02 January 2014

• #1: Islamorada Journal 2014…01 JAN [Getting there]

Caryl and I were up at 0415 on New Year’s Day so we could get on our way to Islamorada…in the Florida Keys. We had an 0815 flight out of Bradley, and as you know, you have to get there early, go through the TSA security, and take care of last-minute necessities before boarding…unless you want to have to use one of the lavs on the plane, which I never like to do.

You’ve been there; you’ve got 300 people watching you go up the aisle and they all know where you’re going and what you’re going to do when you get there. Maybe some day I’ll do that “walk of embarrassment” and then, having gained the lav, just stand there and meditate. Then I can come out and smile knowing that I’ve fooled 300 people.

But the diseases that must be rampant in those cubicles! Did you see that report about how strep and other viruses can last on environmental surfaces for months? Gaaaack! Howie Mandel has got it right. Don’t touch anybody or anything!

Well. Ed G., our friend and one of those crazy ice fishermen, was kind enough to pick us up at the house about 0545 and we motored off to BDL. Good trip. Not much traffic, but we were keeping an eye out for folk in who knows what kind of shape returning home from New Year’s Eve revelries.

We got through the Transportation Security Administration’s checks of our stuff and our selves with only one hitch: Caryl tried to go through the scanner with a bracelet on that lit up the machine like Times Square. They wanted to do a full pat-down on her, which I thought she might get a kick out of, but then she remembered the bracelet, took it off, and she went through again without setting off the alarms.

I would have gone for the pat-down, myself…but then….

Eventually we boarded the plane, which, if you’re paying attention, was sched to depart at 0815.


They had to de-ice the wings. Then there was a mechanical failure…no big deal…just something about the engine failing to spin-up…or a minor detail like that. They pulled the plane back to the gate and we sat there. The pilot eventually came on the intercom and said they had “completed the paperwork” and were now ready to depart. Paperwork? What about the repair? We don’t give a hoot about @#$%&* paperwork! Is the @#$%&* plane going to make it to Fort Lauderdale or not?

In my mind I’m trying to re-create what this “paperwork” entails. Perhaps the pilot signs off on a document which says, “I’m flying a plane with a busted spin-up dingus from BDL to FLL and if the @#$%&* plane doesn’t get there, it’s all my fault”?

Well, who knows? I don’t.

All de-iced, spin-up dingus repaired, and paperwork completed, we departed Bradley at 0930, 1:15 hours after our officially designated departure time…and flew into a 130 mph headwind. But the pilot must have worked miracles with the altitudes and such as we landed at Lauderdale at 1241, just 1:21 hours after our officially designated arrival time. Good flight, good landing. I like Southwest Airlines despite today’s delay.

We hadn’t checked any baggage on the plane, so we were quickly off to catch the shuttle to the local park, fly, and ride operation which had our car; we shipped the car down on a truck last Friday. The car was dirty, but in good shape…and none of the baggage we’d stored in the trunk appeared to be missing. We got in and lit out for the Keys.

Traffic wasn’t bad on the Florida Turnpike. A few crazies around Miami as usual, but we made it straight through with a brief stop at the Taco Bell in Homestead [or maybe it’s in Florida City?] before we headed out on the “stretch” which is a mostly single-lane road from the mainland of Florida out to Key Largo. It also happens to be the start of the last one-hundred-plus miles of US-1, the same road that passes through Connecticut on its way from Maine to Key West.

The stretch is interesting because you’re going right through Everglades-like scenery…marshes, ponds, ditches, grasses…and then past the odd marina and juvenile-detention facility. And they give drivers these occasional two-lane passing zones at which point drivers—who may be ill-content with the 55-mph speed limit—zoom past only to be stuffed back into one lane again. Must be terribly frustrating for them. I remember one trip where I had a driver right on my rear bumper for miles; he finally passed me in the two-lane zone, probably shaking his fist at me as he went by. When we hit Key Largo he was the car right in front of me and he didn’t realize the road changed to two lanes at that point, got stuck in the right lane behind slower traffic, and I zoomed past him at a majestic 45-mph which is the speed limit for most of Key Largo’s US-1. Ah…the sweetness of revenge!

Back to today. We stopped to see Wayne J. who is the premier fishing guide in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada and spends his winters in the Keys. Wayne and spouse, Linda, are totally responsible for Caryl and me being in the Keys ourselves for the last 8 winters. They helped us find our first rental here and have been the best of friends…the best.

Linda was off yakking with friends in the park where they live. She’s so darned popular that she’s in demand all the time…so we saw only Wayne at this point. Spent an hour with him getting caught up on local gossip…most of which I can’t tell you in writing; you’ll have to ask in person. And then we lit out for our rental house in Islamorada.

As you continue to drive south on US-1, it goes: Key Largo, then Tavernier, then Islamorada. Islamorada [you have to pronounce it “eye-la-morada” or you’re labeled as an idiot] calls itself “the fishing capital of the world.” Perhaps our reports for the next 75 or so days will convince you of that…or perhaps not.

Caryl and I checked out the rental home…it was in very nice shape; we unloaded baggage, and then lit out for CVS and the Winn-Dixie for necessities and foodstuffs. Back at the house we put food away, unpacked bags…and that was about the end of our energies. From where I’m getting the strength to write this…I do not know. Pooped!

Wayne’s coming over in the morning so we can move the boat, “Shoo-Fly,” from the marina where she’s been stored for the last month to the boat basin in front of the house.

Stand by.

More to come.

• Meanwhile, in other news...

• Making “The Deadliest Catch” Less Deadly

“Over the years, efforts to keep crew members safe have taken many forms, from changing the culture among fishermen to equipping them with emergency gear such as survival suits that can help them survive the icy waters longer.

”The latest proposed solution is being built in a dry dock north of Seattle: a $35 million, 190-foot vessel that would enable fishermen to work behind the safety of the hull, rather than out on the deck amid the dangerous wind and waves.”

Read the full article at this link: KomoNews.com

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