4-24-11 – J. Dinsmore
This morning at 7 AM a small group of scouts, led by Messrs. Ortiz and Dinsmore, met in the Hyde Park UMC parking lot to set sail for Florida Sea Base on Lower Matecumbe Key in the Florida Keys. During the week the crew will participate in the Florida Keys Adventure Program. Stay tuned to hear more about the week's activities.
You can also track our crew's physical location via SPOT, our recently acquired GPS transponder that sends a signal periodically for you to follow on the internet. Just click on the following link to see their location updates:
The SPOT password is: herewegoagain
PS – Peeps and Gatorade appear to have been on the menu… the Breakfast of Champions!
4-26-11 – J. Dinsmore
This morning dawned with blue skies, a few light clouds, and a gentle breeze. We’re glad for the opportunity to spend a week at this great camp. The staff here is first rate, with lots of energy and excitement and they work hard to convey that excitement to others.
Yesterday was spent sailing in the Atlantic. We had great, gusty winds that sped our 30′ Morgan along, slicing through the deep blue water. Garrett even found a salt water rod & reel and trolled as we went along. Though he only caught sea weed, we did see a sea turtle in the deep water of the Atlantic.
We then headed to Looe Key for some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever seen. Yellow tail in abundance, plus a large Goliath Grouper, a small barracuda, and thousands of tropical fish of every size, shape and color. Some of the boys even saw a tarpon! Our captain was a skilled sailor who took pains to teach the boys about sailing. Each Scout piloted the boat, with Garrett navigating the channel all the way back to Sea Base!
As if that weren’t enough to fill a day, we went for a night kayaking trip out into the Gulf. Under a night sky full of stars and the occasional satellite, we watched bioluminescent critters float buy on the current.
It was a great day that did include down time for boys and leaders alike. Today, we head to Key West, a short 25 miles away. We will stay for their famous Sundown Festival at Mallory Square before returning to base.
Wishing you many bright spots in your day!
Yours is Scouting,
4-27-11 – J. Dinsmore
Yesterday, we took a break from water-based activities and our leave of the Brinton Environmental at Sea Base and headed out for a different kind of adventure – Key West! Both Keys Adventure crews (one from Nebraska and our's) piled into vans and drove into Key West.
Mr. Ortiz, having had enough fun, drove to the airport and swapped places with Mr. Gadsby. Seriously, Mr. O has a business meeting today in Tampa and Mr. G agreed to meet us in the Keys to facilitate that. After trying to arrange a private tour of a Coast Guard cutter, we found each other at the Eco-Center and Jay joined us.
We toured Fort Zachary Taylor, which saw action in the Spanish-American War. The design of the fort was similar to Fort DeSoto on Egmont Key. After this stop, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on a wind-swept public beach next to the fort.
We visited the southernmost point in the U.S. and joined the queue for a photograph of our crew. Then, after a driving tour of the city, Kristin, our Sea Base Mate, dropped us at the cemetery for a brief visit. Among the estimated 15,000 souls interred there are the remains of the sailors of the U.S.S. Maine, killed by an explosion in Havana harbor in 1898.
From the cemetery, we headed into central Key West and wandered up and down Duval Street, visiting many shops and stores. Mr. Gadsby treated the crew to milk shakes and the guys drank water constantly to combat the heat.
One particularly popular stop was the bamboo clothing store. Most everyone in the crew bought a shirt of some kind. Not sure if it was the fabric or the salesperson, but the fair Rebecca was mentioned more than once after we left the store.
Dinner was at the world-renowned Sloppy Joe's, then we headed over to Mallory Square for their famous Sunset Festival. Our own Calum was drafted to be a part of Dr. Juice's Traveling Gymnastics Show, holding the hoola-hoop above Chloe, another “volunteer” while Dr. Juice lept through the hoop. All in all, it was a memorable day.
One thing's for sure – there's more to come!
4-28-11 – J. Dinsmore
Yesterday was another “wet” day. After flag ceremony and breakfast, we joined the other Keys Adventure crew and headed back to Looe Key. With a bried stop at MUNSON (ask you son) to pick up the Out Island crew, we then boated to one of the best coral reefs in the world. Looe Key is named for the British ship that ran aground there and the reef that did the damage is spectacular! Besides hundreds od Yellow Tail and Sergeant Majors, there's a huge array of tropical fish. High points were a tarpon, several barracuda and a Spotted Eagle Ray.
While anchored there, we also participated in several aquatic games, including some diving games and fender rodeo. Calum was the best of our crew, managing to stay on the bobbing fender for several seconds! Noah made a commendable effort as well. After returning to the Brinton Center, we boarded a base van for the short ride to Bahia Honda State Park on the Atlantic side. A pristine Florida beach, it's one of the nicest I've ever been to. After returning to base for dinner, the crew did a bit of night fishing on a nearby bridge. Several boys landed Mangrove snapper and Calum had a Bonnet shark on line. It was a great end to another day at Sea Base. Today begins with more fishing, then to MUNSON (ask your son) for our Out Island Adventure. No electronics – not even watches – are permitted. See you when we're plugged back into the grid!
4-29-11 – J. Dinsmore
This morning dawned bright and warm on MUNSON! (ask your son) Island. The favorable breezes from yesterday were gone and it was a battle to stay cool and hydrated.
To digress for a moment, when we left Sea Base yesterday, we headed out into the Atlantic for some fishing. First, we tried our hand at trolling, followed by some reef fishing. All of our Scouts joined in the fray, with Robbie landing the largest fish, a 30″ Mahi Mahi. In addition, we landed Spanish Mackerel, Grunts and others. The several types of grouper were thrown back because they are out of season.
Once we retrieved our dinner from the sea, we headed to MUNSON! (ask your son) Island for our Out Island Adventure. We put our gear in tents already pitched by staff and set about preparing dinner. Once dinner was eaten and cleaned up, we were treated to a visit from the Crab King at a campfire. I'd like to tell you what time we retired, but since we were prohibited from taking watches to the island, all I can tell you is it was well dark!
This morning, we arose and began our kayak tour of MUNSON! (You know the drill – ask your son). This included several team-building exercises involving finding our way through the mangrove swamp that covers parts of the island.
We returned to camp for a breakfast of pancakes & spam (the non-electronic kind). Then to help out Sea Base, we took down and folded our tents and dining fly – - this is the last week of Sea Base for a month, so they pulled all the gear off the island. We then took a walking tour of the island and returned to camp for lunch. Once that was done, we waited for the boat to ferry us back to base.
Tonight, our week concluded with a luau and skit night. We are largely packed and our room and bathroom have been cleaned by your sons. We leave after breakfast tomorrow for the return drive to Tampa. You can plot our progress from the troop's SPOT GPS transmitter from the link provided by Mr. Gadsby earlier in the week.
See you tomorrow!
Yours in Scouting,