Thursday, January 27, 2011

Marathon and Key West

We left Grand Haven, Michigan 5 months ago today to begin our journey on the Great Loop.  It's amazing how time flies.  I'm also amazed that I have over 10,000 page hits to my website in the 5 months I've been doing it!  How can I only have 14 "Followers"....I don't know.  I hope everyone following my blog has enjoyed it and I really appreciate all of the comments given. My stories could run for hours, but I like the pictures to be my main focus.

This week my parents, Art and Yvonne, came for a visit to Marathon right after they stepped off a cruise ship Sat. in Ft. Lauderdale.  Fortunately, their car holds all 7 of us, but since they've packed everything to stay in Florida for two months, it ALL has to come out for us to fit.  This picture shows most of their baggage plus one more roller board!  We put it all up in the helm and joke how they get a "walk-in" closet on the Negotiator!      
 Morgan loves creating Capsters (a craft G&Grandpa gave her for xmas). You take a bottle top (stash donated from the Birch Lodge from the Jermstads) and glue a picture, figurine, etc. to the inside of it and a magnet on the back. 
 After a trip into Publix for groceries we came outside to find a cold and windy night.  We enjoyed catching up and one night played gin and Euchre. 
The following day we spent in Key West.  On the trip there we stopped at a Nautical Flea Market and Deer Key where we saw a miniature deer crossing the road.  We made it to the southern most point of the US and there was about an hour wait to take your picture by the structure/ my picture has other people posing next to it. 
 Wild chickens run around town like squirrels in Michigan!
 Beautiful statues filled the area.
 They were very detailed and impressive.
 Ryann insisted this picture make it into the blog. The man lying on the bottom is a statue as well.
 Grandma Yvonne and Grandpa Art treated to a round of ice cream. 

 Always up for the touristy moments.

 Right before sunset the street performers come out of the woodwork.  This guy is a "one man band" and he really did a great job.
The man with the banjo wasn't very entertaining, but his dog stole the show by taking peoples dollars and putting them into the bucket.  He could take multiple peoples money at one time and then wait for his reward....a treat! 

 A Disney Cruise ship added ambiance to a sunset photo.
 A mutual love and admiration for one another. The kids love their time with G&G and fret over when they're leaving. 
 Another photo of the dinghy dock at the City Marina which doesn't even show half of them. It's a community of boaters like we've never seen before.
 My parents took the kids to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. 
 April the turtle pictured here was among several that were saved at the hospital.
 Ryann said Crusher (pictured below) looks just like Squirt on "Finding Nemo."
McDonalds was a welcoming treat after a fun field day trip.
 Our weekly visit with the homeschooling group had a great turnout.  Pictured here are just the girls on the parallel bars.  From left: Grace, Megan, Colleen, Keena, Bethany holding Mia, Ryann, Morgan and Mia.
 Boo Boo, Jim and Gloria's dog, spent the day with us while they were at Trawler Fest in Stuart, FL. 
 Ryann could not get enough of him!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun in the Keys

Another fun week of great weather and playing in the sun!  The kids seem to be getting their schoolwork done a lot quicker now and are anxious to get outside and play!

We found a beautiful huge starfish.  Too bad it was alive as it's a federal offense to take them!
 It was fun to see the ocean so alive!
 Hard to believe the water was warm enough for swimming, but with many 80+ degree days in a row, it was perfect!
 Their 'tongues out' symbolized the newness of salt water once again.
 Action shot under the clear blue water.
 Jaxon was holding down the dinghy that day while the girls brought hermit crabs, starfish, etc. to the boat for him to take care of.
 Flyin Ryann our circus star!  The next day went to the beach Ryann was stung by a jellyfish.  It was very painful, but she was a trooper.
 Jaxon-nator - is what he sometimes calls himself!
A friendly stingray stayed close to us for awhile and circled the dinghy as we stood next to it (ready to jump into the boat at a moments notice). 
While the kids and I played on an island, Craig circled around with the dinghy as the seashore was a rocky coral texture.
 Ryann drove us home from the beach and did a great job.  At one point she circled us around and gave us many laughs as she learned how to steer and use the throttle.
 Jaxon fell asleep in the dinghy after a long day in the sun at Sombrero Beach.
One evening we had terrible storms. It was the only evening all week that there wasn't a perfect sunset.  The boat pictured here only stayed for one night, but the owners were from Cascade, Michigan which is the town RIGHT next to ours back home.  They keep their boat at Bay Harbor in northern Michigan during the summer.
Rich and Deb, (Craig's parents) gave us an iPad for Christmas.  It is one of the first things we've ever had that we ALL want at once.  It's truly fun for everyone, educational, convenient and the novelty hasn't worn off at all.  What a perfect gift!
 What a cute little cat with a collar on sitting at the edge of this sailboat.
The Sombrero Reef is about 5 miles from our marina in Boot Key Harbor and consists of mooring balls and a great place for snorkeling.  The tower pictured has been around since the early 1800's.  This reef is the third largest in the world and four lighthouse keepers have perished while on duty.  We tried to stay but the waves were too choppy.  Will try again next week.  It's good to get the boat out once a week so barnacles don't build up. 
 A fun ride down the dock.
 Sunset Grille is a restaurant with a heated pool.  Some loopers met for happy hour and the kids were able to swim. 
 The view was great and overlooked the Seven Mile Bridge.
 This is a game called "ring toss." Look for the string with a hook on the end and you have to get the hook around a nail in the wall. Harder than it appears!
Corn hole is always a hit!
Another action shot!
The kids swimming with Daria Samway 10 (cruising the Great Loop with her family aboard Muddy Waters).
Ryann with a tiara made from palm leaves.
We attended a homeschooling group function at the park that is held every Tuesday.  The kids LOVED playing with other children and for an hour and a half an employee from the City of Marathon facilitates gym class from kick ball, spider tag, dodge ball, etc. 
Jaxon met another 4 year old named Buddy and they had a great time.  He has a sister that's 8 and another whose 6 months.
There were many kids there and I was so caught up in the fun that I forgot to take pictures.  At the end a few kids got together to play with this Iguana.  The girl in the red shirt, Mia, wasn't afraid AT ALL and proceeded to pass around this friendly wild reptile caught minutes before this picture was taken.  Megan 9 (pink shirt on left, Mia 3 next to her and Grant 7 on the right with black shorts are siblings and cruising kids aboard their sailing vessel. It was fun to talk to their parents, Kim and Rob as we lead similar lives. 
Ryann loved it!
Morgan said it felt like holding an alligator.
Look mom, no hands!
More starfish next to an island near Sombrero Beach. 
Our friends and fellow loopers.  Aboard Crawdad - Jim and Gloria Crawford and aboard Blue Yonder - Pete and Anna Gulick. The kids made apple cake and Anna brought a great new fun drink for all of us to share. 

My parents, Art and Yvonne Lewis will be joining us Saturday for a few days. We have many fun things on the agenda and look forward to another great week.