We took a day off and went sightseeing ….

We decided we needed a break from volunteering and snorkeling and took a trip to the Lower Keys. We went to Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key and No Name Key. Definitely an easy route all you do is get on Overseas Highway” (Highway That Goes to Sea), which is where Pennekamp is, and go South.

It’s really great to be driving on Route 1 again, having the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf on the other and sometimes like above, there isn’t any keys in between. It’s one of the longest bridges in the world, approximately 130 miles with 42 bridges. I can’t imagine all the hard work and ingenuity it took to build it.

And there is also, the original Seven Mile Bridge, now called the Old Seven Mile Bridge (or “Old Seven”), that runs parallel to the modern structure. Located at the very west end of the City of Marathon is the Seven Mile Bridge.  It’s a famous bridge in the Florida Keys and connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys and is among the longest bridges in existence when it was built.  Of the many bridges that connect the FL Keys, the Seven mile bridge is the longest.

The Old Seven was built in early 1900 as part of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad.  In the early 1980’s this old bridge was no longer used for vehicular traffic when the new bridge was constructed.

Today the Old Seven Mile Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it was once named the 8th Wonder of the World. For now It’s a fishing pier, jogging and walking route and It’s famous for having appeared in a lot of movies like Licence to Kill, True Lies, The Haunted Mansion, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Mission Impossible III, I Am Number Four and Leverage, Key Largo, Up Close & Personal, The Triangle, CrissCross to and others.

But what makes The Old Seven Mile Bridge even more famous is Fred, Fred is the Tree you see above. He’s growing out of a roadbed on the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge. Fred is a non-native species, a salt-sprayed Casuarina, or an Australian pine tree. According to a 2013 story in the “Keys Weekly.” Fred sprouted from droppings of a passing bird or an osprey. Fred serves as a symbol to all the residents of The Keys because he has strong roots and wouldn’t let Hurricane Irma blow him away on October 10, 2017. And despite the lack of good soil, Fred has grown tall and green and is a symbol of strength for all who see him. The unexpectedly sturdy tree symbolizes the strength of The Keys.

Our 1st stop . . .

Bahia Honda Key’s has a deep natural bay that has been a harbor for passing sailors from a very long time ago. The island’s name, is Spanish for “deep bay,” it began showing up on Spanish nautical charts hundreds of years ago. The park was signed over to Monroe County sometime between 1953 and 1957, and in 1961 Monroe County gave the Florida Park Service control of the park on Bahia Honda. Most most of the island was still owned by Monroe County and private landowners, and in 1963 the county deeded an additional 63 acres to the Florida Park Service. On March 17, 1984, a private landowner sold their property at the east end of Bahia Honda to the state, bringing the entire island of Bahia Honda under the responsibility of the Florida Park Service. Dave & I have driven by the park before but we were glad we stopped in for a look, it is a very nice park with 3 beaches for swimming, plus camping, cabins, snorkeling, boating, fishing, biking and it is know for it’s beautiful sunsets.

“Your only worry should be if the tide is going to reach the chair.” – Zac Brown

Located on the west end of Bahia Honda Key, is another bridge that was originally built between 1905 and 1912 by Henry Flagler as part of the Overseas Railroad. It was intended to carry a single track of the Florida East Coast Railway across the Big Spanish Channel from Bahia Honda Key to Spanish Harbor Key. But the bridge was damaged during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and rather than rebuilding the bridge, the existing foundations were repaired and were converted to become part of the Overseas Highway in 1938 by adding the deck on top of the existing truss. The bridge served as the primary route of transport to the lower keys and as the main evacuation route. In 1980, a new four-lane bridge was constructed just a few hundred yards north of the old bridge, replacing the old route of U.S.  The old bridge is now in the National Register of Historic Places. The easternmost section of the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic and you can see a scenic view of the area from the bridge.

They took an old railroad bridge and decided to put a road on top of it? I did work for many years though, you can see from the picture below the lanes were a bit smaller than usual. Definitely had to be careful when passing another car and definitely no passing on the right lane.


Our next stop was Big Pine Key where the Key Deer live. They are native to the Florida and are found no other place in the world except for Big Pine Key. The deer are a sub-species of the North American white-tailed deer and are the smallest deer on the continent. Adults are similar in size to a large dog, ranging in weight from 65-90 pounds and the fawns are about the size of a small house cat.

We visited Blue Hole where key deer, alligators and fish gather at the watering hole, formerly a limestone quarry, where fresh water is layered over salt water.

Right next to Big Pine Key is ……

Yes, there is an island called No Name Key. No Name is a relatively small island of approximately 1,140 acres and about one mile wide and two miles long and irregularly shaped.

We read about a great place to eat Called No Name Pub on No Name Key.

The history of the No Name Pub goes back to 1931 when it was  a general store, bait and tackle shop. In 1936 the owners added a small room on to the main structure which became a restaurant and a pub.

In the 1940’s tourists and locals alike began to discover this quirky out of the way place. The ladies would do their shopping in the general store as the men would browse the bait and tackle shop and have a beer and sandwich in the eatery.

By the mid 1950s, the general store and bait and tackle shop closed and the Pub became 100% bar and restaurant. No Name was added to the Pub name and it became the No Name Pub … and quickly became a Keys hangout.

The atmosphere of beer drinking, shooting pool and food became known from Miami to Key West. Crowds often grew so large that the interior would get so full of smoke and crowded, that customers would spill out into the backyard where dice, crap and card games would eventually break out. The old timers say the place never got raided because the Sheriff ran the dice games.

The 1970’s and 80’s became a rowdy time for the pub  Jimmy Buffett’s “Why don’t we get drunk and screw” played on the juke box while people would drink, eat and dance to excess in the Pub. There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then and everyone loved to spend it. They had so much money in fact they started signing the dollar bills hanging it on wall.  And this is how it looks today.

Every inch of the Pub is covered in money. Money hanging from the ceiling and walls. It definitely wouldn’t pass the NY building codes and laws. It was a great place and they had great food!

It was a great day out and about The Florida Keys!


We have been here in Key Largo now for a month or so. Pretty settled in . Our work days are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Melissa is working in the visitor center, greeting people who come in there to see the aquarium. I am now at the Gate. Because of my good looks and charming personality, they decided to put me there, Haha, if you believe that one. I greet people who are coming in for the day and take there money, basicly that’s what I do. I like it, I meet all kinds of people, most very friendly, a few not so much. I feel sorry for them, they are in the keys, and coming in the park is one of the cheapest things you can do for the day around here. Oh well, I’m happy. Cooper is doing very well when we see him, he has been spending a lot of time with his friends at the Pet Motel lately. On a side note a twelve foot Phyton was caught the other day on a road in the park. It is a female , it will be released back into the wild with a tracker on it. Then tracked to see if it attracts any males. If so they will be caught and killed.

Ranger Drew and Ranger Sierra with the snake

The weather was hot when we got here, now it has cooled off to the high 70’s or so. Some rain is in the forecast. We have been to the beach several times and have gone swimming. Melissa took a snorkeling lesson from one of the volunteers named Jinny, last week, she spent an hour with her, and she did very well. Now I can’t keep her out of the water. With the new type of masks, it is very easy to learn how to do it. Over the week end we both snorkeled out to the buoy, where there are old 1735 shipwreck cannon and an anchor on the bottom, she loved it. It was about 100 yards or so off shore. She did very well ,and I am very proud of her.

Me coming in from the buoy

Update on the couple of issues we have had on the rig.

TOILET, We have a new one, as the stopper valve on the old toilet broke I just went out and bought a brand new one. Took me five minutes to put it in, no more soft ball for the stopper.

Old Toilet
Our new toilet, WHOO HOO. The small things in life make you happy

HOT WATER TANK. We now have some hot water. After spending hours in the bay looking for a break in the wires.

The bay and a tangle of wires.

And buying a new control box for the hot water tank, (which was not the problem)

I had Chad come over. He is our next door volunteer, and he had a volt meter. We spent over an hour going through everything and finally found the short. Inside the panel switch box, where there is a whole lot of wires, we found that two small wires coming from the small circuit board going to the lights that lite up when you turn on the hot water tank, were the issue. We disconnected those, and turned on the propane, and it fired up. However when you turn on the electric for the tank the propane also lights. That should not do that, it should only run on electric. So for now I am leaving it that way and just using propane. I will get to it soon when I have more time, but at least we have hot water.

Look at all the damn wires, Yikes.

For now that is about it. This week we are going to take a few day trips down to the lower keys to visit some sites.


Friday I went to the shooting range, say WHAT. Yep, i went and took a pistol class.

Island Arm & Indoor range is just a few miles down the road. I kept seeing the sign so I signed up for a class. The Class I took Friday was of course for beginners. A one hour class on how to properly hold, aim and shoot a pistol. It was $75.00 for the hour, I also had to rent a pistol, I choose one of there m1911 colt pistols, like the WWII kind, he said OK ,but I will also bring a Glock 9mm, for you also. With that I also had to buy ammunition for both pistols, A box of each for both was $75.00 . So with that and the rental of the pistol, it came to a grand total of $175.00

My instructor, who I forget his name was great, an, ex marine in his early thirties. The first 15 minutes was the on how to hold, stand, and get ready to shoot, we did a bunch of dry firing and all that. Then we went into the range. He set up a target of six circles, and put it out to about 15 feet or so away. Then we went over loading and safety stuff. We fired the m1911 first, my first shot kind of surprised me, it has a little bit of a kick. My grip was not tight as i was pretty nervous and sweaty. That all got better as we kept shooting. We fired 27 rounds of the m1911. Then we went to the Glock 9 mm., it was lighter and felt way better in my hand. We also changed the target to a silloeute of a person. That was about twenty or so feet away. He showed me where to shoot for the best results. We shot 27 rounds of that also. Then my time was up. He said I did very well, and if I want to come back I do not need another class.

45 caliber and 9mm ammo

Not bad for a half blind guy.

All in all, I had a great learning experience and a great time. I plan to go back about once a week. The pistol rental and range use is $45.00 an hour plus ammo. I will also use the Glock 9mm as I found it really easy to use. Do I plan on buying one after this, NO.

We are Glad to be in The Florida Keys !

Driving down to the Florida Keys

Sand and sun, my disease

Tall cold drink and coconut trees

Loving the feel of an island breeze

Might end up sleeping on the beach tonight

Under the stars and the full moons light

Laying on the beach right at Heavens door

Listenin to the sounds of the oceans roar

Seems a little crazy but one things for sure

I’ll come back again cause I just want more

Florida Keys, ocean breeze

Sand and sun, my disease

We definitely like it here too cause it’s now our 4th year here with our Fiver not in the cold of NY.

Upon our arrival at John Pennekamp we relaxed for maybe a day and then starting getting ready for Halloween!

yes Halloween, If you know me and my family that wouldn’t surprise you.

Helped decorate the Visitor Center for the Holiday. It was great to see that they used the decorations that me and other volunteers made over the past 3 years, recycle, recycle, it’s important.

It was definitely decorated really great! Unfortunately they can’t stay up all year and I had to take them all down Monday and yesterday. The Visitor Center/Aquarium looks empty without all the fun stuff hanging around.

On Friday the 29th of October Me, Ranger Tess and two other volunteers, Donna & Leah went to a Trunk or Treat at Key Largo Elementary School. We took some of the decorations at the aquarium and other Halloween paraphernalia and set up the truck.

We had a fun time! The kids got to poke a hole in the jellyfish for a prize, Ranger Tess brought some different animals skulls along to show and and tell. Donna & I got to get kids to color a fish take it with them of pin it on the reef which is the front of the table. We figure there was around 500 kids that came out for the fun!

We had our 2nd Halloween party on October 30th here in Key Largo. It was a lot of fun with all the volunteers and some rangers joining in on the fun. We had lots of good food, everyone brought a dish to pass, and played Halloween Trivia and other games.

I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures at all but here are a few. About 20 people were here.

Now we’re enjoying our stay in the Campground and will start to visit new and familiar old places in The Keys!