Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Flying north

On AirTran, not MicMac
Another week of fronts from the north and continuing high winds are on the way. So we're flying back to Virginia tomorrow for a few weeks. We look forward to catching up with friends and of course driving to SC and Delaware/Philly to see our parents, the SC family members, and Dave and Heather. Skype is a wonderful way to see Brody, but he's having his first birthday soon, so we'll fly up to Boston to see him and Julie and Rob in person. Then there's the foot and a half of magazines and mail, and doctor and dentist visits. Sure hope that a cortisone shot can address my bum knee.

MicMac will wait for us here in Islamorada at the Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina under John's watchful eyes.

Plantation Yacht Harbor's beach
I recommend Plantation Yacht Club Marina in Islamorada for anyone with a boat that doesn't draw more than 5' and who wants good protection from these blasted fronts in the Keys. The mangrove breakwater makes the whitecaps out on Florida Bay a non-issue. John is their terrific dockmaster with an amusing sense of humor. A marina slip includes all the amenities of Founders' Park: a sheltered beach with showers; bocce, volleyball, and tennis courts; a huge pool; a dog park; a community band shell with free concerts; picnic tables and gas grills that work; locked showers and laundry room for marina residents; and cable and pump outs at EVERY slip, a real luxury.

It's warm today (mid 70s) but blowing 20 -25 (gusts to 30) all day. I walked to the park/marina beach, where 3 kids and their parents had the whole place to themselves. Maybe we'll even try out the community pool before the thunderstorms move in.

While home, I'm going to try to learn how to blow our conch shell at sunset. Something new to introduce at Two Rivers?

Every night here in the Keys, you can hear a cacophony of conch shell blasts. Some sound like beached walruses, some rather melodic.

No postings for about a month.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A nice break from sailing

Before we hopped on a motor cat at Robbie's Marina this morning for a visit to Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key State Parks, we really had little knowledge of the significant history of the many Keys. Obviously, we had already been impressed by the efforts of Henry Flagler to construct a railroad all the way to Key West. But we didn't understand that he accomplished this (just before he died, by the way) by dredging the bottom of these ecologically sensitive waters to build the entire railroad on a causeway because bridges were too expensive to construct. No "environmental impact statement" to worry about then, and he had the dollars to do what he wanted.

But good ole Mother Nature gave her answer during the Hurricane of 1935 when she blasted her way (200 mph winds do blast!) through these causeways and reconnected the ocean side of the keys with the bay side. Thus the MANY bridges of the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Indian Key
The two keys we visited today are only accessible by boat and controlled by the Florida Park Service. Indian Key reminded us of Jamestown because only foundations of the town where 40-50 folks lived are left. The successful hotel (and bowling alley) can only be imagined since they've been entirely replaced by trees. The nearby dangerous reefs turned this 10 acre key into the center of the "wrecking" industry and the original seat of Dade County.

There were only 5 streets, and I loved the sign for "Forth St.".

After the self-guided tour of Indian Key, we motored to nearby Lignumvitae Key, where we really enjoyed an hour and a half tour with an extremely knowledgeable park ranger. This is what the Keys would have looked like if Flagler and future vacationers never arrived. After out tour, we recognize trees such as lingumvitae, gumbo-limbo, poisonwood, mastic, and strangler fig. Perhaps "Tropical Trees" that will be a category on Jeopardy some day and we can look intelligent!

Lignumvitae Key
After whining so much about the colder than average temps here in the Keys during our time here, we rejoiced today when the ranger told us that the mosquitos are a terrible curse here during warmer weather. Today we wore foul weather gear because the 58 degrees this morning felt like 40s with the wind chill.

We bought "Charlotte's Story" on the way back to the marina. Charlotte Niedhauk and her husband Russ must have been something. They lived in this coral home as caretakers on isolated Lignumvitae Key and Elliott Key in the 1930s, including during the Hurricane of 1935.

"Low Key" Pops in Islamorada

Before dinner last night, we experienced Americana at its best at a "Pops Concert" by the proud local community band at the amphitheater near our marina. It wasn't Boston Pops, but it was free. Thank you, Islamorada, for these beautiful facilities at Founders' Park.