Saturday, February 25, 2017

So now I guess we have a Fleet...

My sanity has always been a tiny bit on the questionable side...
It took a turn for the lunatic in 2008.
I didn't realize it at the time.
Of course, that's what they all say.

What happened in 2008 you ask?
Well, my husband decided it would be fun to build a small sailboat from a kit.
Never mind that we neither one know how to sail. Or that we live in the middle of the country where there is very little sailing, compared to, oh say Maine or the Caribbean. 


Nothing But a Breeze was built in 2008 and took it first trip to the Gulf of Mexico in the back of a rental truck in 2011 where we were the entertainment for everyone in Destin harbor.
And a sea turtle.

It was a short keel-haul to phase two: 

A 15 foot sloop built from plans. Blue Skies took a little bit longer to build, beginning in 2009 and launching in June of 2013. Later that year she got her first taste of salt water, again in the Gulf at Destin where we entertained everyone in Choctawatchee Bay.
And some dolphins.
And a guy in a HUGE yacht who thought it was funny to cruise really really close to us, causing us to surf down his wake...
Fast forward to 2016.
We have been sailing for 8 years now. We both have US Sailing 101 certifications. Rob has ASA Sailing 103-104. We have rented and sailed 24ft to 39ft mono-hull boats on both fresh and salt water.

And in December of 2016 we kicked off the holiday season by purchasing this:
Cool Change. Thankfully an acceptable name. It is a whole big deal, not to mention bad luck, to change it. And that isn't cool...
Cool Change.
A C&C24.
A 24 foot mono-hull sailboat with a v-berth built in 1976.
A fixer-upper.
We pondered the purchase of this boat for nearly a year -http://www.coastofillinois.com/2016/06/middle-age-couple-checks-out-fixer-upper.html, first taking a glancing look at it in the fall of 2015 then again in the Spring of 2016. I was against the purchase while Rob was for it. Then I would be pro-boat and he would be against.
We both knew that owning a boat, docked 3 hours away, would mean many weekends away from home working on projects. But it could also mean owning a boat 3 hours away from the hub-bub that is staying home on a weekend.
It was on the drive back up US 1 from Key West to Miami last November, coming home from a vacation where we sailed several days with friends on our own 'personal' sailboat that we both, nearly simultaneously said – 'remember that old sailboat...'

And after much negotiating and a fortuitous price drop we became the proud owners of a floating project.
I am still not sure if the seller was more excited that he had unloaded the boat or amused that we actually bought it.
We spent the first few hours of ownership taking turns climbing in and out of the hold, unloading everything that would fit in the back of our car for the trip home. The plan being to spend the cold winter months beginning the rehab project.
Things have moved along quite nicely. 
We brought back the table, companionway doors and tiller. 
The fold up table is going to get a re-design. Hopefully with a little storage and a more efficient, modern style.
The companionway door. In serious need of refinishing rebuilding. Unfortunately, the bottom is rotted away. Rob has cut a new door of some poplar and is currently debating which color stain to use in order to match the remaining good wood on the boat. His preference would have been oak, but there was none to be found when he was at the wood shop and he is itching to get things moving.
Tiller, sanded down with one coat of varnish. We weren't sure what sanding would uncover - the wood was sadly neglected and a very weathered grey.

A SCREEN DOOR!! We jokingly commented what a good addition a screen door would be. And then we found one on the boat!


My only contribution so far has been to help unfold and refold the sails and convince Rob to replace ALL the slugs on the two main sails. The boat, for reasons unknown to us, came with FIVE sails - two main, one jib and two genoas. Genoas being extra huge jibs, for really catching a lot of wind, especially should you wish to race...
Here is what FIVE sails in a family room look like: 
Sails
Sails, cushions and a sunshade in need of dying.

Sails, sail bags and cushions.
 My other contribution has been to over-dye the cushion fabric. Originally we thought about completely re-doing the upholstery but on closer inspection the fabric, while faded, was in pretty good shape. The cushions are firm and not at all musty. This is a huge savings this year. Upholstery fabric is a little pricey and cushion foam is crazy expensive. Eventually I have plans for a Pintrest worthy fabric re-do. But for now we will be happy with Navy blue.
The original v-berth fabric. Had to tell in the pic but it was pretty faded, especially after washing.

To our surprise, this is the original fabric, found under the navy material. Quite stained, but the fact that is was not smelly and still pretty much in one piece does speak to how well the boat had been maintained in its day.
after washing. before four bottles of Rit navy blue dye.
The v-berth cushion after dyeing and re-upholstering. Sorry the pic is upside down. The computer is fighting me.

As we get closer to Spring, we are both getting more excited to get down and actually spend some time inside and out. Rob has a first hand, splinter to splinter knowledge of the two boats he has built. This one remains something of a mystery. The owners manual, while extensive, is no match for hands on living. I have only been inside twice, the second time while the boat was on stilts - not very conducive to planning. My dream is to have a beautiful, functional albiet tiny living space where we can retreat on weekends.

Next big project is restringing the sheets to the mainsail. 
And repainting the hull prior to putting her in the lake. 

Stay tuned for more This Old Boat!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

missing...

I have a palm tree necklace.
It set us back a whole ten dollars, purchased on the boardwalk in Destin, Florida during the first trip my husband and I took alone after our children were grown.
Its multi-colored rhinestones were the most sparkly of all the rhinestones in the kiosk, set up to attract tourists hoping to capture a moment in time.
I have written about this necklace and its significance to me. The strength I garner when I wear it; the joy it brings me to see it sparkling in a mirror; the smile it draws from total strangers when they take notice of the out of place symbol of tropical sun on a cold snowy Midwestern day.

But my necklace has lost a little sparkle. First one beige trunk stone, then a green frond stone. Looking at it today I see a second stone from the trunk gone.
I never see these stones disappear.
One day they are there.
The next they are gone...

We lost a co-worker this past week.
He was there on a Friday, being his typical quiet smiling self.
And on Monday we learned he was gone.
Just like those rhinestones, mysteriously disappearing.

But unlike those worthless stones, we do know when and where he disappeared.

With one selfish, violent act.
The pull of a trigger.
This sweet, gentle man disappeared.

Yet that knowing doesn't help.
My co-workers and I wandered through our work week slightly off-kilter, missing that bit of sparkle.
Disbelief and anger the undercurrent.
Questions unanswered.
Potential unfulfilled.
A life ended as the result of a selfish, violent act.

As healthcare workers in an urban environment, we see the effects of gun violence. It is seldom random, yet in the two times it has struck our work family the victims were innocent.
That's two co-workers in the ten years I have worked in the city. Three victims in all, who I have known. The third being a friend and co-worker of my husband, in his law enforcement days.
Three in ten years.

It's tiresome.

There is nothing honorable about gun violence. It is selfish. Pure and simple.
You have something I want.
You said something I disagree with.
You are with someone who should be with me.
You aren't the color
                        religion
                        sex
                        class....I feel is best.
So a trigger is pulled...

and another sparkling rhinestone disappears...

From now on, when I look at this necklace, I will first see those missing stones.
One for my husband's co-worker. Our first experience with violent crime. He died in the line of duty, while apprehending a known dangerous felon.
One for the co-worker who was nearly killed but survived.
And now one for the dear, quiet man who was here on Friday...


But I will not only see the empty spaces.
I will see the sparkle of the remaining stones and remember the brightness each of those men brought to our world.
I will remember the strength of the palm tree, how it bends in a storm, sways in the breeze, shades a weary person on an unbearable day.

Life is too fragile to do otherwise.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Boom Boom Boom Boom

Burlesque:
a literary, dramatic or musical work
intended to cause laughter...


I admit it.
I am a Lost Generation, Great Gatsby-esque addict.
The clothes, the lifestyle. Beautifully refined with a little dirt showing around the edges...
So when I heard about the Boom Boom Room here on the Coast of Illinois, it was pretty obvious where we would be going for our anniversary.
Washington Ave by instagram filter.
The Boom Boom Room, billed as a 1920's speakeasy with a modern twist, it sits on the corner of 14th and St. Charles street. Just at the edge of the glitz that is Washington Avenue.
Red velvet curtains part as you enter...
Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway serenade as you are lead to your table...
If you let the management know you are celebrating an event you get balloons, fedoras and tiaras!
We chose the dinner and show package.
Our table – linen cloth covered – sat in a corner, slightly elevated which gave us a great view of the stage. Actually, there are no terrible seats. The stage sits center of the room and is surrounded by tables for two and four. There are larger tables slightly elevated on the outer edge, still within easy viewing of the show, although the table of eight next to us needed to turn slightly in their chairs.

The drink menu offers a handful of cocktails named for some of the performers. I chose the Vera Valentina, a slightly tart take on a cosmo. It was a nice way to start the evening.
The drink menu also has a variety of wines – red, white and sparkling. Most mixed drinks were $9-10 each as were the wines by the glass. Bottles are available as well.
Oh, and there is beer.
But come on...a drink named Lolita Love or a beer???

Dinner is served in four courses.
A nice mixed green salad started. Nothing fancy to look at but the vinaigrette was spicy and delicious.
Second course was salmon en papillote.
Oo la la...
A piece of salmon atop sliced zucchini roasted in parchment.
We are both fish lovers but weren't quite sure how a restaurant would get by serving a room full of diners all the same fish. In fact, a couple of women at the table next to our quietly voiced their hatred of fish, prior to the arrival of the plates. Not that I was spying but I don't believe I saw any plates left untouched.
The fish course was also served with a side of Lulu La Toosh...
Mademoiselle La Toosh, whose French accent was clearly from the south side...., introduced the Burlesque Bombshells -three women and one very attractive man- while belting out the opening number from Chicago. The only thing bigger than Lulu's voice are her boobs. But only by a tiny bit. She sang and joked and held the audience captive. Especially the very tall, handsome man sitting directly in front of her...
But anyway,

Third course was an unbelievably tender and tasty braised short ribs atop mashed potatoes, green beans and a side of dance... 

 The evening ended with a showstopping fire dance and dessert of what I can only describe as a stripped down S'More. 
 (Get it...stripped down...)
A smear of toasted marshmallow held the richest, creamiest square of chocolate fudge ganache with a crisp graham cracker base.

As the house lights came up, the dancers graciously posed for pictures and circulated through the room. 
Did I mention the very attractive man?...
We left pleasantly surprised at how delicious the meal was, how tastefully entertaining the show was and convinced that we would return...with our friends who were TOO CHICKEN to go with us!!
I mean, come on, this isn't Hollywood on the East side. There were no pasties until the dessert course...
Our waitress Coochy Capone.
 The Boom Boom Room is located at 500 North 14th St in St. Louis.
They are open Wednesday-Saturday 6pm-1:30am with dinner shows on Friday and Saturday.
Dinner show tickets run $16-$23 for the show. Dinner is billed separately and averages around $50 per person, not adding in drinks. Seating for the dinner show begins at 7pm and the evening is over around 9:30.
There are also late night shows starting at 10pm, priced at $19-$23. 
We did hear a rumor that beginning on Mother's Day there would be a Sunday Brunch show...because nothing says I Love You Mom like a burlesque strip show and what I can only assume will be a buffet of deliciousness.
For more info go to their website: theboomboomroomstl.com

(As always, I must disclose that this review is purely my opinion and was not sponsored by anyone.)
 I had hoped to get pictures of all the performers but on review most were just to fuzzy to use. You will have to take my word for it, they were all fantastic!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Love is in the Air...Why is it so Cold...

I love February.
Oh sure, its grey outside. And cold.
This is what winter looks like on the Coast of Illinois
But think about it...

January is the worst. (Except for our daughter's birthday which is the BEST).
It's cold. It's grey. It's dark.
I mean, come on. I get up at 0530 – dark. I get off work at 1830 (6:30pm for you non-military/hospital peeps) – dark.
Try explaining this to our cat, who is dark grey and wants, no DEMANDS, to go outside in the mornings. The light and his coat are the same color and unless I turn on the nuclear reactor light by our back door – which the neighbors have sanctioned – he is invisible.
The month is THIRTY-ONE days long!!! That's THIRTY-ONE days of 'new diet and exercise' plans...in the dark...

But February...
Cold, grey February.
It's spelled weirdly which makes it fun to say – Feb- brew- airy!
It's only 28 days long. But sometimes it's 29. And then it's 28 again. Like a lottery power ball, or a Hollywood Starlet who just can't quite admit she's aging out of the high school cheerleader rolls.
Tiny green things begin popping up in the gardens after the evil January warm up which promptly turns into thunder snow-ice storm-even more frigid cold than before.
It is followed by March. Which is a pretty fickle month in and of itself, but in my brain calendar March is the revolving door to Spring, which once you manage to escape the rotating glass, puts you smack into April which is such a happy name that you just know things are looking up.

February plays host to two of my favorite events.
Groundhogs Day.
A day celebrating a fat mid-sized rodent.
Like all good, weird holidays, its roots are in religion. Candlemas to be exact. Which has exactly ZERO groundhogs in it.
February 2 is also our wedding anniversary.
Suffice it to say, NEVER let your fiance pick the date....
But after meeting in a airport disco on a Sunday night and several dates revolving around sky diving it just seemed appropriate.
please note, this is not me. these are my guys on our son's first jump and my husband's 50th.
 I have jumped zero times.
Of course, with that scene stealer Valentine's Day jacking up the roses and chocolate prices I have become accustom to anniversary gifts far less fragrant and delicious but way more meaningful.
Although I am not quite sure what meaning to assign the tickets to the dinner and burlesque show* which is our celebration this year...

The other great thing about February is Mardi Gras.
February always falls smack in the middle to end of this homage to fun.
Ah, Mardi Gras.
A holiday based on nothing but food and parties. The more debauchery the better.
It's probably a good thing I didn't grow up in Louisiana. I would have to take the entire Mardi Gras season off work.
We began throwing Mardi Gras parties when our kids were little. It seemed like a fun excuse to have friends over when no one could afford to go anywhere. Those little gatherings evolved into a full house of people complete with a Hurricane machine, pounds of fried alligator and a turkey fryer full of seafood.
We only host every other year now, it takes me so long to recover.
But by the end of the month on non-party years I am a little sad that I didn't bite the baby and fire up that deep fryer.
There is no expectation around Mardi Gras, besides good food. I cook nearly every day anyway. Why not just cook extra and have a few folks over...
That's such a simple way to let people know they are important to you. 
where do you get YOUR gator...**
Gumbo. Only way to make it is for a crowd...
And nothing makes a cold grey month better than filling your home with those people who are important to you.***

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!!

This is one of two burlesque supper clubs in ST. Louis. We go this evening, more to follow...
I have ordered  gator and a variety of other mardi gras items from this site. always great products and service. 
***I should note - we are not doing the party this year. I am still recovering from last year and the Giant Jenga tournament which went with it...
nothing says party like 100 pounds of wood blocks
 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Flamingos and Light Hats

Wow.
Is it really January 22?
I swear I have not seen the sun in 21 days. I was just about to go on Amazon and search for 'stylish light hat'. 
except for the lack of ice, this bleakness truly belongs to January
It has been such a dreary January, I was actually sort of looking forward to the ICE STORM of the CENTURY which was predicted for our area last weekend. Even that was a thankful disappointment, leaving only a treacherous coating of ice on the deck which I walk across every morning in my robe and snow boots to feed the birds. I make quite a picture on a good day, but add in the slipping and flailing and well, good thing Rob doesn't have a good camera on his phone... Today a pale yellow sun actually shined down for approximately four hours and it was warm enough that, wrapped in a sweater, I ate my lunch on the deck while JoeyKatt monitored the perimeter for stray chickadees.
What a welcome change.
Which is how the New Year always hits me.
Fresh, clean and ripe for change.

I was hoping to make my Word of the Year 'fulfillment'.
As in, fulfilling those things I keep saying I want to do: write daily, exercise daily, lose fifteen pounds, read more...
But the Universe put a great big International Symbol for NO on that plan by hitting me with several weird, random nearly anaphylactic episodes.
This has resulted in the realization that I am a terrible patient. Even though I have spent over half my life as a nurse, I have been depressed, tearful, angry, obstinate, pissy, anxious and did I mention pissy?

Today has been a good day. Thanks to the sunshine, breakfast with the family, enough anti-histamine to send a meth-head to Walter White Mountain.
I have been doing yoga nearly every day. And if you count writing in my food log, that writing thing is back on track...

I have so many things to bring back to the Coast of Illinois – more of the Keys, a new 'floating' project, some interesting books – I think my new Word of the Year will be:
Hopeful

I am hopeful that I will get back on track with the writing.
I am hopeful that, thanks to the evil diet I am following to prevent more Stay-Puft episodes, I will lose that last 15 pounds before this summer's vacation.
I am hopeful that the two story pile of books on my desk will decrease before that poor bottom book becomes nothing more than a crushed piece of cardboard.
And after watching the streets of St. Louis, Chicago, New York, The World, fill with women and men of all colors and creeds to peacefully bring attention to the need to protect women's/everyone's rights, I am hopeful that we, as Americans, can come together to facilitate change in a peaceful productive manner.

Happy New Year
from
The Coast of Illinois
Harvey would like you to know that is actual greenery sprouting behind him. Not some terrible end product of a distressing GI illness.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It's finally here...that long anticipated, over commercialized, tear-jerk advertising/movie inspiring, sappy song performing, emotionally charged, food laden, family and friend gathering time of year.
And despite all the craziness - the cooking and shopping and wrapping and worrying and traveling and stressing with a side of guilt... the day arrives.
It arrived quietly and, if you allow it, the day arrives with a sense of wonder and freshness and hope.

As a child, Christmas was nothing but catalogue lists, school and church programs and one long sleepless night.
As a young adult the excitement shifted to gifts given and received, the thrill of hosting for the first time.
When our own children arrived Christmas took in an entirely new glow, enhanced by their discovery of lights left burning all night, surprises beyond their wildest dreams; shaped by stories told and read through the generations.
Times are different now. The celebration is full of adults. The excitement is slow building, blocked by work and worries for the health of family and friends, tempered by the weight of all that is wrong with our world.
Yet here it is. Christmas Day.
I have been up since before those first rays of sun, tempered today by overcast skies and ridiculous 50 degree weather. (I have a strict - 28 degrees with gentle snow from December 3 through January 2 at which point the temps may once again hover around 70. So far, no one else has subscribed to this philosophy. At least no one who has control over the weather...)
We had our traditional breakfast of sugar bacon, cream cheese eggs and fruit. 


Because, healthy! 
Gifts have been opened, cat puke cleaned up and appetizers ready for the next round of family and I find myself with a few minutes to send out this holiday greeting.
Thank you all for supporting this little blog. Updates have been a little sketchy of late but fear not - the coming new year has several ideas already on the calendar. In fact, later this week I will be posting my first actual sponsored post!!
I hope this finds each of you warm and content, surrounded by family and friends and non-vomitus pets. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah or just enjoy a nice afternoon, I want to share with you  a favorite quote from a favorite holiday movie - Scrooged:
I get it now! Then if you GIVE, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you! It's not just the poor and the hungry, it's everybody's who's GOT to have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you. If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won't be one of these bastards who says 'Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud', it's NOT! It can happen every day, you've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it! You'll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you. I believe in it now! I believe it's going to happen to me now! I'm ready for it! And it's great! It's a good feeling, it's really better than I've felt in a long time. I, I, I'm ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.

Merry Christmas from my coast to yours!



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bloodline! Giant Lobster! And SO MUCH MORE!

Hope everyone has survived the Turkey Coma!
We had a lovely Thanksgiving here on the Coast of Illinois.Thanks to all the merriment, I have once again fallen behind with my blogging duties.

So now, it's time to return to the road trip that was our visit to the Florida Keys!

When I told people we were heading to the Keys, the assumption was Key West. Yes. Our plan was to visit that iconic town, but the Florida Keys are so much more than the Southernmost Party town.

 Rob and I were on the Bogart/Hemingway tour. Key Largo is a treasure trove of stops along that route. Just drive down US 1:

The inspiration for the movie Key Largo.

Meeting Bogie. He was a little...aloof...   

 We stopped at the Caribbean Club one evening for dinner and were greeted by a rockin' live band and a whole lot of people drinking bottled beer. Not a surprise, but still not sure they actually serve food there. There are a few tables, a large bar and plenty of room for dancing or fighting. Out back are some great picnic tables with a beautiful view of Buttonwood Sound. We posed with Bogie, wandered around a bit then switched dinner plans to the Fish House where I had a glorious plate of Stone Crab Claws. Possibly the best crab I have ever eaten. Sorry, no pics. I was too hungry and delirious to take one.
http://caribbeanclubkl.com/
http://www.fishhouse.com/
A little farther down Overseas Highway sits a Holiday Inn and this marvel:

Yup. This is the REAL boat from the movie African Queen. We weren't sure our travel buddies were interested in visiting the boat so we stopped by one afternoon. When we returned to Key Lime Sailing Club and checked in the movie African Queen was showing on the television. The four of us flopped on the couch and watched Katherine Hepburn and Bogie fight off leeches and Nazis, I pulled out my Kate impersonation (one of three I can do...sort of...) and the next morning we returned to check out the boat again.

The boiler, complete with the broken valve.
Rob and the Captain - who just happened to be from my hometown area!-  in a serious discussion of our life choices.

while standing on the dock we spotted this nurse shark swimming among the brightly colored tropical fish

he had a couple of buddies with him...
We were lucky enough on our first visit to catch the current Captain of the Queen. He gave us some history of the boat and filled us in on the actual technical workings. The boat was not just a movie set - it was an actual boat in Africa. She still has her steam engine, which is fired up on excursions, although the engine at present doesn't completely power her. There are always certain sites that touch a person more than others. I had no idea how much seeing this boat meant to my husband, as it turns out, it was one of his Mom's favorite movies. We learned that the Captain's Mom was most proud of him when she found out he was captain of this boat!
http://www.africanqueenflkeys.com/

Angie, one of our travel buddies, had done a little research of her own and turns out that the Netflix series Bloodline has used numerous spots throughout the Keys in the filming of the show. (If you haven't seen the show - it is a MUST.) Our trip actually started as we left Alabama Jack's with a search for Danny's bus stop. The bus stop eluded us for our entire trip, although it did become a running joke with Rob threatening to stop and photograph EVERY bus stop we passed.
One of the things we noticed most about all the sites along the Keys - there was very little hoopla about the various businesses being used in the show.
The Caribbean Club has been used in a few of the bar scenes.
Our favorite breakfast spot - Mrs. Mac's - is in several scenes.
We stopped at Robbie's Marina in Islamorada - used as Kevin's boatyard - only to find a tiny sign stating such. Of course, Robbie's offers some cool views of the sound, a chance to feed giant tarpons and a fun flea market.
I caught this guy chilling off the boat dock.

This guy was catching some rays...and some bugs...and a small child or two...

Pelicans just fascinate me.

We were surprised to see a couple of bald eagles. Seems they too appreciate a visit to the Keys.
http://www.robbies.com/


We finally hit the Bloodline Motherlode with The Moorings.
This exclusive, luxury resort is the inspiration for the Rayburn House. It took a little adventuring to find the location, even with GPS. The Moorings likes its privacy, to the tune of a private drive on approach. But this was vacation, so we parked on the street and walked down the drive, trying our best to look like we belonged.
Even their Banyon tree was beautiful!

We were rewarded with a stunning view of the beach - I swear, the sun shone brighter, the sand and water glimmered more shimmery and everything had a pinkish glow. There may have even been a heavenly choir as we broke through the trees and the security guard's grasp to see this: 
She's not a bad person, she just did a slightly tresspassy thing...

Actually, the security folks could not have been nicer. Visitors are allowed to walk a tiny slice of the beach, but no pictures of the main house or other lodgings are allowed. It is now a dream to actually stay for a night in one of these beautiful spots.
http://themooringsvillage.com/

Islamorada is only about a twenty minute drive from Key Largo. A very scenic twenty minutes - beautiful views of both the Gulf side and the Atlantic side of the islands and this:
you should see the pot of melted butter....
The world's largest lobster...artist rendering...This magnificent creature - Betsy- signals a fantastic flea market The Rain Barrel Sculpture Gallery. We spent an easy afternoon shopping at the various artists shops and I had my first cafe con leche from a very politically minded-all inclusive coffee stand.
Who knew political consciousness was so sweet!!
http://www.rainbarrelsculpture.com/

On our way back to Key Largo we made a stop at the Hurricane Memorial. A sobering stop, but if you want to experience a location, sometimes you must see the bad as well as the good.
A huge portion of Keys history revolves around the 1930's railroad built to connect the mainland with all of the Keys. In 1935, one of the worst hurricane's in Keys history hit killing hundreds of railway workers - many WW1 veterans. The memorial was built in 1937, commemorating the devastation. It is an eloquent, thoughtful tribute to those who perished. Many of whom are interred in the crypt covered with beautiful tiles in the front of the memorial.
the monument

the crypt

a tiny alter on the main structure.


 If you visit Islamorda, keep your eyes peeled for the historic marker and take the time to visit and reflect on some of the events which resulted in our ability to enjoy this wonderful part of the world.
http://www.keyshistory.org/hurrmemorial.html

I don't want to diminish the seriousness of that last site, but I also hate to end on such a somber note. So I will leave you with these last pictures of some of the more silly sites along US 1.
like the sharks and gators aren't enough. even some of the trees in Florida want to kill you...

recognize this gem? it sat out front of our home in Key Largo - the Key Lime Sailing Club. as it turns out, this mystery...thing was the actual spaceship/escape boat from the James Bond movie Octopussy! The guys are sincerely hoping it gets restored to its floating/flying/bond girl glory

brussel sprout chips. yes. you read that right. they were DELISH!

 And finally, this guy. Yes, that's a dog. Sitting at the bar. His name is Barnacle and he is a regular. We saw him sitting at the bar at Snooks in Key Largo. After dining on some amazing gourmet food, I can completely understand why.
"I don't know Madge. I don't think he is ever going to leave his wife for you..."

Come back next week as we head over the 7 Mile Bridge to one of my biggest adventures yet...