Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Week of Leisure and Fun (Big Pine Key, Fl)

Monday it was comparatively cold.  We rarely went outside other than to walk the dogs.  Debbie never got out of her pjs and robe.  I'm talkin sexy!!  While at our Ranger's Night Sky program, he told us that there was to be a meteor shower of significance Monday night after midnight.  It was in the 40's and maybe 25 mph winds but I rose to the challenge to have a look.  Here at Bahia Honda there's a large section of bridge that was first a train trestle and then on TOP of the trestle a portion of the original US 1 was built.  You can now walk way out on the bridge to watch a sunset, check out the ocean or watch a meteor shower, storm, or whatever.  So that's where I went.  It was cloudy but the clouds kept shifting so I was hopeful.  Shall I say the weather was deadly on the bridge ... well at least mighty cold.  I was getting a crick in my neck so I laid down on the bridge to ease my view plus the curbing blocked some of the wind.  There I was facing the elements like a wild adventurer solely for the purpose of seeing a shooting star or two.  Impressive?   No but it was fun.  In the passing of an hour I may have seen a dozen.  Debbie decided to stay home in the warm bed, consequently... no pictures.

Tuesday I began what was to become a routine of attending Ranger Programs.  Remember this past Saturday we went to the Night Sky program.  I skipped Monday's program but Tuesday I attended what was simply a nature walk.  Pleasant and interesting.  Wednesday I went to a great hour long talk about Henry Flagler building the railroad from Miami to Key West.  Thursday was a beach walk.  Friday, the staff of Bahia Honda put on a skit about Henry Flagler and his railroad.  It was mostly just  a narrative history of Henry Flagler.  It was nicely done with an audio system and costumes. There may have been 50 people in the audience.   Friday at 8pm I returned to the outdoor theater by the beach to watch a movie about sharks.  So there I sit wearing light pants, a T shirt and sweat shirt. I call that my dress clothes! I'm watching a movie about sharks, the sound of the surf is in the back ground, a great breeze, and palm trees swaying overhead.  TOO GOOD!!! 

OK, back to the calender.  Wednesday Debbie and I cruised.  We decided to visit the Navy Air Station in Key West (NASKW).  As a retired national guard person I have all sorts of military base privileges that we rarely utilize.  That's beginning to change.  NASKW has great camping right on the ocean.  We knew of it but wouldn't commit to it without first checking out the accommodations. We're going! The sites are great and a real bargain.   We had to scramble and change some of our reservations, but we love the Keys and especially Key West so we know it will be worth it.  We'll move over to the base on 19 Dec when our reservation at Bahia Honda ends.  The deal at the base is that all the sites with full hookups are normally full each day.  So when you first arrive you will be assigned a dry camp site which means no utilities.  They have a system of rotation so that currently, after 6-8 days, we will likely be on a site with full hook ups.  Our camper has an on board 12 volt battery system that runs the on board water systems, lights and even the bedroom TV.  Propane runs the frig and heat if we need it.  We also have two barely used Honda generators that we bought from a fellow volunteer in NC so between the hours of 7am and 11pm  we can have full power if we want.  I'm told that 90% of those dry camping use the Honda generators.  They're quite quiet but I'm sure there's some form of generator etiquette so we'll see how often/long is reasonable to run them.  A good measure of the success of this type of camping is that some folks spend the whole winter dry camping at NASKW. So we'll  now spend at least the next 3 weeks in Key West.  Before leaving the air station we also took the dogs to a dog park very close to the campground to play.  The 4 of us had a nice time there.  On the way home we ran by some houses that Debbie located just to see what a modest house in this area costs.  It would be doable, so who knows?

Thursday was another great Keys sort of day. The weather was beautiful so we took our bikes to ride
 2 1/2 miles out the old 7 mile bridge to Pigeon Key.  Years ago Pigeon Key was the site of a work camp for the Flagler Railroad.  Later it was used as a maintenance site for housing men who maintained the bridges and  railroad. Lots of old buildings, pictures, memorabilia etc.  The site was interesting enough (you might notice that currently I'm kind of caught up with Flagler) but the bike ride out and back was way cool!  Even worked on a little birding.

Old and new Seven Mile Bridges. The old bridge (on right) is  now closed except for portions available to bike riders and walkers.

Old bridge with Pigeon Key on left below 

Yep, it was windy.

But what a view!

Cormorants playing by the bridge

After that we took our bikes to Big Pine Key which is dominated with the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge.

There's a paved bike trail that runs through the middle of the refuge.

The deer here pay humans no attention
Now these deer are entirely beyond the cute scale.  They range is size from 2-3 feet.  There are about 600 of them in the refuge and the refuge is open to the entire Big Pine Key community.  Consequently they just sort of wander where they want.  So we've now seen dozens.

While there we rode bikes for a few miles and stopped at a couple nature trails to stroll.

Saw a deer or two there plus a sizable iguana. 

This guy looks like he's running away, but really he barely payed us any attention

Everybody here talks trash about the iguanas.  They're not native and they don't have any predators so they multiply rapidly and eat everything in sight.  But from a touristy point of view, they seem pretty cool to us.

We didn't realize they had such long tails!
We finished the great day with a stop at the No Name Pub.  It's been a local hangout since the 30's.

The decor is currently part of the appeal.  Nearly every square inch of the walls and ceilings are covered with dollar bills.  People sign them, leave messages or contribute something philosophical.  I can't say it's pretty, but it's darn unique.

We enjoyed a dietary selection.  We began with nachos for two and finished with a large pizza.  Debbie had a couple beers.  Now you tell me we're not living right!?

Appetizer before our large pizza.  What pigs!
Can you believe it? I'm not done.  Friday was a nice slow pace.  I went to the skit in the morning and later in the afternoon we launched the new inflatable kayak.  We haven't had a great opportunity to get it in the water mostly due to weather, water temperature (we might fall in), wind or tide.  Friday was one of the warmest days. The ocean was a little choppy for the maiden voyage but, come on, I'm an adventurer!  The beach area water is never more than a few feet deep.  So we launched.  It was just me.  Debbie will need kinder, gentler conditions for her to get her sea legs.  It was great fun.  There will be a learning curve.  But after all, we do have life vests.

Today is Saturday the 18th.  We're not doing much.  Debbie's been doing some knitting and I'm sure she has been on the internet.  I went to the post offfice to pick up some super duper roof tape (Debbie ordered it on line)  to repair the torn rubber roof.  Oh yes, an ugly reminder of my stupidity.  I talked to a few folks in the park (imagine that) and rode my bike solo.  Later Debbie and I rode bikes for awhile and walked a short nature trail here in the park.  It's been raining a little.

Nature trail along the beach just before the rain

We go to the Navy Air Station tomorrow.  We've had beautiful sunsets here and we wanted to get one last shot.  We were not disappointed.

We are going to have SteakUms sandwiches for dinner.  Shall I say goodbye?



1 comment:

  1. everything sounds wonderful! enjoy the naval station campground.