Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Biggie Summer Trip! Part the Fourth...The End. : (

We have come to the end of our trip.  The last couple of days were spent doing not much of anything.  The day we left, we went out in the boat to Indian key, just off the Robbie's bridge.  We had to let a bunch of hermit crabs go(We love to go there so that's as good an excuse as any to go!).
Below is what a hermit crab looks like out of his shell:
wierd, huh?
There are tamarind trees on the island.  It is a tropical type of spice/fruit common in island cooking and Indian foods.  There is nothing that tastes like a tamarind, so it's hard to describe it.  Here is a site that tells a bit about the use of tamarind in cooking, but the wikipedia site has more info on the whole shebang.  I can assure you they are yummy, and here is Zman harvesting some for me to take home.
This is what the fruit looks like:
I used some when I made a pork roast and it was good!

After the harvest, we got into the water because it's VERY hot there in the summer.  Not a whole lot lof breeze makes it into the center of the island!  In the shallows on the eastern side of the island we had a little nature time.  We found some sargasso weed, and in those clumps, one can find all sorts of tiny marine life!  Here is a brine shrimp: he was striped and had little white dots on the end of his antenna. I wish you could see him better.
This is an egg sac. I emailed a marine site to find out what it is, I'll let you know when I find out what kind of sac it is.
These are bleeding tooth snails.  They are common in the Carribean.
Evidently you can eat them, according to this site here is how you do it:
"Rinse snail thoroughly before boiling. Boil in fresh water for three minutes. When shell cools, using a tiny straightened fish hook, remove the operculum, then the snail. Discard shell and operculum. Serve snail with your favorite sauce or dip in garlic butter." 
                                               Here's why they are called "bleeding tooth":
See?  It looks like little teeth that are bleeding!  This one has a snail in it so we put it back.  The hermit crab that we brought back as an 'exchange student' is in one and when it wants to change shells I get to keep it in exchange for a new one!  Then, next year, we will take the crab(her name is Houdini) back to her family.  (The story of Houdini is a whole story in itself that I will tell at a later date...)

This is a chiton, you can eat these too.  I think they would be good in a stew.

This is one of the views from the observation tower.  It is of the cisterns that used to hold fresh water reserves for the island.  There was a bit of a breeze up here, but the sun was brutal!
Looking down one of the "streets", it is the one that the hotel used to be on.

Poisonwood tree. It is better to look at this tree only-no climbing! 
Sadly, Zman and I must get back to Naples.  The little kids are waiting for us and we have used up every moment we could.
A parting shot of Indian key:
When we got back to the dock, there was a baby floating in the water, so we scooped it up to observe it.
It's called an Upsidedown jellyfish, or Mangrove jellyfish. It is a unique jellyfish, in that it produces it's own food by photosynthesis. Also some marine crabs carry these on their backs for protection!  They only usually only cause itching in humans, however if you disturb a colony of them they can swarm you and present quite a dangerous situation! (Jodi, do you remember swimming over hordes of those off of your dock when we were younger? little did we know...)

We said good bye to Jodi and the kids and headed on down the road, saying goodbye to all the spots along the way.  It's always such a sad drive leaving the keys.  The trip back was uneventful, but beautiful.  Another rain shower along the way and Zman looking wistfully at the canal alongside US41 wanting to fish.   

The post office at Ochopee, Fl.  One of the iconic scenes on US41.   

I love, love, love spending time with my cousin and her kids!  We always have such a special time together!  I'm glad she lives where she does now so we get to see each other more often!  And as it turns out, my cousin's husband grew up with another really good friend of mine!  So now we three girls get to have many adventures together, and we share this common bond.  How funny, the world is so small!
Love you Cuz!

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