"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hangin' in the Keys

Holly, the service dog, goes to the beach

Yes, that's my pasta strainer!

"An owl and a pussy cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat" 
Mr. Lobster
The weather is so unbelievable here.  I've never had a sunburn in February before, EVER!  We've been going to the beach nearly every afternoon and almost feel like locals even though we know don't blend in.  We are recognizing the same people day after day and we can tell who lives here and who is just visiting.  The pasty white folk, i.e, the Twist's, are definitely visitors and the older, leathery-looking folk come to the beach every day for an hour or so just to catch a nap in the sun or to walk off their lunch, ensuring the continuance of their nut-brown skin.  I wish I had the presence of mind to take a photo of Diego, which is the name that Donald gave him.  This guy walked onto the beach wearing a tight, red, European Speedo and a white bandanna.  Nothing else.  While this is funny enough to people like Donald and me it was his coloring and his behaviour that really made us chuckle.  We are positive he is Caucasian but he was the darkest tan I have ever seen, only it was a dark, burnished red-brown like a shiny chestnut.  He looked like he'd been polished, which was helped by the fact that he took a good 10 minutes to, not rub but sm-o-o-o-o-th, on his suntan oil, all the while standing not 20 feet from two scantily-clad, attractive 20 Somethings who took zero notice of him.  Donald and I watched Diego pose himself on his blanket so that he could watch the young girls and we kept sniggering softly and making jokes.  Unkind, yes.  Funny?  Definitely yes.

Meanwhile the boys had the cool opportunity to see much sea life in its natural environment by way of an uncovered but very sharp coral reef at the edge of the beach.  We poked at some sea anemones just to watch them pull their fingers away, they caught dozens of crabs of varying sizes, they used my kitchen strainers to catch some tiny yellow and black striped fish and they discovered a huge lobster.  No exaggeration when I say it was the biggest lobster I have ever seen.  He was stuck in a fairly large tidal pool and hiding under a chunk of reef.  His big antennae were easily two feet long, each.  If you look carefully at the photo you can see them, along with his eyes.  Donald tried to catch him for supper and it's a good thing he didn't because we found out later it would have been illegal.  There go those Twist's, being rebels again!
He's so excited because he thinks Don is actually going to catch the lobster

Just a block or so from the Coast Guard base is the world's only state certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles.  How can you pass up that kind of opportunity when you home school your kids?  We couldn't!  In an average year the Turtle Hospital receives as many as 70 injured sea turtles and to date, the hospital has released more than 1,000 back into the sea.  We learned all about the five types of sea turtle and the various injuries they received, mostly at the hands of humans but some from nature.  Many times they have a flipper so entwined in fishing line it needs to be amputated.  Or they have an intestinal impaction due to swallowing all sorts of man made items, like plastic or balloons.  The turtles get fixed, rehabbed and then released.  I love being able to incorporate this type of thing into our school day and the boys enjoy it.  I'm just hoping that one day they will appreciate what we tried to do for them on the "Big Adventure."
A very ill, but recovering Loggerhead

#1 measuring up to a Leatherback and #2 to a Loggerhead

A recovering green turtle, name for its green fat, not its outer colouring

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