Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Family, Friends and Jimmy Buffett

Well - it has been a few days. Somehow I equate what we have done to how many pictures we have. And, since there are not a lot of pictures of different activities from the past few days, I was thinking there wasn’t much to write about. But, as I sit here thinking about it - there is way too much to tell.

We left the Cape Canaveral area with our heads spinning from the sight of the launch!! Next destination was Sarasota to visit with cousins Julie and Mike AND to celebrate Gary’s x#@-something birthday.

Monday was a settle-in day and getting ready for a ‘celebration’ day for Gary. Tuesday - b-day - was wonderful - we joined the circus for a day:-))!!

Our morning was slow and easy - then off to meet up with the Cuz’s and wander St. Armand’s Circle and enjoy a relaxing lunch. Then, Gary, Julie and I went to the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum where there is a fabulous exhibit of “Howard’s Miniature Circus”. Howard Tibbals spent years traveling and studying the circus to get all the details accurate in this miniature replica of the circus in the early 1900’s when it still traveled by train and was a ‘Main Event’. AND it IS incredible - right down to the little forks and knives! Gary even tried to get into the act.

At the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum with Cousin Julie

The Howard Tibbals Miniature Circus was amazing

Hanging with the crew

We also toured the home of Mabel & John Ringling - and took a quick ‘spin’ around the Ballroom in their house -

Dancing at the Ringling Mansion

Then we toured the Ringling’s private train car that accompanied the Circus train. I guess this was there version of the ‘Magic Bus’.

John and Mabel Ringling's "RV"

This FUN afternoon was followed by a wonderful Birthday Dinner for Gary. All in all - a VERY NICE DAY!

Wednesday the 4 of us (Julie, Mike and us) headed to Key West with a quick overnight stop in Key Largo. Thursday we settled in to ‘our spot with a view’ which would be our home for the next five days.

A great view from our camp site in Key West

There was much to do in Key West - besides just chillin’ and drinkin’ and eatin’ a cheese burger in paradise. We took the Conch Train to get the overview of this little island, wandered Duval Street, biked into ‘downtown’ and had breakfast with the locals at Harpoon Harry’s, wandered Duval Street, ate and drank.

We did take time for a little history. The Navy has a significant presence here in Key West, although not what it used to be. In 1890, the US Navy built an 8700 square foot home (really a duplex) on the waterfront to house the base commander and paymaster. As time went on, the wall separating the two units was removed and the building was modified to one home. Harry S. Truman had visited and loved it so much that from 1946 to 1952 he used the house 175 days as both a retreat and functioning White House - thus it became known as the Harry S. Truman Little White House. In subsequent years President JFK met here with the British Prime Minister just prior to the Bay of Pigs (1961), US Secretary of State Colin Powell hosted peace talks at the dining room table between Armenia and Azerbaijan (2001) and the Carters (1996) and the Clintons (2005) visited for a little R&R.

President Truman's Little White House

The Navy is also ‘home’ to the Blue Angels - and they just happened to be here for an air show this week-end (they hadn’t been here for 10 years!). AND, we had front row seats as the air base is just across the water from our little ‘parking spot’:-) Our friends Bill & Louise (you know - the goat ranchers we stayed with in Houston) were now here with us and we all settled in for cheeseburgers in this paradise and the air show. A glorious day!!!

Terrific views of the Blue Angel's performance from our camp site

Look out!! They are coming for us.

Don’t know how we could ask for anything after this wonderful day - but it just kept getting better. We had dinner at Blue Heaven - the subject of Jimmy Buffett’s song ‘Blue Heaven Rendevouz’. Food was very good and the atmosphere can’t be beat for here in Key West - expecially the little chicks and roosters roaming around between the tables!!

Our Blue Haven Rendezvous....

...with Bill & Louise

After dinner was a short stroll up Duval street - where Gary & Bill were approached by some of the most interesting ‘women’ of the street. Next was dessert at Better Than Sex! No lie - that is the name of this little restaurant that only serves desserts and wine. AND - their desserts are BETTER THAN SEX!!!

Desert at Better Than Sex was orgasmic

Sunday was a peaceful day visiting with friends who live in this paradise - Bruce and Risha - in their beautiful home lovingly built with incredible attention to detail. After watching the completion of the Masters - the six of us (Risha, Bruce, Louise, Bill and us) met up for a wonderful, relaxing dinner at Lattitudes - a boat ride away to an escape island!

Monday we were to head over to the Dry Tortugas to take in another National Park. However, a ‘little’ electrical problem prevented that trip. I am happy to say that the problem turned out to be the RV park’s and not Magic’s - but the discovery of that made us ‘miss the boat’ to the NP. So - we spent the day on Duval St and headed to the Southernmost point in the Continental US and actually drove all the way into Key West on Hwy 1 to be sure we completed the trip to the end - or is it the beginning - of Hwy 1!

Only 90 miles from here to Cuba

The end of the line..

...is just the beginning of the next adventure

Tuesday we were on our way again. This time to the Everglades. Unlike early parks established to protect scenery, Everglades was created to preserve a portion of this vast ecosystem as a wildlife habitat. The park’s unique mix of tropical and temperate plants and animals - including the manatee, alligator, crocodile and Florida panther - has prompted UNESCO to grant it international biosphere reserve status as well as World Heritage site designation. We saw various birds and gators - but, no manatee or panthers:-(

A three colored crane

An Anhinga drying off after a long swim

Oops, sorry, we didn't mean to disturb you

These birds seemed very calm in the midst of all the gators

It has been a VERY active week - with lots of family and friends! Now we are off to Beaufort, SC with a little stop on the way and maybe a round of golf. More later -

Elizabeth, Gary and Magic

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! So, still at Stone Mountain? We're in Dorothy's garden in Belsize Park on the best day since we've been here (and they've all been nice -- today is sunny and close to 80 degrees! Really have mixed feelings about returning to rainy, cool Chicago tomorrow. Go volcano!