#40 January 2012 Marathon, FL

Happy 2012!!!!

We began the year on the right foot with a 40 mile bike ride but our faithfulness to that endeavor has waned for lots of reasons.  This is the most socially active place we've ever lived and somehow we aren't learning the art of "picking and choosing".  With few exceptions we pretty much are doing it ALL!!!  Today a friend kindly and gently reminded me--"just say NO!"  Sunday is church and our dock's covered dish 5 PM gathering---and every single night we "gather" at the 4 long picnic tables at 5 PM;  Monday morning far too early is the Men's Breakfast; Tuesday morning (too early--anything before 9:30 AM is Too Early) our Bible study meets; Wednesday is my library volunteer day and dancing that night; Thursday is Line Dance class and music at Dockside; Friday is music at Burdine's topped off with their French Fries sprinkled with fairy dust and fried Key Lime Pie.  Sounds awful (we don't even like Key Lime Pie) but this is to-die-for.

                                 Burdine's Fried Key Lime Pie

We do love these little mammals!  They crave fresh water but there's a sizeable fine for "watering" them.  Someone had a drippy hose so I was able to capture them fairly close.

One of our favorite hangouts, Burdine's, and by far, our front-runner musicians, are John, Banjo Barrister, and Joe, guitarist.

Our marina gave a Slip-Holder Appreciation Dinner with entertainment to follow.  This little gal with her flaming hula hoop was fantastic.  She also is an accupuncturist and massage therapist.  In the Keys it's helpful to be multi-talented!

Jim, a friend and new trawler owner from our old stomping grounds, Greenville, SC, arrived this month to spend the winter.  Told him he better show up rested because it's tough to keep up with all these geezers!  Another SC couple, Bob and Emily, once upon a time full-time cruisers and our mentors as sea urchins, checked into their slip earlier this week in their Nordic Tug.  It's fun to have the 3 of them here.

Last weekend was the 100th anniversary of Henry Flagler's Florida Overseas Railway, that took 8 years, 10,000 workers and $50M to complete.  It connected the mainland to Key West, then the playground for the wealthy and Florida's most populous and richest city.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the coast was barren from Palm Beach to the southern tip.  In 1895 only 9 people lived along the Miami River.  In 1896, soon after his railroad passed through Miami, the area became incorporated with almost 800 residents.  The Standard Oil tycoon personally financed this project which became known as Flagler's Folly.  All the desolation changed and as he laid tracks down the coast, developments sprung up. 

The line became known as the Over-Seas Railroad because its track stretched more than 100 miles out into open water.  Workers were brought from as nearby as Cuba and as far away as Sweden. Concrete that would harden underwater was imported from Germany.

I sometimes wonder, had it not been for Flagler's prevision and forsightedness, would the Keys still be isolated little islands accessible only by boat?

Flagler's railroad was short-lived.  Completed in 1912, a hurricane destroyed not only the railway but also the train that was attempting to evacuate Key West residents to safety.  Flagler's bridges and viaducts that connected the Keys, including a 7 mile long bridge, were regarded then as an engineering marvel. Subsequently, a roadbed replaced the tracks, successfully serving motorists until 1982 when that was replaced by new bridges.  Portions of the old bridges remain and are useful as fishing piers.

The highway decking on the top is for the old Oversears Highway which is now abandoned for more modern civil engineering.  The hump in the middle is where the highway goes up to clear the center channel span.

Unquestionably, time passes faster here than any place we've ever been---either on land or sea.  Seems as if Sunday mornings roll around about every other day!  We've been here 5 weeks and it seems we've just arrived.  Haven't had time to get to Key West yet nor to some of our favorite restaurants!  If the months continue to fly this quickly we'll be centenarians in the blink of an eye!  Life is short and we're cramming as much into it as possible---eventhough our tails are dragging.  We know not what tomorrow holds so drink deep of life's rosy goblet.

Till next month,
Bill and Laura
Kindred Spirit III
Marathon, FL


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