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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Florida Keys - Day 2 - Saturday

We started our day by checking out the free breakfast at the hotel. Besides the coffee, we decided that a high carb, high protein breakfast was not in the cards, since we both are high protein, low carb eaters. So, off to find a place to get such a breakfast. On the way back from dinner last night, Deb remembered seeing a breakfast place somewhere along our 5 mile drive that was not IHOP. She could not remember the name, just that it was a breakfast place on the Ocean (Atlantic) side of the road. After driving back to the restaurant that we ate at last night, and not finding it, we back tracked about half way to the hotel and found The Wooden Spoon. This was the place that she had seen.

This is a small place, where you sit elbow to elbow with other patrons. The decor is, you guessed it - wooden spoons, with a wooden fork or two thrown in.

The menu is typical breakfast fair and they serve lunch. They also advertised a "box" lunch, intended for the many sport fishermen (fisherpersons?) in the area. The food was very good and we would recommend it.

Next it was off to the Pigeon Key Visitor Center to get tickets for a cruise to and a tour of Pigeon Key.

This Key is famous for being a large work camp for the construction of the Miami to Key West Railroad built by mega-millionaire Henry Flagler. Know as Flagler's Folly, this railroad crossed more than 100 miles of water on its path. The most famous is what is known as the eighth (8th) Wonder of the World, the Seven Mile Bridge. The bridge goes from Vaca Key (one of the Keys that the City of Marathon is on) to Big Pine Key.
Our Transportation to Pigeon Key
Now the history of the Flagler Railroad would take a book - actually there is at least one - "The Last Train to Paradise." It is an interesting story of technical genius, going against the odds, investing enormous sums of money (somewhere close to a billion dollars in 2011 money), tragedy and hardship. A hurricane in 1935 put an end to the railroad, however the State of Florida purchased the right-of-way for about $640K and constructed the Overseas Highway.

Pigeon Key is a historical site which is one large museum. The buildings on the site are maintained and are used for "science" camps in throughout the year.

They have one relatively large guest house (sleeps 8) that they rent for $1,500 per week. You have to bring all the food. Oh yeah, you can only get there by boat, or a 2.2 mile walk across part of Henry Flagler's bridge. Actually, they will allow you to rent a golf cart to go back and forth. It was an interesting tour in a beautiful setting.

 Boat Dock on Pigeon Key
Looks a lot like paradise
Old and new. New on left, old on right
Underside of the original bridge, modified for auto travel.
New and old

I walked back to the car (parked at Knight's Key) along the 2.2 mile section of bridge. Some great views and a chance to look first hand at the construction of the bridge.

Original off ramp to Pigeon Key from the bridge after it was converted to auto travel.

A look at the original Bridge

The way back to Marathon - looks like it goes forever

From the old, looking at both

Looking at the underside of both - notice the construction differences.

The rest of the day we spent exploring the area around the City of Marathon, driving through some RV Parks and housing areas.

Dinner that night was at the Island Fish Company Web Site across the Overseas Highway from the hotel. The business was being remodelled so the only seating was outside on the "pier" that they had put a tent over. The sitting was nice, but for a "Fish Company" they have a very sparse offering of fish and the way they offer to prepare it is pretty sparse also.

Florida Keys - Day One

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale about 1:30 P.M. on Friday (11/18/11). By the time we got the rental car (long line at the counter) and got on the road it was about 3:00. The first stop was at a Wal-Mart in Homestead, Fl. Even though we took the tollway, it still took us about an hour to get to the Wal-Mart. We were back on the road about 4:30. Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway is a very good mostly two lane road. However the speed limit runs from 35 MPH to 55 MPH. Since it was Friday, and we found out after we got here, there was a speed boat race in Key West, thus there was quite a bit of traffic. We arrived at our hotel in Marathon (which is about 50 miles from Key West) about 6:10 P.M.

After checking in it was off to dinner at a place called the Castaway.
It was recommended by the hotel staff. Though it looks like a dive on the outside (and a little bit the same on the inside), it turned out to have very acceptable food.

When we are around the gulf, we always go for the shrimp. Seems we can never get enough. Well the Castaway did not disappoint. We had shrimp boiled in beer and Bay seasoning. Very good flavor and cook just right so they were not mushy. Looking at the name of the establishment, you would thing Castaway, the movie with Tom Hanks - the menu however had offering with title like "The Skipper", "Mary Ann", "Ginger" and the like.  Definitely a place we would recommend to others. Then it was back to the hotel, Holiday Inn Express, a fairly new property that is in good repair, clean and we had a spacious room. Our only complaint is the "thinnest" of the walls. Lots of sounds heard from the neighboring room.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The DOG ate it

Yes, the little girl is the responsible one - at least part-way.
Photo - Lubbock Avalanche Journal - Spotted.
Within the last 3-4 weeks, Annie, the little angel pictured above, has with Deb's encouragement, decided that the bed is a great place to sleep. Now to be fair, Annie would sneak up onto the bed when we were not looking. You would find little impressions where she curled up against a pillow. Once in a while you would catch her and she would get down with this look on her face like "I know, but it is so comfortable." She would spend the night in her bed next to Deb's side of our bed. Then it was decided that maybe if she slept on the bed at night she would not have to get up and go outside as much. Well, that isn't the case - still every two hours from about 10:30PM until about 4:00 AM she is waking us up to go outside. Now understand, we have a dog door. She uses it all the time. It seems that she just wants to have someone walk into the family room (where the door is ). After she goes out, then you can go back to bed. Of course she would rather you wait for her so that you can give her a treat, then you can go to bed. Then there are the mornings you get up and go in the family room and find "stuff" in the middle of the floor. "Stuff" like chewed up limbs, chewed up pecans, all things that she has drug inside while you are sleeping. We have tried to regulate that activity by giving her a chew late in the evening.
So, you kind of get the drift, Annie likes to sleep on the bed and she likes to chew things. She does not bring her "chewing" to the bed. The chewing has always, OK, pretty much always been reserved for the family room. Did I forget to mention Deb's sandals that she left in the family room that got chewed on one night?
For the last many years, I have taken my hearing aids (hearing appliances to be politically correct) off and placed then in an open container on top of the headboard. Never had a problem. Have a hearing appointment scheduled in a week and got to discussing with Deb what her HSA (Health Saving Account) would pay for. I asked the innocent question, will it cover insurance on my hearing appliances should they get damaged or need repair. Of course Deb asked, well what kind of damage - and I replied - well like if the DOG ate them.
OK, now you know where this is going. Got up this morning, dog was still on the bed. Went in and did the weekend routine, made coffee, got the paper, watched the morning news show, went to get my shoes to take Annie to the park. I walked into the bedroom and Annie gets off the bed with a sheepish look on her face, I pet her, then I see a couple things lying on the bed, I turn on the light and walked closer, Annie got on the bed and walked over to see what I was looking at - you guessed it, both hearing appliances, one with the pick up tube chewed, and the other well chewed and missing the pick up tube. Course the air was suddenly filled with cursing and elevated voices.
Needless to say, tomorrow I am going to order at least one new hearing appliance, get a new pick-up tube for the other one and oh yeah, buy the insurance in case this happens again. And no, the HSA won't cover it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So I didn't get the Florida Posts done

You know the saying - the greatest plans...
The floor install in the kitchen ended up being more of a challenge than I thought it would be. I hate having to tear out work that I have done previously. When I put something together, I don't plan on it falling apart of being taken apart later - think I got that from my dad. Needless to say, I had some problems during the "demolition" part of the project. Broken molding and holes in the sheet rock were just a few of the time consuming problems that I had. Then there was the water shut off valve on the dishwasher that did not want to seal, so I ended up with a minor flood, filling the cabinet under the sink and getting the floor wet. All had to be dried out before the new floor could go in.
So, with all of this going on, I did not feel like working on pictures or this blog - I know, bad professionalism. So, I won't promise anything, but keep checking back and you will probably see posts on the Florida trip.