Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 - Museum Hopping

Dear Faithful Floridian Followers:

It was a disappointing day in some ways...we had signed up to do The Fury Ultimate Adventure as a fun day this last day.  It is a  day on the ocean with lots of fun activities available.  We woke and drove to KW with the intention of going, parked the limo even, but then... looking out over the choppy water and watching the wind whip the palm branches...decided it was just too cold and windy!!!

Instead we headed to Starbucks for a coffee, etc. and bought tickets to the Mel Fisher Museum, Truman's Little White House, and the Hemingway House.  I learned a lot! We had some really good tour guides.  I guess they have had a lot of practice actually.  We did make a stop at a sought after burger place called Five got a five star rating from the team.

We headed home late afternoon for a "cleaning / packing party". We ate a hodge-podge of what's left in the frig...spaghetti, cheesy scrambled eggs, brownies, chips, cookies, sandwiches,etc...then adjourned until 9:00, our goal for finishing our plump, polish, pack efforts.

At 9:00 we cut into our key lime pies.  We had not had a chance to try this very Key West dessert.
We then spent an hour reflecting on the trip...favorite day, something you learned, what you did not like, what you are most proud of, what you learned about yourself, etc., was so fun to hear what the kids had to say.  They are an amazing group of individuals and even better as a team....

Hemingway House had 54 cats ...!
Got to get some sleep. We load the limo for the last time at 6:00 am for our trip into Ft. Lauderdale Airport.  We take off at 12:45 (Southwest 251) into Atlanta, then 2:45 - 3:25 (Southwest 312) change planes and are scheduled to arrive 5:20 into MSP.  Looking forward to seeing you.

Homeward Bound,
Ms. Schrunk

Truman's Little White House...judged as best tour guide!

burger cooler lunch today....

Seriously good burgers!

Treasure from Mel Fisher's find (after 16 year hunt.)...the Atocha...

Hemingway's actual writing desk and study...

Someone has to clean the bathroom...Shyla and Charlie, thanks! the key lime pie a bit sour, Ms. Lexi?!

Navigator:  Emma
Cleaning:  EVERYONE!

Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016 - KW Conch Train / Duval St

Hey, All-

Sunday -" Chill" morning for sleeping in... if they wanted....

Ate sandwich lunch and headed to KW for our conch train tour.  Played tourist and got all the historical scoop on Key West, The Island of Bones.  Learned lots of things about famous people who made Key West their home to the famous pirates that scoured the canals of the Keys looting cargo ships.

Headed back for the promised 'teriyaki chicken' over rice with broccoli....Charlie was the only one that had not had a turn behind the stove yet.  Maybe it's true about saving the best for last!  No left-overs....let's say.  She did have some help with Parker on the grill, Nick was in there doing something (taking orders from Charlie)...and check out the picture of Tully making his first batch of brownies ever... :)

Got to go and... do a little pre-packing and pre-cleaning....

Peace and chilly temps,
Ms. Schrunk

Meat chef Parker...

Is that sauce from scratch?

Charlie gets a turn behind the stove!

All Aboard the Conch train....

Let's roll...

Navigator: Chloe
Charlie Tully Nick Parker

Lunch Menu:
Traditional Sandwiches / Fruit / Chips

Dinner Menu:
Teriyaki Chicken over Rice w/ Broccoli
Tully Made Brownies w/ Ice Cream

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 - Bahia Honda State Park / Seafood Restaurant

Hello from the Sunshine State-

Today we had a short half hour ride to Bahia Honda State Park for our appointment at 10:00 with Ranger Jeff.  He led us on a historical, interpretive walk telling us all about how the Keys were developed by Henry Flagler, the brains behind Standard Oil.. and the buddy of Rockefeller.  He talked about the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the worst hurricane ever recorded that hit North America.  It took out Flagler's railroad after only a 23 year run.  The railroad had cost Flagler $50 M. to build and it was sold to the state of Florida for $800,000 giving them the right to build a highway. The highway was actually built on the top of the trusses of the original Flagler railroad.  Some of us like history, some of us don' I won't go on in more detail, but we learned lots!

After our traditional "cooler" lunch under a pavilion by the crystal waters of the Bahia Honda Bay, we headed out for some swimming, snorkeling, frisbee, beach strolling, and/or  basking in the sunshine...finally we saw the sunshine that Florida is so famous for! Headed home around 3:30ish with a little... or a lot... of color.

After showers and slathers of aloe vera, off we went to the Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant where we ate seafood (if you wanted) under a tike hut listening to Jimmy Buffet.  It was fun for the kids to try dolphin, pasta with lobster sauce, alligator, conch fritters, seafood stuffed mushrooms,,,,, etc.

As I finish this, it is very quiet around here; the combo of sunshine and beach wore a lot of us out.
Good night.

Peace and gentle breezes through the palm trees,
Ms. Schrunk

Navigator: Tully
Chefs: Shyla and Hailie

Cooler lunch in a gorgeous dining room!

Seafood under the tiki hut!

Bahia Honda

Who needs a plate when you have a frisbee?!

Great... fresh... pineapple juice!

Saturday evening... out for seafood...

the girls....

the guys...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday, Jan. 15 - Bird Sanctuary / Hemingway's Sister Ship

Hey from Very Rainy Florida-

We headed north to Key Largo this morning for the Laura Quinn Wildlife Bird Sanctuary.
The Keys is so important as a migratory route for so many birds heading to and from South America.

We toured the aviaries of birds native to Florida, song birds, water fowl, raptors, etc. learning lots of interesting facts. We ended with a visit with Leopold, a bard owl. Our guide, Ian Martin, told us that Leopold will live to be 16 - 22 years.  Leopold looked very big, but only actually weighed 1.5 pounds.  Because he was fluffed up to trap air in order to stay warm today, he looked much heavier.   Ian told us how they trained Leopold by immersion.  Ian told us that he and Leopold  basically hung out together all the time...Leopold would go home with him and they would watch TV together, eat lunch together, etc. We could see now Leopold trusted hime. Ian told us bout the eating and nesting habits of owls and fielded questions.

This afternoon, we had hoped to bike, hike , or take a tram through the Snake Valley bike trail in the Everglades, but heavy rain in the forecast changed our schedule.  After witnessing torrential rains a and threatening skies we were glad of our decision to cancel We would have been drenched and blown off the trail!  We had intermittent torrential downpours with wind all afternoon...
I guess one good thing came from all this.  I saw lots of cleaning and laundry being done!

Oh yeah, we did stop on the way back to see the half-sister ship to Hemingway's famed boat the "Pilar" . Hemingway had fished from this boat and decided to have one built for himself.  They shared the same home port of Key West and fished the same waters throughout the 30's.  The boat we saw today co-starred with Bogart and Bacall in the movie "Key Largo".  She was fully restored in the 90's  and rechristened by Hemingway's granddaughter Mina Hemingway.  She now has a comfortable anchorage in a store called World Wide Sportsman.  That's where we got to climb aboard.

When we got to the duplex, we had a late lunch.  It wasn't long and the morning showers turned to intermittent torrential rains with heavy winds over the Keys!   I have to say, I kind of enjoyed watching this unfold over the islands.

In the midst of this weather,  Ms. Lexi and Gerry hit the grocery store.  Lexi is comparing the cost of living here with Iowa and wanted to check pricing on a list of commonly used groceries.  They kept waiting for a break in the rain to make a run for it to the limo....they did get a little wet!

Still a good day to chill at bit...and get caught up with a few needed housekeeping activities.

Hoping for a little sunshine tomorrow; it is forecasted....

Ms. Schrunk
Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees!

Shyla's pelican, "Wilson"

Parker and Gerry at the wheel...

Nick at Hemingway's typewriter....

Navigator: Charlie
Chefs:  Parker and Chloe

Brats on Bun, etc.

Fish Fry w/ Lemon and Tartar Sauce
Oven-baked Cottage Potatoes
Mixed Greens Salad
Ice Cream

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thurs., Jan. 14, 2016 - Peter Lik Gallery / Reef Relief

Hey from the Keys-

Headed out for Emma's research targeting the marketing of photography.  Peter Lik has 14 galleries, one being in KW.  In case you are not familiar with this gentleman's work...he has the world's record for the highest price ever paid for one photo.  Yep, he sold one image called "Phantom"  for $5.6 M...! He is a master at his work and a savvy marketer!  Frank's passion for his work and generous spirit was an inspiration.  Everyone enjoyed this experience tremendously!

The director of the KW gallery, Frank Aubreu, gave us a personal tour of the gallery and then told us Peter Lik's rags-to-riches story. Emma will fill us in on his marketing at the community presentation a week from today... actually on Jan.21st.  Frank's passion for his work and generous spirit was an inspiration.  Everyone enjoyed this experience tremendously!

Because it was chilly with some wind, we then moved on to Lost Reef Adventures dive shop that outfitted us with wet suits for our afternoon snorkeling.  And...later...they made all the difference!

We met our guides / educators, Carly Shabo, along with Michelle and Lindsey at Reef Relief for an introductory film on the ocean eco-system.  We shared our "Build-Your-Own-Sandwich" as Carly
spoke with us. We then were each outfitted with mask and snorkel,..headed to Hix beach for some snorkeling.

What's a trip to Key West without a picture by the "Southern Most Point in the Continental USA"?!
Got that done today also. Time is running down...not so many days left to fit everything in.

Peace and colorful fish,
Ms. Schrunk

Director Frank Aubrue at Peter Lik Gallery
(Sorry, some of us were already heading toward the limo when we thought to get a picture.)


Right after our snorkeling;
wet suits kept us warm...look at that wind and sky! 

Southern Most Point in the Continental USA!

Navigator: Nick (tricky today...)
Chefs: Chloe and Lexi


Italian stroll:
Chicken Alfredo over Linguine
or Red Sauce over Linguine
Lettuce Salad
Buttery Toasted French Bread
Apple Crisp a la mode

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wed., Jan. 13, 2016 - Florida Real Estate

Hey, Followers-

Could you smell French toast for breakfast?  
Actually did not have to be in our limo until 8:45 today...thus, the deviance from a quick bowl of cereal / banana for breakfast.

Ms. Lexi has chosen to research the "cost of living" in the Keys to do a comparison with Spirit Lake, IA.  How better to start than with the housing market...  An area broker / owner Ms. Gidget Jackson and her personal assistant Michelle, invited us to follow along with the tour of newly listed homes for sale in Marathon, FL.  We viewed about 6 or 7 newly listed properties in the Marathon area (middle Keys) ranging from $270,000. - $899,000.  We learned about what kind of housing you can expect to buy for $100,000. on up....and what you can expect to pay if you are renting in this area.  

Both cost of housing and... more  especially... home owners insurance against high winds, flooding, etc.was a bit of an eye opener! Lexi will share her findings in her presentation.  Don't want to tell you the punch line and spoil it for her.

Our visit with the tourism director for the Keys scheduled for this afternoon was canceled or at the very least postponed.  We are waiting to hear back from them again.  

So what does an Environmental Stewardship Class do when they find themselves free by 2:30 on a very chilly, damp afternoon?  Do another  beach clean-up? Too cold. 
Plant another tree at the Botanical Gardens? Too wet.

Why...they go to a great movie, of course.  Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, produced by  Amon Milchan, Steve Golin, James Skotchdpole and Mary Parent.......(Our son is a director, creator, producer and cinematographer; therefore I find it important to mention those roles! The lead actor is only a part of the entire picture you know.  :) ) was the movie of choice.  Of course, the theatre was an hour north of here!  What would Gerry do if we didn't have at least two hours of drive time?!  Go into withdrawal syndrome and shock?!

I spent some time today digging around on the Internet looking for wet suit rentals for tomorrow's snorkeling escapade.  On the fourth dive shop call, we finally hit 'pay dirt' that point I wanted to hug the girl that said, "Sure.  What do you need?" :) Snorkeling with Reef Relief tomorrow...don't need to lose anyone to hypothermia!

Got to go.  Making some apple crisp for dessert tonight.  Thought something warm a la mode would bring a smile and reminder of home.

Peace and warm, cinnamon smells,
Ms. Schrunk 

Gotta stay hydrated...

Lexi from yesterday; she ask if I had any pictures of her dancing...
we'll just see if she reads our blog or not...
Part of chef's duties is clean up...oh, by the way, where's Nick?!

Navigator: Lexi
Chefs:  Charlie and Nick

Lunch Menu:
Chili Hot Dogs

Dinner Menu:
Some kind of chicken (...perhaps made by the Colonel that comes in a bucket...)
Salad Greens w/ tomato and salami strips
Choice of Dressing
Apple Crisp ala mode

"Two roads converged and I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

Tues., Jan. 12, 2016 - KW High School / Salsa Dance Lessons

Hello from the So-Very-Rainy Sunshine (?) State-

Today we drove through the rain once again to head into our day with the KW High School.
Because KW starts school at 7:15 and gets out at 2:30, we had another early day...loaded the limo at 5:30...

Each of our students was teamed up with two or three KW students.  Our students then shadowed them for Pd. 1-4, accompanying them to their classes.  We met some great kids!

There was one little... "hiccup" in the scenario, however. As fate would have it, we visited on the day KW experienced a bomb there was a bit of an interruption where students moved to either the gyn or the auditorium.  All was done calmly.

Group texting is a very good thing;  all of us were accounted for within minutes...safely where we needed to be.  After an hour the students were dismissed to their Pd. 4 class... and it was business as usual.  You can front-load as much as you like, but I just can't plan for everything!

After 4th period ended, we all (10 students from IA / 23 students from FL) met at a local sandwich shop for lunch, and moved on to the Paradise Fitness / Dance Studio just across the parking lot.  Here in the studio, we had time to sit in our small groups and do a question / answer forum.

At 1:00...FIRE UP... now time for our salsa dancing lesson!  After an awkward start, we soon had thirty-three students focusing, moving, and basically getting the hang of things. Well, we moved into the not-so-bad-really category by the end!!!  Ms. Lucy Carlson was a great, patient, and fun dance instructor.  Thank you for taking on a group of 35!

As we headed back north back to our "Home Away From Home", it was the consensus to go out for burgers.  Parker had been recommended Burdines in Marathon from a teacher in KWHS AS A GREAT BURGER JOINT..  It turned out to be a nugget of gold located off the beaten tourist trail.

Peace from under a hooded sweatshirt,
Ms. Schrunk

Question / Answer Forum w/ KW Students

Abi's  Research involved comparing schools...
great discussions w/ KW students!

Salsa dance lessons w/ KW students...
turning was a trick...

Tell your partner thank you and mix right. 

The challenge...

No problem!

Navigator:  Hailie
Chefs:  Charlie and Lexi (Easy day...they will help others...)

Lunch:  Miami Subs

Dinner:  Burdines (A new discovery!)

"That was awkward at first (!)......,but turned out to be so fun!!!"