Monday, May 12, 2014

Anchorage Resort, Key Largo

I have my computer minutes back so here I go again.
We are now in Key Largo after spending time in Key West and Islamorada. The weather has been great, almost too hot for me with my "personal summers" and the humidity has been high making the heat even worse.We went snorkelling over a coral reef and saw many lovely fish, I unfortunately lost the underwater camera so had to buy a refurbished one on E-Bay. We never got back to the reef to take photos after the camera arrived due to high winds and waves. That was such a shame as it was quite beautiful beneath the waves.
I am trying to think where to start. I know, with Allan's arrival last Tuesday. 
Allan flew into Key West after having arrived in the U.S. via Philadelphia and Miami. He was greeted with temps in the middle 80s so we persuaded him to change into shorts before going on a tour of Key West. We showed him the main sites to wet his appetite for what he wanted to see the next day after a good night's sleep.
The above photo is of a restaurant (honest). It was quite popular but we never ate there.
 This boat pulled in alongside the restaurant we were eating at. I just had to go over and take a look at what the fishermen and women had caught. They were not pretty fish (except to other fish, I guess) but I was told they made for good eating.
The above photo is of the southern most tip of the United States (per Gary).
There was a sail boat race going on which included several multi sailed boats which looked really pretty in the prevailing winds.

On the evening we took Allan to Mallory Square for the sunset and to watch the street performers.

The street performers have quite a patter and an excellent sense of humour. All require audience participation and a donation at the end of their performance.
We showed Alan the following houses:
Ernest Hemmingway's, The Audubon House which really should be called the Geiger House, The Cusson's House and the house where the Women's Gild of Key West meet. At Hemmingway's house the 6 toed cats were present. They have 56 all together living in various kennels placed around the property. As you know, I am a cat lover and just had to see the cats. The staff feed the cats and make sure they are all well and in good health. Everyone I saw was wearing a flea collar.
This is a view of the Audubon House. However, Audubon only visited the house and never painted here. The house belonged to a man named Geiger, who was a ship salvager. When ships were wrecked on the coast of Key West he and his men road out to salvage what they could. He became the richest man in Key West from this type of work. Can you guess what the strange objects are below?
                                 Yep, you're right.  Early roller skates.

                                    Ernest Hemmingway's House
                                           One of the 6 toed cats.
                                                      Cat graves.
                                                   Cat house!!
                                               Cusson's House
We went up to the Widow's walk to see the view and was greeted with a nice sight of the aluminium roof. Apparently, all roofs in the Keys have now to be made of Aluminium because of the threat of hurricanes.
I thought the above was a telephone box. It was an early elevator.
Of course, no visit to Key West is complete without visiting the Butterfly House. Even though I had been there twice before, I just had to take Allan as he seems to like nature as much as I do. We spent a very pleasant 2 hours in there photographing butterflies and birds and listening to classical music. We went very early in the morning so the butterflies were quite active and a lot of them were eating breakfast. Gary chose to stay with the boat and clean out the septic tank!!!!!

                                  Allan, giving a butterfly a free ride.
                                                Meal sharing.
                                              Ready, steady, go.
                                        What magnificent colours.

On our way back to the boat we passed the local Key West Theatre now Drug Store. A local told me it used to be a club for Sailors who sailed into Key West with lots of ladies available. I got a laugh at the sign on the side of the Theatre -
That's my naughty British humour in action!!!

After we left Key West, we stopped at Islamorada to visit the "Theatre of the Sea". Again, we had been before and had a very enjoyable time so we wanted Allan to see it. The "Theatre" is a conservation area for many types of animals who have been injured and cannot return to the wild plus non-injured animals. The staff have shows involving parrots, sea lions and dolphins. You can take a bottomless boat ride where a dolphin will jump up through a hoop in the middle of the boat and perform leaps for the visitors at each side of the boat. At everything you attend staff lecture the audience on the need to protect and conserve wildlife, which I like. I recommend this as a place to visit.
This is Quasimodo, a turtle that was unable to float so the facility built him a life jacket to help him. He has been a resident at the "Theatre" for quite a few years.
This turtle had the opposite problem - he could not sink or dive so the staff added weights to the back of his shell to help him swim under the water.
                          This "fish" enjoyed swimming with the fishes.
                                       Man, look at those lips!!!
Gary getting a feel of the dolphin. I was jealous, I wanted a feel!!!!!
A dolphin showing us his tricks in the bottomless boat. He'd dive through hoops to give us a good show!!!!
An iguana camouflaged in the dead leaves.

A sea-lion doing its walrus impression. I thought it was an impression of Gary!!
After leaving the keys, we boated up to Miami and stayed for a couple of days so that we could see our neighbour's daughter, Rachel. She is in Medical School and we hoped to be able to take her out to dinner one night. Luckily, she was finished her finals and was free to spend an evening with us. We went to a very nice Restaurant on Key Biscayne called the Rusty Pelican. The restaurant faced west so had lovely views of sunset over Miami.

Whilst in Miami I wanted to visit an historic house built by the founder of International Harvester. The house called Vizcaya was built in 1914-16 and was quite a show piece. Mr. Deering brought in furniture and complete rooms from Italy, Spain and Greece. The house was OK (I found it too dark inside) but the gardens were exceptional. Mr Deering paid for an Italian Formal Garden and it was spectacular. It reminded me of Tivoli Gardens in Italy that we visited with Gary's parents. There were flower beds, trees, bridges, statues, alcoves etc etc.

If you look at the water's edge you will see some poles resembling the poles gondolas are tied to in Venice. That was because Mr. Deering owned a gondola to take him to the concrete island and back.

A view of the concrete barge/island built as a barrier between the Bay of Biscayne and the water's edge near the house. It was supposed to protect the house if a hurricane hit. It did not work out as planned as the house was flooded several times. 
                                  Another view of the concrete barge.

                           Mr Deering's indoor/outdoor swimming pool.
 The day before we arrived in Miami a boat rowed in from Morocco. It was approx 14 feet long, could sleep one person under cover at a time and was manned or womanned by a man and his wife. We could not fathom out where they kept the food and water. There was no shade and nowhere to stand up. They had no boat accompanying them and actually capsized once on the way over. What an experience. I thought we had had the trip of a lifetime but that one beats ours "hands" down. You can see a video of them by Googling Riann Manser.

After Miami, we boated to Fort Lauderdale, which is where we are now. On Saturday we visited Flamingo Park. This is a park for injured animals and has a walk through aviary with many different types of birds. Because the birds rely on humans to survive, they do not run, walk, limp or fly away from you. I saw cattle egrets, herons, ibis, pelicans, storks, whistling ducks, mandarin ducks, anhingas, cormorants and many more. I was in hog heaven or should I say "bird heaven". When I went home in February my father commented that I take a lot of bird photos. Well, in the last week I have taken about 300. Sorry, Dad. You have a lot more birds to see when we get home in August.

                                                Bottom's up.

                                                  Bath time for birdies.

                                A sword fight between rival pelicans!
                                         Oh goody, here comes dinner!

Can anyone guess what this is? Answer in next blog.

Yesterday, we went to Shark Valley, a national park known for its alligators and birds (yes, more birds). Shark Valley is in the Everglades which is known as the River of Grass. We went for a 15 mile Tram ride and saw a few interesting things but the most exciting occurrence happened at the end of the day just before we left. Gary saw an alligator gliding along slowly in the water. Only his eyes and head were visible. I went to have a closer look and saw something sticking up in front of the alligator. I gasped as I thought the alligator had an anhinga in its mouth. Unperturbed by humans, the alligator swam to the bank of the dyke, walked up the bank side and across the road in front of the three of us. In its mouth was a 5 foot long not very happy snake (alive). The alligator crossed the road and went into the mangroves on the other side. This gives a whole new meaning to take away meals!!!  We also saw a very large turtle attempting to dig out a nest at the side of the road. Unfortunately, by the time I got there she decided she did not like the spot and was making her way back down to the water.

Well, if you have managed to stay with me and read all this I must congratulate you. I am typing this in a marina with v e r y slow internet. In fact, it takes 5 mins to down load one photo. Gary has given me permission to down load them back on the boat.

I send out belated wishes to all the Mothers out there. Yesterday was Mother's Day so Happy Mother's Day, Czerna.
I hope not to have such a long blog next time.

Kingston Rover Loop Map

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