Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 7, 2017

Key West Adventure Part 2

In my last post I mentioned that there are a lot of tourists here in Key West. Since then I learned that  approximately 1.3 million people visit each year, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

One day I ventured into town on my own. I took the trolley tour to get a good overview of Key West’s Oldtown district. After lunch at Amigo’s Tortilla Bar I walked a few of the backstreets checking out the different styles of Key West Architecture and some beautiful gardens.

I could be happy living in this one.

Or maybe this one…

You can barely see the architecture behind the greenery in many areas.

Loved the mid-century modern look of this place.

This lovely Art Deco theater is still in business.

This one serves as a Walgreen’s drug store.

Another day we had lunch at Pepe’s, which is over 100 years old.

Pepe’s has a rather unusual way of presenting your bill…be careful!

My trolley tour guide said there are 120 bars in town and I wouldn’t doubt it. Besides the original Margaritaville, Sloppy Joe’s may be the most famous.

This building contains three bars. According to the sign at the lower left corner of photo above, the third floor Garden of Eden is clothing optional. We did not check that one out. Actually, we didn’t frequent any bars during our visit. Too much noise! Must be old fogies, eh?

This one claims to be the oldest bar in Florida.

A relatively sturdy homemade boat on which a dozen Cuban refugees successfully made it to American shores.

Poster seen inside the Custom House museum as part of the exhibit about the Navy in Key West.

Gumbo Limbo forest at the Key West Wildlife Center. Also called the tourist tree due to it’s peeling red bark.

Can you count all the Ibis perched here at the Wildlife Center?

Lots of dinghies at the dock from cruising boats moored offshore.

Busy yacht harbor. 

What are these people lining up for?

The chance to take this photo.

Dark chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick…the best!

Love these colorful buoys. These were for sale, but I found one that I’m taking home. Will display in my garden alongside a wooden buoy I picked up in Newfoundland.

The end of the road that begins in Maine!

And…just one more gypsy chicken.




Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 7, 2017

Wild and Windy Key West

Key West has something for everyone. Unfortunately, EVERYONE comes here! After the depression, someone had the great idea to promote this place as a tourist destination (and never looked back). It’s amazing how many tourists come to this tiny town at the end of a chain of 43 islands connected by 42 bridges on the remarkable 113 mile Overseas Highway.

Our first stop along the highway was on Key Largo at the John Pennikamp State Park. We arrived fairly early in the day after a not terribly restful night camped at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Florida City. The ranger said the campground was full (as all state parks in Florida are this time of year), but that we could check back later “just in case.” After enjoying the morning at the beach we returned to the ranger who kindly let us move into campsite #1, usually kept empty in case of “emergency.” We made full use of this park by hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking. We had hoped to snorkel, but the sea was too rough and the best sites too far from shore.

Al doing his morning exercise routine on the beach.

Friendly local expresses himself.

Paddling through the mangroves.

We don’t ordinarily stay camped in one place for two weeks, but at $17 a night and no place better to go, we went for it in Key West. Al’s military base privileges really paid off this time. Waterfront sites like the one we scored go for upwards of $150 night at public campgrounds and even those are hard to come by.

The campground at Trumbo Point is not much more than a large grassy field (no hookups) but you can’t beat the location a short bike ride from town. Notice haRVy front and center!

The view from haRVy.

A couple of our colorful neighbors.

There are no naturally sandy beaches on Key West, but some nice ones have been created with imported sand. We visited a few over the course of our stay. We had hoped to snorkel here too, but again our attempts were thwarted by strong winds and murky water. The warm sea was fine for swimming though.

Truman Beach on the military base.

Higgs Beach (above and below).

Smathers Beach.

Fort Zachary Taylor beach (above and below).

Our next door neighbor at the campground, who has camped here every winter for 22 years (!), told us about a place where one can see what Key West was like before civilization moved in. Didn’t take us long to decide to check it out.

Geiger Beach is definitely off the beaten track.

We walked about a mile before high tide impeded our progress.

Apparently “Red” created and lived in this driftwood and coral shack.

A Key West “must do” activity is the world famous daily sunset celebration on Mallory Wharf that has been going on for decades. Besides the natural show put on by Mother Nature local talent entertains the crowds for tips.

Don’t try this at home!

And then, of course, there are the gypsy chickens, descendants of fowl brought to the island by settlers for meat, eggs, and cockfighting entertainment.

To be continued…

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 22, 2017

Birds, Gators, and Dolphins

Things are now very busy here in Southern Florida, which makes unplanned traveling more difficult. We were not able to get a campsite at Koreshan so we camped overnight at Walmart in Naples. The next morning we headed to nearby Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park for breakfast and time on the beach. Although it was very windy, we found a sheltered area to soak up some sun.


Short hike out the boardwalk to lookout tower.


Walk around point and into inlet.


Admiring unknown artist’s creativity.


Beautiful hawk (red shouldered?) at Collier-Seminole State Park where our day visit was cut short by a voracious mosquito population. We did manage to score some much needed showers and drinking water before making a hasty retreat.


Limestone road to Burns Lake Campground where we stayed for the 3-day holiday weekend.


We were happy to get a reservation at this quiet off-the-beaten-track location within the Big Cypress National Preserve. Just $12 a night with our Golden Access Pass!


Sunset from our lakeside campsite.


We knew nothing about this area before arriving. After an hour in the Visitor Center we were happy we had three days to explore.


We took a boat tour out of Everglades City where I snapped this pic of an Osprey in her nest.


As well as this one of two bottle nose dolphins.


Al caught this good one of a dolphin jumping our boat wake.


Colorful lawn art in Everglades City.


Alligators are everywhere in Big Cypress.


Lots of birds too. I believe this is a Little Blue Heron.


A yearling gator along one of our boardwalk hikes.





An Anhinga spears lunch.




Another hawk fishing for dinner, first from the shore.


Then from a tree branch above.


We even got to view this magnificent Crocodile, a fairly rare sight, on the Marsh Trail. South Florida is the only place in the world you can find both alligators and crocodiles in the wild.


While we hiked down the trail he turned around to show us his other side.


Birds are plentiful!


A curiosity alongside the highway.


The story behind the “smallest post office in the United States.”


This tree decided to hang onto the boardwalk railing for extra support.


Air plants are plentiful and beautiful.


One more gator for your viewing pleasure.


Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 21, 2017

An Inside-Out World

A few miles east of Fort Myers, Boondockers Welcome host Larry, offered up this beautiful river front location as our free campsite.


Our next stop proved to be quite peculiar. Koreshan State Historic Site is where Dr. Cyrus Teed established a communal colony in 1894. He brought his followers to Estero to build the “New Jerusalem” for his new faith, Koreshanity. The colony, known as the Koreshan Unity, believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere!



One of the models Teed used to explain his belief.


What do you think about his “proof”?



What remains of their once vibrant community are 11 beautifully maintained historic structures that date from 1882-1920 and landscaped grounds including unique ornamental exotic vegetation from throughout the world.


Bamboo Landing, where all goods were delivered before there were roads.


Beautiful staircase built by one of the members.


One of just a few private residences. Most lived in dorm type accommodations.


This massive engine powered the settlement.



The power house control panel.


Gopher tortoises are among today’s residents at Koreshan State Historic Site.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 18, 2017

Southwest Florida

During our ten days at Marcus’ apartment in Sarasota we enjoyed the pool and Jacuzzi at the complex, got caught up on logistics (mail, medical, laundry, etc.), rode our bikes, and soaked up sun on a few local beaches.


Seen on the bumper of a Prius.


Beach near Venice.


Bike path next to Intracoastal Waterway.


What Al was reading in photo above.


Historic Venice train depot next to Intracoastal Waterway.



Tom and Claudia drove down to Florida from Rhode Island to join family members here. We were pleased that they found time to spend an afternoon with us too!

We are now back on the road aboard haRVy. Our first stop was just an hour’s drive south at Punta Gorda where our gracious Boondockers Welcome host Pauline took us on a boat ride up the Peace River and a quick car tour around town.


Pauline at the helm.


Al navigating us around crab buoys and shallow areas.


Small beach on a remote island.


Bird Island. That pink spot in upper right corner is a Roseate Spoonbill.

From Pauline’s we drove to Fort Myers to visit the Edison & Ford Winter EstatesTouring twenty acres of historical buildings, gardens, the Edison Botanic research Lab and the Edison Ford Museum kept us interested for a full afternoon.

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made an unprecedented impact on the small town of Fort Myers when both chose it as the location for their winter retreats.






Extensive tropical gardens are filled with exotic plants from around the world.



Thomas Edison’s study.


One of many lighting fixtures designed by Edison in Seminole Lodge.


Ford Model T pick-up truck.


The estates have expansive frontage on the Caloosahatchee River.


Those are some serious roots.


The botanical research laboratory where Edison sought a source of rubber that could be grown and produced quickly in the United States. After testing over 17,000 plant samples, he finally discovered a source in the plant goldenrod.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 3, 2017

More Meandering


We have no planned itinerary or time constraints so we are literally just wandering around Florida, as shown on the map above (blue lines indicate this year’s route so far). Weather forecasts and suggestions from fellow travelers often determine our direction. Websites, tourism brochures, and just interesting features on a map may also direct us. Sometimes the location of a Boondockers Welcome, HarvestHosts, or RVGolfClub host will take us to an area we would not otherwise visit.

After our paddle on the Ichetucknee River we headed to Oleno State Park to camp. Before sundown we took a quick hike to the River Sink where the Santa Fe drops below the ground for several miles.




Early evening reflections on the river.


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work in evidence here.


Trying out our modified dining table outside before severe weather keeps us mostly indoors for three days while camped in the Ocala National Forest Fore Lake campground. Just $6/night with our Golden Passport! A tornado warning had most of the campers gathered in the bath house for an hour.


Once the weather cleared, we headed to Silver Springs State Park where we had a pleasant and interesting paddle on the Silver River.


Silver Springs is a group of artesian springs that feed into the Silver River in Marion County, Florida. It is the largest artesian spring in the world and Florida’s oldest tourist attraction. In 1971 it was designated as a National Natural Landmark.


Must be really beautiful here when the deciduous trees are green.


This Little Blue Heron allowed me paddle very close. Didn’t need much telephoto to get this shot.


Didn’t get as close to this sunbather…just in case.


A tour boat operator turned a bunch of rhesus monkeys loose on an island in the late 1930s not knowing that they could swim. It didn’t take them long to spread our across the area.


Can’t say I’ve ever seen a monkey while kayaking before.


Lots of fun to watch! Isn’t he a cutie?


We visited Rainbow Springs, but it was too windy to paddle.


While boondocked at Inverness, we peddled part of the Withlacoochee State Trail.


And hiked around a bit. Just love the moss on the trees.


Spotted this guy at Edward Medard County Park.


Explored the park on our bikes.


And hiked around the “Sacred Forest.”


While perusing the map of Florida, Al spotted Snead Island and thought it looked interesting. So, off we went!


Emerson Point Preserve is a 365 acre preserve located at the tip of Snead Island in western Palmetto.


The beach trail led to several small beaches that felt like parts of the Caribbean to us.


Panoramic view from observation tower (click to view larger).


Zoom view from same tower. That’s the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the distance. Al was wishing he was on that anchored sailboat.

We are now taking a few days off in Sarasota where Al’s nephew Marcus is letting us stay in his guest room. We will be catching up on some business, riding our bikes, and visiting local beaches. Expect to get back on the road next week. Life is good.

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