Thursday, August 28, 2014

Long Key to Cape San Blas in a Hurry !

Hey,that's us,enjoying the view,camped peacefully Friday,making dinner !

Do you remember talking about musical campsites and how many changes we made in our reservations for the Keys ?  Well it finally caught up with us on Friday night August 22 at 630pm.

I was inside Ruby cooking up some delicious sausage,green peppers and onions when I heard someone say to Jim : "Uh we have this site for the weekend and we've been waiting since 4pm for you to leave" Jim replied: "No, we are here until Saturday".  Oh Oh, I quickly logged onto the reservation system and realized the booboo I made.  Even our campsite sticker showed leaving on the 22nd but somehow I had it in my mind that we weren't checking out until Saturday.  Thank goodness Roadtreks are so easy to pack up.  Although Jim did have to quickly put the bike on the bike rack and pack away the stove and beach umbrella while I was inside trying to secure everything and put away the dinner I had just cooked.  The folks were really nice and understanding and very patient.

This is the campsite we had to quickly pack up-you can't see the umbrella and chairs off to the side that also had to be put away !

Sunset during our escape from Long Key

And another big OH OH, no sites available for Friday night at Long Key !  Oh well,we figured we would head up the road and find something.  Big mistake.  First of all we forgot that if you don't have reservations the Florida state parks lock their gates at 8pm and there is no way to access the park to even see if there is a site available.  And the private parks that had sites available either didn't allow dogs or they were ridiculously expensive for just sleeping overnight.  Walmart was out of the question-it was 9pm and still 87 degrees with no breeze. Jim said, what the heck, let's just drive, I'm wide awake.  And drive we did .

After we realized we couldn't get into John Pennecamp state park,we u turned and headed to Tower Pizza in Key Largo for dinner to go.  And so glad we made that u turn.  Some of the best pizza we have ever had, just as good as Tony's in St Augustine that I raved about here.  So there we were,loaded with pizza,ice in our little cooler with cold water and cold soda,Hailey sound asleep in the we were to destinations unknown.

Orlando traffic outside of Kissimmee-sure glad we weren't heading to see Mickey-wouldn't want to fight that line of traffic !

We made it to Kissimmee at about 230AM. Yikes,that was 7 1/2 hours of driving. We tried the KOA but couldn't check in so we ended up at the Red Roof Inn,dog friendly and cheap .  Actually cheaper than the KOA !  So whats a few stains on the duvet-ughhh..I threw it down on the floor and wouldn't even let Hailey sleep on it.  The sheets were at least sparkling white and the good news is -we didn't wake up in the morning with any bed bug bites !  We have never driven that long or that late in Ruby and will never do it again. Nice hot shower in the morning and straight to Starbucks to fill our thermos and hit the road again.  We knew we were headed to St Joe's Peninsula State Park but didn't know where we were going to stop on Saturday since we couldn't check into St Joes until Sunday-another road trip/campground adventure.

Rocky's RV Park

Driving along we stumbled on Rocky's RV Park in Perry Florida.  If you are ever in need of a 1 night or even longer layover in the Perry area (and it's not hunting season-because they get really busy) head to Rocky's.  The  cleanest restrooms in the South and the most wonderful laundry.  All the sights are full service ,flat ground and Rocky's has a gas station and convenience store that rivals Publix and Target combined-very very convenient.  We pretty much went to bed at 7pm and didn't wake up until about 9am on Sunday.

 Site #8 at St Joe's , one of our favorite

Sunrise towards St Joe Bay

It felt so good to see Cape San Blas-that wonderful feeling of being home again-even though we couldn't get into the condo until the 30th.  Our site #8 at St Joe is perfect, we sit right between the bay and the Gulf and there is a permanent breeze-sometimes gusting wind, that feels so good after the humidity and doldrums of Long Key.  Today we have the back doors of Ruby opened,the sliding side door is wide open and the AC is off. Nice ocean breezes blowing through.

We had our favorite,BLT tortilla with salsa and avocado and I'm headed to the beach for the rest of the beautiful luxurious day.

Happy Trails to all you beach girls and surfer guys out there...Be safe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Long Key State Park Week 2, Sometimes the Doldrums Set In

Here we are in the middle of week 2 at Long Key State Park and the doldrums have set in.  We've been lucky to have the kind of breezes we have been enjoying-but they are gone baby gone.  Early morning when we sit out having our coffee there is a nice breeze, but by 8 am it's gone and it's eerily still.  The water and sky somehow look huge when there is no wind.  It feels like you could get lost out there very easily.  And when the tide is out it feels like you could walk for miles before the water got up to your knees.  The Keys have their own special magic.

Depending on the time of day the skies could be bright silver white or deep blue with huge puffy clouds.  And the water can go from steel blue to shades of blue and green in a heartbeat.  That's what I love about this area-it's just stunning and so peaceful watching the changes.

We finally got a little wind and that night we had an amazing lightening storm-I almost crawled under the bed with Hailey it was a little scary having the sky light up so much  !  But that was just one day that the wind actually blew  the umbrella a bit.  We are back to the doldrums and when there is no wind guess what?  There are armies of mosquitoes !  And for some reason these little guys in the Keys are fearless-Deet they say, I don't care about your stinkin Deet, I'm coming to get you -and get me they did.  These little guys leave huge welts too.  Needless to say I've been inside a lot this week.

Jim went out in the kayak several times and wahoo, he caught a sponge.  Shhh don't tell him I told you.  He won't appreciate the humor.  Although I'm sure he had a fish on that just took his line into the sponge and broke away.  He won't live this one down for awhile.

This little guy comes around every time the tide goes out, I still haven't figured out what kind of bird he is.  Anyone know ?

And I think these guys are Whimbrels according to our little birding book. We've seen egrets,pink spoonbills,herons,a few pelicans,lots of gulls and some small sandpipers.  There are lots of crabs around the campground along with lizards and huge iguanas.  The iguanas avoid humans and when they see you they run away like little Velicoraptors !

We haven't been doing a lot of cooking inside-too hot and it's a challenge to cook outside while trying to battle the huge flies and the mosquitoes.  One day I made these little sliders adapting a recipe I had for my "Oregon Tuna Melt" sandwich.  I wasn't sure how they would taste without being grilled but they were delicious and now I have a new keeper recipe .

Long Key Tuna Sliders:
Makes 8 small sliders or 4 hamburger bun type sandwiches
Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna 
1/4 cup finely diced red onion 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
 3 tablespoon minced basil 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
8 Hawaiian bread slider buns 
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
 3 tablespoons  mayonnaise 
4 slices of Swiss cheese,each slice cut into 4 pieces so you end up with 16 little squares 
8 1/8-inch-thick lengthwise slices of kosher dill pickle or bread and butter pickle

In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil,mustard,mayonnaise and      crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the Hawaiian Bread buns in half and  place a slice of cheese on each half.Spread the rolls with a scoop of the tuna salad mixture. Top each mound of tuna with a sliced pickle. Bring the two halves together, sit back and enjoy !

If you want to try the Oregon Tuna Melt you can find the recipe by clicking here.

The one day I did fire up the microwave I blew out the power. I don't what I was thinking,problem was I wasn't thinking.  I had cooked most of the pizza in the convection oven and thought it was done.  I turned the air conditioner back on and when I looked at the pizza I thought ,hmm ,just a few more minutes, so I popped it back in the oven for 3 minutes.  Well when the air conditioning is going full blast Ruby just doesn't have it in her to run the convection/microwave at the same time so the power went kaput !  Jim was out walking Hailey and I thought oh my gosh , he's going to kill me.  It's 92 degrees outside and getting hot inside-how are we going to sleep ? No breeze,no air-I felt like stealing the little raft that's been anchored off our campsite and heading for Cuba.  Before Jim got back I discovered how to reset the generator but I had to break the news to Jim that he had to climb under Ruby , in the sand, in the heat.  Gosh this man must love me .  Generator reset,lesson learned, air conditioner back on and delicious pizza for dinner.

What you ran the air conditioner and the oven ? Sheesh

Another doldrum day in paradise

So it's Wednesday when I'm writing this, about 830pm and we can hear some pretty loud thunder and the sky is lighting up like a hundred flashbulbs going off.  Maybe we'll get some rain, maybe just maybe we'll get some wind ! No matter what this sure is an awfully pretty place to "enjoy" the doldrums in.

Happy Trails my fellow windwatchers and safe travels.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Loving Long Key State Park

We found our haven from the crowds and traffic at Long Key State Park.  Everyone told us we should try for Bahia Honda, but there were no sites to be found , except for a few 1 night openings here and there.  When we first arrived at Long Key we were booked into Site 20.  And because of our late booking we were ending up with 3 days at Curry Hammock down the road a bit and then a return to Long Key with 6 campsite changes in 2 weeks-yikes !  I had been keeping an eye on the sites and quickly discovered site 42 opened up for a week.  The kind ranger at Long Key  helped us switch and rebook; thus eliminating the drive to Curry Hammock and cutting our campsite musical chairs from 6 site changes to 3..wahoo!  There really isn't a bad site here-each one is along the ocean-some have more shade than others but you really just can't beat the view. We definitely love this campground.

  Super moon rising

A lot of campers bring small boats and kayaks that they launch from their campsites-you can pretty much walk out about 500 yards and the water only gets waist deep and that's during high tide !  Next time we visit we will definitely bring the kayaks.  The campground has very nice and very clean showers; hookups and a dump site.  There is also an ice machine (not always working) and a pretty nice nature boardwalk.  If you stay here try to book the odd numbered sites-if you are in an even numbered site you have quite a distance to the hook ups.  Our electric wasn't a problem as we have a 35ft cord; but the water hookup required 2 hoses. In the odd numbered sites the hookups are closer and right on the edge of your driveway.

Our move to site #42 where we will be for 7 days.

 This is where we sit for morning coffee and a cold beer or two in the afternoon!
The skeeters chase us inside at night (even with a ton of  Deet spray)

 So far we are on day 3 and nothing but clear skies-there was a threat of a storm coming up from Key West but that quickly blew north

Our campsite visitor during low tide 

 The campground is on the East side of the Overseas Highway but the restrooms are elevated and you can stand on the deck and see some great sunsets to the West .

 The second night of the super moon was just a gorgeous as the first; and this night it was a beautiful golden yellow as it rose in the sky.

We discovered a place in Marathon Key that will rent you a kayak for a week for only $89 and they will deliver it and pick it up at the campground.  That is a lot less expensive than the $17 fee for 2 hours that the campground charges !  I think Jim is going to rent one and try fishing further out than he can wade.  I'm not allowed in the water until October so I shall sit obediently on the shore line dipping my toes in the water :(

We are approaching the 3 month mark since we left the condo in May and time really has gone by so fast.  We have learned that we will avoid summer camping in Florida in the future-all I can say is thank goodness for air conditioning.  It wouldn't be so bad if I could swim and cool off in the water but I can't .  I'm looking forward to mojitos on our deck back home in September !

We have also learned that heat + traffic + confined spaces= argument !  We are both learning and practicing more patience with each other.  I think my frustration level is much higher than Jim's because of the medical things I'm dealing with.  So I'm working very hard at trying to stay in the present moment; daily readings of "Peace is Every Step", by Thich Nhat Hanh help me  and if all else fails a cold beer  helps cool things off too !  It's hard to believe that we have been on the road since January 5th (with the little 6 week remodel/medical break in between).  We both feel so blessed to be able to live the life we have and to be able to enjoy it together.

Happy Trails to all you moon travels.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Watchin the Sun Bake-Key West

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp
They're beginnin' to boil.
Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know it's nobody's fault.
Margaritaville  Jimmy Buffett

I don't want to give my age away, but it's been almost 30 years since we were in Key West.  Things have changed-and that's a giant understatement.  We didn't recognize the town as we roamed around.  Of course we remembered the bars-we were much younger and that's all we did when we were here -watched the sunset and hit Captain Tony's and Sloppy Joes ! Well, not that we are party poopers, but we don't drink as much as we used too but we still had a great time on this visit.

When I was looking for a campground for us to stay at I found Boyd's and liked the idea that they were right on the edge of town-NOT.   They put us in a tent site but charged us for a premium RV waterfront site-we negotiated a better site since they refused to negotiate the price in the tent site.  Then we had trouble with wifi,trouble with cable,trouble with the 110 and the shoreline was filthy-garbage all over !
Okay I'm finished complaining; for the premium price we paid we would have expected more than condescending I'm sorries. We definitely won't return here again. They get wonderful reviews but for the life of us we couldn't figure out how !
Moving on to the fun time we had in Key West:

We had so much fun with our little electric car rental from Sunshine Scooters-great people and we highly recommend them. We did the  24hour rental so when we returned to camp we charged it overnight and we were ready to go in the morning.

I will tell you that when we drove Ruby, our Roadtrek into Key West on our last day there-we had no trouble at all getting through the narrow streets-gotta love our Class B Roadtrek !

 The Episcopal Church in downtown Key West

 Loved the architectural elements on the old Strand Theater

When we arrived downtown we discovered it was time for the  Lobster Festival -right down the middle of Duval Street-lucky us !

 Jim has a new favorite-my Szechuan Stir Fry with pork -my new favorite too

 Brunch one day was a BLT with egg on a flour tortilla-yum.  And lunch the next day was a grilled Caprese Pannini-mozzarella,basil,fresh tomato -double yum !

We had the best Cuban food here for lunch -it was recommended to us by one of our Roadtrek friends and we highly recommend it too !

We definitely didn't let our bad experience at Boyd's ruin our visit to Key West.  We had a blast. The people were warm and welcoming; the drinks cold and strong; and the heat-well hot and humid-just like we remembered.  We're heading up to Long Key State Park for 17days before we head home.  And we are both looking forward to leaving the traffic and crowds behind.  Will we return to Key West-oh most definitely ! 

 Happy Trails my little conchs and parrot heads !  Safe Travels