This post is long overdue – back to work and distracted, it took us a while to get it loaded up.
After a break for Christmas and New Years we returned to the boat for the next leg of our trip – Marathon Key to Miami. We were joined on our journey by our friends Vinnie and Barbara Tria, longtime residents of Pinecrest FL, southwest of Miami, and by Bob’s sister Priscilla. And best of all, Donna was able to get away from the hectic post op hospital ward and join for the holiday weekend. In sum, we had a boat full of long time friends and family. Since Vinnie and Barb live in the area, they are very familiar with places to go and things to do, so were great tour guides who also graciously allowed us to stay at their yacht club in Miami.
On night one we all arrived later in the evening, so we stayed at the Tria’s newly renovated home in Pinecrest. Great job on the renovation guys! The next morning we headed south in a rented minivan, stopping for lunch at Key Fisheries, a restaurant in Marathon of some renown. Since we had the car, we ditched our gear at the boat and drove on to Key West.
Arriving late afternoon we rushed to tour the Truman White House in Key West before it closed. President Truman stayed there many times during and after his term of office. Back then, it was a part of a US Naval facility which has since closed but the house, built in the early 20th century, is maintained largely in the same condition as it was when President Truman stayed there. On occasion successor Presidents have stayed there with President Clinton being the last to do so. It was a trip back in time for sure.
After the museum we watched a beautiful sunset over the western Gulf of Mexico then went for drinks and dinner at a couple of local hangouts. Bob and Priscilla’s nephew Patrick and his partner Jason were able to join us – they have a condo in Key West and were in town for the half marathon scheduled Saturday. It was great to see them both and get an insider’s view of the Key West scene. We were quite late getting back to the boat – it’s about an hour and a half drive and slower at night for obvious reasons, but especially because the rare Key Deer are out and about especially around – you guessed it – Deer Key!
The next day we left Marathon late morning for the short “inside passage” to Tavernier. Heading to Miami by boat from the keys you can take an outside or inside route. Outside is faster and a bit less scenic. We chose inside – sea conditions outside were 6 foot waves and headwinds at 20 knots! Inside was delightful. Lots of birds, beautiful waters – shallow in spots, but we got through without touching ground – we’ve been studiously avoiding that after the great propeller fail in Canada!
Getting into Tavernier, we discovered a charming spot for coffee – Café Mocha, right across the highway from the marina, and to which we returned for breakfast the morning before we departed. Late into the night at the Tavernier marina you could hear a rowdy crowd aboard a Carver 396 in slip 32 – playing Rummy Cube! As he writes this your humble correspondent can’t remember who won – it’s really not important – which means he did not!
After a late breakfast Sunday, we headed up the intracoastal to Miami. Our destination was Coral Reef Yacht Club – Vinnie and Barb are members (Vin – send me the bill!). An awesome spot, close to downtown with great amenities for a boat like ours. The first part of the trip was in narrow waters and weekend boaters were racing past us in both directions but once we entered Biscayne Bay Mike put the hammer down and cruised pleasantly for the remainder of the trip. Although we make no claims as to bacteria on board, Priscilla got a pretty bad ear infection, so when we landed, the girls rushed off to a medi clinic to get treatment. Putting on our Hazmat suits, the guys cleaned the boat……… not really, but Pri did have a bad bout on the infection.
The next morning – Monday MLK holiday – the Tria’s gave us a tour of the Fairchild Botanical Garden, the only subtropical botanical garden in North America, and on which Vinnie is a board member. Worth a visit for sure – especially the butterfly exhibit. One noteworthy thing the garden is working on is an effort to repopulate the orchid growth in the greater Miami area. Turns out orchids were very common at one time, and have died off over the years. It’s a painstaking effort that includes the voluntary efforts of high schoolers. Inspirational!
Well, all good things must come to an end – Donna and Priscilla were off to flights back home, Barb and Vin to work and Mike and Bob back to the boat for the final leg of the loop. We left Coral Reef on a Tuesday morning with a Gold Looper flag flying – a bit premature but we just had to do it. The flag was a gift to Mike from Priscilla and he will fly it proudly in his office after we finish the trip!