Sunday, May 26, 2013


I had the day off, and needed to get out on the water. My friend has a kayak and said I could use it anytime. Today was the day. Only problem I faced; his home is about 9 miles away.

"Can you ride that far?" said that, oh so familiar voice.
"Sure she can, that's nothing," replied the adventurous voice.

Why not? I will make a full day's adventure out of this. I packed a lunch, some water, a towel (because you never know) and a few other things I thought I would need for my trip, and off I went.

There was a strong wind, right on the nose. I did check the time so I would know how long it took me. There is a nice wide bike path all the way, a very easy ride.

Boca Chica Marina, taken from the Boca Chica Channel bridge.

I decided to paddle up the canal behind my friend's home, it would be a nice relaxing ride. I think it would be awesome to have your boat right there behind your home, and just a minute from the Atlantic.

The view is spectacular, and now I understand why people want to move to Florida, more especially to the Keys.

There were actually three iguana sunning on the bulkhead, but the other two ran away. Iguana are plentiful here and I see them as road kill all the time. They are fun to watch, but can be a pest if you are trying to grow flowers, they think they are tasty!
Palm trees, water, boats.... it was so peaceful.

And what waterway is complete without a statue of a mermaid? Someone thought she needed a little bling, and added a strand of beads... nice touch.

I went out in the big water (Atlantic), but the wind was pretty strong, and I wasn't in the mood to 'work' to get anywhere, and didn't have a planned destination anyway. So, I just went out and back.

I stopped on my way back and ate my lunch. While I was standing there, a sheriff's car pulled up beside me and stopped. Of course, my first thought was, "Crap, what did I do wrong?" He asked if that was me he saw riding in a neighborhood at Big Coppitt Key. I said it was, and he said, "Dang. I need to get my bike out and ride."

When I told my roommate about this, she said he just stopped to get a closer look, and he was flirting with me. She knows all the police here, and was married to a police officer... so I guess she knows.

Oh yeah, it took me 65 minutes to ride there, with a head wind, and stopping a few times to take pictures. That's better than I thought I would do. Next time I will take my grandson, but I will borrow a vehicle, I don't think my basket will hold him.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Bikes are everywhere you look here in Key West. Bike racks are provided at almost every store. And if you don't lock it up, it will disappear, but sometimes that isn't enough. One night last fall, over 70 bikes were stollen off the street. Their cut cable locks left hanging on the racks.

Road bikes are rare, mountain bikes are plenty, but the most common type is called a beach cruiser bicycle. This bike doesn't have gears and most do not have hand brakes. I have not ridden one, but without the ability to gear down, those head winds will kill you. This is the bike that the rental companies stock.

People get real creative and make their bike a one-of-a-kind, with paint and ornaments. Remember the 'sissy bars' when you was a kid... I've seen quite a few here. I think they look silly.

I realize that most riders are not in a race, and they just want to take a ride down to the beach or to a bar on Duval Street. But, dang, get out of my way! I tend to ride fast... because I can! My legs are strong and I don't like to go slow.

The first week I had my bike, I rode for about 3 or 4 blocks and then had to coast because my out-of-shape legs would give out. Now, I can ride all the way home from work (about 30 minutes), as fast as I can go, and never have to coast.

A few days ago, I was peddling along the Atlantic, against a strong wind. I was already tired from a full day's work, when this youngster pasted me... and then another one. Well, I didn't have it in me that day, to pass them with the current wind speeds, but I could reach real deep and find enough energy to at least keep up with these girls half my age. When we rounded Dead Man's Curve, and the wind was at my back, I blew past them and flew home. I felt I redeemed myself, if only in my eyes.

Have you ever witnessed a drunk try to ride a bike? It's quite amusing, unless they run over you. One afternoon, on my way to work, I thought I was going to have a head on collision with this guy. About 20 feet in front of me, he veered to the curb, laid it down, tucked and rolled in slow motion. It looked as though he had rehearsed this stunt to perfection. He then just laid there, spread eagle on his back. I think alcohol may have been involved.

Like I stated earlier, if you don't lock it up, it will disappear. The other morning, I saw this stripped bike in the street.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Road Trip to the Mainland

Since I landed in Key West, FL, I had not been farther north than Marathon; about halfway up the keys. I had a day off, so I borrowed Amy and Bill's Wrangler, and hit the road. Key West doesn't have a big variety of department stores, and I needed a few things. My plan was to go to Homestead and go shopping.

US 1, also known as Overseas Highway, begins in Old Town Key West at Mile Marker 0 (which, by the way, is the most stolen sign), and proceeds up through the Keys to the mainland. This is a two lane road, with a speed limit of 45 mph through most of it, increasing to 55 in a few sections. Each Key has a name, even 'No Name Key', and Mile Markers are given for directions, rather than addresses.

"Turn at the Circle K store at MM 11..."
"Whale Harbor, at MM 83.5"

 Just south of Marathon is the Seven Mile Bridge. Like it's name indicates, it measures seven miles, with an arc at about MM 44, with a clearance of 65 feet at high tide. If your mast is taller than that, you must sail down and around Key West to get to the other side of Marathon.

Marathon is more popular in the cruising community, because it is much cheaper than Key West and provides better anchorages.  Sombrero Beach is a nice place, and located on the Atlantic side of Marathon. This is where 'Sun-Worshipper' and I anchored for an afternoon of sun.

On up a little farther is Islamorada. It took me a little while to learn how to pronounce it  ..... the 's' is silent.  I was driving along and suddenly saw this huge art piece in front of a business. I had to stop and take a closer look. The detail is awesome.

Flats Fishing with Dream Catcher Charters
The drive through the keys is very beautiful. You see mostly smaller power boats, because the water is very shallow, averaging about 4 feet. These areas are known as the Flats. Hopefully, I will get to fish these flats soon.

As I was walking out the door to begin my road trip, my four year old grandson, Aiden, handed me his compass and told me to take it so I could find my way home. He turned to walk away, then turned back and pointed to the compass dial and told me, "The red mark is home."

After being on the narrow streets of Key West for a few months, it was a strange feeling to drive in six lanes of traffic when I got to Homestead. And I didn't even have to dodge scooters or tourist on rental bicycles. Although I was only gone for the day, I found myself missing Key West... it now feels comfortable and like HOME.

The sun was getting low when I got close to home, so I pulled the visor down to keep the sun out of my eyes. When I looked into the mirror on the back of the visor, this is what was looking back at me.


If you've ever gone to the bank,
 and found a 'Gone Fishing' sign in the window,
you're in Conch Country.