Saturday at the park , Ranger Lindsey, Ranger Sarina, other volunteers,  Dave & I and  volunteers in our “Volunteer Village” put together a Halloween party (Trunk & Treat and best costume) at the aquarium.  It was a smashing success.  Lots of great costumes. We didn’t get a chance to take a lot of pictures we were to busy to  to use our phones.

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Volunteers Lois, Melody and Barb


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Barb holding an alligator and smiling!


Dan holding the gator.


Great costume isn’t it!  Jackie a jellyfish is also a volunteer who really helped with the event.

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Ranger Drew – Actually Aladin on his motorized carpet.

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The car a 38 Lincoln with Gangsters, one small and one not to small.  The car was actually smoking when they pulled in, all part of the fun.  Dave had a chance to talk to them and inside the case wasn’t a gun it was full of empty bottles of prohibition liquor.


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Outside Decorations



Inside the aquarium


There are three lobsters in this tank, had a skull and three little lights in it, which the lobsters, kept picking up and taking away.

Great time had by all!



Yesterday, Dan and Jackie came by and asked if we wanted to try Paddle boarding. At first we said not today, but then decided to try it. Dan towed the boards out to the far point, where you can launch, boards, kayaks, canoes, and the like. He gave us a quick lesion, and off we went. It is basically like paddleing a canoe, or kayak, but you stand up, knee or sit. The board is much like a surf board. I was able to stand up right away, Melissa at first kneeled flat then got up like you are in the praying position. It does take a little to get used to and the paddles are big. We were both out there for about a half hour or so. Then came back in. We then sat at the pavilion for awhile and chatted, even ranger Ronnie came by and we chatted with him. It was a fun experience and will do it again.


Dan, towing the boards.


Melissa by the mangroves.


Out in the channel.


Getting a tow back.


Last night we went to a park on the Florida Bay side of the key’s. As you go down the keys the Atlantic ocean is on the south side and Florida Bay on the north ,a lot of people think it is the gulf of Mexico, which does not start until after Key West. There were some far out clouds, which I thought would not make for a good sunset, but I was wrong, as I usually am lately.



This little inlet at the park is now a swimming area, off to the left are two ladders to get in and out. The water is about 8 feet deep here, I think at one time this was a docking area for boats.



This boat was moving and Melissa got a great shot of it in the sun.



To the left of the billowing cloud, it looks  like a river of lava flowing and to the right is rain falling.


We didn’t notice above us the clouds were starting to turn blaze orange.



A blue rainbow. Blue is the fifth colored arc of the rainbow. This arc is associated with Archangel Michael. Archangel Michael is the leader of all the archangels, and represents spirituality. Within the rainbow, the blue represents water and the spirit world.



It has been warm here since we got here. Warmer than normal. Even though we both like the heat, it is starting to get to us and others here. This week it will be in the 88 degree range with the heat index at almost 100, sunny and no rain. Just sitting outside for five minutes you break into a sweat. It is still there summer here, but it is suppose to break in about a week or so. Then temps will be around 80 but with low humidity.


Thursday we had to move from the volunteer village so they could cut the tree down, it was a pain in the ass. Saturday we all moved back. It again took me about 20 minutes to get back into my spot, I think because it is on an angle backing in. Any way with the tree gone it made a big difference, although now we do not get a lot of shade.








Today we had to move from our site. We are now on site 3 in the main campground. Everyone in the volunteer village had to move. Apparently the tree we are under is a problem, a big problem, it’s roots are interfering with the bathroom foundation, and as it is a fig tree it’s fruit drops on the Rv’s here and makes a stain on the roof. Other volunteers have left here because of it. It also attracts ant’s and there are a lot of them here, all sizes. I hate ant’s. The tree has to go into a big dumpster. It cannot be cut and then chipped, as it has a sap that will clog up the blades of the chainsaws and chipper. It is supposed to be cut tomorrow, and the dumpster taken out Saturday. With us returning Saturday evening or Sunday. We will see.

Yesterday was the hardest day I have worked so far. It was a mere 88 sunny and very high humidity ,(it has been very hot here as of late). Two rangers and myself, took out old and broken cement parking stops and put new ones in. I think we replaced about 20 of them. I was soaked to the bone with sweat, and this was all before noon. after lunch I was able to get a cart and drive around picking up recycle bins and dumping them in the dumpster. That was fun, and cooler.

Melissa also had her first day in the Visitor center aquarium. She learned a good deal about fish and other things. She had a good time. Below she is wearing her ranger outfit.




Thursday we went to the American Legion post 333 here in Key Largo. Why might you ask, I guess it is the hopping place to go. every Thursday they have a jam night there, with the local band, if you want you can go up and play with the band.

We got there about six or so ,and most of the other work campers were there. They have a fairly big area outside to sit and the band plays in a 20 x 20 pavilion. Now is the time to go ,as after the beginning of November, the place gets over 500 people on Thursdays and it is too crowed. The band has six members on of whom is a park ranger named Dan, who I have worked with. He plays guitar and sings, has wrote over 20 songs, and does a solo gig, every now and then.

As usual they have beer, mixed drinks and some food, all of which you can buy and proceeds go to the vets. Melissa and I had some beer and we each had a half chicken dinner. The crowd is mostly over 50 oldsters like ourselves and the music is our stuff. We thought they were very good, and Dan was impressive. One of the workcampers here who’s name is also Dan, got up and played the drums for a couple of songs. Come to find out he was in an 80’s hair band, and his band opened for Foghat for years. Who knew, his wife, Jackie showed us old pics of him and the band with there hair down past there shoulders. We were like WHAT. Later on a guy got up and played a few ZZ tops songs, with the band. All in all it was a really fun night and we will most likely go most Thursday.


Ranger Dan in the middle


Dan the work camper on the drums.


Another shot of Dan



Melissa and Dan’s wife Jackie


We found out this lady is a local and is 93 years old, and danced pretty well.


Saw this during the day, usually green but this one is mating, it was about 5 feet long.


We have now been in Key Largo for one week. It has been warm, 85, and high humidity with on and off showers, it’s there rainy season. Come November it will get a little cooler, with less humidity. We have gotten ourselves settled in now. When i backed into the site, i really didn’t look to see where we were. So Saturday i moved the 5er over some and got us better situated to the site.





As most of you know, we were here last November for two weeks, in the campground area. As we liked it ,we put in our applications to work here, and we were accepted, so we are here until Jan, 5th 2020. John Pennekamp is located in Key Largo, the first Key you get to after crossing the 22 mile, mostly man made causeway. You leave mainland Florida at Homestead, drive the causeway and arrive at Key Largo, it is another 100 miles or so to Key West. The causeway is one lane each way, and is only in total about 200 feet wide. There is a lot of traffic on it and no one goes slow. There are only two passing zones along the way, and watch out when you get to them ,cars are flying by, speed limit is 55. The other day a guy passed me in one of the left turning lanes to somewhere and the cop got him, good. When you come over the bridge into Key Largo ,it turns into two lanes each way with a divider in the middle all the way down to key West. During the winter months coming up, the whole area and the keys are mobbed with tourists. Not us we work here now, YA Hooey.

There are a number of state parks in the keys, but John Pennekamp Coral Reek State park is one of the busiest. It has more than just camping. It is the base for Scuba diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, rental of boats, kayaks, which you can travel through the 4 miles of channels in the mangroves. It has two beaches, a lot of pavilions to rent for the day, and a few trails you can hike. They also have a large circular aquarium. It is 30,000 gallons in size, and about 20 feet across. In it is a man made coral reef, with all kinds of fish. As you walk around it on the outer park of the building are many smaller tanks with actual coral reefs, taken from the ocean after boating accidents, which break the coral up. These corals, grow back slowly and also have fish in them native to the coral. The building also serves as the visitor center, for history on the area and the park, along with a movie about it. This is also the park, that is home to the Florida Wildlife control law enforcement unit ,and the harbor patrol police.

You will not find a Walmart, or a Walgreens here. You have to go to the mainland for that. You will find lots of resturants, gift shops, dive shops, a small K-Mart, Publix, Winn Dixie, and the like. Prices are on the high side.

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Entrance to the park , looking at the main road, US1

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Park Entrance sign, The beautiful lady posing does not go with the sign, neither does the Whippet.

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After you drive in, you come to the Entrance station, (Where Melissa may be working). Here you check in for camping, or day use stuff.

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Many pavilions like this to rent and have picnic’s

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As the sign says, first stop is here

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Here you get your boat tour, snorkel tour and all that.

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Rental of kayak’s here, the water is right behind them, they put you in one and launch you right out. To the left is a small bridge which takes you to the far beach area, not a lot of people go there, it is small and weedy.

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Public launch area and dive shop.

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another view looking out to the channel which is about a mile long and takes you out to the gulf.

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This is the main beach, with some sand ,as the keys are coral, not much sand. This is a great place to snorkel. There is a man made shipwreck about 200 yards out, with cannon, ballast stones old old timbers to explore. This will be my favorite spot soon.

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This is where we enter from the main campground, into the volunteer village they call it. It has 6 spots, for work campers. I can only fit into 3 maybe. Building on the right is the bathhouse.

So that’s where we are for the next 3 months.




We are both now considered Employees of the State of Florida Parks.

Wednesday was our orientation day, from 1-5, we met the boss, and two other couples who are new also.  In total I think there are about 24 workcampers here right now. We are not parked in the regular campground we are in the volunteer village with 5 other rigs by us.

Thursday was, both of our first day. For this month and next I will be mostly in the Field/ shop, section. After that I will also have some days in the VCA, which is the Visitor Center/ Aquarium. My duties in the field/ shop, are with other full time guys doing a multitude of things, from mowing, cleaning, picking up recyclables, garbage, building and maintanance, which is what my first day involved. I went with two guys, (Ronnie, and Dan), for the day, we took out an old air conditioner, and got ready to put in a real big one. We had to plug the old hole, which was a little more of a chore as none of the new material matched so we had to recover almost the entire outer wall. I worked from 8- 4:15. My next day will be Monday, then Tuesday , Wednesday. I am sure I will be doing other things, but I have met the guys, and Justin who is the man I report too, and all seem real nice to work with. I will not lie, I was a little nervous, going in at first not knowing what to expect.

Melissa ,started at one, and worked till five or so. She is in the office with the boss of the volunteers. She was a little nervous too, but in the end she likes it. We both have the same day work schedule. More soon.

Pic below is with my field/ shop shirt, and name tag. When I go to the VCA, I will be wearing a button, tuck in park ranger shirt.

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We are now at John Pennekamp State park. We got here a little after two or so. It was 166 miles from Jonathan Dickinson. Our arrival was met with much fan fare, no not really no one cared. Any way they put us in the volunteers camping area, and even though it looked big ,it took a bit to get in, but we did. Our home for the next 3 months. Of course as we got into our site it began to rain. Stopped as soon as we got set up. There will be rain here on and off for the next week, so we are ready for that. Tomorrow we go for orientation, and Thursday we both start work, but then have the next four days off. We have met some of the other work campers and all seem nice. May be my last post for a few days. Pic below is of our site.