We have been enjoying the Keys since our last posting. Spending some time getting to know our fellow boaters in the Marina and Candy is building her Fan Club.
Had maintenace done on the generator and the main engines. Not too serious but a new water pump for the generator and adjusted the valves on the port and starboard engines. Hopefully all the maintenance is finished in the bilge and we are ready for the trip back to Michigan.
The Gigantic Nautical Flea Market (yes- that is how it was billed) was held in the park last weekend. I think there was over 200 booths with lots of strange stuff and lots of useful boat items. I walked thru several times and found a few small items but not major buys.
One of the couples on our dock bought a used boarding handle for $10 (similar to the one we have) which just needed a good cleaning of the stainless. A new one is probably over $300 – great buy.
We spent some time driving down the Keys and stopped at several of the bridges just as they leave each key to go to the next key. There is generally parking. When the road was modernized the old brdge was renovated and made into a walkway so people could fish from it. The original bridges were built by Henry Flagler for his railroad to Key West and when the road replaced the railroad they initially re-used the railroad bridges but eventually they could not update the narrow bridges to current standards and built new ones.
The bridges are well used by the locals for fishing and Florida does a good job of maintaining them. I took quite a few pictures of the Atlantic side and the Bay side.
Right now we are planning on leaving Islamorada on March 17th to start the trip home. It is approximately 400 miles to Georgia and another 800 +/- miles to Norfolk Virginia. We want to spend some time in the Chesapeake Bay and one of the Dockmasters here is originally from the Chesapeake Bay so I will spend some time with him. I know we want to stop in Annapolis and the Baltimore Inner Harbor.
We already have our pass for the Canadian Heritage Canals and I would like to do both the Rideau and the Trent-Severn if there is time. We plan on 3 to 4 weeks in the Trent-Severn and 3 or 4 weeks in the Georgian Bay. All the planning is subject to change if something good comes along.
Well we had rain last night as a cold front moved thru the Keys. It was in the mid 80’s the last couple of days and will be in the mid 70’s for today and tomorrow before another cold front moves thru. They are predicting mid 60’s for Sunday.
Earlier this week we stopped at the Wild Bird Sanctuary just south of Key Largo. Pretty interesting place with lots of different species of birds that for one reason or another are kept there after they were nursed back to health. Some of the birds we saw were brown pelicans, commorants, turkey vultures, probably 5 or 6 different owl species, ibis, heron, etc. The pelicans were all over the place. The ones that were impaired in some fashion were in a habitat cage for their own safety but there were a large nimber that kind of just hang around the outside I think looking for the free meal. They were on the walkways and all over the one beach on the Bay. It was a good time with no comercialism involved. Just a group doing a good thing.
Later in the week we went to the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key. They have done an awful lot of research on the dolphins and related species. They also provide rescue for sea lions and manatees in south Florida. They demonstrated the dolphin intelligence and put on a good demonstration and if you want to participate, you can. I have lots of pictures of the dolphins, etc.
We are supposed to have a Pops in the Park Concert here tomorrow. I hope that is entertaining. One of the fringe benefits of this marina.
We have been busy this week. Went to Key West on Monday and spent some time walking around. Candy went with us and that cancelled her nap for the afternoon.
We spent time on Duval Street which is one of the main tourist trap streets. Lot of interesting shops sprinkled in between the restaurants and souviner shops. Candy thought the people were great. I took pictures of the general area and some of the tour vehicles. One tour guide I overheard said there are 2,684 restaurants in Key West.
We also went to a restaurant called Hog Heaven (Islamorada) that was recommended by some of the people at the marina. It did not look like much from the road side but the outside deck fronts on a small boat basin off the Atlantic Ocean. We were there at night and they have lights in the water. People stand at the rail and throw food to the fish. The fish have a feeding frenzy with the food and it is pretty entertaining. The fish did not like french fries.
We went shopping at World Wide Sportsman (the local Bass Pro Shop). They had Ernest Hemmingway’s boat in the store. They also had mounted all the different South Atlantic Sportfish on the walls. I have not been saltwater fishing and do not know what the species look like but I want to find out so when I do go I know what I caught. They had a large fish tank and we were there for the 1:00 feeding. As early as 10 to 15 minutes before the feeding some of the fish are at the surface gulping air anticipating the feeding. Again the fish are in competition and the feeder was suppling shrimp scraps for the fish. This was better than the fish feeding frenzy at Hog Heaven.
After World Wide Sportsman we went next door to the Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant. It is a very nice setting on the bay side of the Key with all the seating areas under Tiki Hut type structures. The place is totally open with no walls but who needs them when the temps are 76 degrees. The food was very good and we will be back. Saw lots of boats from the bay come and and leave.