Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Weather and the Music Roll On...

While some things change the more they stay the same here in KW - we have had lots of cold and windy weather like the rest of FL and the mid-Atlantic states (altho I'll still take our weather to theirs any day!!! Unless I'm skiing I see no need for snow and after 2 years in the sun, I'm not even sure I'm really stoked for that anymore altho the Winter Olympics have surely brought back some ski bunny desires! Doug and I used to ski almost every weekend back in Maine but somehow that seems like so long ago - part of a far distant past!) The other thing that never changes in KW is that the music continues to roll on although our friends Scott and Dave have had a hard time getting gigs in down on the Sunset Pier due to the cold - it's just not that much fun playing guitar in a parka to a small crowd of die hard fans tucked in beneath the plastic siding of the bar to hold in the warmth from the heat lamps!!! But hopefully the weather looks like it may just be starting to turn as we had a great portion of the day on Sunday and today is looking up too - sunny and in the 70s!!!

So what have we been doing besides hunkering down on the boat watching the Olympics?? Lots actually - we went out fishing the other day with Jesse who runs a fishing charter boat out of the marina here - he needed some hands to go test out the boat after a major repair and we were only too glad to fill in! It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day on the water with warm sun and really calm waters even out past the reef (way better than had been forecasted - now when does that ever happen???) We trolled a reef and I caught a big barracuda which we used for bait the rest of the day - first time I ever actually wanted to catch one of those things (when we were in the Bahamas we dreaded catching them because at some point you had to get that guy off your line and they have major teeth!!!) Of course our battery in the camera was dead so no pictures - sorry! We didn't have much luck fishing out on the wreck - seemed like whenever we'd get a fish on, some large jewfish, grouper or shark would come up and eat the whole thing - hook, line, sinker and fish included!!! So we trolled around for awhile and I actually caught a black fin tuna but that was about it - still a really awesome day on the water all in all!!! That night as if the day couldn't get any better, we had a fabulous dinner on Belissimo with Shawna, John and Jim!!! Shawna clearly outdid herself making shrimp and veggie tempura and platefuls of sushi and sashimi (although not with my tuna which we had left with Jesse) while the rest of us slugs just seemed to look on, drinks in hand of course, trying to occasionally help here and there (really she wouldn't let us do much!) What a feast - thanks so much Shawna!!!
Shawna the Chef
Dinner on Bellisimo

After a really late evening of sushi (we didn't even sit down to dinner until 10:30, had several courses and of course had to have key lime pie for desert!!), 7:00 AM the next morning came around pretty early but we had promised Terry and Loie of Coconuts that we would do breakfast crepes with them. Not surprisingly no one else at the dock joined us - 7:00 AM is a little early for most cruisers!!! As I struggled to get going that morning I was reminded of a great line by Charles Emerson Winchester on the iconic TV show MASH - "A Winchester only recognizes one 5:30 per day, and this (5:30 AM) is NOT it!" But we wound up having wonderful crepes and very large caffeine drinks at a cute place over by Blue Heaven - the company was great and by the time we got home we were raring to go while all the other slugs on the dock were just starting to wake up!! We snuck in the weekly Wednesday evening cocktail party on Coconuts despite the "iffy" weather - the sunset was great but once the sun was down, the temp plummeted cutting short our outdoor gathering!!
Cocktails on Coconuts
Sunset from the Boat Deck on Coconuts

After several days stuck inside the boat with the Bootser (days by the way the Bootser loves since she gets to sit in our laps and be fed treats or kitty bon-bons all day),
Bootser Enjoys an Afternoon in Doug's Lap
we finally got a warm morning (notice I didn't say day because it turned to crap in the afternoon but that morning we didn't know that!) So Doug and I forgot about boat chores and decided to make a day of it in town - we needed to be outside, soaking up the sun and actually doing something physical. What a great day we had - we started out riding our scooters over to Smathers Beach where we parked them and proceeded to walk for miles along the board walk (also known as the East Coast Greenway - a walking trail that connects every major city on the entire eastern seaboard - who knew???).
The Entrance to the East Coast Greenway
It felt glorious to feel the sun and salt spray on our faces as we walked along watching the kiteboarders who were out in force,
Kiteboarder off Smathers Beach
the gulls
Gulls Sitting on a Rock off Smathers Beach
and the ever present families of chickens (we are after all in KW where the chickens and roosters rule!)
A Chicken and Her Family...
and Daddy
After heading over to Higgs Beach we stopped at the African Cemetery where several hundred African men, women and children were buried back in the 1800's after a horrific slave trade voyage from Africa. See what you can learn when you get out and about!!!
The African Cemetery

We also stopped in at the West Martello Tower which has been turned into a flowering sculpture garden by the KW Garden Club - it is a hidden oasis right in the heart of the beach area and a must see treasure! We walked along the palm and tree lined paths (one of our favorites was the old man palm with the hairy trunk!!)
Old Man Palm Tree
enjoying the flowering beauty as well as the local artist sculptures - there are all kinds of palms, cacti, wild orchids, flowing streams, and banyan trees which blend in with and often grow out of the ruins of the old brick tower!!
Doug Under a Banyan Tree
One of the 21 Sculptures

By this time the sun had been chased from the sky by some ominous looking black clouds so we figured it was time to find shelter and of course a coldie or two which by this time we desperately needed so it was on to Guy Harvey's for their $1 drafts and some just great people watching (where else besides KW can you walk into a bar and see a pirate in full dress sitting at the bar talking to an angel in a wedding gown and wings and not have anyone give them a second glance???)

A burger and some popcorn at Johnny Rocco's and some more people watching were on the agenda for the afternoon as we watched the tourists try to dodge the raindrops (Conchs just don't seem to mind much - guess we don't melt!!) With a break in the rain we walked down by the KW bight to get our "water fix" and watched some seriously cool pelicans play amongst the fishing boats.

Finally it was time for happy hour at Kelly's - we've gotten quite addicted to their thai chili wings and at $4 for a pound, it's one of the best bargains on the island which is why at 4:01 every afternoon the place is jammed!!! We met up with some dock folks who seemed to be on our same schedule - Kelly's for happy hour followed by the Sound Check at the Green Parrot at 5:30!!! Bill Blue, an amazing blues musician who was one of the original musicians to play the Parrot when it opened, was going to rock the stage. And rock it he did!!! What an amazing show - we were joined by our entire dock gang
Some of the Gang at the Green Parrot
and even Scott and Michelle Kirby showed up (believe it or not, Bill actually played at Scott and Michelle's wedding many moons ago down here in KW!!) As the rain poured down outside, Bill and his band turned up the heat inside and had the whole bar rocking
Bill Blue and His Band
- it was wild to see Bill up on the stage next to the cardboard cut-out of a much younger version of him which always graces the Parrot stage - too cool!!
Bill in Front of His Cut-out
When it was time to leave, it was still pretty rainy and cold (so much for our one perfect day!!!) so Scott let Doug borrow his coat for the scooter ride back to the ghetto - it was only when we got back to Gypsies that Doug got the vmail that unfortunately Scott's keys were in his coat - OOPS!!! No good deed every goes unpunished I guess as Scott had to cab back to his house and then Scott and Michelle drove out to the ghetto to pick up his keys - sorry guys!!!!

Yesterday poured buckets with 30 knot wind gusts so Bootsie had another great day - today however has dawned sunny and warm so she knows what's coming - it's time for the grown-ups (and I use that term very loosely) to go play!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Friends....Here and There!!

Well it has been a whirlwind down here which is why I'm so tardy with the blog - when old friends are in town there are just lots of better things to do than sit at a computer screen and blog - it's time to play!!! First into town was our friend Captain Laura who lives up in Tampa but was in town with some friends for a weekend. Capt Laura was the one who came down to Rock Hall, MD when we first got Gypsies to show us a thing or two (or a hundred) about our new boat - 7,600 miles under our keel later we are still friends and really thankful we had such a great teacher and now have such a great friend!!! Despite the rain and wind (which seems to be ever present this winter in KW - what's up with that??), we had a party on Gypsies - I know, there's a shocker!!

One of these days we'll actually get some nice weather so we can all hang out up on the flybridge - but that was not to be the other night. No matter - we had a great time catching up and having fun!!

We had a free day to ourselves so took the scooters into town for some fun and festivities - starting out at Guy Harveys, we then stopped into Irish Kevin's to see Bil Krauss who was as fun as always!
Bil Krauss
The place was hopping with the usual collection of drunk tourists off the cruise ships who had no hope of making it to even 2:00 pm before passing out given their state of sobriety when we got there around noon!!! Bil was having a field day with many of them but especially the guy with the bright purple mohawk who sat at one of the front tables (now that's just asking for it!!!!) We had lunch with Bil at Fogarty's, one of our favorite Duval people watching haunts, and then finally got over to Kelly's Caribbean Bar and Grill for some happy hour wings and brewed ales (this is Kelly McGinnis' joint and the southernmost brewery)
- the thai chili wings rocked although it is unclear whether they top Schooner Wharf's Caribbean spice wings - I think much more field research will be needed to resolve this one!!!
Happy Hour at Kelly's
A T-shirt at the Southernmost Brewery

The next day our great friends from Kennebunkport, ME, Francesca and John Spain who drove down from their winter pad in Sebring, FL, arrived in town for a several day stay, just in time I might add for the weekly sunset party on Coconuts which we decided to have despite the threatening weather!!! John and Francesca got to bundle up and meet all our dock buddies while enjoying some wonderful appetizers including some delicious Key West pink shrimp thanks to Loie!!!

Bootsie loved having Aunt Francesca to play with in the morning as the boat rooster struck again!!! After many pots of coffee for John, we trekked into town for the Duval Crawl although we strayed off the beaten path somewhat as well - lunch at Fogarty's,
Lunch at Fogarty's
music at Irish Kevins, a walk along the docks with coldies at Schooner while listening to Michael McCloud where we showed them the historic southernmost broken cleat,
The Southernmost Broken Cleat...Only in Key West!
a little hat fashion show by Doug at Fast Buck Freddies (he was channeling Bob from September Song who we think has a hat fetish - missing you guys!),

and then we finally wound up over at Kelly's for happy hour wings.
Thai Chili Wings at Kelly's
But the night was not over until we headed down to the sunset pier to hear a little of Scott and Dave's gig!!! If today sounds eerily like the other day and many days before, well that's life in KW - it's pretty much just one fun day after another but when you have friends in town, it's even better!!!! The next day was surprisingly beautiful so we took full advantage of the sun and warmth with a pool day - we haven't had nearly enough of those lately!!! That afternoon we met the dock gang at the Green Parrot for sound check to hear Jason Ricci, a very hip harmonica player and his band. The Green Parrot has this great thing where some of their bands will play for an hour or so around 5:30 for a "sound check" and then again that night at 10 - for us old farts that means we get to hear some seriously great music and not have to stay up until way past our bedtimes - only kidding - maybe!
Jason Ricci Performs at the Green Parrot
We dodged the raindrops to run over to Fogarty's again for dinner - Francesca really likes it there!!! After a great dinner where the boys had a ball swapping iphone aps and getting a little silly,
John Demonstrates One of His iPhone Apps
John was gracious enough to run back for the truck and pick us up out front so we didn't get drenched!!! Now that's friendship!!!

Unfortunately on Saturday we had to say goodbye to Francesca and John - we were headed up to Tampa for several days and they were headed back to Sebring for the the rest of the winter. The really, really hard part was leaving Bootsie for several days - she was not happy with us although our friends Jill and Brett had promised to take good care of her and spend lots of time with her!!! We tag-teamed our way up through the Keys and had a final goodbye lunch at John's favorite all time restaurant - Cracker Barrel!!! We had such a wonderful time with those guys catching up and just having fun - we plan on doing it again before they head north in the spring (after all we never had time to make it to the drag queen show at Aqua - we've learned our lesson, it is a drag queen show not a tranny show!!! Thanks for clarifying that Aqua with your comment to our last blog!!) Thanks guys for coming down to see us and for all the wonderful citrus!!!

Doug and I road trip together pretty well so the 8 hour drive to Tampa passed before we knew it - well OK our butts knew it but we were in good spirits!! A wonderful dinner at the bar at PF Changs was a great way to kick off our visit!! The next night was the Superbowl which we spent munching on delivery pizza and fries in our hotel room - go Saints!!! We were in complete sympatico with the who dat nation so while we had some tough moments in that first quarter, the rest of the game was just awesome!!! Good thing the walls were thick because we got quite boisterous!!! What a game and we even got to see Peytie Pie throw his helmet!!!! If you can't guess, being from New England we are not real big Manning fans!!! The Tampa trip was a whirlwind but we did sneak in an evening to catch up with our friends Todd and Brenda on Life's2Short who were in St. Pete - we last saw them over in the Bahamas back in June!!! We hung out for a couple beers at the house where they are staying for the winter (Life's2Short is tied up in the canal out back!!) and then hit Crabby Bill's for some great seafood - after all we had wheels so we could venture out!!!
Todd, Brenda and Doug at Crabby Bill's
Dinner at Crabby Bill's
It was way fun to see those guys and catch up on everything - they plan on heading down our way sometime in March/April so we can't wait to show them around KW!! See you soon guys!!! We had hoped to catch up again with Capt Laura who lives in Tampa but just simply ran out of time - too many friends, too little time!!! next chance we get!!!

Finally, as if that wasn't enough fun and games for one week, on our way home to KW from Tampa we stopped in at Sarasota to see our friends Stephanie and Bob (and Cassie and Godiva too!!!) on September Song - yippee the gang was back together even if just for one night!!!! Man it was so good to see those guys - after lots of hugs and kisses (especially from Cassie and Godiva!!) we had a great time catching up and making plans for their trip south later in March to KW!!!! Joe from Sea Pearl was also in the marina so joined the festivities - we even got to see his boat dog Salty!!! We dodged the raindrops for a quick walk into town for some cannolis (what are the odds of Bob finding the local bakery in town - pretty darn good!) - wish we could have spent more time there since Sarasota looked like a really cool town to explore with lots of local color, funky ethnic restaurants and dive bars side by side with wonderful stores and galleries - next time through!!
A Bicycle on the Streets of Sarasota
For now we had way too little time to spend renewing the party with our bestest boat buddies ever!!! After several rounds of app's in the pilothouse, chef Stephanie outdid herself with some linguine and clam sauce (Joe had brought the clams fresh from Pine Island!!!) - the night was way too short to have all the fun we wanted to although we sure did give it the college try!
Dinner is Being Prepared in the Galley on September Song
Dinner on September Song
While it was sad to say goodbye in the morning - at least we know we'll see them soon on their way south!!! We have yet another date for a drag queen show!!!! Thanks for everything guys - see you soon!!

The drive home yesterday was long (why does it always seem longer on the way home??) so we broke it up with stops at Walmart (there aren't any in the Keys so we take advantage of them when we have a car and can!!!) and a late lunch at Hog Heaven in Islamorada!! We arrived home back at Gypsies just in time for the sunset party on Coconuts which had been moved inside due to the cold weather - but we didn't have it in us! Yes you heard that right!! We had lots of time and loving to make up for with the Bootser after being gone for so long - although she told us that Uncle Brett and Aunt Jill had taken really good care of her (thanks so much guys!!!!)
Bootsie Letting Us Know She's Still a Little Mad at Us
We spent the night watching a movie with Bootsie on a blanket in our laps feeding her treats and giving her lots of love!!! She is almost over being mad at us - almost!! The boat rooster and I spent lots of quality time last night so I think we are good!!!!

Today is a stay at home, love Bootsie and try to catch up on boat chores day - we had thought about going to the Miami boat show but the four hour drive back up the Keys was not in our cards for today!!! The first time you do that drive it is fun and pretty, the second time it's OK but after that, it's just a pain in the butt!!! Maybe we'll go tomorrow but then again maybe we won't - we'll just have to see how the spirit moves us.

Monday, February 1, 2010


It's been really, really cool to have our scooters - they give us the freedom to just take off into town on a whim (the only down side is when you get caught in a squall, there's no place to hide and trust me, you get really wet!!! Yes, this is said from experience!!!) Before it was a prolonged decision whether or not we had it in us to ride our bikes into town - the six mile ride in wasn't the issue, it was the killer six mile ride home always with the wind directly in your face and always after at least several cocktails. Now we don't even pause - we just hop on and go!!! This could be dangerous!!! And the gas mileage sure is great - I filled my scooter up the other day and it took 0.7 gallon for a whopping $2.13 and it will last me for weeks!!!

The other day we wanted to go scout out the local marinas in KW to "check out the competition" - we always love walking around looking at boats anyways (and besides there is always lots going on down on the docks in KW!!) In between several stops at Schooner and other local watering holes, we saw the usual huge tarpon swimming around the piers waiting for some tourist to feed them but what we didn't expect to see was this beautiful heron standing on the edge of the dock while this lazy old cat slept right nearby (brave heron? or just really lazy cat??)
Brave Heron
Lazy Cat
Several of the parasail guys really stepped up to help a poor pelican who had swallowed a large fish hook - lucky for her they were there and cared enough to help her as they successfully got the hook out of her mouth and let her be on her way!!!
The Pelican After the Removal of the Fish Hook
As usual the fishing boats cleaning their catch always attract a crowd - these guys were really hungry down by the Raw Bar!!

That evening we all hopped in Brett and Jill's van for a party over at Nancy and Bob's house (not only do they have a boat Sun Luver at our marina but they actually have a house in KW too!) The wine flowed (thanks guys - what a treat to drink good wine from a bottle no less!!!) and the food was to die for (that's one thing cruisers do really well - killer app's!!!)
The Gang and Apps at Nancy and Bob's House
We were joined by some of their friends from KW and then it was on to the Los Van Van concert out at Fort Zachary Taylor! Of course there were drink booths set up
Drink Booths
- the only issue was you had to wait in line to buy drink coupons which took awhile but since the band was over an hour and a half late arriving on stage we had plenty of time to fuel up (as if we needed it!!)
The Gang Stands in Line for Coupons
Doug, Nancy and Jill Waiting for the Concert to Start
Shawna and John Waiting for the Concert to Start
The concert was great - Los Van Van is a grammy award winning 14 piece Cuban jazz/dance band who are gearing up for a huge US tour. Without understanding a word they said (I really need to learn Spanish - yet one more of those things I thought I'd have time to learn while cruising that didn't happen!!!), we all just let the beat sweep us away!!
The Crowd and the Band
Los Van Van

We hit KW the other day for a huge craft fair out on the streets of downtown - that's part of what we love about this town, there is ALWAYS something going on!!!
The Craft Fair
We wandered from booth to booth oohing and aahing over things that in our prior life we would have scooped up but which don't exactly fit on the boat (so we got out of there without buying anything - that never used to happen!!) We wandered the streets which in KW is a full time occupation for some as there is so much to see - we came upon the first well drunk from by pirates in the 1700's
Pirate Well
and the southernmost brewery (everything down here is the southernmost something which can be pretty humorous - outside Schooner Wharf is the southernmost broken cleat - gotta love people with a sense of humor!!!)
Entrance to the Southernmost Brewery
Finally it was back out to the SI ghetto to meet up with Brett and Jill at the Hogfish Bar and Restaurant where Raven was playing all afternoon.
Brett and Tammy at the Bar in Hogfish
Brett and Doug at the Bar in Hogfish
Hogfish is a local Stock Island bar and as such is home to an unbelievable array of local color and characters ranging from fishermen and shrimpers to artists of all nature - there's even usually a local contingent of boaters!!! On any given day you will see some of the funniest tee-shirts known to man since that seems to be the accepted dress code but this one and the character wearing it took the cake!!!
We have heard Raven before at Schooners and she has the most amazing voice - she can go from Latin diva to no lie Johnny Cash in a heartbeat. You'd swear if you weren't watching the sounds come out of her mouth that there had to be two singers!!!!
She rocked out the afternoon while we enjoyed a few cocktails along with a packed house - the Hog was a stop on the KW food and wine festival that was also happening that weekend (did I mention there is always something cool going on down here!!!)

Today our friend Captain Laura is in town so despite the fact it is raining, I'm sure we'll come up with something fun to do!!! Our friends Francesca and John Spain from Kennebunkport roll into town on Wednesday and will be here for a few days so we're gearing up for a really cool week. We haven't seen them since last year when we visited them in their new home in Sebring, FL!!!!