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Sat. Nov. 26 to Fri. Dec. 2- Ohio Key FL

Saturday-  We left and went to Big Pine Key to the Farmers Market. The vegetable people were not there, so we left and went to the Lower Keys Arts and Craft show in Big Pine. We wandered thru the Chamber of Commerce parking lot and picnic area where the show was located. We looked at some nice items, but most were very expensive. We thought these were cute!

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We left and went to the Salvation Army, where we browsed. I bought some books, as did Bob. He was also able to purchase a pair of tan Ralph Lauren shorts and a tropical shirt.

We went to lunch at Bistro 31, arriving just in time for me to still have a blueberry pancake for breakfast (11:55) and Bob had a wonderful Ruben; both were delicious.

We went grocery shopping at Winn Dixie, then we returned to the MH and settled in for the rest of the day. We went over to watch the sunset, read our books, and ate dinner at home. We went to the ice cream social at 7:30, were we bought two scoops of fudge brownie and shared.

Sunday- We spent the day at home, doing laundry, and cleaning the MH. We watched some cable TV and read.

Monday-  Bob was out the door early, taking the car for  the oil change. We ate lunch, then I went to my doctor’s appt. The first thing he asked was if I had gotten the MRI. I told him no and that this was my last visit. I asked for a custom foot-bed. They could not do the custom ones, as that takes three weeks. I purchased some over the counter ones, which are much better than the Doctor Scholls I have been using.

I stopped at the Winn Dixie and brought home the groceries. Then I went to Marathon to the Dollar Tree where I bought some cheap Christmas decorations. I will throw them away at the end of the season and buy new next year like I did last year.

Bob’s brother Joe arrived at around 5, and we walked over to the pier to try to watch the sunset.  There were clouds today, so we did not get much of a sunset.

We returned, ate dinner, and sat talking until bedtime.

Tuesday- We were up at 5:15 to get ready to leave at 6 AM. We drove to Key West. The traffic was not bad, so we arrived early. We  went to the southern most point of the US

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and stopped by the Mile 0 sign for Rt. 1.

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We went to the harbor, parked the car, and boarded the catamaran to go to the Dry Tortugas.  $155 each, then we also received a $10 discount for our NPS passes, so the net price was $145 each. It was worth every penny!

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The boat left promptly at 8:00. It holds 250 people, but there were 195 plus crew on this trip. They served us a nice buffet breakfast of cereal with milk, bagels, and fruit. There was coffee, water, and OJ.

It was breezy, and I sat outside in the front to enjoy the ride. The ride was rough, and several folks became seasick. Bob and I were okay, but Joe became a little queasy.

The trip is 2.5 hours, so we docked at Fort Jackson at 10:30. While on the boat, you sign up for free snorkeling and have your hand stamped that you have signed a waiver. Then we signed up for the 11:30, 1 1/2 hour fort tour. They can only take 25 people, so Joe signed us all up, being the first three on the sheet. There is also an 11 AM, 1/2 hour tour, which just goes over the highlights. DSCN7353

Ft. Jackson

We disembarked and walked around the moat, on the look out for the America Crocodile which was deposited on the island during a hurricane. We did not see him! He hides in the bushes when the boat arrives and goes back into the moat when the boat leaves. Alligators are predators and will attack. Crocodiles are shy, and will not attack unless they feel threatened. So we were instructed that if we see the Croc, to not tell anyone, as people will rush over and frighten him.

Ft. Jefferson

Ft. Jackson

Notice that the brick is two different colors. Due to the Civil War, they were unable to get the local bricks because of Florida being on the South’s side. So they imported Maine bricks to continue with the building of the fort. Unfortunately, the northern bricks do not stand up as well to the heat and humidity as the southern bricks.

The Ferry, 115 ft long

They served lunch on the boat from 11- 1, so we went back and ate lunch. It was sandwiches, with ham, turkey and the fixings. There was an awesome sweet potato, potato salad. They list the ingredients and there was no bell pepper!

They also had chips, sodas, water, fruit and cookies for dessert. We left at 11:30 to meet up with Libbie, our guide. The tour was very well done. Libbie knew her stuff, even though she has only been a guide here for 9 months.

Bob and Joe

The fort was built in the 1800’s and was never completed. They stared in 1849 and ended in 1875. At one point there were over 2000 people  living there. It is 18 acres and is the largest masonry building in the Western Hemisphere. It was a Union fort during the Civil War, which was the only time that they had a possible invasion.

A Rebel ship came up to the fort. The were three miles out, and no one shot the cannons at them. Then two miles, then one mile. In the fort was a Captain and about 60 untrained soldiers who were there to figure out what was needed. Well, they had not guns or cannons! So the Captain went up on the top of the fort, with the soldiers behind him. The Rebel Captain did not know what to think. The Union Captain told them that they did not shoot at them, but that they needed to turn around and leave. So they did! It was all a bluff and they could have easily taken the fort.

There are several people who actually live at the fort full-time and others who come and live there for short periods. You can came there overnight ( and see the Croc), but there are no facilities!

There is a full-time surgeon who stays there. He is there to assist with the Cuban refugees who land on the island. The entire area is a National Park, with most of it under water.

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If Cuban refugees make the trip and they can get to dry land, they are taken to the mainland and given full services, including being able to apply for citizenship in one year.

boat from Cuba

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If the refugees do not get to the dry land, they are given food, water, and put on a ship and taken back to Cuba to try again. There is an influx of refugees since Castro died. It can take days on a ship like this one, floating in the ocean, before people arrive at the island. They need medical care when they arrive. So do not survive the trip and the park service has to deal with the bodies.

Below shows how the fort was built. It is on the floor of the ocean, then built up on a concrete pad, then brick on top of the pad.

Floor and the covering

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Above is hallway on the second floor. Evidently, lots of people have weddings in this area. These arches are all around the second floor, and there are hundreds of them.

There is a drainage system that drained rain water into a cistern, although it did not work well, due to the cracks from the Maine bricks.

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It was hot and humid, but there was a breeze. Can you imagine what it was like in the summer, when it was hot, with no breeze! The soldiers wore wool uniforms, head to foot! The women, wore long dresses.

The moat was for sewerage and the smell was awful. There was a Yellow Fever epidemic at one point and many people died.

Dr. Samuel Mudd was a prisoner at the fort. He tried to escape, on the laundry ship, but was re-captured. He helped during the epidemic, and his work  became famous, and was used for continuing research into the disease. The people on the island appreciated his assistance and requested that he be pardoned, which he eventually was.

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After the tour, we were hot and sweaty, so we went snorkeling along the outside the moat. We saw swarms of minnows and a few little yellow striped fish. The water temp was 76, but with the sun, it was not too bad once you got in.

We had to be back on the boat by 2:45. The boat left promptly at 3 for the 2.5 hour return trip. The wind had picked up and the ride was really rough! Many people became seasick, including Joe. Bob and I sat outside and were okay.

When it really got rough, the captain made us leave the front of the boat. Ryan, one of the crew, came to assist me off the front, as it was pretty hard walking. I told him I did not want to leave, as I was fine sitting, but I had to…

I went to the back of the boat, but it was really wet there. Ryan caught up with me and told me I could sit on the steps outside, which I did. That was great. Bob stayed inside for awhile.

A woman and her boyfriend came out. She was in really bad shape, so I helped her from the door to sit next to me on the steps. The boyfriend kept complaining that they should slow the boat down, as that would be better ( it would not, it would only prolong her agony). After awhile, Ryan showed up and asked me if I wanted to go back up front. You bet! So I ended up being the first one up front. Bob joined me, as Joe had gone to the back and ended up taking a nap from the Dramamine. He was fine when he woke up, but had been pretty sick, because the Dramamine took awhile to kick in. The woman had also taken the Dramamine.

It was really nice on the front of the boat with a good breeze and they had Sirrus, Margarittaville station on the load speaker both ways, so the music was good. Bob and I had a great time. Joe really enjoyed himself, even with getting seasick. He does a lot of cruises, and this was the first time he was ever seasick.

A gal sat next to me and started talking. She is one of the employees, and was returning after 10 days on the island. She was a Moose and her sister has just gone full-time in an RV. She lives on Big Pine Key and is now off for two weeks.

Below is the sunset over Sunshine Key ( not the RV park, an island) on the return to port.

Sunset

We docked, and then went to El Saboney, a Cuban restaurant for dinner. We had a great meal, which was not very expensive. Joe had the garlic shrimp, a salad, and french fries. Bob had the grilled shrimp and chicken, with yellow rice, black beans, and plantains. I had the grilled shrimps with the yellow rice, black beans and plantains. The restaurant had 5 stars on Yelp and it was a great meal! We all had a lot of food. There were a lot of shrimp and  there was Cuban bread served also…

We returned to the MH. When we arrived, Bow Wow Bob, the pet sitter in the park, had locked the top lock on the door, and we could not use our code to get into the MH. No barking either… hmmm. So Bob walked over to his 5th wheel. The dogs were there. He brought them and the key home.

Wednesday-  We were out the door very early again. The back up camera was not working in the Edge. So we had an appointment at the Ford dealership in Key West. Bob and Joe were behind me in Joe’s rental car. On the way, I had the moon roof open and the rail for the moon roof fell off, landing on my shoulder. I put it on the seat next to me and planned to give it to Bob when we arrived. OF COURSE, it started to rain! So now it was hold my breath while I closed the roof! It was okay, whew!

We arrived and took a place in line. I walked back to the Camry and handed Bob the rail. He tried to put it in, but could not get it, so he asked them to do it while they were working on the Edge.

We left and went to Blue Heaven. We parked, and it started to rain. Then it quickly cleared out again. We had a wonderful breakfast. Bob and Joe had the Rooster Special, which was two eggs, potatoes ( or grits), bacon ( or spicy sausage) and either a pancake, bread or banana bread. I had a blueberry pancake with one egg off the a la carte menu. You sit outside under umbrellas, but at this point the sky cleared out.

After breakfast, as we were leaving, it started to pour, again! We sat on the porch for about 5 minutes and the storm passed by. We walked back to the car, and both Bob and I went and sat in the car. Joe walked over to Hemmingway’s House for the tour. We both fell asleep.

We went from there to Ft. Zachary Taylor. It was $7.50 for us to get the car into the state park. Bob and Joe went to tour the fort. I stayed in the car, reading my book. Then we went to the beach.

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Below is the beach area. It was very windy and we actually saw some surf! The water is so shallow around Key West, that there is only an 8 inch difference, so there is usually no surf.

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From there we went downtown and parked off of Duval street. Joe wanted to buy souvenirs to take home to the kids and grandkids. We walked into one store which was selling everything in the store for $5. Both Bob and I bought a top. Joe bought other items to take home. I am not going to spoil there surprise here! We ate lunch at the Conch Shack, which had 4 stars on Yelp. Bob had the fried Conch and french fries. He said they were the best fries that he has had in a long time.  Joe had the conch fritters, which he did not like. I had the Maine Lobster Roll. I do not like conch. It is too much like fried clams.

We stopped at one more store for a present, then went to Flamingo Crossing Ice Cream shop, where we had been before, and had more of the Chocolate Amaretto ice cream. Oh, was that good. Bob and I split two scoops. Joe had two scoops of the butter pecan.

We went to the Ford dealership to pick up the car. They said we need a new back up camera, $700. Nope, not going to pay that much. They did not have the part to put in for the roof slide. So we just paid for the diagnosis.

I took the car and went back to the MH. Bob and Joe stopped at Home Depot. The satellite manufacture had told Bob to purchase a different cord for the satellite and to try that, so he picked one up. He put it in when he returned. It did not work.

I took a short nap, as I had not slept well the previous night. At 5:30, we left and went to Bistro 31 for dinner, which Joe was buying us. It was Italian night Joe had the spaghetti and meatballs, Bob had the Rosemary Chicken and I had the Veal Marsala. All were very good. Thank you to Joe for dinner! We returned home and watched cable TV.

Thursday-  Joe left and went to the Theater of the Sea, which is northeast of us. We stayed home and worked on various issues around the motor home. We went to Marathon and had Boars Head sandwiches for lunch from a local Deli. We went grocery shopping, then returned to the MH.

Bob had contacted the satellite company, and they overnighted another cord to us.

Joe arrived back at around 3. At sunset we walked over to see it, but it was too cloudy on the horizon. We ate dinner and settled in to watch TV.

Friday- I left at 8:30 to go for a mani/pedi. after saying good-bye to Joe. He left around 9:30 so that he could stop in Key Largo and Ft. Lauderdale, on his way to the airport. The RV tech was supposed to arrive early. He did not arrive. Bob called and found that he was coming at 1. We ate leftovers from lunch yesterday.

The RV tech, Bill,  arrived and tried something for the propane water heater. That did not work. Then he looked at the toilet. He said that that model, which had been on sale at Camping World when we purchased it, had a lot of problems. We could replace the seal, but we would have ongoing issues, which we have already had. It was going to cost $60 just to replace the seal, and that is only for the part. It would also cost a lot for him to install it, as he would have to take it outside and take it apart. It was going to be cheaper to purchase a new toilet. We discussed it and decided on the new toilet. This one has been a problem since we bought it.

So, Bill called Phil, who owns the only RV supply place on the Keys. He had a Dometic series 310. It was less expensive than the Therford we have. We ran to Cudjoe Key to purchase it and brought it back with us. Bill is to return in the morning. I know, it seems like we were getting taken, but we weighed the pros and cons and this was really the best solution for us.

We returned and picked up the cord from the mail room. Bob installed it and we have satellite again!

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