Saturday: December 27, 2014
Happy anniversary to us!
On the way to Key West from Key Largo, we saw a key deer! That was a nice starter for our trip considering all the panthers I was trying to see in the Everglades because of the “panther crossing: next 5 miles” signs. Also in one of the Keys, the island of Islamorada more specifically, we saw a giant mermaid. I squealed and squealed but we didn’t have time to stop on the way there. (We did manage to get the photo on the way back, even in the dark!)
Our day spent in Key West was most definitely the best day and we had the most fun. I kid you, if I were to choose one of these locations to go back to, it would be Key West, Florida. It was gorgeous and I say this with the utmost emphasis. Our first stop was exploring the sculpture garden near the marina. There are some interesting things that go on here. I wanted to create the hashtag #crazyinKeyWest about eight times if I even used hashtags. Hubby, being the clown that he is, made some photo ops interesting, and even put his shoe on a statue with a missing shoe. (Fortunately, they were wearing the same shoes.)
Then we walked a few blocks down to see visit the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. There were butterflies fluttering everywhere, just gracefully floating in and out of people’s hair. I couldn’t believe it when I heard hubby yelling my name from where I was standing trying to take a photograph of everything, just to look over and find him standing there with a butterfly that landed on him. They weren’t exactly moving slow enough to land on anyone so it was a lovely graceful surprise. He carried it around on his belly until a leaf fell and scared it away.
A butterfly came close to landing on me while we walked along the path paved with luscious plants, plates of nectar and fruit, gazebos, and waterfalls with flamingos and small chicks. There were butterflies of all variations zooming in and out of trees, in the faces of the eyes gazing at them, and one even almost flew right in my face. I had to jump back because it startled me as I was snapping a close-up photograph. My favorite of the butterflies whizzing by were the morpho menelaus, or as I liked to call them, “the blue butterfly”. They were so beautiful but no one ever tells you how hard it is to take a photo of a butterfly.
Once we left, we were given small souvenirs and I was delighted with joy. They were just stickers but it was my favorite of the butterflies and I have something unique to put in my scrapbook! We hurried back toward the marina to catch the second departure of the snorkeling trip. We didn’t realize Key Largo and Key West were so far apart, so we missed our morning snorkel trip by minutes. We would have been on time if it hadn’t been for the parking.
We boarded a catamaran boat to head seven or so miles out to sea to the only living reef in North America and the third largest in the world at that. I again marveled at the color of the water. The further south you go, the more blue the water gets. It looked like ice blue Kool Aid. It was breathtaking. The ocean is my home so you can only imagine my heart beating out of my chest with admiration. The trip there was about an hour and we enjoyed complimentary drinks and listened to tropical music on the sun deck with each other.
Once we arrived, we loaded our equipment, and ascended down the “stairs to the sea” into the cold water of the ocean. The initial shock was “whoa, this is too cold and the waves are fierce. Are you thirsty? I bet you’re thirsty, drink all the saltwater you can!!!” That part wasn’t fun but once I got acclimated it was fine. Hubby headed back to the boat a little earlier than I did but I got my fill and went back, too. We both swam over to the large reefs and just floated trying to take in everything but water.
I saw large blue fish, the famous Dory fish, and other smaller schools just floating around me. I saw the coral swaying back and forth softly with every wave that went by and I even got pictures with my underwater camera. I have to get those developed but those will be added to the post once they do get developed.
The hour trip back was full of complimentary wine, beer, and margaritas. Somehow I managed to have more margaritas than I planned on and caught too many rays thus equaling a combined effort to leave me very loopy and quite possibly very drunk for the walk back to the car to change and prepare for our next adventure of the day.
The whole walk to the Ernest Hemingway house and Museum, we found many chickens. As there are scattered dogs in Miami, there are chickens everywhere in Key West.
I clumsily wandered through the wonderful author’s estate, gazing at his belongings, seeing his old literature, and reading cases full of his writings and scattered photographs of him. My favorite was staggering around his beautiful yard petting all the Hemingway cats that have taken up permanent residence there.
They even had their own Hemingway house! I loved this part because we used to have a Hemingway, or poly-dactyl six-toed cat, named Hemingway. We pet them and it was the happiest moment of the day.
By the time we finished, we went to the Southernmost point tip of the continental United States to watch the sunset. Cuba is only 90 miles from this point and it is all water from there. It is definitely a spot to stop at. It was absolutely beautiful and we sat there holding each other on our anniversary day. I even managed to steal a few sunset kisses. The sunset in Key West is seriously a staple to be at; it is so spectacular that so many people gather across the ridge of the islands just to watch.
When it finally got dark and we managed to escape the tourist lines, we decided to grab a bite to eat. It was time for the anniversary dinner finally and we were starving. We ran all the way from there to Duval street to get to Sloppy Joe’s and encountered some crazy things while doing so. I saw Darth Vader and another key incident which I will write about some other time, but refer back to #crazyinkeywest I mentioned earlier. It will fall there in that category. By the time we made it, it was so packed and we were way too hungry to wait so we walked back to the car and I told hubby to find a place and surprise me.
He started driving and the secret was kept until we made it there. The reservation he made could not have been any better. He picked a place called “Tavern N’Town”. It was a very high-class restaurant attached to a nice hotel. When we arrived, we were seated at an adorable table-for-two revealing wine glasses for our choosing, and we were given fresh bread and butter to hold us over until our delectable main course came. I went with a bubbly champagne from Napa Valley and my love went with a Stone IPA. For our meal, hubby went with a full Tavern pizza which was made for a king, and I went with scallops and shrimp with yams, and vegetables. Both were so very delicious and I had never tasted anything like it before. As we kindly urged that we were stuffed and had no room for desserts, we waited for our check for a few minutes longer.
When our server, Maryna, came back, instead of giving us a bill, she handed us a plate decorated so beautifully with “happy anniversary” written in chocolate syrup with strawberries and more syrup, with a slice of key lime pie. We were so thankful for her and her service as it was so thoughtful and so amazing, that we wanted to take a picture of her to note an amazing person and never forget this experience. Her kind doings along with having key lime pie in Key West finished the night on such a wonderful note.
We headed back to the campsite and again the woman at the counter was so kind to just finish our business over the phone and leave our papers in the mailbox, so we could finish our paperwork there. This time we didn’t feel like setting up the tent again, so we put the seats down in our car and made up a lot of blankets and just slept in the back of our car. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too uncomfortable and still felt like camping, haha.