Allegiance – The Movie

We drove to Key West today, with friends Martin and Betsy, to see Allegiance.

Daughter Jennifer called me from Milwaukee to insist that we go see it.  She said she and George were crying real tears when they left the theater.  That just shows how hard-hearted they are.  Or, maybe it shows how soft-hearted I am.  I started crying at the beginning of the movie.  This is such an important story and part of our history.  I wish everyone could see it as so much of it is relevant today.

The movie is a film of the Broadway stage show.  I’ve decided that is better than seeing it on stage, live.

Go see it if you have a chance.  Moving and thought-provoking.




Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

We went on another senior adventure with Martin and Betsy Basch.  I read about Dagney Johnson in my book, “Women Saving the Florida Keys”.  We left in the morning and stopped at Bayside Gourmet in Islamorada for breakfast.

When we got to the park in Key Lago, I realized that I had forgotten my camera again.  Again.  So this post features photos Betsy took with her iPhone.  Nice job Betsy!

This park was going to be a housing development.  I’m not sure exactly how it became a state park, but it involved a woman, Dagney Johnson. This is from the park website:

The park was established in 1982 with land acquired by Florida’s Conservation and Recreational Lands program. Now 2,421 acres on the northern third of the island of Key Largo, the park was named for Dagny Johnson, a local environmental activist, approximately one year before her death in 2003. Throughout the 1970s, `80s and `90s, Johnson led the Upper Keys Citizens Association, the Izaak Walton League and other environmental organizations that fought to stop the development that was planned for much of north Key Largo. Preservation of onshore communities was not the only purpose for protecting north Key Largo. These environmental activists also wanted to protect the coral reefs offshore from the adverse impacts of land development.

“Once slated to become a condominium development, this park contains one of the largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. The park is home to 84 protected species of plants and animals, including wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe and the American crocodile. Exploring the park´s trails gives visitors a chance to see some of these rare species of plants and animals. Over six miles of nature trails provide a wealth of opportunities for birdwatchers and photographers.”

There are plenty of reminders that the place was going to be a development.  The main entrance trail is a paved road. We were not sure what this traffic circle was about.  It has arbors and picnic tables.


This long stone wall was puzzling, but is was a nice walking path in the cool shade


Betsy took a few closeup pictures of the limestone rocks.



There are a lot of Poisonwood trees in the park.  They can be identified by the bright orange splotches on the trunk.  All parts of the tree are poisonous with oil that will blister your skin.


After a nice walk on a paved road through the forest, we came out into a wide-open area with no trees.  The path was a bit rough limestone.  Andy was happy he brought his walking stick.


The park map said this was a wet area, but it is bone dry right now.  The red mangrove, with the prop roots, usually grows in the water.  I hope they survive.


I was happy to get back into the woods and shade.  This was a mulch path.  The park is large and the trails are very nice.  The scenery doesn’t change much, though.


The park is on the ocean, but there is no access to the beach yet. We came upon a park volunteer who told us that much of the rubble we saw was from buildings that have been knocked down.  There are lagoons and canals that were to be waterfront for the homes.  There are crocodiles on Key Largo so there probably won’t be any swimming in them.

We stopped at Smuggler’s Cove in Islamorada.  We went there for hamburgers, but Andy was the only one that got one.  The rest of us got fish tacos.  And, that was our day.

Amernet String Quartet

We spent some time on the waterfront in the morning.  I spotted this fish, but have not looked it up to figure out what it is.


These two pelicans were bobbing around together the whole while we sat there.


The fourth concert of the Florida Concert Association season, Amernet String Quartet, was in the evening at Marathon High School.

We got there early and set up our ticket sales table.  It was quiet for a long while so I checked my watch and the brochure to make sure we were in the right place on the right day.  Concert patrons began arriving between six and six-thirty.  The doors open at seven.


Students get into the concerts for free.  I snapped a picture of these three before the concert.


The quartet played Haydn’s String Quartet in G minor, Op 74, No. 3.  They play with a lot of energy. Next was Kaufman’s String Quarter No. 6, “The Urban”.  I did not care for that piece, which sounded like a lot of noise to me.  I was glad when it was over.


After intermission, they played Grieg’s String Quartet in G minor, Opus 27, No. 1.  This was the best piece yet, but it took some concentration to appreciate it.  Whether I loved their chosen music or not, I have to admire their skills.  They were excellent. Here is the audience showing their appreciation with a standing ovation.




Sombrero Beach Walk

We took our walk today around Sombrero Beach, our city park beach. I like to walk there because there is a nice sidewalk trail around the park for after I get tired of walking in the sand. It was just an hour after low tide, so there was a lot of beach to walk on.  Here are a few random pictures from our walk plus a few others.

This picture was taken looking up Sister Creek, which leads to Boot Key Harbor.  At high tide, the water is up to the rocks.


There is a wide band of sea grass between the park and the beach.  A number of walkways connect them.  It always looks so inviting to me to look out to the ocean through them.


We could see the mast of this sailboat from the street and thought it might be aground.  It turned out to be a catamaran that doesn’t need much water. The dark gray part of the “beach” is the limestone that forms the Florida Keys. Wikipedia says, “Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed mainly of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, forams and mollusks. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).”  It is rough, sharp, and wicked to walk on.


This dove was sitting on the railing of the main picnic pavilion.  Look at that blue around the eye! Well, I guess it is part of the eye.


A sand artist did a nice job on this dolphin.


Andy and I also spent some time at our RV park waterfront, as usual.  We call it walking but actually spend just as much time sitting and looking out at the ocean as we do walking.


We often see these fish.  They were traveling in a tight cluster today.  This is part of the school in very shallow water.


I took this picture of the moon last night.  The clouds were much brighter and pinker than they appear in my picture.




Was That a Lunar Eclipse?

I get an Earth/Sky News email regularly about what to look for in the night sky.  Yesterday’s email announced a Prenumbral Lunar Eclipse so we were out there to see it.   It was not as dramatic as I had hoped.  All I could tell was that one side was a bit darker than the other, with no clear earth shadow.  It was a beautiful, clear and warm night so it was nice to be outside anyway.

Eclipse – February 10, 2017

I’m glad I didn’t stay up until 0300.  The comet was only visible with binoculars or telescope.  I would not even have know where to look.

Things to See in Marathon, Florida

I guess I’ll classify this as another day of odds and ends.  I’ve taken these pictures over the past two weeks and just didn’t get around to sharing them. I won’t even try to put them in any particular order.

Thatch Palm leaves are some of my favorite subjects.

Underside of Thatch Palm Leaf

Sleeping Andy is another of my favorite subjects and this photo may be one of best ever.  Not that it is a great shot, it’s just that I’ve never seen him leaning over this far before.  Note that his hand was still on the mouse.  Sometimes, as he is falling asleep, he will move the mouse around.

Andy Asleep at the Keyboard

There is no way to sugar-coat it.  Buzzards are just ugly birds.  He would not look any better if he was in focus. This one was sitting on a boat in the canal.

Ugly Buzzard

Then he turned sideways and I noticed the beautiful feathers.

Buzzard Feathers

This is an immature ibis standing on a mangrove branch in Oceanfront Park.

Immature Ibis

Here is something I don’t recall seeing before.  This Great Blue Heron was standing on the very top of a mangrove tree at Crane Point.

Great Blue Heron Atop a Mangrove Tree

Here is a silly small pleasure that gives me great delight. I bought this little floating tea infuser in a grocery store somewhere on the road this season.  I can’t remember where. The plastic lily pad screws onto the top of a metal infuser basket.  I don’t know why I get such a chuckle every time I make a cup of tea.  Maybe it is the smile.  Also, it is the easiest tea infuser I have ever used – to fill and to clean.


We sit outside to drink our coffee every morning and watch the wildlife in the mangroves.


This little lizard was sunning herself on a crook in the tree trunk.  I took a number of pictures before she seemed to notice me.  She kept tilting her head to look at me the way dogs do.


I have gotten out of the habit of taking the camera with me wherever I go.  When I remember that I forgot it, I say, “Something great is going to happen and I won’t have a picture to document it”.  Sure enough, we saw three three iguanas in a stack at Oceanfront Park. One large one with two smaller ones on top of her.  I’ve seen pictures of baby alligators sitting on the mother’s back.  It was a wonderful missed photo op.

I also did not have my camera with me when a car pulled out of a shopping center and ran into the side of Andy’s car. I took pictures of both cars at the scene, but can’t figure out how to get them off my cell phone.  It doesn’t matter.  The other guy’s insurance company (Liberty Mutual) said they will pay 100 percent without seeing any pictures.


Notice the rear tire.  I can’t decide if the other guy’s tire rubbed paint off our wheel, or whether those black marks are the rubber from his tires.


We were so impressed with Liberty Mutual.  They have been so nice and eager to help us. I think they are living up to their television commercials.  We drove down to a body shop in Key West today and dropped off the car.  Liberty Mutual arranged for Enterprise to pick us up and give us a Jeep Cherokee while the RAV4 is in the shop.  Then, we went to Golden’s Deli, where I got the Lox Platter that I have been craving for weeks. You may as well make the most of an unfortunate situation.

This Great White Heron was at Oceanfront Park.  I took half a dozen pictures and then, when I turned to walk away, it squawked and flew away, fussing as it went.

Great White Heron