Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cheeseburgers in Paradise

On January 30th, after five weeks in Miami, we pulled up the anchor and finally started heading south again. Three great daysails later and we were in Big Pine Key, FL, where we met up with Lizz Sr, Jeffrey, and the bassets. Lizz and Jeffrey had come down from PA and rented a place for a week, and they brought the cold with them. We've spent time expoloring the Keys, reading, and relaxing. And yes, Buffet fans, we have been eating Cheeseburgers - grilled up fresh!


It hasn't been all fun and games though. Sammie, our 12 year old basset hound, went on a hunger strike shortly before arriving in FL. She wouldn't eat or drink, and was losing weight. She'd been to the vet in PA, and again here in FL. We suspected she had an ulcer, but the treatment wasn't working, leaving only much more sinister possibilities for what was ailing her. As her condition kept deteriorating, we were all distraught and convinced that she wasn't going to make it. After a third trip to the vet and more X-rays the vet suggested that maybe the ulcer was also infected, and after two days on a slew of antibiotics and other meds, she seems to be feeling much better.

Monkey Jungle

We couldn't resist driving up to a place called Monkey Jungle on the FL mainland. Definitely had the potential to be a cheesy tourist trap, but it was actually a really cool experience. It's basically a big zoo with nothing but monkeys and apes. Hundreds of monkey's run wild and the people walk through the habitat in a tunnel of fencing. You can feed the monkey's raisens and sunflower seeds by dropping them down angled pipe or, even better, by putting them into little metal bowls suspended from a chain under a small hole in the roof. The monkey's sit on the top and watch you - when you put food in the bowl they reach their little hands through the hole and pull the bowl up by the chain. It is amazing how smart they are. They stare at you right in the eyes, and watch as you put food in. They know how much you're putting in too - drop just one sunflower seed in the bowl and they just look at you. Drop a second and you still get stared at. At three or four, though, it's worth the effort, and up goes the bowl. I thought I'd be funny and grabbed the bottom of one of the bowls as a monkey was pulling it up. The litte bugger looked me right in the eye and put his back into it - pulled the bowl right out of my hands! He knew exactly what I was doing and exactly what to do about it. I nearly peed my pants.

Things that go bump...

Us. Or Cielo, rather. The water is thin down here, and Cielo has kissed the bottom at least a half dozen times in the past two weeks. No surprises, and all soft bottoms, but it makes for interesting navigating. Lizz and Jeffrey decided to stay another week and rented a different place - this one with a deep water slip right in front of it. Great place for Cielo, with one exception - the channel entrance is ringed by a barely 5' deep sand bar. Our first effort to make it over failed, so we anchored outside and decided to try again at the next high tide close to midnight. Unfortunately the tides weren't matching the predictions, and we found ourselves stuck on the bar for a good 30 minutes until we managed to get off. Finally, yesterday afternoon, we made it over and Cielo is now snuggled up to the dock, 20 feet from the rental house. I'm not sure how we're going to back Cielo out of the 15' wide, 1/4 mile long canal yet, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.