Thursday, August 11, 2016

August 11, 2016

Fruit & Spice Park

Short drive of a couple of hours up the northern half of the Keys and on to the mainland at Homestead, FL.  Got situated and connected and then looked for something to do for the afternoon.  Came across a reference to the Fruit & Spice Park.  Part of the Miami/Dade County park system the park is a unique 35 acre display of tropical and subtropical plants from around the world.  Visitors are invited to taste their way through ripe displays.  The office/store/visitor center has samples of 10-12 different exotic fruits cut up for sampling. There are hundreds of different fruits.  Visitors are welcome to wander the park looking at all the different trees and plants and to sample any fruit that is on the ground.  Couple of rules:  fruit can not be picked from frees and you must know what you are eating.  That is important because some fruits are hazardous.  The wandering approach would be difficult and frustrating as the hundreds of trees and plants are planted in an apparent random park like fashion with little organization.  Each plant is identified but there are so many that posted  information about each would be impossible.  There is an organization to the park layout but a novice would not recognize it.  There is an alternative to wandering on foot.  They have a tram tour.  Great tour.  Covers the whole park with full time narration by driver.  Describing nearly every tree passed.  Complete description of fruits and other useful parts.  How fruits are used. Tastes. Much more.  And yes, there is an organization to layout of park.  Different areas have plants common to different parts of the world.  Driver was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  She stopped several times and gathered fruit (she picked it from the trees – she worked there, she’s allowed) and gave us all a taste sample. Tour was supposed to be 45 minutes – took nearly 1 1/4 hours and might have gone longer but had to get back for next tour.  Learned a great deal that would not have happened if we just wandered.  At end of tour she gave us some Moringa Tree seeds.  Just about every part of this tree can be eaten and it is loaded with nutrients.  Buying the processed plant through health food stores, etc. can be pricey.  Looking forward to trying to grow a tree when we get home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 10, 2016

Key West

Drove to Marathon, FL yesterday.  Half way down Florida Keys and location of RV park with decent price (for the Keys).  Today we drove another 50+ miles to Key West.  Old (historic) Key West is a grid of very narrow streets, little to no parking ($$-$$$ where available), lots of bicycles,  even more tourists, many cars and even large trucks,  trolleys, and tourist attractions and shops of all kinds.  There are a number of museums and historical spots but most have gone commercial and if you do want to visit them there is no parking near them.  We opted to take another Home Town Trolley tour so we didn’t have to deal with traffic and got to at least see (if not visit) many interesting spots and get an informative narration of what we were seeing.  Not a place we would chose to spend a vacation but many do.  The whole length of the Florida Keys is a mixture of water related tourist activities. Fishing, diving, snorkeling, jet skis, kayaks, tour boats and helicopters, restaurants, museums, etc., etc. Occasional communities with ‘normal’ retail.  The lone road that traverses the Keys is pretty filled both ways with traffic.  Must be quite interesting if there is a mandatory hurricane evacuation.





As with much of south Florida, Key West has a huge historical and cultural tie to Cuba.  Chickens are a large part of Cuban culture where they run free.  That bit of culture was transported to Key West.  For some reason the chickens became protected.  Killing them is a $500 fine.  They are everywhere.  We saw roosters, hens, and chicks of all sizes all over the city.



Key West cemetery.  Graves are above ground.  Not because of high water table (which does exist) but because ground is essentially a coral reef and digging is nearly impossible.



Closer to Cuba than the US mainland.



Hemmingway’s favorite bar.


Hemmingway’s house is beyond wall.  Big tourist attraction (and $$$).


Beginning of US Route 1.


Southern most drivable point in the United States.  We have now been to all four extremes.


Not as prolific as chickens but these guys are here if you know where to look.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August 7, 2016

Kennedy Space Center

Spent the day at Kennedy Space Center.  Ten full hours.  Seems a little pricy when you enter but really worth every penny.  Had maybe 45 minutes total down time with lines for bus, lunch, and waiting for a show or movie to start.  The rest of the time was non-stop entertaining education in many forms.  There is a LOT here that is historical, educational, and inspirational.  We had a full day and learned a lot but it could take another day or two to properly take in all of it.


Small portion of rocket garden


Titan II.  I baby sat one of these for four years.  Had something different on top.



Entrance to Space Shuttle Atlantis displays, movies, and experiences.  Very cool.  Lots of simulators of various shuttle aspects including a launch simulator that astronauts swear is very realistic.



Space shuttle Atlantis.



Saturn V rocket.  Impossible to get in one picture.  Largest rocket ever built – to date.  NASA has plans.


Apollo 14 command module.


Sue touching moon rock.