Shark Valley 2014..

Yesterday my DW and I went to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades. Here you are the visitor and the residents are free to roam. The residents are alligators, turtles and many, many types of birds.  Last year I visited this park by myself and wrote about riding a bike among the alligators.  We decided to ride the tram this year to have the experience of listening to the guide talk about the area and the animals. On a bike you can take as much time as you want, but you don’t have the guide to explain and point things out. If we go next year, we will ride bikes. We saw quite a few of the residents. I took quite a few pictures, some of which I will share at the end of this blog.

A few important things to keep in mind if you choose to visit this park.  The park is in the middle of nowhere. The park has a small parking lot that generally is full by 10 am. You can park on US 41 and walk the 200 yards into the park. I am not sure what they charge walk-ins. Cars are charged 10 dollars per car. The best months to see the alligators are December through April. Once the air gets hotter than the water, the alligators will spend more time in the water and less time along the road getting some sun. The sun will warm them up in the winter months.  Take the tram ride at least once.  The bike ride is a flat 15 mile loop with at least one of the directions into the wind. Judge the wind before heading out.

After the ride he had a burger at a Miccosukee Indian restaurant. We were not very adventurous and had cheeseburgers and fries. The food was fine for road food. There were quite a few competing air boat ride stands along US 41 during the drive. The Miami Beach Travel Guide has this page about what you can visit in the area. After our late lunch we drove back to the timeshare and caught the sunset.  Dinner was pizza at a local pizzeria that had 8 different craft beers on tap. We got to sample all of them. It was a pretty neat concept for a generic pizzeria. The food was fine, maybe a little heavy on the garlic.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wildlife pictures..

Namaste

 

US A1A..

Thursday morning we dropped the kids off at the airport and then went to Grandpa’s Bakery for breakfast. This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  The food is excellent. You get a few samples of some baked good to eat while looking at the menu. After we ate the plane had taken off towards Philadelphia and we were free to explore.  We wanted to stay near the airport in case something went wrong and we had to go back and get them.

We drove to Hollywood Beach and walked the boardwalk. Two miles each way, no hills or snow!  We walked some of the walk on the beach near the water until my DW’s pant legs got wet from several waves. As you can imagine, I took some pictures. The Margaritaville Resort was under construction this year. Last winter the lots were vacant with a sign announcing the arrival of the building. Maybe by next January, the construction will be completed. I don’t image that we can afford to stay there, but we certainly can walk the grounds and have a cocktail.

After our walk we continued down A1A into Miami. We found Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. This is another place we certainly can’t afford. We can buy our own stone crab claws and the mustard sauce recipe is on the internet, so why should we go there? To rub elbows with the rich and famous, I guess.  We stopped for gas near the American Airlines Arena where the Heat play. In the gas station we saw filling up, a matte black Lamborghini. Talk about awesome. And when the driver was done fueling up, he gunned the engine for all of us who were watching.

We drove around Miami some more and found our way behind the airport where we discovered the Lala Seafood Market. I will admit to being a fish market groupie. My DW will attest that I will stop in random fish markets to see what is for sale. I did spend the first 20 years of my working years in the seafood business. We purchased a fresh Hog Fish and some fresh white shrimp. The lady working the market did a good job filleting and skinning my fish. The entire transaction was done by us in english and her in spanish. Neither of us spoke the other’s langauge. I don’t know if she enjoyed our visit, but we did.

The fish got marinated in the juice of a fresh lemon and some fresh garlic. After an hour I added the fish to a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil.  I used a cajun seasoning to give the meal a little bang. The fish and shrimp turned out good, no leftovers.

Thanks for reading and here are some pictures from the day.

Namaste

 

 

No, no, no and no, but maybe yes..

Nonsense of a title. Wednesday started off slow. It was nearly noon time before the “kids” were awake and moving around. They were scheduled to fly back to Philadelphia on Wednesday but, we decided to postpone their flight home by a day due to the 14 + inches of snow that fell in Philadelphia. That went along with single digit temperatures. Neither of them had anywhere to go, so why go fly into that mess any sooner than necessary.  This gave them a “free or extra” day in Florida.

Noon time they surfaced and we were ready to go out and do one of two different things. They needed to shower and dress for the day. We (DW and I) decided to wait by the pool for them. We walked out and sat down by the pool and both quickly came to the conclusion that spending the day in and around the pool was probably the best idea for the day. It was chilly, but the pool was heated and the sunshine warmed the pool deck nicely.

That is what we did. We stayed and played in the pool and the hot tub for the entire afternoon.  We caught the sunset from our room and went out to a local restaurant for dinner. Simple and easy, just like a vacation should be.

Here are some pictures from the day by the pool. Enjoy!

No driving, no walking, no problems, pool? Why yes!

Namaste

Birds in paradise..

So they say that having a bird “poop” on your head is good luck.  Whomever said that was probably watching and chuckling not trying to clean up the mess.  We were leaving the Islamorada Fish Company after eating a late lunch when I was blessed by a bird. The target zone may have been the top of my head but the landing zone was the side and my shoulder. I hope that the stain comes out of that, guess the color, white shirt. We did enjoy our late lunch/early dinner. It was raining yesterday in South Florida. We sat at one table under their tiki hut and had to move when the rain started to seep through the thatch roof. It seems the roof is scheduled for repair sometime soon.

We were back in Key Largo yesterday to go shooting. Last year DS3 and I shot a few different types of pistols at the indoor range at Kiffney’s Firearms. Last year my DW decided to watch, this year she decided (without much prompting) to give the shooting thing a try. We had an instructor that walked us through using the weapons safely. DS3 and I had different .45 pistols. My DW choose a .22 pistol.  The instructor watched us for a few minutes and left DS3 and I alone to do our thing. He spent about 10 or 15 minutes making sure my DW was comfortable with shooting and loading her weapon.

We had fun. Nobody got hurt and everybody left the building with a smile and some stories to share. DS3’s GF decided not to shoot and watched us through the glass.  I will add a picture of my DW and her pink target. She did quite well.  I posted the picture on Facebook and her friends and co-workers had fun with the picture and her going out shooting with the boys.

Last night in the Northeast there was a big snow storm. The two kids were supposed to fly home today. From looking at the storm and flight cancellations, we decided to change the flight to Thursday to let the greater Philadelphia area have another day to clear the roads.

Keep warm and thanks for reading!

Oh, anybody want to stop by the house and shovel out the driveway?

Namaste

 

 

Florida road trip..

Monday’s adventure was a road trip here in Florida. DS3’s GF has family in Florida that she does not get to see very often. After some discussion over the weekend, it was decided that we would meet her Aunt Maureen and Jeff for lunch in Clewiston, Fl. Clewiston bills itself as the “Sweetest Town in the USA” (or something like that), since they are in the middle of the area where the primary crop is sugar cane.

We drove west and north from Weston and met them at Roland Martin’s Marina where they have a real nice tiki hut set up on the dock overlooking the marina. In the distance you can see the locks to Lake Okeechobee.  The food was good. They probably could have put a few more gator bites in my appetizer, but the rest of the lunch was good.  We took pictures, of course. The GF enjoyed visiting with her Aunt and we got to hear some interesting stories. It seems that the aunt and her boyfriend are/were avid motorcycle riders having each ridden more than 250,000 miles. Just the thought of that makes my butt sore.

After we left them we drove up on the dike and looked off towards the lake and took some pictures. Then we went east towards the ocean in search of ice cream. Who would have thought finding ice cream in Florida would be a project? We stopped in Wellington, Florida at a Cold Stone Creamery. Yum and Yum!

After our ice cream stop we continued east until we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean. We found a public beach in Lantana and parked and walked in the water for a short while. And we took pictures.  (Seeing the theme yet?) We picked up A1A South in Lake Worth and drove south to Hillsborough admiring the houses and the views (both east towards the ocean and west towards the sunset). After crossing the Hillsborough Inlet we turned west and went back to Weston. One huge circle.

The drive was long but we got see some more of Florida that we had never seen. And the money in the Palm Beach County along the ocean as evidenced by the mansions on the water, must be incredible.

Enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading.

Namaste

 

 

Florida Lacrosse Classic 2014..

The tournament is over for 2014. The only thing left to do is the team dinner tonight at the Carolina Ale House. It should be a good time watching Seattle loose (my prediction or hope) and swapping stories from the last three days of games. I played for the Ohio Wesleyan University alumni team. This year the team competed in the 45 +, the 50 + and the 55 + categories. I signed up to play with the 45 + team. I am eligible for the 50 + team. but I wanted to be able to walk on Monday. As it was, I played in two games on Friday, four games on Saturday (2 ea 45 + and 50+), and one game on Sunday. The 50 + team needed players on Saturday.

Our 45 + team went 1 win and 4 looses. The first loss was a blow out, the second was by one point, the third was in OT and the fourth loss was by one point. I played well. Some good stuff, some ugly stuff. I had a good time. My DW, DS3 and GF spent two straight days at the fields. We would arrive for a 9 am game and leave at 7:30 pm after a day of lacrosse and an hour plus of tailgating in the parking lot.

My DW shot pictures of the games that I played in, I shot the games that I watched from the sidelines. At this point we have over 5200 pictures to sort though and set up for file sharing with the team.

Injuries? I did fairly well. I have only one bruise to share. I stepped in front of a shot and saved a goal. In this tournament I went back to playing defense since the team is heavy in the attack department. I could play middie, there is always room there. I am just not cut out for running up and down the field and back.

The weather has been cool. Mid 40’s in the early am and mid 60’s later in the day.Sunny, you bet! I have been best friends with the sunscreen.

Thanks for reading!

Namaste

Bruise on my hip from the shot I stepped in front of. Ouch!

Bruise on my hip from the shot I stepped in front of. Ouch!

 

Vacation bunnies..

To the person from up north (not us) that brought the “norther” to South Florida, Go Home and take your weather with you!  Wah, wah, I know we will get no sympathy in this cause.  As you can guess, the weather down here has turned colder. We still have our shorts and flip-flops on. Instead of 82 and sunny we have 68, cloudy and breezy. Again, no sympathy is expected.

For breakfast we went to 5 Hermanos Too, a Cuban “joint” that serves authentic Cuban food and coffee. The egg sandwiches on the Cuban bread are outstanding. We found them last year when we stayed about 10 miles further north.  My DW and I walked around the neighborhood to look at houses and dream. We found a fixer-uper that is listed for 599,999.00. On LBI it would be a tear down and start over.  I took a video of some beautiful flowers in front of a house painted blue like the ocean complete with a mural of a jelly fish on the wall. 

DS3 and I went out on the street to throw the lacrosse ball around. I will be playing in a tournament Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No time like the present to start warming up.

We kind of missed lunch and went out for ice cream around 3 pm. We went into a tiki bar and found two things. People smoking and no food. A quick Red Stripe later we were gone. We found a deli with ice cream just up the road and had our snack. After we returned to house I figured I better get some pictures in before it got dark out. I will post a few of the pictures below.

If you read this mornings post you read about our adventure last night for dinner. Over the course of the day I have traded texts with Barbie and I spoke with the owner of the marina on the phone. One silly comment has blown up into something else. Does the waitress still have her job? I really don’t know. But like I told the owner, we will return and eat there either way.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste

Swingers? Not exactly..

Life is funny. Sometimes you have to work for the stories that you tell, other times, well, they come to you. Last night we ate dinner at Geiger Key Marina and RV Park.  They bill themselves as “The Backside of Paradise”. This is another of those places that you probably won’t find in a tourist brochure. You should add them to your Lower Keys places to eat. How did we find them? There in lies the story.

About a year and a half ago I started following Barbie Wilson on Twitter. She is the “Sunrise Queen of Key West” @barbiedoll0087 is her Twitter name. She posts a picture of the sunrise and some sunsets from Key West every day of the year.  I fantasize about living in Florida, so this is my way of living vicariously though her pictures. Especially on the cold winter days in New Jersey.

When we came down to Florida last January we, (DW, DS3 and I) met up with her at the Hogfish Grill for lunch.  It was a leap of faith by both of us since we had “met on the internet”. Lunch went well and we have continued to trade twitter messages of the last year. Usually with her posting some epic sunrise or a Key West picture of some sort and me favoriting or commenting on the picture. I’m sure she has quite the following of people around the world that enjoy her pictures.

Last night we arrived at the Geiger Key Marina to meet Barbie for dinner. She was working until 8 pm at the KW Urgent Care.  We arrived first and grabbed a table.  I told the waitress that we were waiting for Barbie to arrive to eat. She gave me the strangest look. I said, yes we know Barbie, I met her on the internet.  The waitress’ look was priceless.  You see, Barbie’s husband running a fishing charter company called Knee Deep Charters out of the same marina. They know her quite well.

Not wanting to cause Barbie trouble at the marina (small town, people talk), I explained our story.  This allowed the waitress to relax a bit. She looked at my DW and I and said, “Maybe I should not say this in front of the kids (DS3 and his GF), but I thought you guys might be swingers..  Umm, we laughed. No, just tourists!  We are in the Lower Keys and that kind of thing probably goes on.  The comment still has us laughing this morning as I write this.

This morning Barbie texted me that the manager of the marina called her to apologise for the swinger comment and that the waitress was in trouble with management.  I told Barbie that we though the evening went great and were not at all offended. 

As a sad  note that gives this blog post a unhappy ending, the waitress lost her job this morning.  That sucks.

Sometimes the stories come to you.

Namaste

 

Enjoying a nice warm breeze..

Greetings from Sugarloaf Key, Florida. We are sitting in the screened in second floor porch watching the water and relaxing. Dammit, we are relaxing!  Really, it is all good.  We flew down Sunday into Fort Lauderdale and had breakfast then drove south to the Lower Keys. We wanted to try to make it for the sunset celebration in Key West Sunday, but that would have ment that we could stop nowhere on US 1. Driving straight through skips some of the fun of that drive. So we stopped and acted like tourists.

Monday we went into Key West in the afternoon. In the morning my DW and I went out and kayaked in the bay for an hour or so. Sun screen is mandatory for us visitors from the north. DW3 and his GF went for a bike ride. Today they said they want the kayaks. It is 10:30 am and they are still asleep. They might miss their kayak chance again today..

Key West was fun. We went to the Smokin’ Tuna to see Scott Kirby, a favorite Key West musician. The only problem was that his scheduled changed between Friday and Monday and he was not there. We had a few beers and a cheeseburger. The beer was cold and the burger was fine. Then we walked Duval Street for a while and ended our walk at Mallory Square. We watched some of the street performers and the crowd as we waited for the sunset.

The clouds and some rain changed the sunset viewing plans of the tourists yesterday. I got some pictures before the rain blew in. We may go back and try again tonight.  Dinner was at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island.  Here is a tip, if you find yourself in Key West or the Lower Keys, eat dinner at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island, you won’t be disappointed.  And yes, the neighborhood you drive though appears a bit sketchy, but you will be ok.

Here are a few pictures and we will check back in later in the week.

Thanks for reading!

Namaste

Is the BS in heaven?

BS is that small, usually stupid, often nagging problem that really does not have to be a problem. Hopefully your days are not peppered with them like a piece of salami.  Set the hook, let it run, then reel like crazy until they are flopping on the deck.  Time to reel.. 

I have been absent from the blog world for the last month. When we last visited we had slogged through a snow storm where the plow drivers were seemingly off for the day to watch the NFL at Buffalo Wild Wings (or their favorite bar). About that time both of the college students were done with classes and heading either home or to visit LI and then head home. On December 14, my DW’s step father in law passed away. Nine days before Christmas. He had been suffering from “Old Man’s Disease” and had pretty much decided he was done and stopped eating. We all attended that wake, funeral and burial.

On December 23, my DW’s mother went in the emergency room since she had not been able to urinate for four days. Back in the fall she was diagnosed with cancer and had “parts” removed. You really don’t need the gory details and out of respect to her and the family, I will gloss over the details.  Suffice it to say, the cancer came back with a vengeance. We were in and out of the hospital between December 23 and January 3 when she died in the hospital. Monday and Tuesday this week were the wake and the burial.

To say we are in shock is an undersatement. I took DS2 back to school this morning. DS3 does not return for a few more weeks. Over their Christmas break, the kids lost their two remaining grandparents. That sucks.

Christmas and New Years?  A complete blur.  I took pictures at Christmas, I will share them when we can get back to that happy place.

We would like to thank the staff of Four East at Ocean Medical Center in Brick, NJ for their excellent care and compassion of our mother (in law)

And we may have found a reasonably local church to attend. The Visitation Church in Brick, NJ provided the priest that said the Last Rites and the deacon that said the prayers at the funeral home. We found a connection to the message that both of them shared with us.

So my parents are in heaven as are hers. I hope they meet up and swap some stories.

Namaste