Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Well, howdie. It has been a while since my last post so to make up for it here is an extra long post.
We are making our slow journey home. The boat has behaved itself fairly well except for a broken fan belt on the generator which dear Gary was able to fix. He has been amazing and has fixed the majority of our problems saving us visits into a marina. Hmmm, that means I can make up a "honey-do" list for him when we get home early next week.
We have visited Jeckyll Island, Georgia, Charleston, SC and Magnolia House and Gardens since I last wrote and you can guess which I enjoyed the best. Yes, you are right - Magnolia House and Gardens.
Before I show you photos let me tell you about Jeckyll Island in Georgia. It was home to millionaire cottages in the 1920s and 1930s many of which are now museums. There is also a first class hotel on the island for the prestigious client. It had a croquet pitch and to play you had to wear all white as though you were playing tennis at Wimbledon.

The cottages ranged from the small and quaint to the large and glamorous. Many rich personalities have stayed in some of them and I cannot remember whom at the moment.

The island has one important piece of history and that is in the form of a telephone from where the first trans continental phone call was made on January 25th, 1915.
Instead of walking around the island, we borrowed bicycles from the marina and rode into town. There we caught a tram and had a leisurely ride around the island with the narrator telling us all about the historic houses that we passed. On the back seat in front of us was the smallest of tree frogs. He had hitched a ride and stayed with us for about a mile before hopping off.
From Jeckyll Island our journey took us further north to Charleston, SC where we spent a pleasant couple of days due to the most perfect weather you could wish for.
Again, we took a tram tour of Charleston to see some of the historic sights and homes. Charleston has a very famous fountain in the shape of a pineapple which we had to go and see.
 From the "Battery" area of Charleston you could just see Fort Sumter in the distance noted for two battles of the American Civil War.
Whilst in Charleston we hired an UBER and went to see Magnolia House and Gardens several miles from the outskirts of Charleston. What a wonderful day it turned out to be. We saw gardens, slave homes, plantation house, a swamp, went for a tram ride and a boat ride all in one day.
The 5 historic slave quarters were better than many although very poor by today's standards. One of them was lived in until the the late 1990s. The man and his wife had 13 children in this one small house. He worked on the gardens of the plantation. The structures themselves were constructed in the 1850s. One of them had newspapers on the walls and ceiling to help keep it warm in the cold SC winters.

Magnolia House and Plantation is one of the oldest plantations in the south and sits on the Ashley River.The plantation dates back to 1676 and was under the control of the Dayton family for 15 generations. It was originally a rice plantation (SC's  golden crop because it was worth its weight in gold). Slaves from this plantation developed a creolized Gullah language and culture, retaining many elements from Africa.

As you all probably know, I LOVE gardens and this was no exception. I could have spent 2 days there and not got bored. Now for my photos and I have a lot. Here goes.
The first is a nice reflection I took of Gary in one of the conservatories.

On the boat trip I got some nice photos of alligators.

I am not sure what is on the alligator's back. It maybe moss.
No blog is complete without pictures of birds!!

The above photos are mostly of the Great White Heron. The next few are of the anhinga in flight or drying her wings. She has no oil in her feathers so in order to fly after getting wet she has to dry out her wings.

The next couple of photos are of the Great Blue Heron and her chick.

We went for a walk in the swamp and I took many lovely photos. There were alligators and wood ducks sunning themselves on wooden ramps built especially for that purpose.

Gary spotted a baby turtle. He was probably only 2" in length so how Gary saw him, I do not know.

I spotted the above turtle covered in moss.
We had a bit of a laugh in Charleston. We have to have the septic tank pumped out at least once every week or so. Well, the toilet on a boat is called the head. We saw this mobile pump out boat called "The Grateful Head" which gave us quite a chuckle.

I shall finish with my usual picture of a sunset. There have not been many spectacular sunsets unfortunately.

Well, we are about 5-6 days from home depending on the weather and the behavior of the boat so this may be last blog. I thank-you for taking this journey with us. Be safe and love one another.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Key West

Well, we have finally made it down to the most southerly point of the United States after an eventful journey. We were nearly at our destination when we heard a very large bang and smelled smoke coming from the starboard engine. Crikey, I thought, what has gone wrong now? Gary quickly turned off the engine to discover the warning light on saying the engine was over heating. I had driven for quite a while and not noticed the light and neither had Gary when he took over. We put the blower on to get rid of the smell and turned on the other engine for the remainder of our journey into Key West. We thought docking might be a problem having only one engine but Gary managed to dock us safely without any problems and with the assistance of a fellow boater on shore. Gary went into the engine compartment underneath our bed and discovered a very large hole blown in a water pipe. We are now awaiting the arrival of the spare part so that we can leave Key West on Wednesday.
I forgot to mention in my last blog that we passed two grain silos with figures painted on their sides. They were quite artistically done and impressive.

Having been to Key West 3 times before it is difficult not to repeat myself. It is a city bustling with crowds, noisy at times and is comprised of many, many bars filled with young people enjoying themselves. Being "old" we now avoid the noisy, raucous bars and settle for more sedate surroundings. It is however, one of my favourite cities due to the ambiance and feeling of frenetic excitement about the place.
We are moored in one of the city's busiest and very expensive marinas and will be here for approx one week depending upon the winds. We do not like to motor in winds over 10-12 miles per hour in open seas or bays as we really get rocked around and I am prone to sea sickness. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next 10 days is not good as the winds are supposed to be 13 mph and higher. The marina at night is a pretty place to visit as many boats have coloured lights on their decks and rigging.
We do not have any pretty lights on our boat.
We have visited many places of interest during our stay. One of which was Jimmy Buffet's Restaurant.  Jimmy Buffet is known for the following songs "It's Five O Clock Somewhere", "Margueritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise". He was not present at the restaurant. We had a nice meal there and our first slice of Key Lime Pie.
We took the Hop On Hop Off Trolley and visited East Martello Fort which turned out to be quite disappointing and not really worth the visit. They had a Teddy Bear, "Robert" on show in a glass enclosed enclosure. He belonged to a young boy many years ago and when the boy was in trouble with his parents he would always blame Robert saying "Robert did it". Even into his adult years, Robert got the blame for many things his owner did. Well, I took his photograph and then read the notice that said if you want to take photos you have to ask "Robert" for permission or bad luck will fall on you. I am now waiting for that bad luck to happen.
On the trolley tour we passed the local cemetery and noticed that most of the grave stones were above ground like they are in New Orleans. These, however are above ground due to possible flooding from hurricanes and to the ground being too hard to bury the deceased too deeply.

I am a lover of flowers and quite a few are in bloom down here due to the lovely warm weather. This flower caught my eye but I do not know what it is.

Key West is inundated with lovely turn of the century old homes each with their own particular style. They were really nice to see in tree lined streets and roadways.
Key West is not only known for Ernest Hemingway's 6 toed cats but also chickens. There are chickens all over the place and they are protected by law. Hurt a chicken and you may be given a $500 fine (and that is not poultry!!!)..

Along one of the streets outside the local cinema was a life size model of Marilyn Monroe. Why it was there, I do not know.The statue is taken from the the film "The Seven Year Itch". This scene of her skirt being blown up by a subway vent so infuriated her husband, Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio that he divorced her shortly afterwards.

 No visit to Key West is possible without visiting Mallory Square to see the sun set. We went to see this spectacle along with several hundred other visitors each vying for the best place to take a photo. I managed to get a fairly good spot. There was a lady behind me with a dog in her arms and she asked me to move so that the dog could see the sunset. I politely refused her request. I took several photos but unfortunately the sun set into some clouds. We also were hoping to see the "Green Flash". A phenomenon that happens when the sun sets into the horizon into water. We hope one day to see this spectacle.

 Mallory Square is known for its street performers and some of them are very good. They are mostly jugglers, unicycle riders and acrobats with a good comedic patter. They can certainly draw in the crowds and hope for donations when the act is finished. The one we watched was very good. He climbed on top of 6 balanced chairs and then juggled some torches that had been lit on fire much to the applause of the audience.
Finally, we visited the Key West Aquarium and saw many different types of fish and turtles. I made a wonderful discovery... I found "Nemo"!!!
The aquarium gave talks on different topics, one of which was lion fish, an invasive species from the Indo-Pacific. The fish is characterised by a conspicuous warning colouration with red, white, creamy or black bands. They are now on the wanted list because they are voracious predators and they are venomous. Their spines contain a toxin which, if you come into contact with it causes extreme pain that can last for several days, sweating, respiratory disease and even paralysis. The female can lay eggs every four days and lays up to 2 million eggs in one year. The eggs are contained in a mucous sac that tastes terrible so have no predators. They are popular aquarium fish as they are so pretty.
Finally, there is a beautiful bronze statue in Key West depicting "The Wreckers". These were men who had been pirates, buccaneers or privateers who turned to a legal way of earning money from ship wrecks. They would wait for a ship to flounder and then race out to the ship to "rescue" its cargo. The first person to get there claimed the best part of the loot for himself and then shared the saved loot with his fellow wreckers and the passengers who owned the goods.