Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Well, let me start with a thanks to my brother-in-law, Forry, who caught some misinformation that I inadvertently published.  The fish that had been identified as a "flounder" in my last post is indeed a Scrawled Filefish. (Learn more by checking this and anything else mentioned on the blog on the web.)

As we walk along the bridges we encounter many people fishing, and in the case of the "flounder" I took someone's word as truth.  Often a dangerous thing to do!  

We spend quite a bit of time at the Bahia Honda State Park and often are just captivated by the color and the beauty surrounding us.

Along the park pathway to the bridge overlook we encountered a plant called the "Nickerbean Plant".  The rangers here identify the plant with this name although I have had difficulty finding it under that name in our nature guides.  This plant is a host plant for the endangered Miami Blue Butterfly.

In addition to this exotic looking plant, we sometimes are greeted at the gate with a warning about the "jellyfish" washed up on the shore.  These are the Portugese Man-of-War variety and the sting can be very uncomfortable.  The suggestions from the park staff include scraping the burning area with a credit card to remove the "jelly",  use vinegar to reduce the sting, and avoid any contact with them in the future.  They certainly are a beautiful blue, with pink edges, and we can imagine that they would really attract children playing on the beach.

Another adventure, took us south away from the state park on the Overseas Highway to check out an "attraction" in the lower keys.  In 1929, a developer named Richter Pelkey wanted to build a resort on Sugarloaf Key but was deterred by the mosquitos.  He learned that bats love to eat these insects, so he decided to build a large bat tower (I would guess it is 35-40 feet tall) and hoped that many bats would arrive, eat the mosquitos, and that riches would soon follow. After it was built however, it did not seem to be working, so the story is that he added some bat attractant "?" but still no bats ever came.  As far as we know, he never built his resort, but one enterprising Osprey loves to call it home.  I hope you can see the nest on top.  One of the parents was sitting in the nest during our visit.

This leads me to the final creature that I need to tell you about.  Latona and I were sitting under one of the trees in our site, the common Green Buttonwood, when I realized that my hand was starting to burn, and ache.  When I looked at my t-shirt near my stomach, I saw a teardrop shaped caterpillar (about two inches in length) covered in brown fur with a white strip down it back and a few white patches on the rump end.  I wasn't sure the two events were connected, but my hand really started to hurt but it never swelled up.  Latona put the creature in a cup, in case we needed to check it out.  My hand was developing a reddish area between my thumb and forefinger so our neighbor gave me some ice for my hand and I took some benedryl.

Two neat things are part of the story.  We have some entomologists staying in the campground and also a nurse camped a few spots away.  We gave the caterpillar to the scientists, and the nurse monitored my heart rate.  Although the pain went up my arm, it never swelled up or felt alarming.  We took some pictures of the creature and sent it to a person at the Florida Extension who identified it as a Puff Caterpillar or the Asp.  When I read about it on the internet, one article identified it as the most toxic stinging caterpillar in North America.  Whew!  The pain lasted for 18 hours but never progressed, so I guess I survived.  I still have an autograph on my hand where the little spines stuck into me when I rubbed my hand against it on my shirt.  Another life warning, I guess, is to watch out for some "cute things".   One note about how to deal with this is to try to pick out the microscopic little spines with tweezers, or put a piece of taped over the area and try to pull some of them out of the skin.  The credit card idea doesn't work since the toxic is not 'on the skin' but 'in the skin'.

Thanks for sharing our news and thoughts.  It is fun to think about sharing with you each week.  Now it is time to say goodbye from these two creatures...Love and hugs from the Duo

Monday, February 11, 2013

Here we are again! Learning Curves and Wild Things

(Sorry for the abrupt ending last week.  We have to travel to the local library to get the WiFi connection and it can be a short window to get this written and posted.  I am feeling that I wish I just write a quick note every few days, but that may not be possible for a while.  This is not because I have so much to say, but rather that we have so many experiences we wish we could share with you since a lot happens in a week!)

With the challenges of the van that we discussed last time, we can report that we figured out how to wash it.  That was a big one since birds overhead can often make a mess, and the salt water breezes and rain can deposit things as well.  We are taking out time with other things and do hope to solve most of the "how tos" before leaving the Keys in mid-March.

This week we have hiked on some pedestrian bridges that are leftovers from the Flagler Railroad.  The construction of the railroad one hundred years ago connected Miami and Key West, and was considered the eighth engineered wonder of the world.  Parts of the railroad bed have been restored and are used for fishing, hiking, biking and wildlife viewing.  Here is one of my favorite views :

We are showing off a wonderful shirt made by our friend Ingrid and sending all the wild loons ( and Chemo Pond) a love greeting.

Some other wild things we saw on the bridge or from the bridge follow:

 Loggerhead Turtle (we saw this one but photo from Internet)

Colors and vegetation beyond description

Ruddy Turnstone

Starfish looked to be over 12 inches across.  We saw six huge Rays the same day.

Flounder landed by one of the bridge fishers.

This week we have also had sweet. small, winged visitors in our site.  Birders will recognize these images borrowed from the internet.  I sat in my lawn chair and viewed each of these sweet birds.  The big stars here are the waders and the little shore peeps, but I am always excited when some of my northern wood warblers give me a chance to see them here as well.

Black and White Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Northern Parula

Palm Warbler

One last thought is to share some pics of our campground residents, a Great 
Egret and his/her buddy the Brown Pelican.  Can't you almost hear them conversing?  Just imagine what they might be saying...

We also spend lots of time on the beach and as you can tell,  we are still the Daicey Duo, going strong and loving this shared life.  We send out love along with these few thoughts.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Life's Big Learning Curves

I feel like I am facing a big learning curve.  The Leisure Van has presented me with new things to learn about like generators, inverters, converters, propane service, tracvision, a microwave that is also a convection oven, dumping black water and grey water, filling with fresh water, keeping the tire pressure checked, looking at all the different fluids, charging house batteries, and trying to figure out how to play a DVD on the flat screen.  What is the difference between dry camping and full-hookup service?  What system works on what form of power? And I am sure there is much more to mention.  I have found several owner's manuals, and a notebook full of individual manuals inside the van from refrigerator to TV aerial to Carrier air conditioner.  All manuals are in paper and also downloaded on my Kindle.


I can remember several major times that I felt this overwhelmed, and somewhat frightened at all the learning that was facing me.  My first real memory of that feeling was when I went to first grade.  I was walked to the school a few blocks away from home, dropped off by my mother, and sent into a room full of strangers.  The first thing I can remember a teacher saying was "get your hands off those desks, they were just waxed."  Thank God I was sent to the room across the hall and a teacher with a sweeter disposition, and loved being a student throughout my life.

The next time I remember the feeling of panic and confusion emerged around all the issues of puberty, hormones and sexual feelings, and something called gender identity.  Thank God by forty, I had figured out most of this.

Another noteworthy period started the day my mother drove me to Penn State and dropped me off to start my first year as a college student.  All my tears and begging were to no avail, and fortunately, this too began a wonderful journey for me in higher education.

The final mention I must include was when I became a mother and wondered why no one ever gave me a manual that warned me, and prepared me for this awe-inspiring and overwhelming experience. Happily, I have a daughter filled with grace and a forgiving heart for all the imperfections in her mother.  (And, she is doing a wonderful 'job' with her girls.)

I wonder how to reach the top so I can keep it clean?
Well, I am leading up to a short tour of our new home so you can see all we have, and particularly, all I have to learn.

Behind the driver seat is the door to the bathroom/shower

Behind the doors!

The couch that lays flat to make our bed.  Stove is under cover to the left.

Here is table set up in front of couch.  We hadn't move our stuff.

Sink on left and refrigerator on right.  You can see all the cupboards!

The driver's very comfy seat.  Latona has one to match on other side.

More next week on our progress...laptop out of power and I want to post his...Happy trails