Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Dashboard Cover - Day at Mall

Seffner, Florida (high 82, low 72)

It was a pretty day yesterday, warm but not too hot.  What did we do?  Kayak?, hike?, Busch Gardens? beach?   No…we went to my least favorite place. 

The mall!  There doesn’t appear be anything wrong with the economy here in Tampa.  The mall was jam packed with people of all ages.  There were very few parking spaces and the stores were almost as crowded as Christmas.  Unbelievable!  Why are all these people in the mall when it was such a pretty day outside?

We don’t go to malls often, but Al needed a good pair of comfortable shoes, so off we went to the mall…..on a Saturday.  What were we thinking?

His feet have been hurting him a lot over the past few years and we decided to break down and see if expensive/good quality shoes would help.   He got a pair from The Walking Store.   They have a good arch support in them and are supposed to be made well.  We’ll see.  They were $109….which is the most either of us have ever paid for shoes.  I looked for some shoes, but never could find any that I liked well enough to justify the cost. 

 

One reason besides the free camping and rally, that we came back to Lazy Days, was to have a dashboard cover made for the motorhome.  We needed something to protect it from sun damage as well as kitty claws.

We had it made at Wade Rv, here on the Lazy Days property.  It ended up costing $375, which is more than we wanted to spend, but we couldn’t find anyone else that made a nice cover.  They do a lot of things from re-upholstering furniture, fixing tears in vinyl/leather, front window screens, mirror and wiper covers, roller shades.  We are happy with the work they did on the  dash cover, so we may use them again in the future.

Baxter liked it too.

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They had a pattern for this particular motorhome, but he had to alter the pattern a little.  That is why they won’t make one up and mail it to you.  They want to custom fit it to your motorhome.

We decided to take off  the ugly fans on the dash and not put them back.  We rarely use them and they are unattractive….plus they got in the way for kitty naptime!

We had a  Mockingbird nest next to our campsite and they have been entertaining the kitties.  Here is the baby.

Mockingbird

We extended our time at Lazy Days three extra days.  We got a 25% discount so we won’t have to leave until Tuesday.  Then I guess we’re off to Lutz (north of Tampa) for the month of May.  : (

We sure miss the Keys!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not Much Going On

Seffner, Florida (Lazy Days Campground)  high 89, low 61

The cool front is still giving us lovely cool nights, but it looks like today will be pretty hot. 

I am having some seasonal allergy problems since we returned from the Keys.  I thought I had missed allergy season, but I guess not.  No pollen in the Keys…maybe we need to head back!  I can’t take any kind of allergy medicine right not, so I’m having to just deal with it. 

I spent yesterday taking Mom to her doctor appointment.  Her appointment was at 3 pm, and she wasn’t ready to leave the house until 3:05.  Smile

What can you do?  By the time I got home, it was 7pm.  I had spent most of the day fighting Tampa traffic. 

 

Thanks to Rick for recommending the book, Unbroken,  by author Laura Hillenbrand.  Click on the link for an excerpt. 

 Al and I both loved it.  It was an extremely well written book that was a true story of a young man who was destined for the Olympics, only to end up as a Japanese prisoner of war.  He was treated horribly and it was amazing that he was able to survive.

I have never understood how America could have dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan.  I lived in Japan three years starting in 1957.  I liked the Japanese people.  After reading this book,  I understood a little better  about why it was done.  I’m still not sure I really agree with it…but I understand better now.  Anyway, it was an excellent book and one that I would highly recommend.

Rick also recommended   the book, American Prometheus,  which is the story of the man who invented the nuclear bomb.  I thought it would be a natural follow up to the first book, so I am going to start reading it next.  Thanks Rick!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lazy Days Friends and Family Rally

Seffner, Florida

Lazy Days Rv rewards “friends and family” if you refer someone to them and  they buy an Rv.

When Gin and Syl read about how well Lazy Days treated us when they bought our coach, they decided to come here when they were ready to buy theirs.  They were nice enough to take the time to give Lazy Days our names and we were rewarded with a nice gift certificate and this three night rally at Lazy Days campground.  Thanks again Gin and Syl, we’re enjoying the  rally!

If any of you decide to buy an Rv from Lazy Days from reading our blog, please give them our names!

So yesterday was check-in day.  We didn’t know exactly what to expect.  We figured there would be maybe 50-60 people at the Rally.  We got a goodie bag that included a raffle ticket for prize drawings.

There was a dinner last night, and another one Friday night.  We got to the rally room and it was full….probably 300 people!  Well, there goes our odds of winning a prize.

There were some people there with a different color name badges. We found out they were people who had referred over 10 people to Lazy Days. They were treated like celebrities and even the CEO of LD went over and sat with them!

The dinner was catered by the new restaurant on site.  We had roast beef, salmon and several side dishes.  They also had wine, beer and punch….all you wanted.  We were treated very well.

They had a really good band,playing oldies which suited their audience.  It wasn’t long before the dance floor was full.  Al and I enjoyed the free beer and wine and listened to the music and watched the dancers with envy.  We have 4 left feet.  Smile

There are a few travel seminars during they day, but not really that much going on.   I would have thought there would have been more planned.  I guess they feel the free camping and meals is enough.  Al has to work today and I have to take my Mom to a doctor appointment, so we won’t be attending anything today.

The 299 site campground is nearly full.  Lazy Days parking lot, and the Camping World next door is also full.  I’m sure all the service bays are also full.  You would certainly never know there is a recession around here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back at Lazy Days Campground

Seffner, Florida (high 72, low 52)

Boy what a shock!  We had a very unusual cold front and when we got up it was 58 degrees this morning!   Time to turn on the heater!  We love this cool weather but unfortunately it’s going to warm up quickly.

We didn’t get to explore Naples much, but we did check out Lake San Marino Rv Resort, for a possible future visit.  They are advertising a special for the months of April and May for $225 a month.   We drove through the park and found it to be pretty nice.  It looks like it’s a French Canadian snowbird park and there were lots still there.  I can’t say that I blame them!

vlake San Marino Resort, Naples

There were a lot of park model permanent sites but still plenty of rv lots. 

We decided we probably liked Club Naples Rv resort better.  We stayed there at site J7 for one night.  It was a “pull through” site, but with our rig, the toad would have sat in the street.  Yes…it could have been a little longer.  Smile  The site would have been too narrow  with neighbors on both sides, but was fine for one night. 

Club naples rv resort

If we go back, we picked out site I20.  Many of the sites were a bit on the short site, but there was some wooded areas and we saw a lot of birds throughout the park.  It  would be a nice place to stay and explore Naples.

We left Naples around noon and headed north towards Tampa.  We had a lot of wind and it was kind of stressful.  Al was staying around 55 mph but the winds kicked up more as we approached Tampa, so he slowed down to 50 and it was much better. 

Lazy Days invited us to a free “Friends and Family” rally for 3 nights starting Wednesday.  I also had an expired coupon for 2 nights free  camping.  I gave it to them, thinking I had nothing to lose….and guess what?  Yep, we got two more nights free!  We have sure gotten to be cheapskates since we started full timing!

So, we’re happily settled into Lazy Days Campground for 5 nights, then we’ll be off to a campground nearer to Mom.

Al is working today and I’m going to go visit Mom.

It’s back to reality, I guess.

Monday, April 23, 2012

We’re Back in “Up North”

Naples, Florida  (it was 59 degrees when I got up)…and it felt wonderful!

We packed up and left the Florida Keys around noon yesterday.  I was a little concerned about the winds.   We were getting sustained 35-42 mph winds with some stronger gusts.  We figured as longs as it didn’t get worse, we would be fine.  I was concerned about driving a high profile vehicle over all these bridges.

The first big bridge of concern was the Seven Mile bridge into Marathon.  No problem there,  because we were getting a tailwind.  There was a report of some waterspouts (tornados over land), but we never saw any.

leaving the keys

Further up into the Keys the direction of travel changed a little and we blew around quite a bit on another long bridge.  It was a little nerve wracking but not too bad.  Al just slowed down.

leaving the keys

Once we got out of the Keys dark skies appeared and we got some rain.  Fortunately it didn’t last long.

Our plan was to drive about 200 miles to the town of Naples, Florida.  We planned on going to Club Naples Rv Resort, which is a Passport America Park, right off the interstate.  Unfortunately, since it was Sunday, we couldn’t get in touch with anyone in the office.   We had to hope they had arrangements for check-in when they were closed.

We stopped at the entrance and fortunately it wasn’t gated.  There was a check-in package by the gate, but before I could even get it, one of the friendly residents came by to help.  She showed us where some longer pull-through sites were and even walked me down to look at them.  By the time I got back, Mike, a maintenance man stopped by to see if we needed help.  Very friendly park.

We were surprised at how many rv’s are still here.  I guess these people are smart and staying south until it gets warm up north.

It looks like a great place to winter and after the rates in the Keys, it almost seems cheap!  It’s nicely maintained, has a nice pool, and fitness room.  The hot tub is being repaired.  We could definitely some back here.

We’re going to do a little exploring this morning ( if lazy bones will get out of bed).   They have a summer special of $189 a month.  Might not be a bad place to spend some time. We think we’re pretty close to the beaches. We lived in Florida 30 years and this is the first time we’ve been to Naples.  It’s a “high-end” town.  Lots of expensive homes, resorts and luxury Rv parks.

The following are probably the last pictures you will see from the Keys.   These were taken during the last few days we were there.

Here is Al trying to take it all in to last him until we get back!

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The view from our fishing bridge right by our campground.

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Sunshine Key at sunset.

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awwww….we’re really going to miss the Keys.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Leaving the Keys?

Florida Keys (high 83, low 71)  Sunny and breezy

We survived the storms just fine.  It rained off and on most of Saturday, but the winds weren’t bad at all and we got very little thunder and lightning. 

This morning I checked my weather App on my Droid phone (Weatherbug) and found we were in a tornado watch.  The weather radio did not pick it up, for some reason.  That would have freaked me out but in looking at the radar, I saw no rain or storms nearby.

The problem with this area is the entire Florida Keys are in Monroe County and that goes from Key West all the way up to Key Largo, which is 120 miles.  I think the weather that triggered the alert was nearer to Key Largo.  We had clear skies and minimal winds.

We are planning to leave the Keys today and head to Naples….(sigh),  but first we want to make sure the bad weather is gone from the mainland too.  Central Florida had a lot of rain and lightening overnight and there is no sense in looking for trouble.

We normally stop in the Everglades at Midway Campground but we thought it might be a bit muddy, so we’re going to stay at a Passport America park right off Interstate 75.  It’s nice the snowbirds are gone, so we have no worries about getting a site!

In reading Kevin and Ruth's blog they were going back to where they were on this day during the past years.  That got me to thinking.

In April of 2010 we had just spent a week at Keaton Beach (gulf coast of Florida) and were getting some modifications done on the motorhome. We got our TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) and our wonderful Bed in a Box memory foam mattress.  We still love it and still have no indentations in it…which was a worry when we bought it.

April of  2011 brought us back to Georgia after we got a contract on the house.  We spent the month seriously purging and having garage sales.  We had sales every week-end for over 2 months.  Our birds were busy having new families, the flowers were blooming, and we had a visit from blogger friends John and Carol.  It was a very busy month as the closing date was originally to be May 6th!  We would have never made it…thank goodness there were delays!

And this April brought us to the Florida Keys.  Who would have thunk it?

We have had a wonderful month here in the Keys and would stay longer if we could.  In fact, I think I might never leave, if it wasn’t for the hot weather and hurricanes! 

Al is still on his boat kick and he’s starting to get my attention.  I love boats and we have had boats all of our married life.  In fact we bought our first boat before we got married.  We decided to buy a boat, instead of spending a ton of money on a honeymoon.  We took our “new” boat and the two cats and spent our honeymoon at the Lake of the Ozarks,  in a little cabin right on the lake.    I guess looking back, that was kind of our first “camping” trip.  Although we didn’t have an rv or a tent, we loved being out in the woods. 

Al has been scouring Craig's List for just the right boat.  The problem is, our little truck won’t tow a very large boat and I am not going to follow along behind him towing the boat while he drives the motorhome.  Part of the fun of fulltiming, is traveling together.  So…..if we were to get a boat, it would probably have to live in the Keys and we’d only be able to use it while we were here.  It sure would be nice to have a boat while we were here though.  Yeah…he’s wearing me down! 

lots of boat traffic

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Stormy Week-end

Florida Keys-high 84, low 74 – LOTS of rain

Miami  FL Close Radar Weather Map   Yahoo  Weather

We are in the midst of the first front that is expected to hit Florida this week-end.  The second front should hit tonight and will be worse.

It rained off and on most of the night,with occasional thunder and lightning.  The wind wasn’t bad, surprisingly.

Of course the weather radio kept waking us up with marine alerts.  It was mainly just for mariners, and there were no tornado watches or warnings, so we just ignored them.  I really wanted to turn it off and get some sleep, but I decided that probably wouldn’t be too smart. 

So….tonight we are expecting round two and this one may be more severe.  I am a worrier when it comes to weather, so I’m not looking forward to this evening.

Apparently this weather pattern is some kind of very unusual phenomenon that they are comparing to the “No Name Storm” that hit Florida and then went up the entire east coast, back in 1993.  Any Floridian that was around then remembers that storm, and just comparing this one to that one, makes me nervous. 

We were planning on heading back to Tampa yesterday or today, but when we started hearing about this storm it appeared we were safer here in the Keys.  Initially most of the weather was predicted to be in central Florida, but now it’s down in south Florida.  

Fortunately our campsite is on “high” ground….or as high ground as you get in the Keys.  We have no standing water around us.  As long as we don’t get bad winds or any storm surge, we will be okay.

There was an annual race scheduled for today, across the Seven Mile Bridge today that was canceled for the first time ever.  It would have been pretty cool to watch thousands of runners come across the bridge, but I guess it wasn’t really the best of days to hold an outdoor event.  Smile

Yesterday, we took a drive down to Key West and visited the free Eco Discovery center.  It is one of the few free places, so we decided to check it out.  They have lots of displays on the sea life in and around the Keys.  There was a wonderful underwater video that really made me want to go diving again. 

Today, will probably be movie day because I don’t think the weather will allow us much else.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Winding Down in the Florida Keys

Florida Keys-Sunshine Key Rv Park

Yesterday, was a much needed day of rest  for us.  We’re not as young as we used to be and two long, back to back days in Key West wore us out.

We fixed a steak and lobster dinner last night with our Keys lobster.  I don’t eat lobster, but Al enjoyed it. 

Unfortunately, our stay in the Florida Keys is  winding down.  We have been here since March 21st and are planning on leaving this week-end, weather permitting.

When we were here after Christmas, and were only here for two weeks we thought staying a month would be enough and we’d not hate leaving.  Wrong….a month has just gotten us adjusted to the Keys life style and we could easily stay longer.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s going to start getting hot and of course hurricane season starts June 1.  (but it’s very nice now and hurricane season is over a month away)

We planned on leaving Saturday and driving up to the Everglades for a night.  We don’t like to make the 400 mile trip back to Tampa in one day.  There is a weather system coming into Tampa Saturday night.  There is a possibility of it bringing in some severe weather, and we see no sense in getting into that, so we may just delay our departure another day.  (oh darn)

We may do a kayak trip (probably our last) today, depending on how the weather looks.  If that doesn’t work out, plan b will have to do….just as soon as we figure out what it is.

pretty beach near marathon

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nekkid People in Key West

Florida Keys-Sunshine Key Rv Park (high 84, low 74)

We had so much fun in Key West on Monday, that we decided to go back yesterday.  This time, we rode the bus for $1.50 per person (senior rate) each way.

The bus stop is right in front of our campground, so at noon we were out there waiting for the bus.  It took about 1 1/2 hours to get to Key West.

We started off the day at Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West.  It cost $25 for both of us, but it was money well spent.  He only lived in this house 9 years,  but wrote most of his famous novels right there.  He and his girlfriend (soon to be wife) moved to Cuba after he got caught cheating on his wife.  She got the house.

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The house sits on one acre of land…the largest home lot on the island.

We went on a tour with a guide (free for admission price) and he was very good.  You are free to wander the house on your own as well.

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Lots of pictures of him, his boat and his wives.

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his famous 6 toed cats.

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Hemingway was a young man when he lived in Key West and this is what he looked like then.

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There are beautiful lushly landscaped grounds visible from a veranda that goes around the entire house.  A lot of weddings take place right there under the arbor.

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There was a carriage house next door.  This is where he did his writing.  The guide told us got up at 5 am every day and wrote until 11 am.  The rest of the day he drank and spent much of his time at Sloppy Joes bar.

Here is where he did his writing.

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There was a huge pool that cost $20,000 back in the 30’s.  His wife bought it without telling him when he was away from home and messing around with another woman.  He was angry when he got home and saw what she had done.  He gave her a penny and told her “you have spent my very last red cent.”   She kept it and had it sealed into the concrete deck of the pool.  She always told her friends that was Ernest Hemingway’s last red cent.

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He fixed her though.  When the original Sloppy Joes was being torn down, he brought home a urinal and left it in the yard by the pool.  Naturally she had a fit.

He said when she moved her pool, he’d move his “pool.”   She finally decided to disguise it and made it into a fountain.  It became the cats favorite place to drink.

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Hemingway had cats and many of them had 6 toes.  There are still 44 descendants of his cats on the property today.   They appear to be very well cared for and are not to be bothered.   There were food, water dishes, and  shelters all over the property.

Here are some of the cat houses.

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cat cemetery

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some of the cats

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No, I didn’t bring any home.

 

After the Hemingway house tour, we went across the street and spent more money Smile at the lighthouse tour.  That was another $18 for the both of us.  It was a very expensive day by the time we got home.

lighthouse at key west

We thought it would be nice to see Key West from the top of the light house. 

I am afraid of heights and those steps were scary!

lighthouse at key west

The view looking up.  I had a hard time taking the picture because I wanted to use both hands to hold on!

lighthouse at key west

The view were nice, but I was nervous on top too.

lighthouse at key west

The part I liked best was the tour of the lighthouse keepers house.  They had to climb those awful stairs 5 times a night to maintain the lights!

 

We wanted to go to the Bufferfly Garden but by this time it was 4:30 so we were running out of time. 

Time for Happy Hour!

Off to Sloppy Joe’s bar.

Sloppy Joes Bar

Then it was time to work our way down to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration…and more happy hour.

Mallory square, Key West

On the way down, we finally saw those naked people that Key West is famous for.  Nudity photo to follow….be aware.

 

naked people statues

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and those were all the nekkid people we saw!

Every night there is a sunset celebration.  There are a lot of street performers working for tips.  Some are pretty amazing. Most every bar has live music and there are tons of vendors.

Mallory square, Key West

You are right on the water, so a lot of ships are going by.

Key west

The Coast Guard put on a demonstration of a rescue swimmer doing his job. 

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coast guard mock rescue

The Coast Guard has a special place in our hearts since they saved our lives several years ago.  Thanks CG!

The Navy did a flyover with two F5 fighter jets.  It was amazing!  No pictures of that though.  They travel so fast by the time I heard them they were right overhead and gone.   Goose bumps there!

The next pictures are some of the sights on the pier last night.  If you come back tonight, I’ll bet it will look almost exactly the same.

Mallory square, Key West

 

Mallory square, Key West

Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 band playing live.  They were great.

Mallory square, Key West

This guy is the “silver diver.”    He doesn’t move until you put money in his tip jar, then he gives you a sucker.  It’s amazing how still he is.

Mallory square, Key West

Mallory square, Key West

Another “statue”

Mallory square, Key West

We really enjoyed this next guy.  He got up on the unicycle and then juggled, told jokes and fooled around.

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Mallory square, Key West

He drew a big crowd, but the “next” crowd had a guy doing the same thing!  They all work for tips.

 

Mallory square, Key West

Mallory square, Key West

I hope I can convey a little of what it’s like being in Key West for the nightly sunset celebration.  We normally don’t like crowds, but this is different.  Everyone is happy and having a good time.  There was a nice warm sea breeze.  You could smell the sea air and see the Atlantic Ocean while watching the sun set and the entertainment.  It’s a really special time.

We decided it was time to wander back down Duval Street to make sure we knew where we had to catch our bus to get back home.  I understand rooms cost $200-300 a night, so we didn’t want to miss the bus!

Duval Street is the main street and there is a lot going on. 

Duval Street Key West

Duval Street Key West

Lots of people wandering around having a good time, but everyone appeared to be behaving.  There were some kids and a lot of people had their dogs with them.

Duval Street Key West

In the streets you see people, bikes, scooters, and lighted skateboards!

We found our bus stop, waited a few minutes and were on the bus on the way home.

We arrived home 12 hours after we left.  Whew…it was a long day.  It was also a fun day!