Monday, February 27, 2012

Friends and Family

It is hard to believe that we have only a few days more here at the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge, in the Keys.  We have enjoyed so many new adventures and great experiences with friends and "family" in the campground.  In these past few weeks, we have also had some visits from friends and family from other places.  Our friends Nick and Harriet were visiting in the Miami area and came to Florida City to meet us for lunch.  They treated us to a wonderful meal and visit.  They were riding in a "Jag" - the first I had ever seen as a rental.  Must have been fun to drive.  Also, after hearing about my dental issues, Harriet told me about her cousin's husband who is a dentist on the Keys.  After a few phone calls and an office visit, I now have a newly rebuilt tooth thanks to her.  We have been friends since 1965, and it was a treat to see her and Nick in Florida.

Our friends Andre and Ruthie came from Virginia on a trip to get into warmer weather, take some photographs, and visit friends along the way.  One of our enjoyable days was a visit to the Bahia Honda State Park.

They brought their own accommodations!

A few weeks ago, we got an unexpected surprise.  Carrie called to tell us that she and the girls would be coming to see us during school vacation week.

We have been enjoying being with them since last Wednesday and still have a few more days together.

We will all be leaving together heading north to Miami.  After another day together there, they will fly home, and we will head to the Everglades.

As you might imagine, the deer have been one of the big hits, along with the beach, and the swimming pool.  It has been a really wonderful visit and I hope they will carry many happy memories home with them.
We will be doing more traveling and camping, so the time between blogging may be longer.  But I am sure Latona will be taking some great photos and we will post them and use them as a way to share with you what we are doing.  We send you our love and hugs and hope you are well.  Winter is getting shorter, right.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day, Sea Turtles, And More New Adventure

 We woke up on Valentine's Day with a wonderful surprise!  Someone had pinned several flowers (the pink and yellow ones) to the flap of our tent.  Many others in the campground had the "love" gift as well but we still don't know who the angel was who gave us this thoughtful gift.

The screen house has become our kitchen and dining room...

while the van is our bedroom, and holds the cooler, the food cabinet and the nighttime "potty".

On FEBRUARY 16, we took something off our "bucket list" ...

We went walking on Marathon Bridge - part of the Seven Mile Bridge.  This walkway is a leftover from the Flagler Railroad that was built 100 years ago to connect Miami and Key West.  (Now the Overseas Highway is the connector and was created using much of the old railroad bed. This is the very end of US Route 1, and of course the famous Mile Marker 0 is right in the middle of Key West.)  The walkway is also part of the Greenway - linking cities Florida to Maine,

 As we walked along, I carried my binoculars, checking for seabirds and any other thing of interest. At the one mile marker point,  I looked off about 100 yards and thought I saw a swimmer coming up for air, but knew in my mind that couldn't be right out in the middle of the Gulf.  I quickly looked with my binoculars and realized a sea turtle had just come up for a breath of air.  Latona was ahead of me, and although I called to her to come and see it, it swam away.

As I walked along I spotted another one covered in sea grass, but swimming more on the surface.  At the same time a man on a bicycle rode by and told us a large turtle was feeding at mile marker 1.5.  We hustled along that half mile hoping to see it,  but sure it would be gone,  BUT  there it was...a Loggerhead feeding in the shallow bed of sea grass right below us.  We watched the gentle creature for about 20 minutes feed and graze.  This had been on our bucket list - to see the giant turtles in their natural environment.  What a glorious sight!

Latona also saw several Spotted Eagle Rays actually "flying" three to four feet above the water and pointed them out to me.  We read in our guide book that if chased they will emit a sound and leap high in the air, so we believe we identified them correctly.

One last, but not least note.  We want to share about our friends, Stan and Alida.  They invited us to join them at Bahia Honda Campground for two nights so we could attend two astronomy programs, and do some birding perhaps.  Friday night we enjoyed some incredible salmon and all the fixing, prepared by Alida and grilled by Stan.  Early Saturday morning, we walked the beach to see the sunrise, cleaned up some washed-up litter, and took some pictures of a Broad-winged Hawk eating a crab.  After the walk, we ate some super pancakes covered with blueberries and strawberries.  Stan then asked us if we would like to go kayaking in the Atlantic.   Needless to say, we agreed to give it a "go", and they taught and guided us, and both Latona and I had a wonderful first adventure kayaking in ocean water.

Needless to say it has been a wonderful week... and now we have the excitement of looking forward to a visit with Carrie and the girls, who will arrive on Wednesday for school vacation week with us.  We look forward to sharing this place with them and only wish we could have all the grandchildren here as well.

Love and hugs, L&L

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Morning Again!

It has been a good week for me because the problem tooth in my lower jaw is finally gone and the healing is progressing wonderfully.  All thanks to a wonderful Oral Surgeon in Key West, Dr. Ira Stone.  This infected tooth and the subsequent swelling has been a real preoccupation for a while and Latona has been very supportive through this painful process.

We want to share pictures of a wonderful place here in the campground.  We have our own trail to hike and enjoy everyday without even getting into the van.  The Nature Trail is a mile and a half loop trail that was created by Glenn Evans in 1976.  He continues to maintain this trail and is a camper here at Big Pine Key.  We have adopted the trail, and in a small way, help by picking up trash that either blows in or washes up in the storms.  Walking the trail almost everyday, we have learned many of the native trees, seen Black snakes, tortoises and the Land Hermit Crab. Yesterday, we saw a Bobcat walking into the woods around the trail.

One of the most unique trees here is the 
Gumbo Limbo and is nicknamed the tourist tree because it is always red and peeling.
Gumbo Limbo
Sea Grape

Gray Salt Bush

Porterweed - a favorite of the butterflies

Here a lone Mangrove is anchored along the shore visible from the Nature Trail.  These are perhaps the most numerous of the trees here and populate much of the shoreline along the Keys.
A piece of Nature's art.

Seven-Year Apple

Pencil Plant

Although these flowers grow in Texas, and the picture taken there, we felt it an appropriate one to use to send our Happy Valentine wishes to each one who may read this blog.  We are so grateful for the blessings of the sunshine, the warm places to exercise and walk, and all the fun we are having since we  joined many other "kids" our age out playing!  BUT we miss our children and grandchildren, and many friends as well and do look forward to seeing them/you all again and being able to share hugs.  We are grateful for all the love and blessings we have been given and thank God each day as we awake to a      new morning filled with grace and promise.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just Another Day in Paradise

Latona and I were thinking about the blog earlier in the week and decided that it would be fun to show you some of the signs spread throughout the campground.  They won't need much explanation!!

Buoys found on the beach that came from lobster and crab traps.

Recycling is a big priority here in the campground.

As well as fishing and other things...

Folks are here from Moosehead Lake as well as the other spots on the sign.

Many campers here from our northern neighborhood of Canada.

In addition to friends Andre and Ruthie visiting with us on our site this week, our senior exercise class named "Leon's Athletics" had our group picture taken for the campground record of winter activities.  Latona and I have been regulars and are both feeling stronger thanks to Leon.  Sadly, we will be saying goodbye to these friends this week as their time here comes to an end.  Leon's group will end Tuesday, his wife Rose leads the watercolor class, and Stan and Alida who held the last birdwatching official group will leave Thursday.  There is always the "bittersweet" in everything - we have so enjoyed these activities and especially the friendships that must come to an end for now.  We wish them happy trails and good health until we can all be together again.  We wish the same to all those we are separated from right now, with love and hugs...