Tag Archives: Florida Keys

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

The Florida adventure continues

Our spot at the Bonefish Bay RV Park, a hidden gem

Our spot at the Bonefish Bay RV Park, a hidden gem (we are on the far left)

We have been in Marathon for the past two weeks (4 months now in Florida) and have absolutely loved our time here. Marathon is located in the Florida Keys about midway between Key Largo and Key West. We have driven through it a half dozen times, but never really gave it a second thought, until someone suggested it as a place for us to stay. We were fortunate to get a spot at the Bonefish Bay Motel & RV. It is a pretty small and basic campground, but probably the friendliest park we have stayed at of our 150+ campgrounds over the past 20 months. We have met more people here and been more social than we have in quite some time.

The location of this campground is perfect for everything there is to do in the area. Our time here has been very relaxing and a mixture of spending time at the park with new friends, out on the water or at the beach and checking out happy hours and new restaurants. We are currently scheduled to leave here on March 21, but we are considering extending until the end of the month. That will then give us 6 weeks to make our way across the country for our return to Washington in mid to late May. I just can’t believe how fast our two-year mark is approaching.

Check out all the pics below:

Beach Day at Sombrero Beach

Beach Day at Sombrero Beach

Annual Pig Races at the Stuffed Pig Restaurant

Annual Pig Races at the Stuffed Pig Restaurant

The Pot Bellied pigs ran a little slower...

The Pot Bellied pigs ran a little slower…

Sunset Grille "Sunday Funday"  Gotta love a bar with a pool!

Sunset Grille “Sunday Funday” Gotta love a bar with a pool!

Pirate Party - Arghhhhh!

Pirate Party – Arghhhhh!

New friends Randy & Lea

New friends Randy & Lea

Thursday night potluck at the Tike Bar with live entertainment!

Thursday night potluck at the Tiki Bar with live entertainment! Our site is perfectly located right in front!

Tik

Sunset at the Tiki Bar

Our Key Largo campground neighbors, Nick & Sherri, drove down for the day to visit

Our Key Largo campground neighbors, Nick & Sherri, drove down for the day to visit

A day on the water with new friends (Greg & Carol) and old friends (Gene & Sandy)

A day on the water with new friends (Greg & Carol) and old friends (Gene & Sandy from Everglades Isle last year).   Mike, Greg and Gene chillaxing!

Carol, Me and Sandy - happy boaters!

Carol, Me and Sandy – happy boaters!

 

Our time in the Keys is over…or is it?

The blue water of the Florida Keys

The blue water of the Florida Keys

I can’t believe we have been at our spot in Key Largo for 7 weeks. It has been so nice to be settled and living like locals for this extended time. What a treat for us to have returned to one of our favorite places. We are packing up now and the original plan was to start our journey northwest at this point. Well, the beauty of this lifestyle is that our plan can change. We found a spot about 50 miles south of here in Marathon that had space for us for 2 weeks. Yippee! We just weren’t ready to leave the Keys, so are thrilled to have found a place to go. This is high season for this area, so somehow we lucked into a place with availability. When Mike called a few weeks ago, they had just received a cancellation, so we were in luck!

Calusa Campground from the water

Calusa Campground from the water

Spot #233 at Calusa Campground

Spot #233 at Calusa Campground

Relaxing at our site

Relaxing at our site

The weather the past 4 weeks has been unusually cold, so we are hoping the temps come back to normal over the next few weeks. Last night, it was a low in the 40’s and the wind has been fierce. We haven’t been able to use the boat much in this wind which is really too bad. But, Mike has enjoyed using it as his fishing vessel. We loved having it and so convenient to be able to tie it up right at our site and be out on the water in minutes.

Mike and his big catch

Mike and his big catch

Mike doing his thing

Mike doing his thing

Sunset on the boat, a little chilly

Sunset on the boat, a little chilly

February has been pretty mellow for us. Getting over the shock of the Superbowl loss took us down for that first week and personally I still cringe when I think about that last play. Damn, but I have come to accept it…kind of. One Friday, we met up with friends Sandy & Gene who we met last year in Everglades City. They are working at the KOA in Sugarloaf for the winter, so we met halfway in Marathon at Sombrero Beach. Had a great day catching up and relaxing on the beach, then a nice dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing them again when we get down to Marathon.

Another great sunset

Another great sunset

Another day, we drove up to Miami, about a 2-hour trip with traffic. Both of us have only been in the airport there, so seeing South Beach was on our list. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, so perfect for walking around. We checked out the beach and walked down the main drag that parallels the beach. It was a Tuesday mid-day and crazy busy which seemed shocking. We hit a few places including the Clevelander and Wet Willies. We left to drive back early afternoon, so didn’t experience the nightlife, but I can only imagine how crazy it would be.

South Beach, Miami

South Beach, Miami

The rest of our days have been filled with pool time (finally, they fixed the leak and it reopened after a 2-week closure), walking, reading books, riding our bikes, seeing movies on bad weather days, sunset watching, cooking and fishing. So, pretty relaxing to say the least. Tonight, we’ll hit our favorite happy hour at the Big Chill and get packed up for our hour commute south tomorrow.

Fat Tuesday at Snappers - crawfish boil!

Fat Tuesday at Snappers – crawfish boil!

Valentine's Day happy hour

Valentine’s Day happy hour

Beer tasting at Islamorada Brewery

Beer tasting at Islamorada Brewery

Gotta love a band playing on a Pontoon Boat

Gotta love a band playing on a Pontoon Boat

Life in Key Largo

 

Sunset from our campground, Calusa

Sunset from our campground in Key Largo

We have been in Key Largo for almost two weeks now. We returned to one of our favorite campgrounds from last year, Calusa Campground, staying in the same site.   We were able to get it for 7 weeks, which was awesome as this is kind of our last hurrah. When we leave at the end of February, we will start our journey home to Washington State (we refer to it this way now, as most people think Washington means DC). This campground is our little slice of heaven. It is a mixed bag of full time owners who either live here or come in for weekends and a small percentage of people like us who are transients trying to soak up the low-stress lifestyle of The Keys.

Mike soaking it all in

Mike soaking it all in

Our site, tent is for nighttime to avoid the bugs.

Our spot on the bay.  The tent is for nighttime to avoid the bugs.

Our spot is right on the bay and Mike is able to fish daily. He landed a small shark the other day, which was pretty exciting. His hope it to catch the big one, the Tarpon that everyone is after. I have been walking every day, trying to get in my 10,000 steps, and we are using our bikes a lot. We have a Publix grocery across the street and there is an amazing fruit stand next door that we hit every few days. We have great neighbors on either side of us. Nick & Sherry from the Ft. Lauderdale area work during the week, then come down on Thurs for the weekend. Pete & Bonnie from Minnesota are renting like us. One of the best parts of the park is the huge pool, only about 50 yards from our site. We have been using it a lot, a great place to meet people too.

Mike's big catch, a 3 foot Nurse Shark

Mike’s big catch, a 3-foot Nurse Shark

The Manatee's come right up to our site, they like the fresh water

The Manatee come right up to our site, they like the fresh water from the bucket

Mama and Baby Manatee

Mama and Baby Manatee

We have been cooking a lot at home, but have enjoyed hitting local places including Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill Happy Hour. Mike can get half-priced peel & eat shrimp and wings and Tuesday is ladies night, which means that my drinks are free. One day we drove about 30 minutes south to Islamorada to see Candy & Cheryl, who we met on a cruise last year. They own a few of the souvenir shops at Robbie’s Marina. We showed up out of the blue, but Cheryl was there and bought us a beer and we spent an hour catching up. They have a great thing going there and it was nice to reconnect.

Ladies night at the Big Chill

Ladies night at the Big Chill

One day we went to Brew on the Bay, the annual Key Largo Brewfest. We love “lucking” into these types of events. This one was pretty cool. There were 30+ breweries there, the setting was amazing and surprisingly it wasn’t very crowded. There were a few of the usual breweries that we seem to always see, but most of them were ones that we have never sampled before including a few from the Keys. There were multiple bands playing, yummy food and overall a pretty great atmosphere.

Brew on the Bay

Brew on the Bay

Taps right on the side of the car

Taps right on the side of the car

This was the day of the game vs Carolina. Ran into this Panther fan.

This was the day of the game vs Carolina. Ran into this Panther fan.

We have really settled in nicely to our temporary home. This is the longest, by far, that we have stayed in one place. I struggle a lot with feeling like we aren’t really doing anything. I mean, we are busy with everyday type of chores and exploring, but the days just seem to be slipping by. I have this ridiculous feeling of guilt at times, but then I snap out of it and remember to embrace this time. Soon enough, we will be home working again and daydreaming about our time on the road. Now is the time to live in the moment!

Up next…Seahawks game on Sunday! It has been fun flying our flags. AND, our great friends, Sunny & Mitch Cameron, arrive on Friday for a week. Can’t wait to see them and share our lifestyle with them!

Soaking it all in!

The water is just so blue!

We love the nightly sunsets

We love the nightly sunsets