Still Thankful….

I originally posted this blog two years ago in November of 2013 and our thoughts stay the same. Recently, so many things have taken over our blogging time and I regret that I have not updated this site as much as I would have preferred. Under normal circumstances, we would be bummed out. However, we’re more than blessed to have so much going on in our lives. So I’m reposting the blog (with a few adds).


The time of year has come where suddenly social media explodes with an influx of “thankful” posts and pictures and TV inundates us with commercials for turkey, Black Friday and Christmas. It’s a shame that big business has turned a trait that we should carry in our hearts 24/7 without even thinking it into worldwide commercialism. But that’s a topic for my other blog, “Things That are Wrong with America”.

Kidding, of course. But I think you get what I’m saying.

But never the less, this does happen to be the season where we talk about what we’re thankful for. I don’t want this post or topic to sound trite, so I had to dig deeper than the normal “I’m thankful for my family” mantra. Of course we are all thankful for our families. But what else are we thankful for? Truly thankful for?


I’m thankful for the readers of this blog and our followers on social media. You all really make doing this a worthwhile endeavor. We appreciate the emails and comments we receive when we make a post or drop a new blog entry. The Queen and I are purpose-driven people. When something we say or do makes an impact on peoples’ lives, it gives us purpose. Someone (you know who you are, and Thank You) said the other day that we “capture the soul of shelling“. That made us feel like a million bucks, because that’s exactly what we try to do and someone recognized it.


I think it goes without saying, but I am thankful to live in such an amazing place with a top notch climate. I have not seen snow in several years and hope to never see it again. Sub-zero weather? Bye Bye. Not to long ago, we had to take a trip North and spent some time in New York City (and more recently to Chicago to see our son, who is a Sailor serving and protecting our country in the greatest Navy in the world).


We bought coats. I don’t plan on ever wearing mine again. I love that I can wear shorts every single day of the year. I do not take that for granted. Ever.


I’m thankful that we’re literally 2-5 hours from a number of major beaches, including the beautiful Florida Keys. I’m so thankful that when I wake up on weekends, our major decision for the day is which beach to visit. I do not say that to rub it in to anyone’s face. Believe me, I have lived in the North so I feel your pain, Northern friends. But the ability to do this anytime I want:


That is true happiness and something I am VERY thankful for. We travel often, and I am thankful for the ability to do that and for a top shelf travel buddy (The Queen) who loves new adventures. We have a big cruise coming up in January and we are beyond excited (and so thankful).

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I’m thankful for the shell finds of my fellow shellers and bloggers. Yep, it’s true. Fellow shellers/bloggers like The Shellinator, The Shellady, Karen The Esssential Beachcomber, Captain Brian, Seashells and Salty Air, Gulf Coast Sea Breeze, Kim and Chablis from Snug Harbor Bay and others – some folks may think there is a rivalry or competition between us local shellers here but I assure you, there is not. Sure, there certainly is a “Dang, I wish I’da found that!”. But when fellow shellers text each other with our finds of the day, or ask, “Are we gonna see you and the Queen today?”, it tells me otherwise. Many of us are friends outside of the blogs. I am thankful for that.


I am thankful for the peace that passes all understanding. I find that for me, sunshine and warm weather bring me a peace that I didn’t feel when I was cold and the sun was hidden. I promise you, each time I am able to do this:


I do not forget to tell God, “thank you for this”.

I know I have made quite a few blog posts about what I am thankful for in the past and perhaps it may seem a bit redundant to read it again and again – but I am thankful. I know where I came from and to be where I am today (by the grace of God) is simply too fantastic to not be thankful for. I could make this blog ten pages long about what I am thankful for, believe that.


So I challenge you this Thanksgiving week – think hard when you dwell on what you are thankful for. It is easy to be thankful for your job, your home and your family. But just like searching for that buried keeper shell in the sand – dig deep and stay thankful this week.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, friends. God bless you all.

Snorkeling and Lobster (Kind of)


What a great time for a getaway. Between work, studying and more work, the Queen and I were more than ready to jump in the car and head somewhere stress-free. What better place than the Florida Keys? Or more specifically, Key West for the 2015 Lobsterfest.

We visited last year and had an absolute ball. You can read about last year’s trip here.



Last year we hit Pennekamp and did a snorkel trip prior to heading off for KW to fill our bellies. This year, we decided to stay a bit closer to KW, as the drive back to the hotel in the Upper Keys – after very hot weather and lobster – was brutal.

We stayed in Marathon this time (which is a wonderful area) and stopped by a quaint little spot known as Sombrero Beach.



Sombrero Beach is a smallish spot off the beaten path with a couple of rocky ledges that are good for snorkeling and clear water for swimming.


With all the rain Florida has gotten this year, I was sure the water would not be as clear and I was correct. However, murky for the Keys means you only get to see 15-20 feet in front of you as opposed to 50 feet. ;)

We nestled in under a big palm tree and hit the water for a couple of hours. Lots of fish and too many sea urchins to count, and quite a few ended up in the ol shell bag. I found this killer cone as well. He was occupied so he went back into the water. But dang! Look at the color of that shell! I thought it was mucky at first, but as I scraped I noticed that the color WAS the actual color. A camo cone shell. Definitely a first!



After swimming and snorkeling for a while, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower and nap and then enjoyed a nice dinner at the Island Fish Company…we enjoyed a wonderful view.


After dinner, we fed some parrot fish and relaxed in preparation for our big day in Key West.


The next morning, we got up, grabbed a bite of breakfast and headed to one of our favorite beaches anywhere – Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West.


It is a stunning beach with crystal clear, warm water. We visited here two years ago as a Florida Beaches Royalty Tour spot and were itching to come back. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it back last year, but the wait was worth it.


There has been a considerable change to the beach on the West side, as the formerly rocky shoreline has been replaced by soft, white sand. So what did I do? I went North and tore my feet up trying to snorkel what? The rocks. I snorkeled from about that ship almost all the way up to the point. However, a couple of barracuda I encountered along the way forced me out of the water. So I climbed out, strapped on the GoPro and we hit the water.

In the first pic on the page, you can see the Queen conch we found after about 2 minutes in the water. It’s a no-take park at FZ (and the shell was occupied) so back in the water it went. But a cool way to start off the snorkel.


So many fish to see in the water….and many of them too fast to get snapped on cam. Twice I was buzzed by large fish. Once by a HUGE jack and the other, a hogfish – which was very cool, but scared the crap outta me.

Like, I said. I tried to snap the hogfish (above), but he was just too dang fast. You can make him out if you look closely.

Notice anything in the bottom of the picture above?

Yep, one of these guys:


That’s a Caribbean Reef Squid.

I swam up on a little squad of these guys. They all took off except this one. He thought my GoPro was interesting, and he stopped to pose for a few shots. What a beautiful and amazing creature.

We hung out at Fort Zach for a couple of hours, showered off and made our way over to Duval Street for the festivities.


Boy, was it HOT.

Hot hot hot.

So hot, I needed to buy a hat before walking the main drag.



When it’s that hot, all we wanted to do was have a cold drink. But we came there for lobster.


So it was time to find some lobster.

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After walking the main drag, I settled on a Maine Lobster Roll…just like last year.



I was so thirsty that the Coors Light went down in two gulps.


Queenie got herself a Lobster Slider. Well, ok I had one too.


and we washed em down with a couple of SnoCones.

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We hung out for a little while longer until the heat was just too much. Good thing we packed up some cold drinks in a cooler.

We had a ball as we expected. There is just something about the Keys that screams “MOVE HERE BRO”.

Who knows? Maybe some day. Until then, we’ll just hafta keep coming back.


We sure don’t mind that.