Al's Mohs surgery for a spot of basal cell skin cancer went very well, with the first scraping getting all of the spot and leaving behind clean margins. It's just a little peculiar looking at him, with half of one eyebrow shaved off :-)!
The trailer repairs went off without a hitch! I was so happy :-). The parts that were ordered from Grand Design arrived at Register RV within a week, and we scheduled the actual work to take place starting March 9. We stopped in two days later, as we were going by after the surgery, and were delighted to see that it was all done except for some last detailing and caulking. We arranged to pick it up the following Monday, plenty of time to get ready to head down to lovely Marathon, Florida. I highly recommend Register Rv in Brooksville for anyone needing RV repair work. So much better than Lazydays last year!
I was so lucky to have happened upon an opening at one of the beautiful state parks down in the Keys, at Curry Hammock State Park just north of Marathon. Being that it is over a 400 mile drive from here, we decided to leave the day before and stop in Naples for the night. I would have loved to have stayed at Collier-Seminole State Park, but it is closed for renovations, and the chances of me getting a last minute site were pretty slim anyway! We did find a spot at the KOA in Naples, and it was nice enough, but, as is typical of southern Florida campgrounds, it was pretty tight and the sites very close together. They do allow big dogs, though, so I was happy about that! It did take us longer than I expected driving that day; the traffic on I75 south of Tampa was awful. Several accidents, along with construction work, led to some very long delays.
We left Naples and drove the very interesting Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway across the state. For a short trip like this, I didn't follow behind Al with the Trailblazer, riding shotgun in the truck with him instead. As a result I was able to sightsee, and saw plenty of birds all along the way. I didn't see too much else in the way of wildlife, just an alligator that unfortunately did not survive his trek across the roadway. The road was fine for a big rig, and we did not find too much traffic along the way at all. THAT we found once we turned south onto first the Florida Turnpike, then US1. I dislike driving near big cities, but unfortunately you have to from time to time.
The drive down to Curry Hammock was so nice. We used to vacation quite often in the Caribbean, and I just love the color of the water. It was so relaxing to watch the water turn to that beautiful seafoam color. It was pretty busy traffic-wise; I had completely forgotten about the fact that it was spring break season. Being in no particular rush though, we just went with the flow and enjoyed the view as we headed ever further south. Once we arrived at Curry Hammock and got settled in for the next five days, I just felt my entire psyche relaxing :-).
One thing I find particularly vexing is my tendency to forget things. Moving between the house and the trailer in the wintertime causes me to lose track of where things are. In this instance I forgot two pretty important items: our blue boy tote ( no sewer hookups here) and...drumroll...my camera! I couldn't believe it, and felt like a total moron :-). So there aren't many pictures, just a few shots we snapped with the iPhone.
We didn't have a lot of plans, just planning to relax and do some lazy exploring of the area. I do have a project that I'm working on, which I don't plan on revealing until I've graduated, so I was going to do some work on that as well. Once I "checked in" on Facebook, I had friends suggest things to do as well. So our first day, we decided to take a tour of the Turtle Hospital. We called ahead for reservations, and booked the 12PM tour. The tour lasts about 90 minutes, and talks about the history of the hospital, shows the medical facilities, then introduces you to many of the current patients. It was very interesting.
First was a short lecture, and a movie. Then we were shown the hospital room. The whole facility used to be a motel property decades ago.
Then we went back to the rehabilitation tanks. If you notice, each turtle has their name written on their shell. They are typically named by the person who called the rescue organization.
Then we went back to the "waiting rooms", where turtles that had been recently treated or are awaiting treatment are housed.
It was very interesting, but I felt the group of about 40 people was too large for the tour guide to effectively reach. In the classroom, it was fine, but once we got out to the tanks, everyone was stretched out to far away to hear what she was saying. It's good that there is so much interest and they are making enough money to keep the rescues going, but it would have been nicer with a smaller group. Oh yeah, it was spring break, wasn't it?? I do think it was worth visiting.
After the tour, we stopped at Keys Fisheries, recommended by our friend Diane Crawford. You can see the line at the ordering window, and then you take your food out to one of their picnic tables on the dock. Al was really torn as to what he wanted, but ultimately decided to go with their specialty, the lobster Reuben sandwich. It sounded really weird, but he said it was very good.
The lobster Reuben, definitely worth ordering.
The view from the dock wasn't too hard to take either!
I will admit that the beach area around the state park wasn't very awesome. We drove down the road a bit, to Cocoplum Beach, so the dogs could go for a swim. Unfortunately, they are not allowed on the beach at the state park.
We also drove down and visited Sombrero Beach in Marathon, and that was a much nicer beach. There's a very nice boardwalk all along the park, with play areas and picnic areas as well. It's also dog-friendly, making it a good thing for us :-).
We also visited Crane Point Museum and Nature Trails. This is a small but interesting park on Marathon. We elected to take the trolley tour included in the admission fee, and the volunteer guide was very interesting and enthusiastic about the park. We walked around two of the nature trails while waiting for the tour and found some of the HUGEST spiders I've ever seen in my life. Called the golden orb spider, they were all over the place, so just take heed if you are not a spider-lover. The museum was small, but very well done, and I would recommend this attraction for a pleasant diversion for a few hours.
A visitor to our campsite one afternoon.
Went out to dinner one night at The Hideaway Cafe, just a few miles away from the state park. We had been here about 12 years ago, and remembered it as being very good. It still is, and we highly recommend a stop here if you're looking for a delicious dinner. Just don't let the ratty-looking motel that it's part of scare you....the Rainbow Bend Resort is an old motel with "atmosphere", shall we say!
Another day, being very windy and quite cool, we decided to take a drive down to Key West. It took us over two hours to get there from Marathon. Having packed a picnic lunch, we parked at Smather's Beach to enjoy it. Parking was easy; there weren't too many people around with the wind as bad as it was! We decided to drive down to the Southernmost Point buoy to check it out.....
this is as close as we got! There was a line at least a block long of people waiting to take their picture with it. No thank you! We drove, slowly, agonizingly slowly, through the business area, looked at each other, and said "We're done!" We headed back to Marathon and the peaceful campground. Spring break!!
Our last day there, Al went on a fishing charter out of Islamorada, leaving me to my project for the day while watching the puppies. We really enjoyed our lazy days on Marathon, and all to soon it was time to pack up and head home. We did break up the drive once again, this time heading up the east coast and stopping at Jonathan Dickinson State Park for the night. Our objective here was to visit with more friends from New York, Mark and Keira Poitras, who come down to Jupiter in March to visit family. Being as Mark is also my financial planner, I accomplished my annual financial update as well. After a great steak dinner at the campground, and a long visit, we parted ways until October, when we will see them again when we visit Long Island.
So we are back in Homosassa again, and our plan to leave this coming Tuesday has been slightly delayed until next Friday. A couple of medical issues, nothing serious, popped up that need to be addressed before we leave. This knocks St. Augustine off of our travel list, so next Friday we will be heading to Hardeeville, SC., just north of Savannah GA. We will be visiting family as well as Savannah for a few days, and we are looking forward to getting back on the road again. I just hope I can remember to get everything repacked into the trailer!!