December 28, 2012

Key West and Key Largo, Florida

The Florida Keys runs about 110 miles long. We parked our motorhome in Layton, Florida, which is at Mile 70, and drove with our car to Key West, the southern most tip (Mile 0), and on another day, drove in the other direction to Key Largo (Mile 100), near the start of the Keys. Did you follow that? 

We loved our stay in the Keys. For the most part, the weather has been great (in the high 70s) with some days more humid than others. No rain at all. The Fiesta RV Park is located right on the Gulf of Mexico. Every night we walked 100 feet to watch the sun set over the water.

Boat on the water in the RV Park

Children cleaning fish they just caught with
pelicans waiting for the scraps.

Here are some of the sunset pictures we took.

We really enjoyed our trip to Key West on December 24. The town was packed with tourists. First, we went to the furthermost point in the United States.

 Jerry got a rare picture of this marker without any tourists
standing next to it while someone took their picture.

Like this!

Trains, horses, buses, bikes all over the place.

And roosters roamed the streets everywhere.

We were going to visit Ernest Hemingway's house,
but the line was too long.

Instead, we visited the live Butterfly Museum. We were told that there are between 13,000 and 15,000 butterflies in place. Because Chanti was with us, we took turns going into the Museum. I don't know about Jerry, but I'm lucky if I saw a total of a couple hundred butterflies. Where were they hiding???

The Butterfly Museum (it was very humid in there)

Of course, Jerry had to visit Jimmy Buffett's Original Margaritaville where he had its famous Cheeseburger in Paradise. 

We also had to take a picture of Mile 0 -- the start of Highway 1.

One more picture of a hotel complex on the beach in Key West.

Then yesterday, we drove in the other direction to visit Key Largo and take a boat ride to see the coral reef.

This is the glass-bottom boat that took us and another 150 
of our fellow passengers 7 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean
to see a mile-long stretch of coral reef.

Having seen the coral reef barrier in Tahiti, we were anticipating seeing pastel mint green, blue, yellow and pink coral together with very colorful fish of all shapes and sizes. What a disappointment! It took us 45 minutes to get out there, and this is what we saw.

We had a relaxing boat ride, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the green waters, canals and houses along the way before we reached the ocean.

Heading out to the ocean.

We drove 60 miles out of the Keys today and are staying in Florida City through the New Years. Our next adventure for the week is to explore the Everglades and see the alligators. 


December 23, 2012

Cocoa, Delray, and Layton, Florida

Yes, we have moved three times this week. We first stopped at Cocoa Beach, Florida, and drove around the Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center areas. Didn't really take the time to actually visit the sites. The weather was too hot for us.

Parked at the Sonrise Palms 
Christian RV Park in Cocoa, Florida.
We stayed there for three days.

From there, we headed on down the coast to Delray, Florida, for two specific reasons: to meet up with my first cousin, Frank, and his wife, Lee, and so that Jerry could attend a Toastmaster's meeting and catch up with the editor of his latest book that is about to be published. 

Before we get into those events, we have to say something about what we think of Florida and its people thus far. After the first few days in which it was very humid and hot, the weather has maintained  in the 70s, with a slight breeze, lower humidity and just lovely. No more dead leaves on the ground. Everything is so very green and well kept. As for the people -- let's just say that, in general, they lack the warm hospitality of Californians. It was a bit of a shock at first, but we are getting used to dealing with them. (I won't go into details.) Of course, this does not apply to the specific people we came here to meet -- only to strangers.

We met up with Frank and Lee at a local coffee shop, Gizzie's Coffee, that Frank likes. No wonder -- the coffee shop roasts its own beans and the drinks easily matched those of the Cambria Coffee Roasting Company, which we previously owned. We had a fun time visiting with Frank and Lee. 

Lee and Frank

Because it was our 38th wedding anniversary on December 20th, we thought that we would celebrate it by seeing Jersey Boys in Palm Beach. Frank warned us that there was a strike going on and that we may not be able to see the show. Sure enough -- the show was cancelled. Bummer! But, we had a nice day visiting Palm Beach, 20 miles north of Delray.

Palm Beach, Florida

Interesting tree in Palm Beach, Florida

Yesterday, we headed down the Florida Keys, a string of islands at the tip of Florida dividing the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. We are now at the Fiesta Key RV Resort in Layton, Florida -- an island located about 40% down the Keys, where we will be for Christmas.

 The Gulf of Mexico. I took the picture out
of the window of the RV as we were
going over one of the many bridges
connecting the various islands.

Last bridge to the island where the RV park is
located (you can see the RV park off to the right
on the island).

What is so interesting is the various colors of the waters. The water on the right (green) is the Gulf of Mexico and the water on the left (blue) is the Atlantic Ocean. Our motorhome is parked 25 feet from the water and I could hear the water splashing on the shore all night long. Just wonderful. We have been all over this United States and this is one of the first places I can truly say: "I could live here." But, with our family on the West Coast, that can't happen. I'll post more pictures of this beautiful place next time.


December 16, 2012

Orlando, Florida

The world grieves for the Newtown, Connecticut families and community affected by the horrible tragedy on Friday. It is just so very sad. And, while that took place, we just happened to be in a place where there are other children enjoying themselves here at Disney World in Orlando. Our hearts are heavy for the children of Newtown. Jerry and I drove past Newtown this summer.

Disney World is huge. Disneyland in California can fit in the Disney World parking lot. To get to any place requires one to take a minimum of two buses. Can't imagine coming here in the summertime.

We are parked in the Wilderness RV Resort
on the Disney World property.

We chose to visit Epcot, one of the five separate major entertainment areas, and Downtown Disney. At Epcot, we went on three rides, but the simulator ride to Mars was by far the most exciting. 

Showing the entrance to Epcot Center.

Taken at night when we came back 
for a Christmas concert and fireworks.

Epcot at night before the fireworks 
show began.

Some of the choir members waiting to begin
their march on to the stage.

Christmas program singers 
and orchestra. It was fantastic.

The program was followed by
a terrific fireworks show.

 The people were very close
to the fireworks display.

More of the fireworks.

Yesterday, we took a couple of buses to Downtown Disney. This is a place of primarily many many restaurants and lots of gift shops -- and a few other entertainment events.

Children admiring a dragon made out of
lego blocks at Downtown Disney.

And, if you wish, you can go up in
an air balloon (we didn't do this).

When we decided to do this two-year trip to the East Coast, we wondered whether we should bring along our small fiber optic christmas tree to put in our front window, as we do each year. We determined that it would take up too much room in our compartment and decided to put it in storage.
Obviously, others were not put off by this concern. Here are some of the holiday decorations others have erected just in this RV park:

This puts our little fiber optics tree to shame.

We walked from RV to RV just enjoying
the displays and taking pictures. Again,
these are RV displays -- not Disney World displays.

Lots of lights

Carrots set out for the reindeer.

Just how many Mickey and Minnie Mouse animals
can one stuff in the front window of an RV?

And, how about a running training traveling
to the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

Nativity scene.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

December 12, 2012

Ormond Beach, Florica

Ormond Beach is about 8 miles from Daytona Beach. So our plan was to get here to the Sunshine Holiday RV Resort prior to the onset of the storm. Luckily, we made it to the park just as the rain started coming down. Within the next 2-3 hours, both our cells phones, our computers and our NOAA radio started screaming at us to "get to shelter immediately" as a tornado was heading our way. The sky looked dark but we weren't getting much rain. Not sure what to do, Jerry checked in with the office and the girl behind the counter laughed and said: "not to worry -- we get this all the time."

With that, Jerry decided he wanted to go get some pizza, and he left. I wasn't nearly so pacified by her comment as the weather service continued to issue alerts to "get to shelter immediately." While he was gone, here is the picture I took on my cell phone:

Turns out, there was a tornado that touched down about 10 miles from here, damaging 90 homes and causing 2 million dollars of damage.

Hope this Florida weather improves as we plan to spend 6 to 7 weeks in Florida. Don't like the humidity.

We took this one for you, Bill.

It's been overcast, rainy and foggy -- not ideal for picture taking.

Tomorrow, we move in-land a bit, going to Orlando. The weather is suppose to be better.