Monday, February 20, 2012

Key West, Feb. 2012 The view from Duval Street

Hemingway's House, Key West


Congenital Restlessness: Feb. 8-20, 2012

Sometimes one wonders how others manage down time as we never seem to have any. Earnest Hemingway said he suffered from Congenital restlessness (Hemingway's Boat, 2012) and I think Rick has it, too. He does not handle sitting still to any degree so when the next few days looked "iffy", Rick moved to plan B and rented a car for a road trip, not a sail, down to the Keys and Key West! Who could complain. Our weather by road was fabulous each day, rain and winds happened at night, hence except for a cold spell on Sunday Feb. 12, we had a great trip. I hesitate to call it cold here, though 60 degrees was cold for us; we know it was frigid further north.

Our goal was to see as many marina possibilities as we could for future reference, as in next winter, and to see our NJ friends Bill and Laurel at the start of their winter vacation in Key Largo. In all we "did as the Romans do" in each hamlet and key, including Key West. We stayed at the La Concha in downtown Key West because we could walk everywhere. We viewed one sunset in the crowds at Mallory square, but availed ourselves of the hotel rooftop a second night for a different feel and crowd of twenty vs 2,000!

We spent our days touring Hemingway's house and walking to catchy eateries, tourist traps, and shops. Yes, we road the Conch Train and revisited the architecture and history of this last town in the continental US. In all, we laughed a lot and walked even more. By Monday we were happy to get back in the car to meander back up through Marathon, Islamarada, and Key Largo. We ran into friends on the dock at the Marathon mooring field and when we all returned to Coconut Grove, we had dinner together before they left for the the southern islands. Bill and Laurel served us lunch in Key Largo, shared a round of hugs and sent us our way "home." We confessed to exhaustion once back on the boat and happily accepted a day of rest and old Bogart movies in the spirit of the Keys. We accomplished what we wanted to do or see and we laughed a lot, who could ask for more.

You don't think this was enough activity for Rick do you? On Valentine's Day we ate at the Boater's Grill in No Name Harbor. (I didn't understand the Cuban love songs being played but it was fun.) Wednesday Feb. 15 we toured Vizcaya in Miami. This is a county owned house/museum two miles from the marina, and I errored big time in not bringing my camera. While photography was not allowed inside the home, the gardens and view of Biscayne Bay were breathtaking and the lighting was perfect. Vizcaya was a 180 acre winter estate built in 1914-15 by James Deering, a vice president at International Harvester. Rick and I are in awe that so many men of the day thought they were really "kings" and spent their wealth on these homes. This mansion includes rooms and ceilings, art and fireplaces Deering bought in Europe and moved here, so it became a monument to all things Renaissance and grand. Today, local children tour the building as part of their education in history and art.

Thursday Feb. 16 was the first day of the Miami Boat show. We had relinquished the car by then so we took a cab to the first of three sights around town for the show. In general, we were interested in cruising seminars but we did find some new technology to peak our interest in the vendor tents. Paul and Lynn Erb were there from Yachta Lettering, always great to see them.

You didn't think that was enough to slow Rick down, did you? Saturday Feb. 17 was the opening day of the Coconut Grove Art Festival, billed as the largest venue in the country. The heat was a record 87 degrees and the crowd was estimated at 120,000 over three days. We can attest to the quality of the artists and size of the crowds. One had to go: the 1 1/2 mile long event blocked off the marina and disconnected us from town. We bought nothing but enjoyed the photo shoot.

Next, a short trip back to Boca and Elliot Keys, then that weather window. Time to stop dreaming and sail to the Bahamas.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Waiting for a Weather Window

Rick always says it's about the journey, not the destination. So . .  here we are in the Miami area, waiting for a weather window to make our crossing to the Bahamas. Anticipating about a month of wind we didn't want, we have hung around the Miami area, taking a mooring at Dinner Key with plans to make short trips from here, up and down the Keys.
Catch of the day from the back door
served with red bans and rice, planatains, and pie at the Sailor's Grill in No Name Harbor!
Cape Florida Light

In the middle of the inlet, these homes will not 
be replaced when when a storm finally wins.

Our first venture out onto Biscayne Bay was to Elliot Key via No Name Harbour and the houses on stilts, out to the Lighthouse. There is little in No Name Harbour except a great hurricane hole in which you can wait for a weather window with other cruisers. Run by the National Park service, it is a no frills service but you can get a great meal at the Cuban Fish Restaurant there. When you leave the harbor, hug the shore line out to the lighthouse.

No one was home.
All structures on Boca Chita key are made of fossil
embedded limestone mined in Florida.

Once we crossed the bay and headed to Elliot Key we encountered a surprise we were not prepared for: signs of civilization at Boca Chita Key! This scant half mile island was purchased by Mark Honeywell, (thermostats and heating,) in the 1930s for the purpose of entertaining his monied friends who wintered in Florida. He developed it with a dredged harbour, buildings, pool, ornamental lighthouse, picnic pavilion, and an elephant for parties. Before he could build his mansion, his wife succumbed to injuries she sustained on the island. He later donated the island to the National Park Service who maintains it for dockage, snorkeling and lighthouse tours (no other amenities are available, bring your own water and power.)  Rick was able to fly fish one evening and he's eager to get back there. 
Promise in the harbor at Boca Chita Key.

We don't travel with a schedule anymore and it's a good thing. Our generator failed again so we left Boca Chita and returned to Dinner Key, this time in the marina with electric, for our trip home and later, generator repairs. We will ride out a week of rain threats here and move down to the Keys with the next weather window. In the meantime, we are enjoying art deco Coconut Grove, the dock super Bowl Party (game to be projected on a sail) and watching that tan weather girl with the perfect weather smile hold our fate!

Home to Detroit

Janet Lee Hohendorf   May 5, 1957 - January 20, 2012