Westward bound; the end of our chapters in the Keys…. ya, and the election….

Our beloved adventure mobile that we poured our hearts and souls into has moved to a new home. A wonderful couple originally from the Northeast, bought the Toyota as a shell with insulation and some of the interior wiring completed. The truck was complete and operational, so they packed her up and took her up to the Northeast to finish it to their liking. Karuna and I decided; finally, to move to Colorado. We have been wanting to move here, (Karuna to move back here), for a few years now. We were starting to make plans to make the move back in 2016, looking at a departure in 2017. Well, hurricane Irma nailed us, (story and photos earlier in the blog); and that put a large delay on plans. We decided that we would stay around and rebuild the business. We figured on a couple more years in the Keys and our company would be built up a bit and could be sold for a decent little nest egg to start our next venture out west. We had worked very hard for a solid and very tiring two years getting things in order, and better than ever. Just as we were approaching the time that we were gonna start marketing to sell the company, enter the pandemic. Needless to say, the pandemic removed all possibility of selling the business earnestly but we had to make a decision. Sit in the Keys and pay thousands in rents for our house and our shop while our income vanished; or call it a day, pack up the wagon and move on. We opted for the latter, and here we are in beautiful Colorado.

We sold the business for a song, and officially departed the Keys on the 30th of June, 2020. Two trips to move us and our belongings. As all else in 2020, it was a difficult and exhausting move. Our move consisted of our van breaking down and costing us thousands of dollars, two house purchase attempts falling through, having to rent a 32′ box truck and pull a trailer behind it across the country on the second run, and frantically hauling ass across the Northwest to avoid getting trapped with the forest fires. We were finally completely moved out here with all of our belongings in the middle of July. We then decided to travel around in our van for a bit which largely consisted of us being quarantined from most of society. Supply stops here and there, fuel stops, and the seldom take out food order. We traveled north from Colorado, and we visited Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona for a hot second, and New Mexico. Te pacific Northwest is where we started getting chased by the wildfires and we tried to travel south to Oregon to escape them. Didn’t work, and we ended up sitting on the coast in central Oregon under a veil of fog and smoke. We ran east and then south, finding some clear air in Nevada….. Devastating forest fires have wreaked havoc in the west this year; one of the worst years for forest fire destruction in a very very long time. We landed in Boulder in early September to spend time with family, regroup, re-imagine, and refine our next adventure plans. Well, we have been trying to do all of the above, but things have been a bit stressful with the election, the state of our democracy, and to witness so many people subscribing to this horrific excuse for a human who has been the president.

I am not a political person. I have never been interested in politics or really gave a care about who was president. This was a beautiful stance to have with all of this bs; and a true example of the adage that ignorance is bliss. I happen to know who the president is, what kind of person and business person he is, and frankly how ridiculously disgusting he is. I lived and operated a business in the Atlantic City area from the early 90’s until the mid 2000’s and I witnessed first hand his blatant disregard for paying his bills to small businesses for goods and services used at his several casinos. I watched people go out of business when he stiffed them by hiding behind bankruptcy court. When I saw that this clown was running for president, I laughed and thought; “there is no way that used car salesman will get elected”. I guess the joke was on me. Here we are four years later; and as we wait and watch for him to be dragged out of the Whitehouse on January 20th like a temper tantrum throwing baby, we continue to have to endure every last drop of the most vulgar, dishonest, horrible, being to have ever been the president of our country. What is even sadder and equally as concerning is that over 70 million people voted for this maniac. I get why they did the first time, (2016), as he spouted out well orchestrated bull shit by claiming that he was “one of us; a working guy tired of political bullshit.” He claimed he would lower our taxes, get us better healthcare, and low cost or free prescriptions. It sounded great to everyone that had no idea who he really is. He did lower taxes; if you are in the top 1% otherwise your taxes are now higher. He attempted to take away our healthcare in the middle of a pandemic that is much worse in our country as a direct result of his irresponsibility and lack of caring about anything other than money and power, and most everything else this clown has done has only destroyed, corrupted, demoralized, and eroded anything that was good or positive before he got involved with it. What blows my mind is that it just happened again. I don’t understand. I immediately realized that if someone voted for Trump this year, I don’t believe that we can ever be friends. This troubles me greatly but I have very good reason: (here are just a few):

Makes fun of a handicapped reporter, incites racial unrest, and racial violence, is a scumbag sexist (“grab her by the pussy”; just one of countless recorded incidents, has been impeached for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid and then obstructed the inquiry itself by telling his administration officials to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony, has caused tens of thousands of deaths from Covid 19 and his utter ignorance for the well being of our citizens, has undone countless environmental regulations that prevented companies from polluting water supplies with their waste products, fracking in wild life reserves, cruelly separating parents and children at our borders, getting rid of competent scientists that disagree with his fantasy world, complimenting and bragging about being friends with one of the most evil dictators on the planet, has illegally received millions of dollars from foreign governments, and now the election….. We have had enough from this piece of shit, and I hope that somehow we can all pick up the pieces and become Americans again. I hope that when the fountain of lies and bullshit is drug out of the white house, (and I so hope is thrown right into jail), that people will start to undo his ridiculous fairy tale conspiracy stories that only exist in the head of that pathetic little man. I could go on and on and on with reasons why this guy is so absolutely unfit, and so impossibly wrong to be our president but I have better ways to spend my life.

I’m sorry that politics have so deeply affected me and my life, but it is what it is. Lets pull together, rebuild again, and remember forever who we are and what we stand for.

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Hurricane Irma, Tales from the Lower Keys

Photo: Radar of Hurricane Irma making landfall over the Florida Keys. The red pin is our house on Cudjoe Key. Phone screenshot was taken from our evacuation site in Sebring.

The trip odometer read 6,965 miles when we pulled into our driveway on Cudjoe Key. It was Sunday. We had just returned from an epic road trip that included traveling to Wyoming to witness the solar eclipse. Three days later, we pulled out of our driveway as evacuees. We never imagined that our tiny Key would soon be infamous as the epicenter of one of the most powerful storms on record.

The eye made landfall over our house, and 12 hours later hurricane Irma centered her eye over our evacuation site in Sebring, Florida. The aftermath is an experience to behold: the largest evacuation in our country’s history, millions without power, a swath of destruction, and a coming together of kindness and resilience.

We were fortunate to be able to return just a few days after the hurricane had passed, reporting for local media. Over the coming days, we will post some of these experiences, and the tales of those we meet along the way, as well as recovery resources for those living in the Keys. If you’re interested, please follow the blog and feel free to contact us: karuna@quixotictravelguides.com and steve@quixotictravelguides.com.

 

Sand Key Lighthouse

Oct. 1, 2016: The Sand Key Lighthouse 7 miles off of Key West is often full of seabirds, including pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, cormorants and terns. The structure itself has been part of several amazing history tales, including an 1846 tragedy, when a hurricane obliterated it along with the keeper and his family. Today the snorkeling here is among the best in the Keys, thanks to its super-shallow structure and vibrant marine life. Often seen here is everything from sea turtles to parrotfish, barracuda to anglefish. Read about both in our Key West & the Lower Keys Travel Guide, available on amazon.com.

Rainbow to Nowhere

Sept. 24, 2016: We had spent  a good part of the afternoon outrunning building thunderheads and dark walls of rain. The little skiff went about 80 miles that day, keeping us safe yet in suspense through building waves, miles offshore. When we made the final turn for home, an ominous rainstorm blocked our path. We’re going to just have to go through this one and finally take our punishment, we thought, as we prepared our gear for a deluge. But as we drew closer, the storm rapidly broke up, welcoming us home with a rainbow to nowhere. Any weather bugs out there know anything about this phenomenon?

Great White Heron

Sept. 10, 2016: The great white heron is a homebody. Out of the whole world, they choose to only live in the Keys and parts of the Everglades. Nearing 5 feet tall with 7-foot wingspans, they are the largest of all herons. There is still some scientific debate as to whether they are just a color morph of the great blue heron, but many are leaning toward them being a separate species, in part because they are larger than the blues, don’t share their propensity to migrate thousands of miles, and as John James Audubon pointed out in the 1830s, have decidedly more pointed tempers, at least DSC_5290when forced into captivity. They can be distinguished from great white egrets by their yellow legs (egrets’ are black) and seen in the Keys wading and fishing near shallow-water mangroves, and especially in their namesake Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge.

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Sept. 17, 2016: Beautiful yet irritating, moon jellyfish live here year-round but increase in numbers as winds and currents usher them near the reefs and shore from late August to October. The part that stings are their tentacles, which are short, fortunately, and to most only leave a red, itchy-stingy splotch for a few hours. However inconvenient they may be to fall snorkeling, they are a primary food for the critically endangered leatherback and  other sea turtles,  sunfish and other fish including tuna. They are pretty chill creatures, literally just going where the flow takes them, but are a bit immodest — the clover-pattern in the center are actually its gonads. We saw this guy in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge west of town.