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{ Monthly Archives } December 2011

Merry Christmas

Then we got swept up in a busy summer in Maine: the beautiful, happy wedding of my niece Elisabeth Motley in Salem, Mass. last June, three high school reunions, a service in Massachusetts to celebrate the life of a young father and husband of Small Point friends who died much too young, and a golden September with as much time spent sailing as possible. … Just a few days before the Pfitzers set out on a 2-month trip around the world, Anke showed our house to a Belgian whose wife and two children would be joining him from the Philippines in August. … Not having quite believed that this would happen, we had taken advantage nevertheless of Border’s book store closing to buy maps and guidebooks, which Katie studied while Dan was away. … But there is the small matter of needing to get our car back to Maine in May, so the plan is to come back to Florida to hang out until it is warm enough to make the reverse journey further inland.

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Milepost 0

South we went over the 7-mile bridge, past Henry Flagler’s magnificent old railroad bridge at Bahia Honda, past state parks and the signs warning of crossing the territory of the tiny and highly endangered key deer, and on to Whitehead Street, past the house where Hemingway lived and wrote between 1931 and 1942, until we reached the Route 1 Mile 0 marker in the heart of Key West IMG_7053 two months and two days after leaving Rt. 1 in Maine on 13 October. Having heard and read so many stories about a rowdy city full of gay bars and kitch, we were quite astonished to find street after street of beautiful, bahamian-style houses and lush, tidy gardens. IMG_7054 We went to the Blue Heaven restaurant because that’s what you do if you don’t actually stand in line at lunch time to visit the Hemingway house; you go to his favorite restaurant instead.

…Despite having just absorbed four or five thousand visitors, the port was a very pleasant place, and we lingered long enough to make a few purchases and check out a few boats in the yacht basin, one of which is the schooner Appledore we had first seen sailing out of Camden Harbor. D7K_1230

…(We were in the car and couldn’t stop, so the photo is a bit blurry.) IMG_7086 We didn’t try to park, but drove on behind a nice beach until we reached a small monument to those who had died of AIDS in the city.

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Seen along the way

From various points on the trip, here are some miscellaneous images. You can also see some videos from a couple of places here . D7K_0320 D7K_9426 D7K_9948 D7K_9756 D7K_9859 D7K_9947 D7K_0926

Dan’s birthday dinner to the final southern stop

At every turn there was something to see: gorgeous, if shy, tri-color herons, glossy ibis, a reddish egret along with several sizes of white ones, white pelicans, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, a marbled godwit, sleeping blue-winged teal, two bald eagles sharing a perch, a kingfisher and, last but not least, three sun-bathing alligators. This is the Florida it is hard not to love. D7K_1112 D7K_1131 D7K_1149 Nightfall found us at Jupiter, where we walked into a small, riverside resort on Rte 1 and were given a huge room with two double beds at a very off-season rate. As we were a bit ahead of where we expected to be on Saturday, we decided to take a detour off 95 and drive into Fort Lauderdale to see why it was a spring break mecca. … It was a relief to find a quiet little resort on Key Largo IMG_7021 IMG_7023 and to know that the following morning would find us a our final southern destination: Kristin’s family condo on Marathon Key. IMG_7030 And here we are most comfortably installed in this pretty apartment by a pool, with the ocean just a few steps beyond the neighboring building not quite two months after we left Sprague Road in Phippsburg, Me.

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South from Savanah

Jekyll Island is across a 6-mile long causeway and when you reach it you have to pay a $ 5 “parking fee” to Jekyll island State Park; the whole place is owned by the State of Georgia as far as we can tell; homeowners lease the land under their houses from the state. … Gorgeous little town, with a railroad running into it, a container port, and the requisite paper/pulp mill; an industrial waterfront lying between the lovely downtown and the river.IMG_6972 Woke Thursday to cold, blowing, grey weather rolling into our beach front lodging, so we bailed out and headed down the A1A. … Turns out Joe Biden was visiting a high school south on Mayport on route A1A, and only a timely warning from the ferry staff and a park staffer at a local park we visited prevented us from driving right smack into a Department of Homeland Security nightmare: can you picture us having to empty the car, with Swiss driving licenses, a Maine car, no visible means of support, binoculars, cameras with long telephotos and coming out of it in less than 48 hours w/o going to jail thanks to the DHS, who are protecting the US of A from terrorists……? … The real charm of it is that they offer you a bag of marshmallows with the room which you can take downstairs and in return for a $10 bill get some graham crackers, chocolate and forks and make smores over a fire out on the terrace overlooking the beach.

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Savannah – A dappled experience

We met a bald eagle on our way to the Savannah River, and – once in Georgia – passed an enormous Weyerhauser paper mill and miles and miles of container shipping docks as we made our way down river on a two-lane highway filled with humongous trucks. … The island beach, 10 miles away – Tybee Island – is a poor person’s version of Wrightsville beach: lovely sands with tire tracks on them: cheek-by-jowl housing, and a lot of beach joints on the strip of macadam down the middle. Complaints registered, we have had a ball testing Tybee Island and Savannah’s food offerings. IMG_6899 D7K_0823 Almost every foray out for nourishment (when we weren’t feeding ourselves in the very comfortable old “Captain’s Quarters” we rented together) has been a gas. … In between, we have done our Savannah tour, visited a few house museums – the best of which was the tiny childhood home of the writer Flannery O’Conner – strolled along the waterfront, visited Fort Pulaski, learned our way around the city in our trusty old Avalon.

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Hilton Head

Fortunately you also pass through some neighborhoods where 1950’s single-level run-down homes and double-wides predominate, a good visual reminder that the black and white population that was there after the plantations fell apart are still there and have to some extent survived the onslaught of environmental correctness. … The beaches (or the one we saw on a cold windy November afternoon) are as advertised: gorgeous, firm sand, free of trash IMG_6825 There was a dolphin 10 feet offshore engaged in stranding small fish for dinner, bluebirds in the brush along the high tide line and herons and ibis by the score in the salt marshes. The marshes, as they are all along this SE Atlantic coast, are gorgeous, and there are numerous public boardwalks built out into them at strategic places which allow you to get away from the shore and out where you can see the critters. IMG_6848 The architecture of houses and condos we saw was uniformly bland in color, and occasionally attractive in design. … The South Carolina Yacht Club was heavily engaged in decorating for Christmas, and in design and appearance looked as if the architects had wished it had been there since the time of William Hilton, or at least since the time when gentlemen sailed yachts. D7K_0672 However, it is a pretty building, and it must be pleasant to sit on the wide porch in warmer weather and watch friends and neighbors chug by on their way in and out of the purpose-built locks that separate the harbor from the tidal river to prevent the boats owners having to cope with tides in the boat basin; in a properly managed life, it is always high tide after all. D7K_0667 One startling aspect is the school buses: there are actually people living in these houses and/or apartments/condos, and there is a public school system on HHI; there is also a private academy, as you might expect.

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