Thursday, February 18, 2016

Some Added Thoughts and Pictures

After posting yesterday about some of the special people we have met here in the Keys, I started to think about the richness of friendship.  Here at the Fishing Lodge, it feels like we have come to have fun at camp or maybe to play with some new playmates. And that is true for sure, but in a grander sense we are all here sharing our histories and the accumulated moments of our lives. 

Being here for two months each winter means that we are more than casual friends with people.  We have watched couples as they faced the end of life for a partner, heard stories of families who have lost a child, or experienced the unexpected death of a young man in his forties.  We know some who have survived cancer or horrendous accidents. And some who are suffering with a gay child and the treatment he has received from others.  And we could go on and on sharing the life moments that have formed the lives of our people here.

So we ARE having fun and sharing play time, but in special ways we are here building human connections, and expressing care for one another.  This community has been a special place for us and we are enriched each day by the friends we have made here. We respect them and the lives they have lived, and now share with us.


Another couple we like to share some time with is Rachel and Joel.  They are from New Hampshire and we have been getting to know them better over the past two years. They participated in our Acadia gathering in Maine.  We are planning a visit to the bridge, "Old Seven" in a few days.  It will be about a 5 mile round trip walk out to Pigeon Key.  We hope to have some more turtle sightings!

Here are some pictures taken on this walk on previous occasions.

Bald Eagle.


Sea Turtle - Loggerhead, I think.

We continue to have some great nature sightings here at the Lodge as well.  I want to share a few...

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret feeding - one of my favorite shots.

Snowy Egret and Imm. Tricolored perching on campers truck. (Hard to see both birds)

White Ibis and a Willet feeding together.

And here is something I had never seen before! Horseshoe crabs mating on the beach at the Fishing Lodge. Can cross that off the bucket list. ha!

More special moments at Bahia Honda State Park too.

Notice the heart above the beak and the pink feet. Breast cancer awareness­čśŹ

Lovely Goose Barnacles

Semi-palmated Plover

Black-bellied Plover

Diving Brown Pelican getting a fish

So here we are! Enjoying nature, the birds, and the turtles, and everything we can find that speaks to us of the wonders of life. We are loving life, and loving sharing it with all our special people at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. We can only say "Thank You".

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Some of Our Special Folks Here

This is the eighth winter we have spent in the Keys.  We were fortunate to find a rustic camping spot at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge our first year of travel and have been here each January and February ever since. There are many special things about this place, little things that make it unique. Each morning, fresh coffee is brewed for the campers and given away.  Free classes include painting, drawing, exercise, bridge and euchre, and water aerobics. We have a nature trail along the coral beach. But perhaps the key that makes this place so special to us and the many other winter campers, is the people.  

Our first year, we camped across from Wayne and Ginny. They helped us in so many ways to acclimate to the place and the culture of the campground. Wayne is an electrical engineer and a real techie, so he is always showing me a new "app".  They hosted us in their home in Minnesota on our trip back from Alaska.

Perhaps the next couple to "adopt" us are Michelle and Michel.  We call them M and M for obvious reasons and we usually go with them to events here in the park like Block Parties, the Hungarian Dinner and other social gatherings. They have traveled from Quebec several summers to join us in Acadia NP for our BPKF reunion week in Maine. Michelle is a cyclist and Michel an avid fisher and a gourmet cook!

Rose and Leon have added so much to the community for us. Rose is an artist who teaches the painting class, and Leon leads our Senior Exercise class. She also makes the best fried chicken and corn bread you can imagine.


We had a sad event happen this year. Rose fell and broke her leg during the last week of their vacation.  She had to have an operation here in the Keys, and then had to have it redone in Georgia after they returned home. She is on the slow road to recovery and I am sure Leon is helping her stay on the ball with her rehab exercises!

As you know, I participate in the birding events here. I met our friends Stan and Alida who lead the group and we spend happy times together hiking, and eating and sharing about birds and travel.  They are the most widely traveled of our friends and always have great pictures to share and stories to tell. We just saw the amazing photos Stan took on their recent trip to Antartica.

Marian is a birder, too and one of the top fishers here in the camp.  She wins lots a of awards at the Fishing Banquet and takes great bird pictures.  She has made a friend of this little Collard Dove.
She and husband Joe are from Cape May and we are looking forward to seeing them there in the spring. 

One of our special friends her is Lois who facilitates our water aerobics group five days a week. We have been part of her group for eight years and not much interferes with our class.  The cold weather has made some changes this year, but she always shows up!  She and hubby Tom just celebrated a wedding anniversary.

A few years ago, we moved to a new site closer to the beach ...  and serendipity!  We met our dear and crazy friends, Diana and Gary.  We spent time in their home on the way back from Alaska where we were treated to a most delicious pizza feast. They dressed in costume for the fun presentation of the meal.  The other day, she and Latona sang "Me and Bobby McGee" back and forth from our site to theirs.

(Fixing a spot on the windshield in picture below.)  She made the blinds in the windows and has some with eyes closed too! She too is an amazing artist.

There are more friends that we love and enjoy here. ( to mention a few...Debby and Howard who connected us to our Alaska dream, Steve and Margaret, and Patsy and Steve, Peter and Donna and the sunrise group, Jon and Anne, and Chef Jerry, Sue, and the guys that gave us so much lovely fresh fish).  I wish I had the space to put in all the pictures and names.  Every friend is special and unique and valued and all are part of what makes this time of year so special for us. Each one is a special treasure to us! It is all about the people!

And below, a picture of Latona and I on the beach. Someone walked by and offered to take the shot and I am glad we agreed. Years ago, God blessed me with a special love shared with this wonderful person. We have enjoyed many years together and been many places and can truly say, it is the people that have made it special!

                     We are grateful for our friends here or wherever You may be!