Thursday, January 28, 2016

Key West Fun and Friends

The weather here has been very unusual for the Keys. Much more rain, cool temperatures and strong winds. Everyone is making the best of it but it has changed camp life. We are all staying out of the weather and not able to sit outside as much enjoying the typical sunny days. However, we still enjoy the sunrise group each morning, and spending time walking the beaches of Bahia Honda State Park, and water aerobics and senior exercise classes.

No matter where we go and what we experience, we always say "It's all about the people". It is true here in the Keys as well. A valuable part of our stay is the people we get to see each winter. (In another post I will share more about the folks that stay here for many months and have become very dear friends.) But we also have visits with short timers - those who come for a week or less.  Jim and Tonya arrive early in January and stay for five days usually, and we now have visited them at their home in Maryland and they have visited us in Maine.

We have also shared this past week with friends Cindy and Tracy, two women we met here at BPKFL. We have maintained a friendship with them away from here as well. They spent the past week with us and one of the trips we made was a walk on the beach. They also caught some wonderful fish that they cooked and shared with us!

    We found another Bahama Star and got a better picture!

But certainly a high light of the week as a trip together to Key West. Our campground at the Fishing Lodge is in the Lower Keys and only 33 miles north of Key West. 

 We are including some photos here to give you a feeling of the special place.  The day included Margarita Pizza at Willie T's, and Fish Tacos at the Hogsbreath Saloon, and stops at Peter Lik's Gallery, Mallory Square, and Schooner Wharf  in the Key West Bight.

The Key West Fowl own the place.

A Strangler Fig Tree in the front of the Lighthouse.

Some of the Keys colours and tropical sights...

Willie T's for brunch pizza.

Home of Richard Kemp for whom the Kemps Ridley Turtle is named.
Deceptive picture from the outside of the oldest eating establishment in Key West - Pepes!
Beautiful wood inside.   

One of the Wyland Walls on the side of a brewery.

All kinds of boats in the Harbor at Key West Bight.

More Keysie!

Said the home of the Key Lime Pie beside the entrance.

One of the many bars and eating spots.

Famous Mallory Square where street performers earn a living and thousands experimce the sunset on clear nights.

There she is, our own Vanna!

One of the many tourist attractions.

This place shows its good taste with the Maine Lobster Roll on the menu!

A fun story of the day came with our visit to the Bull. We enjoyed the live music and met this couple from Tennessee. Some times you just hit it off with folks, and we certainly did with Bill and Jackie!

                        The third floor of the Bull offers an interesting option. We skipped that one.

The Women's Club was having a big event.

The Key West movie theatre.  Note the statue of Marilyn Monroe on the sidewalk.

The place where it all begins...
Or ends. (Right across the street from each other.)

I'll end with a photo from BPKFL. We are grateful for each day and send you warm hugs from the Keys of Florida. Take the hand of your best friend and go out to play! This day is a gift!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Back to the Keys - Familiar But New

We enjoyed the holidays with Mom and Chick, before heading for our winter retreat at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. Here we are, after a lunch in the Villages a few days before New Years.

We have good friends that we visit along the way and they always give us a warm welcome. They are not excited to have a picture taken, but they are special friends.

After about a six hour drive from their home near Tampa, we arrive at the Lower Keys and start to realize that it is just like seeing it all for the first time. The colours of the water and the narrow strip of coral that we drive over, loosely separates the waters of the Gulf and the Atlantic. Pictures never do it justice. 

On arrival, we try to find familiar faces and catch up on the months that have passed since we were together. We learn about the schedules for water aerobics and senior exercises, and get our state park pass.  It is easy to set up our site since we just unload our chairs and a stove from under the bed and the job is done.

Our site faces the ocean. The Key Deer that make this island home wander up and down the coast and often come through our site.

Many mornings, we catch the sunrise and have these experiences to start the day!  Every sunrise seems the same because the same sun rises everyday, YET every time it is unique and special...a promise for the day ahead.

One thing we decided to do this year was to buy a Florida State Park Pass and with it make frequent visits to Bahia Honda State Park just a few miles away. The next set of pictures will show some of the special things we have found during this first week here.

Crowfoot Grass

Railroad Vine Flower

Bahama Sea Star in shallow water (rare first find for us)

Home of the Ghost Crab. Males bring sand out of hole in shape of balls. Tide will eventually remodel.

Many flocks of the small peeps. Here are Ruddy Turnstones, one Sanderling and a Short-billed Dowitcher.

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron

The Magnificent Frigatebird

Great Blue Heron visiting the beach crowd

Someone created art work using vase sponges and other seaside treasures.

Coconut Palms

A small piece of Sandspur Beach

Guess what we found imbedded in the coral. We are never without that heart that reminds us of who we are and what we are about on this earth.

Passers by offered to take our picture, so here we are.

When the hike is over, we have a nice shower to clean the sand from our feet!
We have enjoyed our first week in the Keys. We have become reacquainted with the birds and plants of this part of the world and have begun to relax and allow our selves to move into Island Time! Most of all, we have rekindled old friendships and met new friends as well! We are blessed in 2016 and send the same thoughts of love and health to you!