Author Archives: Traci

Has it really been a year?

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Yep, we rolled into Washington on May 17th last year. Very hard to believe that a year has already passed since our adventure on the road ended. We reminisce often about places we have been, people we met and all of the memories that filled our amazing two-year journey.

May has been an awesome month. It started with a birthday celebration for me on Cinco de Mayo. Had a great dinner out at one of my faves, Purple Café in Bellevue with Mike, my brother and Mom. It has been a long time since we have celebrated as a family, so that really meant a lot to me! We followed that up with Mother’s Day at Emerald Downs. Not quite the Kentucky Derby, but a fun day at the track and again time spent together with family celebrating Mom!

Jeff, Mom, Mike & I at Purple Cafe

Jeff, Mom, Mike & I at Purple Cafe

On May 10, we flew to Zihuatanejo, Mexico for a week with our good friends, Bruce & Vickie. They invited us to their timeshare at Club Intrawest, and what a spectacular place! It was pretty toasty and humid, but oh so relaxing. A lot of time was spent in the pool just chillaxing. The boys had a banner day of fishing and caught a 9-foot marlin and 7-foot sailfish. The captain claimed the fish as his own to sell at the fish market, but did give them a few pounds, which they prepared multiple ways over the course of a few days. We walked on the beach, did a mescal tasting (grody), swam with the dolphins, met some great people, ate good food and basically just enjoyed a week of doing a whole lot of nothing. As usual, a week went by way too fast, but what a great week it was!

The Big Catch!

The Big Catch!  Bruce, new friend John and Mike

Mike's new friends

Mike and his new amigos

Bruce & Vickie at our ocean villa

Bruce & Vickie at our ocean villa

Dinner on the beach

Dinner on the beach.  Nothing better than toes in the sand!

Great view from dinner

Great view from dinner – Bruce & Mike

Private Beach at our Ocean Villa

Private Beach at our Ocean Villa

The night before we left on vacation, we found out that we got a house to rent that we were really excited about.   It is in Newport Hills in Bellevue, close to where our old house used to be.   We move in July 2 and can’t wait. We are ready to leave townhouse living and have a house with a bit more space. Beyond excited!

Mike’s job at Bath Planet is going well and drum roll please…I start a new job on June 1. It has been a long 4 months of job search, so I am ready to get back in the world of employment. I will be an account manager for Virtuoso – looking forward to being back in the travel industry!

This past weekend, we celebrated my cousin Chris and his upcoming wedding in Fiji. There was a sendoff party in Woodinville on Saturday, then we spent the day at my Aunt & Uncle’s house in Poulsbo on Sunday. My dad and his wife Jane flew up from Tucson.

Dad, Jane, me, Jeff & Mike

Dad, Jane, me, Jeff & Mike

Mike & I with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Steve

Mike & I with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Steve – amazing view from their house

We are heading over to Wenatchee for Memorial Day Weekend to be with our great friends, Marc & Shelly. They are the ones who lost their home in the wildfire last year and they have rebuilt and moved in last week. It is unbelievable that they are back in their home less than a year from this tragic event. This is the best news!  May 30 is our 17-year anniversary, so cheers to us 🙂 . Looking forward to a great summer ahead. We are finally starting to feel like “re-entry” is over and we are back in the groove!

Beautiful Seattle and Mt. Rainier! – April 2016

Spectacular Mt. Rainier

Spectacular Mt. Rainier

Hello everyone. I know it has been quite some time since we have posted. Even though our travels are over (for now), I thought I would check in and share some pics from last weekend when it was 85 in Seattle. We are breaking records for April!

On Sunday we decided to drive up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area. It was the last day of the ski season and a gorgeous sunny day. We both haven’t skied in quite some time, but a friend gave us a recommendation to take the gondola up to the top for amazing views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades! The drive to Crystal was about 2 hours from Bellevue. We bought our $20 ticket and bundled up for the trip. While it was 85 at the bottom, the temps up top were around 50. The gondola climbed about 2,500 ft to an elevation of 6,800 ft at the Summit House Restaurant. The wind was howling at the top, so we were glad we packed the extra layers.   There was an outdoor bar made of ice with music cranking and plenty of chairs to kick back in and take in the views. We stayed up top for about an hour, then made our way back down to the deck at the base and enjoyed a beverage in the warmer temp.   The gondola is open in the summer months too with access to miles of hiking trails. Highly recommend!

Chillaxing with the view

Chillaxing with the view

Mt. Rainier in the background

Mt. Rainier in the background

Mt. Adams in the distance

Mt. Adams in the distance

Mount St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker in the distance

Here is a quick update on our re-entry progress:

  • Mike is now working for Bath Planet, a tub/shower remodeling company, doing in-home sales.
  • My marketing contract at Savers ended in January, so I am back on the hunt for the next opportunity.
  • Our lease at the townhouse is up at the end of June. Hard to believe we will have been home a year! We are pondering our next step, but will most likely be renting again (housing market is ridiculous).
  • We are enjoying reconnecting with friends and family and taking in Sounders, Seahawks, Mariners and Husky (Mike) games.
  • We are looking forward to a trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico in about 3 weeks!

We are going to try to post a little more regularly.  Hope everyone is well and happy!

Re-Entry

Poulsbo, WA at my aunt & uncle's house

Poulsbo at my aunt & uncle’s house.  Absolutely gorgeous!  (A little hazy from the smoke/wildfires)

Hello all! I can’t believe we have been back in Washington for 3 months. Stating the obvious, but time flies! Thought I would give you an update on our “re-entry” progress.

Last time we wrote, we were at the Puyallup Fairgrounds for 10 days volunteering at the US Open Golf Tournament. It felt like we were still on an adventure living in the MoHo so not quite back into reality. We had a few different friends (Pflu’s and Detroit’s) come and stay with us to attend the golf tourney, which was fun. I think Mike enjoyed the volunteering more than me, but we loved having a free pass into the tournament and took full advantage. On the final day, we opted to just watch from the comfort of the MoHo since we had already been hiking around the course for 6 straight days. A good decision as we could actually watch some golf.

Happy volunteers

Happy volunteers

After we left Puyallup, we settled in at the KOA in Kent for a week as we continued our search for a permanent place to live. My expectation of this process was way off base. Throughout the month of June we toured over 30 properties and drove by at least another 50. The housing market in Seattle is off the charts crazy right now, so it was quite a bit more competitive and challenging than we thought. Finally, we found a place that we felt pretty good about and jumped on it. No time to “think about it” as someone else would have come along and nabbed it. We settled on a townhouse in Bellevue and moved in July 1. It is a great location, but the place is a little older than I would have liked. But, we have a full garage with plenty of storage space, so we were able to clear out our storage unit which was great. And, I LOVE that we have a dishwasher and washer/dryer – the little things that make me happy. We are now in 1,400 square feet of living space vs. the 350 square feet of the MoHo. However, the kitchen is about the same size!   We are committed here for a year lease, so we have some time to figure out our next step. A funny side note is that I lived in this same complex about 17 years ago with some girlfriends.

Getting a vehicle for Mike was also on our to-do list. This one was easy, as he knew exactly what he wanted. It was just a matter of the dreaded negotiation and car dealer BS. Luckily, he had worked with Toyota of Bellevue before, so it was pretty painless (except for the new car payment). We are now the proud owners of a 2015 Toyota Tundra truck! Mike is a happy camper!

Mike's new truck parked in front of our townhouse

Mike’s new truck parked in front of our townhouse

We are now both working and what an adjustment that has been. Mike is working for the National Cremation Society doing in-home sales. Right up his alley and while it is a unique product to sell, it is one that is always needed. He has the patience and demeanor to discuss this difficult topic with customers and loves the flexibility that outside sales brings. While Mike was one and done (one resume, one interview, one job offer), my journey has taken a bit longer and is still in process. Currently, I am employed through Simplicity Consulting on a 3-month marketing contract at Savers. They are the parent company of Value Village and the corporate headquarters are here in Bellevue, a glorious 5-minute commute (did I mention the horrible traffic situation in Seattle?). I am committed through Oct. 31 at Savers, then it will be time for another contract or hopefully I’ll be onto finding a full-time position somewhere.

A trip to Woodinville and rejoining some of our favorite wine clubs was a must

A trip to Woodinville and rejoining some of our favorite wine clubs was a must

The last piece of the puzzle for us is to sell our beloved MoHo. It was in the shop at Camping World in Fife for 7 weeks getting some warranty work done. Most of that time, it was just sitting waiting. We were beyond frustrated with the lack of customer service we were receiving and the absence of communication and common courtesy. We finally reached our boiling point and had to elevate our issues to the corporate office. Miraculously, our parts came in and the MoHo was fixed within a few days. So, now we have her for sale at Kitsap RV in Bremerton. We figured consignment was the best option for us, especially since we don’t have storage. So, hopefully a buyer comes along soon. A little bittersweet though.

Mariners game with Shelly and Kris

Mariners game with Shelly and Kris

Other than all of that, we have been busy reconnecting with friends and family and getting reacquainted with the area. We are looking forward to being in town for the Seahawks season and Mike can’t wait for Husky football to start. It is great to be home, but of course we miss the freedom and carefree lifestyle of being on the road.   We have booked a few trips/weekends, so we have some fun events to look forward to. The weather in Seattle this summer has been fabulous so that has eased our re-entry. We really do live in a beautiful part of the country!  For all of you who we met on the road, come visit.  We would love to see you!

Annual Pool Party at Camp Cameron - this pic represents 4 different years of Shorecrest High School graduates

Annual Pool Party at Camp Cameron – this pic represents 4 different years of Shorecrest High School graduates.  Still friends 30 years later!

Hello Washington

IMG_3041

We entered Washington via Idaho into Clarkston for a quick one-night stay at the Granite Lake RV Park. What a weird feeling to be back in our home state after all of this time. Our campground was in a beautiful location right at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. This was just an overnight to break up our long drive before heading to Walla Walla.

The next morning, I loved the drive east as it felt like I was back in the Palouse! We arrived at the Blue Valley RV Park in Walla Walla, our home for the next 3 nights. It was a perfectly located park, just a mile to the downtown area. We were here to visit friends, Don and Trudy, and of course do some wine tasting. The weather was perfect and we were able to visit some places we had not tried before as well as some old favorites. We had a great dinner out with Don and Trudy and a lovely afternoon on the Amavi Cellars deck with them sipping a delicious Rose. So great to be able to see them on our way back home!

Mike and I, Don and Trudy at Amavi

Mike and me, Don and Trudy at Amavi

Cougar Crest!

Cougar Crest!

Pepper Bridge, one of our faves

Pepper Bridge, one of our faves

Mike

Mike doing his “wino crossing” imitation

Next up was Yakima and Camp Cameron for Memorial Day Weekend. Well, we actually stayed a full week, but we had a few friends come and go throughout the weekend. Sunny & Mitch have a perfect set up for our MoHo with full hook-ups right in their driveway. We had a great time catching up with friends, hanging by the pool, wine tasting, hiking and storm watching. We were even able to clean out the entire “basement area” of the MoHo and organize a bit in preparation for putting it up for sale. We said goodbye to them on Thursday morning and made our way to Wenatchee (we left the MoHo parked in their driveway and just drove the car). Huge thank you to them for this and their hospitality!

The group hiking in Cowiche Canyon, Yakima

The group hiking in Cowiche Canyon, Yakima

The three amigas!

The three amigas!

Cidery Tasting

Cidery Tasting

Our camping spot at Camp Cameron

Our camping spot at Camp Cameron, five stars

Amazing views of Mt. Adams from Camp Cameron

Amazing views of Mt. Adams from Camp Cameron

Next stop was Casa de Pflu in Wenatchee to see our other great friends, Marc & Shelly. We spent 4 nights there hanging with them and just enjoying the views from their home, cooking and watching softball and movies. Got a lot of errands done in anticipation of our arrival to the west side. Our 16th anniversary was on May 30 so we had a delicious celebratory dinner with them. The time was too short and before we knew it, Monday June 1 had arrived, our official re-entry date. Big thanks to them for hosting us on our final destination!

Mike & I with the amazing view at Casa de Pflu

Mike & me with the amazing view at Casa de Pflu, Wenatchee

Mike chillaxing

Mike chillaxing

Happy friends

Happy friends

Marc and Mike enjoying their crab

Marc and Mike enjoying their crab

We left Wenatchee, drove to Yakima to get our “house” and headed over the mountains to Bellevue for official re-entry. I can’t believe this time has actually arrived. What a ride it has been and such a great adventure for us, full of amazing memories. Our home for the next 10 days is Vasa Park in Bellevue, then we take the MoHo to the Puyallup Fairgrounds while we volunteer at the US Open golf tourney in Tacoma. After that we are hoping to have found a place to live. Currently, we are catching up with friends and family, looking for a vehicle for Mike and a place to rent. Then, we’ll really ramp up the job search and selling of the MoHo. Lots to do, but exciting to see what the next chapter holds for us.

 

I heart Colorado 4/23/15 – 4/30/15

Our campground at St. Vrain State Park

Our campground at St. Vrain State Park – hello Rocky Mountains!

I really do love Colorado. We came through almost two years ago in June/July 2013, so were excited to be here again to see friends. However, Colorado in springtime is a bit of a different story than in the summer. It had snowed a few days before we arrived and for the first 4 days it was cold, rainy and stormy. With that came my first sickness of this entire 2-year trip, a bad head cold. Dang.

Our first destination was Golden, just west of Denver, and the Dakota Ridge RV Park.  We got settled in then made contact with my college friend, Ron, and hatched a plan to meet that evening at Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden. It was great to see him and his son Tyler (his wife was in Paris visiting her aunt) and catch up on the past few years over a few beers and a killer burger from the local food truck. The next day I was down for the count with my cold, but rallied that evening. No choice! Ron picked us up on his way home from work and took us to his house, just up the hill from where we were staying. He actually had snow on the ground up there! We then drove back into downtown Denver, parked at his office, and started our evening. First stop was Union Station, a functioning train station that has been renovated as a very cool, hip, bar. Loved the concept! Next, we hit Machete for gourmet tacos, then ended up at the rooftop bar of the Viewhouse. There was a Rockies game going on and we actually had a view of the stadium from the bar. As always, had a blast with Webert and loved being back in a bigger city!

Mike and I, Ron and Tyler at  Mountain Toad Brewery

Mike and I, Ron and Tyler at Mountain Toad Brewery

Downtown Denver, Union Station

Downtown Denver, Union Station

Inside Union Station at the Bar

Inside Union Station at the Bar

Ron and I at the Viewhouse Bar

Ron and I at the Viewhouse Bar

The next day we had plans to meet up with other friends, Lori & Bill. Lori is a sorority sister from WSU. They were staying in Boulder for the night, so we headed up to meet them. We got there early and walked around Pearl Street, then met them at their hotel bar. We hit a few spots for cocktails, then had a delicious Italian dinner at Pasta Jay’s. It was prom night in the area, so was fun to see all of the kids dressed up for their big night. My cold had really kicked in, so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the park. I love that no matter how much time passes, we can just pick back up where we left off. Bummer that we didn’t get to see their darling girls on this trip.

Pearl Street, Boulder

Pearl Street, Boulder

Mike and I, Lori and Bill at the Rio Grande Rooftop, Boulder

Mike and I, Lori and Bill at the Rio Grande Rooftop, Boulder

Lori and I, Chi-O's

Lori and I, Chi-O’s

We woke up Sunday to horrible weather, a good day to just bundle up and hunker down and try to beat this cold. Ron called to check in with us and we ended up meeting him and Tyler for lunch at a place right up the street, then they came back to the MoHo to watch some hockey. They headed home and we stayed in the rest of the day checking items off our to-do list! Interesting to note that we haven’t turned the a/c on since Florida and have had the heat on most of the time.

Our Campground in Golden, socked in (usually the mountain are in view)

Our Campground in Golden, socked in (usually the mountain are in view)

Monday was moving day for us. We headed north about an hour to St. Vrain State Park in Longmont north of Denver. This park was the complete opposite of where we had just been. From an expensive, crowded, city-like park to a wide-open spread out retreat surrounded by lakes. Since we had a short drive, we were up there by noon all set-up.   This park was close to our friends, Jen and Rod, who live in Broomfield. Jen is a great friend I used to work with at Holland America. We had plans for dinner at their house that night and were looking forward to seeing them and their kids Jordan and Bella, plus new baby Katalina! It was nice to just hang out at their beautiful home, catch up over a home-cooked meal! We didn’t stay late as this was a school/work night for them.

St. Vrain State Park

St. Vrain State Park, Longmont

Woke up the next morning to sunny, clear skies and a view of the Rocky Mountains that was amazing. Finally! Feeling better already. I went for a much-need haircut/color from Jen’s friend and Mike fished all day on the lake. All is right in the world! Met Jen & Rod at nearby Echo Brewery in Erie for beer and pizza that night, then said goodbye to them. Time just goes by so quickly!

Mike and I, Jen and Rod at Echo Brewery

Mike and I, Jen and Rod at Echo Brewery

The next morning was another glorious sunny one and we decided to drive north to Ft. Collins for the day and check out some more breweries. A theme is forming. Colorado is the Napa Valley of Breweries. More here than we could possibly visit. We stopped at Anheuser-Busch and were lucky that the Clydesdales were home. A very nice facility and biergarten. Next stop was New Belgium, which had a great outdoor setup. Lastly was Coppersmith Brewery & Pub for lunch on the patio in downtown Ft. Collins, which is kind of a hippie college town. Good people watching. We headed back to the MoHo and enjoyed a fire outside and a killer sunset. Now, this is the Colorado I had hoped for!

Biergarten at Anahuser Bush

Biergarten at Anheuser-Busch, Ft. Collins

New Belgium Brewery, Ft. Collins

New Belgium Brewery, Ft. Collins

Our sunset

Sunset from our spot at the campground

On our last day we headed back toward Golden, right by our old RV Park to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. We had hoped to visit when we were actually staying in Golden, but the weather was so horrible, it wouldn’t have been worth it. But, today the sun was shining, so it was a perfect day to check out this unique concert venue. During the day, it is used by many as a workout venue; pretty impressive to see people bounding up the steps. We walked around leisurely and enjoyed the amazing views, picturing what a great place this would be to see a concert. In the visitor center we learned that the venue is the largest attended amphitheater in the world. It is a relatively small venue, but their season is much busier and longer than say the Gorge in Washington. We decided to head into Denver to check out a few more breweries. We drove-thru the Denver Broncos stadium lot with our Seahawks magnets on the car, then off to the Brewery Trail. We hit three of the top-ten list that I had – Strange Craft, Renegade then Wit’s End. The last one is owned by the cousin of my good friend Joe, so it was fun to visit it again (we had been 2 years ago). Ron actually came out and met us there, then he bought us dinner at one of his favorite pizza joints, Pasquini’s. It was a great day with the sun shining, but by the time we left dinner, the stormy weather was rolling back in.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre (if you look closely, you can see downtown Denver in the distance)

More Red Rocks

More Red Rocks

A very cool venue

A very cool venue

Wit's End Brewery - cheers Joe!

Wit’s End Brewery – cheers Joe!

This map shows

This map shows how many breweries are in the Denver area – wowza!

We actually tried to extend longer at our park, but it was full up for the weekend. Denver really is a great city and one I could see myself living in. But, it was time for us to keep moving and continue our trek north. After researching Wyoming, we felt like there really wasn’t much to see up the center of the state. We had already hit Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and Yellowstone the last time we were through. So, we drove most of the state in one day and it was beautiful country but pretty desolate. Wyoming is the 9th largest state by land area, but 50th for population (563,000). I think we saw more Pronghorns than people. Our 2-night stop in Buffalo, WY was a good one where we mostly relaxed. We checked out the small town, watched the Kentucky Derby and caught up on laundry. Sometimes you need these types of stops.

Next up we have Montana then yes, back in Washington. We are actually starting the process of looking for a place to live and it probably is time to get the resume refreshed. I don’t feel ready for reality yet, but I guess it is time. Anyone out there hiring?

Signs we are getting closer to home:

  • Lots of hills and mountain passes
  • People wearing Seahawks gear
  • Alaska Airlines planes in the air
  • Albertsons and Safeway grocery stores
  • Snow-capped mountains
  • I-90

Crossing Time Zones 4/7/15 – 4/13/15

IMG_2849We have definitely been on the move! We have crossed two time zones and 4 states, climbed more elevation than we have in a long time and experienced some crazy weather. Our travel days have been pretty long to make up for the extra time we spent in the Keys. And with a moving MoHo comes the typical issues with a home on wheels. I guess we are making up for the months we were parked in Florida. We took a huge rock chip in the front windshield, but our insurance company paid for a fill. Our check engine light kept coming on when we were climbing some pretty big hills. Got the MoHo in for service and turns out we just needed to replace our fuel filters (thank goodness that was it!). The A/C is making funny noises, but we haven’t had to use it much with the cold weather, so we’re avoiding that one for now. And, one of our back slides is having issues and looks warped. Not sure what we’re going to do yet, as it does retract most of the way. As everyone in the RV world says, “it’s always something.” Enough about that!

We had quick one-night stops in Hattiesburg, MS and Shreveport, LA. Not much to report for either place except we did make a donation to one of the casinos in Shreveport. Also had some very stormy weather complete with a spectacular thunder and lightning show right outside our window. The next stop was Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. I had been there for a girl’s weekend last February, so was ready to show Mike some of the places that we had visited. Our 3-night stay at the Texan RV Ranch was perfectly situated between Dallas and Ft. Worth allowing for exploration of both places.  On the first day, we headed out to the Ft. Worth Stockyards. We had a great time walking the streets, checking out Billy Bobs (world’s largest honky tonk), watching the cattle run and Mike dining on all-you-can-eat ribs. We were back to the RV Park before dark, so not quite the same experience I had with Shelly & Sunny, but still fun to see the area again. The next day we drove into downtown Dallas and it was pretty quiet as it was Sunday. We walked around the area where the JFK assassination took place, hit a local Farmer’s Market, then decided to get back to the MoHo to watch the final round of the Masters. Hard to believe a year has passed since we were there. Glad to see Jordan Spieth get the green jacket!

The dance floor Billy Bob's - reminded me of Urban Cowboy

The dance floor at Billy Bob’s – reminded me of Urban Cowboy (empty because it was the middle of the day)

The Cattle Run

The daily Longhorn Cattle Run

Mike getting after his Texas BBQ Ribs

Mike getting after his Texas BBQ Ribs

Dallas, TX

Dallas, TX – the people in the middle of the street are standing where JFK was shot in his motorcade; shooter was in the far right window, 2nd from the top

Stormy and cold weather were heading our way, so we decided to get out of Texas and drive straight to New Mexico to avoid the heavy rain and flooding.   The drive to Carlsbad, NM was one of the worst we have had due to the crazy weather and wind. Looking forward to our time in NM and exploring an area that neither one of us have been before.

Keys Disease

Enjoying St. Patty's Day

Enjoying St. Patty’s Day

Yep, we’ve got it! We are now on our 4th and final extension down here. We officially leave the Keys on April 1 and unfortunately that is no April’s Fool Joke. It is time for us to start making our trek northwest toward home. If we had unlimited funds, I think we could possibly set up shop here for awhile. Well, I know Mike could, but as most of you know, it takes me a bit longer to make these types of decisions. But, I do know that we have absolutely LOVED our time here and Marathon has been such an unexpected surprise. It is such a great community and we have met more great friends here than we have combined on all of our travels.

We just love our campground.  The Tike Bar in front is where everyone hangs out

We just love our campground. The Tiki Bar in front is where everyone hangs out, right in front of our MoHo.

Here are a few things we have been up to the past few weeks.

Marathon Seafood Fest
This is the 2nd largest event in all of the keys and luckily for us, it was just down the street. We went with our new friends, Greg & Carol who are staying at the campground and Gene & Sandy, friends we met last year who are working down here for the winter. It was a toasty day, so we actually didn’t stay long at the festival. Enough time for a few cold beers, a sampling of food and a stroll through the merchandise booths.

Mike, Sandy, Gene, Carol & Greg at Seafood Fest

Mike, Sandy, Gene, Carol & Greg at Seafood Fest

Enjoying the Seafood Fest

Enjoying the Seafood Fest

St. Patrick’s Day
We had a great time for St. Patty’s. Our campground is right on the border of an area called Key Colony, which is a nice neighborhood with a few fun bars. A group of us from the campground decided to ride our bikes for a St. Patty’s Day pub-crawl. We hit 3 bars and drank our share of green beer and cocktails.

Mike & I, Randy & Lea, Greg & Carol sporting our green!

Mike & I, Randy & Lea, Greg & Carol sporting our green!

Happy St. Patty's!

Happy St. Patty’s!

Fishing/Boating
Mike was able to go ocean fishing five times! He went once on a charter with some others in the campground, twice with our neighbor Ron, and twice with Greg & Carol. I actually went once with Greg & Carol and what an exciting trip it was. We heard the familiar spin of the wheel and it was clear that Greg had a big one on. As the fish got closer to the boat, it looked like he had a shark hooked! Actually, he had landed a pretty big fish that a 7-foot hammerhead shark had latched onto. The shark held on until about 10 yards from the boat. All that was left was the head of the fish and a hammerhead circling us for about 10 minutes! It was pretty wild to witness.
On some of the other trips, Mike caught Snapper, Bonita, Jack Crevalle, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and Blackfin Tuna. This has been pure heaven for him to be out on the water fishing. For one of the Thursday night potlucks at the campground, he grilled up the Snapper, Wahoo and Tuna for all to sample. It was very tasty and oh so fresh!

The shark chasing the fish in

The shark holding onto the fish as Greg reels it in

He was a big one!

He was a big one!

Mike and his Jack Crevalle

Mike and his Jack Crevalle

Wahoo!!!

Wahoo!!!

Snorkeling/Huka
Friends from the campground, Randy & Lea, organized a day for us to get out to the reefs. This area is extremely popular for diving and snorkeling. They are both certified divers, but we are not, so Mike opted to snorkel and I decided to try something called Huka (also known as Snuba). It is basically diving, but your tank is on a raft at the surface that you are tethered to. This allows you to breathe underwater, but you are still only about 15 feet from the surface and a dive master is with you monitoring the tanks. I was a bit anxious at first, but got the hang of it quickly and really enjoyed it. After that was done, I had the chance to snorkel with Mike for awhile. We stopped at two separate reefs, The Donut and Coffins Patch. We saw tons of fish, coral and sea plants. I even saw a small nurse shark. The day couldn’t have been more perfect – the clearest visibility in weeks and water temp of 80 degrees. Not bad!

Do I look anxious?  Practicing how to breathe

Do I look anxious? Practicing how to breathe

Randy & Lea

Randy & Lea surfacing from their dive

Mike’s Birthday
March 24th was the big day and he had a great one. It is always odd to be away from home for holidays and events that we usually celebrate with friends and family. But, he heard from many and was definitely feeling the love. We started out with a nice breakfast out and then had a relaxing day around the campground. Then, we ended up at one of our favorite bars, Keys Fisheries, for sunset and cocktails. Capped off watching Star Wars back at the MoHo (his choice, not mine).

Celebrating Mike's Bday at our favorite bar - can you believe that view?

Celebrating Mike’s Bday at our favorite bar – can you believe that view?

Biking the Bridge
The famous 7-mile bridge is at the south end of Marathon. This is the iconic bridge that is shown in movies such as True Lies. An old bridge parallels the current one and is open for pedestrian and bike traffic. It provides a great vantage point to look for marine wildlife and beautiful views of that blue Florida Keys water.

7-mile bridge behind us

7-mile bridge behind us.  We’re on the old one.

End of the road!

End of the road! You can see the current bridge to the left.

Pretty views

Pretty views

Favorite Restaurants/Happy Hours
We have been sampling many of the local places and have found some great spots!
No Name Pub – Best pizza
Tarpon Creek – Best happy hour food and a bonus that we can walk there
Cabana Breezes – Cheap Wings/Shrimp with a great ocean view
Frank’s Grill – Best Italian, a total hole in the wall. We had a nice joint b-day dinner here for Mike & Greg
Burdine’s Chiki Tiki – Best Burger and Fries
Hurricane – Coldest beers in town
Keys Fisheries Bar – Our favorite spot with the absolute best view
Sunset Grille – Best party bar/Sunday Funday
Stuffed Pig – Best Breakfast (Banana Bread French Toast – OMG!)

Never get tired of seeing the Manatee - they love to drink the fresh water

Never get tired of seeing the Manatee – they love to drink the fresh water dripping off the boats