TRAVEL – There’s always a story to tell!

FLORIDA – JUN 2011
 
We’re heading out today for our trip to The Florida Keys.  I’m so excited and R’s excitement is off the map!  I’m relaxing before we head out and he’s out side somewhere burning off some steam.  He’s walking or something, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.  He just left and said he’ld be back in an hour — I love travelling with him, he’s great fun and we always come home with lots of smiles and stories to tell our friends and family.
 
Stay posted!
 
Left Campbell River this afternoon, there was some poor old fella and his wife in the line-up to get on our plane and he was all geared up to get on the plane when the attendant noticed that it was the WRONG plane – this means that they would have ended up at the WRONG terminal in Vancouver and that would have made the next few hours of their trip VERY interesting.
 
 
Jun 18 – 2011
 We made it! — finally ..
Got to Vancouver airport to find out that our connection from Miami to Key West was messed up.  They couldn’t tag our bags thru because we only had 20 minutes to get off the plane – and race for the plane to Key West.  If we managed to do that – our bags probably wouldn’t!!  So we wisely decided to take American’s Airlines offer of a free night in Miami with our flight to Key West today at 8:30AM.  So that was plan #1… BUT, we get to Dallas/Ft Worth and 45 minutes later we board our plane for Miami.  It’s 101 degrees outside and so the walkway tunnel that runs outside to the plane is stifling hot and the plane is condensing up inside from the airconditioning.  But, no worries, we’re game for the heat!!.  We load 38 rows 6 people to each row, and the plane is FULL.  We all get on and the captain announces that the LAVATORY is malfunctioning and we can’t fly because the liquid condensation would form ice on the outside of the plane while we flew to Miami and could possible fall thru someone’s house
😦     so they therefore had to cancel the flight and TRY TO FIND ANOTHER PLANE.. emphasis on try.. everyone groans and the ones that weren’t groaning were already phoning AmAir for alternate flights, the guy beside us was quick on the draw and his first flight out was the NEXT day… This is looking real bad — the plane is now emptying out back into the tunnel, Randy and I get to the doorway of the plane and they announce that we ARE OK and are now flying.  Meanwhile the staff on the plane had voided the passenger list and boarding passes as they were now booking them on other flights.  An hour delay to get that sorted out, we, meanwhile, were back sitting in our original seats as we hadn’t got off the plane officially.  The other 150 people in the sweat tunnel had to wait for boarding passes and then replane. Away we go after the delay and we are now thanking our luck that we decided to stay in Miami as the 20 minute dash has been dashed by the delay.
 
We get to Miami and I wait by the luggage carousel while R goes to the ticket desk upstairs to get our voucher for the room.  He reappears not too long after to find that I’m still waiting for HIS suitcase to come out onto the carousel.  It DOESN’T show up so now we have to go make a luggage claim with this nice young latino lady who speaks 899 miles an hour, with an accent, and we can’t understand anything she’s saying.  We keep asking her to repeat herself.. we find out that the suitcase can be delivered to our hotel by 11PM IF IT SHOWS UP by then.  It’s now 9:30 PM so we’re pretty well thinking that that would be an impossible outcome.  Off we go to the Marriott to drink cold beer.  Get up this morning at 5AM so that we can shuttle back to Miami aiport, go back downstairs to lost and found luggage and hope R’s suitcase is somehow sitting there.  There’s crying people in front of us and angry people beside us and we finally get up to the counter and she saunters into the back room and locates R’s suitcase.  We were the only 2 happy people in the whole place.  We go now to check our bags in and we have another nice young Latino lady who speaks 901 miles an hour, with an accent, and we can’t understand anything she’s saying.  After an initial angry outburst from R because he says: ‘NO!!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MEAN’.. I said to her, ‘we’re having trouble with your accent!’, so she   s  l  o  w   l  y and   c   a   l   m  l   y speaks to us so we can understand that even though she’s tagging our bags WE have to take them across the airport and drop them off in a bagging area.  We did, we caught our plane to Key West and both suitcases travelled with us this time. 
 
Our hotel is AWESOME, it’s on the Gulf side of the Key, it ‘s 12 blocks to the Atlantic side of the key so we’re happy to be here and it’s 90 degrees outside so we’re now inside in the aircon in our room taking a break after a day of exploring the streets.  Our first stop was to buy hats — and don’t you know we run into a black fellow, with no accent, who’s from MONTREAL selling hats.  The first thing he does is start talking about the Canucks losing to Boston, when they SHOUD HAVE WON the cup!!  I had to tell him to please stop torturing me with his analysis of Roberto’s poor goal tending, poor reffing, bla blah blah.  He hates BOSTON, and HATED that they won..  I couldn’t believe that we ran into a rabid hockey fan in the first hour that we were here.. that’s amazing.
 
Day 2 in Key West
Could have saved # on the sun screen as it was overcast all day — spent a few $ on water as the heat/humidity is still in the 80’s… (carol you would hate it here).. Toured the city on the hop on hop off bus, saw Ernest Hemingway’s house, and a 200 ft yacht in the harbour, ate lunch at the Hogs Breath Bar — it was a tourist trap, but it DID HAVE a mounted boars butt that looked authentic enough..
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Oh ya!! Lime is my new favorite color, flavour and mood!!  I will always think of Key West when I see or smell a lime!! Yessssssssssss…
This is a copy of an email I sent to everyone after our first 10 days in Florida.
 
Hey everyone!  We’ve coined a new term since arriving in Key West – it’s called “The one drink wander.  Our hotel in Key West is at the bar / restaurant end of Duval Street.  That means there’s at least a 6 block x 3 block area of bars and restaurants right outside our door.  So when we’re asked if we want another drink we reply: nope, we’re doing the one drink wander!  At first they don’t understand our accents, but once they do, they smile, smile again and wish us luck!
 
We haven’t just been drinking and eating – We toured the city on the hop on hop off bus, saw Ernest Hemingways house, and a 200 ft yacht in the harbour and ate lunch at a place called the Hogs Breath Bar — it WAS a tourist trap, BUT it DID HAVE a mounted boars butt that looked authentic enough..  We could have saved $ on the sun screen as it was overcast all day but we spent quite a few $ on water as the heat/humidity is still in the high 80’s, low 90’s (carol you would hate it here) We are renting a car today and leaving Key West and driving north thru the Keys toward Key Largo and Miami.  We’re staying in Islamorada for a week and going fishing there. There’s only one road out of here so I don’t see us getting lost!! haha. Everthing along the Keys is in mile marker distance from Key West.  Our condo is in Islamorada (Mile Marker 81.4) this should be a snap!!  So north we go – We drive over many keys with names like Paradise Key, Duck Key, Plantation Key, Hawk Key, the longest bridge connecting one of the keys is 7 miles!  The scenery is fabulous with the Straight of Florida / Atlantic ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.  Many of the smaller keys are just wide enough for a road so it’s very interesting. The speed limit varies from 35-45-55 Miles per hour, mostly 45!  Man is that slow, and yet we hear about accidents all the time.  Must be all those Key Lime Beers and Key Lime Drinks that everyone serves!!  We approach Islamorada and sure enough DRIVE RIGHT BY OUR CONDO — Now I want you guys to imagine all the traffic that is on this road, it’s the only road that runs from Miami (BIG BIG CITY) and Key West.  The traffic is non-stop, mostly one lane with a centre lane for turning (right and left), so you have 2 Canadian tourists in a rental car with both their heads looking left at the condo they should have turned into – and now we’re trying to turn left off of this death trap and get back ON the death trap and get to our Condo. 🙂 We manage to safely navigate this manuever and arrive at our destination.  The condo is beautiful, on the Gulf side of the highway and has a full kitchen, tv’s in every room, a pool (as advertised), it’s beautiful.  We’re here for a week.  We check in and find out the internet isn’t working (oh well, we’ll survive somehow). I’ve used my I Phone a few times to update my Facebook but I’m not sure what all that’s costing as the fine print is TOO small to figure it out … tee hee.  The second thing that wasn’t ‘as advertised’ was the fire pit / barbeque area.  Turns out the advertising should have read: We have one shared bbq, yup just one!!  So the first night we go to cook our pork tenderloin we discover that the guy down and across the complex has the bbq and we’re out of luck unless we want to ask him if we can share it with him.  Well, I don’t have any problem with that, so knock, knock, — Hi there!  I’m Kathy from Canada and would you like to share your BBQ??  Turns out they’ve got 3 grandchildren (ages 8,10,11) with them, it’s 8PM and they haven’t eaten yet!  So NO they can’t really share the BBQ — ok, no problem we’ll cook in our Condo – I thank him, walk away and a few minutes later he hollers at me that sure enough, the kids can wait for dinner and we’re welcome to use the bbq.  So now we’re rushing around, heating up THEIR bbq, getting our food ready and 3 starving hungry children with big droopy sad eyes and caved in stomachs are wondering who’s drinking beer on their front yard with their GRANDPA.  Too make a long story short, we had medium rare tenderloin that we nuked when we got back to our unit and they had a preheated bbq ready by 8:30 so they could feed the kids!  Most of the tourists we’ve met here are from other parts of Florida and they come down here for a quick vacation and enjoy the water.  Lots of snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, paddle boards, fishing from the old bridges that have been replaced over the years.  People are very nice and pretty laid back, it’s very enjoyable.We’ve driven as far north as Key Largo, just cruised around for the most part.  Had key lime pie with a toffee / graham crust – yummy!!  Randy found a shooting range where you can rent a pistol $20 – range time $10 – ammo $20-$40 and shoot to your hearts content.  All it takes is a drivers license and cash — amazing!! He shot up the place while I went shopping for a bit.The second day here we met with the guide we hired via the internet and we went fishing.  We meet this guy down at his dock, he get’s out of his pick up and he is HUGE,  5’10”, pear shaped and the pear is 4′ wide.  We shake hands and get in the boat.  It’s maybe 18ft long and he’s in the middle and we’re in the front, so when it’s time to ‘get up to plane’ he yells ‘ok, lean forward’, so we do and off we go.  We’re using living crab and fishing in maybe 40ft of water which is in the channel leading out to the Atlantic side of the gulf.  The first thing Randy catches is a Permit.  Ted get’s all excited when he sees it because even though he’s fished for 25 + years, this will be the BIGGEST Permit he has ever landed…. so here we are, in an 18ft boat with Ted and Randy on the Permit side of the boat and I’m on the opposite side, with my Canon Elph camera (very small) and Ted says ‘ok get ready, we’ll bring this in the boat for a picture’, so I’m getting ready —- and Ted goes to lift the Permit into the boat AND HE LOSES IT, sploosh there it goes, never to be seen again.  Meanwhile I’ve managed to get a quick picture of the Permits nose and Ted’s big ASS.  Ted is MAD at himself, really really really mad, THATwas a trophy fish and he would have used the picture for advertising etc, his boat is sponsered by Anheiser Busch and that would have been AWESOME, but instead it’s just AWFULSOME.. he was pretty dejected, he just kept shaking his head and muttering to himself.  He finally thinks to look over at me, with a bit of hope in his voice, and says, ‘did you get a picture of it?’ — I hated to add more sorrow to the situation but had to truthfully tell him, that, NO, I didn’t get a real good picture of the fish, all I got was a Permit nose and his Ass.  He sort of laughed at that, but I don’t think he was too eager to share that picture with anyone.  We hired him for 4 hours and it’s dark by 8:30 and we all know that is the end of the fishing trip.  We’re still trying for a Tarpon === tick, tock, tick, tock  8:28, 8:29, he’s looking at his watch, we’re looking at him looking at his watch and WHAM, the rod zings out, bends in half and it’s bedlam!! — Randy’s grabbing the rod, Ted’s getting the boat going, reeling up rods, putting the fighting belt on to Randy and I’m trying to stay out of the way!  The Tarpon jumps out of the water and it’s HUGE!! We’re now chasing it all over the channel, dodging another boat that was out there, channel markers, other assorted poles stuck in the flats for markers all in the pitch black of night.  Ted is steering the boat, shining his big flashlight in the direction of the fish and Randy’s fighting the fish and asking me ‘did you get a picture? did you get a picture?  I’ve not got my very small camera, problem is I haven’t used it in forever, it was pitch black outside so I’m trying to read the marks / dials in size minus 2 font and I ended up with pictures of moving water with a blurry thing in it that very well may be Randy’s tarpon — he was incredulous that (me, the photographer), somehow missed his big event .. Meanwhile I’m trying to stay out of the way of him and the guide who are both BIG DUDES and somehow FIND the tarpon in the pitch black, get the camera to focus AND FLASH in nano seconds — I failed miserably.  No pictures to show anyone.  Randy touched the leader which makes the catch official, and Ted estimated the weight at over 125 pounds, he tried to bring it up over the edge of the boat so I could photograph it, but it was just too big and too strong and it broke off the line and was gone.We met with Ted the next morning and went out to the National Marine Reserve and Randy caught his first Redfish (got a picture of that one), a couple of Jack Cravelle and 3 species of catfish. I caught a bunch of grass, fed the little fishes fresh shrimp all day AND CAUGHT A FISH THAT HAD THE GUIDE screaming–don’t bring THAT in the boat– it’s POISONOUS!!

Randy’s first RedFish

Tomorrow we’re booked on a ” party boat”. Goes out all day to the reef. I have to admit being just a liitle disappointed to learn that party didn’t mean “Par-Tay until the cows come home, but like: “how many are in your party?”. Haha. So looks like a big boat with everyone fishing off of it. Should be interesting! 

It was INSANE! 20 people – each with a fishing rod – we (the boat) caught 200 yellow tailed snappers! Me? Well – I caught something called a porghy. I was ready to throw it back in, but the crew / guide got all excited and said no It’s edible, it’s delicious — so in the bucket it went for us to BBQ later.  Meanwhile I’m still hanging out in the shade jiggin with some other poor creature that I caught earlier—yank, reel, yank some more and after much sweating and grunting and people gathering around me, we see that I’ve got a 5foot – 200 pound nurse shark…I managed to get it up to the boat our crew guy / guide is amazed that I landed this thing without burning out his reel!! I guess all those Belize trips catching pelicans (yes, a Pelican) and stingrays came in handy today!  Before we let it go, I asked the guide to hold on while I took a couple of pictures AND a VIDEO.  So now I’m taking heat from Randy ’cause I managed to catch the shark, take a video, (with the same small camera) and an extra picture or two and Randy catches a 125 pound Tarpon (in the dark) and there’s nothing! No Video, no pics, Nothing!!! poor guy!!

My Magic Reel that I caught my 6FT 200LB Nurse Shark with!
A quick picture of my Shark before they cut him loose!

That’s the end of our fishing stories for this leg of the trip, we’ve been driving around exploring some of the other Keys, but no other stories to tell.  We’re heading back to Key West tomorrow and have 2 fishing trips lined up there.  One is for Randy and I to go Tarpon fishing again and on Thursday Randy is heading out deep sea fishing for Mahi Tuna, maybe a sailfish, a dolphin, something like that.  I’m NOT going out there with him, I’ll wander Key West with my camera or something.  Haven’t made any decisions yet.  I’m sure we’ll end up with a story or two yet before we head home on Friday.

Take care, hope everyone’s doing fine.

the Shark Lady!!

Finally weeded thru the Florida pictures and made up a Facebook set of Albums that outlined our trip to the Keys!  Here’s the Facebook links to the albums.
 
 Here’s the link to the first album that I put together from our trip to Key West.

 
Here’s the second album.
 
 
I also added alot of the pictures from the Facebook album to my Flickr site.  I didn’t put them all on there, just some of my more favorite ones.  Here’s the link again:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathys-kreation/

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