Vacation Day 12..

Yesterday was Day 12.  I am almost caught up.

Day 12 was January 24, 2013.  I had been thinking about kayaking all week. It’s been breezy here in South Florida all week. I think when the weather is cold up north, the wind blows down here.  My two choices for kayaking were Key Largo (85 miles away) or Matlacha (120 miles away). Yes, I could have found kayaking in Fort Lauderdale or Miami and not driven the distances. In the end, I decided to drive to Matlacha to kayak. The company there Gulf Coast Kayaks does kayak fishing along with regular kayak rentals and eco tours.

I discovered that I needed to arrange a day in advance for a guide to go fishing. Since I did not know that, they gave me the kayak, a fishing pole, some hooks and some advice. I purchased live shrimp from the bait shop across the street. The owner loaned me a live bucket to keep the shrimp in. He just wanted it back when I was done, no charge. I ate a quick-lunch and headed out on the water.

The first spot I was told to fish in was near some crab pots about 150 yards off the shore. I anchored up and fished for about an hour or so. I caught a catfish and small skate (looks like a sting ray).  I moved the kayak a few times at the first stop, but I did not catch any “eating fish”. I moved about a quarter-mile away to some boat docks and tried tossing my shrimp under the pilings, no bites.

So I paddled across the bay to the mangroves and anchored up in the mouth of the mangrove cove. The bay and the sun were in front of me and the tide and wind were pushing the water in to the mangrove lagoon behind me. I figured there might be fish waiting for the tide to send them a meal, so I fished there.

I caught two Sheepshead. They could be eating fish if you wanted to eat them. They have small mouths and are very good at stealing your bait. I had fun. It was quiet, there was not much boat traffic and even though I was not catching many fish, they were biting at least.

I was unprepared for pictures since I left the timeshare without zip lock bags and the kayak company did not have a dry bag.  The kayak guy had a container with a screw on lid that I put my phone and car keys in. Water proof, not water tight. There were no problems with either my phone or the keys, they did stay dry. I shot a HD video with my camera phone. It is hosted on You Tube.  Click here to see the video.

After getting out of the kayak at sunset, I shot these picture of Matlacha. It’s a funky town. Enjoy!



Vacation Days 2, 3 and 4..

Today is Thursday, January 24, 2013.  Vacation days 2, 3, and four would be  January 14, 15 and 16. Yep, I am behind. Fortunately, I took pictures back then so I can remember what happened those days.  Without any further nonsense, here we go.

Day 2, January 14

This day was a Monday. We woke up in Weston in our timeshare traded room. DS3 was sleeping on the couch. We traveled south after breakfast to Ramrod Key.  Ramrod Key is 28 miles north of Key West. We rented a three bedroom, three bath home through .  We have used this website to stay in private homes several times. Usually the cost and amenities are better than staying in a hotel room. The house was nice, neat and clean. Probably about three years old. The back deck looked out on a lagoon with boats and other homes across the lagoon and on both sides of us. I will post a few pictures below of the house.

During the ride we stopped for lunch at Key Fisheries in Marathon. This is the same company that we purchase seafood from and have it shipped to our home. The food was excellent as were the views. See the pictures below. We also stopped at a tourist attraction consisting of a giant (25 foot) sculpture of a spiny lobster. See the pictures below.

After getting ourselves settled, we drove the 28 miles to Key West and watched the sunset and the sunset celebration. (More pictures). After the sunset we drove back to the house and cooked and ate our yellow tail snapper dinner. Bed time came early for all of us after the long trip and a great meal.

Day 3, January 15

Today went drove to the Geiger Key Marina on Geiger Key to rent kayaks. The marina was recommended to me by Barbie Wilson, who posts a sunrise picture on Twitter every day.  My DW and I shared a kayak. DS3 had his own. I have decided that next time I will get my own kayak. Not that I don’t like sharing, but when the wind is blowing and the person in front of you is paddling, the back seat person gets wet. Several times I made course corrections for the simple reason fo getting the spray to go in a different direction. We had a good time paddling for about three hours. Pictures, of course!  After paddling, we ate lunch at the marina. The food was good and we sat right on the water’s edge. Pretty cool. A huge pelican can by looking for lunch as well.

After lunch we went back north to the house. DS3 and I went to the local hight school to practice lacrosse. My DW took the late afternoon off to read her book on the back deck of the house. I worked on getting the stick head that DS1 had given me to work with my throwing mechanics. That accomplished and a good sweat, we stopped at two fish markets and bought fish for dinner. Dinner that night was cobia, stone crabs and shrimp.

Day 4, January 16

Today was the day that we had planned to spend in Key West. Our first order of business was to have lunch with Barbie Wilson. I was going to meet an internet acquaintance for the first time. We all had lunch at a restaurant called the Hog Fish Grill.  Eat here in Key West if you can. The food and the atmosphere were great. Barbie is a great person and we hit it off during our lunch. Pictures..  After lunch she went back to work and we went to play tourist in Key West.

We visited the Hemingway House, the Key West Light House, the Rum Bar (1000 block of Duval), the Southern Most Point and Mallory Square. In front of the Hemingway House we saw a 2014 Lamborghini out being photographed for publicity shots. The car was space age cool! Pictures..  After our visit in the area around the Hemingway house, we drove down Duval and parked near Mallory Square. This is where the sunset celebration takes place each night. See this spectacle at least once in your lifetime.  After the sunset we went to The Smoking Tuna for dinner.  Dinner was a disappointment. I would say based on that meal, eat elsewhere and go there for the music and the bar. We were out of Key West by 8:30 pm, exhausted.

There you go, three days in the Keys. Pictures are below. Enjoy!

PS: I’m having problems adding pictures with the current internet connection. The Wednesday Key Pictures will have to be added another day.



Worse than not asking for directions..

Not catastrophic by any means. Just slightly frustrating.  Today’s adventure was to go kayaking in the Barnegat Bay for a few hours. Both my DW and I enjoy kayaking, and even though we live 7 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, we have never kayaked in this area. We have lived down here in Southern New Jersey since 1986. Never went kayaking.  We have kayaked in St. Thomas, New York, Florida, Maryland and probably other places that escape me at this moment.

I went online this morning to do some reasearch so I would have an idea about cost and location of the possible kayak rentals. It seemed from my online reasearch that there were some places on the mainland and many places on LBI. Some of the places on LBI advertised rather expensive prices. This encouraged me to try to find the local rentals places in the hopes of saving some money. Of course, I did not write down the possible places to check out. I had a general idea of where the marinas were, and that should have been good enough. Not!

After we drove around for 1.5 hours we gave up and headed to LBI to rent kayaks like the tourist do. There is nothing wrong with renting kayaks like a tourist, just that you will probably pay more than is necessary.  Oddly enough, the first place we stopped at had kayaks for rent at a reasonable hourly rate. We took two kayaks for two hours.  We went out to the dock and kayaks were the most basic model available. No seat backs and probably 10 feet long, at best.

The boat length is an issue when you are 6 foot and not real skinny. The real issue was the lack of seat backs. If you ever rent a kayak, don’t rent one without a seatback. Talk about two hours of discomfort. The kayaks we rented in Annapolis were twice as nice as these boats. So, a lesson was learned today. Look at the kayak before you pay or make sure the kayak has a seat back. 

And we got wet. The kayaks were self bailing, as most are.  The seat in these kayaks was so low you started out sitting in the water. Hey, summer time, slight rain storm, your wet anyway!  The bay water was in the 70’s and the air temperature was nearly 80 degrees.  Being wet was not a big deal.  We have rented self bailing kayaks before and never sat down in the water.  I guess this is the difference between the lowest level kayak and a mid to upper level model.

The three pictures tonight come from the beach on the bay (Ship Bottom, NJ) where we stopped to get out and stretch our muscles. Enjoy!


Day 219, I went to the library..

Really, I went to the library today. I had not been to the library since I stopped working in Philadelphia on January 20, 2002.  Prior to that date I drove 120 miles a day commuting and listened to book on tape during my drive. I may have been there once or twice (not that I remember) with the kids since then. I went today to retrieve a book that my DW needs to help with her college paper. She needs to submit her paper in APA 6 format. For us old people, that might as well be Chinese.

Today my DW (who is on call as well this week) worked an 11 hour day. Yikes! That makes two 11 hour days this week. We went out for dinner when she got home. Our oldest got off work at the same time and joined us at the restaurant.  We shared some wings and some beer. We all laughed and enjoyed the evening. He has gone back out with a friend (who is driving). We (DW and I) are headed to bed.

I worked from home. Not much excitement there. I was able to schedule some work for the early part of next week. Tonight’s picture comes from Thursday’s kayaking in Key Largo, Enjoy!


Sunset, January 2012 Key Largo, FL



Day 213, Random thoughts from my time in the sun..

I am sitting in the Fort Lauderdale airport. I got here a little early. I had to be out of the room by 10 am and the flight is at 5:50 pm.  I drove around Weston and Davie trying to get a better feel for the area. After making my way to the ocean staying off the interstate, I parked the car and walked the Hollywood Beach “boardwalk” again. I had lunch watching the people walk by. During lunch some (up and coming ?) singer was shooting a video on the beach. After they wrapped up the beach part they moved to the boardwalk to shoot some more. I shot a few pictures with my phone of the goings on. I will post them on the bottom.

Today’s blog will be a catch up from the last week or so.  Here goes, in no particular order:

  • Fishing yesterday day was on the  Lady Pamela III. There were six men and one women on the boat. She arrived to go fishing alone. We caught Kingfish, Triggerfish, Squirrel Fish, Sand Tile fish, Grunts, and other bottom dwelling fish. I had fun. The idea for me was to get outside for the afternoon, mission accomplished.
  • After kayaking in Key Largo I went to the “World Famous Caribbean Club” for a beer while waiting for the sunset. This is a dive. World famous? Maybe in their minds. At one point there were three dogs running in and out the open doors areas and around the bar’s interior. This was a locals place for sure. ** Late edit** While driving home tonight Jimmy Buffett was performing in Miami. He mentioned the Caribbean Club. (Go figure) It is still a dive.
  • My neighbors the second week were odd. They had at least one small child. That was not the odd part. The odd parts was the playing of an Indian chanting, droning music (calling it music is a stretch for me) all hours of the day and night. They played it loud enough that I had to play the tv during the day to drown the noise. And the small child was up and screaming until nearly midnight each night.
  • Steven Spielberg has a huge boat. We saw the boat tied up at the marina yesterday. The pictures from fishing are still in my camera. I will put them up tomorrow when I get home.
  • I had short ribs last night for dinner. I had never had them and now I have eaten them twice in three weeks. I am going to find a recipe and make them myself.
  • Most people in the hot tub at the resort are friendly. Everybody talks, nobody seems to judge. At least not outwardly judge.
  • I went back to the fields where we played lacrosse last weekend and shot this video. It was pretty empty this morning.
  • I stopped to watch an informal high school lacrosse practice in Davie this morning. I drove by and saw the people throwing the ball around so I drove over to the park. They were all young kids. I thought that it may have been people my age (or so) and I was going to get one more chance to play down here.
  • When I went to return the rental car today a women in a Ford Edge cut in front of me in the lane that leads to the rental car return. I figured she must have full coverage. She goes the same way I was going, into the Budget return line. She cuts across three lanes of cars so that she can be in the front row of an empty lane. The ladies checking in the cars ignored her. I laughed all the way into the terminal.
  • It is cold in NJ. I am home again. The trip was for the most part uneventful.
  • DS3 heads back to school tomorrow. I’m glad I got back in time to see him off in the morning.
  • The refrigerator here in NJ has less stuff than the one I left in Florida. Tomorrow will be a food shopping day for sure
  • I saw some teenagers waving signs at an intersection today in Florida. They were part of the Get Out the Vote campaign. See the picture below.


Day 211, I still did not make it to Key West..

It baffles me. Here I am about 180 miles from Key West. I drove 190 miles to and from Scranton in the same day weekend after weekend. Yet I can’t seem to make it all the way to Key West. Only the first hour of the drive is on the interstate, the next three hours are on roads with lower speed limits, traffic and traffic lights. That is probably the reason. Or maybe that is the reason I tell myself.

Today I went to Key Largo. I drove the Card Sound Road for the first time. If you have ever driven into the Keys there is a way to skip the beginning part of US 1. Going on Card Sound Road requires a dollar for the toll and a few extra minutes since the route is less direct. When I got into Key Largo I stopped at Florida Bay Outfitters to discuss renting a kayak for the afternoon. The rate was reasonable, the equipment looked good and the people were friendly. How can you go wrong when the stars are all aligned like that?

I went to lunch then returned to the shop and completed the paperwork and headed out into the bay. When I left the wind was blowing briskly from behind me. I understood that would mean I would be kayaking against that wind on the way home. The open water section of the paddle was a little over a mile. After the open water section was behind me I entered the mangroves. In this video you can see the mangroves and the water, notice the silence (except for me narrating). I finished paddling through the mangroves and headed back towards the dock.

My course back to the dock was directly into the wind. The waves were about 1 foot (no big deal in a boat) with some slight white caps. I got a little spray with each wave that hit the front of the kayak. During part of the ride I was accompanied by a pair of bottle nose dolphins. They swam with me and around me. I have to say it was really neat. I would have shot some pictures but it was too rough out in the middle of the bay.

When I got back to the dock they told me I still had two more hours of rental and that I should go back out and paddle some more. That is what I did. I stayed close to the beach so that the land blocked the wind and reduced the waves. I saw some Tarpon swimming under a dock near a restaurant. The restaurant feeds the Tarpon so they hang out under the dock waiting for dinner.

After finally being done with the kayak, the rental guys said that they had a shower and a changing room. I was excited about that since I was wet from the ride across the bay. The shower turned out to be an outdoor shower with only one water temperature. Hmmm, I must have missed that memo. I took a quick shower, real quick.  After the shower I had a beer and waited for the sunset. There are pictures on the bottom of the sunset.

I had dinner at the restaurant next door. The wings and the beer were good. The calzone was bad. Not really bad, just not what I am accustomed to getting in NJ. Maybe it is the water, maybe the flour or something. I ate the cheese and not much of the dough.

I’m back at the condo in Weston for the night. I have one more full day left in Florida. I am thinking about going fishing tomorrow. I just am not sure where.

Enjoy the pictures,