1 April 2014 Marathon, FL

Returning Here Each Winter is Akin to "Going Home"

     That "Home" word seems to come out of my mouth often as in arriving at Olverson's or Wild Dunes but we all refer to our Sombrero Marina friends as our Marathon Family.  Some have been reappearing for decades.  We all get the same slip year after year because we can't imagine having new neighbors.  We love being between Larry and Mary and Curt and Susie.  It just wouldn't be the same without them.

     What a wonderful winter we have had in the Florida Keys.  Our empathy for the horrible season many of you have had---even those of you who were/are ostensibly in the SOUTH!  We endeavored to soak up the warm rays for you as we wiggled our toes in the sultry white sand and gazed upon the crystal clear baby blue waters.

     Being the old car buff that he is, and because we had never been to Curry Hammock State Park, Bill and I cycled up there to accomplish two things at once.  The park is minuscule but quite lovely with the white sand, water, and mangroves as backdrops to the car display. The ride there and back was enjoyable as we took side-trips, satisfying our curiosity as "wonder what's down that road?"

     St. Patrick's Day and Bob's birthday were combined into one big blowout.  The musician played music from our "era" and dancing was an ingredient for fun, entertainment, and merry-making.

     Think next year, Bill may be over-due a new "do" to replace the Chia Pet look.  He was thunderstruck that no one asked "who does your hair?" 

     At a Keys Fisheries lunch with Tom and Elinor, I saw several of these little birds and can't identify him.  Do you know what he is?

     This guy, Manny Manatee, seems to be our resident mammal.  I recognize him year after year by his notched tail/flipper and prop scars on his back.  I've tried many times to turn this faucet off but it resists.  This encourages manatees to hang around boats which, in turn, causes them injuries.  There's a stiff fine for voluntarily feeding them fresh water.

Manny must've spread the word as to where to find fresh water.  He brought Mama and Baby for a sip.

     No wonder he was crabby.  Found this unfortunate fellow walking away from the water on an asphalt road.  I've never seen one so gray and he's missing one of his arsenal of claws.  Pondered taking him back to the ocean but when he raised up on his hind legs, I realized he was an ingrate so I just left him there.  Looks like he's about on his last leg (or claw) anyway.  He really gives "ashen" a new meaning, doesn't he.

Our friend, Tom, our cycling guru and also, as in "Tom and Elinor" from Severna Park/Annapolis area, practicing his pole dancing act.  Bill was in charge of the winch and I was his "spotter" and heckling peanut gallery.  Actually, he's cleaning the track for his sail.

This is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico converge--just below the Old Seven Mile Bridge, a famous span in the Florida Keys. This was Henry Flagler's project through its competition in 1912 and was part of the Floria East Coast Railway.  The new bridge is adjacent to it connecting Marathon to Big Pine Key.  The old bridge is a very favored spot for tourists and resident to enjoy a short bike ride or a great walk.  Friends of Old 7 have raised 77 million dollars to "bring it back".  Expansion grooves are raised causing walkers/runners to trip and cyclists to feel like their brains are being rattled.  Seems like a fortune but it will deliver a much improved recreational site. Next time you're in Marathon, be sure find where Joe Mama's playing and hear him sing about Flagler, the hurricane, and the bridge.  You're in for a treat.

As April Fool's Day approaches, folks become a little melancholy knowing that it's almost time for us snowbirds to head north.  April 1st, 5 of us left one right after the other.  Kindred Spirit III brought up the rear.  Lately we've all been prattling on about how rapidly the season has passed. Bet you in the Frozen Tundra wished you could feel the same! We arrived later than our planned November 15th date so for us the winter season was just a flash in the pan.  I over heard some of the tourists in the condos and villas kvetching that winter passed far too fast and although it was time for them to leave, they were having difficulty prying themselves away from Paradise that is the FL Keys.

I've mentioned in past posts the Tossing of the Flowers onto the wake of each departing boat in the spring.  This is a tradition implemented years ago by sweet Barbara who no longer joins us by boat but is with us in spirit as we continue this custom.  The symbolism is that we wish for a safe return but as our years increase, it's seized another meaning.  Being unable to speak for everyone, I will say that I didn't toss a single flower in the past several weeks that I didn't have damp eyes.

Our party is swiftly diminishing but those left on the dock are probably gone by now.  We're dolefully departing our slip but if the summer escapes as briskly as did the winter, we'll all be back together very soon---come November.

         There lies slip #25 just waiting for our return.

                 Adieu to our almost vacant Sombrero Marina and Resort

Bill and Laura Bender
Aboard Kindred Spirit III
Marco Island, FL


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