Florida Travel~Florida Keys

25 Jul

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

I have been going to the Florida Keys for 40 years. It is so tropical and so different from the rest of Florida. If you love the sun, beach life and water, this is paradise.

 

 

Drive the Overseas Highway across a 113-mile chain of coral and limestone islands connected by 42 bridges, one of them seven miles long.

 

Each Key is a little different and offers it’s own uniqueness.

 

 

My favorite Key is Bahia Honda State Park.

 

 

All of the Keys are made up of hard coral and most first time campers are surprised when they try to hammer their tent stakes in the ground. They are useless. One must buy very large nails and drive them in to hold down the tent ties.  This is true also here, but this park is actually one of the few with stunning shallow white sandy beaches and are awarded the worlds best beach.

Henry Flagler’s railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Bahia-Honda

The island’s name, Spanish for “deep bay”.

A walk on the Old Bahia Honda Bridge offers a panoramic view of the Gulf and Atlantic waters.

The National Key Deer Refuge On Big Pine Key was established in 1957 to protect and preserve in the national interest of the Key deer and other wildlife resources in the Florida Keys.

 

 

The Refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and currently consists of approximately 9,200 acres of land that includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, and mangrove forests.

Marathon Key – Snuba dive Sombrero Reef

 

https://www.tildensscubacenter.com/

I have been a scuba diver for many years, but snuba is truly the way to go. Anyone can do it. We dove Sombrero Reef with this company and was very pleased. Check it out if exploring the beautiful underwater world is on your bucket list.

Another delightful thing to do in the Keys is to swim with the dolphin. There are a few places that offer it.

http://www.floridakeysswimwithdolphins.com/

Key West  The Southernmost Point Buoy is an anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida marking the southernmost point in the continental United States.

 

 

Key West Lighthouse. 

As you walk the shops and restauraunts of Key West,

you can see the lighthouse in most locations.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_West_lighthouse

 

And don’t forget to end your day at Mallory Square to enjoy eats, entertainment and celebrate a gorgeous sunset.

Join me next week to enjoy Blowing Rocks. An unusual beach for Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Gone Fishin’

24 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Bowers Lites

 

Photo from Pinterest

 

My dad learned to fish from his dad. He loved it the best of all recreations. The first fishing trip I recall going on with dad was when we lived in Westcliffe, Colorado. We had a little restaurant and bar on Main Street called Min’s Café.

One early fall, Mother and Dad closed the restaurant and we went up into the Sangre de Cristo Range to fish in a creek. We drove our black 1946 Ford two-door car to about 9,000 feet elevation. We took a tent, fishing gear, and an aluminum set of pots, pans, and flatware that all fit together in a cozy kettle.

It wasn’t far, so we arrived early in the day and found ourselves in a high meadow. Dandelions with their green leaves grew all around, some of the flowers were yellow, and some were dressed in white fluff. The air was cool and fragrant. Grasses along the creek had begun to change colors. As soon as the tent was set up Dad took my brother and I down to the creek to start fishing. Our poles had two hooks each so we’d have a chance to catch more rainbow trout and more browns. Dad thought that since I was such a big girl I ought to be able to thread the worms he’d brought along onto the hooks. They were wiggly and squishy and I didn’t like doing it one bit, because I knew it had to hurt them. Dad was proud of me for doing it, though, so I was proud, too. He wanted us both to learn to enjoy his favorite sport. Dad and my brother went to fish further up the creek. Mother was resting in the car after a long week of working in the café. Feeling lazy, I released the fishing line into the creek in a quiet place and propped the rod against the bank with rocks. I then crawled into the tent and picked up my Nancy Drew mystery from the library. Reading was already my favorite recreation. Before I got through even one chapter I heard a commotion outside and crawled out of the tent to see what was going on. Dad and my brother were waiting for me. Holding up my fishing pole to show me that I had caught a fish on each hook. Wow, was I ever satisfied with my talent for fishing. Dad took them off the hook for me, thank Heaven. We put them in the creel, then Dad and brother went back to fish for our supper. Mother was ready to pick dandelion greens and wanted me to help her. I had never heard of such a thing as eating dandelion leaves before, but she said said Auntie Elvira had taught her in Camp Fire girls when she was younger.

After we picked a batch of green and started them cooking in the kettle, mother gave me a bar of soap and told me to wash my hands. I got down as close as I could to the water and put my hands in holding the soap. Whoosh, the creek took it, and it was gone. I went back to tell Mother and she was understanding about it. “Oh, well,” says she, “we’ll just have to wash our hands with sand.”

Dad had brother and I watch him clean the fish so we’d know how to clean our own next time. I’ve never had to do it, but I can see clearly in mind mind’s eye how he slashed it from the bottom of the belly to the gills and pulled out the guts. It was pretty cool and then after it was fried in cornmeal in a skillet over the camp stove dad taught us how to get the bones out. We started at the tail, got hold of the inner skeleton and pulled all up together. We then pulled that from the side and had two clean sides.

During supper, my brother kept casting bright-eyed glances at my dad. Did they have a secret? What could it be? I would find out one way or another.

As I was finishing my canned peaches for dessert I looked up and saw that gentle snowflakes were wafting down. I’d never seen it snow in summer

Later on when no one was looking I got my brother in a headlock and made him tell. Did I mention he was younger and smaller?

Anyhow he talked. He said that after he and dad had caught a few, they sneaked in and put a couple on my hooks. “That’s what you get for readin’ when you’re supposed to be fishin’” my brother said. He then ran away. I gave chase, but I never caught him. Did I mention that he was swifter a well?

 

 

Cat-Astrophy

23 Jul

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

Do you have a pet? Have you ever had a pet? Cat? Dog? Bird? Fish? Snake (yuk!)? Turtle? I could go on and on….

I’ve written a previous post about my adventure with our family cats (please see my post of April 21, 2013 – Boots and Tippy), and how much we enjoyed them. And included in that post was the information about my Aunt Jessie and Granny’s dogs. That was really the best of both worlds – we had cats, and 10 minutes away from our house was Granny and Aunt Jessie’s house with dogs. Loved them all.

 

Bill and Judy and Boots 1956

 

Boots and Trixie

 

But then I met and married Fred. His family was a military family, and his parents said that, because they moved so often, it wasn’t practical to have pets. So Fred didn’t have the pleasure of growing up with animals around the house, as I did. And, consequently, he didn’t feel the need for pets in our house. And that feeling was emphasized following his entrance into the military, himself. Same feeling as his parents – we moved so often that it wasn’t practical to have pets. So we never did.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t miss having a cat or dog following me around the house. But I also have to admit, even now, that, because we travel as often as we do, it is quite convenient not to have to arrange care for an animal.

And I find it interesting – and amusing – to find that both our daughters have pets: Karen and her family have cats; Janet and her family have dogs.

But that brings a memory to me of a time that we cat-sat for someone. We were in our first tour of duty in Germany – Wiesbaden. It was 1968, and Karen was just one year old. A family from our church went on vacation, and asked us to keep their new kitten for the few days they would be gone.

 


Credit Google Search and the Kitten Lady

 

It was cute little thing, and Karen was quite taken with it. I remember she had a set of winter mittens – hooked together by a long yarn cord. She would run through the apartment – holding one of the mittens, with the other trailing – and the kitten would chase it. She had great fun out of that.

On to the crux of this story: it was my habit to put her in the bathtub to play in the water while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom. We would have conversations, as well. I had done so one particular day when we had that kitten with us. I had cleaned the toilet, and had the lid propped up to let the seat dry. The door to the bathroom was open – and that kitten made a mad dash for the toilet – and jumped up to sit on the closed lid – only to realize, mid-leap, that the lid was up and the toilet was open! With front paws splayed, that kitten landed smack in the water in the toilet bowl! And then leaped out with a loud yowl!

 

Credit Google Search and Warren Photographic

 

That poor, wet, bedraggled kitten was quite pitiful to see! But it was one of the funniest things I think I’ve ever seen! I never knew animals could have an expression of pure terror on their face – but that one did that time!

Karen and I had quite a laugh over it. And everyone I have ever related this story to, has also gotten a good laugh out of it.

It was quite the cat-astrophy in the making!!

 

 

 

 

 

What to do when life gets complicated.

22 Jul

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

 

July 21, 2017 reblogged

 

Sometimes we wake up, expecting a day just like any other. And, with no warning life gets complicated. Then what happens?

I was flying home to Orlando from Chicago. Seated beside me in the plane was a little girl. I turned toward her. “Are you traveling by yourself?”

“Uh huh.”

“What a brave girl,” I said. “You’re not scared to fly by yourself, are you?”

“A little. I have never flown before,” she said, chewing her gum with vigor.

“Flying is fun,” I said. “You’ll see how fast we’ll get to Orlando.”

I figured if I talked to her, she would be distracted and forget about being scared.

During the two-hour flight, I asked her questions and she opened up. We chatted over details about her friends, her pets and her excitement about visiting Disney World.

“Flight attendants,” the announcement sounded, “please take your seats; the seatbelt light is on during this turbulence.”

I leaned toward and whispered, “Do you know what turbulence is?”

“Nope.”

“Turbulence is a mini roller coaster and we don’t have to pay extra for it.”

The plane shook and dipped. Then it stopped.

“It’s over,” she said, disappointment in her voice.

I laughed. “You don’t get much for free.”

The plane landed. “Have fun at Disney,” I said. “When people ask you about your first airplane ride, what will you tell them?”

She stopped chewing her gum. “I’ll tell them it was awesome.”

My plan worked. As long as she was hearing my voice and was focused on what I said, she forgot about her fear.

Jesus wants the same for you and me. His voice is constant. His words continue to echo. His promises are repeated over and over again.

But are we listening? When life gets complicated with sudden emotional turbulence, what do our ears hear and what does our heart feel?

During that shaking, it’ His voice we need to hear. It’s His promises we must believe. And it’s in His protection that we must find refuge.

If turbulence has complicated your life, God is speaking. He’s addressing you by name. And He’s calling you to the security of his flock.

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

When you hear His voice, you silence the whispers of terror. When you allow Him to know you, He’ll provide what you need. And when you follow Him, the path is secure and the journey is simple and uncomplicated.

Father, how often I fall into panic when life gets too complicated. I trust that you can do what I cannot do for myself. And you will bring order to my life and simplify the complications. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What is complicating your life right now?

Janet

Video sneak peek: https://youtu.be/UeRRk9hjH5I

 

Source: What to do when life gets complicated. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

Avoid Premature Aging With One Word “Enthusiasm”

21 Jul

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

author of Window Wonders

 

 

It is not how long you have lived-
Nor how long you have left.
It is how much life you have packed into those years
So you are not feeling bereft.

Living is loving-
You can’t separate the two.
Loving is not conditional-
That’s how God created you.

Love is sincere-
It begins in your heart.
It is the fruit of the spirit.
He promises never to depart.

Love truly can’t be explained.
It is best shown in action.
Sacrifice yourself for the good of others.
Sincerity is a heartfelt attraction.

We are being transformed by our Creator
What an example He set for you and me.
Love in action, caring for others
prepares us for Eternity.

There’s Reading and Then There is READING

20 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Yesterday, I decided that husband and I needed to go on an “outing”. He had spent the early part of the week painting his workshop and we needed a change of scenery. Traveler’s Rest in Georgia is a historic plantation I had been wanting to visit so I went online and found the address and read all the pertinent information. I say I read it, but did I really? I must not have because when we arrived there, Traveler’s Rest was closed. A sign stated its hours to be Saturday and Sunday only. We walked up on the porch and marveled at the rough wood. The original structure was built in 1815. I wonder how many times the wood has been replaced. We took a few pictures and plan to return in August when our daughter comes for a visit.

 

 

We had packed a picnic lunch so we headed to Tugaloo State Park. We have passed the turnoff for the park many times but this was our first visit. The day was quite warm and my phone battery was low so I only took two pictures.  With lake front cabins and campsites it is a boating and fishing paradise! We ate our lunch under a pavilion overlooking the lake.

 

 

We enjoyed our adventure, roaming back roads and seeing new places. On the return trip, husband spotted a new Harbor Freight store so of course, we had to stop and shop! He found a couple of items he needed and I found a nice pruning  shear mounted on a long pole. Just what hubby needs to do the trimming I have been nagging  gently asking him to do.

You can bet I checked out the Traveler’s Rest website when we returned home. Sure enough, it clearly stated Saturday and Sunday. I guess there is reading and then there is reading. 

Life lesson: Never skim a webpage when planning a trip.

Florida Travel~Sanibel

18 Jul

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Oh Sanibel. I love this place. The white sand beaches and beautiful clear water are spectacular.

 

 

We so enjoyed our stay there.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34481-Activities-Captiva_Island_Florida.html

Sanibel is a city on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida. One of the features on the island is a beach with a fishing pier called Lighthouse Beach.

 

 

The Causeway Beaches are a water-sports hub and have picnic facilities.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge covers about half of the island. Popular for wildlife enthusiast and bird watching.

The Sanibel Island Light or Point Ybel Light was one of the first lighthouses on Florida’s Gulf coast. The towering, 19th-century Sanibel Lighthouse and a boardwalk winds through marshes.

 

 

The light, 98-foot above sea level, on an iron skeleton tower was first lit on August 20, 1884 and has a central spiral staircase beginning about 10 feet above the ground. It is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, and was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay for ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa, across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island.

 

 

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

 

 

The northern part of Sanibel is a little quaint town of Captiva. Different than the lower part. Colorful shops and restaurants. The beaches seem to be even better.

 

 

Below is a list of things to do.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34481-Activities-Captiva_Island_Florida.html

One of my favorite events was the Sanibel Thriller boat ride. If you love dolphins you will be delighted to see them riding the boats waves and jumping out of the water. It’s a bit of trouble to get there, but so worth it.

 

 

Join me next week for a trip to the Keys.

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

One Tough Chick

17 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

After an illustration by Avanti Cards

 

Mothers and grandmothers are tough. I’ve received two of the same card over the years, one from our son, Billy, and one from my sister-in-law, Judy. The picture on the front shows a stocky little old lady, like me, in jeans and a plaid shirt. She wears a string of pearls that match her white hair, and holds the handles of a jackhammer over broken cement. The inside caption says, “Motherhood…it’s not for sissies! Happy Mother’s Day”

At church one day, a few years ago, I talked to some women about giving them frozen chickens from my freezer. They weren’t mine, a friend from another church asked me to store them. Then the church didn’t need them back, after all. My friend, Paula, who had two hip replacements–with her daughter’s help– hauled ten pound bags of dressed chickens from their car to friends’ doors, including mine. Paula is tough.

The first person I approached, our pastor’s wife, said she could take four. Rachel, is the perfect picture of the Proverbs 31 woman. She entertains with dinners for six, takes casseroles to anyone who needs them, takes care of old people, acts as peace-maker in the church, keeps family and church books, and sees that the church is scrupulously clean. She ministers to broken hearts and counsels people on marriage and children. She teaches Bible classes, and dresses beautifully. Rachel is tough.

I talked to Lila about the three remaining chickens. Lila, a woman with great style was probably once wealthy. Judging by her gentleness, she may at one time have been a Flower Child. Now, she and her family are quite poor. Eight of them live together in one house. While Lila’s daughter, is in re-hab for drug addiction, Lila and her husband care for three very rowdy grandsons and a new baby granddaughter. Lila and her husband do everything they can to keep the family fed and cared for. She also has accumulated ten cats and a dog. Lila is a sweet Christian woman. She goes out of her way to extend love to everyone including the next door neighbor who hates them all. Lila is tough.

While Lila and I were in the church kitchen talking about chickens, Lila picked up a large ant with her fingers. She turned to put it outside, but it ran up her arm and fell to the floor. While she was looking for it, Rachel came into the kitchen, saw the ant and stepped on it.

“I was going to put it someplace else,” Lila said softly.

“It is someplace else,” said Rachel, in her what’s next voice.+

We three women, standing in the small church kitchen, went back to talking about chickens. We had all cut up chickens, but we had not all cleaned or plucked them. Of course, Rachel had. She was reared in a coal mining town where you had to be practical or starve.

When I was a child many people kept chickens in their back yard even in town. I remembered my grandparents chose a chicken from their coop for supper one day. It was still early in the day as it took a while to prepare it for cooking. I was there when Granddad axed off the head. Suddenly the headless chicken got away and started running all over the back yard leaving splashes of blood in the grass. I was only five years old, and started laughing. Shocked, grandmother hushed me and got me out of the way. When the chicken collapsed, Grandmother picked up the now still carcass and pulled out all the big feathers. At some point she gutted it, saving the heart and gizzard, which were considered delicacies. She then put the bird into a cauldron of boiling water to loosen the tiny pin feathers. At last it was all done and grandmother took it into the kitchen to boil it and serve it with chicken and noodles. That’s one of my favorite dishes to this day, don’t ask me why. Grandmother was tough.

Lila said she had never cleaned a chicken, but she had cleaned fish. I had too, since my dad was a fisherman. She said she had to clean a rabbit once. (Cleaning means taking out the insides). She didn’t know how so she pretended it was a fish and did fine.

Rachel said she killed, plucked, and cleaned ten chickens and cooked them all in one day.

So I must say again, women are tough and I’m glad I get to be one.

Judy is tough too. I don’t know how she feels about chickens, though, I just know you’ve got to be mighty tough to be the wife of a military man.

“A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman, who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels, and her value is far above rubies or pearls.” Proverbs 31:10

 

A Good Sign

16 Jul

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

Frequently, I come across something that peaks my interest. I’ve shared some of those things with you who read my posts. We’ve seen “good signs” in stores and eateries, and even in the hospitals we’ve been in.

All that brings to my mind a sign we have seen in our favorite barbecue restaurant. You see….we were introduced to 4 Rivers bbq some time ago, but their restaurant was far enough away from where we live that we didn’t get there very often – only if we were in that part of town for some reason.

 

 

 

Consequently, when we discovered that a 4 Rivers restaurant was being built about 10 minutes from our house, we were over-joyed! It has become one of our favorite places to eat. Nothing “fancy” about it, but the food is terrific! In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that 4 Rivers catered the meal for the “joint replacement reunion” (please see my post of January 22, 2017).

We are also pleased that the restaurant is closed on Sundays. They believe that everyone within their employ should have the day/time to attend a worship service of their choice, and so they have a Sunday to do so.

They have several “signs” placed around the restaurant, but this one has taken my fancy! See what you think:

 

From the 4 Rivers website:

“4 Rivers had its humble beginnings. Just me, a smoker, and an age-old challenge—cooking brisket.”

John Rivers never set out to create the most successful BBQ chain in Florida. He’s not a classically trained chef or graduate of culinary school. It was in Texas that he found the two loves of his life: his wife and the delicate art of brisket. And it’s been those very two godsends that inspired 4 Rivers as we know it.

John spent 20 years in the healthcare industry before retiring as president of a billion-dollar company. During that time, he had the opportunity to travel the country, honing his taste and talent for brisket perfection. As he soaked up the flavors and practices of ‘cue fare countrywide, John’s dream of de-regionalizing BBQ was born.

 

“This was never supposed to be a restaurant. My definition of helping meant doing what felt most natural when comfort was in order—feed those in need.”

4 Rivers Smokehouse began with the launch of the “Barbecue Ministry” in 2004, when John hosted a cookout fundraiser to support a local family whose young daughter was battling cancer. This one event resulted in a passion for supporting local schools, churches, and charitable organizations, and a few years later, smoking thousands of pounds of meat out of a garage just wouldn’t cut it anymore.

 After trials, tribulations, and a whole lot of burnt ends, we finally flipped that “Hot Brisket Now” sign on in October of 2009. Within the first hour, a line had formed out the door…and then around the corner.

 Today, we have several locations across the state of Florida, with plans for continued expansion and more than 1,000 amazing folks on our 4 Rivers team. Most importantly, the Barbecue Ministry remains our foundation and focus, and will until the cows come home.

 

So the “sign” we find there goes right along with their beginnings and policies. We enjoy the food, the atmosphere…and their signs!

Also from their website:

FUN FACT:

 Why four Rivers? In short, it represents our family, John, Monica (wife), Jared (son) and Cameron (daughter). But they also appreciate the serendipitous double meaning with Genesis 2:10, where four rivers branch from that which flows out of Eden. Now you know!

How to face painful moments. 

15 Jul

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

 

Was this God’s way to teach us how to face painful moments?

Hubby and I, along with our dear friends, headed to North Carolina for a fun visit.

As we crossed from one state to another, the driver took instructions from the rest who did the navigating.

“Oh, oh…I see the red line, that means traffic coming up,” my friend said. “Let’s take a different route.”

For the next few minutes alternate routes were discussed, considered and explored to avoid “the red area” because after all, that meant traffic. And we were having none of that.

But before we knew it, we reached the dreaded “red zone.” And to our relief, the slowdown was slight, so very slight. All that fretting for nothing.

That’s what we humans do all the time, don’t we? We dread the red zone of adversity, the time when we might not be able to handle life. We cringe at the thought of reaching a place where we might be stuck in helplessness or in illness or in financial trouble.

So, worried about that day, we work hard to avoid that at all costs.

But all the while God is preparing the way for us to face those painful moments. He does this through His almighty, supernatural power; He’s already present at those upcoming “red zones” of life.

And that reassurance comes in two different ways:

He established a prerequisite for us to be safe, completely protected: “’Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation’” (Psalm 91:14-16).

Since He knows the danger, keeping us safe is His promise:

“’Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isaiah 43:2).

How lovely life becomes when we truly believe in these promises. And as we ride on the highway of life, we know God is ahead making the way, waving the green flag, and making sure that with His help, we will navigate through all the red-zones of life.

Father, guide me away from fear of the pain that tomorrow might bring. Guard me from the worry about what might happen. I invite you to be the driver of the vehicle of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What adversity are you dreading these days?

Janet

Video sneak peek: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EnobbFT3QeE

How God helps us prepare for painful moments?

Source: How to face painful moments. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

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