Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our last week in the Keys

Jan. 24- Jan. 31, Marathon, Florida

We have had a full week of activities during our last week in the Keys. Fortunately for us, we did not need to stay at any of the expensive campgrounds here (at least during the high season months of Jan-March). Not only did we have my brother's amazing driveway location, we were also invited to take part in an annual private rally one of my brother’s friends put together. The host couple own property directly facing south on the seven-mile bridge. They had built the Sunset Grill and sold it but kept the waterfront land to the east of the restaurant. This coveted piece of real estate became the site for the private rally. About sixteen motorhomes arrived on Thursday, Jan.26, and most stayed through Sunday, Jan. 29. The area was gated and we had ample room to find our own little niche for boondocking with oceanfront views for all.
The several dogs accompanying their owners were all able to have free range of the site including easy access to the ocean for fetching or romping along the shoreline.My brother arrived earlier and helped set up a large tent with tables and created a firepit well-stocked with large bins of scrap cedar he had left over from a project. What fun!Vic and I enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing a variety of colorful motorhome adventures.It turned out there were three Phaetons in the bunch and one Allegro Bus so we talked Tiffin with four couples and learned much about ways to customize the Phaeton as well as the trials of repair issues. OF course the food was amazing—shared dishes from each coach—and even a catered dinner of lobster, steak, and shrimp. The campfires which might seem ludicrous in warm weather turned out perfect for evenings that were as chilly as the high 50s.I also took advantage of the heated pool (open to anyone) at the Sunset Grille next door.In true Mexico style, I was able to have a happy hour drink at the pool’s edge while swimming and meeting some very friendly tourist girls (in their early 60s!) from New Jersey.I particularly enjoyed the connection we shared about being from the two states where you don’t have to pump your own gas (I so love that law).
Scenes from our seven mile bridge rally:

Sunset Grille and pool next door
Sunday the 26th was also a big chili cook-off that my brother was participating in. We broke camp and got both motorhomes back to their respective sites in his driveway, then headed south to Coconut’s at Big Pine Key. The cook-off was fund-raiser for ABATE a motorcycle association that my brother and his wife belong to (they are Harley riders). The event was a first for my non-Harley riding husband and me. The place was a perfect setting-- a dive bar with several pool tables that became chili stations, a good ole rock ’n roll Allman brother-style band, cold beer, and outside hang out areas. Weaving our way between muscular tattooed bikers is not a typical experience for us, but everyone was great and they proved they could make some mean chili. Vic’s disappointment of the day was the discovery that my brother’s chili was all gone went we arrived—only an hour after the start of the tasting. We found several others that we liked, but Vic regretted not putting some in reserve for himself before the chili went to Coconut’s.
Coming to our last few days in The Keys was hard, both in terms of saying adios to my brother and his wife, and leaving such a magical place. Suddenly there was so much we had yet to do—especially kayaking! We entertained notions of coming back after our month in Ft. Myers (something we decided to do just before coming to Marathon). Nice to have options and to feel so close to my brother and sister-in-law.

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