John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
217Trip End Ongoing
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One nights stay at Walmarts in Florida City left us refreshed and ready for adventure at John Pennekamp!! We arrived around 12 noon to 30 mile an hour winds.......no dive boats going out today!!!
We booked spots on the glass bottomed boat to go out and view the reef that's 6 miles offshore. Just before we boarded, the first mate told us that the group that went out in the morning had some trouble with seasickness and that we could all buy Dramamine (for motion sickness) on board. As we entered the cabin, the dude behind the snackbar said "today is the day for Dramamine, I almost took some myself". Clearly....this was not a good sign.
With that warning, I took 2 and Jodie decided to pass. Years ago, I got seasick while out on an overnight tuna trip (the beer may have had something to do with it) and I have no desire to do that again.
Everything was good and the sea was pretty flat until we got out beyond the shallow water. Then the waves started to roll and the wind from our port side started rocking us about 5 feet from side to side. No problem, most of us were on deck and enjoying the hot sun and sea spray. Then it got even rougher and we got to the reef for our first look through the glass bottom. Now here's the problem, when you are in rocking seas the best way that I know to keep your stomach "cool" is to look at the horizon. But everybody is now supposed to look down, through the glass at some very bouncy, moving, churning view of agitated water, swirling fish and swaying soft coral...not a good idea.
After a few minutes of pretty uninspiring viewing (that was bringing on a queezy feeling), I asked Jodie if she'd like to go up onto the deck? She agreed, since she too was feeling a slight bit uncomfortable. When we got up there we realized how many people had gone up ahead of us. About 1/4 of them were getting sick and the rest didn't look too good either. We tried to avoid looking at the developing scene around us and then it happened...the rest of the people that were down below ALL came up onto the deck. It all happened the way the character named Lard Ass from the movie Stand By Me had planned it out. It was, in the author's words, "a barfarama". Apparently, a little girl had lost it on the "glass bottom" of the boat and that did it to everyone else. Sort of a chain reaction.
As gross and uncomfortable as the whole affair was, Jodie and I were spared from joining the ranks of the sick. Sadly, the people who did get sick and the dozen or so kids that got traumatized by their experience, didn't have to go through it at all. The decision of the boat owners to put people through the trip disregarded the discomfort of the passengers as well as ignored that fact that the visibility was very poor and not worth experiencing.
When we pulled into the dock I went over to the people in line for the next trip and warned them that many of us had gotten sick and that the view through the glass was not worth it. They had been told that the tickets were non-refundable and that the condition of the sea was posted by the ticket counter. Too bad when business decisions to make money come ahead of caring about the customer.
Rode our bikes to the beach, did some snorkling, swimming and walking around the campground. Rode out of the park and down the side streets off of the Overseas Highway where we checked out the local homes.
Went to a ranger program on Flamingos and Jodie won a native plant called a Yellow Top, which she later planted in the area between our site and the next one over.
As we were having our morning coffee, I noticed a man walking up to our door....good God...it was our friend Dick Diuguid from Myakka River State Park. What a terrific surprise! He and Dolly were camping further down into the Keys and when they realized from our calendar that we were all near each other, they drove over for a visit. We went out to an art show and then they took us out for a delicious lunch at a Chinese place.
They shared excellent stories (as usual), including one where Dick was an alibi for a bank robber and the detail that "locked it" was the nectarine he was given by the accused. Dick had never seen nor heard of a nectarine back then and he referred to it as a "slick peach". He also told us a scary story about getting caught in a rip tide down at Bahi Honda last year. The experience was so bad that he had to be hospitalized in Marathon Key and then moved to Miami for a couple of days. Thank God it all worked out and Dick is OK. The world is a much better place with Dick in it.