The Visitors: We have an open invitation to family and friends to come camp with us wherever we are, but with our continual movement and uncertain itinerary, it is difficult for people to make plans to see us on the road. Key West, however, is different: it’s reasonably close to a lot of our Florida people, it is a desirable location to visit, and we are there long enough to allow actual vacation planning.
We started off the season with The Nieves Clan spending a weekend with us, just as they have during our past FL Keys stays. Goddaughter Kai used to be able to sleep on the folded back driver’s seat of our first two motorhomes, leaving more room for the adults and older girls. But with everyone growing so fast we are quite thankful that our latest rig has easy sleeping accommodations for six, so its just a bit of a stretch to make four adults and three kids work out.
Dad and Stepmom Marcia came down in February to stay a few days as well. Marcia had not been to the FL Keys, so this was a great opportunity for us all to be together and for them to enjoy a new spot. They are full time RVers with their own rig, but because the Naval Air Station’s RV parks are full of retired and active military people during the winter we were unable to sponsor them here like we can in less popular military campgrounds, so they just drove the truck down and stayed with us in Serenity.
They also did something we have yet to do: they took the high speed ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park. It just was not in the budget for us to join them on that journey this year, but their absolute rave reviews convinced us it needs to be a priority next winter. And not just for a day trip, we look forward to doing what they did and staying overnight in a tent for the amazing stars, waves of nocturnal hermit crabs, and bioluminescent creatures in the fort’s mote.
Geocaching: Rosemarie and I have been geocaching for a few years, finding hundreds of caches in 43 states plus the UK so far, but we have never been out caching with other fanatics. The closest we ever came to that was a meet up with Ken and Ginny in Sanibel, fellow RVer’s who were at the time volunteers at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the owners of about a third of the caches on the Island.
Early in our latest stay at Key West, however, Bob from Michigan coordinated a meet and greet for all the fellow cachers staying at Sigsbee Park. We had about 20 people show up, some of whom we had met but did not know were cachers, some who were completely new to us, and even a couple of people who had never cached but came out of curiosity. The end result, aside from an enjoyable evening of trading stories, was a nascent group of, er, group cachers.
In the following months we would coordinate gatherings of thee to eight people exploring the lower keys cache environment. Man, geocaching is so different in groups! We took newbies Stan and Steve around, locking them into this new obsession. Rusty coordinated day long adventures as far as Big Pine Key, highlighted by our short hike out to the Rock House, a lower keys land mark.
And I managed to get my first ever “First To Find” cache after Bob led me through the process of setting up email alerts for new caches in anticipation of his new one on a mangrove island off Dredger Key. Once I got the email alert that the cache was up, I borrowed Bob’s kayak, toted it down to the water and paddled furiously the full mile to the island, smart phone barely responding to the demands of my wet fingers, wrapped as it was in a plastic bag, to secure the find.
We cached by car, van, bike, kayak, and foot all winter. For me the final result was an entirely “cleared” island, having found all 51 on Key West plus dozens more northward. We really look forward to more events like this next winter, and possibly even finding something along these group caching lines during our spring, summer, and fall travels.