Saturday, April 23, 2016

Changes in Latitude


Like the old Jimmy Buffet song, changes in Latitude, changes in attitude, and we certainly noticed our attitude improve while in the Keys.


We dropped the cats off at our friend Heidi’s animal hospital on Monday morning.  We were a little concerned about leaving them, but Heidi assured us they would be fine and she would supervise their care.  The poor things had terrified looks on their faces when we left, and that was the picture I carried with me to the Keys. Since we left the motorhome and stayed in a hotel, we couldn’t bring them.

it’s a lot easier trip going to the Keys if you don't’ have a big old motorhome and we made great time.

Once we got to Key Largo, I got out the camera.  This Bougainville has been in the same spot since at least the early 1990’s.   It’s always beautiful with its many different colors.

Keys flowers



We had reservations at Looe Key  Reef Resort and got a discount since their dive boat captain is our neighbor from Venture Out (where we have our RV lot)  We reserved the cheapest room they had which was still expensive, even in the off season.

We checked in, got our room key and walked to what could only be described as a “dudgeon.”   We’re not that picky about hotel rooms since we spend so little time in them, but this one was just not going to work.  We went back to the office prepared to pay just about any amount of money to get something better.  When the guy at the desk realized we knew Captain Ron, he upgraded us from the dudgeon to the penthouse, and at no extra charge. Yay!

Here was our view.




We hit our favorite local happy hour for dinner and drinks then came home and crashed. It had been a long day.

On Tuesday, we picked up the boat and brought it to Venture Out so we could prepare it for travel back to Tampa. 

Our two main objectives in our trip to the Keys was to get the boat and meet up with my long lost cousin.

Coming from an Air Force family, I have not been able to spend much time with my extended family and hardly know most of them.  Neither has Al for the same reason. Growing up, we lived in Japan for 3 years and Guam for 2, so our visits to North Carolina to visit family were limited.  I have cousins I would not recognize if I saw them on the street.  My cousin Anne had recently retired and moved to Key West.   The last time I remember seeing her, I was 16 and she was maybe 9 or 10. We reconnected and made plans to meet in Key West for happy hour. I was so anxious to see her again.

Anne and her wife/partner Jan were a lot of fun and we had a great time.  So great in fact, that we decided to do it again the next night.  We were so busy talking and laughing, I neglected to get any pictures the first night.

We met the next night at Geiger Key Fish Camp. They allow dogs, so they were able to bring their new puppy Mulligan so that we could meet her.    

Anne (left) is the daughter of my Dad’s only brother.  Jan is on the right and of course Mulligan in the middle. 




Karen, Anne, Jan and Mulligan


Al, Anne, Jan, Mulligan

It’s amazing how easy it is to reconnect with long lost family.  We had such fun with them and we will be getting together often the next time we are there.  They  sure enjoy island life.

Geiger Key,  Jan, Anne, Mulligan


The southernmost point in the US is in Key West and there is a famous buoy marker at that point.  Everyone who goes to Key West gets their picture taken in front of the marker….everyone but us that is.  When ever we went by, there were so many people waiting in a line to get their pictures taken  in front of it that we always said “next time.”

This time we decided to try sunrise and finally got the job done.  It was no problem getting up because I was so excited to be back in the Keys that I couldn’t sleep.  Al had no problem and didn’t complain when I woke him up before zero dark thirty.


Southernmost point


It was nice walking around the beautiful city of Key West in the early morning hours.  No traffic and few people. The weather was cooler than usual for mid April and it was perfect.  It’s a lovely city with beautiful old homes, gardens and beautiful flowering shrubs and trees.



Key West has it’s own special vibe.


The early morning sea grass removal was taking place.




I am not sure of the name of this very interesting plant.






No stroll around Key West is complete without roosters and bitties.



Anne and I talked about the Key West chickens and our Grandpa Meredith who always raised chickens.  He always kept plenty of “bitties” for his grand children.  Anne and her brother Randy were lucky to live in the same town and got to spend a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa Meredith.



We never got any sunset pictures this trip but for those of you who don’t know what the sun rise looks like, here it is. 

It’s pretty much like sunset, only earlier.  Smile







Sunrise over Key West


We decided to leave on Friday early so that we could pick up the cats before they closed and we had to pay another night boarding fees.

The trip home towing the boat wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It towed well and we made decent time getting back.  The kitties were happy to see us and settled right back into the motorhome.

We left the boat and trailer here at the Rv park for a few days but on Monday brought it over to it’s new home at Port Tarpon Marina. It sure is nice having someone take the boat in and out of the water for you.

This is our boats new home.  It lives in the building on the left.

Port Tarpon Marina   Tarpon Springs  FL   Waterway Guide Featured Marina Listing


It makes being in Tampa a little bit easier.

Things may be changing a little for us.  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Light at the End of the Tunnel?


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 82, low 52)


On the way home from Mom’s the other day,  the weather started to get bad. We ran into some hard rain but nothing horrible.  Once we got home I started seeing these pictures on TV of the shelf clouds that were seen all over the Tampa Bay area.


I’m glad I didn’t see these clouds because they were pretty scary looking.


Interesting looking clouds, aren’t they?


By the time we got home, the front had passed.  Phew…..


Things are going about the same with Mom. We’re managing with her at home.  My brother takes care of her when he’s home, we have a caregiver paid for from her long term policy for 6 hours a day, and we take up the slack. Our taking up the slack means we have to be there 5 days a week, which leaves little time for anything fun and zero time to travel, but I’m working on that.

I’ve been trying to find someone to live in the house to help care for her.  The problem is that she can’t afford to pay anyone, so we need someone with limited money who needs a free place to stay, in exchange for helping out with Mom.

I have been asking everyone we know to spread the word at churches and with friends, hoping to find  someone we could trust. 

As it turns out, there was someone right under my nose.  She is a friend I’ve known for many years.  She’s a wonderful person, is/was a Registered Nurse, and needs a place to live.   She has had some health issues and some bad luck, so this might just be perfect fit for all of us.  I would completely trust her with my Mom without a second thought.  The only problem is that she is physically not able to do any lifting or heavy work, so she would basically be a back up for the regular caregiver and my brother.

We have discussed it with Mom and my brother and both are on board with our friend Cindi moving in.  As of right now, she is planning to move in the first of May.  Of course things can always change, so we’re trying to not count on it too much.    If she moves in and if things work out the way we hope, we are hoping to be able to go up to our place in the Georgia mountains this summer.   We haven’t discussed our potential summer travels with either Mom or my brother yet, but Cindi is on board with it and willing to do what she can to make it happen.   So…..wish us luck that this works out.  It will certainly help Cindi and even if we can’t leave town, it will help us be able to get our life back.


We haven’t had much time for fun, but a few weeks ago we went to MOTB (Music on the Bay). It was held at a beach side resort along Tampa bay.   It was a 4 day event with many different “trop rock”(tropical rock)  groups playing from 11 am until 11pm.

Our favorite band, Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band” were playing, so we made a point of going.  Howie is very popular in the Keys and is actually a neighbor of ours on the next Key up.   He is described as Jimmy Buffet on steroids.  We usually see them a few times each winter in the Keys.



The venue was great.  The weather was great and in early March in Tampa, that is not always the case.  We had a great day.

They had a crazy hat contest.


You were not supposed to bring in coolers, but we seemed to be the only ones there buying our cocktails from the bartenders. 

There were huge gas fireplaces for warmth and they were appreciated because once the sun started to set, it got pretty chilly. 


It was a perfect place to watch the sun set.


We almost missed it.



After the sun set, we walked back over to the venue, but by this time it was getting really chilly.


The music was great, as usual. 


When Howie plays, he always makes Margaritas from “his Johnson”, which is a vintage Johnson boat motor.  He rigged it up with a blender on top which is powered by the motor.  If you want one of the specially made margaritas, you have to bid on it.  We’ve seen the bids upwards of $5,000 for one margarita, with the money going to Care Camps for kids with cancer.  It’s always fun to watch them start up the old Johnson and make very strong margaritas.

We have yet to bid on one though.  Smile We prefer the $5.00 margaritas.


We left before the show ended because it was getting pretty cold and someone had too much to drink even though she only had three.   Party smile


That is all the news for now. We are heading to the Keys on the 11th, so it will give us a nice break.