Friday, May 30, 2014

New Toys


Wesley Chapel, Florida 


We have had a busy week dealing the food poisoning and  poison ivy.    As I mentioned on our last blog, Al got sick after eating some snacks they had laying out at Whole Foods.  He was a pretty sick boy and it’s taken a full week before he could really eat again.  He had a routine doctors appointment Wednesday anyway, so he mentioned it to the doctor.  The doctor said food poisoning usually lasts 5-7 days and Al was on the long end of the cycle, so he gave him a prescription for Cipro (antibiotic).  He said if he didn’t feel better in a day or two, he could take it.  I don’t think he will need the prescription, because he finally seems to be better.  He lost 6 pounds though! 

He has had a rough week because he has also continued to be bothered by the poison ivy that apparently  growing somewhere near our campsite.  I guess we’re (me)  going to have to go outside with Roundup and see if we can locate it.  

The summer rainy season has started and now I remember why I don’t like Tampa in the summer.  It’s hot, humid and we get big thunder-boomers with lightning every afternoon.  They usually only last a few hours but yesterday it rained into the night. We were disappointed because we bought new bikes yesterday, and wanted to ride them!

You might remember, we both bought inexpensive bikes in the Keys.   We really enjoyed them, but we decided to leave them there since we didn’t have our bicycle rack with us.

My Keys bike is an older Trek bike with a fancy paint job.  I was amazed how easy to ride this bike was and I really enjoyed it.

Here is my Key West Cruiser.  Yeah, it’s a geezer bike.  Als’s is very similar. 


We have been missing our bikes and regretted not bringing them with us, so we started looking on Craig’s List for some for some nice used bikes around here. We intended on buying more single speed cruiser bikes, like the ones we have in the Keys, but one thing led to another and we ended up with new 7 speed bikes.

The problem is most of the cruiser style bikes you find are just used versions of the cheap bikes they well on Walmart.  I got spoiled after riding my Trek bike and once I knew the difference, it was hard to go back. 

We did some looking and research and with the help of our biking guru’s Stephanie and Barry, we decided it was between the Trek Pure, and the Specialized Expedition.

Stephanie and Barry are big into mountain biking and have very expensive bikes made by Specialized.  Their around town bikes are the Trek Pure, so we got to test drive them around the park.  Very, very nice!

The difference between the Trek and the Specialized was very little, so we ended up with the Specialized brand. They were a bit cheaper, they were available and had the colors we wanted.


I chose the step through low entry model. It’s still a geezer bike, but a little less “geezery” than my Keys bike.  They will stay with us except when we go to the Keys.

Karen's Specialized Expedition bike

Al got the more  “manly” bike.


This company makes high end racing bikes and off road mountain bikes, but we didn’t see ourselves going on 100 mile road trips or mountain biking, so we chose these bikes which are built for comfort and a light trails.  That’s about my speed.  :)


There are miles and miles, and miles of paved bike trails around this area as well as plenty of off road trails.  Our plan for this morning is to go out to Flatwoods Park.  Its an 8 mile bike and rollerblade trail.  We used to go there to rollerblade, but haven’t been for years.  We’re trying to get there before it gets too hot, but we don’t move too quickly in the mornings!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Driveshaft Disconnect-Connected Again


 Wesley Chapel, Florida ( 85, low 67)


If you remember, when we were preparing to leave the Keys, we were going through our usual procedure attach the Nissan truck to the motorhome.  Our truck required a driveshaft disconnect to be able to tow, but when Al pulled the little red knob to release the driveshaft and it came all the way out without releasing the driveshaft. Some cars can be flat towed without having to go through this procedure.  Unfortunately, our new truck had an automatic transmission which required a driveshaft disconnect. 

By this time, we already had the motorhome and car out in the street, it was hot, and we were in no mood to mess with it.  We certainly  didn’t want to take a chance on messing anything up with the truck, so we decided I would follow behind Al in the truck.

Less than 2 years ago, we had the driveshaft disconnect installed at Rentz Trailers in Clearwater, Florida. This wasn’t the first problem we have had with it.  I documented the problems on my blog in case I had any problems and needed to remember anything.  You can read about it here if you’re interested.

We had the first problem repaired in Tampa at a place called Rv Medic.  They have a guy named Vaughn that really knows his stuff, so that’s where we went yesterday morning.   Vaughn quickly discovered the problem with the red knob.  Evidently the cable that goes from the knob to the driveshaft broke apart.  He speculated that it may have not been installed correctly, was too tight with no play.  Nothing we can prove, so we’re not going to go back to Rentz again for any possible reimbursement, but given the quality of the work they did, I’m guessing this was also their fault.

So……if you ever buy a car that can’t be flat towed behind your motorhome without some modifications, and you’re in the Tampa area, we highly recommend Rv Medic.  Besides installing towbars, baseplates and driveshaft disconnects, they  do other Rv repairs.  The only problem with them is that their lot is very small and there is not much room for a larger rig.  

While we were waiting, we looked at some tow dolly’s they had for sale, but quickly decided they had their own set of problems. We never had the first problem towing our little 5 speed Nissan, we just hooked it up and away we went. 

We ended up spending $221 for the repair, but we are confident in the work Vaughn did.

Our next stop was out to the new Camping World.  We have no close access to CW in the Keys or Blairsville, so we decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and get some things we had been wanting.  They persuaded us to renew our membership 6 months early.  We got two years for $50 plus a $25 gift certificate.   Documenting that here!

We got two new folding tables in a beige color.  The ugly green ones we had didn’t match well.

We had also been looking for new fold up footstools because the ones we had been using for 20 years were getting really ratty.  We had never been able to find anything similar so we kept the old ratty ones.  It seems they might be back in style again because we’ve found them several places online.

These are very comfy to put your feet on while you’re relaxing in your chair.  The top is padded and feels good on your legs.  I don’t know how they will hold up in the rain and sun, but Al intends to Scotchguard them.

Outdoor Ottoman   Mac Sports RO904S 117   Folding Chairs   Camping World

We made a few more stops before we headed home.  One of them was to Whole Foods.  They recently opened up one right by my Mom’s house.  Eat your heart out Sherry.  :)

Al can’t resist any free samples so he grabbed a few things while we were shopping.

Shortly after we got home, he started getting sick, and we think it may have been from one of the free samples at Whole Foods.  He had a rough night. He is better this morning, but not much, so he’s back in bed.

Another “fun” day in Tampa and it doesn’t look like we’re going to do anything fun again today!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Settling In


Wesley Chapel Florida (high 90, low 69)

We’ve spent our days since our return visiting with Mom and trying to get caught up on some of the many chores we neglected while in the Keys.

First and foremost is to have the driveshaft disconnect repaired, but we were unable to get an appointment until next Wednesday. JoBeth gave us a suggestion that maybe a bolt came loose, and it might be something we could fix ourselves.  Since we recently had problem with the bolts connecting the hitch to the truck, we decided we would feel better to have that re-inspected too, so we’ll just let the experts figure it all out. 

Al is trying to reorganize things here and make initial preparations for our (hopefully) summer in the mountains. He’s been outside a lot the past few days, but has started complaining about the “heebie jeebies.”  That is code for poison ivy.  We’re pretty sure he hasn’t touched any, but apparently there is some growing nearby. He is extremely sensitive to it and all it takes is for him to be near it.   This morning he is again complaining of the heebie jeebies, and now he found some small blisters on his arms, and he’s starting to feel bad.   He has a prescription for prednisone that he got several years ago and has saved for emergencies. He’s about ready to start taking that.  Poor Al.

While we were in the Keys, we ate out a lot and did very little cooking.   I don’t know why, but I couldn’t seem to muster the enthusiasm to cook while we were there. I guess it was  because we were so busy all the time.  Now that we’re back here in Tampa, I’m trying to cook and get back into a more healthy way of eating.  We completely went off of our plant based/vegan eating and both of us gained weight.  I made a nice stir last night and we both really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, last night someone mentioned Cuban Sandwiches and we remembered a really good place we discovered right before we left here in January.  Now we have a craving for a Cuban!

There have been a few changes here at Quail Run while we were gone.  The best change is that they got a new internet Wi-Fi system. It’s free and appears to be much better than the old one.  We signed back onto Netflix and during a rainy day the other day, started watching season 2 of House of Cards. 

The second improvement here is a new pool.  They tore down the disgusting old pool and are in the process of building a new one.  The problem with that, is they took out the old pool in February and the new one is still not complete yet.  The snowbirds were livid that there was no pool this winter and  I don’t blame them.  I don’t know who is building this pool, but I do know that when we put in a pool in our Tampa house many years ago, it took two weeks from start to finish.

We’ve been spending time with Mom, but I needed a one day break from her.   My Mother is/was the sweetest person you could ever meet, but as she gets older, she’s getting a tad cranky and more than a little stubborn.  I was trying to explain something to her that might keep her from falling again.  She didn’t understand what I was trying to tell her (because she wouldn’t let me finish what I was saying), so I finally gave up.  Maybe I need to remind her of how stubborn her own mother got as she got older, or maybe I need to keep my mouth shut and deal with it.   :)

A wonderful cool front arrived and it got down to 59 degrees last night.  I had to drag out an extra blanket and my heating pad, but it sure felt good to sleep with the window open.

Nothing much fun going on here.  We went to the boat show today at the fairgrounds.   We’re not interested in getting a new boat, but they have some nice vendors to visit.  We also  have passes to the zoo, so maybe we’ll have to get back there and see how much the two baby elephants have grown.  There are some nice rivers close by so we may even get in a paddle or two. The Weeki-Wachee is wonderful this time of year, and we’ve even seen manatee there in June.


We’re starting to get anxious to head back to the mountains, but I’m not sure when we’ll head north, but it will probably be dictated by the possibility of a hurricane.   We have a few folks that are coming up to Blairsville to stay in our other RV site.  Two couples are other RV bloggers and one couple are Tampa friends that I worked with at USAA. I’m not going to spill the beans on who the RV bloggers are, but you know them and we can’t wait to actually meet them!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Paul Dahl Jinx? (PDJ)


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 90, low 70)


We left Naples about 11:30 for our 187 mile drive back to the Tampa area.  We arrived safe and sound with me following behind Al in the motorhome.  This week we will take the truck in to fix the cable for the driveshaft disconnect. I hope it will be a simple job.  Yeah right.

Since we missed our target truck stop to refuel, we were anxious to get some diesel.  We weren’t really worried, but since our fuel gauge isn’t working, we both would feel better knowing we had a full tank.

The last time we filled up, I wrote down the mileage so I knew how many miles we had driven on that tank of fuel.

We also have a Silverleaf computer program that calculates the mpg we’re getting and how many more miles we can drive on that tank of fuel.   You just have to remember to clear the tank data out every time you fill up, so that it knows you’re starting again with a full tank. 

This program runs on my laptop and when we’re traveling I plug the laptop into the motorhome engine diagnostics plug.  It tells us a lot about what’s going on in the engine.  Many newer motor homes have this system built in.  Ours didn’t, so we purchased it.  I’d rather know sooner rather than later if there is any problem brewing.  It’s a great program.  You install the Silverleaf program on your laptop, and then hook it up by cables to the engine diagnostic plug on the motorhome. 

I didn’t connect the program  when we left the Keys and I wondered if it would still calculate our miles left on the tank when it was disconnected.  Before we left the Keys, I noted the mileage it said was left on the fuel tank and then before we left Naples I started it back up and noted that id indeed calculated how many miles we had driven and the remaining time we had left on that tank of fuel.  Pretty amazing, since it wasn’t even plugged in. Good info to know.

Anyway, after we left Club Naples Rv Resort, we planned on stopping at a Pilot in Fort Myers, which was about 30 miles away.  Fortunately, we didn’t miss the station, although our RV GPS had us get off at exit 138 while our car GPS said exit 139.  We decided to trust the RV GPS since it knows how big we are and we remembered using that same route on another occasion and it got us there just fine.


Before we left Naples yesterday morning, I read Paul Dahl's BLOG about how every time he fills up their Journey,  a gallon  or so of diesel splashes back out at him.  We always refuel at the truckers lanes because it is easier getting in and out and you can get more than $75 worth of fuel without having to run your card through again.  Plus, they pump fast….really fast!!   We have never had any diesel fuel spill or splash back at us.  Paul said he had trouble getting the big nozzle into his fuel tank. (does that sound dirty?)  We don’t have any trouble getting the nozzle into our tank, so  I think our fuel tank opening must be larger than his and maybe that’s why our fuel never spills.

Anyway, as Al was preparing to pump the fuel, I started to tell him what Paul said,  but before I could say anything, a fine white mist started blasting back out of the tank around the nozzle.  It was a LOT.   It just blew back out of the tank.  It was really weird.  My first thought was that Paul jinxed us.  It seemed like the fuel was pumping too fast and it was going to blast back out at us and spill all over the place like it does to Paul.

My second thought was what did we do wrong?   Did we inadvertently pump DEF (for newer motor homes with a DEF reservoir) into the fuel tank?   NO, double and triple checked.  Tried again…still getting a blast back.  Looked around for an attendant.  Was there some bad duel in this tank?  No attendant around, so Al  started pumping again very slowly and it finally quit.

Since this has never happened before, we wanted to know why.  We didn’t want to ruin an engine if something was wrong with the fuel.  I walked over to the next lane and talked to a trucker who was also refueling. I asked him about it and he said it just happened to him as well.   He said not to worry because it happens if the fuel tank is low.  There are coils or something in the tank that keeps it warm in cold climates.  It prevents the fuel from gelling in cold weather.   He said it was doing what it was supposed to do and that we had and we were lucky we had it.  Okay, now I felt better. 

I guess the reason we had never seen that before was because we try not to let the tank that low.  As it turned out, we used almost 70 gallons of our 100 gallon tank, so we had plenty of fuel.  I guess with only 30 gallons remaining in the tank, it’s low enough to cause this issue.

The rest of our day was uneventful for us, but not so for two other folks we saw.  We saw a truck and trailer overturned off on the side of the road.  Probably going too fast, and couldn’t control the trailer.  It was a big utility trailer of some sort, not a travel trailer.  I hope no one was hurt. 

A few miles later we saw a car on fire on the other side of the road. 

We got back to our spot in Quail Run. It’s such an easy site to get into which is nice for a change.  We got parked, pushed the button for the satellite, put the slides out, let the kitties out of their travel carriers and went outside to visit with some friends.  We came back in, Al watched the rest of the football draft, and we chilled the rest of the evening. 

Two days of traveling is tiring, both on us an the kitties (who do nothing but nap the entire time).

I can’t exactly say we’re glad to be back in the Tampa Bay area, but I will be glad to see Mom today.

We do have a really pretty view from our patio though. It it weren’t for the damn FROGS that are EVERYWHERE!



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Leaving the Keys with Mr. Murphy


Naples, Florida at Club Naples Rv Resort  (high 92, low 70)


After 3 1/2 months, we finally felt that we were ready to leave the Keys.  Every other time we’ve been there, we were very sad to leave, but I guess we finally got our fill of the Keys…..for now.   We’ll be very glad to go back next winter.

The boat is all wrapped up and waiting for our return.  It’s at a storage facility on Big Pine Key.  This year we splurged and had them cover it for us.  We have a canvas boat cover, but you can’t just throw it on and go.  You have to make sure no water will pool on the canvas, so you use ropes to make a little tent.  Then of course, it has to be tied securely for those summer storms. It’s then topped with a plastic tarp.  They said they would do all this for $75, so we jumped on that.


We finished packing up for our move and were ready to go.  We always breathe a sigh of relief when the slides retract, the coach engine starts and things are all good.   All was well, so the next challenge was to pull out of our site.

With some difficulty, we managed to pull forward out of our site.   We were parked close to the concrete pad in order for the slide to clear the power pedestal.  He had to pull forward until he cleared the concrete and we also had some bushes on the drivers side that needed to be considered.  We had trimmed those bushes, but evidently not quite enough.  They are on the site next to us and are planted right up to the edge of the road.  They aren’t ours, or I’d remove the ones next to the road.  They are growing over onto our side, so we feel we are within our rights to trim them.

I’m writing this mostly to remind myself of the difficulties we had getting in and out of the site.  The site is a pull  through site. You have to make a sharp left turn getting in from a curved road, and you have to clear the power pedestal pulling in and be far enough for the slides to clear it, but not on top of the concrete deck on the other side.  It’s tricky, getting in and out.  The lot was not designed for such a large rig.  It’s do-able, but we ended up driving on the concrete (and cracking it) when we pulled in. We were determined not to drive over the concrete pulling out, and we succeeded, but we’re thinking of having the concrete pad cut off about a foot on the side nearest the coach and extend it a foot on the other side.  Wonder how expensive that would be?    I guess we’ll try to get an estimate.

Anyway…..after breathing another sign of relief that we got out of the site unscathed, we proceeded to hook up the truck to the motorhome.  We got it all hooked up, but when Al went to release the driveshaft disconnect, the lever came out in his hand.   That’s NOT good!

Our new Nissan Frontier was not flat towable like our older model, so we ended up having to have a special driveshaft made. There is a lever on the drivers side that you pull to disconnect the driveshaft prior to towing.  It’s worked well for nearly two years, but yesterday something happened, so we could not tow the truck.  I would have to follow along behind Al in the motor home.  Not our favorite way to travel.

We enjoyed our last drive through the Keys.  The most beautiful island is Islamorada and we don’t get up there as often since we moved down to Cudjoe Key.  The water is always beautiful shades of blue and turquoise. 

After many bridges and a lot of pretty water, we finally got out of the Keys after about 75 miles.  We planned on fueling up at a truck stop that we have been to several times.  It’s easy to miss and you have to remember you have to exit left from the interstate whether you’re heading north or south.  Don’t you know, we ended up missing the station!   Our fuel gauge quit working on the way down, so we’re not sure exactly how much fuel we have left.  We wrote down the mileage the last time we fueled up, and we should be fine, but we would feel better with some diesel.   

We had another little incident and I had to keep an eye on my mirrors so see if the police might be chasing me.   We have a Sunpass  account with a gadget on the mirror.  It automatically charges our account when we are on a toll road.  When the truck is attached, it picks up both the coach and the truck.  Since I was driving along behind Al, and HAD NO MONEY WITH ME, I had no choice but to blow through the tolls without paying!  Of course, that’s when I realized my drivers license was in the coach.   I’m sure my license plate was photographed.  I’ll have to call them and see what I need to do.  Don’t want to get arrested!

We arrived at Club Naples Rv resort on the west coast of Florida. We’re in pull through site #J8.  It’s a nice place to spend a night and with the Passport America rate, only $20.  

We should arrive back in Tampa later today.  The nearest truck stop is 30 miles from here.   I hope we make it!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Another Beautiful Day Snorkeling


Cudjoe Key, Florida


Before I tell you about yesterday, I should probably clarify yesterdays blog post.  Sherry felt bad about the poor shark we caught and released with a hook in his mouth.  We did too Sherry, but we like to think it may have taught him a good lesson and he will be more careful next time about what he bites!   :)  Not everyone would have released him.  Al  didn’t try to catch a shark, and was shocked when he did (despite the title of the blog).  We had hoped for some yellowtail snapper for dinner, and the shark was an accident.  He was fun to catch, but we certainly didn’t try to catch him.  The hook Al used was very small and are supposed to rust and dissolve quickly, so I’m sure he will live and grow up to be a big shark.  The hook will be more of an annoyance to him than anything else. 


The seas had calmed down enough for us to get back out to the reef, but just barely.  It wasn’t exactly a smooth ride out and and by the time we got there,I was a bit seasick.     I popped a few of my natural ginger pills and felt a little better,  but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about snorkeling at first.

We wanted to go back out to buoy #36 because it’s in 7-8 feet of water and we saw so many different types of fish there the last time.

As usual, the water started to turn blue and clear as we approached the reef.     I wish my pictures would capture what my eyes see. It’s gorgeous!



Fortunately for us, there wasn’t another boat on buoy 36, so we hooked right up.


The water was clear and gorgeous even though it was a bit choppy.   We saw several black spotted eagle rays near the boat, but unfortunately didn’t see any while we were in the water. 

As I waited for my stomach to settle, Al went snorkeling.


I sent the Intova video camera down with Al and you can see in the next photo that’s he is intent on filming some yellowtail.


I helped him out by throwing some fish food into the water.  He didn’t know I was going to do that, and was a little surprised.


The yellowtail seemed to appear out of nowhere.   I saw a much larger fish along with the yellowtail. It turned out to be a big jack.

Al got a picture of it.  You can see he’s a lot bigger than the other fish.



The splashing on the surface in the next picture is the feeding frenzy.


After the surprise visit from the jack, he popped his head up to tell me what kind of fish it was.

He forgot to turn the video off so he got a photo of me in the boat.


Mr. Barracuda was still there and acts as your tour guide the entire time you’re there.  He was also there the last time.

He just cruises along with you.  Sometimes beside you, sometimes just underneath.  He’s always there!  He watches you, and you watch him.  He’s beautiful.



I finally decided to jump in and see the action.  The water was 82 degrees, so it’s almost warm enough for me.  :)

Mr. Barracuda met me at the ladder and proceeded to split his time between me and Al.


This time, he wasn’t the only cuda on the reef.  At one point I saw 6 barracuda nearby and later on I found the big daddy of the family.

The other barracuda were only 3-4 feet long, but the big one must have been a 6 footer.  Not only was he long, but he has a massive girth.  He was a bit intimidating.

I was more cautious with the big one and was careful not to accidently float too close to him.

This is him,I think, but since I was further away, it’s hard to see how big he was.


This part of the reef is just teeming with life and you never know what you’ll see.  Al saw a big shark and we saw another big shark from the boat as we were leaving.

There were dozens of multi colored parrotfish.  I tried to get a picture of one “smiling” but they were busy feeding.


The next pictures are of a juvenile queen angelfish trying to get a much larger parrotfish away from her home.

angel and parrotfish

angel and parrot

My little camera does a decent job, but since I’m snorkeling, I’m too far away from the fish to get better shots. The color doesn’t come through like I actually see.  I really need to put a tank on and get up close and personal..  I can’t see a thing through the viewfinder, so I just aim the camera and hope for the best.  When I download the video, I pause and take a “snapshot”  when I get something I like.  Maybe next year I will have a better camera.


You never know what you’ll see next!


There is no shortage of opportunities to photograph the barracuda.










We had a wonderful day, but it will be our last time until  next year. 

Today, we start preparations for our journey north.  We had hoped to leave tomorrow, but we don’t think we can get everything ready by tomorrow.  We will probably leave Friday, just in time for 20-25 mph winds.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Shark Fishing



Cudjoe Key, Florida


We decided to shoot for leaving here on Thursday.  The nice thing about owning your own Rv lot is that you can come and go when you like.  The bad thing about owning your own Rv lot is that you can come and go when you like and there is nothing to give you the kick in the butt to actually leave.  Packing up and moving is one of our least favorite things and when we’re here, we have the additional chore of “summerizing” the boat. 


The winds have died down some, but are coming out of the east so it makes a trip to Looe Key Reef a bit choppier than we would like.   Our plan yesterday was to head out the Atlantic side to Looe Key and the lost anchor spot if it wasn’t too choppy.  It was choppier than we like, so we decided to go to “plan b,”  which is to go  the  bay side or “back country” as the locals call it.

Here, in the lower Keys, the waters offshore are very shallow. You can’t just jump in the boat and go.  You have to very carefully navigate channels through some very shallow water.  You have to be extremely careful not to run aground.  There are some coral heads around, and you really don’t want to hit one of them.

We cruised through the back country through the Kemp channel for several miles.  There are islands all around and quite a few shallow shoals that can come out of nowhere.  Fortunately, with the new technology on the marine GPS, the chart shows you exactly where these shallow areas are located.

Kemp channel is not a marked channel, but more of a pathway between islands that leads out to open waters.  It’s pretty wide, but there are a lot of places to run aground.  As we go through the channel, we cruise by the place that houses the blimp.  It’s a good landmark to be able to look up in the sky and see the blimp. With all the islands, you could easily get lost.

We cruised out to where the islands end at the edge of deeper waters. We stayed in the shallower waters so that Al could snorkel.  I could see without getting wet that the snorkeling wasn’t going to be very good, so I stayed nice and dry in the boat.  If he found something interesting, then I’d get in.  He’s kind of like my crash test dummy.  :)

After a few minutes snorkeling, he gave up and decided to try fishing.

He caught 5 fish, one of which was a three foot hammerhead shark.  None of them were keepers.

hammerhead shark

The problem with catching a shark, is that you really don’t want to bring them back into the boat to get the hook out of their mouth.  Al asked me to hold the rod for a minute while he grabbed the clippers to cut the line.  Wow, was that shark strong.  I could barely hold onto the rod.  I can’t imagine catching something really big.   You could feel his muscles right through the rod.   It was an amazing feeling that I guess I’ve never had before since I don’t fish.

hammerhead shark

We felt bad that we couldn’t take out the hook, but it was on the side of his mouth and didn’t appear to be in a place that will interfere with his eating.  Hopefully it will rust soon and he’ll be free of it. 


hammerhead shark

We came back in and sat out on the patio for a few hours enjoying one of our last nights here in the Keys.   We plan on leaving Thursday barring any problems.   We may have an issue with the right rear leveler.  It won’t seem to hold and the coach is leaning to the right.  We have decided to live with it until we get back to Tampa.  Hopefully they will all retract when we’re ready to go.


We’re planning on another boating day today, but I’ll end this with a few  photos from around the park.

We’ll miss the beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic.

Venture Out Sunrise

Cloudy days make for much better sunrise photos.

Venture Out Sunrise

This was a frigate bird we saw right from our campsite.  He was flying too fast for me so this is the best I could do.

frigate bird

Interesting facts I found about this bird.


“This species feeds mainly on fish, and attacks other seabirds to force them to disgorge their meals. Frigatebirds never land on water, and always take their food items in flight.

It spends days and nights on the wing, with an average ground speed of 6.2 mph, covering up to 139 miles before landing. They alternately climb in thermals, to altitudes occasionally as high as 8,200 ft.”


Frangipangi flower

frangi pangi

Monday, May 05, 2014

They Moved My Sun


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 85, low 73)


We had big plans yesterday.

“Plan A” was to go boating.  My Weatherbug App showed it was going to be windy, but it didn’t feel too windy here at the RV, so took a ride “uptown” to Big Pine Key to check out the seas.   If you drive over the bridges, you can check out the sea conditions on both the Atlantic and back country side.   There were some big rollers coming in and it didn’t look like a good boating day at all.   We had lunch, went to the grocery store and  took a ride down some back roads.  By this time, we noticed the seas had started calming down, so we decided to take the boat out.

By the time we put the boat into the water, we both pretty much knew it was going to be too choppy and windy.  Our marina is in a little protected cove, so you don’t always know the conditions until you get offshore.

We cruised out through the channel markers out to open water and anchored the boat while we decided what our next plan was.  It was rough and windy and we knew we weren’t going to go any further.  Al wanted to try to find his missing anchor, but it was not a good day for that either.  He wasn’t in the mood to fish, so after a short time, we decided to head back home and figure out what  we would do for “plan B.”


Since we had been wanting to get back down to Key West for the sunset celebration  we decided this might be our best chance.

We hung around the Rv for a while, and had happy hour out on the patio.  The breeze was nice and cool and we felt it would be a nice night to watch the sun set into the Atlantic.

We had never gone down to KW quite this late, so we were gambling we could find a place to park.  We decided we were too lazy to walk from the free parking lot Sue told us about, so we bit the bullet and went over to the $4 per hour spot.  There was a line of cars waiting to turn into the parking lot, so things didn’t look good.  We drove around the lot once with no luck, but on the second trip around, someone left and we snatched their sight!  Score one!

It was pretty crowded on Mallory square even though there were no cruise ships in port.  We haven’t yet figured out when it’s the slow season here in the Keys.  The snowbirds have mostly left, but now I think a lot of Floridians have come since May is cheaper and it’s before hurricane season. 

As soon as we walked onto Mallory Square, we noticed the sun had moved from where it usually is and it was going to set right behind a little island, and not into the water.   Bummer!  That and the fact that there were no clouds in the sky, would make for a less than spectacular sunset.

We didn’t think of it before, but as the seasons change, the sun does not set in quite the same place.  We decided not to wait for the sun to set and walked over to Duval Street.  Duval is where many of the bars are located and many of them have live music. It’s fun to walk around and listen to all the different musicians.  We walked around a while, listening to music.  I was looking for a place to have dinner. Al was looking for the place we found last time that sold the best fudge.   It’s always fun to people watch too.

Al found his fudge, but I never found a restaurant since they got busy once the sun went down.

We decided to head to the other side of Key West and find a place to eat where there were less people, so we walked back to Mallory Square to the parking lot.  We caught the ending act of a few street performers.  

As we walked over to the water, we came across a couple having a fight.  We couldn’t help overhear it.  She ended up going one direction and he tried to give her some money for a cab or something.  She told him she didn’t need his money and would find her way back.   We couldn’t help but smile….since we’ve been there before a time or two!  I hope she found her hotel room.

Then, we saw another interesting couple.  She was a middle age woman and definitely not a beauty.  She had her “photographer” with her and she was directing him as he was taking photos of her.   She would get into a model type pose, smile big and he would snap a picture.  This happened time and time again, but we never saw her take his picture or try to get one of them together!   It was kind of funny, watching her try to be a model.  


We called it a day/night and ended up having dinner at Five Guys Hamburgers. 

I didn’t take any sunset pictures last night, but here are a few from when the sun set where it was supposed to!

Mallory Square, Key West

Mallory Square, Key West

Howard Livingston has a song called There’s always magic in Key West.    We found out there is NOT always magic in Key West.


We’re hoping for a better day today.  First on the agenda is take kitty Chatty back to the Vet for a check up, then hopefully out in the boat! 

Wish us luck for calm seas and clear waters!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

More Goliath Grouper and Derby Day, Keys style


Cudjoe Key, Florida


Unlike the rest of Florida, the Keys have been pretty dry and sunny this winter, which is okay with me.   We have noticed it was a little cooler here than previous winters, but certainly not cold.   The grass had started looking  brown and rain was definitely needed here.

The last front that moved through Florida and caused all the flooding in the panhandle, finally reached us and brought us a decent amount of rain.  We sure needed it. 

Last week we had 4-5 days of really hot weather.  When you’d open the door to the motor home, the heat would almost knock you out.  It made us lazy. We had hoped for a trip into Key West for sunset, but the heat seemed to tire us out, so we haven’t made it yet.   It might be next year before we get back down there.

The stifling heat is gone and it’s now just “regular”  hot.  Fortunately, most of the time there is a nice breeze at our campsite, so we enjoy sitting outside in the late afternoons and evenings.

Most of our neighbors have headed back up north to their summer homes, so the block is getting pretty quiet.  One of our neighbors has a little rental on the canal across the street from us and has offered to let us keep our boat there.  Since we haven’t had the boat out for a while, we haven’t yet taken advantage of their offer, but it sure would be nice to keep the boat in the water.  Thanks Rosalee and John!

Al didn’t feel well for a few days, so we stayed pretty close to home.

He felt well enough for happy hour though, so we went to Springers last night.  It’s one of our favorites and is popular with the locals.  It’s the place where we met the woman who told us about finding all the “square grouper.”

When we walked in the door last night, the place was crazy, and people had on strange hats.    Oh yeah… was Derby Day and they celebrated it Keys Style.   You should have seen the hats.  One was a buoy like the one we have hung as a decoration in the picture below.

Venture Out

These buoys are used to mark lobster and crab traps.  The guy last night had one mounted to a helmet style hat.  It was definitely a Keys style derby hat.

Al wanted me to take some pictures, but I didn’t want to look like a tourist!

One woman had on a hat that was more typical of the Kentucky Derby. It was covered with small roses.  When we walked in hatless, she took pity on me and gave me a couple roses!   I put them behind my ears and we joined in the festivities.

We met a couple who are staying in Bahia Honda State Park.  They come to the Keys often and always stay in the state parks.  I asked how they managed to get reservations and she told me her “secret.”  I still can’t quite figure it out though!   I guess I don’t really need to worry about it anymore though.

Although we haven’t gotten back out to Looe Key Reef, I wanted to add some more snapshots from the videos that I took.

My little Intova Underwater camera takes videos and still photos.  I found it easier to use it on video mode, since the viewfinder is so small and I really couldn’t compose any pictures anyway. 


These next ones are of the giant 300 pound Jewfish aka Goliath Grouper.  He was so sweet.





You can see how big he is when you compare him to the bottom of our boat.



The next one is of a parrotfish. This is the fish that “smiles” at you.  I am not at the correct angle though, and much of his vibrant green and red colors has been absorbed by the water column.


When you look at objects in the water, your eyes can see the colors better than the camera lens, but the deeper you go, and the more water between you and your subject, the more color you will lose.

These pictures I took of Looe Key were taken without a strobe, so much of the color was lost in the picture, although I could see them with my eyes.

The following is part of an article I read about how colors are absorbed in water.

Water absorbs different wavelengths of light to different degrees. The longest wavelengths, with the lowest energy, are absorbed first. Red is the first to be absorbed, followed by orange & yellow. The colors disappear underwater in the same order as they appear in the color spectrum.

Even water at 5ft depth will have a noticeable loss of red.

At what depth underwater does color disappear?
  • Red - 15ft
  • orange - 25ft
  • Yellow - 35-45ft
  • Green - 70-75ft


I’m hoping to find a better underwater camera by next year.  They have certainly changed a lot since I last used a 35mm film underwater camera!  I have a lot of research to do, since I don’t want to spend a fortune.


Not sure what today will bring.  Anchor hunting? Looe Key Reef? Fishing?  Being Lazy?   



And last but certainly not least, here is a recent picture of Mr. Baxter.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Time to Leave the Keys?


Cudjoe Key, Florida  (high 86, low 78)


We’ve had a few extremely hot days, but I think it’s getting a little better.  When you would go outside, it would almost take your breath away. The only time I remember it being this hot here was years ago when we were here during the early summer.

It might be about time to head north.  When we leave the Keys, we will go back for Tampa for a few months before we head to the mountains.  It will likely be hotter in Tampa than it’s been here.  We are looking forward to spending the summer in the cooler north Georgia mountains, but it won’t be right away.

The winds have been strong, so we haven’t even been able to get out onto the boat.  Being wet, or being in the air conditioning is about the only place to be right now. 

Thankfully, it looks like it’s going to be a little cooler today.

We have been wanting to get back down to Key West for one last sunset celebration, but the heat has put a damper on that plan as well.  Once the sun starts to go down the sea breeze makes it nice and cool at our site, so that’s where we’ve been spending our evenings.   That and the bar for happy hour!


Here are some pictures I’ve been taking from around the park.  There are a lot of beautiful flowers.









yellow flowering tree

Notice the bananas?

banana tree

Someone has a few pots of pineapples.


You don’t have to worry about freezing temps here, so you can grow pretty much anything.  I wish we had enough land to grow a few things.


Since it’s been so hot, we haven’t been doing anything exciting, so there is nothing much to blog about.

We’ve been trying to get things organized a little for our eventual departure.

It’s nice to have your own Rv lot, so that you can come and go when you please, however it makes it harder to leave, and easier to procrastinate.  We hate packing up and moving anyway and the longer you stay in one spot, the harder it is.   We’ve been hoping for one last nice boating/anchor retrieval day.

Al is determined to find his missing anchor and after pricing one like it yesterday and seeing a $179 price tag, I am inclined to agree with him.   Phew…didn’t know it was that expensive.  It’s a special light weight Fortress brand anchor and they are not cheap.

Speaking of boat.  This is what happens if you don’t renew your parking sticker in the overflow lot.  Notice the boot on the tire?

NO…that is not our boat (wish it was).  You cannot park your boat trailer on your lot and if you don’t have a waterfront lot, you have to keep your boat, or extra vehicles in one of the overflow lots.  You have to renew your sticker every two weeks, and if you forget, this is what happens!  

This almost happened to us last night, but fortunately the security guard came around and reminded me.

boat with boot