Happy Hour at Long Key State Park

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Alive

I've been preparing my next post that was to be about a day in Key West, but decided to post this instead.

Tonight I realized I felt more alive, and more content than I have in years. I was just sitting outside the rig in the dark listening to the crickets or whatever bug is making the noise, when I realized I was living in the now. 

I am no longer waiting for something.  

This is it, and I am very comfortable with the here and now.

I often talk to other RVers, either full timers like ourselves, or people enjoying a few days in the parks.  I am often asked if I have any regrets, and the answer is a resounding NO!

I am not looking back, nor am I looking forward.  I am enjoying the days as they happen, good or not. 

Although it is a challenge some of the time, I really enjoy going to a new place and discovering new things. After a week or so I feel like the place is home, but I am also ready to move on.

This life may not be for everyone, but I am SO glad we gave it a try.

I waited a long time to be here. 

Now is my best time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Catching up from the Keys

Oh my! Only two more nights at Long Key State Park before we will be pulling out and driving all of 35 miles to our next destination in Key Largo.

These are some of the things we have enjoyed while here:

A short but magical walk thru a dense mangrove forest. It went from the Highway to the Florida Bay side of the park in 1/4 mile. It really felt jungleish!

Watching our next-door neighbor fishing with a net. He didn't catch anything, but it was interesting.

Visiting other beaches on the Keys. Bahia Honda State Park has a wider beach than Long Key, but there are no RV spots as close as ours is to the water.

We also drove thru Curry Hammock State Park to check out the RV spaces.  We really did luck out in getting a spot at the best park! Especially since it was my second choice. I have since heard that Bahia Honda is known for being very noisy and "a bit of a zoo".

We never seem to tire of watching the little shore birds hunting for goodies in the sand just a few feet from the Alfa.

One of our walks was a four mile stroll down the old section of the seven mile bridge that is closed to traffic, but open to walkers.

Birds seem to like it as well.

The colors of the water were beautiful. We had a moment of excitement when we saw a manta ray breach a short distance from where we were standing. Seeing animals in the wild is always a bit more exciting than seeing them in a zoo or aquarium.

Of course,
during the weeks we have been here we have sampled some of the unusual seafood offerings available at the many competing casual eateries. Craig tried the Konchwurst sandwich, and I had a Lobster Reuben. Both were good, but I don't think they will sweep the country as food fads.  We also took some fresh Hogfish filets home and cooked them on the grill. It was a very nice, mild white fish.

As we drove back and forth along the Overseas Highway we couldn't help noticing the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. We had met a couple of their people when we had the above lunch, and decided a visit would be interesting.

Part of the educational tour was viewing one of the vet techs giving a turtle a blood transfusion. The healthy donor turtle was resting in a bin in another room.

We saw many turtles in different pools. These are two of the Green Turtles who were in rehab after surgery to remove some benign tumors. Green turtles are mostly brown, with each having a unique coloration. They are called green turtles because their flesh and fat becomes green from the plants they eat.

I think this was the prettiest one. Did you know sea turtles shed layers of keratin off the top of their shells as they grow? 

We also saw some of the turtles who are permanent residents of the hospital because they would not be able to survive in the wild if they were released. We fed them by tossing "Turtle Chow" into the water. They are also fed romaine lettuce from the local grocery store.  

During these two weeks we have had to drive up to Maimi, over 100 miles, twice so Craig could have some dental work taken care of. He needed to have a root canal redone and also some painful oral surgery. He seems to be doing fine, but he is still on pain killers and antibiotics so we are taking it easy.  If he feels up to it, we want to spend the afternoon and evening in Key West tomorrow. It is his 70th Birthday.

Moonrise from our picnic table.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Still Here

It has been a quiet relaxing week here at Long Key State Park.

I have gotten up for some of the fantastic sunrises, and others I happily slept through.

We have enjoyed just sitting out and listening to the soft slosh of the waves. The water has so many hues from slate grey to bright turquoise.

Sunsets have been wonderful!

Although this image is terrible, out of focus and all, it does help me share the wonder of a campfire, the moon, the sea, and the husband.

Until next time, peace to all.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunrise + Craig's walk in the Atlantic

I got up early enough on Sunday to catch the sunrise. I didn't even have to get dressed or leave the coach. I watched most of it while seated in the passenger seat. I did step out long enough to take a couple of shots.

Sunrise, Long Key Florida

Slightly later:

We started Sunday by taking a one hour walk on the nature trail in Long Key State Park.  It was a nice walk, but not enough for a day's activity.

Karen had mentioned there was a weekend Flea Market on Big Pine Key where we could buy produce, so we headed that way. The pickings were pretty slim, so we passed on buying anything, but we did enjoy driving over the seven-mile bridge to get there.

It was still early in the afternoon,  and having driven this far we decided to go on to Key West.  

I'm not sure what I expected, but we didn't see much on our hour or so drive-around. The parking situation was as bad as we had been told. We saw an on-off bus driving around, and if we ever do go back we will look into using it. As it was, Craig wanted to get back to the coach for a football game, so our trip was limited to just a drive around town. In the older area the houses were quaint, and there were lots of people on the streets. We drove by Mallory Square and it was very crowded. Perhaps another time. We might have tried harder to find parking if we were there for dinner, but since we were not, I was fine with just a drive-by look and was happy to get back to our own little piece of paradise in Long Key.

On Saturday evening I discovered that if I walked west, up the beach for about 400 feet, I could see the sun set over just a thin line of land. I did not take any pictures on Sunday because it was quite cloudy on the horizon, but I'll try for some in the future.

Monday morning dawned bright and clear after a very heavy overnight rain storm. 

Craig had emailed Russ K about a football game Saturday night.  Russ replied, suggesting they bet going for a swim if their team lost. Craig didn't see the email until the next morning so there was no wager, but figured that going for an outdoor swim in Oregon would be about 10 times worse than here in Florida, so given 10-1 odds he probably would have taken the bet.

So today he set out to take a swim on our beach. 

A bit shallow to dive right in so he started to wade out.

And out ...

And out... a very gradual slope.

He said he thought he would soon need a passport when he reached Cuba!

Finally he ducked down so he could claim to have been swimming and came back in.

He says the water was not very cold, but he wished he had worn footwear instead of being barefoot. The ocean floor was sandy, but there were rocks and prickly things from time to time.

But a bet is a bet, and if Russ had lost he would have been a lot colder in Oregon!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Easy Drive to the Keys

Saturday's 127 mile drive from Fort Lauderdale to Long Key could not have been nicer. Miami traffic was exceptionally light. We ran into some congestion in Key Largo, but by then we were already feeling the anticipated peace and tranquility.

Although the spaces are a bit narrow, there is thick foliage between them. We have 30 amp power, water, and a dump station is not far.
Our Verizon phone is getting 3 bars of 4G and 24 Mbps download. The satellite dish is also receiving well.

We couldn't be any closer to the beach! I will bring out a table cloth, and we'll be enjoying some of our meals here.

This is the view out the front window.  It's due south toward Cuba, slightly too far to actually see it.  I guess I'll be getting up for some sunrises. Looks like sunsets will be good too!

All I can say is we are very happy campers.  

I wish I could have booked it for more than two weeks, but that's the park limit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Odd Week

It has been an odd week. Although we were very glad we were not in the Northeast and didn't have to deal with the lake effect snow, we did have intermittent rain and overcast skies.

The highlight of our week was a Skype visit with our son Gil who is teaching English in Myanmar (Burma.) It was good to see and hear him. He is looking good and doing fine.

Craig went to a Miami dentist for the same tooth he has seen dentists for in California, Mexico, and Georgia. The Miami dentist is highly rated on the internet, we liked him, and he thinks he can actually do something for the tooth. We all want to save it because it supports the end of a bridge, but he is very tired of having an on and off again toothache. The dentist put him on antibiotics and we will drive up from the Keys next week for a possible re-root-canal.

Urban traffic has never bothered me very much. I've gotten lost many times in cities such as Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and have been in long freeway traffic jams in all of them.  Miami-Ft. Lauderdale has to have the worse traffic I have ever experienced. It is so bad that I passed on driving into Miami to go to the Aquarium or any other attractions. The drivers seem overly rude, and dart in and out of their lanes like hummingbirds.

We did go to the beach on Tuesday afternoon. It had rained in the morning, but cleared a bit later. Craig said he liked this picture of me because I looked happy. I was. The ocean air was very soothing.

We went for a walk down the beach. The water was surprisingly warm. I am used to the cold Pacific waters. Craig said it was warm because of the Gulf Stream.

Next time we go to a beach we will be in the Keys, and I will wear my swim suit. When we first arrived at this beach I was surprised that no one was in the water. 

Then, as we walked along we spotted many of these guys washed up along the edge of the surf. Jelly fish. A good reason to stay out of the water. They can sting.

Even though we were on an East Coast beach, there was a bit of a sunset glow. Hey, any sunset with palm trees in it is a good one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We are actually going to make a small turkey.  Not very many sides, but a turkey none the less.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Awning

I my last post I wrote about troubles and challenges. All except for the awning extending while on the interstate were just challenges. I write about them because I know when I was a "dreamer" and waiting until the day we could go full time, I read many blogs trying to learn as much about RVing as I could. As a fulltimer now, I want to show those who are still dreaming, that although there may be challenges, they can be overcome and the life is worth the trouble.

Also, I used to correspond with someone who wrote as if every thing they did was the most wonderful thing. This person's emails were like the traditional Christmas Letter.  I'd rather be real, and share some of the not-so-good days too.

Now for the awning. We are waiting on an estimate to get the motor replaced and the awning remounted on the side of the rig. It is the kind that goes in and out with the touch of a button inside, and retracts by itself when the wind comes up. Who knows why it went out by itself, but we will be sure to add some sort of safety feature to prevent that from happening again!

When we brought it in the Alfa it was quite wet. We unrolled it on Saturday while we were gone, and it got pretty dry. When it was unrolled I noticed some of the hem stitching on one edge had come out. On Sunday I resewed it by hand. The canvas is in good condition and no other stitching is loose.

When it is rolled up, it tucks under the kick space under the kitchen cabinets and in front of the chair area, extending into the space between the driver's and passenger's seat.  If we are careful going in and out of the rig it won't be a big problem.

The guys that came to remove it are supposed to call with a repair estimate, but if we don't like it, we may just carry it around with us until February when we have an appointment with one of our two favorite Alfa repair places, Albritton's  in Louisiana.

We will see.  I'd just as soon get it fixed and out of the coach.

For my friends who recommend always looking at a campground on Google Earth, I do that some of the time, but usually not. 
I use Google Earth all of the time when hunting for parking stops along the way, or to look at repair facilities or propane-filling places, or sometimes even gas stations so I know how to pull in. But I still trust that if I have a reservation for a 35' motor home there is a way into the park. If we had a 40' I might be more careful.  All of our challenges usually come when we are in the wrong place and Google Earth won't help us then. I would not have caught the mistake in entering "E" instead of "W" in the Navigator by using it, because I would have given Google Earth the correct address as shown on my paperwork. Also I would not have seen the truck in our space since Google Earth is not "live".  Any one of the challenges would have been insignificant. It was just so many on top of the rain and awning problem.

Friday should have been an easy 83 mile drive. 

The good thing is we only seem to have problems when we are moving from place to place. Fortunately we have many safe, easy driving days to balance things out.

Next move: Saturday, down to the Florida Keys! Hopefully it will be an easy one in spite of the Miami traffic and Craig's desire to stop at a Trader Joe's on the way.

Google Earth here I come!