Cruising on Last Dance


This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marathon


A sunrise over Boot Key Harbor begins the day and this tale.  Marathon is a city in the Florida Keys comprised of multiple islands.  Between the largest, Vaca, and the least populated, Boot, lies Boot Key Harbor, one of the most protected harbors in the Keys.  The City of Marathon operates a marina there, with over 200 moorings, a few dock spaces, and good shoreside facilities.  The high prices of marinas in the Keys, combined with a location in the center of the chain of islands, makes the Marathon moorings quite attractive.  And, as a town and community, Marathon has much to offer - restaurants, many boat parts and services vendors, wide variety of retail including Publix, library, parks, beaches, and a bus to Key West.


The scuttlebutt among the boaters was that one restaurant that should not be missed was the Pig.  Actually, its name is the The Stuffed Pig, but it would be hard to tell as there are no readable signs so stating on the outside of the restaurant.  The only visible sign lights up when they are open and promises cold beer at 5 am, which appeared to be their attraction.  So wrong.  It's the food, particularly  breakfast.








A multi-page breakfast menu with a wide variety of traditional breakfast entries would entice but, there is so much more to this plain-appearing building with a dark, diner-type room in front.











In the back, there is wonderful outdoor seating under a chickee hut to enjoy the great fresh, salty air while dining.  The menu includes: Fish and Grits (pan fried Mahi, grits, 2 eggs, toast, fruit); Shrimp and Grits; and Alligator, Biscuits and Gravy. The portions are generous enough to serve as the only meal of the day and prices jaw-droppingly low.  The attraction was well understood after the first of numerous visits.




Behind The Stuffed Pig, on the Florida Bay, is the Keys Fisheries - 1000s of crab and lobster traps, commercial fish fleet docks, fish processing plant . . . and a restaurant.









A neat upstairs bar with raw oysters and stone crab claws, and a fish market/open air restaurant with picnic tables on a large concrete dock create a unique eating experience.  Just two of many great food experiences in Marathon.






The Florida Keys inspire a laid-back attitude among the residents and, reportedly, the visitors if they stay too long.  An example along US 1 is the road sign for a trailer park.  Still operating, spaces all filled, the owners haven't gotten around to repainting their "Trailerama" sign since it was erected in the 1950s.  This ultra laidbackness is often termed "Keys Disease" and is why some visitors never return home.



The unmistakable, loud Aaawk of a Great Blue Heron sounded outside the boat.  Then, a white bird flew by.  Egrets have a much different voice and use it rarely.  Was this bird confused or imitating, like a Mockingbird?









Neither.  It was a Great White Heron, a sub species of the Great Blue Heron that only lives in the Florida Keys.  There is even a National Wildlife Refuge named after the Great White Heron, located not far from Marathon.


http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=41582


On the topic of critters, Marathon is home to the Turtle Hospital.  An Orlando car salesman tired of his job, moved to Marathon and bought a Mom and Pop motel.  He found an injured sea turtle and brought it to the motel to care for . . . only to find that it was illegal to possess sea turtles.  He persisted, received permission to have turtles, more people brought injured turtles, he built a huge saltwater pool for the turtles, more turtles arrived, partnerships with veterinarians were developed, medical equipment begged and donated.  This could get out of hand, and did.  Now, the entire motel complex and a bar/nightclub next door has become the Turtle Hospital.




The Turtle Hospital receives injured and diseased turtles.  They treat and rehabilitate them in hopes that they will gain sufficient health and strength to be released into the wild.








Rocky, a Green Sea Turtle, suffered a blocked digestive tract from eating shellfish due to the overfishing of the preferred lobster and crab.  Treatment was successful.  Rocky was released at Islamorada the week after these photos were taken.





Other turtles are so badly injured that they cannot survive in the wild.  They become permanent residents of the Turtle Hospital, living in the large pool first built at the motel to house turtles.  A continual display of live turtles provides an education and attraction draw to encourage visitors to take a paid tour, which helps fund the operational expenses.

http://www.turtlehospital.org/



Friends and Family


Marathon has a huge boating community, increasing the chances of meeting old friends and make new cruising friends.  Standing under the big angelfish - Glen and Jill, Bill and Mary Russell, and Jim Roberts.  Robin Roberts is behind the camera.  Robin and Jim are old DeFever Cruisers friends (Robin edits the DeFever magazine).  Bill and Mary are new friends who slowly completed the Great Loop in 10 years - 3 summer months each year.  They got to savor all the waterways have to offer.  This group had just eaten at another boater favorite restaurant, The Hurricane, known for the $5 lunch and $10 dinner menu. (Robin Roberts photo)








Marathon's location on a major highway provided land-bound friends and family a chance to drive to join Last Dance and share the Keys experience.  More like family, since she has been Jill's best friend since Junior High School, Pat and daughter, Robyn, made the trek south.











Jill's twin, Jack, and his wife Jennie spent a few days exploring the Keys and its eateries.  When people find out that Jill is a twin, they ask "Are you identical twins?"  She usually answers "I hope not."

















Marathon's Sombrero Beach, Jack and Jennie





The famous, once infamous, No Name Pub, hidden down a long, residential road, is a part of old Florida History lore.  Jack and Jennie joined the Last Dance crew in experiencing the history and good pizza.



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