Memorial Day History, How It Began

Happy Memorial Day to ALL of you from the entire gang at ‘365 Things To Do In The Florida Keys’… OK, the TWO of us! :-)

This is an Educational EXTRA! :-) (today’s Keys blog will be later) Enjoy and please pay respect to all those who’ve giving us our freedom that we as Americans are so proud of.

Here’s how the tradition started: Memorial Day began with families wanting to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. Over the years it’s evolved in observing all American soldiers of all wars. First called Decoration Day — so named because families decorated graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The idea came from Henry Welles, a druggist in Waterloo, New York. The holiday’s name was changed to Memorial Day in 1882. Nearly a century later in 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared the day a federal holiday.

And now you know the rest of the story! :-) 

I want to personally thank my stepson David Moore currently serving his country in the U.S. Army on his third tour of duty in Germany with prior service in both Iraq & Korea. I’m so proud of you David!

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‘Christ Of The Deep’ Church Mosaic

Though not technically a mosaic, this tiled masterpiece rivals many I’ve seen. With this being located on the side of a church, you might be wrong in assuming what it’s an image of!

At first glance it appears to be Jesus with his hands raised towards his father’s sky. Look past its obvious image of Jesus to these inconsistencies: 1) Notice that he’s standing on a square platform; 2) To the right is what appears to be a bush but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it’s indeed a coral; 3) Combining the remaining blurred background and the wavy looking clouds it slowly begins to come in focus. What you first thought was a common portrait of Jesus on a mountain is actually a real-life underwater wonder located just off the coast of Key Largo called ‘Christ Of The Deep’. This artist’s rendition of ‘Christ Of The Deep’ is as inspiring as I’ve ever seen!

Simply put, the ‘Christ Of The Deep’ is a statue of Jesus Christ submerged under water about 8 miles off shore from the John Pennekamp Park here in Key Largo.

You can find this incredible artist’s tiled masterpiece of ‘Christ Of The Deep’ on display in an outside garden at St. Justin the Martyr Catholic Church at Mile Marker 105.5 bayside in Key Largo.

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Does Your Public Library Have A BEACH? This One Does!

Does your local public library have a beach? Believe it or not this one has a park and beach!

I can only wonder how much of a better reader I’d be if when growing up my mom would’ve said: “Come on kids grab your swimming suit we’re going to the library!” :-) I can see it now, on a blistering hot day outside strolling through the A/C cooled racks of Dewey decimal system lined books picking out one with lots of pictures and large print and heading out to the beach behind the building! Too cool!

The Monroe County Public Library is on US-1 at Mile Marker 81.5 bayside. The beach is located behind the two library buildings. PS – Remember to bring your library card! :-)


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Dancing With The Stars… Maybe Not, Tango Lessons Yes!

Granted these dancers are not Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy, current Dancing With The Stars champions, I wandered upon some teenagers who may very well be on their way to finding a love for dancing.

Here at Key Haven Park just north of Key West I stumbled on Tango lessons in progress. It appeared to be an organized function with the instructor in red  (without a partner) showing her students the correct next step. Well… that is except the couple on the far right that are in disagreement on who should be leading… or is she simply saying “Quit stepping on my feet!” :-)

These future ‘Dancing With The Stars’ wannabees were having a great time as I watch them practice with camera in hand. Having been around dancers myself for the last 20+ years, it was easy to pick out the Tango beat of music. If these guys had any idea how much women like men that dance I assure you they’d keep on practicing! It’s true guys, I tell you no lies, I met my wife while dancing! Any form of dancing included whether it be: East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Cha-Cha, Waltz, 2-Step, Line Dance, or any of the many other styles of Ballroom such as Tango.

You can find this neighborhood park near Mile Marker 5.3 bayside by turning onto Key Haven Road. Timing your visit as they’re having Tango lessons on the other hand is a lot harder than finding the park! :-) Either way, the park backs up to a canal and has your standard playground equipment along with a covered pavilion and basketball court that doubles as a dance floor! :-)

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Time To Be Schooled On Murals!

IMG_1616Yet another beautiful mural found in the Florida Keys, its location though may surprise you!

Most all of the murals throughout the entire Keys are painted on businesses of all kinds including a K-Mart, scuba dive shops, veterinary clinic, restaurants, boat storage facility, tourist information centers, and many other privately run businesses. This however is none of the above, this my friends is found on a government funded high school! Yes mi amigos, Marathon High School proudly displays this beautifully painted mural upon their front wall for all to see. So kudos for being different Marathon High, you fit right into the Florida Keys laidback unique take on life!

You can find this schoolhouse mural at Mile Marker 50.1 on US-1 oceanside. Turn onto Sombrero Beach Road heading down about .9 tenths of a mile where you’ll see it on the left.

OK, here’s common sense rule # 101 :-) that states: Since being a school, you should plan your visit for either before or after what would be considered regular school hours or on a weekend.


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Garden -or- Cemetery?

IMG_0209Though from a distance it looks like a pet cemetery, I assure you it’s NOT! Upon closer inspection it turns out to be the only one of its kind I’ve seen in the Florida Keys! It’s actually a local seafood restaurant’s own herb garden. Now how’s that for FRESH! “I’ll have the blackened Mahi-Mahi garnished with some of those weeds I saw in your garden outside!” :-) OK, they wouldn’t appreciate that too much!

So, I ask you my loyal readers, “Does your local seafood restaurant have its own herb garden?”… I bet 99.9% of you answered with a resounding “No!”. Well this one does and that makes it unique enough to be Florida Keys blog-worthy… besides, “IT LOOKS LIKE A PET CEMETERY!”. :-)

You can find this stand-alone herb garden at Snapper’s restaurant at Mile Marker 94.8 oceanside. Turn onto Ocean View Boulevard driving about 1/4 mile to Seaside Avenue where you’ll see the restaurant directly in front of you. Parking is FREE and so are the astounding views from their back BAR! :-)


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Going Down The Lazy River

7175550312_1c5eca7f8f_bWhether it’s kayaking or canoeing you’re into really doesn’t matter because this place has them both!

Seen in the featured photo is another photo, not quite sure where it is… but I know it’s not of the Florida Keys since we don’t have any mountains! :-) In the picture below, the colored canoes & kayaks make a great rainbow-type photo with someone from your group kneeling beside or behind them. I didn’t get the exact price to rent either but assure you all they’re not free. :-)

You can find these kayaks & canoes and other day-long activities all over the John Pennekamp State Park on US-1 at Mile Marker 102.3 oceanside across the street from the Scooby-Doo Castle. The park does change an entrance fee per car’s occupants… if I recall, maybe the $3 to $4 range. The park is so well worth the price, bring a picnic and make a day of it, there’s that much here to do!


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