Friday, May 22, 2015

Good-Bye Florida Keys


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 92, low 72)


We left the Keys on Wednesday morning, spent the night in Naples at the Club Naples Rv Resort, and made our way back to Tampa/Wesley Chapel yesterday. 

When we left the Keys, the winds had calmed down and the seas were flat calm.  Just like we like it!  It sure made it hard to leave.

good bye Keys

We had an uneventful trip, which is always a good thing, especially after seeing all the recent pictures on Facebook showing so many catastrophic Rv accidents.


We took our time getting ready to leave.  It was so darn hot that anything that needed to be done outdoors was a real struggle.

The boat is covered, and taken to it’s summer home.  Most people “winterize” their boats, but we “summerize” ours.

You have to place a tent like structure under the cover to prevent water pooling and that takes a little time to get it right. 


We think we have snagged a canal space to keep our boat next winter.  It’s behind our site and up a few spaces, so it’s not too far from home.  If nothing changes, we will be able to keep the boat in the water instead of having to trailer it every time we want to use it.   Yay!   The only issue there, is that we will probably have to get the bottom painted, otherwise we’ll end up with a hull full of barnacles.

The following picture is what they look like.



Before we left, we took a day trip up to Islamorada.  The water is always to pretty and blue up there and it’s always a nice drive.



Overseas Hwy

There were a lot of people out enjoying the water.


We took a walk on one of the fishing bridges. This is the bridge left over from the old Flagler Railroad.  I love the architecture of these old bridges.






The Royal Poinciana were in full bloom and could be seen all along the Overseas Highway.

Royal Poinciana


We made a stop at Robbie's Marina to watch the tarpon feeding.  Robbie's is a must see for a Keys visit.

Tarpon feeding at Robbies

A fisherman was cleaning his catch and throwing the carcasses in the water, which in turn attracted quite a crowd.

Tarpon feeding at Robbies

Tarpon feeding at Robbies


Southern Stingrays

southern stingray at Robbies

5-6 nurse sharks came by to check things out, but unfortunately the fisherman (typical) threw such large pieces into the water that no one could eat it.


Tarpon feeding at Robbies and sharks





We see a lot of these creatures, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.  It looks similar to a jellyfish, but kind of like a nudibranch, or maybe even an anemone. 




We sure had a fun time in the Keys this year.  Since we bought our new RV lot, we are much close to Key West and now it’s a lot closer. It’s always fun in Key West!

Good-bye Keys, we will see you next year. 




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Another Amazing Nature Encounter


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 88, low 80)


It’s getting really warm here in the Keys and we’re starting to dream of the cooler days and nights in the mountains.


The winds have picked up making it too rough to go offshore, so we decided to pull the boat out of the water and start our preparations to leave the Keys.  We’re both kind of sad thinking about leaving our beautiful islands as we’ve really gotten into the routine here.  Despite the heat, there are still plenty of fun things to do.  We’ve been riding our bikes, swimming in the wonderfully heated pool and soaking our tired and aching bodies in the hot tub.  We haven’t made a run to Key West for sunset lately and may not have a chance before we leave.

Last week, we met up with Paul and Marti after following their blog for years.   They are very nice people and we really enjoyed meeting them in person. We’re meeting again this afternoon. 


Paul and Marti Dahl at Geiger Key

We are planning on leaving next week, so we’ve been working every day to get all the preparations done.  Having a boat that lives in the Keys, adds another big chore to the list, but it’s finally cleaned, organized and covered.

Owning a RV lot adds a few more chores to the normal preparations.  We’ve been painting our picnic table and deck box, replanting and moving plants.  We made arrangements to have our concrete patio cut down a little.  The way it is now, the motor home has to be right up next to the concrete deck so that the slide doesn’t hit the electric box on the other side.  Our lot is a pull in lot, but with the concrete patio so close, you tend to scrape your tires.  Land is extremely valuable here in the Keys, so lots tend to be small.  We have plenty of patio space, so we figure if the deck gets cut down a foot it will make it easier to pull into our lot next year.

We planned on leaving Monday, but the boat took longer than we expected, so now it’s Tuesday or Wednesday. 


On my last blog post I wrote about seeing three sea turtles mating right in front of our eyes.  If you missed that post, you can read about it HERE.  It was quite an amazing thing to witness.

We never expected to see anything like that again, but about two days later, we were coming back in from snorkeling on Looe Key Reef and we saw another amazing encounter.

We were back in the channel right in front of Venture Out and we spotted some dolphin splashing around.  We’ve seen them splashing before but it’s been when they are hunting and feeding.  Dolphin work together to catch their prey.

Years ago we saw several of them circling fast around a school of some sort of yellow fish.  All you could see was a yellow swirl in the middle. It was quite amazing seeing them work together for the good of the pod.

This time, as we approached the dolphin, we noticed they didn’t swim off as they usually do.


Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel

As we watched, we discovered there were at least three dolphin and maybe four.  Okay, now we know what’s going on!  We aren’t as naive as we were a few days ago!

The wind and current was moving us around all over, so it was pretty hard to get good pictures.  We saw them jump almost all the way out of the water. 

One swam right at us and stuck it’s head up to check us out.  Missed the picture though.  :(

Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel

I’m not exactly sure what we’re looking at here, but for sure it’s at least two dolphin.

Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel


Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel

One thing we saw quite a lot was dolphin swimming very very fast on it’s back.

Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel, swimming on his back


We think it may be the dolphin equivalent  to an after sex cigarette.  :)

Sorry about the fishing rod in the middle of the photo.


Dolphin Mating near Venture Out channel - swimming on back 

It was an amazing site and in all the time we’ve spent out in a boat on the ocean, this was the first time we’ve seen dolphin mating. 

Yep, it was another amazing day out on the water, but unfortunately the last one for this trip.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Rare and Exciting Encounter with Nature at its Best


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 85, low72)


We’ve been taking advantage of good boating weather the past four days and have been out in the boat every day.

We try to take advantage of those rare days when we get them, but it looks like the run is over for awhile.  We will probably start packing up to leave.  It makes me sad to think about leaving the Keys, but we need to get back to Tampa to see my Mom before we head back to the mountains.


A few days ago, we were on the gulf side because it was too rough in the Atlantic.  We were heading to a shallow area we previously found that is nice for snorkeling.

On the way out,  we noticed something odd in the distance.  We wondered at first if it was just a buoy flopping around in the surf but the more we looked, the more it looked like a sea turtle.  It wasn’t behaving naturally and we were concerned that if it was indeed a turtle, it was in trouble.

We are not ones to let an animal suffer if we can help, so we headed to the object, all the while hoping it wasn’t what we thought it was.

This is what it looked like in the distance.  We could see the yellow color which made us think turtle.



We both felt a sense of dread, wondering what we would find.  We have little to no phone or internet service out there and we didn’t know how to contact any of the local wildlife refuges.

The closer we got, the more certain we were that it was indeed a Loggerhead turtle.

Our first thought was that it was tangled in some fishing line or lobster traps.

Logger heads routinely weigh 250-400 pounds but they can get much larger.  



It was struggling violently and appeared to be having trouble keeping his head above water to breathe. 

Turtles live underwater but have to surface for air.  They  normally come up for air every  4 to 5 minutes, but this turtle was over exerting himself and needed to breath more often.




There was a lot of splashing, turning, flipping.  It appeared to be struggling to breathe.




We debated what to do to help but could think of nothing with no cell service to call any of the wildlife rescue organization.

We didn’t think we would be able to cut any tangled lines due to the violent splashing we were seeing, but we drove closer to see what we could do.  Then discovered the most amazing thing.

There were actually two turtles!

You can see in the next picture that they were face to face and one appeared to be biting the face of the one on the right.  Turtles eat hard shelled lobsters, crabs and the like so they have some pretty good teeth and jaws.  We knew we couldn’t get in the middle of this….whatever it was.



At this point we discussed whether they were mating, but they appeared to be stuck together nose to nose and they normally don’t mate from that end.  :)




Then Al noticed that there was a board or something below them.  We assumed it was a crab trap and they were somehow both stuck to it.

Then during all the frolicking and splashing, we discovered there were actually three turtles.

Okay, NOW we understand.  This was a threesome and the “board” underneath them was a poor female that they were fighting over and about to drown in the process.



We finally realized that one male was attached to the female who was underneath him and under water, while the two males were fighting on top of her.  We were really concerned the female would drown.

There wasn’t anything we could do, but eventually the female got away for a brief moment before being chased down and caught again by one of the big boys.



We were worried about the female but kept telling ourselves this is probably normal turtle behavior and probably happens all the time. 



After witnessing this mating ritual, I would be that a fair number of females are drowned in this violent act.



We often see turtles when we’re out in the boat.  You usually see their head come up for air but as soon as they see you, they dive underwater.

These guys paid absolutely no attention to us and we were concerned a careless boater could easily run them down.



You can see how close they were to our boat in these two pictures, but most of the photos were taken farther away with my super zoom lens.



After we realized they were mating, we backed off and we enjoyed the rest of the show.

In the picture below I believe these two were the males because the female was a lot smaller.



I think this is the female on the left and trying to get away.  Poor thing.


The males finally separated but one male was standing by a few yards away while the other male and female were mating.

We wondered if the other male was waiting for another turn at the female.












We watched at a distance for awhile and finally went on to do a little snorkeling.   They were still going at it when we left.  If the female didn’t become pregnant, it wasn’t for lack of trying!


We have been out on the ocean many, many times and have never seen such an amazing thing, but yesterday we again were lucky enough to see something else extremely unusual and equally as amazing!

Stay tuned!

You just never know what you are going to see in the Florida Keys!



Stay tuned to see we saw yesterday.  You’re not going to believe our luck.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Bad Outcome at Mallory Square


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 85, low 72)


Unfortunately, the gentleman I mentioned in my previous post, died before he got to the hospital.  I imagine he was actually gone before he ever got out of the water. 

Somehow, one of his friends found my blog post and let me know that he passed away.

Eduardo Ortega was a husband, father to three girls, and the best friend of the commenter.  I’ll never forget hearing his wife scream and cry while they were working on him in the ambulance.  It was a sad night.  He was only 49 years old.  How quickly life can change.  He was having a good time with family and friends, he made a mistake and it cost him his life.  R.I.P.  Mr. Ortega.

When I looked down into the water that night and saw the young woman struggling to get out of the water,  I looked around for a life ring.  There weren’t any.  I don’t know if a life ring would have saved Mr. Ortega.  The lack of life rings was mentioned in the newspaper article and I imagine some will be there on the waterfront very soon.  There should be.  There is no fence or anything between the water and the square.  There is a lot of partying going on and I think people fall or jump into the water pretty often. This just happened to be on a night with a full moon and strong currents.

It’s funny, but that same night as we were watching the cat show, I worried one of the cats would fall in.


We’ve had a week or so of rainy and windy weather.  There is a front forming off the east coast of Florida which may end up becoming a tropical depression, storm, or hurricane.  It looks like it has moved north past the Keys and we’re hoping for a few days good out on the water.

Hopefully, the seas are going to be flat and the winds will stay down and we will be able to get offshore today.  The plan is to head out to the Atlantic side and out to Looe Key Reef.  Wish us luck for flat calm seas, light winds and good visibility.



I am a little behind in my blog, but I wanted to share some pictures of Grand Funk Railroad. 

Last Saturday, there was a concert down on the Truman Waterfront.  Our favorite local band, Howard Livingston and the Milemarker 24 Band was going to open for Grand Funk Railroad.  Tickets were $25.  We debated whether or not to go.  Weather was a consideration, since it was going to be held outside.  We weren’t quite sure if there was going to be seating, or you had to stand. The paper said no chairs or coolers were allowed. 

We decided to go down and check out the venue because they have this concert every year and at least we would know for next year.  Last year it was the Doobie Brothers. Who knows who will perform next year.

We parked in town and walked down to the venue.  As we walked over we saw another couple leaving and carrying fold up chairs.  We asked them if they were not allowed to bring chairs inside.  They said chairs were okay, but they left after hearing Howard, because Grand Funk wasn’t their type of music.  Anyway, they gave us their tickets, so we walked right in….free!

Grand Funk was extremely loud and just the kind of concert I avoided when I was young.   I didn’t like them then and I really don’t like that type of music now.   Al was a fan of Grand Funk, but didn’t like having to stand.

We were towards the back and couldn’t see much, but I was able to zoom in and snap a few photos.

Grand Funk Railroad Concert




Grand Funk Railroad Concert

There are always interesting people in the crowds in Key West.

dog on shoulder

Al posing in front of Howards trailer in this picture. (he’s trying to suck in his gut)


Al sucking it in by Howies trailer

We didn’t stay until the end.  We didn’t have anyplace to sit,  Al doesn’t like standing, and it was way too loud for me. 

It was nice for free!


Here are some pics taken during one of our rainy days.

This poor Great White Heron was a tad damp.  He was on the boat ramp.


rain at VO Great White Heron

It’s hard to tell where the ramp ends and the ocean begins.

rain at VO


The bocce ball courts were flooded.

bocce ball courts, flooded

How about this Rv site?  Can you see the motorhome?

million dollar view, rv site

How about now?


million dollar view, rv site

There is a similar RV site on the open water that is for sale for $379,000 if you’re interested!  


Sunsets are usually beautiful here in the Keys.  This is North Roosevelt Blvd in Key West.


Key West, Roosevelt Blvd

sunset on US1