Miami is where most of my family lives and it had been a while since I saw them. And although I was worried about leaving Brenda alone to deal with potential Angel health issues, we decided that Angel was doing better and I should go. So Brenda stayed in Tucson at the beautiful Catalina State Park with Angel while I took off for a quick hop to Miami.
It was a busy but very fun week surrounded by people I love. What could be better?!
My spunky Mom Rosa and my Bro Gus and Sis Ana Rosa
My lifelong buddy Al and his adorable honey Bonnie were my gracious hosts. Al and I went off to Golden Rule Seafood to load up on just a few stone crabs. Oh sooo good.
Brother Gus and his friend Leslie came over to Al and Bonnie’s and not one little crab survived the experience!
It’s true, we’ve now passed the one-year mark since we began our journey. It has been a rich and full experience and yet time has passed very quickly.
Before I forget, I’ll answer a question that was asked just before we left: What if we don’t like it? Well, we love it. Even though the first time I woke up in Island Girl knowing that I’d be living here for a while, my first thought was – What have I done? – I quickly came to love it and have never looked back.
Ponce de Leon discovered Florida when he landed in what is now known as St. Augustine in 1513, which makes Florida 500 years old this year. The city of St. Augustine was founded and established in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and is the oldest “permanently occupied European settlement”.
When I was in grade school I was completely captivated by the exploits of the astronauts of NASA in the heyday of manned space exploration in the sixties and seventies. I wrote to all the NASA facilities for whatever information they could share. Each of the major space flight facilities had a different info package based on their area of expertise and I amassed a pretty big pile of detailed info on all the space happenings. I even remember sitting in school and wondering whether some maneuver which I knew was coming up had gone successfully (ie. Translunar insertion burn at mission elapsed time of xx hours) . Yep, I was a total geek.
So it has always been a thrill for me to visit the Kennedy Space Center, the site of most launch activities for these great and dangerous adventures. I started going as a kid with my dad during the Gemini program and have been back many times since. Although repetitive, each time revealed some new thing or change in the tour. Once with Brenda we even saw a shuttle night launch. AWESOME.
We returned to Venice, Florida to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins once again. Our campsite at the Camp Venice Retreat, yet another beautiful spot, was set amidst live oak trees and overlooked the Myakka River. The Myakka River has been designated by the state of Florida as one of only two “wild and scenic rivers” in the state, a Federal designation designed to preserve the Myakka River Basin in its natural state. The setting on the river, along with an adjoining restaurant, “Snook Haven” are considered very “Old Florida”. Continue reading →
Our next stop after Miami was Everglades City. This remote city is the northwestern gateway to Everglades National Park, which we’d visited on a couple of day trips. For some perspective, this corner of the Everglades is 100 miles from Flamingo, where we stayed for two weeks on the southernmost tip of mainland Florida. There is only wilderness between the two, but the surrounding waters, which are part of the Park, contain over 10,000 islands. The trip between Everglades City and Flamingo is very popular with expedition kayakers and takes nine days. The National Park has built platforms called chickees which may be reserved for backcountry camping.
We stayed in a beautiful campground by the Barron’s River. And we planned some shorter outings so that we wouldn’t be away from Angel too long. Our exploration included an Everglades National Park boat tour, an airboat ride and visits to the Historic Smallwood Store and the Everglades Museum.
On our way north from Key West, we planned to stop briefly in Miami once more to see Hector’s mom, brother, sister, nieces and a few others before heading north. We also had made some medical appointments. And we were also planning to run some other errands including scheduling an RV repair person to work on an issue with our generator.
Ok, I’m going to tackle a “macho” post because Hector is busy working on a ton of photos. Here goes:
Our campground’s setting in Geiger Key (10 miles north of Key West) was beautiful, on the water, facing various mangrove islands with visiting and resident birds, fish and manatees. And we met some interesting and inspiring people while there.
But we were also aware that one of the perceived downsides to this campground was that it’s across from Naval Air Station – Key West.
Fighter Squadron VFC 11 – “The Sundowners” fly the Northrop F5N/F Tiger
Once again, we are exploring a place that we already “know” and had visited before, but at a much deeper level. As with many things, there is more to Key West than meets the eye. This town has a lot of interesting history and many fascinating, funky and eccentric people have spent time here (and many are still here).
If you only look at the touristy side of the city, it can look like a bunch of t-shirt shops and bars. And many of the bars are a lot of fun. But in the back streets you will also find beautiful homes, lovely gardens and unique local businesses.