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Robin & Jim
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Posted By Robin & Jim

Valentine's Day isn't a big deal for us, but one of the local real estate companies always gets into the spirit of it by decorating their manatee mailbox.  Only in the Keys...

valentine manatee

In the meantime our maintenance and projects continue - yet the list seems to get longer, not shorter.  One highlight of every day is my little friend Mollie - she's still a puppy and has quite a fan club on the dock.  She stops by my boat every morning for treats and sweetness, and if she sees me walk by her boat she woofs and comes charging out to see me.  Nothing beats a wagging tail to put a smile on my face!

mollien

We do take little breaks now and then, and when I can I venture out with my friend Carol to kayak and look for birds.  We've seen some nice roseate spoonbills lately - and they are always a treat to see.

roseate spoonbill

We even saw a pair of young spoonbills near the marina in the mangroves on Boot Key - the first time I've seen them in this particular area!  These two let us get pretty close.

young spoonbills

On the same afternoon we saw a young bald eagle, a manatee next to my kayak, and we saw a small eagle ray jump out of the water between our two boats.  Fabulous!

Shifting gears, we took a day trip up to the Miami Boat Show to see all the vendors in the Convention Center.  We went up with Nancy and Ted McCarley, and we ran into a number of other friends walking the miles of aisles.  It was a successful trip - we got a lot of good information, new sunglasses and Keen sandals, and for the first time Jim didn't stop in EVERY booth with LED lights.  It's still an overwhelming sight - so many people, so many boats and huge engines, parts, bits, pieces, etc.  A big group of us met for dinner afterwards, and we didn't get back to Marathon until well after midnight - real midnight, not "cruiser's midnight" (9 pm). 

Jim celebrated his birthday in style, inviting a lot of friends from the marina for cake and ice cream.  We couldn't fit all the people he wanted to invite - we had about 18 people and I had to get him two cakes (plus ice cream, of course).  Here's the happy birthday guy wearing the turtle hat he received as a gift.

birthday boy

Next weekend is the DeFever Rendezvous, so we're frantically trying to wrap up this wave of projects before we escape for a long weekend.  When we get back the time will fly before we leave for the Bahamas, and we still have a new SSB radio to install, motor mounts to replace, and a pile of other to-do's.  The last thing will be shopping at Costco and Wally World for provisions and supplies for 3+ months in remote areas.

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We occasionally stop working on projects to do something fun and interesting, so a few days ago we headed down to Key West with friends to hear a lecture on the seven birds that are fairly unique to the Keys for one reason or another.  We left Marathon early enough to stop at the Butterfly Conservatory since Jim and I have never been.  WOW!  It was really excellent, with tons of gorgeous plants, beautiful little birds, and tons of colorful butterflies.  I brought my camera and spent a little time photographing there, and I definitely plan to go back again and spend even more time.  It's a small place, but packed with amazing things.

butterfly and red pod

I could spend a whole day photographing just the plants, and another day of the little birds, and yet another day or two on the butterflies themselves.

butterfly and red flower

Yesterday my friend Carol and I took a guided hike on a shoreline trail down on Big Pine Key.  We were looking for birds and small critters, but the highlights were the butterflies... in the wild this time.  We saw several different kinds, including this Great Southern White that differs from the Florida version because of the vivid blue tips on his antenna.

great southern white butterfly

He's perched on sea lavender which seems to be very salt-tolerant since it grows well along the shore.  The photo below is another kind of butterfly - I don't know the type.  The tiny flowers were blooming so that's why we saw so many butterflies on the trail.

big pine butterfly

This one was pretty - standing up on tip-toe...

butterfly on tiptoe

We also saw some palm warblers (small birds) as well as ibis, pelicans, cormorants, and osprey.  It was also neat to see how the gumbo limbo tree (aka the "tourist tree" because it's bark is always red and peeling) grows near the poisonwood tree.  Poisonwood lives up to it's name and is quite potent, but the sap of the gumbo limbo tree can provide some relief.  These are native trees, and the poisonwood is very important since it's the favorite food source for the white-crowned pigeon - an endangered bird.

The most interesting new find on our hike was a hummingbird moth.  I thought I saw a very small hummingbird, but the naturalist guide said that it's a type of moth!  Aside from it's smaller size and less vivid coloring, it behaved just like a hummingbird - very cool.

After our hike we headed up to No Name Pub for some pizza, and even though it was the middle of the day and hot we did see two of the diminutive Key Deer.  Always a treat!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

I have been a Giants fan for my entire life.  I grew up with my Dad yelling at the games on TV, and later on Mom becoming a huge fan too.  This is the best!  Way To Go Blue!!!

giants

I promise to go back to regular blogging in a few days, but I'm going to savor this for a while first.