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Posted By Robin & Jim

We've settled into our winter routine here in Marathon, and are making some headway on the Endless To-Do List.  We've had great weather - mid 70's and sunny most days, and this week has been up around 80.

More important than our usual talk about projects is the 100th Anniversary of the Florida Overseas Railway which was just last Sunday.  Henry Flagler spent his own money to build bridges to connect the entire chain of islands that make up the Keys - known as "Flagler's Folly".  Lucky for us Mr. Flagler had such amazing vision and resources, otherwise the Keys as we know them today might not exist!

The Overseas Railway was completed in 1912, and was sadly destroyed by an unnamed hurricane in 1935 that wiped out the train trying to carry people to safety from Key West.  After that the train tracks were removed and a roadbed was installed on the concrete bridges.  That roadway served until 1982 when a completely new set of bridges and roadway was completed.  Most of the old bridges are gone now, though some were left as fishing piers.  The old bridges were difficult to remove because the concrete was so tough!  Even 100 years later, the old concrete is in better shape than the new bridges built in the early 80's. 

pigeon key

Marathon, where we stay for the winter, is so named because of the effort required to build the longest stretch of bridge - the Seven Mile Bridge.  The little island of Pigeon Key (pictured above) was where many of the workers lived in difficult conditions while building the Railway.  On the far left of the photo is the new bridge and in the right foreground is the old hundred-year-old bridge, now closed to traffic except for bicycles and pedestrians. If you ever come down here you should definitely visit Pigeon Key.

We drove down to Big Pine Key recently to check on our house, rented out to a nice Coast Guard family.  We noticed that the three travelers palms are really growing like crazy, and they have some kind of large seed pod that must have opened recently.  The lining of the pod is the most unusual vivid blue! Nature never ceases to throw us a curve.

blue pods

In between chores like cleaning bilges, cleaning out boxes of parts and supplies, waxing the entire boat, replacing injectors in the engines, etc., I still try to take time to get out and paddle my kayak most evenings (unless it's really windy).  I love to see my birds and underwater critters.  Pelicans, cormorants, blue herons, white herons, egrets, ibis, kingfishers, yellow-crowned night herons, osprey, and even red-winged black birds are common here.  Underwater I've seen stingrays, baby eagle rays, manatee, baby nurse sharks, hermit crabs, and barracuda.  For Christmas I got Jim an underwater light to hang off the boat - and that attracts all kinds of fish. We go out every 30 minutes in the evenings to see what's new, and there's almost always a little green heron sitting nearby, fishing.  We've seen a tiny moray eel, baby lookdowns, tiny filefish... it's really neat.

marathon sunset

Every night most people on the dock stop to watch the sunset - a great tradition.  It never gets old.