Monday, 28 February 2011
Feb 27, Day 38, Burnt Store, FL
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Walking Paths at Burnt Store

This was a relaxing day at the condo. Hans and I walked around the property looking at boats and the manatees. Lunch was in Punta Gorda at Laishley Crab House overlooking the harbor. The huge crab was in the skylight at the entrance. I was surprised to see they had fried ice cream but it was a very poor imitation of the real thing with cake around the ice cream and nothing fried. Otherwise we had a good meal.

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Posted on 02/28/2011 1:09 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 27 February 2011
Feb 26, Day 37, Cape Coral to Burnt Store, FL
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We had breakfast at one of the nicest restaurants yet. It is in Fort Myers and called First Watch The Daytime Café. Breakfast and lunch only are served. We were there at 8:30 and got one of the last tables. By 9:30 people were lined up out into the street. Menus, signage, and décor are all very well designed. We then headed north to Burnt Store to visit Nashville friends, Ria and Hans. They have a condo beside the docks where they keep their 36 ft Catalina sailboat, Belcourt. The weather was perfect at 80 degrees with an 8 knot wind so we went for a late afternoon sail. Dinner was late with wild Alaskan sockeye salmon grilled on the bbq by the pool. Burnt Store is a very large development of homes and condos on Charlotte Harbor. It is one of the best places to sail anywhere in Florida with long reaches and 12 feet deep water. Like almost everywhere in Florida the housing bubble has hit hard with the marina roughly 50% full and the newest buildings perhaps 10% occupied.

Belcourt Crew:

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Posted on 02/27/2011 4:55 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 26 February 2011
Feb 25, Day 36, Cape Coral, FL
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Fred and Joanie have a home on one of the canals with a pool and lanai. The house has been in her family since 1968. The photos today are not very good as when I was showing off the camera to Fred I set the film speed to 3200. This is fine in the dark but not in bright sunlight. Even Picasa couldn't bring any life to the bright spots. We toured the town and had an excellent lunch at Rumrunners in the big development at Cape Harbor. Tonight dinner was at the house and Fred and I debated the future of the magazine industry. Fred is a writer/photographer and is developing a talk for a writers conference in the near future.

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Posted on 02/26/2011 3:08 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 25 February 2011
Feb 24, Day 35, Fort Myers to Cape Coral, FL
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Did you know that Cape Coral has the 2nd highest rate of home foreclosures in the USA behind Las Vegas. 1 in 8 homes here have been foreclosed. This street side photo illustrates how bad it is when bus tours now take people around to see foreclosed homes. Tonight we are staying with friends Fred and Joanie at their winter home in Cape Coral on a canal off the Caloosahatchee River. More photos tomorrow.

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Posted on 02/25/2011 3:10 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 24 February 2011
Feb 23, Day 34, Fort Myers, FL
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This was another beautiful day in Florida. The traffic jam from yesterday started all over again early this morning with cars trying to get to the beach. Apparently this is school break in Florida. Just across the waterfrom our campsite is an island where the brown pelicans roost. They wait for the fishermen to clean fish, feed, and go back to the mangroves. There were at least 10 very lazy pelicans in the mangrove. Tim and Tammy picked us up at 11:00 and after lunch at the Edison Restaurant at the Fort Myers Country Club we went to the Edison Ford Museum and toured the grounds where Edison had his lab and winter home beside Henry Ford' winter home. The buildings are all well preserved and it is a museum well worth the visit. The Edison photo is there to show off the new Nikon S8100 camera. The picture was taken hand held about 40 ft back in the dimly lit dining room of the house. Tomorrow we head 9 miles to a friend's home in Cape Coral.

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Posted on 02/24/2011 3:21 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Feb 22, Day 33, Marathon to Fort Myers, FL
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We left Ed & Daisy in Marathon after taking a photo of their Datura fastuosa double purple or double purple devil's trumpet (all parts are poisonous) that was growing in the yard. Mavis got some seed pods so we may see one of these in our yard in Nashville. Our GPS took us across Florida on the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp. We stopped at the Nature Center and admired the alligators in the canal beside the road. The GPS then took us north on the main street, Estero Blvd,  in Fort Myers Beach. What a mistake that was. We crawled at 0-5 mph in the traffic for about 2 miles taking nearly 60 minutes. It was pure congestion as there was no construction and very few traffic lights.  NEVER TAKE THE BEACH ROAD AT 5:00PM !! Tomorrow we are having lunch with friends Tim and Tammy from Murfreesboro, TN. They are vacationing on Sanibel Island.

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Posted on 02/23/2011 4:02 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Feb 21, Day 32, Marathon, Fl
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We decided to stay another day here and drive the 249 miles to Fort Myers tomorrow. We will skip a day in the Big Cypress Swamp. Ed took us a couple of miles east to us to the Dolphin Research Center. This is a non-profit started in the 50s that studies dolphins in large pens. There were two 4 month old baby dolphins being fed by their mothers. One dolphin was having water poured into its stomach via a funnel and tube. It seems that dolphins normally get all the fresh water they need from the fish they eat. However, some need extra water to be properly hydrated. Just like people they can't drink salt water. The staff was very knowledgeable and explained everything while the dolphins were being fed and exercised. This center is well worth a visit by anyone travelling the keys. There are all kinds of activities including dolphin encounters in the water.  In the afternoon Daisy and I went kayaking with two relatives of hers from Spain that arrived  this morning. The tide was very low so it was a challenge to get in and out of the kayak but I survived without a dunking.

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Posted on 02/22/2011 3:04 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 21 February 2011
Feb 20, Day 31, Marathon, Fl
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Ed and I spent the morning telling stories and impressing each other with our latest toys. Ed demonstrated  Apple TV which wirelessly connects your computer to an HD TV. It lets you access Netflix, automatically creates slide shows with music, and shows your slides and videos on the TV in HD. We showed my YouTube    video clip taken with the Nikon S8100 camera in Universal Studios and we were both blown away. You can see it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuHjMFIke88. The result was Ed and his daughter are both buying an S8100 and I will get the $99 Apple TV box.  An hour was spent fixing our satellite dish. The elevation indicator had quit. I found the instructions for raising the dish manually by just counting the number of turns and it worked. As it turns out this procedure is actually easier to do than fooling with the digital elevation device that eats expensive 9v batteries.

We all went out for dinner at a Cuban restaurant (Ed and Daisy are from Cuba) called Sibonet and were treated royally. The food was fabulous and very inexpensive.  Mavis had the Pork Chunks (see photo) and I had the Sibonet Skirt Steak. Both dishes came with plantain, rice, black beans, and yuca (garlic oiled cassava root). It was a feast and all for $14 each.

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Posted on 02/21/2011 4:09 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 20 February 2011
Feb 19, Day 30, Key Biscayne to Marathon, Fl
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We travelled 115 miles to Marathon, a city in the Florida Keys. We stopped for  breakfast at the Bagel Emporium in Coral Gables and met with friends from Nashville. Tonight we are staying in the driveway of friends, Ed & Daisy in Marathon that have a motor home like ours (2007 View) and a 48 ft sail boat at their dock behind the house. Captain Ed has a charter boat service that takes boy scouts out for 6 days. He sailed his boat from California to the Keys via the Panama Canal. Ed worked for IBM and was one of the key people that brought the IBM PC into the world in 1981 and arranged to have Bill Gates develop DOS for the PC. We spent hours reminiscing about the early days of the PC. We had an amazing dinner at a little out of the way thatched roof restaurant on the water called Burdines ChikiTiki Bar and Grill. I had key lime blackened chicken pita and Mavis had coconut shrip with a huge bowl of fries. The food was fabulous and not expensive. However, the desert was unbelievable It was advertized as fried frozen key lime pie and was ice cream rolled up in a fresh baked pie crust (see photo). It was more than enough for two.

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Posted on 02/20/2011 2:31 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 19 February 2011
Feb 18, Day 29, Key Biscayne, FL
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I was up at 6:00AM to catch the bus and people mover for the boat show. Boating Writers International was having its annual meeting at 8:00AM.  By 7:30 I was at the causeway to Miami Beach but gave up trying to get to the Convention Center by public transport and took a taxi arriving at 8:01AM. The meeting was very interesting with a panel of senior execs talking about changes in the boating publishing business. All publishers have had to cut back and many magazines cancelled. Writers have lost their jobs. There are many more freelancers now and the message was they need to add skills. A successful writer today not only writes but also is a photographer and videographer. As one speaker put it "video is the new sidebar for stories".  Magazines such as Sounder are changing format since the tabloid size doesn't lend itself to web or newsstand distribution. YachtWorld is moving to delivering content not just boat listings. The meeting was over at 10:00AM and I spent the rest of the day exploring the corners of the show to see interesting stuff.  

I bought a set of devices for displaying burgees on our flag halyards from the inventor. They make it much easier to take the burgees down when not needed. I also had a good look at the floating bar complete with coolers and sun tent. It would be great for someone with a large boat to launch in Ledbetter Bay near our marina. 

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Posted on 02/19/2011 4:15 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 18 February 2011
Feb 17, Day 28, Key Biscayne, FL
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I spent the day at the boat show and learning the Miami MetroMover a free automated people mover train system that loops around downtown Miami. Trying to get back to Key Biscayne I did the central loop 3 times before discovering the electronic sign which said which train goes where.

The boat show was fun. I got my Press Badge without any problem and toured the show looking for electric powered boats. They have a way to go before they replace the 1400HP quad outboard mounted on a 30 ft fishing boat. I did however, try out the Torqeedo fishing boat powered by two electric motors that can get the boat up on the plane. It took some getting used to the controls which are very sensitive as the engines go from stop to full power in an instant. I almost crashed it into a pile. The most beautiful electric boat was the European design Greenline 33 Hybrid. A solar-diesel-electric. It runs at trawler speeds. Made in Slovenia, the layout and interior finish of this boat is outstanding. I haven't seen such a fine boat since the Fjords from Norway in the 70's.

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Posted on 02/18/2011 4:01 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 17 February 2011
Feb 16 Day 27, Sunrise, Fl to Key Biscayne, FL
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Traffic was heavy on I-95 but we made it to Coconut Grove without incident.

This is where James Deering,  VP of International Harvester built his Italian summer home, Vizcaya,  in 1916.

The home is packed with European antiques of all kinds. The home is much like the Ringling Mansion in Sarasota. The gardens are particularly ornate.

The home is right on the water. The Stone Barge acts as a breakwater protecting the small harbor beside the East Terrace. We stopped again on the beach beside the causeway to Key Biscayne. Tomorrow and Friday will be Boat Show days in Miami and Miami Beach.

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Posted on 02/17/2011 2:30 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Feb 15 Day 26, Clewiston, Fl to Sunrise, FL
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Two nights ago the noise was from trucks on US 27, tonight it is gun fire. It's not a revolution but rather people practicing with their guns on the target range here at Markham Park in Sunrise. There are so many things to do in the park besides the campground. There is a dog park, a model boat park, a model airplane field, mountain bike trails, jet ski lake, water ski lake, tennis, etc. Visitors can even jet ski in the L35A Canal which might be 100 ft wide at the most. Not my idea of great boating. 

Leaving Clewiston this morning we went for a good 30 miles with nothing but sugar cane on each side of the road. It's big sky country that is for sure, but totally flat with no mountains in the distance, just smoke from burning sugar cane fields.  After the sugar cane you come to the Everglades. Tomorrow we go back to Key Biscayne which will be our base for the Miami Boat Show.

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Posted on 02/16/2011 2:25 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 14 February 2011
Feb 13 Day 24, Lion Country Safari to Clewiston, Fl
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We took our second tour of Lion Country and this time found I could get photos of the lions without the fence by shooting out the top of our side window. I also saw some flamingos that we missed yesterday. It was about 47 miles to Clewiston across the flattest land anywhere in the country. It was formerly part of the Everglades but is now farm land irrigated from Lake Okeechobee. The Lake is surrounded by a high dyke built from 1932- 38 as a result of hurricanes that flooded the area in 1926 and 1928 resulting in the loss of some 2,500 lives. There is a bicycle and walking trail on top of the dyke. We went through Clewiston in 2004 during our Great Loop Cruise.  The town is a farming community in the middle of the sugar cane district. There are several motels from the Route 66 era of the 50's but with no Interstate bypass to take away business they are well maintained.

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Posted on 02/14/2011 12:27 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 14 February 2011
Feb 14 Day 25, Clewiston, Fl
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US Hwy 27 runs from Tallahassee to Miami down the middle of Florida and around Lake Okeechobee. Little did we know that it ran about 50 ft from our campsite at the Palm Beach County's South Bay RV Park. The 4 lane road is used by trucks day and night. Needless to say it was nearly impossible to sleep until we turned on the AC so its fan would drown out much of the noise.  The park map showed a nice lake beside the site, which turned out to be a ditch. This morning we switched to another site which is really beside a lake and very quiet.  I attended the Clewiston Rotary Club for its noon meeting. I sat beside the Corps of Engineers' Manager of the entire Okeechobee Waterway. He said the main issue currently is water quality. It seems that the 140 mile levee built in the 30s leaks. If the water level rises too high during 100 year hurricane rains the levee will likely fail and flood the surrounding area. The best fix is to build a clay wall down the center of the levee at a cost of $16M per mile. This plan is on hold. The issue is much like the Wolf Creek Dam situation on the Cumberland River. Another issue is the sugar cane farms. The headquarters of United States Sugar Corp is in Clewiston. The government wants to reduce the acreage devoted to sugar. USSC will only agree to a total takeover of their lands and plants. This is  another plan that will stay on hold since jobs in a depressed area are at stake.  We spent the afternoon biking on the levee which makes a great bike trail. Tonight we will sleep well.

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Posted on 02/14/2011 11:39 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 13 February 2011
Feb 12 Day 23, Lion Country Safari
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Another cold, rainy day in Florida until noon when it cleared up and the sun came out. I spent the time checking email and got an idea from one. For the past 4 years we have never named the Winnebago View. We can name it the R/V Katy Leigh to go along with the M/V Katy Leigh. After lunch it was time to visit Lion Country Safari. This zoo dates back to the 60's and is well done but is still a zoo. It stretches the imagination to believe you are on a safari. We drove through the double gates both of which stood open with cattle crossings being the only security. The animals are fed beside the roads so they are used to cars and pretty much ignore them. It is tough to get great pictures without fences and cars in them. The most disappointing section was the lions which were surrounded by wire fences making it very difficult to see these animals. In the afternoon they were all sleeping on a bench. We did see lots of ostrich, emu, tortoise, llamas, giraffes, rhinoceros, and various birds. What I   really liked about the park is the well kept gardens and how little commercialism is present as compared to the Orlando theme parks. We will take our second loop through the park tomorrow and then head east to Lake Okeechobee.

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Posted on 02/13/2011 2:34 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 12 February 2011
Feb 11 Day 22, Hobe Sound to Lion Country Safari
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Last night I had an email from a college classmate and FaceBook friend who lives in Jupiter. He had looked at FaceBook for the first time in 3 months and found my blog post. We talked on the phone but couldn't find a way to get together. I guess there is some use to FaceBook after all.  Today was cold (63) and rainy. The most exciting happening was to find that if you stay at the KOA for two nights you get a deal on the Lion Country Safari. The KOA rate is $56 per night and the Lion Country admission is $23.50 per person; a total of $159. The package deal is $105 and lets you go into the park twice.  We didn't take a single photo today.
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Posted on 02/12/2011 2:23 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 11 February 2011
Feb 10 Day 21 Thursday, Hobe Sound, Fl
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Today we learned we are in Hob (long o) and not Hobee as in Hobe Cat. Nashville friends Kent and Erin have a place in Jupiter and took us out for lunch at Taste in Hobe Sound. After lunch we visited their home in one of the beautiful gated communities here for golfers and boaters. Kent does a lot of deep sea fishing and we admired some of his reel collection in a closet. They are moving back to Nashville and selling the house here, but will replace the house with a big cruiser that will stay at the marina. It sounded like my kind of plan. I was reading about Jonathan Dickinson State Park and discovered that the part of the Off Road Bike Trail that runs beside the railway track was the original Dixie Highway. When the base was built for WWII the highway had to be rerouted. Tomorrow we are going to Lion Country Safari.

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Posted on 02/11/2011 1:57 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Feb 9 Day 20 Wednesday, Hobe Sound, FL
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Last night we had dinner with Looper friends Ron & Eva in their 5th wheel RV. It was very spacious. They had just finished a hammered dulcimer concert in Key West and are now heading back slowly to Tennessee. I took my GPS with me on the cruise yesterday and plotted our track on Google Earth. The cruise was 4.6 miles one-way to the end of navigation on the Loxahatchee River. Today the wind was just right for kite flying and our box kite from the Outer Banks stayed up for most of the afternoon tethered to our collapsible flag pole we got last summer at the Winnebago Grand National Rally. I took a bike ride today on the "Off Road Bike Trail". It turned out to be the old 1940's roads when the park was a military training camp for radar operators called Camp Murphy.

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Posted on 02/09/2011 10:21 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Feb 8 Day 19 Tuesday, Hobe Sound, FL
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Today we toured the Jonathan Dickinson State Park "coastal sand pine scrub" by bike, motorhome, and tour boat.  I finally got the bike out of under the bunk bed and found the chain had come off the sprockets and got tangled up. It took an hour to straighten it all out and I went for a nice ride to the highest mountain in South Florida, an 86 ft high ancient sand dune.  We drove over to the tour boat dock on the Loxahatchee River, one of the last natural rivers in Florida. During the tour the  wildlife was everywhere with birds, alligators, turtles and a manatee family. You really don't see much of manatees, just a black back and swirl in the water.  It's much like whale watching.

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Posted on 02/08/2011 10:26 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 7 February 2011
Feb 7 Day 18 Monday, Lake Worth to Hobe Sound, FL
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We stayed off I-95 and took the old roads to get to our campsite at Jonathon Dickinson State Park. It is an 11,500 acre park. The brochure says we are camped in a "coastal sand pine scrub, a biological community so rare it has been designated globally imperiled." I'll get some scrub photos tomorrow as we will be here for two more days. The Florida Coast is built up solidly all the way from Miami to here. I never knew there were so many towns; well known places like West Palm Beach to not so well known like Tequesta and Hobe Sound. Lots of places are for sale. In West Palm Beach the road took us along the waterfront. One impressive entrance along the road was to Admirals Cove in Jupiter. Their gardens along the A1A road were beautiful.

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Posted on 02/07/2011 9:21 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 6 February 2011
Feb 6 Day 17 Sunday, Lake Worth, FL
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Walking around the campsite we counted 6 other Winnebago View/Navions like ours out of 277 sites. We could have organized a rally with that many. Several were from Quebec. The rest of the day was spent reading, planning the next 2 weeks, and of course the Superbowl XLV. It was a good close game and lots of excitement. During the half time show I tested my new camera, a Nikon S8100, recording from the TV. The results are remarkable. We had lunch on the patio for the first time this trip.

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Posted on 02/06/2011 10:53 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 5 February 2011
Feb 5 Day 16 Saturday, Fort Lauderdale to Lake Worth, FL
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Today I learned how to get a real deal. You can now buy a good printer/scanner/copier complete with two cartridges at Wal-Mart for less than the price of the cartridges alone. It's a Canon MP250. On sale for $32 compared to a pair of cartridges costing $42 from Amazon. If you need extra cartridges just buy 2 or 3 printers and save. Unfortunately we barely have room for one printer, let alone a spare one. I need the printer to print Priority Mail postage orders for our books and CDs. I am tired of searching for FedEx Office stores and waiting in line to print 2 pages. While I would rather have a so called mobile printer it costs 10 times as much and can only be ordered over the Internet. 

Tonight we are in the Palm Beach County's John Prince Park Campground. Our site is beside the water. It has power and water, and costs $32 per night vs. $50 at Yacht Harbor. We will stay here two nights and then head north to Jupiter where we will camp with some Looper friends. 

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Posted on 02/05/2011 10:19 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 4 February 2011
Feb 4 Day 15 Friday, Fort Lauderdale
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What a beautiful day. We were picked up at Yacht Haven by friends, Larry and Marsha, who have a timeshare condo here. We drove in a Honda hybrid that whenever the battery is charged up the car runs on electric. Even at 70 mph Larry says the car will go 30 miles on the battery before the engine starts up to recharge. We toured their condo, photographed their view and then took a long tour in the Water Taxi around the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). You pay $11 for a senior ticket and can get off and on all day long at different stops. Mega yachts are everywhere in Fort Lauderdale but very few sail boats. The taxi crew points out who owns the various boats and mansions.

We got off for lunch around 2:00PM at La Bonne Crepe in downtown Fort Lauderdale. After lunch we cruised north on the ICW to another restaurant, the Chart House, for dessert. By the time we got back to the condo it was getting dark.

The photo shows one of the more modest mega yachts, Magic, owned by David Copperfield.

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Posted on 02/04/2011 10:40 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 3 February 2011
Feb 3 Day 14 Thursday, Key Biscayne to Fort Lauderdale
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We walked downtown for breakfast and to get a Sunpass which lets you pay for highway and bridge tolls automatically. We walked past many beautiful homes and caught some wildlife climbing a wall. We drove back to Fort Lauderdale to meet with friends this evening and tomorrow. We took the slow coastal route back through downtown Miami and Miami Beach. It is just 32 miles but it took close to 3 hours with no stops but lots of stop lights and heavy traffic; about the same speed as our boat. We went for miles on Collins Ave. through the art deco hotel and restaurant district. Tonight we had dinner with Jeff & Marla at the 15th Street Fisheries restaurant on the Intra-Coastal Waterway. We all had fish that was superbly cooked. The restaurant is in a marina and has a pool with large tarpon swimming around and begging for food. Where  we ate is upstairs and the bar is on the dock level.

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Posted on 02/03/2011 11:15 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Feb 2 Day 13 Wednesday, Key Biscayne
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Today was a real treat. I helped move a Krogen Whaleback Trawler from Coral Cables to a yard on the Miami River while Mavis and Susan shopped downtown. The owner of the Krogen, Seth, is physically handicapped in an electric wheelchair. To get him on the boat in his chair the swim platform moves up and down vertically and from side to side to line up with the dock. Once aboard there is an elevator that takes him to the pilot house. The boat needed some repairs, and Greg, who has the same boat (minus elevator), offered to help move it to the marina. Seth's wife Judy came along to help with the lines and Seth drove his van to the yard since there was no way he could get off the boat at the yard.  

Seth and Judy hope to do the Great Loop in their boat next year. My job was to enjoy the cruise and help with the fenders and lines. It was a gorgeous day, and the Miami skyline and Miami River is the closest sight to the Chicago waterfront I have seen. We all had such big lunches out in Miami that dinner was cheese and crackers. While waiting for a bridge opening a large cruiser came by and said they had just sailed from the Bahamas. They must have been really moving as it was only 11:00AM when we saw them.

Today's wild life photo is a Cormorant that would not move off the pile when we left the marina at Coral Gables.

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Posted on 02/02/2011 10:11 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Feb 1 Day 12 Tuesday, Fort Lauderdale to Key Biscayne
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This morning the motorhome beside us left so for the first time I could get a picture of La Vie and the View together.  Key Biscayne is an island 5 miles out in the ocean off Miami. It is a beautiful town of 10,000. There is a long causeway to the town and we spent several hours on the beach there. Mavis discovered the Portuguese man-of-war littering the beach. (See photo). It is easy to accidentally step on one and it pops like a balloon. We are staying with our Great Loop friends Greg and Susan. Greg was on the town council for many years and knows the history and just about everyone in town. We went out to a new Italian Restaurant, The Plaza, for dinner. It was very good and in an interesting building architecturally. We ate on the interior plaza which is open to the sky so gets pretty wet when it rains. We will be here another night and then back to Yacht Haven until the weekend.

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Posted on 02/01/2011 10:46 PM by Bob Duthie
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