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Month: January 2021

Time to wrap it up and go

Time to wrap it up and go

26-31 JAN-2021 Tuesday-Sunday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

It’s funny that when I was in the working world I drank coffee daily from the same, seldom washed cup. In the retirement world I use a clean cup every day and scrub it hard in between uses when I wash dishes.

Along the Way

We leave tomorrow morning at first light. Time to wrap up our stay here at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. A few final pictures ….

A couple of pictures from our dives. Our dive master Andrew Lonzo took these pictures.

It’s in the eyes. Scorpionfish’s eyes look like black holes, dead and lifeless. They don’t reflect any light like like a walleye’s eyes do, lobster do and some of the other species of fish.

The camouflage on scorpion fish varies. The fish is not a hunter but rather lies in wait to ambush small fish and crustaceans. It’s large mouth creates a vacuum to quickly suck in and swallow prey during a nearly imperceptible split-second movement.

Our divemaster guide used a tickle stick to nudge one so we could see the surprisingly beautiful pectoral fins.

The scorpionfish family (Scorpaenidae) includes many of the world’s most venomous species, including the lion fish. Scorpionfish have a type of “sting” in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus. A scorpion fish sting causes intense pain and swelling at the site of the sting. Swelling can spread and affect an entire arm or leg within minutes.

Had I know this in advance I might not have gotten as close as I did to look at the several scorpionfish we saw.

A couple of murals

The guy below has already, almost fallen in the water trying to get off the mini kayak. His bumm was hanging in the water a couple of seconds ago. Zoom in on the girl laughing in the below picture. She saw it too.

Florida Man

MIAMI (Reuters) – A Florida man walked into a convenience store with a live alligator and tried to trade it for a 12-pack of beer, according to wildlife authorities who cited him with illegally capturing the animal.

It was unclear why the man thought the clerk at the Santa Ana Market in Miami would accept the 4-foot (1.2-meter) reptile as payment.

And the winner is …

And the winner is …

There is no clear winner.

I discovered that the piece of key lime pie directly in front of me is always the winner. I was going to take a picture of each and every key lime pie slice and rank them, but by the time I had it in my hand it was down the gullet too quickly to take a picture. I also forgot to take notes a couple of times. Just gimme that key lime pie.

I discovered I prefer the key lime pies with real whipped cream over the original meringue topped pies as there is more contrast between sweet and tart. There were some pretty amazing meringues though. I was always disappointed when imitation whipped cream was used instead of real whipped cream. I’m inclined to say skip the pie if they don’t use real whipped cream. There are plenty of other good ones out there that do.

I discovered I prefer the modern/gourmet versions of key lime pie (e.g. Matt’s Kitchen, El Meson De Pepe) over the traditional/authentic versions of key lime pie (e.g. Blue Heaven meringue, Kermit’s whipped cream).

I discovered it is better to buy pie slices directly from a shop or bakery that makes them rather than order the same item from one of the restaurants. Pie slices purchased directly from a shop or bakery that made them tended to be a little fresher/better than their counterparts in the restaurants.

Amigos Restaurant offered a taste of both the Key Lime Pie Co key lime pie and Kermit’s key lime pie on the same dessert plate. These are notably the two top contenders for the ‘Best of’ key lime pie competition. The Key Lime Pie Co pie was hands down better than the Kermit’s. I was so disappointed at Kermit’s pie I had to re-taste it another day, this time purchasing the slice directly from Kermit’s. I’m glad I re-tasted. It was much better than the slice I had at Amigos. This slice deserved to be in the ‘Best of’ key lime pie competition.

I wish I would have kept better notes on the pies and would love to re-taste them all and more in a more methodical manner. Unfortunately, I’m 10 pounds heavier today than when we came to the keys a month and a half ago.

Key Lime Pie tasting notes, in no specific order:
*Grimm’s Stone Crab, Everglade City, FL – Small key lime tart purchased in their freezer section. Good graham cracker crust as well as a very good pie. This pie triggered my decision to research key lime pie.
*Key West Key Lime Pie Company, Key West – Chocolate dipped on a stick. Good chocolate, but the chocolate put me off a bit as the key lime flavor didn’t come through until I’d eaten off all the chocolate.
*Key Lime Pie Bakery, Key West – Birthplace of Key Lime Pie (412 Greene cross Fitzpatrick)) – lighter a little more limey than the denser Kermit’s Key Lime Pie (similar to Blue Heaven but with whipped cream instead of meringue).
*Mrs. Macs Kitchen, Key Largo MM 99.4, Key Largo, FL – The woman is awesome.
*Hogfish, Stock Island, FL –  Really good. Almost cheesecake like.
*El Meson De Pepe, Key West – really good key lime pie. This might be the best pie. But almost pie I say that. Whipped cream and meringue. Drizzled with lime.  (crust was burnt)
*Pepe’s, Key West – real whipped cream and lots of it.
*Blue Heaven, Key West – Amazing mile high meringue, pie denser that most of the others. Similar to Kermits’s.
*Matt’s Kitchen, Perry Hotel, Stock Island – Hands down the best crust, almond. Creammmmmy dreammmy, but needs a touch more lime flavor or lime drizzle over the top.
*The Fish House, Key Largo – Shark fin mile high meringue. Pie was similar to Matt’s Kitchen but not as light
*and then there was that one key lime pie in the middle keys I forgot where I had eaten it, that was magnificent. Real whipped cream and drizzled with raspberry syrup. Ummmmmmmmm.

Eatable pies, but not at good as some of the others:
– Southernmost Key Lime Pie, Key West – crust was boring and the pie was mediocre
-Edwards Frozen Key Lime Pie – Too much crust and I didn’t like their fake whipped cream. The pie was a little bitter. In a pinch, if you are craving it will do.
– Publix Bakery – smooth but not enough lime taste. A truly a store bought crust.

Honorable Mention

This martini won the key lime pie contest!

Next time I come to the keys I’ll be taste testing these. But, I suspect I already found the winner here at Matt’s Kitchen.

Drolleries and Yuks

Where do you weigh a pie?
– Somewhere over the rainbow … weigh a pie

I’m going back someday, come what may, to Largo Sound

I’m going back someday, come what may, to Largo Sound

25-JAN-2021 Monday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

While drinking our morning coffee we watched the Florida Fish and Wildlife State Law Enforcement pull their boat out.

Along the Way

We decide to further explore Largo Sound today with The Mooch. Driving the Mooch is like plowing a brick through the water.  It is not very aerodynamic. Fun, never the less. She has a .4 gallon tank, gets us around 10 miles, then needs a refill. We had a 1.5 tank day.

On our way back we ducked into one of the small side channels to see where it would lead.

North side of Largo Sound on the way back. We bicycled behind these houses a couple days ago.

Largo Sound Rock Castle is the oldest house in Key Largo. Built in 1920’s it survived the 1935 hurricane even though it flooded and supposedly now is haunted Current asking price is $1,550,000. (Not worth it. It’s a weird house and supposedly haunted) https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/55-Oceana-Ave-Key-Largo-FL-33037/306091450_zpid/?

Neither Dale or I have ever seen a boat like this before. Long oars and a sail.

Yikes! The Mooch eye view of the tour boat.

I’m going back someday, come what may, to Largo Sound.

Disambiguation

Sound – A sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land.

The term sound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse word sund, which also means “swimming”. There is little consistency in the use of nautical “sound” in English-language.

More Disambiguation

I learned a new word today “Heliograph”. Fortunately I didn’t have to use it today and hopefully will never have to use it.

A heliograph is a semaphore system that signals by flashes of sunlight reflected by a mirror. The flashes are produced by momentarily pivoting the mirror, or by interrupting the beam with a shutter.

We always have a mirror and a whistle attached to the ditch bag we carry any time we’re on the Mooch incase we get into a predicament.

I emptied it out and need to repack it so it is at the ready before I put it way.

Disambiguation

Sound – a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land.

What a dive

What a dive

24-JAN-2021 Sunday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

Great day for a dive. Swells from the NE at 1 foot 3 second duration and wind 6mph from the NE. It was hard to ask for better seas. We booked a trip with Bluewater Diver. http://www.bwdiver.com/ Although it has been several years since he last dove with them, my cousin Mark recommended it. His recommendations have been spot on so far.

First things first. We were handed wet suits to try on before we left. Mine slipped on like an old pair of zubaz. It was way too large for me. Dale looked like a 3 year old trying to put on tights by herself the first time. As I took it off I discovered I had been give the XL intended for Dale and Dale was trying to put on the S intended for me.

OK ….. my feelers about Bluewater Diver went on high alert. Too late. Too late to jump ship……

Instructions were given as we moved down the waterway. I quickly realized were with a highly competent, highly qualified dive operation.

Today’s destination was Molasses Reef. Molasses Reef is a Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) protected area and as a result has splendid display of sponges, brightly adorned tropical fish, game fish, different species of sea turtles plus a whole lot of other stuff within its spur and groove coral formations. The nooks and crannies in the reef attracted tropical fish like wildflowers draw honeybees.

Molasses Reef is considered one of the best, if not the best, dive spots on the Florida Reef system.

We dove the Ray Alley, the Aquarium and Wellwood areas.

Molasses Reef is the cemetery, final resting ground for several ships. One was the Slobodna, a 3-masted 1,100-ton, three-masted, 170 foot merchant vessel iron-framed with a wooden hull that was reportedly delivering 4,500 bales of cotton from the docks of New Orleans to Europe’s textile mills. The Slobodna struck Molasses Reef in 23 feet of water in 1887. The corals chiseled away at the hull until water began to seep through the cracks and into the holds. The cotton began to absorb the warm Atlantic water. The jammed in bales of cotton began to swell and continue to expand until it was pushing at the sides of the ship until the distressed planks creaked, moaned, and split. Poof.

Slobodna winch.
Picture copied from wiki because I broke my second underwater camera last time I dived.

In addition to the approx 8 foot mechanical winch from Slobodna, there are other wreck pickings throughout the reef.

What a dive!!!!!

I’m reasonably certain we saw most of the 600 different species of flora and fauna the Molasses Reef is home to.

Although we didn’t see any octopus on our dive, we were so geeked from our dive that we went back to the boat and watched the ‘My Octopus Teacher’ documentary on NetFlix before calling it a night.

Floccinaucinihilipilification

Reefs in the Florida Keys are typically named after an identifying feature or the name of a ship wreck or event. For example, Alligator Reef is not named after alligators in the area it is named after the USS Alligator. It is named for the USS Alligator, a ship assigned to suppress the trade of slaves coming from the African coast that ran aground in November 1822.

Molasses Reef is named for a ship carrying barrels of the sugary compound running aground. The story goes rum making by the local pirates was interrupted until the next shipment arrived.

Duh

On Aug. 4, 1984, the 400-foot vessel M/V Wellwood carrying pelletized chicken feed ran up on Molasses Reef, grinding away at nearly 20,000 square feet of reef until it was as smooth as the Overseas Highway. Nearly a quarter-million square feet of brain coral, elkhorns and seafans, sponges and star coral was destroyed or injured. The resulting fine for habitat destruction was assessed at $6.275 million and the bill paid over a 15-year period.

With technology, maps accurate charts and regional lighting available in 1984 how did they manage to hit it????????

We dove at the Wellwood location that is part of the restoration area.

Right, Right? Right.

Right, Right? Right.

23-JAN-2021 Saturday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

There are more boats in the marina today, Saturday.

Along the Way

We watched “Key Largo” with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on Amazon Prime last night to ready us for today’s adventure.

Dale’s and my bike are really easy to pick out. They are the only non-folding bikes and have the most rust. (We really like our bikes too. They are great riding.)

Right, right?
Right.
Heading north (east) again today to find the Caribbean Club, a.k.a. the Key Largo Hotel from the movie “Key Largo”. It’s really amusing to me that the locals call going to Miami ‘going’ north and heading to Key West ‘going south’. To me it is east or west respectively. Why else would they call it Key West?

I guess we are both right. Right?

The north side the cut must be more desirable. Their street is a boulevard parkway. The rich ‘cut’ neighbors don’t want to look at their land side neighbors.

Small house for sale just off Blackwater Sound

Nice boat. Two 527 motors.

Found it! The Caribbean Club.

While the property is still there, very little of the “Key Largo Hotel” is remaining, if any. It was ravaged by a suspicious fire in 1955 that destroyed the hotel and kitchen. A second fire in 1971 was arson intended to conceal a burglary.

I have three swimsuits. Dale only has one and needs another. I can never get him to stop in a store and buy one.

Back at the marina

Floccinaucinihilipilification

“Key Largo” was the fourth and final film pairing of staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, directed by John Huston.  While most of the film was shot in Los Angeles, some exterior shots were filmed at the Caribbean Club at Mile Marker 105 on US 1.

The movie was filmed in only 78 days, virtually all on the Warner Bros. lot, except for a few shots in Florida used for the opening scenes. The character of Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, was modeled on Al Capone, who retired to Florida and died there of complications due to advanced syphilis a year before this film was produced.

Always judge a man by his boat

Always judge a man by his boat

22-JAN-2021 Friday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

Just us again today an a couple of rental boats.

Always judge a man by his boat.

Removing the last traces of yes dear’s ICW brown moustache

Yes Dear is gleaming again. You’re a great man Dale Tobin!

Floccinaucinihilipilification

The 1984 single “Smooth Operator” by Sade references the city of Key Largo.
Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale
Smooth operator

The 1988 song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys references the key.
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go

Drolleries and Yuks

What’s the difference between an Alligator and a Crocodile?
– One will see you later, the other after a while.

Parked

Parked

21-JAN-2021 Thursday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

Day 3 at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Today we figured we should explore the park as long as we were here.

Mangrove Trail

The cannons on the beach are from English warship HMS Winchester which sunk in 1695 after grounding near Carysfort reef, a few miles from here.

Leaping Lizards! This lizard dropped 7 feet from the branch of a tree to land on his prey.

The Grove Trail is a mangroves to fruit groves trail. It wanders through a mangrove forest that ends at H.J. Shaw Farm.

Farmer Shaw grew Key Limes, oranges, and other fruit trees on a few acres cleared out of the tropical forest by planting dynamite amid the rocks and blowing it up. The Shaw family sold this grove and the surrounding forest to the state of Florida in 1979, enabling the creation of the land side of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Decades ago the Key Largo was known for its plantations of Key Limes. The park continues to maintain this grove, which is the very last working Key lime grove in the Upper Keys.

My favorite path was the Wild Tamarind Trail. It’s a tropic hardwood forest with labels on many of the trees and shrubs. Tropical hardwood forests once covered most of the uplands on Key Largo.

Tropical hardwood forests are rarely seen in North America. Seeds of the plants took quite a journey to land in one of the most northern places warm enough for them to germinate. They were brought here by eastly tradewinds, hurricane winds and migrating birds.

On to explore some of the park waterways.

OMG alley! The Marvin D Adams Waterway, opened in 1963, is a cut through an ancient coral ridge connecting Largo Sound to Blackwater Bay.

Leaving the park.

Parked!

The only remaining section of John Pennekamp State Park to explore this trip to Key Largo is the coral reef. We snorkeled it on a prior trip several years ago. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef is the first undersea park in the United States and encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. It also has the underwater Jesus statue. Hopefully we get to it another day…

Neighbors

Tonight we are the only transient boat in the marina.

Floccinaucinihilipilification

John Pennekamp was an associate editor and columnist with the “Miami Herald” newspaper who had been instrumental saving the Everglades from over development and establishing the Everglades National Park in 1947. He was also the first chairman of the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials and a consultant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He also was instrumental in getting the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorial to create a 75-mile offshore sea park on Key Largo that was ultimately named the John D. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Ponder This

Imagine how much sound a centipede would make if they wore tiny flip flops

Different Direction

Different Direction

20-JAN-2021 Wednesday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

At at John Pennekamp State Park yes dear… transformed from the baby boat in the marina to the big boat in the marina.

Along the Way

Today we headed north (east) to find zincs for the Mooch’s motor.

We stopped into a marine second hand store. Dale didn’t get zincs there either but I bought chairs for Plan B (a.k.a. our Cape Canaveral, Florida condo). We’ll drop them off in a few weeks when we get up there.

Sky traps. The sky is dangerous too.

Floccinaucinihilipilification

We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our own late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

“Key Largo” was the only hit for the singer/songwriter Bertie Higgins. The song was released as a single in 1981 on Kat Family Records and was a #1 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Happy as an iguana in a flower bush

Happy as an iguana in a flower bush

19-JAN-2021 Tuesday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

Checking out town. Heading south (west) looking for dive shops. We’d like to go diving once or twice as long as we are here.

The final resting spot for the African Queen which starred Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

Noticeably absent here on Key Largo were chickens. That is until we stopped at the grocery store. Chicken could be found both inside and outside the grocery store.

With too many groceries to carry on the bikes we stopped at a bike store/pawn shop to by a bike basket. The most interesting thing is the store was the McDonald’s ring and watch. They were not for sale.

Neighbors

Floccinaucinihilipilification

Iguanas are an invasive species in Florida. Whether it’s to help with population control, or if people just find them down right tasty, reports have been popping up across the state about people eating them. Iguanas are referred to as the “chicken of the trees,” by iguana eaters, because they are said to taste like chicken. The meat from iguanas has high levels of protein. In fact, iguana is a pretty lean meat and contains more protein than chicken.

It’s legal to kill iguanas in Florida, but state law requires that the killings be done in a humane manner. Experts recommend shooting iguanas with pellet guns, stabbing them in the brain, or decapitating them without having them suffer.

As for cooking them… You can fry them, roast them, boil them, skewer them, or even deep fry them.

Our Next Stop

Our Next Stop

18-JAN-2021 Monday – SW side of Long Key, FL to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (34.0 nautical miles 39.1 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

The worst thing about today was we had to make our own coffee.  DeLuna’s Cafe!!!!! We miss you!!!!

Along the Way

Our next stop is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for two weeks. We had been warned about the ~1.5 mile entrance into John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. There are some very narrow sections with coral rocks along the way. The translates to DO NOT LEAVE MARKED CHANNEL. We time our entrance to the park with the departure of the John Pennekamp glass bottom tour boat. We issued sécurité as we entered into the park and then again at the notorious marker 17, a standard procedure for larger vessels.

Thanks Mark K for the Key Largo recommendations. We took your suggestion to eat at The Fish House, a short walking distance from the marina. The food was amazing. Dale said it was one of the best red snapper meals he had ever eaten. It was prepared Matecumbe style, the house special style with fresh tomatoes, shallots, fresh basil, capers, olive oil and lemon juice, then baked. It has been has been featured on the Food Network with Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Floccinaucinihilipilification

Key Largo is the northernmost island in the Florida Keys archipelago. At about 32 miles long it’s the largest island in the Keys. There are about 11,000 full time residents on the island. It is part of a remnant of an ancient coral reef that flourished here about 125,000 years ago when sea levels were higher than now. 

Watching the Weather

Watching the Weather

17-JAN-2021 Sunday – Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL to SW side of Long Key, FL (54.3 nautical miles 62.5 statute miles)

24°48’38.1″N 80°49’00.7″W
24.810590, -80.816856
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Yesterday was our last day in Key West. We had planned to leave tomorrow, January 18. It will take two days to get to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park State on Key Largo, ~87 nautical miles. The weather and wind for today and tomorrow is significantly better than tomorrow and the next day. We decided to leave a day early.

Last Evening Out

We spent our last evening at Stock Island Marina with Looper friends Carla and Paul (boat September) starting with a short walk to one of our favorite restaurants Hogfish Grill. Walk abouts are always interesting

Matt’s Kitchen in Perry Hotel at Stock Island Marina was supposed to have some of the best key lime in Key West. We had not yet stopped into the restaurant to check it out. It became a must do for our last night at the marina.

We had key lime pie martinis and key lime pie. Hands down the key lime pie martini knocked all my key lime pies research out of the water.

We didn’t need to spot marine life with our flashlight on our last evening. They had come out to tell us good bye! This big guy was walking across the parking lot. I picked him up in my jacket and carried him to the dock edges.

Before We Left

Before we could leave today we needed to make one last run to DeLuna’s for Cuban coffee and breakfast, and to tell Janet, the barista, and several of her regulars goodbye. We are really going to miss Janet and DeLuna’s.

Along the Way

Once we dropped anchor we had to take out The Mooch. While we were at Stock Island Marina Dale had replaced its sticking 4 horse power carburetor with a new 6 horse power carburetor. For a little more that $150 we had a new souped up screaming machine. (not really but it was fasters)

By nightfall there wasn’t even a ripple on the water.

🙁 No sunset either due to cloud cover.

Drolleries and Yuks

Why didn’t the Sun go to college?
– Because it already had a million degrees!

This and That

This and That

14-JAN-2021 Thursday – Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

24°33’54.4″N 81°44’16.7″W Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL
24.565116, -81.737974
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Dale and I are back to being Empty Nesters. The girls have returned to Minnesota, and Dale’s brother Bruce and his wife Diana have returned to Cape Canaveral.

This and That – End of the Holiday Season

Yes, we really did see a real Flamingo in Florida!! An America Flamingo! It’s unusual to see a wild flamingo in Florida. The America Flamingo, once common in Florida was hunted out of existence for the plume trade in the 1800s. However, every now and then an off course flamingo from the Bahamas or Mexico ends up in the Florida Keys.

American Flamingo at Sammy Creek Landing, Sugarloaf Key

This and That – Along the Way

This and That – Out and About

This and That – Dining Out

And the Bubba goes to the ‘Hogfish Bar & Grill’. (People’s Choice Award)


This and That – Looking for the Green Flash

Like all good tourist we’ve been to Mallory Square for sunsets.

15-Jan-2021 update on the pedal pub – The tiki hut pedal pub was stolen on Jan. 13, 2021! Tyln Earl Morlang, 26, of Independence, Missouri, was spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard just off Fort Zachary Taylor State Park intoxicated, alone and slumped over the wheel. The boat was damaged with burn marks. Morlang had built mini fires, using lighter fluid, in cup holders, water jugs and coconut shells to stay warm. It melted a lot of stuff.
He remains at the county jail on Stock Island without bond.

Checking out the Southernmost Point at 8:30pm. We still had to wait in line, but not too long.

Floccinaucinihilipilification

Pink lawn flamingos are NOT native to Florida. They are native to Leominster, Massachusetts, which bills itself as the Plastics Capital of the World. Union Products plastic company hired Don Featherstone, a sculptor at a nearby art school. His second project was to sculpt a pink flamingo. The first pink flamingo’s name was Diego.

There are more fake flamingos than real. Ornithologists estimate that there are only 950,000 flamingos in existence today compared to millions of plastic ones. Don Featherstone kept 57 in his backyard.

In 2009, the city of Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic flamingo as the city’s official bird.

Drolleries and Yuks

How did the flamingo avoid the bird catcher?
– It stood still on a lawn and acted like a plastic flamingo!

Why did the young flamingos get in trouble?
– Their father finally put his foot down.

What do pink flamingos have on their front lawns?
– Plastic Italians.

Dale told me I had to stop acting like a flamingo.
– Reluctantly, I put my foot down.

At the Cat House

At the Cat House

02-JAN-2021 Saturday – Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

24°33’54.4″N 81°44’16.7″W Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL
24.565116, -81.737974
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

At the Cat House (A.K.A. the Hemingway House)

Ernest Hemingway was a famous for having polydactyl cats after being given his first polydactyl cat by a ship captain. Hemingway named her Snow White. Upon his death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida became a museum and a home for his cats. The Hemingway House currently has fifty-five descendants of his cats. About half of which are polydactyl. I’m certain we saw almost all of them!

Cats with thumbs, or any extra toes on their paws, are known as polydactyl cats, ie, cats with many digits. … (Pterodactyls were flying dinosaurs. They might have had extra toes 😉)

I never figured out where the litter box was.

Beginning in 2003, the Hemingway House museum was embroiled in a nine-year legal struggle against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) over whether the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, which typically regulates zoos and circuses with big cats, applied to the museum’s six-toed cat population. The USDA even sent undercover agents to monitor the cats in 2005 and 2006. The museum owners contested the USDA’s claims in court.

In 2005 an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) examined the cats in 2005, they concluded: “What I found was a bunch of fat, happy and relaxed cats.”

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Animal Welfare Act of 1966 applied to the Hemingway House because it used cats in advertisements and sold cat-themed merchandise. (thx Wiki)


Next stop was the historic 65-foot Key West Lighthouse across the street that was built in 1825. The story goes, Hemingway used it to find his way home after nights on the town.

Next stop Southernmost Point. 90 miles to Cuba.

1:30pm status: 1 Cuban coffee, 9,088 steps, 37 chickens, 2 roaming cats plus over two dozen Hemmingway cats and way too many tourists.

We caught the shuttle back to the marina.

Every picture has a story

We were sitting on yes dears‘ helm, looked up and thought what the ???? as a giant box floated by.  I had to go take a picture. It was a houseboat relocating to the adjacent marina. It had to have been briefly on the Atlantic Ocean in order to get here from anywhere! I’m impressed.

7 Diamonds is back at Stock Island Marina and there’s a 30 something party on board. 7 Diamonds is a Numarine 32XP expedition yacht, built in Istanbul, Turkey, that newly launched in 2020. She’s 106 feet and sleeps 12. Her asking price was £9,500,000.

Next door’s boat had it’s toybox open.

Good Night


Floccinaucinihilipilification

Polydactyl cats have been extremely popular as ship’s cats. Although there is some controversy over whether the most common variant of the trait originated as a mutation in New England or was brought there from Britain, there seems to be agreement that it spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston, Massachusetts, and the prevalence of polydactyly among the cat population of various ports correlates with the dates when they first established trade with Boston. Contributing to the spread of polydactyl cats by this means, sailors were long known to value polydactyl cats especially for their extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities as an aid in controlling shipboard rodents.  Some sailors thought they bring good luck at sea. The rarity of polydactyl cats in Europe may be because they were hunted and killed due to superstitions about witchcraft. (thx Wiki )

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a polydactyl ginger tabby named Jake holds the world record for the most toes. Clocking in at a whopping 28 toes, Jake had seven toes on each paw—and each toe had a nail and pad.

One last story from the Hemingway House

During World War I, Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. He served on the Italian front and suffered a severe injury the night of July 8, 1918, while handing out chocolate and cigarettes to soldiers. Hemingway was struck by fragments of an Austrian mortar shell. He was wounded in the foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand. In all, he absorbed more than 200 pieces of shrapnel—by his own count, 237.

In the aftermath of the explosion, the injured Hemingway reportedly carried a man to safety. (He was subsequently awarded a medal of valour for this action, among several others.) Hemingway was ultimately taken to a Red Cross hospital in Milan, where he met and fell in love with a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. At age 26, von Kurowsky was seven years his senior. She did not fully reciprocate his love and refused to marry him.

She inspired the character “Catherine Barkley” in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. He got even with her at the end of the book. He killed her off.

That’s it 2020

That’s it 2020

31-DEC-2020 Thursday – Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

24°33’54.4″N 81°44’16.7″W Stock Island Marina, Stock Island FL
24.565116, -81.737974
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

We decided to go visit Fort Zachary before lots of other tourist ventured out. We were there by 9:30am.

The three nautical mile limit refers to a traditional and now largely obsolete maritime boundary that defined a country’s territorial waters, for the purposes of trade regulation and exclusivity, as extending as far as the reach of cannons fired from land.

The ocean beach was too rough to swim. Besides, there were lots of jellyfish.

We stayed the course and walked the city.

Revelers

We truly hadn’t planned spending New Year’s Eve on Duval Street but we did. The evening was subdued. More than anything I was stunned at how many parents with small children were out! I can’t imagine any conceivable reason why any parent would bring underage offspring to Key West, other than being selfish. There is truly nothing here for underage children to do. Even the hotel pools are not youth friendly.

OK. Back on task…

I didn’t have my camera and my cell phone was at 30%. Key West has a mandatory mask mandate that about 70% of the people follow. It also has a 10pm to 6am curfew that was strongly enforced. Key West is usually packed with 50,000+ people for New Year’s Eve. There was probably about a quarter of that here this year.

$10 cover charge, but it was worth it. We stayed for less than 5 minutes ’cause it was tooooooo COVID friendly. No one was wearing masks (among other missing apparel).

With the 10pm curfew in place Sloppy Joe’s did not drop their New Year’s Eve Conch Shell and Schooner Wharf did not lower their Pirate Wench from the mast of a 100 foot schooner.

The Bourbon Street Pub did keep alive. However, “Sushi”, local drag queen Gary Marion, was dropped early (at 9:15pm) from the Bourbon Street Pub back patio balcony in a giant red stiletto. For social distancing reasons tickets to the event was limited. We watched it from over the fence from the adjacent street.

Had we been inside….. photos copied from Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO and Florida Keys News Bureau

Happy New Year!

Fair well to the old
Welcome the new,
Be healthy and happy,
And may all your dreams come true.