Friday, May 10, 2013

Yup, Gators.

A seemingly tranquil and innocuous pond..
Well on our final full day in Florida we decided we needed to see some of the many alligators - so it was off to venture into the Everglades National Park. F admitted he was a little afraid they might attack us..since there were all these warning notices to stay 15 feet away from them etc. Apparently they may look like sluggish logs but they can move when they are hungry...yikes.

Alligator..where you at baby?

We were not disappointed we did see a number of them and they are definitely far enough away - there is a series of raised boardwalks so I wasn't concerned. There were also numerous other people who looked like much more satisfying entrees.

En route we picked up some fruit at a market - grapefruit, oranges and mango. I did want to try to sapodilla - but we didn't have time left in Florida for it to ripe. Guess I will need to search that out in Kensington.

Back in the car it was time to check out the famous Coral Castle. This tourist attraction for many decades was created by one small man, Edward Leedskalnin sometimes working at night moving huge blocks of coral. Eerie. He also lived on the premises. Some say it was his lasting tribute to a lost love - seems she had second thoughts about marrying him many years ago in Latvia. His life's obsession took some 28 years to complete.

We had a great tour guide who told us all kinds of great stories. Ed was a one man operation - he would greet people and charge them 10 cents - a lot of money in the depression and then give them a tour. Even having storytelling sessions for the local kiddies. He did all his cooking and even had a bathtub warmed by the sun. It's quite a marvel that this 5 foot tall slender fellow created all this! Did he know the secret of the building of the pyramids? Did he have supernatural powers or just a very strong will? Go visit and find out!

Our last meal in Florida was at
It was fabulous! We had a great fresh juice and  a delicious entree, - the "Mental Lentil Wrap" - wish i had taken a picture. There were lots of raw food choices on the menu  too bad we didn't have more time as I would have returned here! Especially to try out one of their yummy looking desserts. Oh well, next time! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

More Florida

The second part of our journey meant heading down to the Keys - that serious of islands with definite character - especially one location namely the town (city?) of Key West.

En route we skirted through South Beach and once again dipped our toes in the ocean at Miami Beach. I certainly noticed many wonderful Art Deco buildings in lovely pastel shades of lemon, pink, green and orange..too cool. Would that we would have more colour in our architecture!

There is something so soothing about being near the ocean, that steady elemental rhythm of the waves and gentle wash of seawater. Sigh. Me thinks I need to retire by the ocean ...if and when I have a career to retire from.

We stayed in Tavernier, kind of a midpoint in the Keys at the Atlantic Bay resort which was wonderful. We were in the tropical suite and below it is the view down to the beach from our little patio - it was lovely having breakfast out there and sipping coffee...being on Keys time.

Sunsets were gorgeous - especially enjoyed with a nice crisp glass of Pinot Grigio.

The sun seems to melt into the water and then the sky slowly fills with stars. Perfect.

Our last full day in the Keys meant an excursion to Key West - a couple of hours drive over the many bridges - including the famous Seven Mile as seen in "True Lies". We were wondering if they closed down the bridge entirely to traffic or used the magic of CGI.

Some examples of Key West building styles:

This block housed the "Little White House" where, starting with Harry Truman, numerous presidents have stayed including the Clintons...

After getting oriented it was time for lunch and we had found a place on the internet called the "Sugar Apple" - a tiny cafe attached to a health food's what we ate and it was scrumptious. Plus, filled with local characters - what more could you ask for?

Speaking of local characters, it was time to visit the home of one of Key West's most famous residents, Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway...and of course the many many polydactyl (six toed) cats.

The balcony outside the Hemingway's master bedroom (at that time wife number two Pauline - whose uncle bought the place for them). He installed a walkway - which is no longer there - so he could walk from his bedroom to his writing studio in the morning, work from around 6 til noon then go off and do manly things like fishing and hunting etc.

Nice work if you can get it. That being said the man had his demons with depression and ended up taking his life in 1961 in Idaho. He certainly was larger than life - serving as ambulance driver in the First World War (and awarded by the Italian government for risking his life to save an Italian solider), living the artists life in Paris during the heady 1920s alongside friends Pablo Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald,  going on safari and travelling to Spain, being a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, marrying 4 times, living in Cuba and lest we forget even writing for our own Toronto Star at one point in his illustrious career.

Apparently we also enjoyed frequenting the bar Sloppy Joe's after his manly afternoon outings. I think that may be where they have an annual Hemingway Look a Like contest. It's still pretty amazing to think of all he accomplished in spite of his affliction. I guess it helped him to have projects and to keep busy.

Oh, and here are a few of the many cats...named for celebrities or his friends. I met one handsome black fellow named Gary Cooper and come to think of it he was kind of lanky and laconic like that famous actor.

 This fellow on the red couch is Bogart.
It's a cat's life. The cats have many servants to feed and care for them, lots of attention and weekly vet visits= as our guide joked they had better care than many people including herself.

Leaving the home we wandered around the town and came across a bed race on Duval Street - that's usually where all the action happens.

One of the participants used body paint as her very Key West.

Also we noted the chickens wandering around everywhere. Apparently they were brought from Cuba about a hundred years ago and are protected! So chickens and Hemingway's cats have it pretty good here..

Last installment - our brief foray into the Everglades - featuring alligators..