Random things learned

I forgot to add that Larry and I did hike the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse in Key West.  Not as tall as some we have climbed!

If it were not for the Navy, the community of Key West would not have as much access to fresh water.  It is piped from the mainland, next to the highway.  Power is done the same way.

The island was increased 3-fold due to the dredging of a deeper channel for the submarine base.  Cruise ships are able to use this channel, too.  Needing to dispose of the dredged material, the dumping on the other side of the island increased the acreage.

Because of”Yellow fever”, much has been done for mosquito control.  We had absolutely no issues with any type of insect!

Key West

Today’s tourist attractions started with catching the Old Town Tour Trolley.  oldtown trolley  Our first guide was energetic and really enthusiastic about his version of island history.  We got off at stop 5 so we did not hear his full tour spiel.  AND…I don’t know if he would still be as gung-ho at the end of the day, but we did enjoy him until we debarked at the Hemingway house.

The first photo is close to the way it appears today.  The second is how it was in the thirties. Ernest was quite a cad.  The lessons his wives should have learned was never to introduce him to their female friends.  It seems he thought the grass was greener with every introduction!  His first wife of 6 years was the “Paris” wife.  They lived there and developed quite a friendship with the “Lost Generation”.  Those artists included Isabelle Duncan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and so many others.  Hadley had a good friend named Pauline Pfieffer, who became wife number two (13 years).  Pauline’s uncle gifted the newlyweds with a house in Key West, where Hemingway wrote over 2/3rds of his novels/short stories/essays…  This is the house above.

A war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, tracked Ernest down in the bar Sloppy Joe’s, and struck up a relationship with him.  She was to become #3, but this was a short 5 year marriage.  An aside – Sloppy Joe’s is where the version of sandwich enjoyed by all originated!  Hemingway enjoyed the company of the owner and the bar.

Wife # 4, Mary welsh, lasted the longest.  She enjoyed the same adventuresome activities that Hemingway did.  They were together for 15 years, until his death in 1961.

We did see several of the 53 resident 6-toed cats while on the tour.  There is a cat cemetery in the backyard, and a cafe next door.  6toe

After this, we had lunch at Sloppy Joe’s, with the famous sandwich.  This is a very lively and noisy place at lunch time.  One can only imagine what it is like when the sun goes down!                           sloppy joe's  Larry had lunch next to Gregory Peck:

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Jimmy Buffer’s Margaritaville is here, too, but we did not visit it.  We did see the outside of his recording studio, though!  Unmarked.  Maybe the guide was truthful…maybe not??

This is the southernmost city in the United States.  Many things are here to mark this.

We do have pictures taken at the marker designating it, as well as letting all know that Cuba is only 90 miles from that spot.     poem

What is cool is that so many people wanted a photo at that spot, that a line was formed and people were very polite waiting to have the photo taken. line

Chickens abound and help keep the bug population in check.  chicks

Literary figures made Key West their home in the past.  Besides Hemingway, there were Robert Frost, poet Elizabeth Bishop, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, and Ralph Ellison, to name a few.  Today’s authors still make Key West home.  Some include Judy Blume, Allison Lure, Ann Beattie, Annie Dillard and Meg Cabot.  Judy Blume owns a book store and is often found stocking shelves or waiting on customers.

This unique little town seems to inspire the creativity of those who wish to allow it to come forth. Although it bustles with activity and crowded streets, I wouldn’t mind coming back at some time to spend more time here.  I’ll just need to get a scooter or a bike to navigate!

 

 

Key West

You know Larry and Jeanette love to travel…after all…it is the name of this blog! One of our goals was to visit the Keys.  We had thought about doing it with the travel trailer, but detoured to Texas for a few years.  We also learned that winter in the Keys is bumper-to-bumper traffic, and that is not a pleasant thought towing a large trailer!

So, since we were on the east coast anyway, the trip south was too close to pass up!  Key West is a busy place.  There is a lot of real estate in a very small environment.  Streets have parking on both sides and two way traffic, when there should only be parking on one side and with that…one way driving!   Bikes rule the road.  No need for road rage.  It is the way of life down in Margarita-ville.

Tickets to the Truman White House and the Hemingway home were purchased online, allowing a small discount, as well as a ticket for the Old Town Trolley.

Our first stop was to tour the Truman house.

Our guide Rebecca was delightful.  It was obvious that she loved her job, loved sharing her knowledge of Truman, and enjoyed having visitors to this site.  We did encourage her to come to Independence, MO so that she could have a complete picture of “Harry”.

After this, we had lunch and the Red Fish Blue Fish restaurant.  Larry had fish and chips and I had Key Lime Pie.  Both were well worth trying again!!!

 

On the road again

Took a trip to Williamsburg, VA to visit family and help celebrate bro-in-law’s retirement. From there, Larry and I headed south to the Florida Keys. Our first stop was in Key Largo.

 

African Queen  We took a canal ride on the African Queen, the actual boat Bogey and Hepburn used when filming the movie!  It has been restored and parts replaced in the years since being used, but it was still a working piece of history.  The ride was less exciting than the nostalgia, and was a little pricier than I thought was warranted for the trip, but at least we did our part to help keep this boat afloat.

key-largo-princess-glass         glass bottom view                 Later that day we took a ride to the Molasses Reef  on the Key Largo Princess II, Glass Bottom Boat.  This trip was a 45 minute ride out to the reef.  We had been warned that the weather and Florida Strait was a little rough, but…no problem!  As the boat got closer to the reef, the waves did pick up to be around 4-6 foot breakers.  This made it difficult for the captain to keep the boat steady over the reef for the viewers to be able to enjoy the different fish to be found there.  As we got closer, the deck hands gave the location of white bags that might need to be used, and directions to the back deck for fresh air.  Many took advantage of those bags to relieve the discomfort incurred by the rougher waters!  Larry and I were surprised at the lack of color in the coral reef.  We did learn that the blue parrot fish help clean the algae from the coral and help to produce sand by eliminating the undigested coral bits as white sand.  Always good to learn some new bit of trivia!

In case anyone wants to stay a t a good location for these two activities, the Holiday Inn is right next to the canal.

 

 

Winter 2014-15

IMG_0189 IMG_0190 IMG_0193This is the project Larry and I have been working on this month. It is really nice to have a nice set of stairs with a deck and storage area underneath!  The table was cut last year and assembled in September.IMG_0191

The harbor bridge going into Corpus Christi is lit every night.  During the Christmas season, there is a 20 minute light show that is beautiful and fun to watch!          IMG_0113 IMG_0114 IMG_0118 IMG_0120 IMG_0124 IMG_0132 IMG_0134 IMG_0140 IMG_0143 IMG_0167 IMG_0178 IMG_0180  Since the lights are always moving, it is a challenge to get a non-blurred photo.

Texas bound in September

Larry and I took our time arriving in Aransas Pass, TX. Along the way we stopped in Johnson City, Stonewall and Fredericksburg, TX. Lyndon Baines Johnson grew up around the Johnson City area. In fact, relatives of his from generations past settled the area, hence the name of the town! The National Parks Headquarters is located in the little town of Johnson City.     http://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/lyndon-b-johnson-national-historical-park

One can visit the museum, and visit Lyndon’s boyhood home and  a grandparent’s home, all on the property. We just went to the museum, but then went to see the Texas White House, located outside of Stonewall.  This is located in the   Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site.  www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson

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The house belonged to Lyndon’s aunt and he purchased it from her before talking with Lady Bird. “Bird” was not happy with the purchase, but soon came to love the place. The little home was added on to several times and Lyndon was able to host many friends and colleagues during his terms as senator and president.  Almost 25% of LBJ’s presidential term was spent on this ranch.     There is an airstrip on the property and the small plane LBJ called “Airforce 1/2” was locally called the Texas/D.C. taxi. Air_Force_One_at_LBJ_National_Historical_Park_IMG_1508

Cabinet members would fly in for a 2 hour meeting, then return to D.C., as another group of officials would be arriving.  Many meetings were spent at a picnic table  under the 500 year-old oak tree in the front yard.Live_oak_tree_outside_LBJ_Ranch_IMG_1511          FF4283DA-155D-451F-671967A2E39A3C93-large

The house has been restored to its 1960 era appearance, complete with the 3 TV’s in several rooms, where LBJ could watch the 3 news channels–ABC, CBS, and NBC.  Every room had a telephone.  Even the swimming pool had a phone with waterproofed lines!

After visiting here, we continued on to Fredericksburg, the home of Adm. Nimitz, of WWII fame.   Adm. Nimitz donated his collection of navy paraphernalia, and started a small museum dedicated to the Pacific Theatre.  http://www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/attractions-activities/national-museum-of-the-pacific-war/.National-Museum-of-the-Pacific-War-1-374x187

On certain weekends, the national museum hosts reenactments of artillery and other weapons used at that time.  We were fortunate that Labor Day weekend was one of those weekends!  Volunteers gave an hour 40 minute demonstration of gear, weapons, vehicles, and fighting techniques that were employed by marines as they battled the Japanese on the islands in the Pacific.  Even though I’m not much of a war history fan, I found this very interesting.

The Museum of the Pacific takes a while to go through.  We spent 2 hours there the first afternoon, prior to the live demonstration, then came back a second morning and spent another 1.5 hours finishing the exhibit.  Real students of history should plan even more time.  Many battles are explained through video clips, giving the highlights of what happened.

The next time we go through the area, we plan to visit the original Nimitz museum, as well as the German heritage museum, also in town.

We are now down by the Gulf and working to get our permanent campsite set up, so the trailer can be moved and we will have a winter “home away from home.”

Day trip to Bentonville, Arkansas

So many of my friends have told me about their visits to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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Today, Larry and I took a day trip to visit.  This museum of American Art is a wonder to behold.  The artwork is well worth seeing, and talking with the docents who are stationed in the various rooms is fun to do.  They have some background knowledge on pieces that is not posted on the walls!

One example is a Marble sculpture on loan from Tulane University –-Atala and Chactas, created in Rome by Randolph Rogers in 1854.   The story given to me was that the American sculptor studied in Italy, where he created this piece.  It was transported to America, (no easy feat, as the piece weighs a literal ton!)  and was donated to Tulane and on exhibition, outdoors, for almost a century.  Brought indoors, the only place to house it was in storage in a basement.  When hurricane Katrina struck, the piece was under water.  Insurance helped in the cost of restoration and it is now on loan to Crystal Bridges.  As much as I enjoyed the collection of art, I was more intrigued with the architecture of the museum itself.  It is nestled in a ravine, with a creek flowing under it.  This building is really a part of the natural landscape–at least as much as a concrete building can be!IMG_2319 IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322 IMG_2323  If you are ever in the area of Eureka Springs, make sure to take a side trip to Bentonville and explore the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art.  Free admission, too…Walmart is underwriting the entrance fee for visitors.  This is truly a treasure!