March 19, 2010

Canoe trip up the Loxahatchee to Trapper Nelson's

Yesterday was March 5th and it was the most beautiful day we've had in a month. Bright sun, very warm and no wind. We decided to take a canoe ride up the Loxahatchee River to one of my favorite spots in the whole world, Trapper Nelson's homestead. I've told the Trapper story so many times, so don't worry I won't go over it AGAIN, but if you haven't heard it you can view the blog post I did a few years ago by searching the archives. But this post has a different theme...

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On the river we saw lots of alligators smiling at us as we passed.

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Ospreys kept cheering us on as we made our way up the winding river.

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Here we are coming around the bend, approaching Trapper's boat dock.

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No one else is here! There are usually many visitors and tour groups, but for now it is all ours.

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George next to some old bamboo; does he look nervous to you?

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Here we are at The Spot. Trapper Nelson's has now become an official "Significant Relationship Location".

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Can anyone see the difference? Hee Hee!! Look at my left hand! George proposed!!!!!

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The bottle of Veuve has been popped and we are Officially Engaged; we can't wait to get home and celebrate with family and friends.

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This was George's grandmother's ring!

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Posted by Heather at 10:35 AM | Comments (6)

March 06, 2010

Random Camping Shots

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Sunset at Jonathan Dickenson State Park

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My favorite spot in the bus: set up with my books, my ipod, my blanket and my snacks. Cozy!

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A visitor to our campsite

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You can see how tall he is next to this car.

Posted by Heather at 09:54 AM | Comments (4)

February 23, 2010

Our Weekend on Moon River

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I was too close to get a good full photo of Moon River, but here she is at the dock.

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View from the bow

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This is what you see when you enter the boat on the starboard side. The first thing I noticed was the beautifully tiled floor! And then the cozy reading nook on the right with a great selection of books.

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Looking back toward where you entered, and the reading area to your left,

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and this magnificent bar is to your right.

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Again looking at the entrance, to your left is a flight of stairs going down, and to your right is a flight of stairs going up. Let's go down first...

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To find a washer and dryer!

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This is one cabin,

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with a lovely head with glass shower stall (one of 4 showers on board, amazing)!

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And the second cabin in the bow of the boat, with a second head behind me.

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If we go up the flight of stairs we end up in the operating room. Not sure what the proper term is for this room, but it's where Eddie drives the boat.

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Here is Eddie in the captain's chair;

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and the control panel that includes a view of the engine room. We'll get there...

OK, back down the stairs to explore the rest of the boat. Passing where we entered the boat, we find the electrical panel:

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Don't Touch!!

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And into the galley (looking at the door we entered through). I'd love to have this beautiful wood paneling in my apartment!

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Here are the boys in the connected dining area of the galley. Please notice the wonderful prints on the wall behind Eddie;

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They are Hirschfeld prints of Audrey, my favorite actress.

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She's so Cute!

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Past the dining area and down a few steps we enter the living room, with lovely horsehair furniture.

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Wondering where the TV is? Well, let's push a few of these buttons...

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Pop! Here it is, rising up from these cabinets. George also managed to put the blinds up and down while playing around with the remote control.

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To the right of the steps where we entered the living room is the door to the engine room; I think this was the boys' favorite room on the whole boat.

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Eddie and Engine One

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Eddie and Engine Two

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Yes, the boys LOVE IT! They could spend all day down here.

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Like a kid at Disney World;

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Scott is eyeing these batteries; he'd love that power on his VW.

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George just has to touch everything, even these... um, oil filters.

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From the living room, descend a few steps to the remaining two cabins. This is where Scott slept;

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more beautiful artwork.

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And his head with another glass shower.

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And here is where we got to sleep! I think this was the nicest state room on the whole boat! I didn't want to fall asleep; I just wanted to sit up and look at how fancy the room was. I was also wishing I had fancier pajamas.

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Here is our bathroom; all mirrored walls and beautiful tiled floors.

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And the biggest bathtub I've ever seen on a boat. Hmm... OK, the ONLY bathtub I've ever seen on a boat.

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That concludes the tour... but not only did Eddie invite us to stay on the boat, he also invited us to join him and Linda, and a few of their friends, on a nice afternoon cruise the next day.

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Captain Eddie

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George peeking down

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The boys are ready to go!

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Linda is ready to go!

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Can it get any better than this?

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HA HA!! OH YEAH!!! Linda and her friend Mickey, who brought two bottles of Veuve Cliquot to enjoy on the cruise.

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It was a tight fit through the bridge!

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Linda with our first toast

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George had a great time; no sea sickness because we were so big you could barely tell we were rocking! Maybe we were so big we weren't rocking!

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Lounging with Linda

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Lounging with Scott

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Linda with George and Scott

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Hey Chrissy! I think that's Brad Pitt's house!

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"Hi Brad! I'm on a bigger boat that yours!"

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I think Scott might have found... Madonna's house from the 80's?

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Hmm... that's a nice house too; Better wave to them! So easy to make friends when you're on a yacht!

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Some more lounging...

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and a second bottle of Veuve!

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and back to lounging...

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So hard pretending to be Glamorous!

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Ahhhh.... life is good...

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Into the reading area for some more lounging.

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Of course I had to try out all the seats.

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You can see the champagne is catching up with me...

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George caught the lovely sunset...

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Looks lovely from here...

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too bad I missed it...

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Where was I?

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Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams (actually, more realistically Champagne INDUCED dreams)

Thank You Eddie and Linda SO MUCH for your generous hospitality!

Posted by Heather at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2010

Jack Maravell at the Osceola Street Cafe

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On Friday night we went to the Osceola Street Cafe in Stuart to see Jack Maravell perform. He is our friend from Essex Nick Maravell's brother.

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He covers a lot of Beatles songs and his band recently performed in a series of Beatles Tribute concerts.

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We met our friends Eddie and Linda for dinner there. We met Eddie and Linda in Essex this past summer, and they live within walking distance to the restaurant. It was during dinner that Eddie invited us to spend the night on the boat he captains, Moon River. Check out these links, while I work on getting lots of great photos of our weekend on the boat online:

PS: It's up for sale!

Posted by Heather at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2010

Lily and Alison's Visit

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Cannonball! Lily and Alison arrived on Saturday, and jumped right into the fun that was waiting for them.

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George got into the action too, with a little help from a noodle or two... or three.

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The slippery turtle at the turtle park; we had a bit of difficulty staying on this guy, as you can see below:

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Valentine's Day dinner with George and Edy

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Time for the beach;

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First a nap,

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then a sandcastle with double bridges connected by a tunnel through the castle.

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Here is our campsite where we spent two nights.

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George and Lily having fun,

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Alison looks relaxed,

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I'm having fun too!

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Lily likes Scott's camera,

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and she's off taking pictures!

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Alison did the cooking that night; what great shrimp and chicken!

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A walk around the park took us to the canoe dock on the Loxahatchee River.

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And a short nature walk.

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Here we are checking out the alligator's;

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this is the mama, (didn't get a photo of the papa but he was about 5 times bigger);

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Who can find the baby? There were 5 or 6 but we couldn't find them all this time.

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Of course we had to have sushi! It was great, and we got to sit on the floor!

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We miss you both already! Can't wait to see you in a few weeks; be home soon!

Posted by Heather at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2010

Jonathan Dickenson State Park

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This is where we camped this week. We'll be back on Monday.

Lily and Alison are arriving tomorrow and we can't wait! We'll spend two nights with George's parents and then camping for the rest of the week.

Posted by Heather at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2010

On the Road Again

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First night camping at Wal-Mart! Only a few steps away for whatever you might need, from ice to McDonalds!

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Headed north on A1A, we stopped for some sun at a beach in Deerfield.

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Our next stop was the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center near Boca Raton, where we learned a lot!

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This is wild coffee! I also learned that potato beetle larva doesn't have a hard shell until adulthood, so to protect itself from predators it smears its own toxic poo all over it's back; just an interesting fact.

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George on the top of the lookout tower.

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Heather at the bottom of the lookout tower.

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We also saw lots of animals;

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Humungo lobster

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See anything here?

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How about now!

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Hee hee, and here are his feet sticking out.

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Nighty poo little racoon, don't poo in your nighty.

Posted by Heather at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

Last Night in Key West

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This is our last sunset in Key West.

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We had our good bye dinner on Sunday night with Stu and Terry. Terry lent us two bicycles to use while in town and riding around Key West was the most fun I've had! Stu gave us his beautiful painting of Higgs Beach that he painted himself. We'll miss you until next year!

Posted by Heather at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2010

Still Having Fun

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Oh yes, Life is Good

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George collecting coconuts in his basket.

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This is the famous Kermit, who has the best pie on the island! And if you won't take my word for it, look him up in National Geographic's new book "Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary PLaces to Eat Around the Globe;" page 292, right next to some place in Hong Kong.

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At first I thought Sebby from the Seal came to visit me!! But his name tag says Carlos Fuente; maybe it's his long lost cousin.

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Ft. Zach in the morning

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Egret in the morning

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Spinning Lawn Art

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Lizard getting some sun

Posted by Heather at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2010

Fun with Jeff and Joanne

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Jeff and Joanne and Heather at Conch Republic Happy Hour

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Hogsbreath Saloon, now we're really having fun!

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Joanne's idea of vacation!

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More cutouts, we can't resist

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One man band at Mallory Square

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Sailing away into the sunset

Posted by Heather at 11:01 AM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2010

Key West Race Week, 2010

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This is the boat John Peterson is on; he's a buddy from Essex. I only bumped into him once on the street, which was fun! He couldn't make it to happy hour as he was swabbing the deck... heh heh. And I missed his invitations to check out the huge sailors only tent. Maybe next year.

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He's on there somewhere; I was using Scott's triple zoom lens but not the tripod, so the shots came out too fuzzy.

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I think he's that one...


Posted by Heather at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2010

Day to Day Key West

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Our beach, where we spend a lot of our time sunning, swimming and sitting in the waves.

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Key West bikes

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Lunchtime in the bus

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Cute bi-plane

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Kestral that hangs around

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Heather's afternoon reading spot

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Scott's reading spot

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Heather and Scott at the Raw Bar

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Turtle Kraals at sunset

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Blue lights on Boat Row, Historic Harbor Walk

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Ghost Tour guide John

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Bicycle Man one

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Bicycle Man two

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Heather in the mirror

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Scott and Heather watching the racing boats go out for the day

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A trip to the aquarium

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George discovering sea life

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Fishy fishy one

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Fishy fishy two

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Flamingo Tongue Snail

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A trip to Boca Chica to watch the fighter jets take off

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Big orange ship

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The art festival is back with lots of pieces to see in the park. This one is called "tsuki no mon ni: yurei no mori, the forest of ghosts" and you can write messages on it to people or pets you've lost and at the end of the art festival they are going to burn it. I wrote to Mr. Wells.

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See you soon!

Posted by Heather at 02:41 PM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2010

More photos of Alison's visit

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At the Conch Republic

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Finnegan's Wake, most annoying guy ever!!

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George's artistic photo through the shamrock

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Margaritas and Sushi, Yum!

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What kind of dog is this?

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Last day, gettting some last sun before she goes home to snow.

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And Key Lime Pie!!

Posted by Heather at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2010

Let's Splice the Main Brace!

Last week George and I attended a lecture presented by the Key West Maritime Historical Society about The History of Naval Rum. George donned his new Pusser’s Rum t-shirt and we arrived early to get a good seat. Good thing we did, as the maximum occupancy for the room was reached quite early and some were turned away at the door. I hope they are able to present it again for those who missed it, as it was a very engaging talk and we both enjoyed it very much.

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The special guest lecturer was an expert indeed: Admiral Sir Edward Vernon. Born in Westminster England on November 12, 1684, he joined the Royal Navy in 1700 when he was about to turn 16. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming a Captain in 1706 at the age of 22, and was in command of HMS Rye. In 1739 Vice Admiral Vernon led a fleet in the famous “War of Jenkins Ear” and with a very small force, he captured Porto Bello during a glorious victory. His later success at Cartagena in 1741 was less than glorious and he returned to England, where he served the last 4 of his 46 years of Naval Service and retired.

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Life at sea in the 1600’s and 1700’s was hard and tough, and Admiral Vernon was concerned with his crew’s well being; most other Admirals of his time were not. A daily issue of alcohol, referred to as a Tot, was to compensate for the hardships experienced at sea, and also helped to keep morale high and was believed to instill courage before battle. It’s no surprise that it also was the cause of many accidents and led to many punishments. In an attempt to prevent these, Admiral Vernon was the pioneer of change to the long standing tradition of alcohol rationing in the British Navy. He is most well known for his proclamation in 1740 that the standard issue of rum was to be mixed with water. Known to wear a Grogram coat, he had earned the nickname of “Old Grogram” or sometimes merely “Old Grog.” Thus the mixture of rum and water soon became known as Grog!

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Beer was originally the standard issue for seamen; each man was given 1 gallon per day. Small beer was very weak and spoiled within a few weeks, but was better and lasted longer than water stored in casks. Strong beer, which was frequently watered down, lasted longer and was therefore issued on longer trips abroad. India Pale Ale was a highly hopped beer and very strong so it was able to survive the long voyage to India. Beer, however, was a constant cause for complaint; it spoiled quickly and took up voluminous cargo space.

Only so much beer could be stored on board and captains would replenish alcohol stocks with whatever was available: Wines from Portugal and the Mediterranean; Fortified wines (brandy added) such as port or sherry; Arrack was a strong drink made in the Orient from fermented palm sap, fruits, rice, or molasses; and of course Rum which was made from sugar cane in West Indies and Caribbean.

Columbus introduced Sugar Cane to the West Indies in 1493. The first rum was made in Brazil, Barbados and Jamaica. By the mid 1700‘s, Rum was made throughout the Caribbean. The sweet juices from the sugar cane are first turned into molasses. This syrup is then fermented and distilled into rum, which is then aged in casks giving it the gold color, or charred casks for darker color. Rum was cheap in the West Indies. It also stowed easily and didn’t deteriorate. Sailors instantly preferred the taste of West Indies & Caribbean Rum to the beer they had been used to.

When Vice Admiral William Penn’s fleet conquered Jamaica in 1655, shipboard supplies of beer were diminishing so Rum was purchased locally. This was the first use of Rum in the Royal Navy. Admiral Vernon served in the West Indies from 1708 to 1712, commanding the 60 gun ship Jersey.

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Before 1740 the daily rum ration per person was one half pint (80z), measured out above, of 96 proof. It was drank neat in one gulp with no “heel taps,” which meant without putting it down. Besides the ships stores of rum even more was smuggled aboard by enterprising sailors.

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The Scuttled Butt on Deck

On August 21, 1740 Admiral Vernon ordered the standard issue of one half pint of rum to be mixed with one quart of water. It was mixed on deck in a scuttled butt (open cask) to ensure no man was defrauded his allowance. He also ordered that it be rationed out in two servings: the first between 10am and 12pm, and the second between 4 and 6pm. He encouraged the addition of sugar and limes, which was also helped in the prevention of scurvy. The original ratio in 1740 was 4 parts water to one part rum, however this resulted in discontent. The standard ration became 3 parts water to 1 part rum; two part grog was more popular but not a standard measure, and Officer’s were allowed “Neaters” or pure rum.

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Admiral Vernon calling "Up Spirits!" on the boatswain's pipe

Following dinner at 1 bell (12:30), the petty officer of the day would remind the Officer of the day that it was time for “Up Spirits”. The boatswain was called to play “Nancy Dawson” or another lively tune which was the signal for the cook of each mess to repair to the Rum Tub. The requisite amount of rum from the spirit room was brought topside and mixed in the Scuttled Butt with water. The Store’s Assistant- “Jack Dusty” was to keep track of how many rations went to each mess. He was nicknamed Jack Dusty because he was in charge of making the bread, and was usually covered in flour.

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Rationing out of the Scuttled Butt

Still, even mixing water into the half pint of 96 proof rum didn’t reduce the accidents, or behavioral problems and resulting punishments; many began to advocate a reduction in the daily rum issue, beyond the watering down. In 1824 the Admiralty reduced the rum ration to ¼ pint per day, and compensated the seamen with a monetary bonus and increased meat ration. Grog was also restricted to noon issue only. Conveniently the Imperial Gallon was introduced that same year, which increased measures by 20%. So while the ration was reduced in theory, the actual amount was not much different.

The issue of grog came under fire many times. Eventually a ¼ pint a day was still considered too much, and “Rum Rats” always had a way of getting extra supplies on board. In 1850 the ration was cut in half again: 1/8 pint per person per day. When discussions began of ending the tradition, there were disagreements of how and when to ease off the rum consumption. It would be difficult to deal with the response from the seamen during peace time, while they also considered it equally offensive to end it during war time. Finally, it was determined there was “no place for rum in the modern sophisticated Navy” and the long standing tradition of daily rum rations ended on August 1, 1970.

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Enjoying a tot of grog

The American Connection
During the war of Jenkins Ear in 1739, the North American Colonies provided 3000 volunteers to assist the British Navy. Serving along side Admiral Vernon was Lawrence Washington who, upon returning to Virginia, built his plantation and named it Mount Vernon after him!

The American Colonials serving with the Royal Navy became accustomed to their daily grog. The Continental Navy issued ½ pint per man each day and the US Navy (which originated from the Continental Navy) re-established the tradition in 1795 and also began issuing ½ pint of rum per sailor per day. In 1806 they tried to substitute whisky as it was considered “more American,” but the sailors objected. By 1835 the rum ration was restricted to Officers only, and on September 1, 1862 Congress and Lincoln ended the “Up Spirits” ration, over 100 years before British Royal Navy.

Some Terminology

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While ashore, British Sailors sometimes referred to their rum by the compass: a “Northwester” was a 50:50 mixture of rum and water; a “West Northwester” was two parts water to one part rum; “More Northing” is a request for more rum in the mixture; and “Due North” is a “Neater“, or pure rum

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Square Rigged Ships
The line controlling each end of the yard (horizontal bar) is called a Brace. The Main Brace is the largest and most important of all the Braces. The Main Brace could become worn and damaged in heavy weather, or from shot during battle and could part. A parted Main Brace must be spliced, which was an exacting task demanding speed, resilience and knowledge. A small reward was thus justified, so the sailor was given an extra ration of rum or grog. This would disgruntle the other sailors who wanted the rationing to be fair and even for everybody. Eventually whenever the Main Brace was spliced, the entire crew would be included in the reward of an extra ration. “Let’s Splice the Main Brace!” became a signal or invitation for all to drink.

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These flags mean "Splice the Main Brace"

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Uh oh! Looks like George is enlisting!

All the information and images in this post are credited to the Key West Maritime Historical Society. The presenter acknowledged the book "Nelson's Blood, The Story of Naval Rum" by James Pack.

Posted by Heather at 12:20 PM | Comments (2)

January 16, 2010

It's been a few days...

Hi! It's been a few days, so this will be a long post! We've been very busy having lots of fun fun fun!!

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Alison flew in on Thursday, and Scott arrived in his super cool VW a few hours later.

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Alison seemed to have brought the nice weather with her, from where who knows, but we're not complaining! It's been the nicest weather we've had so far.

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We spent some time at Ft. Zach soaking up the sun!

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And we've been to Mallory Square to see some of the performances.

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Angel Statue

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Fire Eater

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George and Scott and an old wreck; near the Wrecker's Museum.

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Duval Street: first stop is Shorties to pick up some beers for the walk.

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George took us to the Hard Rock Cafe to admire their amazing collection of Rock and Roll paraphernalia.

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To Alison's and my delight the second floor ladies room is haunted! Here we are in the haunted bathroom stall.

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This room is in the haunted area, and some people feel a cold draft when you open this door to nowhere. We didn't feel anything.

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George really liked these snake skin boots, worn by Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones in the late 60's. His new work boots?

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Scott and Paul McCartney's guitar.

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Scott, Heather and Alison in front of Led Zeppelin's display and David Bowie's red suit... or pajamas? No, I think that was his suit.

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We had fun... even though we didn't see any ghosts.

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These mannequins look familar.

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Interesting knife holders; They call this The Ex.

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A late night snack at Virgilios; a very nice bar.

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Heh heh... funny stuff.

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And another late night snack at the Bottle Cap.

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Where they were having karaoke night!! Woohooo!!!

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Heather singing Dr. Dre and Eminem's "Forgot About Dre"; it was a duet but I sang both parts. It was so much fun I had to do another!

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My second song was Dynamite Hack's cover of Eazy E's "Boys in the Hood". The small crowd was very amused by a white chick attempting some gangsta rap... and I was GOOD!

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Having a laugh before bed

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Alison and I took a tour of the USS Mohawk this morning.

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And we've spent the afternoon at Boca Chica trying to get photos of the fighter jets taking off. I'll get Scott's photos and post them soon.

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This morning was also the Wounded Warrior Ride. A group of wounded veterans rode their bikes all the way from Miami. They rolled into Key West around 11:30, and it was a very inspiring reception.

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The color guard standing ready.

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Here come the riders!

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National Anthem

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Posted by Heather at 04:03 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2010


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Oh! Watch out for that fin!! This blog is dedicated to Chrissy, who was so eager to see a fin in the water on our vacation. Even though it isn't the shark she was hoping for, maybe this will compensate anyway.

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I wasn't able to get a really great shot, because they were pretty far away. So instead I've posted a LOT of pretty-good-but-not-great shots. Quantity over quality today.

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By the way, it's still cold down here.

Posted by Heather at 11:21 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2010

Beach Day

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George caught a fish! Easy enough... lots of fish have been washing ashore because the water is too cold for them to survive.

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Looking for sea glass is much more rewarding!

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The sun feels great, once you get out of the wind.

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Back to the bus to warm up!

Posted by Heather at 02:26 PM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2010

Biking around town

It's been a chilly week down here, which has limited the outdoor activities we usually enjoy, and also our motivation to even be outside. So when the temps went up to 70 on Friday we jumped on our new Key West bikes and took off to enjoy the sun!

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I love this hat.

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On our way through the cemetery we came across this headstone that had been completely grown over by this very large tree. Very cool!

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Posted by Heather at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

Our Feathered Friends

We've been hanging out near a bird sanctuary and we've been visited quite regularly by some great looking birds. The first five photos are of one bird, and the last four photos are of a different bird. George thought the second one was a kestrel but I'm not so sure after seeing it's white speckled belly. I think Dirk will be able to clear this up for us, so I'll email him and then re-post what he thinks they are.

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Posted by Heather at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)