A New Addition To Check Out….

REEF is the short name for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation established in 1990 in Key Largo with a variety of programs set up for children through adults. Although the yellow “Keys House” office on the median between the highways at 98300 Overseas Highway could be overlooked, it’s more noticeable now thanks to a recent grant, some talented individuals, and work of the staff.

The 1913 building is in fact the oldest house in the Upper Keys, and as is the case with many historic structures, handicap accessibility is limited and space can be tight for some of their popular gatherings. That has changed with the new Interpretive Center opened in December 2017. In order to best utilize the space that provides wheelchair accessibility, two modular sections were brought in and adeptly joined together to become a multi-functional room for interpretive displays and classes. The impressive “wrap-around” interior mural is far greater than simply decorative, however. Stephen Frink, Key Largo’s internationally known underwater photographer, provided a series of his images and Jim Hellemn of San Diego used his incredible techniques to take the images and create a floor-to-ceiling seamless journey through different local underwater environments. Thirty-three species of fish are displayed in the sections of Shipwrecks in Service, Biodiversity in Barrier Reefs, Patch Reefs and Predators, and Important Inshore Habitats.

The fish and turtle featured are what REEF focuses on in the local area surveys.  The center is open during regular hours of 9:00-5:00, Mon-Fri. Their on-going and some new programs will be posted to the calendar as soon as they are scheduled.

The exterior of REEF also had a make-over with some notable features. One of the original wooden cisterns has been restored as a reminder of the days before pipelines were in place. A Native Plants Trail has interpretive signs about flora and fauna. This wide, wheelchair-accessible path dotted with a few picnic tables, curves around the office building. Other plans are to install an electric car charging station and a solar-powered telephone charging station.

If you aren’t familiar with REEF, their mission statement is, “REEF conserves marine environments worldwide. Our mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community.”

Although fish surveys scuba divers and snorkelers participate in is a major program of REEF, there are workshops and events open to anyone who cares about marine conservation. If you’re in the area, set aside some time to stop by the center for a leisurely stroll to enjoy the mural of our “fin friends” and chat with the staff.

For more information log onto http://www.reef.org;Tel: (305) 852-0030.

A Meandering Day of Fun…..

Burr’s Berry Stand as one of the stops of the Redland Rallye. (Photo from Rob)

Okay, back to pleasant topics. Saturday will be the annual Redland Riot Rallye. Rob and Robin Burr, along with son Rob, Jr. and I’m not sure who else, will greet teams at Historic Cauley Square on Dixie Highway, (Hwy 1). Redland is the large agriculture area that was carved out in the latter part of the 1800s by pioneering families who figured out how to work the difficult, but excellent soil. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the intense summer climate here means there are two distinct growing seasons. “Winter crops” are fabulous strawberries, tomatoes, corn, etc., that give way to exotic tropical fruits of mangoes, avocados, papaya, etc. A number of families and farms shifted from edibles to ornamental plants and there are side-by-side nurseries with hundreds of varieties of palms, beautiful flowering shrubs, orchids in all shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly, fruit stands/markets grew  up over the years, most of which are seasonal. The density of foliage in Redland causes much of this to be obscured from public view and not until you turn into a place do you see the growth. Thus, there is almost a “hidden Redland”.

Rob, who is of the seventh Deep South Dade Burr generations put together the Redland Riot Rallye in 1992 as a way to introduce people to these places. It is set up to be a day of leisure, of exploration followed by a fun party at Schnebly Winery and Brewery, a beautifully landscaped operation that has flourished through the vision and hard work of Peter Schnebly and his family.

The process is pretty simple. Each car (or whatever vehicle you choose) is a team. Sign-in is 10-11:00 at Cauley Square where you are provided a map and a card with questions to be answered at the fourteen stops. The Rallye ends at Schnebly where the cards are turned in not later than 5:00 p.m. There is a prize for the winner and plenty of fun to share.

Our schedule has prevented us from participating and once again, Hubby won’t be available, but I am going to make at least part of it this year. Here’s the link to learn more. www.RedlandRiot.com

Decorating For Christmas…..

We keep our decorations up until after Three Kings Day, 6 January

I do and always have appreciated people who go out of their way to decorate for the holidays. By the way, that does not mean I like having Christmas items in the stores next to Halloween, but that’s not the point of this post. I’m fine with using Thanksgiving weekend for decorating, although we rarely start before the second week of December. We’re pretty modest in our efforts, especially compared to those who have all sorts of outdoor lights and displays. Back when we had a spare artificial tree, we did put one on the front entrance. When that one finally became rather ragged-looking, we didn’t replace it and Hubby decided he wanted to swap to a live tree in the house. We do also have a cute table top “Cajun Tree” given to us years ago by my sister-in-law. It has miniature alligators, crawfish, and bottles of Tabasco as ornaments and there have been a couple of times it was our main tree if we travel over the holidays.

Having room to store a lot of decorations is one issue. More to the point though is having to rearrange so much stuff to make room is one of the real reasons I limit what we do. The other is I’m fine with taking a few hours to get everything up. Spending at least a day and maybe longer for the elaborate lights, etc.,. isn’t anything we want to deal with. During the many moves we made in the Army, Hubby’s final assignment was in Puerto Rico and that was where we learned about Three King’s Day (Jan 6th). It’s a very big holiday throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America and that became our new point for leaving decorations in place. I do admit if we had the space (as does my sister), I would have multiple small trees so I could do themed decorations for each one. We’ve put together quite the collection of scuba, ocean-themed and tropical ornaments and that’s generally what winds up on the tree.

Hubby was scheduled to teach a scuba course today and his student had to cancel so top of his to-do list is going in search of a tree at one of the places where it is also a fund raiser. Sometimes they sell out early, but that’s where he likes to start.


Not Exactly Bucket List….

It’s NASCAR Championship weekend again which means the largest influx of tourists we have at one time every year. (As in thousands) Helicopters buzz in and out to bring VIPs directly into the Speedway. The truck championship is tonight, the Xfinity Car is tomorrow night, (I think it’s a night race), and the Monster Energy is Sunday afternoon. As I have previously posted, I did go with Hubby to the races twice and then gently and lovingly explained to him that now having had the experience, it really would make more sense for me not to go. He loves everything about it – the pre-race events, the entire race, and so forth. By this, I mean getting to the Speedway at like 10:00ish in the morning and staying until the race is over. He simply can’t have as good a time if I am with him. I have something good to eat for when he comes in and we both enjoy our weekend more. The past few years, he’s taken photographs for the newspaper and for his own pleasure.

This year is special though. The newspaper arranged for him to have actual press credentials which are much more tightly controlled for this weekend than for the rest of the year. This allows him access he normally can’t have and it’s perfect for him. He has all these new lenses and what have you and is even planning to have a second camera with him for tomorrow and Sunday. Quite honestly, I don’t know how he lugs all that around at one time for hours on end, but it’s part of the whole deal. As we discussed this morning, it’s a “bucket list” type thing even if he doesn’t have the $10,000 camera lens to go with it.

Busy Day……

I intended to post yesterday and time just sort of slipped by with getting into the hotel, getting checked into the trade show, etc. Today has been spent walking all around the show and having the first autograph session as well as working with Richie Kohler on the new project. We’re still trying to firm several things up and I’ll explain more once we settle those details.

We’ve seen several people we know and met a few new ones already. There are of course exciting new “toys”, officially known as new products. There are some tech items that are well beyond my understanding and other items you wonder why no one had come up with them before. In other cases, like the waterproof bags to hold your cell phone that I’ve seen advertised, and not in person yet. I did pick up a new tee shirt because I erroneously thought I had left another top at home. I did pack it after all. On the other hand, one more tee shirt can’t hurt. We wound up staying at the hotel for dinner last night instead of going out. We’d never eaten at the main restaurant with the buffet option and it was pretty good. Nothing too special because I stayed away from what looked like a lovely dessert station. They had prime rib as one choice and that made Hubby happy. We’re not certain of where we’re going tonight. Apparently there is a group dinner coming together and we’re waiting for the call to know exactly where.

The autograph session tomorrow is a little later and I haven’t checked yet to see if there are any seminars I want to attend. Hubby did three today and hasn’t decided about tomorrow yet.


In what is unusual timing, we leave for Orlando Tuesday morning until late Sat afternoon. The paper has been stopped and house sitter is all set. The largest scuba trade show in the wold takes place in Orlando every other year and we always go. Hubby will attend a string of professional seminars and catch up with friends we may not have seen since the last show. What is different about this show is it is not open to the public; only to individuals in the scuba business. Hubby’s qualifications are obvious and mine are because I focus so much of my writing on scuba. The convention center in Orlando is huge and you do get a lot of walking in. Richie Kohler will be presenting on Friday and we’ll have an hour of book signing Wed, Thurs, and Friday. We will also be spending time together to discuss the other book he wants to do. (More about that after we talk.) Richie tends to be really popular though and I suspect he’ll be whisked off to a number of things he isn’t anticipating. I have plenty to keep me busy and unlike the trip to Louisiana, I should have consistent, reliable connectivity.

The area is quite the “foodie” place, too with a large shopping and entertainment complex within comfortable walking distance of the hotel. Comfortable distance for us, but I admit we tend to be more walkers than many people these days. I haven’t checked the weather forecast, so our plans could be disrupted if it’s messy. I don’t know if there will be any new restaurants open, although there are plenty to choose from and we’ve not been disappointed in the ones we’ve tried. We might branch out this time to more ethnic choices – depends on who we’re with and how we’re feeling.

October Trip, Headed Home……..

I guess you never really know when coincidence will strike, or perhaps yesterday was another of those “meant to be moments”. I mentioned before I was taking a later than usual flight on the Shreveport to Atlanta leg. I woke up early as always though and in arriving early at the airport, I thought, well, I’ll see if I can get on the other flight, not expecting to have any success. The gentleman checking me in said he didn’t think I could, but he would send the bag up and I should talk to the young lady on the desk. I waited until everyone had gone into the jetway and she smilingly said he’d called her and she had only one seat left in the back of the plane. That was fine.

I proceeded on board and sat next to a woman, who as it turned out had never flown before. It does help to have an experienced flier in such cases although she wasn’t as anxious as one of the other passengers who was across the aisle seemed to be. If you’ve never been through Atlanta airport, it is huge,  with multiple terminals and an excellent train system, but it can be quite confusing your first time there. When I learned the woman had only 47 minutes to catch her connecting flight, I was concerned. That was 47 minutes before the next flight left, not boarded. Atlanta is a good airport, but not for tight connections. Then we were delayed in departure by more than 30 minutes, which is highly unusual for Shreveport. I alerted the attendant to the situation and she said several people had tight connections with the extra delay. She gave everyone their gate information and I told the woman next to me as soon as we touched down, I would check her flight status and perhaps that flight was going to be delayed as well. It wasn’t. There were four other afternoon flights to her destination though. The attendant did explain the connection issue to the passengers as we landed (small plane with 24 on board) and asked if those who could wait would allow the rest of us to deplane first. Since I had plenty of time, I told my seatmate I would go with her and make sure she was taken care of. Fortunately, we did come into the same terminal and were only six gates apart. She could walk faster than me and I told her to go ahead and I’d come along just to check on her. Her connecting flight was on another, larger jet, so they did have about another fifteen passengers in line when she arrived. It was nice she didn’t have to go through the hassle of being re-booked and I hope the second flight went well for her.

October Trip Day 5……

My on-going computer aggravations are why the Day 2 post didn’t go up when I thought it did. In speaking with Hubby last night, he thinks the core problem is a settings issue (which would seem logical considering what’s happening) and he might be able to fix it without me needing to consult the Geeks. That would be nice, but we shall see.

I am in Shreveport – well, Bossier City – across the Red River. The wonderful steakhouse of Two Johns is on this side and I’m staying near there. I’m flying out a little later in the morning than I usually do. I was a bit tardy in booking for this trip and the earlier afternoon flights from Atlanta to Miami were already full. While in general I’d just as soon have a longer layover in Atlanta, I decided to change it up a bit this time. Either way I did it was going to mean leaving MIA at a terrible time from a traffic perspective. At least I don’t have to do that very often.

Today is son’s birthday and we exchanged email greetings this morning. He won’t be getting any celebration time for almost two weeks as he has overlapping dance performances. That happens to him about every two years. We’ll try to make his Fall show next year if things aren’t as hectic.

The visit with my dad was good. His health is fine although he will never recover full vision in the eye where a blood vessel burst several years ago. He’s been having treatment on it for a long time. Surgery is an option, however, it doesn’t always help and at his age, surgery without a good probability of improving the condition doesn’t make a lot of sense. He opted to not bother with it.

The temperature dropped overnight and I forgot to throw a wrap into the suitcase. I’ll plan to walk briskly from parking lot into heated buildings.




October Trip, Day 2….. (Didn’t Post Correctly)

I did check the forecast before I left, but didn’t check it yesterday. The sound of rain and thunder at 6:00 a.m. wasn’t quite what I expected. The worst of it was over though when I got caught up on my momma’s side of the family and headed north. There is a section of interstate between the two towns, but it’s about half state roads without a lot of traffic on a Sunday. That is definitely a pleasant change from where I am usually driving. I had one of the C&W stations on the radio and basically drove the posted speed limit with only one care becoming impatient and that was near the end of the trip. The rain was fairly constant, although never too bad and it did quit when I was nearing my destination.

My sister was at the assisted living facility with my dad when I arrived and we spent the afternoon chattering away. That kept Daddy from having to engage in too much conversation which is kind of nice for him. He knows he can’t remember what is said and this way he didn’t have to even think about it. I’d brought him some of the dark chocolate covered coconut patties I always bring. These were the key lime flavored  and one was just the right size. He has three more to enjoy – one for each day I’m here. My sister leaves Tues and I’ll stay until Wed late afternoon when I’ll go to a place closer to the airport and meet an old high school friend for dinner. We always try to get together and are usually able to make it happen.

Dinner tonight was at what is the nicest restaurant in town – an Italian place I have posted about before. It’s in an old bank building and they did a great job of restoration. The food is good with a nice selection. I had a chicken dish in a dose sauce topped with melted mozzarella and sliced roma tomatoes. Sis hadn’t had a good pizza for a while so she did that. If it’s open tomorrow night, we’re going to a crawfish place.

October Trip Day 4……

My sister left this morning to return to Houston and I’ll go back out to see Daddy tomorrow until lunchtime, then relocate to Shreveport where I’ll meet my friend for dinner and be closer to the airport. There is a local spot in the next town over which serves breakfast and lunch as a combination of hamburgers and donuts. It actually makes sense and Southern Maid are very much like Krispy Kremes. They are a regional chain and I had been told Hamburger Happiness was a worthy companion. Oh, they also serve Blue Bell ice cream. No calories in this place. I did finally go in and resisted all the extra temptations. There were no more than a dozen tables and I suspect the place is jammed at breakfast. The hamburger couldn’t have been more old-fashioned and it was delicious. The young man at the counter couldn’t have been friendlier and I can confidently send anyone in. This is a situation where the “next town over” is very close, as in the two town limits signs are on the same post.

As another first, I was drawn into being the fourth for a game of dominos this afternoon. The assisted living facility where my dad is doesn’t have a lot of amenities, but Bingo and dominos are among them. I often watch folks play when I’m visiting and I haven’t played since I was a kid. There was no question I was definitely the novice in the group. It was fun though and I did better than I expected. Didn’t win, mind you although I finished in a respectable second.