Bugging Out in the Florida Keys

We arrived in the Florida Keys well ahead of lobster season.  Our boat is stored here in the Keys, and we were adding some features to the boat that was going to take some time.  John spent a week on the boat before putting it in the water.  All during calm weather too.  Luck was with us this year, the light and variable winds stayed until our last week in the Keys.  It made for some very hot weather, not having a breeze, so much that I purchased another fan to use outside our camper.  Now John has one blowing on him and I have one blowing on me. Outdoor air conditioning at its best.

Mini season starts on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of the month. It is a two-day sport season that is only for recreational lobstering.  After the two days, the commercial lobstermen can put their traps out, but they can not pull them until the start of lobster season, which is August 6 of every year.

Back to why we arrived here two weeks before the mini season.  We like to spend a lot of time scouting out holes, to see where the lobsters are and which holes have the most lobsters.  That way, we know exactly which hole we want to be on first thing opening day.  We have so many holes marked now, there is no way we can check them all.  John came up with a system on our GPS.  He changed the color of the symbol to blue last year for our most productive holes.  We have found in the past that lobsters tend to cluster in the same holes.  Now John can quickly see on the screen of the GPS where our best holes are.  Don’t get me wrong, we certainly check the other holes in the area as well to see if they have become a favorite of the lobster.  Sure enough some of those holes were productive and some of the blue marked holes were not.  This years good holes have a red symbol.

While we were scouting we definitely noticed a decline in the population of the lobster.  So many holes were just empty, and other holes had very few legal size lobsters.  A few holes had as many 18 legal lobsters, but this is really down from years past.  We have a favorite hole where we have been able to limit out every year with four people on board and still leave legal lobsters behind.  The limit is 6 per person per day.  This year when we checked this particular hole, there was only 1 lonely lobster in it.  We checked it again the day before the season started and still no lobster.  Beats me why they were rejecting this hole, it is such a beauty.  This was not going to be a good season.

A college buddy of John’s was joining us for mini season along with his wife.  We have kept up with Mick and Cindy over the years and have taken some vacations together.  Mick is a great diver and loves the water as much as John does.  They were only in the Keys for four days.  This was Cindy’s first trip to the Keys and she absolutely fell in love with them.  I have a feeling she will be back next year. They took lobster home with them and some hog fish as well.

On opening day of mini season, we left the dock at five a.m.  Leaving this early, we are almost assured we will be the first on the hole, and we were!  It was a good thing we left early, because some boats came near by not long after we arrived. They moved on to another hole, but it was obvious we were on the one they wanted.  This was the chosen one because there were 15 keepers on it and a lot of them were big.  Now we wait for the sun to rise.

John and Mick were in the water before the sun actually appeared and had the first lobster by 6:50.  We did get 15 nice lobsters off that hole.  It took us diving four more holes to get the last 9 lobsters, but we had our limit by 8:00.

Second day of mini season was a completely different story.  We didn’t bother getting up early, since all the holes had been picked over the previous day.  In years past, we have never gotten our limit on the second day.  This year was not going to be any different.  Our friends, Mike and Pam, went out with us, making six on board.  We left the docks at 9:00.  John and I have what we believe to be a secret place and saved it for the second day for just that reason.  It is in a grassy area where there are not any holes around it in a quarter-mile radius.  Not only is it out in the middle of no where, you have to drive almost over it to even see it, meaning it is not visible from a short distance.  We found it quite by accident when we were flying by in the boat.  Sure enough, it had not been picked over. We managed to get 13 lobsters there and lots of them were big!  After that, it was really slim pickings.  Twenty more holes later, we only had four more lobsters and it was 12:30.  Time to call it a day with only 17 lobsters and have some fun. We went to The Island for cocktails and lunch.  Returning back to Jolly Roger, we cleaned the lobster and headed to the pool.  There were not many reports of anyone getting their limits that day.  Where are all the lobsters?

There is a week between mini season and regular lobster season.  John and I took a couple of days off from boating and then decided on a day of fishing in the Atlantic.  The water wasn’t too rough, but the fishing was a little slow.  We did catch some hogfish and came back with three keepers.

Now we have three days to scout for lobster before the season opens.  The good news is we were finding lobsters, only not in the numbers before mini season. We managed to find several holes with 10 or 11 keepers in them, but many holes were empty or only had a few keepers.  Our friend, Dixie, would be going out with us, and Buddy would be going with Mike and Pam, but in the same area as us.  This morning we didn’t leave ’til 5:30 and we were the first on our hole.  We only got six off this spot, so I guess some of the lobsters walked during the night. Lobsters feed during the night and may end up in a different hole.  After checking 16 more, we finally had our limit of 18 lobsters at 11:00.  The other boat had their limit by 12:00.

After opening day, we continued lobstering, sometimes with just the two of us and other times with other people on board.  We had good days where we managed to get our limit and we had bad days where we only came back with four. Everyone in the campground was struggling to find lobster.  We heard that they were slaying them down around Big Pine Key.  From the stories we heard, I guess that was where all the lobsters were this year.  After three weeks of regular season along with the two-day mini season, John and I came home with 102 lobsters. Not too bad, all in all, but it was a lot of hard work to get those.

We did more than just lobstering.  Six of us went to the Sombrero Reef to snorkel on a calm day.  It was so beautiful!  I bought a disposable water proof camera to use, but not many of the pictures turned out good.  All of us enjoyed the reef, and we went to lunch at Sunset Grill.

Did I mention all the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed?  No, well, there were many of them.  Lots of people gather every evening for the sunsets hoping to see a green flash.  If conditions are right, a green flash will appear just at the last moment the sun sets into the water.  I did not see a green flash this year.

We also shared many dinners with friends, either gathering at our place or theirs.  Also, the pool felt really nice after coming back from lobstering.

Hopefully, the lobster population will be up next year.  Maybe we would have better luck if we let this guy ride along with us.

We really enjoyed the Florida Keys, but now time to head back home and get ready for our next trip.  California, here we come!

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Wading Bird Rookery in St. Augustine, Florida

One of my favorite places to view birds is the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida.  An alligator farm, you say, for viewing birds?  Yes, wading birds of different species come there to nest for the safety of their young.  You see, the alligators protect their young from tree climbing predators, such as raccoons. There is a very nice boardwalk that puts you at tree level with the birds, giving you a great advantage for photographing them.  I’m not sure there is any other place where you can get this close to the birds and still be viewing them in a natural habitat.

They start arriving in February, starting with the Great Egret and are followed by Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons and Green Herons.  By July, fledglings are everywhere. Mid-March through July are prime time for viewing.

We were there April 1st this year.  There were lots of Wood Storks in the tops of the trees, and just a few Tricolored Herons and Cattle Egrets were on the scene. The birds are dressed out in their mating plumage and colors, looking their best in order to attract a mate.

The Great Egrets are magnificent with their plumage and bright green color by their eyes.  There was plenty of displaying going on, many were sitting on nests, and I saw one set of very young triplets.

The mating dance of the Great Egret.

I think the Great Egret has the best display of their plumage and seem to just love showing it off.

Great Egret tending its nest and the only set of chicks I saw.

The Snowy Egret is highly conspicuous and vocal in their sexual displays.  They have plumage on their backs and heads.  Their eye patch sometimes turns reddish as well as their feet, which is usually yellow.

The Roseate Spoonbills have always been one of my favorite birds.  Probably because of their beautiful pink color and unusual beak and the fact that it is not that common to see them.  There were plenty to be seen at the rookery, but it was a little early yet for their young.

In the past I have viewed the entire park, seeing all the gators and exotic birds they have.  This trip I only spent time in the rookery.  They also have a zip line, which I have heard was very good.  Please allow a good bit of the day to view everything and to attend their shows.  You can spend hours in the rookery alone, I know I do.

I just can’t leave you without baby pictures, so to give you a taste of what can be seen in the month of May, I am posting pictures from 2011.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

Oh, A Fishing We Will Go!

February was a great month in the Keys, in spite of having some cold weather.  I know, I know, it certainly wasn’t the cold everyone north of us was experiencing, but it was cold for the Keys.  We awakened one morning to forty-eight degrees and a couple of other mornings in the low fifties!  Good thing that didn’t last too many days or the drop in water temperature would start killing the fish.  That happened four or five years ago.  A lot of tropical fish died and a lot of manatees also.

John and I have become quite experienced in fishing in the Atlantic.  We were able to venture out in the ocean a dozen times during the month of February. We had some great catches of Hogfish and some poor catches.   We were lucky enough to have our friend Gary to give us a daily ocean report.  Gary goes in the Atlantic almost everyday and calls us to let us know how rough it is.  He left a few days ago to head back home.  Gary, come back!

We took our friend, Pam, fishing a couple of days.  Her husband had injured his finger, had to have stitches and couldn’t fish for a few days.  Pam turned out to be the “Hog Queen,” because she out fished John and me.  One day, John couldn’t catch a Hogfish for nothing, and Pam even traded places in the boat with him.  He still didn’t pull in any Hogfish and Pam caught one right away where he had been fishing.  John was sure catching all these pretty tropical fishes though.  There is one fish that John and I just hate to catch.  I think he is in the Boxfish family.  He doesn’t fight coming up, and it feels like you are reeling in a really big fish.  Nope, it is this triangle shape fish that has a very dense body.  We nicknamed him Sponge Bob.

A sunny day, mimosa, good friends and Snapper make for a fun day in the Gulf. It started out slow, but who cares when you are having fun.  After having no luck on the first couple of holes, I suggested we try a hole we had not fished on this winter.  Sometimes, I just know how to pick them and the girls ruled that day. Louise and I caught the most and the largest Snapper.  I think the guys had the most fun watching us.  After returning to Jolly Roger, the guys cleaned the fish and then we had a wonderful dinner of fresh fish.

On one of our great days on the Atlantic, where we limited out on Hogfish, I also caught four really nice Porgies.  They ranged from 16″ to 18 1/2″.  Porgies give you a good fight, and when you are fishing in 90′ of water, it can be a real struggle to bring up one that large.  It was really wearing out my arms.  When I hooked up another large Porgy, at least that’s what I though it was, I knew from the start I couldn’t handle it.  John took over for me, and he was struggling with it also.  When it reached the surface, it was a four-foot ell!  I had snagged it.  We didn’t even take it out of the water, got the hook out and down it went.  Good riddance.

It’s not just fishing though.  We do other fun things as well.  The campground hosted a Mardi Gras Parade.  It’s a short one, but is growing every year.

The campground hosts a cookout twice a month.  Here is one of the fish frys.  The fish is donated and cooked by some of the campers here.  Everyone brings a dish to share.  There is always a huge turnout and lots of great food.

This year a lady has been leading a wine and paint class.  She provides all the materials, paint and wine.  The cost is $15 and you can choose to paint a wine glass, lobster buoy, or the end of a palm frond.  The first two times, I painted a lobster buoy.  This week, I painted a palm frond.  I am no artist, but it was a lot of fun meeting new people and I thought my artwork didn’t turn out half bad.

John went to the nautical flea market on Islamorada, looking for a new rod and reel and other stuff.  He found one and was pretty pleased with it.  One day out in the Atlantic, I was having a miserable time.  John was catching fish, but I was just getting cleaned.  I wasn’t even feeling them bite most of the time.  After awhile, John suggested I try his new rod and reel.  It was shorter and lighter, and he thought I might be able to feel the fish bite better.  What a difference!  Not only could I feel them biting, I was catching them!  Some time later, I turned and said to John, thanks for the new rod and reel, you are not getting it back.

Some cool things happened while we were fishing in the Atlantic.  One day a pod of a dozen or more dolphins swam close by.  I had never seen that large of a pod before.  We’ve seen a lot of sea turtles, but one day a turtle kept hanging around near by.  All through the day, he would stick his head up and look at us, like he was telling us, hey, you guys need to move on, you are in my spot.  I can’t count how many days two jets buzzed us.  They would fly low, right over our boat and turn sideways.  It was the coolest thing and gave me such a rush.

March has been a time for lots of good byes.  Many of our friends  have already left.  We miss them, but we still have some friends here.  To date our total for Hogfish we brought back is 96, Mangrove Snappers – 67, Yellowtail Snapper – 31, Porgy – 44, Mutton Snapper – 1, Mackerel – 2 and Cero Mackerel – 1. That is the total of the ones we brought back.  We released many more.  Our freezer is full, we gave a lot of the fish away, and we’ve eaten lots of fish.  We bake, saute, grill, fry, and stew it.  I have tried some new recipes that have been pretty good.  The fish stew I made tonight was outstanding.  It sure was a lot of work though.  I made my own fish stock and even made a roux.

Fish Stew

Fish Stew

Next week, my brother, Mike, and his wife, Terri, will be here.  John and Mike will be going fishing and Terri and I will be doing fun things on the different Keys.  Then our time will be almost up.  We plan on being home the first week in April.  It will be sad to leave the Keys, but it will be great to get back on Tybee to see our friends.  Won’t be home for long though, we will be flying to California the second week of April!

One last picture.  Me and my 28″ Cero Mackerel.

Happy fishing y’all!

The Quest for Hogfish

John and I have done quite a bit of fishing since we arrived back at the Jolly Roger, December 29th.  This January has been no comparison to the January of 2014.  Last year the fishing was excellent on the bay side.  We were regularly getting our limit on Mangrove Snapper in the range of seventeen and eighteen inches.  Not so this year and I don’t know why.  The Snappers are plentiful, but we are lucky if we get one that is sixteen inches.  The majority are throw backs and the ones we have been keeping are twelve to thirteen inches.  John did have a nice surprise when he caught a fifteen inch Yellowtail Snapper!  That is rare on the bay side.  The water temperature is a little warmer this January, so I am thinking the bigger Mangroves have not moved into the bay yet.

Just recently, we have been seeing great catches coming in from the Atlantic.  We haven’t even tried fishing the Atlantic this year, but we sure got to thinking about it when we started seeing all the Hogfish at the cleaning station.  Just had to wait for a calm enough day.  I’m not fishing in the Atlantic when it is rough.  It is so hard to keep your balance in a rocking and rolling boat while holding a fishing rod.

Finally, calm winds were in the forecast for Sunday morning with them picking up a little in the afternoon.  We decided to get an early start to take advantage of the calmness and did manage to leave the dock by eight thirty.  As we left the dock, well prepare with rods, tackle, bait and ice, visions of Hogfish were swimming in my head.  Hogfish must be very plentiful this year.  I have never seen so many coming into the cleaning station.  In the past, John has caught a Hogfish here and there, but they have eluded me.  That was about to change.

Our boat ready for a fun day of fishing.

Our boat ready for a fun day of fishing.

It was a fairly smooth, six-mile ride out into the Atlantic.  We drifted a bit while fishing, waiting to find a good spot to anchor on.  The bites started immediately, but they were Porgies and Grouper, not the much sought after Hogfish.  Once we anchored, it wasn’t long before we started pulling in Hogfish.  I caught my first one ever and made John stop fishing for a photo opt.  He was only thirteen inches, but I was proud and he went in the cooler.  Then John caught a fifteen inch one, and I thought to myself, I need one like that.  Woo-hoo, was I ever excited when I pulled in my very own fifteen inch Hogfish!  No more keeping the shorter ones, we were going for the big boys.  We came back with eight Hogfish, just two short of our limit, and five of them were fifteen and sixteen inches.  The Porgies were plentiful and they are good eating as well, so we brought back a good many of them.  There is not a size or bag limit on Porgies.  John also caught five decent size Yellowtails.

My first Hogfish!

My first Hogfish!

As predicted, the winds did pick up after lunch.  By two o’clock, it had gotten quite choppy and the ride home would be into the wind.  The bites had greatly decrease along with the size of Hogfish, so it was time to pull anchor.  I really didn’t want to wait to see the Atlantic get any rougher.  Another friend of ours was fishing near by and he also pulled anchor.  His boat is a little bigger, so we road in behind him, letting his boat smooth out the water for us.  Otherwise, it would had been a bumpy ride for us.

John had a lot of fish cleaning ahead of him.  I don’t clean fish.  We put up several quarts of Hogfish in the freezer and cooked some for dinner as well.  So delicious!  It looks like the winds will be in our favor this week.  I’ll be dreaming of another fun fishing day and HOGFISH!

We went fishing in the Atlantic three more times.  Now I have to eat my previous words about not fishing in a rough ocean.  It looked to be calm enough on Monday, but once we passed under the Long Key Bridge I knew it might not be good.  Three miles out it really became rough and I had thoughts of heading back.  The going was slow the next three miles, but we made it out there and we decided to see how it would go.  It was a cloudy day, which made it on the cool side and there was a good chance of rain in the afternoon.  The boat was rocking and rolling, making it a challenge to walk around.  I pretty much stayed seated. It was real slow going on catching fish.  We moved around a lot trying to  find where the fish were, but to no prevail.  Once, the anchor became hung up and we spent at least thirty minutes trying to get it up.  At one point I was in fear of the boat sinking as the back of the boat was filling up with water.  John had the anchor rope tied to the transum then and was using the motor to pull the anchor up.  The anchor held and started pulling the boat backwards causing water to come over the transum.  I scrambled to the front of the boat with my phone ready to call my friend who was fishing near by.  John got it under control, worked more on releasing the anchor and was at the point of giving up and cutting it loose, when it finally released.  Whew!  Glad that was over.  We continued fishing, even through some light rain, catching only two Hogfish for the day.  Not such a good day of fishing.  The ride back wasn’t too good either.

 

The next day was super weather.  Calm winds and sunny skies!  It was a beautiful ride out in an almost flat Atlantic.  We caught three Hogfish fairly quickly, but after that, just about nothing was biting.  We couldn’t even give away our bait.  It was so frustrating.  Our friends did better than that, so now we are rethinking our gear.  They were using lighter line and maybe that is the problem. Some people in the campground swear by smearing peanut butter on your bait. The fish love it, they say.  I can understand that, I am a peanut butter addict. Just might have to try that.  I will let you know how it works.

Today the fishing was better, well, at least we were catching a lot of fish even if they were mostly Grunts and Porgies.  I did catch two keeper Hogfish.  The ocean waves were big today.  We rode the six miles out to our spot only to decide it was way too rough to be out there.  I suggested another Hogfish spot closer to shore thinking it would be somewhat better there.  That put us about three miles off shore.  The waves were still pretty big but they were goiong from the front of the boat to the back, which is better than them going from side to side.  I guess I felt more comfortable being closer to shore with the bigger waves.  John says I must be getting tough.  Oh, I did try the peanut butter today and can not say that I saw any improvement on bites.  They took my bait with or without peanut butter. Spreading it on sure made me hungry though.  One plus for sure, my hands smelled yummy.

Christmas Time on Tybee

We spent two and a half weeks home during the Christmas Season.  Only our oldest boy would be coming home.  Our youngest lives in California and would be spending the holidays there.  Since we would not be home long, I only did a little decorating.  We put up a live tree, a reef on the door, the kids photos with Santa, and a few tabletop arrangements.  I love decorating the tree, except for stringing the lights.  Does anyone like that part?  Last year, I bought new ornaments in a green, red and white color scheme, but this year I decided to go back to my old, cherished ornaments.  Some are homemade, some are vintage ornaments which use to belong to John’s mother, some are beachy of course, and some were gifts from dear friends and family.  As I hung each one, the memories of Christmases past filled me with warmth and love.

We attended a couple of Christmas parties, always a lot of fun.  I love Christmas parties, seeing the different Christmas attire the ladies are wearing and seeing so many friends that I haven’t seen in months.  And what is Christmas without some holiday baking.  I made fruit cake cookies – a first for me, and John loved them. I also made a nutroll and a green coconut cake.  The nutroll is a recipe my grandmother tweaked and became a Lee tradition at Christmas.  The star of the Christmas season is my green coconut cake.  It is not green.  Green just means fresh, which means that I grated the coconuts.  This cake is also a Lee tradition. We only make it for Christmas . . . . well, actually I did make one during the summer once.  John and I brought home coconuts we collected while down in the Keys.  They seem to be sweeter than the ones I have bought in the grocery stores.  John gets the coconut out of the green outer shell, not an easy feat by no means, which leaves you with the brown, hairy coconut that you see in stores. After I drained the milk from them, John then cracks them open and pries the white meat away from the shell.  Then the grating begins.  I usually settle on the sofa with a Christmas movie on while I grate mine.  A lot of work goes into this cake, but it is so worth it.

Christmas Eve, we always have oyster stew.  Oysters are Todd’s favorite food. We watched Home Alone.  I really am into watching Christmas movies. Christmas morning was quiet with just the three of us at the house.  Todd humors me every year by wearing a Santa hat and passing out the gifts.  He is such a good sport.

Later in the day, we gathered outside our neighbor’s house to fry turkeys and enjoy Bloody Marys.  Several other neighbors joined us.  We put out Christmas cookies and treats, and this year our neighbor provided steamed oysters.  We fried two turkeys, one turkey breast and one chicken.  Afterwards, our neighbors Jacky and the Smiths joined us at our house for Christmas dinner.

Christmas always makes me feel sentimental.  I was thinking about when I was young and what were the special times I remembered.  We always drove around town one night to see all the Christmas lights.  Going to the Burlington Mills Christmas party, which is where my parents worked.  The Christmas programs at church are etched in my memories.  Christmas Eve was always spent at my grandparents house.  All of my mother’s family would gather there for a huge meal and watch my grandparents open presents.  Mama had eight siblings, but one lived in Maryland and was seldom in NC for Christmas, so the house was full of cousins running around all excited.  On Christmas morning, after finding what Santa left and having breakfast, we all piled in the car and visited our other cousins to see what Santa brought them.  I really miss being around a large family in a small town at Christmas time.  Here are some very old pictures.

Christmas was indeed good, but I sure missed having Kevin, Susie, Eliza and Hazel with us.  With them, it would have been perfect.

Kevin and his family with his in-laws.  Picture taken just after Christmas, courtesy of Holly Ritger.

Kevin and his family with his in-laws. Picture taken just after Christmas, courtesy of Holly Ritger.

 

 

A Month in the Florida Keys

John and I have been busy since we returned home from our trip out west and yes, I should have published this long ago.  We were not home long at all before I flew out to California to visit with our son, Kevin, and his family.  It was a wonderful visit and so great to be there for Eliza’s third birthday party!

On the way home, I made a stop in NC for a few days to see my family and to attend my great niece’s wedding reception.  It was so great to visit with all of my aunts – I have four, and to spend some quality time with my sister and two brothers.  I’ll have to think about doing that again the next time I fly out to California.

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My sister, brothers and their spouses.

Then, John and I went to Charleston the first week in November to attend his 40th reunion at the Citadel.  We saw a lot of old friends and reminisced about the fun times in Charleston and the hardships of attending a military college in the early 70’s.

Returning from Charleston, we spent a couple of days packing the RV and taking off for the Florida Keys for a month.  We love the Keys and spend a lot of time there, especially in the winter.  John and I just don’t like the cold weather or maybe we never did like the cold weather, but we seem to be more sensitive to it now.  And since winter arrived early this year, why not go down to the Keys where the promise of sunshine and warmer weather awaits us.

The Jolly Roger is our home away from home when we are in the Keys.  It’s located on Grassy Key, which is close to Marathon, on the Gulf side.  We settled into a harbour spot, which has delightful sunset views.  The campground was not crowded yet, but a few of our winter friends from Canada and northern states were there.  That all changed Thanksgiving week.  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

A beautiful  Key sunset.

A beautiful Key sunset.

There was much to do after arriving.  John always spends a day getting the boat ready to go in the water, and we spent some time putting lights on our palm tree and also around our shade shelter.  We created a nice little area for enjoying sunsets and dinners with friends.

Enjoying an evening with friends at our site in Jolly Roger.

Enjoying an evening with friends at our site in Jolly Roger.

We spent what time we could fishing and lobstering, but the blustery winds kept us from doing it as much as we would have liked.  Even when we did fish, we were not tearing them up. We caught some nice size grouper, but not legal size. There were some decent size snapper we kept and we released a lot of small ones.  The sea gulls were a big nuisance.  They kept going for our bait as we cast and sometimes try to fly off with it.  We would have to jerk it out of their beak, only to have them come back and try again.  John had one to get tangled in his line, and we were able to get him in the boat and untangle him.  He flew away unharmed and without harming us.  It is not easy to untangle fishing line from a wiggling bird.

John really wanted to lobster more than he wanted to fish, I guess because of the poor fishing and the fact he does love being in the water.  The cooler temperature of the water this time of year is certainly not as inviting as the warm summer water, but with wet suit on, he dove many holes.  He did find lobsters, but they were not as plentiful as when the season opened in August.  Lobster season runs from August 5th thru the month of March.

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Snapper and Lobster

 

We had some Tybee friends come visit us.  The weather was not the greatest while they were there, lots of cloudy, windy days, some rain and cooler temperatures.  One day was beautiful and the winds were down too, so the Scarbroughs went boating with us.  We stayed inland, just taking in the sights and enjoying the day, and stopped at The Islander for lunch.  The Jarrells went fishing with us one day, and everyone caught fish, just nothing to brag about.  It was a lot of fun though.  All of us spent a day in Key West and did other fun stuff. We had a blast with them and wouldn’t you know it, the winds calmed down and the temperatures rose the day they left.

For the first time ever, we went out to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  We joined our friends Buddy and Dixie at the Sunset Grill where they had a Thanksgiving buffet set up.  Everything you expect to have for a Thanksgiving meal was present, plus dishes like lobster bisque, clams and crab balls.  The meal was good, although I was a little disappointed in it.  The best part was being there with Buddy and Dixie and the beautiful view of the seven mile bridge and the Atlantic Ocean.

Jolly Roger was very busy Thanksgiving week.  Lots of families with children and more boats in the harbour.  The winds were terrible that week and hardly anyone did any fishing.  I was hoping that a bunch of us would do Thanksgiving dinner there, but it seemed most everyone was going out to eat.  There were several RVs that were traveling together that were camped along the harbour next to us – a great bunch of friendly people from up north.  One fella did a lot of cooking on a pellet grill and shared with us.  That was some good cooking!  We shared our lobster with them and they were quite impressed with the southern lobster, and then we found out we had a mutual friend.  Well, it was the guy’s cousin, but we know him because he camps with us in January – small world.  That is what RVing is all about, meeting new people and sharing good times.  Well, also for seeing the world too, but the people sure make it more enjoyable.

Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument was established as a national monument in 1990, but efforts to protect the petroglyphs began in the 1970’s when it was established as a state park.  It’s history started long before that, about 200,000 years ago, when lava flowed from a crack in the earth.  There were continuing eruptions, which formed cones.  Water eroded the softer sediments on the eastern edge.  What we see now are basalt boulders strewn about a volcanic escarpment

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Some Native Americans believe volcanic landscapes are sacred, and this may be one of the reasons so many petroglyphs (over 20,000 images) are here.  Not all the petroglyphs were made by the Ancestral Puebloans. In the 1700’s or 1800’s, Spanish shepherds may have left their marks of Christian crosses, pictures of livestock and their brands.  Unfortunately, there are also more modern marks made before this landscape was protected.

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Geometric and abstract images are among the oldest petroglyphs in the monument, dating back 2000 to 3000 years ago.

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There are many images of people.

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There are images of animals and plants.

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And if this is not a rocket ship, well then, just what is it?

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