Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sarasota, Florida

2/12 - 2/19/12
39th Florida State Rally, Sarasota

Our first time to this rally and we actually knew some of the people.  We have been on several Airstream caravans over the last 10 years and we are always running into people at rallys that we met on caravans.  So it was great seeing some of those people.  Joe and I usually volunteer at rallys and this was no different.  It's fun and you always meet new people and renew old friendships with others.  We volunteered as security which entails checking people  to make sure they have their rally ribbon on (which means they have paid) for the evening entertainment.  I also had volunteered to help serve donuts.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  Every morning at 0700 our group met and sorted out the Krispy Creme donuts which were delivered at 5 am.  This has been a tradition for 39 years and it really ends up being a coffee shop atmosphere where everyone can sit around drinking coffee and eating  donuts and discussing maintaining their trailer or what was the latest caravan they had been on.  This was free every morning, you had a limit of two donuts every morning.    It was fun because I got to meet a lot of nice people.

I guess I did OK because they want me to come back next year.

Sarasota is the home of the Ringling Bros Circus, so we toured the grounds/museum of circus memorabilia.

There was also a dog show at the rally, Buddy got a a First Place and a blue ribbon (along with about 10 other dogs)  another 10 dogs got a 2nd place and red ribbon and all the rest received honorable mention.  We were a real dog friendly group.

These two dogs sat here for over an hour waiting for their masters to return from dinner

We had a great time in Sarasota and will probably go back next year.

Safe travels to all

Nancy & Joe

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heading North

2/6 - 2/10/12
Long Key State Park
2/10 - 2/12/12
Naples, FL

Florida has many state campgrounds, but you have to make reservations months and sometimes a year ahead of time.  We learned through the "Snowbird's Traveling Grapevine" that the state park on Long Key was not taking reservations because they were going to have limited facilities due to construction, however you could pull in there and get a spot on a first come first serve.  This was only about 65 miles north of Key West so we headed up there arriving at about 10:30 am and sure enough we got a site, right on the water.  This is a little known secrete and they had many empty spots while we were there.  We were in no hurry so we stayed four nights.  This is what I like about retirement and having a loose schedule you can change your plans at a drop of a hat. We had a wonderful time and struck up a friendship with two other campers which is easy to do in a carefree campground setting.

Somehow this is a little crooked, I can't imagine how that would happen, maybe not enough beer?
Every campsite had a little trail to the water

Two steps out the little trail and you have a beach

Could there be a storm coming? You betcha!

Full moon while at Long Key State Park

After four days of this beautiful beach we continued up the road to Naples, which was not very far, but we were kind of stalling as we couldn't get to the Airstream Rally in Sarasota too early.  I really like Naples and I have already written about it on a previous post.  We did go back to that nice restaurant, The Dock, and had another fabulous meal.  They make great Margaritas at a reasonable price.  They were celebrating their 30th year ( or something like that) and everyone was served a glass of champagne and a piece of birthday cake.

  Safe travels to all

Nancy & Joe

Monday, February 20, 2012

Key West, Florida

1/28 - 2/5/12
Trumbo Naval Station, Key West Florida

Well here we are in Key West, Florida finally.  This was a major destination, We left Olympia, WA 10/05/11 and it took us 9,023 miles to get here.  Not sure why there are so many miles, it just sort of added up.

We dry camped at Trumbo Navy Station for 10 nights.  We didn't have a lot of sun for the solar so we had to use the generator a couple of times.  I was still able to make waffles on Sunday.  Believe it or not but our little waffle iron used less battery power than the microwave.

This stop was busy every day.  The first day we were there we were able to go down to Mallory Square in time for dinner and a great sunset.  In fact this was the best sunset in the 10 days we were there.  I guess most of you already know what a touristy place this is, I was expecting a quieter place but this is a party, eating drinking town.  However we took the Conch Train Tour which gave us a history of the area.  The Navy is who really got the area going and then eventually the tourist trade came in.  What a great place for sunset cruises, party cruises and of course fishing, skin diving and snorkeling,  this is the place to do it all.  The houses are gorgeous, many older ones have been renovated into cottages and bed and breakfast type of places.  The streets a sort of narrow and are filled with many people on bikes, scooters and small little electric cars.  We toured the Hemingway House and the Truman White House, the Shipwrecker museum and the Ingram Coast Guard Ship.

There are 42 bridges along all the keys to Key West with the longest being seven miles.  I had to take many pictures out the truck window, but this is a typical scene.  The black spot on top is something that has just shown up is most of my pictures,  sometimes I have cropped it out but I missed this one.

Sunset at Key West

The famous Mallory Square

The sponge man capturing Joe

Of course we had to try the Conch Fritters

A handsome dude Joe caught me with

Chickens and Roosters run loose everwhere.  They are left over from the cock-fighting days.  In the Keys all animals are protected and cannot be killed (or thinned out)

We had lunch at this Cuban Restaurant which included yellow rice and black beans.

Ship Wreck Museum

A trip to Hemingway's House and his 44 cats
Second story balcony, you can just barely see the top of the light house.  The lighthouse was at one time next to the water but the storms demolished it so they brought the lighthouse a good distance incland and on higher ground.  Hemingway's house is 18' above sea level, the highest point in Key West.  He had a full basement that has never flooded.  When there is a good size storm, the Keys will be under water a good three to six feet.

Just one of the 40 -  six-toed cats.  All cats are very well cared for and production is kept at a constant 40 cats, give or take a couple.  They keep the cats with the six-toe gene, cats are neutered and spade at the right time and a vet is there every Wednesday.  The cats are so well cared for that they never leave the property.  

We also visited the Butterfly Conservatory

We toured the Ingram Coast Guard Ship.  She was quite the ship, receiving many honors for the many missions she was on.

There is a park with many bronze statues of important people of Key West, this is just one of
 Harry Truman

Truman's Key West White House

One of the local fish eateries, Hogfish, a fun place to go.  This is where the locals go.

This lady was outside selling earrings and necklaces.  When it got dark she closed up shop and came in to have a drink or two with friends at the bar.  She was convinced to sing.......and could she belt out a jazzy/blues song.  She was good, everyone seemed to know her and they tried to convince her to sing again but she wouldn't.  If she had sang again we would have stayed and had another beer.

We took a short little boat ride over to Sunset Island for lunch

From our lunch table

This little boat was for rent for the day, week or month, included a crew also

This is the most southern point in the U. S. for the general public to see.  
Note the line up on the left for people to take pictures.

The tree next to our truck is the real southern most point in the United States.  
This is on the Navy Truman Annex which is not open to the public.

That's it for Key West

Safe travels to all

Joe and Nancy