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February 2005 Blog

Tuesday, February 1

Today was a great day for us. We got up early and worked this morning. After we did some computer work for the business we worked around the campsite. We vacuumed and then washed the car. I got the glass cleaner out and did all the windows in the car. Then I cleaned all the surfaces inside the car. We ate lunch and then decided to go snorkeling again.

We stopped at the Sigsbee Exchange to get our own snorkeling equipment. While there a very nice man answered all Macís questions about the equipment we were looking at. The man was a former Navy Seal so naturally he knew a lot about snorkeling masks and fins. He also told us of a great spot to go snorkeling that we will visit on another day. We decided not to buy fins today.  We bought mask and breather sets for each of us.  We decided to snorkel at Truman Annex since we would not need a dive flag there.  Also there would be people around to help if we had any questions.  The water looked beautiful; there wasnít a lot of wind chopping up the water.  The water of course was cold.  Mac was faster than me getting into the water and starting to snorkel.  It took me a while to get up the courage to put my head in.  I donít like to get my head under the water; Iíve never liked the feeling of water in my ears.  I finally did it though and had a great time.  Itís indescribable!  You donít need to swim you can just float.  Sounds are muted, you hear yourself breathing.  It was just incredible.  We snorkeled around until we got too cold.  We got out and sat on the beach until we warmed up, then we went back in again.  It was a great time.

Monday, February 7:

We havenít done anything worthy of writing about on the blog for the past several days. But who said that each day needed to be worth writing about.  We have been enjoying the weather and just relaxing.  People sometimes need to kick back and relax.  Mac replaced the faucets in the kitchen sink, but I donít think heíll write about that in the technical section.  Mac has also started rereading Moby Dick.  He says heís going to read more of the classics. Give me a good mystery over the classics any day, but to each his own.

On Saturday we did drive up to the Salvation Army up the Keys on Big Pine Key and I got a few more books.  On the way back we stopped at a dive shop to ask about dive flags, etc.  The dive shop is Looe Key Reef Resort & Dive Center on Ramrod Key.  They have a ship that goes out daily, weather permitting, to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.  Looe Key Reef is rated as one of the top ten in the world and the only living reef in North America. The price is quite reasonable it seems to us, $30 each. We will be going out there soon so stayed tuned to this website for exciting updates. Here is a link to some beautiful pictures of Looe Key Reef: http://www.lowerkeysdivesites.com/z_panorama/divesites_java.cfm?siteID=44

On Sunday of course we watched the Super Bowl.  I watch for the commercials not for the game.  Oh, that reminds me to tell you about our TV.  We had written previously that the only TV we could get here in Key West was one station and it was a Spanish speaking channel.  Well, we finally decided to go ahead and get satellite TV.  They came out and ďinstalledĒ it last Tuesday.  It is a small dish that is currently on a board sitting on the ground aimed at the satellite. Thereís a wire running from it to our RV which hooks into the Direct TV box.  Mac is going to work his magic and have it all nice and tidy and hook it into our DataStorm Dish. Yea, Mac!

Wednesday, February 9:

We went to Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas today. The Dry Tortugas lie about 70 miles west of Key West. The only way to get there is by boat or seaplane. We chose the Yankee Freedom to go out there on. The ship was doing about 28 mph, so that tells you itís a long boat ride out and seems even longer on the way back. It is a good sized ship that has an upper deck with lots of seating. The lower deck has the cabin area which has lots of tables and benches for sitting, eating, talking, etc. The crew members were a great bunch of people, very friendly and knowledgeable.

The ship leaves Key West at 8:00 a.m. and breakfast is served right away. After eating breakfast we went out front and admired the view all the way to the island. I spotted a few turtles in the water on the way there, it was exciting to see them swimming. I am still enthralled with the water color and how clear the water is down here. I could spend hours just looking at the water colors.

We docked on the island about 10-10:30. Lunch would be served from 11:30 to 1:00. We walked around the island to get a feel for the history of the fort. We decided to not take the tour since we wanted to get in the water right away. The water was 69 degrees, it felt very cold getting in but once the whole body is in you quickly become accustomed to the temperature. Mac says you become numb so that it no longer feels cold. The beach is beautiful, pristine and the water was so clear. It was so clear it looked like a swimming pool. The moat wall around the fort has a lot of sea life on it and we snorkeled along the wall on the swimming beach side. There were sea urchins, star fish, and various sea vegetation that we havenít learned the names of yet. The fish were amazing! There were so many kinds of colorful fish. This will be an educational experience just learning about the various fish and types of life in the salt water.

We ate lunch and said letís rest on the beach for 30 minutes but did we? Nooooo. We went back in the water. The time just flew by. I believe we were supposed to be back on board the boat by 2:45 to leave by 3:00. As mentioned earlier the trip back seems to take much longer. We arrived back to shore around 5:30. Mac grilled us some hamburgers while I went to the bathhouse and took a nice long shower. That salt water just seems to want to stay on your skin and hair. I was surprised that I did get a little burn, so sun screen is highly recommended.

It was an incredible time! We highly recommend it to everyone. Itís not inexpensive to go out there though. The boat trip is $129.00 which includes breakfast and lunch. There is also a $5.00 park fee that is collected when you check in to receive your boarding pass for the boat. We are very glad that we went but we probably wonít go again for a few years.

The recommended items to take with you are sun screen, swim suit, towels, walking shoes if you want to explore the fort. The ship does have snorkel equipment but you can bring your own, which we did.

Good site for info:
http://www.shannontech.com/ParkVision/DryTortugas/DryTortugas.html

Site with lots of pictures:
http://www.terragalleria.com/parks/np.dry-tortugas.html

Hi, just a couple notes to add.  There are two boats (power catamarans) that go out to the Dry Tortugas.  The Yankee Freedom II, and the  Sunny Days Fast Cat.  The Sunny Days is less expensive, but a much smaller boat.  A local told us they really cram you in on the Sunny Days, often taking as many passengers as the larger Yankee Freedom, which has lots of room to get up and move around, go out on deck, etc. 

We bought our tickets from the Sigsbee Navy Base Information Tickets and Travel (ITT) office.  Military discount tickets for Yankee Freedom are $107 adult, $74 age 16 and under.

Here's a link to the Yankee Freedom web site: http://www.yankeefreedom.com/DayTrip.htm

Also a link to the Sunny Days site: http://www.sunnydayskeywest.com/fastcat.htm

Saturday, February 12:

Weekend is here, and I finally have some photos of our snorkel trip (and time to scan them in and write about them).  We used a waterproof disposable camera with Fuji 800 film.  It was our first time, so we're glad that even a few photos came out OK. 

I'm trying out different ways of displaying photos in the blog.  Keeping them all full size takes a lot of bandwidth, so it would be really slow for people without high-speed connections.  So if we have more than one or two photos for a day I put them in a photo gallery.  Brief description below large photo for each shot.

.

Chris Snorkeling

Chris REALLY likes snorkeling. When we had a house in Tampa, with heated pool, I couldn't get Chris into the water until I heated it up to 85 degrees -- this photo was taken in 69 degree water!

 

Another item of interest in the Keys:

Located on Big Pine Key is the National Key Deer refuge. These tiny deer are not found anywhere else in the world. It is believed that the Key deer migrated to the Keys from the mainland thousands of years ago. The Wisconsin Glacier melted, and the sea rose dividing the land into small islands now known as the Florida Keys and trapping the deer. The Key deer are a subspecies of the Virginia white-tailed deer and are the smallest of all white-tailed deer. The shoulder height of the Key deer is between 24 - 28 inches. Does weigh 45 to 65 pounds while bucks weigh 55 to 75. At birth, the Key deer weighs only 2 to 4 pounds. They feed on native plants and can tolerate small amounts of salt in their water. There are only about 250 to 300 of these tiny deer remaining. The speed limit through the area on Hwy 1 is 45 in the daytime and 35 at night.

February 17:

Today we went to the Key West Aquarium which has been delighting visitors since 1934. Itís not expensive at all $10.00 (tax included) and the ticket can be used to visit again the next day. The website is http://www.keywestaquarium.com

Itís a great place to visit. It has a lot of information on the local sea life such as the coral reefs and the Florida mangroves. Did you know that we can thank the Parrotfish for our beautiful white beaches here in Florida? Yes, itís true. The Parrotfish has sharp front teeth which it uses to scrape the algae, which grows on the coral. The fish munch on pieces of coral. They have molar like teeth in their throats that grind the coral, which then travels through their digestive systems and is deposited in the reef as white coral sand that makes up our beaches.

Before visiting the aquarium we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafť. The weather was beautiful so we decided to eat outside. At a table near us sat 2 couples. Each couple had a baby stroller that was carrying 2 dogs. The dogs were very well behaved. Lunch was very good. After eating we went inside and looked at all the memorabilia.

February 21:

The water is slowly warming up or weíre getting used to it. We went snorkeling right out from the Sigsbee RV Park today. We saw several fish and found a conch shell that we brought home with us. We really enjoyed it.

Iím so glad that we decided to go solar for our power needs while dry camping. We will be on this one spot in dry camp for 4 weeks this Friday. With solar power itís very quiet. We can use the electricity anytime day or night. Here at Sigsbee RV Park, as in most dry camping areas, quiet time is 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. We get up frequently before 7 and are able to crank up the DataStorm, both of the computers, lights, etc. all off of our batteries that have stored solar energy. Those who use generators have to wait until 7 to crank up their generators. Also, generators make noise, even the quietest ones still make noise. Solar power is very quiet.

Weíve gone for as long as 9 days before having to go dump the tanks. I use the bathhouse to take a shower and to use the facilities. Mac doesnít like the bathhouse so he uses the shower and the facilities in our RV. He says the water pressure at the bathhouse is more like a trickle and he just does not enjoy that at all. I agree that the water pressure isnít great but I enjoy standing under the shower for as long as I want.

We do use paper plates frequently when we are having sandwiches, burgers, etc. If we are using pots and pans to cook with we use our Corelle plates. We have to wash the pots anyway so 2 plates wonít use up anymore water to wash them. I also have a plastic dishpan that is set on the counter and we place items waiting to be washed in it, such as coffee cups, knife used to make a peanut butter sandwich, etc. These dishes are waiting to be washed when dishes are washed again, usually after weíve cooked a meal.

Another beautiful Key West sunset:

 

And another beautiful sunrise:

February 22:

We went up the Keys to the Salvation Army Thrift Stores. We asked where a good place to eat was and the clerk recommended a few places. We ate at Conch & Stein. We didnít go into the actual restaurant but ate out back in the Tiki Hut Bar. The food was great and very reasonably priced.

February 26:

We move today onto a site with full hook-ups. We were 29 days on dry camp this time. Great site, weíre right across from the laundry room. Weíll be on this site 14 days and then we are out of here. On the road again, just canít wait to get on the road again. Oh wait thatís a Willie Nelson song, itís our theme song too. Even being here in paradise, we are ready to hit the road and see the country!

February 28:

Today, I cleaned the carpets throughout the whole RV. We had bought a Bissell Little Green Clean Machine a few months ago in Tampa and it works great. Itís small so it takes up very little room in the RV and it works great on cleaning the carpet.

This evening I went to a local used book store named Bargain Books & News Stand. Itís a great place to trade paperback books for more books or credit. They have a very nice selection of paperbacks and also 2 cats to pet while Iím looking around.

Continue to March blog entries

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