Saturday, January 21, 2012

Off to the Keys

Jan. 18- Jan 21, Marathon, Florida
Lucky us. My youngest brother lives on the water in Marathon in The Keys. His home has a huge concrete driveway capable of holding his 40’ motorhome and our 36’ with the slides out and still room for our Jeep and another car, plus he has 50 amp elec. hookup. What a terrific opportunity for us as state parks in The Keys were all full and private campgrounds cost $100 a night and up!  We had originally planned to stop in the Everglades at Midway, a federal campground, on our way to Marathon, but the drive from Bonita Springs to the federal park was only about an hour and a half.  The federal park is a boondocking stop; the day was hot and the park was pretty barren, so we decided to keep on trucking (rving?) to Marathon, only another four hours away.  The view on the drive, especially panoramic through the large windshield of the motorhome, was a landscape of azure water and palm trees on both sides of the causeway.  It really does take your breath away.
Just had to stop at Islamorada at the Lorelei tiki bar where my father used to live on his 50’ trawler. Hurricane Wilma in 2005 caused severe damage to the Lorelei so it had to be completely rebuilt.  It is now much bigger than I remembered (back in the 80s) but it kept its character and greatly improved the docks with pavers and flower boxes as well as adding a sandy beachfront dining area.  WE were also happy to learn the outdoor seating was dog friendly so we were able to let the dogs join us as we had a drink and light meal in honor of my dad’s memory.
Chilling out at the Lorelei Tiki Bar

About an hour later, we arrived at my brother’s home in Marathon, greeted by his two Springer Spaniels.  He and his wife Bonnie made our site all ready for us; even trimming the palm trees to be sure our slides had room to open. We felt lucky to be able to stay in such a tropical setting on a lake which opens to the Gulf Bay—and the price was right! Our dogs quickly become buddies with their dog cousins and enjoyed the great freedom of being off leash during their entire stay here—except for neighborhood walks. Rico was a bit reticent to go in the water, but managed to play at the shore or just under the dock. Jetta was braver in actually swimming to retrieve her tennis ball, but her more adept at swimming cousins usually got to the ball before she could.  It also didn’t take them long to join their cousins in begging the mailwoman for a biscuit each day.  I don’t think our dogs will ever want to leave this place.
Mike and Bonnie's amazing front yard

Cousins Buddy and Marley
The dock at Mike and Bonnie's
My brother announced that he wanted to take us out in his power boat while we were there.  (He also has a 40’ sailboat at his dock.)
He wanted to show us around the bay and show us some amazing homes, but also wanted to take me to a place called Coffin’s Patch, a place where many locals put their loved one’s ashes.  Mike had taken some of my step-father’s ashes and put them there in 2003 and now wanted to do the same with some of my mother’s ashes.  We needed to have a calm day to go out to this Atlantic locale, so we chose a low knot day and made the one-hour boat ride to the reef (where supposedly a ship carrying coffins wrecked and laid them to rest there.)  Mike brought some champagne and some flowers to commemorate the occasion.  When he asked me to say a few words, I choked up and was suddenly overcome with tears as I paid tribute to my mother’s generous spirit.  It was special to share this moment between Mike and me in such a spiritual setting for what has become a family ritual of burial at sea (or Great Lakes).
My mom's second resting place

Captain Vic takes the helm
A Snowy Egret among the mangroves

A Blue Heron among the mangroves
A private home's beach viewed from our boat trip

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