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TravelmanNH Aka Lucien F. Langlois
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Friday, December 30, 2016
Christmas DayBusy day visiting, eating, chatting with a couple who literately jogged into the campground, but were staying at the Navy Lodge. They were fascinated with us staying here for the entire winter. They are thinking of going into the RV mode, but didn’t know where to start. They had looked into RV’s, but none were occupied. We gave them a tour of ours and I think they got to see how we managed the stay for the six months that we occupy this site. Just another great experience meeting people!
This noon we had lunch downtown at a Chinese restaurant. We had figured that on Christmas Day, a Chinese restaurant would be the only place open. No so, apparently most restaurants are open, but we had our tastebuds set for Chinese and so stuck to our original plan.
Key West, FL has free on street parking for the three day holiday weekend, but it isn’t to well advertised and many people pay to park. The City Parking Lots still require $20 to $30 a day parking fee. That’s why we ride bikes across town. Getting back to the Chinese restaurant, they do have free parking and we’ve always had luck in parking on their lot. The big Ford fits perfect on their corner of the lot!
Biking ChallengeIf you remember reading an earlier blog, I had set a personal goal of riding 1,000 bike miles in Key West, Florida this winter! This is an update to where I’am at as of December 28, 2016. I have 618 miles to reach my challenge.
|My Bird Biking Friends!|
Let me explain a little about my bike and rides. I am using a mountain bike, not a road bike! The difference is the road bike weighs in around 15 pounds vs the mountain bike around 35 pounds. Hence over time, I do a mile, the road bike can do two. The difference is in the workout. I work a lot harder to get my miles than the guy on the road bike. Now, let’s talk about the actual guy on the road bike who passes me every morning like the rabbit. I being the turtle, like the old story goes. He is, I’m guessing around twenty-five years old. I being closer to 72 than 71 one makes him nearly three times younger. I watch his legs pumping at least twice as fast as mine. No problem, I’m not training for the “Tour de France”! I just want to stay in as good a shape as I can for my age.
I had a comment on Facebook the other day that my bike looked like a girls bike! Well, yes it does have a milk crate on the back. This is KW and bikes are used as a means of transportation and also to carry groceries, mail, tools, locking cables, not to mention headlights and tail lights that are stored, for security, in that milk crate. Oh yes, I did fabricate a cover for it, out of site out of mind, as well as rain protection.
The Ride!In years past, I used to ride around the Island. It’s ten miles around, but I wasn’t really getting the exercise I wanted, because of the pedestrians, crosswalks, traffic lights and many other distractions. Last year, I elected to train with the big boys! Instead of going into town, I stayed on base and decided to cross the channel bridge over to Fleming Key and train with the US Army Special Forces Underwater Operations. Well, I don’t actually train with them, I just use the two mile, one way road to their training facility. The routine is four miles up and back three times for a 12 miles daily routine. It’s nearly every day, the exceptions are days that are above 18 to 20 knots. The wind above that is nearly impossible to conquer, that is going into the wind. The ride back is fast!
Borring? Not so!
|Before Sunrise Biking on Fleming Key!|
Other birds that I watch and who watch me are Turkey Vultures, Pelicans, White Heron, Great Egret, Anhinga (snakebird). In mid November, the Turkey Vultures and the Black Vultures show up in the Keys by the thousands. They are migrating back to South America. By the end of the month, the migration has waited for the right wind direction to continue their flight to the south across the Gulf of Mexico. A very few of these Vultures stay behind in Key West. Local folklore says that when the Turkey Vultures leave the Keys the Hurricane season in unofficially over!
Another asset to biking on Fleming Key is the Ocean. Somedays the water is flat and calm, other days the waves are choppy, but unlike the ocean along the coast no continuous wave action along the breakwaters. No loud roar of the powerful ocean like on the East or Western seaboard.
In this time of the year, sunrise around 7:30am. I’m often on the road by than. I have a super powerful USB rechargeable bike flashlight along with two red taillights. One of them being mounted on my helmet and the other below the seat. In dawns early light, it’s cool to be biking up Fleming. By the time I reach my first two mile turn around the sun is lining the distant clouds that always seem to surround islands during the night. The clouds might be caused by the island warm landmass and the cooler ocean water condensing around the Coral reef. I remember watching old John Wayne movies filmed in the South Pacific with these similar clouds present offshore. Back to the sunrise! The sun breaks above these low clouds and magical beauty and warmth appears instantly.
Maybe I’ll continue with more of my biking memories in the next blog!
That is what we saw and did!
Thursday, December 22, 2016
December 18, 2016I’ve been slacking in my blog writing! I really enjoy documenting what we’ve been doing down here in the tropics, but I can’t believe how busy life has become. Week after week, one activity after another…it never seems to end.
One of my longest parts of writing is working in the pictures of all of the activities. I’ve been taking hundreds of pics and someday, when I really retire, I’ll have to do something with those thousands of pictures I’ve taken and collected through the years. If anything else, I enjoy flipping the pages and recalling the fond memories!
In order to write more often, I will reduce the number of photos. I realize that pictures play an important part of telling a story. Maybe things will slow down and the pictures will flow back in.
With Christmas coming up next weekend, the campground has been bustling. A couple of days ago, I helped our two camp-host Jan and Sabrina setup a real Christmas tree at the entrance to the
|Christmas at Western Union Wharf|
Key West Holiday Lights!It is strange for a northerner to come to a warm climate at Christmas time. Back home, everybody decorates with lights in windows and a few brave souls who venture out and hang lights on the outsides of their homes. I remember driving around town, Christmas week, at night, with the family, looking at all the lit decorations, in the different neighborhoods.
|2nd Place Christmas Light Contest Winner...Our Favorite!|
Jump down here in the Keys and it is a little different. Homes are covered with lights! That maybe expected, but what is unusual, for me, is having the home owners sitting outside and wishing passerby's a Merry Christmas. Background music playing Christmas Carols! All of this, with an outside evening temperature of around 74 degrees, which makes these outings very pleasant.
That is what we saw and did!
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Veterans Day November 11, 2016We’ve been in Key West for approximately a month and a few days. It is a magical place to meet people. It’s like migrating birds that come from all over the country on a migration. The birds migrate further south into Central and South America. We humans, are tethered to the earth for the most part and wind up here at the end of the road on US 1 mile marker zero! The neat thing is that most of us didn’t know each other before this migration south. The nesting place, for us is Trumbo Point. We all park our campers here, close to one another, set up our little home away from home compounds and then start to notice our neighbors. A friendly, hi, hello, how are you doing and next thing, we have new friends! We all have different stories, different places of origins but the common bond is that we all, or at least half of the spouses, served in the military. This is what makes us nearly family.
When I was in the Army their seemed to always be a rivalry between all branches of service. That doesn’t exist here! We are all “US Retired Military”. It doesn’t matter if we were privates or generals, we are retired military! Key West stands out as a military town that dates back well before the Civil War. The local economy does depend on tourist, but it also depends heavily on military and their dependents. A perfect example of this was November 11th, Veterans Day. It is without hesitation that I say that this was the finest military parade that I’ve seen! I was really impressed with the number of military personnel in the parade. We, here at Trumbo Point Campground, even had a float in the parade!
The parade naturally march down Duval Street. Key West has a beautiful monument park. On Veterans Day our fallen comrades were remembered at Bayview Park. The parade didn’t come close to Bayview, but flowers adored the memorial. After the parade we rode our bikes on the back streets to Bayview. A tour bus had just dropped tourist. Many of these were veterans who looked at the inspiring plaques with engraved scenes from all of the wars. I asked one vet, looking at the Vietnam plaque, “Where were you stationed?” He replied, “up north” another here in Bien Huh. We remembered many things from our active military careers.
Daily RoutineWe have pretty much settled into daily routine now.
- Early risers around 6:15am (Later than the 5:15am back home in NH)
- Breakfast around 7:30am
- Exercise (Helen walks with one or two girls…3 to 4-1/2 miles) I ride my bike on Fleming Key 12 miles…gold for this year is 1,000 miles…840 left to go.
- Coffee break around 9:30 am
- Depending on which day of the week it’s Bocce Mondays and Fridays 10am to 12noon Tuesday and Thursday our Tai Chi classes at 11:30 am
- Most everyday we bike to these classes and games. From the classes and/or game we bike another couple of miles to check our mailbox down on Whitehead Street.
- Afternoon are reserved for groceries or anything that needs to be done.
- Normally we eat at home in the evening, except for Friday nights when we make it a point to go out to a restaurant and reflect on the pass week.
VolunteeringIf there is one thing that you can do as much as you want in Key West is volunteering! Every single day there is another type of activity, parade, marathon. You name it and Key West has it! All this leads to the need for volunteers.
Last week our latest volunteerism was the Key West Film Festival. Another free tee shirt to add to our collection. It is interesting and fun to do these events, we see and meet lots of people, both participants and spectators.
That is what we saw and did!
|Trumbo Point ...Our Float!|
|KW was a Sub Base in "Years Pass"|
|Looking Sharp US Navy|
Saturday, November 19, 2016
36 annual Key West World Championships Super Boat International
|Super Boat 1st ~ Little Bird ~ Helicopter 2nd!|
|Tilt Super Boat|
If you owned a boat, it was $$$$$, but who’s counting. Speaking of money, these racing boats do not cost thousands of dollars, but millions. They are not made of fiberglass, but of carbon fibre…same stuff as the stealth fighter planes. They have specially designed trailers that tilt the boats nearly vertical. so they can be transported down the highway. Why would they have to be tilted, you might ask? They are 12 feet wide and some 50 feet long. The trucks pulling them are show pieces in themselves. Some owners have matching color show cars that enhance both the boat, truck and poshness of the rigs. Most of these racing teams are large corporation sponsors, hence an advertisement right off. An example of this would be “Stihl”… you know, the chain saw people.
|Stihl Super Boat|
They’ve been racing every other day with the last big event tomorrow. I’m not sure how everything is talied, but winning points play a big part in the scheme of the winning. The Super-boat heats are capable of hitting speeds of 180 miles per hour. On the day we watched, they were doing 140 miles per hour. It’s the wave conditions that limit the speed. Even at 140 mph, we often saw them getting airborne as they screamed by. There average speed was 111MPH on the 4.2 mile course. It was a cool sight to see! Actually, I should rephrase that and say it was a very hot sight to see, as we were on the Mole (pier) watching in the very hot sun!
|Cowgirl ~ Racing Fan|
Earlier during the week, in the early evening, the racing teams had a parade down Duval Street strutting their stuff, with trucks, trailers, cars and boats! Money, money and more money to advertise their companies and/or products!
Sunday rolled around and the final day for racing was here. Before getting into the racing details, I have to mention that it’s not only the racing boats that show up for this week’s festivities, but several dozens, so called “Cigars” boats made their way down from the Miami area to watch and run around the Keys. These smaller boats are not your typical 75 HP outboards, but usually two automotive type engines “300HP” each. Even at idle, these guys sound very powerful! One night, at three in the morning, most likely after the bars on Duval Street closed, one of these “Cigar” boats, cruised the channel between Trumbo Point and Fleming Key.
Back to Sunday’s final raceIn the morning, we weren’t sure if we were going to attend. The temperature would be very hot and little wind on that side of the island. This is such a difference from the Northeast side where the campground is located!
|1500 HP Super Boat|
The race started, with three helicopters flying low covering the boats as they flew by at ear piecing noise! With only a dozen boats in the race, the engine noise doesn’t last very long.
|Closing In !|
In turn two, I was able to get one of the boats getting air borne and flipping over! It was a mass confusion from the air as well as from the water. Rescue personnel, from one of helicopters performed the rescue of the two crew members. They (the rescue team) have things pretty well covered in that department.
That is what we did and saw!
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
|The Eyes have it!|
Last night, we saw the “Locals” parade. Very interesting! I always wondered why they called it “Fantasy Fest”. I don’t have to wonder any more. If you can get my drift about body painting, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Using an expression from an old friend, “Unbelievable” is the least I can say. I took many pictures, but unfortunately, I can’t publish most of them for ethical and moral reasons!
Saturday, October 29, 2016
|Did I say the eyes have it?|
One had to think, at the beginning of the parade, as two bomb sniffing dogs made their way along each side of the packed street. No devices were located and no major incidents occurred. I found a good place to take pictures, or, at least I thought it was a good place. Just as the parade started, an EMT, ATV type, vehicle parked right in front of us. I asked the guys if they could move and they said no matter where they parked they would be blocking someone’s view. So, I did get pictures, but mostly after they had gone by our location. Some of you would say, “why didn’t you move” the answer was that 60,000 people were standing next to me.
The parade ended around nine-thirty, but we made another miscalculation earlier in the evening. We had crossed the street before the continuos barricades had been closed. We had to walk in a different direction from our campground, circle around towards the waterfront and then head home. Remember, we were walking, no bikes or vehicle tonight. It was a good experience in any event to witness Fantasy Fest for the first time.
|Floats...Fantasy Fest Parade 2016!|
Tuesday Nov. 1, 2016A new adventure started today for both of us. I read an add in the paper that stated a Free Tai Chi class was starting on Tuesday and Thursday. I called and got us signed up! Tai Chi as explained by Will, our instructor, is a martial art that does nearly everything in slow motion. Unlike Con Fu, which relies on force and speed, Tai Chi relies on control balance and putting your opponent off balance. No, we are not looking for martial art for defense, but better body balance and muscle toning. Will is very good at explaining the warmup exercises, breathing required to improve body mobility. I think we are going to enjoy these classes! If we wanted to really get into the martial arts, he also does another class on Higgs Beach on Sunday morning.
Wednesday Nov. 2, 2016I spent the morning cutting grass, removing sod from our rear concrete pathway and just getting things looking good. By mid morning, it was contagious! I was the first to mow grass since the campground opened and after I finished my lawn, all three mowers were going in the park for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, I was beat and sat, in the shade, got my whittling tools out and did some carving on my Eagle Head Cane project. It is the first time I ever tackle wood carving. It is relaxing. I also enjoy being able to sharpen my tools razor sharp with the help of a buffing compound and a leather strap.
Thursday Nov 3, 2016Bright sunny, warm day, no or little humidity! Started the day by washing camper windows again. I like clean windows to lookout at the sunrises. It’s a 10 minute job with my squeegee. Next came the truck…Looks like “Coral Dust”…Better wash the truck! We are not allowed to wash vehicles with a hose in the park. Our alternative is to fill one pail with soapy water and another with rinse water for the other chamois. It does take very long to get that big F-250 shine up.
Tai Chi class at 11:30amTai Chi… A Chinese martial arts and system of calisthenics consisting of sequences of very slow controlled movements. Will Soto, our instructor, is by profession a tight rope walker. Checkout his link: www.willsoto.net Back to Tai Chi basics! I am very impressed with the class. It is very interesting to learn how balancing of your inner circle (body movement) can be used in either defense or offense. The warm up exercises stimulate your body. It is easer to balance one’s body actions.
That is what we saw and did!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016In the last blog, we were waiting for Trumbo Point campground to open. We were the second campers to checkin. Our preferred site was waiting for us along with the 102 other sites. As I said, at 9am, only two of us were here, but by the end of the day 46 other retired military campers invaded the giant field. A couple of these campers are active military.
When you arrive, it seems that there is a million of chores to tackle for the setup. By late morning, I was well established on my site. I volunteered to help a few of the other guys. I gave Willy a ride back to Sigbee to pickup is car. He has a motor home and he was having a very difficult time of coming over here with three flat tires! Yes, I said (three) flat tires! Another guy needed a ride, but I had a conference call (Water Works Board meeting at 12pm). I did the meeting despite all of the commotion. The afternoon was spent helping and talking to old friends as they rolled in from all over the country. Helen and I actually talked to a gal from Australia. She is married to an American Navy guy. It is truly amazing to meet and chat with people from all over.
Last night, I would put our GoWiFi internet to the test. I streamed the Presidential Debate live on my computer. From the computer I cabled the debate over a HDMI cable to our digital TV, for a larger screen view. I ran the sound to my Pioneer car stereo in the camper for a surround sound experience. Hillary and Donald came through loud and clear! I would say, that my site, literally next to the WiFi repeater, is going to work for me just fine. I even streamed a movie from Amazon Prime with no problem in buffering. I’m a happy camper so far.
October 20, 2016This morning, it was time to wash the camper windows and remove the road grime that followed us down that long road from New England. I have a squeegee that makes this a quick job of doing all the windows including the pickup truck. It seemed that the rest of the day just flew by.
October 23, 2016The weather changed last night. The wind is out of the North and the humidity is gone. Temperature is in the mid 70’s…reminds me of New England weather in the fall.
This afternoon, I moved another 5th wheel from the storage area over on Fleming Key to here at Trumbo Point, a total of about 1,300 feet. This is the third 5th wheel that sat on my hitch. They all seem to pull alike. Paul, the owner, has a Ford 250 with a truck camper on it. With me moving his 5th wheel, he didn’t have to download the truck camper, just park it in his storage area.
This is the beginning of Fantasy Fest week in Key West! It is a crazy week with a lot of activity. Tonight it was the bike Zombie Parade with thousands of Zombies riding all kinds of bikes and wearing bloody costumes! We were there taking pictures for about an hour until it really was getting crowded.
Back at the campground, we were surprised with the arrival of two couples pulling in with their 5th wheel and motor home. John and Cheryl, who stopped in for a visit back in New Hampshire and Paula and Charles who have two Shar Pei show dogs. Shar Pei never has an “S” even in plural form. Paula explained that very clearly to me last year.
The weather is still perfect. Low humidity, mid seventies, slight breeze still blowing from a northerly direction. A good day to play Bocce. We play Monday and Friday over at the end of White Street. They have outstanding courts which are City owned. It is our chance to meet and play with locals. Most of the locals belong to a league who play four nights a week. It is a lot more serious on those leagues than our 10 to noon play for fun.
|A Pretty Bloody Mess|
|An Estimated 8,000 in the Parade|
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2016Started the day, detailing my truck. It is such a joy for me to relax and tend to such activities. It took most of the day! Well, it works like this; someone walks by and a conversation starts up. A little later a neighbor needs help with his awning, and so goes the day. Life in Key West…the way it should be!
That is what we saw and did!