Monday, January 10, 2000

Florida 1999 - Outtakes

This trip was starting to be planned as far back as two years ago.  This is something that D. and I had wanted to do for a long time.  We had learned from previous trips that we usually got home and realized that we did not take enough pictures.  This trip we both decided to be different and made it a point to burn as much film as possible.  While this makes for some good pictures, it also makes for some odd ones.  I included a few just for a lighter side of the trip and the people in them. 

Friday, January 07, 2000

Florida 1999 - New Orleans

On our way home we decided that to stop at New Orleans since neither of had been there, and since we had slept in the car so much we "pampered" ourselves with a nice hotel room. What we did is what I would suggest to others visiting the city, visit the French quarter all day, because some parts of the city can get a little scary at night. (This coming from someone who spent a lot of time in Los Angeles.) The architecture there is very interesting. There is the problem though that the whole city was built on a swap. All the building are sinking. We heard commercials for foundation restoring companies on the radio. All the sidewalks are cracked and most are disintegrating. I saw a very interesting thing while walking; there was a crew of about 5 men each with a hammer pounding on the ironwork in front of a house. I looked carefully and I saw that they were straightening out the iron so that you could not tell the house was slightly crooked. The food there is interesting and I recommend the French donuts that they have there called benieghts (Ben-yaehs) this is also the fist time that I have had crawfish.

    Since the city is below sea level and a swap the graves were all above ground.  I recommend going to see the ornate family mausoleums. 
The drive home
After leaving New Orleans we drove straight home switching drivers when we got tired. This trip lasted more then three weeks and even though I changed the oil right before leaving I still had to change it on the trip and is now in need of changing again. Putting more the 8,000 miles on my car, which I might add drove the whole way flawlessly and was back to normal after a detailed car wash and a lot of air freshener to get rid of the mildew. I didn't get to use all the toys that I bought like the GPS, but then again we didn’t go exploring for any deserted islands, and in some cases it was just buried somewhere in the car I could not find. I was assured there would be hundreds of lobster down there. Beside the giant 2 story tall one the only real one I saw was mounted to a wall for display. All in all it was a great trip and I saw some amazing stuff that will stay with me for quite a while, and I do plan to go back... I have to use the free coupon of course.

Wednesday, January 05, 2000

Florida 1999 - My Brother's House

Now I must admit that if you are one of my co-workers reading this or just came across this website, this section may be boring and you might want to skip down to New Orleans. I had never visited my brother in North Carolina. In the 8 or so years that they had lived there we had always depended on them to drive out to visit us. I felt a little rude just calling up to say, hey we're coming over, but they assured us it was OK. Now a warm shower and a soft bed are the kind of things usually taken for granted, but we enjoyed them greatly. D. had just gotten a new Dreamcast machine for an early Christmas present and I must admit that I played that a little more then I probably should have, but I was just visiting with D. while playing, yeah that’s it. Anyway D. wanted to show us around to prove what a beautiful place they lived. They took us to Duke University, downtown Raleigh and a lot of restaurants. After living there D. is a full-fledged Carolinian now and is proud of his state.

    L. and I had been kind of touristed out so we all went bowling together and had a lot of fun doing that even though all of our scores were awful. At the bowling alley there was a game of milking the cow, pulling the right udder when it lit up.  Of course we had to try it, and no matter what D. says, I will never let him live it down that he lives in a farm community. D.'s kids are growing fast and a lot more friendly then I would have been with an uncle that I had only seen four times, and we were sorry to leave.

Monday, January 03, 2000

Florida 1999 - Pennecamp

We drove out of the keys on the way home stopping at The dolphin research center in Marathon for L. but they were closed for New Years, and a beach there in marathon where the coral beach was more like walking on the moon. We stopped in Key Largo to go to the John Pennecamp Park. But all the campsites were full so we instead ended up sleeping in a Kmart parking lot that resembled more of a forest. The next day we were told that the wind was too strong to see the Christ of the abyss statue so instead we went to snorkel along the barrier reef. Now up until this point I had thought I had seen a lot of fish at the fort. I rate snorkeling over this reef as the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately since it was windy, the pictures again came out muted. Again like at the fort the rangers said the best time to come was in the summer, I don't know if this is a ploy to get you to come in the off season or if it really is calmer, but getting to see this reef is worth the $25 boat ride. I also recommend renting the wet suits. They are a marvelous invention that allowed us to have no problems in the colder 68-degree water for over and hour and a half. 
Bubba the barracuda has become famous for following yourists around.
Yeah I know, the cannon was placed there.  It was still cool to see it while snorkeling.
After the snorkeling D. and I went on a bike ride on a wood trail they had built through a mangrove island, that was also interesting.

After this is where D. C. and L. and I split up. L. and I decided to scrap the rest of the trip (although I wish that I had seen the manatees with D. and C..) to go visit my brother in North Carolina.

Sunday, January 02, 2000

Florida 1999 - Mangroves

Geiger Key
    We went here to kayak through mangrove trees. I thought that this was the second coolest thing that was done on the trip. It is like being able to go through the swaps with out the mesquites or alligators. (Both of them not liking sea water.) This is where we realized that all the plants that we had seen in the moat at the fort were really jellyfish like animals. Since the water was so shallow here, three feet at the deepest points, it was impossible not to stir up these animals with the eddies created by the paddles. The best way to describe it is that when the paddle stirred them up off the bottom these flower type jellyfish would flutter like a jellyfish until right side up then sink to the bottom again. We saw crabs that climbed in the trees, and lots of different fish then when snorkeling at the fort.

Everything that looks like a plant here is really a jellyfish sitting in the sand.
I pulled my kayak up to the roots and took a pictures to show how tangled the roots really were.
The water was so shallow I had to lean back, well that and I was lazy.
Some of the passages got so narrow that paddles could not be used.