Key West is our favorite place to spend the winter. Staying at the Sigsbee Island RV Park (part of Naval Air Station Key West) is a unique, fun-filled, and fulfilling experience. Every year we get to expand our circle of friends. We know more people there then we ever did in our old neighborhood!
The Naval Air Station had sustained considerable damage from Hurricane Irma and it took them until December 27th to open the park. For the first time they took reservations so they could phase the arrival of several hundred campers into the park. We arrived on December 31st. It was interesting to see the park so empty, but we knew it would only be a few days before it would be filling up quickly.
I renewed my duties as a volunteer docent on the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Museum Ship. I have been doing this since our second year in Key West. I enjoy showing people a ship that served our country for 52 years and is the most decorated Cutter in the Coast Guard.
We got involved in our military community quickly. The Key West Half-Marathon has been going on for twenty years. Our small community supports the race by manning two water points on the route. We have two team captains that have been organizing this for as long as anyone can remember – they do an excellent job of coordinating this effort. Unfortunately for the racers the weather was unseasonably cold with strong winds. Despite the weather, we still found it both fun and rewarding to perform this service.
Saturday, January 27th over 150 volunteers, many with canoes and kayaks, gathered at Big Pine Key to help in the continuing clean up from Hurricane Irma. We paddled up the canals and walked the streets collecting trash. In and near the canals we found complete decks and docks that had been tossed there by Hurricane Irma. We hauled coolers, sections of fence, and all kinds of trash (even a hot tub) from the canals. Boards from docks and decks were tossed into the canal and towed to collection points to be picked up by heavy equipment later. As bad as Key West was hit, the Middle Keys got clobbered. The clean up still continues today.
I also conducted my classes of Snorkeling 101 and Basic Wine Making. These are always fun to present and people seem to enjoy them. It’s a great joy to see someone who is not comfortable in the water discover the beauty of what is below the waves and begin to enjoy instead of fear the water.
The highlight of our stay was when our daughter, Elisabeth, came to visit. We toured parts of the island by bike, made SCUBA dives on the USAFS Vandenberg (sunk as an artificial reef) and in the Marine Sanctuary at Looe Key, kayaked at Geiger Key, and generally had a fun time together.
Our campground can often become “party central” and there were several parties at waterside campsites to watch the sunset, Karaoke Night at the Sunset Lounge, open mic night at the Geiger Key Marina, as well as a few theme parties like the “Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Party.” There was rarely a dull time at Sigsbee Island.
On February 28th we packed up and headed north to visit family near Tampa, FL.