Working our way through a wish list of sites to see, we rented a car to make a trip to John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo. Although we'd pass by this site by boat, Marianna's draft made it unlikely that Pat and Fred would get close enough to snorkel the reefs. With the temperatures in the low 70's, we opted for a glass-bottom boat tour, instead of a snorkeling trip. Taking the first run out in the morning, we enjoyed a ride with less people and more viewing opportunities. Our 2 ½ hpur trip would give us 45 minutes over the reef. The ride out and back gave us a chance to get the layout of the entrance to Largo Sound and Pat and Fred a first look at Hawk Channel. Our viewing destination was going to be Molasses Reef. We had snorkeled this reef twice in the past, although both visits were more than 15 years ago. The reef at John Pennekamp had been spectacular – the best we remember seeing in all of our snorkeling trips. We were looking forward to seeing it again.
Our circuit also took us back to the Everglades for a little more touring, to a nearby winery, and back through Redland, where we found an amazing market. You just never know what you'll find.
After unexpectedly getting a deal on a rental car for a 3rd weekend, it was difficult to pass up another road trip. Our journey this time took us due west across the state to Everglades City. This small town is on the northwestern edge of the Everglades. We have come close to it by water, but haven't been ready to travel the 10 miles up river (and possibly against a stiff current) to see the town by water. And for Marianna, the trip is out of the question. So, a land trip was callled for. We had the good fortune to pull in just as the last day of the annual Everglades Seafood Festival was starting up, which had an amazing assortment of seafood and swelled the town's population to the bursting point. We also stopped by the Rod and Gun Club, an historic retreat for the wealthy landholders who came to hunt and fish here. For boaters, it is the destination in Everglades City.
The Knife. It's not the title of a murder mystery, but an Argentinian restaurant we had first experienced on our visit to Miami two years ago. It was a buffet with a large selection of Argentinian side dishes and grilled meats. However, Dave was disappointed to find the restaurant location in Coconut Grove had closed. There was still one open downtown, though. As we began to look for weather to move on to Marathon, there was one thing still on the must do list before leaving Miami. Visit The Knife.
So, one Saturday while Pat and Fred did a road trip, we hopped aboard the Metro to see what we could explore from Miami's public transit with Mike and Susan from Indecision . But our final stop was going to be The Knife. We took the Metro from Coconut Grove to downtown Miami, where we transferred to the free Metromover to transit downtown. At its northernmost station we transferred to a bus this time which took us out to South Beach. We were rewarded there with a walk along the beach. To the delight of the guys we came across a Dirty Dutch Model Volleyball game. Dave had to send a picture of it to Fred. Afterward we took another bus back to Bayside in downtown for lunch. Expectations were high, until we arrived at the restaurant and discovered that the weekend price was almost double that of a weekday. So, we made do with some of the more interesting offerings at another venue, trying to make the best of the situation. However, when the weather forecast showed that the travel window had closed. We lost no time the following Monday and made it to The Knife for lunch. We weren't disappointed this time and left there stuffed.
Our all-around dinghy light had been giving us problems for a while, but after closer inspection, it was obvious that it was toast. We had a back-up light that was LED, but we had no way to mount it making it difficult for a solo trip in the dinghy after dark, and, even with 2 people, it was a juggling problem. So, Dave went to Home Depot to come with an idea for solving the problem. He decided on a tiki torch as the mounting platform, since the light needed to be at least 3.3 feet above the gunwale, the torch was plenty tall, and it already had a cup to hold a light fixture. A trip to Big Lots yielded a solar landscaping light that would fit the new tiki torch receptacle. With a few hose clamps and eye bolts, our new light was in place. It 's hands-free, the light is bright and it seems to ride well. Not your standard dinghy light, but it works.
As we got ready to leave Miami, most of our other chores were focused on getting ready to move again. Dave cleaned the waterline on Orion Jr. We took the dinghy ashore to clean the bottom. Our headsets that we use for anchoring had broken and needed a repair. And other stuff – laundry, groceries, etc. By Friday the 15th, we saw the weather window coming the next Monday. It looked like we'd be under way to Marathon on President's Day, having spent 4 weeks doing Miami, we were ready to move again.
Just before the Art Show, the Dinner Key Marina hired a crane to remove derelict boats. It was fascinating / horrifying display to see whole boats ripped to shreds and put in a dumpster.