to death.  He was alive when we left him.  We’re hoping he was able to fly away.  The guy who gave us the net was going to check on him.  I want to think he was going to be okay.   Okay…that’s two rescues in two days….par for the course!

IMG_1074

We have sure been enjoying the nice ocean breezes at night.  We have to run the a/c during the day, but at night we sure enjoy the tropical sea breezes.  It makes for some great sleeping!   It’s supposed to be windy again today, and then calming down tomorrow.  March is known for being windy, so we’re not complaining.  It keeps the temperatures down.  It sure feels tropical here now….so much different than the mainland of Florida.  

Mr. Baxter got weighed yesterday.  He is now 11 pounds….up half pound from about 2 weeks ago……uh oh.  He will be  8 months old the first of April.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Florida Keys Exploring

Florida Keys (high 82, low 71)

Yesterday brought low humidity and temps in the upper 70’s.  It felt pretty good.

We took a drive up to Marathon Key and did some shopping.  Al needed some pvc to make a storage shelf in the motor home basement.  We also picked up a little Dirt Devil cordless vacuum.  We found these at Home Depot.  This was the first time I ever saw lobster traps at a Home Depot….but here they are!

Only in the Keys!

lobster traps at Home Depot

Lobster season is a big deal in the Keys.  It starts the first of August and ends March 31st.  August first brings a flood of lobster divers to the keys…and lots of revenue.

Florida lobster can be found here in the in the Keys,the Gulf of Mexico,  and the Caribbean.  They look different from Maine Lobsters.  You don’t eat the claws, you eat the tail.  The meat is white and delicious.

Image Detail for   http   www.broward directory.com wordpress wp content uploads 2011 07 Lobster_1630.jpg

After Home Depot did a little exploring and found a pretty beach front park.  No swimming allowed, for some reason. 

pretty beach near marathon  pretty beachfront park near marathon

beach front park near marathon

Nice waterfront condo’s, with a million dollar view.

condos on the water

This next  house was a few miles offshore, sitting on it’s own little island.  I had to zoom way in, so the picture isn’t good, but you can see what a little fort it is.

IMG_1019

Here is an interesting pontoon boat we saw going by on a trailer.  It looks like there is an underwater viewing area.  Kind of neat, huh?

pontoon boat with underwater viewing area

How about this little car.  Is it a car of a fancy golf cart?  Notice the air conditioner on the top?

golf cart or car?

After lunch, and a short nap Smile, we decided to take our chairs and books down to the beach area under  and do a little reading.  The tide was out and Al saw people coming back with ditty bags full of Stone Crab Claws.  He took a walk, looking for  some, but never found any….yet.

I found an interesting critter trying to wash up on the beach.

portugease man o war

IMG_1038

It’s called a Portuguese Man O War.  You can’t see it in the picture, but they have a bunch of stinging tentacles that hang down in the water  as they float by.  You do not want to get stung!  This was such a beautiful critter.  The blues and pink colors, were kind of fluorescent.   I found a stick and helped him back into the water.  Even stinging sea critters deserve to live.

We took our normal evening stroll and watched the sun go down.  

sunshine key

sunshine key

another day in paradise

Monday, March 26, 2012

Goodbye Margie and Roger

Florida Keys  (high 80, low 70)

Margie and Roger left this morning, and they took Buddy and Annie with them!

It always amazes me how fast I can get attached to other peoples dogs.

Good-bye tiny little Buddy.

Buddy

He has a tooth missing, so he has a little problem with his tongue. I think it makes him look distinguished. Smile  Margie and Roger rescued him from a shelter.  He had been a breeder in a puppy mill.  Fortunately for him, he’s got a great home  now, and is very much loved.  The picture doesn’t show how tiny he is.  He’s only about 3 pounds.

Here is sweet little Annie.  She’s definitely a Mama’s girl.  I’m not sure how much she weighs, but is quite a bit bigger than Buddy.  Baxter weighs more than the both of them put together, I’m sure.

IMG_1002

Margie and Roger wanted to try kayaking, but the winds had been blowing so strong most of the time, that we didn’t get out until last night.  It was just before sunset, but the tide was running strong, making it  a little difficult to learn to kayak.

Margie and Roger did great though.  We put in under the beach area by the lower bridge at the park.

Margie and Roger kayaking

Margie and Roger kayaking

Margie and Roger kayaking

Margie and Roger kayaking

A very rare picture of Al and I kayaking together!

Karen and Al kayaking

We made it a short kayak trip.  We decided we’d rather spend time with Margie and Roger.   We can have a sunset paddle anytime.  We grabbed our happy hour drinks and walked over to the marina.

sunset at sunshine key

Al went in for a Conch, but slid into the water…hence, the wet butt!

wet butt Al

Al with a live Conch

Annie and Buddy came along in their stroller.

sunset at sunshine key with Annie and Buddy

Margie and I have the exact same camera…and both of us were clicking away!

sunset at sunshine key with Margie

sunset at sunshine key

Sunset in Paradise.  This is the campsite I’d like to have!

sunset at sunshine key

margie and Annie

Goodbye friends.  We enjoyed visiting and will miss you all!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Lazy Day

Florida Keys (high 82, low 71)

The seas calmed down once the strong winds subsided….a perfect day for kayaking, right? 

You’d think we’d have gotten motivated enough to take a paddle, but we didn’t. 

We bought some yellow tail snapper from the “fish lady.”  She comes every week and sells very good and fresh fish.  She and a friend had been diving the day before and hauled up 78 Florida lobsters!  Talk about fresh.  We didn’t buy any though because our freezer is full and we still have some lobsters from the last time we were here.  Maybe next week.

Our new sewer hose arrived, so we’re good to “go”. 

We drove down to Big Pine Key for the flea market, bought a little produce (limes for my drinks) and a glass strap for Al.  After we came home, a nap was in order.  Yes….we’re on island time for sure!

After our nap we walked over and visited with Margie and Roger….they’re on island time as well and also had an afternoon nap.

Al and I decided to walk over to the beach area underneath the big bridge.  The tide was out and we could get there without swimming.  It gave us a chance to explore the rocky area and look for spots where one might find lobsters.

It’s not real pretty when the tide is out, but it was interesting to search for treasures.

rocky beach area behind bridge...tide out...sunshine key rv resort

There were a few shells and pieces of coral, but I was searching for the real thing….sunken treasure.  Remember Mel Fischer discovered the wreck of the  Atocha in this area a few years back and pulled up millions of dollars in gold, silver and jewels.  There just might be a few trinkets washing ashore?

We then walked over to the marina and watched the fishermen cleaning their catch.  Note, the fish cleaning station is in a fenced in area?   Note on the bottom of the picture, inside the fence there is a cat watching?

cat at fish cleaning station at sunshine key marina

There is usually a cat there, as the park has quite a few park kitties.  All appear to be well fed though (thankfully)

We watched some kayakers go for a late afternoon paddle as the sun was going down.

kayakers at sunshine key marina

Then we walked around the marina and looked at all the yummy Mangrove Snappers swimming by the boats…in a no fishing area Smile

sunshine key marina

It was another beautiful day.