Blogs from Keys, Florida, United States, North America


North America » United States » Florida » Keys February 10th 2019

Time to debark and add this marvelous cruise to our memory book. As in the song by Louis Armstrong “What A Wonderful World.” Everyone needs to gather in the Schooners Bar while we wait for our group to be called. Plan to get up early cause we are debarking at 7:50 AM. Yawn! And Yawn again! Whaaaaaat? Some delay caused us to linger in this bar (no drinking folks) until after 9:00AM. Yawn! More time to visit with fellow cruisers as we squirm and jiggle around. Found a fellow who looked just like my dentist, Dr.Simons. I approached him and said I knew his lost relative. He laughed but no relation. Sorry, Doc. Thought I found someone who would give you another Christmas present when that Holiday rolls around. Once the crowd got moving, it was ... read more
The bar where we waited to debark our ship
The African Queen Boat & Queen Sandy
African Queen

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West January 4th 2019

After spending spring at our East Coast home in Florida, we traveled up to Chattanooga for a LaGraff reunion and also to the Midwest for an Atkins family wedding and reunion in Minneapolis. After that it was on to Sausalito to spend several months on our West Coast home, our lovely boat, Mana. Happily this season’s hurricanes bypassed us in Florida and we missed the firestorms that plagued California all summer. We got back to Rotonda in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with sister Roberta and niece Cary. We haven’t been on a ship in eight months, so it seemed time to be looking seaward again. Regent beckoned with a short pre-Christmas Caribbean cruise to Cuba, Central America and Mexico. We drove over to Miami and joined Suzanne, our world cruising friend, for a nice evening before ... read more

North America » United States » Florida » Keys November 22nd 2018

On Tuesday morning our trusty taxi driver from yesterday was at our apartment to pick us up at 10am. He drove us to the Hire car hub at Miami Airport. He told us he was originally from Sudan and gave us all sorts of information about how to get into and out of the airport. He was very efficient and we were glad to have had his help. Once we had collected our car, a Yarris, we headed out to drive to the Keys. On paper it was simple but finding our way from the airport to Highway 1 proved rather troublesome. It was my fault as I was trying to read the map and thought we were headed in the wrong direction when we were on the right road. Eventually we sorted it out and ... read more
Colleen at Will's Bar
Mary Ellen's Bar
Lighthouse across the street from the Hemingway House

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West October 24th 2018

In our cabin mailbox arrived a warning notice: our port call at Key West would be during the annual Fantasy Fest. Passengers were cautioned they might see some outrageous things ashore! Carnival Paradise docked at the Key West Naval Pier. It is the pier of the former Key West Naval Station and still remains on Naval property. In the basin, special operations forces were swimming in full combat gear getting ready for their 24-hour endurance swim. Shuttle busses were required to transport passengers from the ship through the Naval installation and to downtown Key West. There are a number of attractions at key West. Of course, I wanted to see the Southernmost Point marker. But there are also the Truman White House and Ernest Hemingway house. The bus left us off at Mallory Square. There we ... read more
Arriving at Key West
Sponge Man
Mallory Square

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key Largo May 24th 2018

Today was a cool & casual 50 mile bike ride from Marathon to Key Largo. We woke up around 5:15 again and want through our usual packing up & getting dressed and ready for the day. It’s fun as an alum to see the new riders adjusting to waking up & getting their stuff together—there’s definitely a learning curve and though I try to give some tips to help them prep the night before, they still insist on waking up earlier than necessary to get ready for the day. This morning we had cake for breakfast with a side of coffee with peanut butter creamer (again!). We had our route meeting and our hosts Sue & Tom got us fired up! Tom cheered “Bike! Bike! Build! Build! Riding North is the way we go!” It was ... read more
Helmet Hair & Gas Stations FTW!
Birthday Girl’s dirt tan line
The group headed to Annie’s Birthday celebration

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West May 23rd 2018

IT’S WHEEL DIP DAY!!! This morning we woke around 5:15 to start getting ready for the day and our wheel dip! We packed up our bags, ate breakfast (apple pie with a side of apple? Why not!), filled the coolers (trying to make you proud on Cooler Crew Tay 😘), and cleaned the host. Since it was our host for leader & rider orientation and 3 stories, we had quite the mess to clean up and make it look better than how we found it. Eventually we got downstairs and had our route meeting and town facts for Marathon. I did our NC2SD14 cheer to get the team fired up and ready for our first official ride! They finally got to experience Rally Aly and why that’s (one of) my nicknames. My crew rolled out and ... read more
So pumped I made it here!
Fun group shot :)
The helmet hair is REAL!!

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West May 22nd 2018

Today we woke up at 6am and got all of our stuff together as if it was a real ride day. We ate a hodgepodge of fixings and then Aiden sat down and thanked me for sharing about why I am on Bike & Build (decided to do it after losing my dad) and we had a great discussion. He lost his mom in March too (cancer) so we were able to chat (and hold back tears!) about this, unfortunately, shared experience. We then had a bike maintence presentation from Ryan. We broke up into small groups and practiced changing a flat (holla for other groups changing my new tires!). After that we got our bikes ready and put them in the trailer so we could shuttle to a larger parking lot to go over safety ... read more
Southern Most Point!
Ride crew for the day
Team values

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West May 21st 2018

Today we had our first build day!! Apparently all the routes now have build days during orientation, which I LOVE, since we didn’t get to do that in the Outerbanks the last time. It’s a really great way to learn more about the city where your trip ends, the affordable housing need there, and get to know the locals. Today after breakfast of a banana and a plain croissant (sorry Tay! though Noah had his dipped in peanut butter and said “get yourself a croissant who can do both”—inside joke with some of the NC2SD14 girls, lol), we eventually got shuttles to the build site on Big Pine Key. On the way I got recruited to be the first operator of the official Bike & Build Snapchat, so I Hagan snapping videos of the beach, interviewing ... read more
Us with Dell (left) and Habitat Manager Dan (right) outside Dell’s home in Big Pine Key
Palm trees and safety triangles

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Key West May 20th 2018

Hey all! I MADE IT TO KEY WEST!!! First of all—thank you all so much for supporting and encouraging me to do this trip! I feel honored to be here and could not have done it without you! Today’s wake up call was at 3am (after not going to bed until after midnight 😬) since I had a 5:50am flight and still had stuff to get ready. Moving all my belongings into the attic and cleaning was a tiring process in top tying to see everyone and making sure I had everything I needed. Mom picked me up at 4:15 as I was prepping my necklace for Dad. I’m going to ride with a necklace in with some of his ashes in it since he talked about us doing a trip together! Well, now we can! ... read more

North America » United States » Florida » Keys » Marathon April 9th 2018

Hello to all my travel-following friends. Sorry for the lengthy delay of posting. The last posting indicated we were staging for the Bahamas. Unfortunately, the weather did not seem like it was conducive for us to head there. The forecast indicated there were more northerly fronts coming down and we did not want to be hopping around trying to find a safe anchorage. We continued to stay in Key Largo and move around there until the weather settled a little more. Once that happened, we headed south (then west into the Keys), which is where we have decided to stay for a little while. Life has been good and relaxing. We are getting more and more comfortable aboard the boat. Sailing is a bit different on this boat because she travels much faster and sails much ... read more

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