Monday, January 23, 2012

Some Key West Eatery's

Key West (and the Lower Keys) has some great places to eat.  When Adam and Kelly were here with us over Christmas, we had to find a vegan restaurant and ended up at the Old Town Mexican Cafe on Duval Street.
As we would expect, it was a little different than the Mexican food of New Mexico. It was not spectacular still good.

One morning we went downtown early to get our picture taken at the Southernmost Point buoy/marker.
Around the corner we found the Southernmost Beach Cafe and had breakfast.  We will be going there again.  The prices and food were surprisingly good and the view on the beach in the morning was great!

One place I knew we had to go while in Key West was Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant and Store.  It is also on Duval Street.
The food here was also good and the prices were not bad here either.  (They make up for it in the Margaritaville Store with the T-Shirts though…)  They were a little pricey.

After our first Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square with Marge and George, they took us to Kelly's on Whitehead Street.  At one time this place was owned by Kelly McGillis of Tom Cruise and Top Gun fame.
We got a table on the lighted back patio yard and the atmosphere was great!  And the seafood sampler was even better!

Down the keys at Key Big Pine (40 miles away from Key West) we went to the No Name Saloon and Bar after we visited the Sunday Flea Market.  We had heard about this interesting place from George and Marge.
It has a reputation for great pizza.  We settled on 'Nachos for Two' which was fine.  It the cuisine is mostly bar food.  The real draw is the reputation and history of the place.

Another great area in Key West known for good appetizers and bar food is Alonzo's Oyster Bar on the Harbor Walk.  Our table on the waterfront was right behind where the guy is standing with the shoulder bag.  A&B (Alonzo and Berlin) owned the place at one time.  B (Berlin's) is upstairs and offers a more formal dinner setting.
This place has great seafood and during happy hour (4-6 PM) drinks and a lot of food is 1/2 price!  The shrimp and the oysters did not disappoint!

Key West has a lot of great places to eat and we will no doubt check out a few more.

What are some places you'd recommend?

That is it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  And thanks to the many new 'blogger friends' that have signed up - we appreciate you all and especially those that leave comments.  Those are always fun!

Until next time...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ernest Hemingway and Harry S. Truman in Key West

Once we had Key West on the Roadrunner Travel Schedule, I started reading about famous people that lived here.  A couple of months ago, I began some of the classics by Ernest Hemingway.  I started with 'A Farwell to Arms', then read 'The Old Man and the Sea'.  I also read 'The Sun Also Rises' and am a good ways into 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.  Somehow I missed that assignment in high school and am now just catching up.

I also recently finished 'Truman' by David McCullogh.  I really liked that book too.  My respect and appreciation for what he did during his life and presidency rose considerably.  In fact, shortly after his death, he was ranked as the 5th most admired president.
Can you guess those ahead of him?

To further our historical interests last week, we went to see the Ernest Hemingway House and the Little White House here in Key West.

Ernest Hemingway heard of Key West while in Paris and first visited in 1929.  His wife's uncle bought the house for $8000 in 1931.  Hemingway and his wife Pauline lived there nine years.
It is said it was during his time at Key West that his writing was the most prolific.  While in Key West he finished 'Farewell to Arms' and wrote a number of poems, short stories and novels.

The tour of the Hemingway House was very good.  We had a guide who really knew some great details and history of the home and about the life of Ernest Hemingway.
Gladly, we were able to take pictures throughout the house.  There are about 40 six-toed cats who live there and one was taking a siesta while we made our way through a bedroom.
While Hemingway was traveling, his wife had a $20,000 swimming pool built which was the only one in the Florida Keys at the time.

Most of the furnishings in there as they were in the 1930's.  It was a large home on one acre and restored for living similar to that time.  
Behind the house was an old carriage house that was remodeled into a studio/apartment where Hemingway did his writing.  The tour was very good and well worth it.

Later in the week, we got tickets to the Little White House.  The building was originally constructed in 1890 for US naval officers and was built right on the waterfront.  Later the Key West harbor was dredged and more land was added.  Sadly, government buildings were built in front and the view of the water was gone by the time Harry Truman visited for a much needed rest.
Harry Truman had been vice-president only three months when he was sworn into office on April 12, 1945.  He had an excellent work ethic throughout his whole life and kept up a fast pace and worked long hours while president.

After 19 months in office he was in need of a rest and went to Key West.  Over his presidency, he returned many times, eventually spending 175 days there.
There were no photographs allowed in the house.  I liked the way the furniture from the 1940's remains in the house.  The living room and family room (though I don't think they called it that) were very roomy for an old home.  It also had a separate formal dining room near the kitchen.  The bedrooms upstairs were fairly small but they had a lot of windows for a good breeze.  The tour took about 30 minutes and again we had a guide who sprinkled stories and anecdotes throughout the tour.

So there are two stops on the tourist agenda you might want to consider.  Both give some historical impact to the city and are well done.

That is all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sunset at Key West

Each evening in Key West, there is a phenomenon known as the 'Sunset Celebration'.  Hundreds of folks gather each evening at Mallory Square to watch the sun go down.  It is quite an event!

Last week we went down for the sunset with Marge and George, new friends from the Sigsbee RV Campground where we are staying.
They have been to Key West a number of times and offered to go with us.  We found that Mallory Square was blocked off because they were filming an ESPN boxing match.

The Westin Hotel is right on the water about 100 yards from Mallory Square, so we got a table and had a beer and watched it all from there.
There were a lot of dinner cruise boats, charter boats returning after a day fishing and a few others.
A few days later, we returned to Mallory Square and all the 'regulars' were there.  It was a pretty interesting place.  We watched a few of the displays and vendors.
At times it was a little crowded but not too bad.  And one of the big cruise ships, 'Carnival Magic', was docked.
And the sunset was something to celebrate…
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Roadrunner Financials - December 2011

Roadrunner Recap
We left VA Beach after Thanksgiving and were in South Carolina for the beginning of the month.  We were going to participate in a Habitat for Humanity build in Dade City, FL before getting down to Key West.
  • Shaw AFB FamCamp, Columbia SC
  • Pelican Roost Mayport NAS, FL
  • MacDill AFB, Tampa FL
  • Dade City Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Park, Dade City FL
  • Larry and Penny Thompson County Park,  Miami FL
  • Sigsbee Naval Station RV Campground, Key West FL

Here's an interactive map that shows where we traveled.  You can click on the letters and it will tell you the location.

The static map might be easier:
The December budget and actuals:
Bottom line here is that we were $1000 over budget!  Yikes.

Good News Areas Under Budget
RV Maintenance and Campgrounds - very common categories to be under budget so it might need to adjust the budget next year.

Biggest Expenses
We hit with two Verizon cell / jetpack bills that were off the charts.  We bought a new iPhone for Pam and a data plan to go with it. Need to readjust our practices here and figure this out.

Large One-Time Cost Items
We paid our annual SD registration for the RV and car:  $599.

Monthly Average

Back in September, we bought a residential refrigerator ($6707) which accounted for the beginning of a series of over budget months.  Since then the monthly average has gone down but it is still beyond where we'd like it to be.

I have often said this is more of a tracking tool and an estimate than a budget -- this month's spending proves it.  That's what our spending looked like for the month.  Thanks for taking a peek.  Hopefully they provide help or entertainment of some sort...  If you'd like a free copy of the spreadsheet I use, drop me a note and I will be glad to send it along.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle at Key West

We have been in Key West about 10 days now and intend to be here through the month of January and into the first week of February.  In a word---It is Nice!

We are staying at the Key West Navy Base, specifically Sigsbee RV Campground.  I wasn't entirely clear about that in my last post, but we are staying at a Military Campground on base which means it requires an active duty or retired military ID card.

The have a about 200 RVs here with probably 300 sites.  Most of the sites are for dry camping with no water, electric or sewer.  But there is a nice dump station with easy access and there are a couple of easy access places to get water.

The campground does have some full hook up sites in a couple of locations on the base about a mile apart.  The process is to sign in, pick out a dry camping space and wait your turn to cycle into the full hook up sites.  The maximum stay for full hookups is two weeks if there is a waiting list.

It took us 10 days to get into full hookups but we were hoping to stay longer at our first spot.  It was on the water and worked well for us.  But when our number comes up, we have to move.  That makes it good for everyone.  All get to share in the front row, on-the-water sites.
The spaces are well marked so there is no question about you and your neighbor's area.
Like I said - we were right on the water.

When our number came up yesterday we moved a couple hundred yards onto a concrete hardpan with full hookups and 100 feet from the laundry and showers.  We also have more room between campsites.

While here in Key West we have enjoyed the weather immensely.  Right now it is cool and windy (low to mid 60's) but over the last 10 days it has been unseasonably warm (mid to high 70's).  Like beach time, suntan warm--
And we have spent time at this beach over at the Key West Naval Air Station marina at Boca Chica about six miles from the campground.

We have also spent some time biking.  Pam and I loaded our bikes in the car and went along the south side of the island for a picnic and bike ride the other day.  The southside of town has a nice bike path on the water.
And I have had a couple of early morning 12 mile bike rides around the island from our campground.
And a few days ago, Pam and I made it to a tourist spot near downtown Key West.
The Southermost Point in the continental USA is a favorite place for a photo op.  In the first few days we were here, the line was really long and crowded so we had to come back another day and get there a little after 7:30 AM.

Adam and Kelly returned to DC and Virginia Beach a few days ago.  It was great to have them with us for a week and to enjoy our time together.  I am back at my online work($$) and will be busy for the next few days getting some deliverables done, then we will have more time to explore beautiful Key West!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Until next time…

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New 2012 Year!

Happy New Year!  Hope this year is a great one for you!

It has started off well for us.  We arrived at Key West on December 22 and intend to be here for another 6 weeks.  I don't know why the weather is so unseasonably warm here, but we are very thankful for it and enjoying it immensely.

Adam and Kelly were with us for Christmas and we enjoyed a quiet time together here in the Roadrunner exchanging gifts.
It is our tradition on Christmas morning to have breakfast of orange juice and sweet rolls before/while we are opening presents.
It seems like many folks have traditions also.  Or they open presents at other times than Christmas morning.

How about you?  Do you have traditions?  When do you open presents?

After that, we decided to go into Key West and see what was going on.  A lot of the shops were open on Christmas Day which surprised us.
And some cruise ships were docked at Mallory Square.  Interestingly enough, the ship have to leave the dock two hours before sunset so all the folks can enjoy the daily sunset celebration there.  We have heard about it and may go back down there in the next couple of days to check it out.

We signed up for the Christmas potluck back at the RV office and Kelly baked some great cupcakes.  When we arrived 10 minutes before 2:00 PM.  Yikes!  There must have been 200 people there! We got a little bit of an anxiety attack - the place was very crowded to say the least.  And I didn't see anywhere with four places at a table.  So we opted to pass it up.

Instead we cooked some pork tenderloin on the grill along with some zucchini and vegetables.  Adam sautéed some kale and we had dressing and cranberry sauce.  Definitely a different Christmas meal but it hit the spot and was a memorable one.

Later we played ladderball at our campsite and did some reading and enjoyed a quiet evening.

Hope your time during the holidays was nice and you were able to be with friends and family.

We are enjoying it tremendously here in Key West.  It is in the mid-70's or low 80's although it is supposed to get cooler in the next few days.  There are a lot of interesting things here in Key West and things to do.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...