Here in the second section of our travel diary, we are headed
off to the Florida Keys. We’ve already experienced some fantastic
moments on this trip… but the surprises are just beginning.
Four ~ Tuesday, May 5, 2009
would be hard for any vacation to top the experiences of Monday,
May 4th. It started out with alligators and an airboat. It included
one of the best meals you could ever hope to enjoy. And it concluded
with a beautiful sunset stroll along the beach.
great stuff. Kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive,
and special to have lived and shared those moments.
morning we find that perfection is going to keep rolling for just
a bit longer… fruit salad for breakfast (and Richard in heaven)
followed by a drive, with some special stops involved, all the
way to Key West. Yup… another memorable day was ready to begin.
been playing around with the radio on this trip. We have a satellite
system… Sirius, which I’ll mention because I have no idea about
merger dates or anything else that is going on with satellite
radio… and we can’t agree on a station. But so far the driving
has been giving us fits when it comes to regular radio, since
many channels fade out of range into static, and we’re trying
to find a few options we all like.
has settled on music of the 70s, which seems to be getting a mostly
positive review from the group… but every so often a song begins
and I feel like sticking an ice pick into something. As far as
the driver is concerned, we’re going to need to work on this.
first stop is around Mile Marker 79… at Robbie’s.
here to feed the tarpon… and, apparently Terry is here to ignore
the signs and feed the pelicans too. (Unless that’s illegal, in
which case she only fed the tarpon.)
you haven’t had the experience, and find yourself traveling along
Route 1 with a few minutes to spend, then by all means… stop.
It’s quite the show.
of us has a bucket for the tarpon and we’re headed out to the
dock. After spending a few minutes with the fish, I look up and
can’t possibly be.
most annoying woman in the world and her party of four have arrived.
Apparently they’ve recovered from whatever illness was plaguing
three of them and are enjoying their day.
nudge Tigg and motion in their direction. She looks up… appears
to want to say “no way”… and instead sits there with a dazed look
on her face. Finally she asks me if the pelicans would attack
if she tossed a fish in their direction. I respond by saying a
better idea would be to push the woman off the dock, drop the
remaining contents from our buckets into the water around her
and let the tarpon have some fun.
of doing either we chuckle and make our way back to the shore.
more than thirty minutes away, we arrive at the Dolphin Research
Center. Unbeknownst to Ellen and Richard… but knownst to us… we
have plans for this place on Wednesday. We’re stopping now to
meet up with Ellen’s friend Nancy and spend some time on the property.
DRC is no stranger to Terry and I. While we haven’t been here
in just over 12 years, it was part of our first major vacation
together… the one we got engaged during… with Jay and Justin back
in 1997. Back then, knowing we were heading to the Keys and that
I had been swimming with dolphins before, Terry asked me to find
something the boys could do. With Justin having just turned 7,
the DRC was the only one of two locations in the Florida Keys
that would allow him to participate. You couldn’t have removed
the smiles from the boys faces with a chisel and dynamite after
that experience. In fact… it took a trip to Australia to top it
then we swam with Santini and Aleta… both still residents here
at the DRC.
wandered around the complex, stopping for about twenty minutes
to watch a show and some of a dolphin experience that was taking
place. Then we headed into the gift store to do some shopping,
and eventually took off for lunch.
taking Nancy’s recommendation and heading to The
Square Grouper. But, something funny happened
along the way. No-no… fresh off of her one night show in Fort
Lauderdale… is back.
still traveling along the Overseas Highway on our way to Key West.
We’re all smiling and laughing… having a grand old time. In fact,
Terry turns and looks at Ellen… it should be noted that to say
Ellen loves the Florida Keys doesn’t do justice to her love of
them… and says that we’d be willing to stay an extra night if
she and Richard want to. Ellen smiles and nods, and we get back
to our conversation.
is looking for a delicatessen. She’s describing it… telling us
we should be coming up to it… and looking to the right side of
the road. Terry is giving her the most help. Richard and I… on
the left side of the car… are trying to assist, but we’re also
watching the road and looking for The Square Grouper, which is
supposedly on our side of the road. We reach our lunch destination
hard to explain why I spotted The Square Grouper. And I say that
simply because it’s hard to spot. This isn’t a building that looks
like a restaurant, and it doesn’t have a sign that can be easily
spotted from miles away. Instead, I had the address, knew we were
getting close, and suddenly… yup, that’s it.
the way… that would be 22658 Overseas Highway on Cudjoe Key. It’s
around mile marker 22.5.)
menu is a strange collection. We’re looking over the offerings
for lunch, and when I say strange that probably isn’t the right
word. It’s absolutely appealing and sounds delicious, but this
is not a menu designed to cater to a massive audience…
to the web site… check out the menu… the lunch menu… and when
you start seeing wasabi drizzle and buffalo shrimp and island
pepper aioli and key lime tarter sauce, I think you’ll see where
I’m trying to go with the thought. The seafood looks incredible
and the plates are unique and creative. That said… it’s a menu
designed to deliver quality while making The Square Grouper memorable
and just a bit different. (Which is a really great thing for a
restaurant to do.)
ordered shrimp sliders and a bowl of conch chowder. Ellen went
with the grouper sandwich. Richard decided on a caprese panini
that had chicken, mozzarella, tomato and pesto. I went with a
burger… but would like to point out that I remember it as being
a special of the day. Of course I didn’t note what the special
was, but I did note that I ordered crab wontons as well.
food was fabulous, and all of us plan to find our way back to
this restaurant in the future… but something else was happening
as well during our lunch.
islands were hitting us.
three fun days of vacation, we had reached a stretch of absolutely
no worries. Heck… we even had a reservation for that night, but
it was as if we didn’t care. We were laughing and joking around…
the restaurant was clean and the staff very friendly… and the
food was wonderful… and just a bunch of things that suddenly came
together and we felt relaxed, refreshed and just thrilled to be
exactly where we were.
four doors on the car had yet to be closed… we were still about
thirty minutes away from finding our hotel and checking in… and
Ellen was asking if anyone minded if we stayed a second night.
No vote was needed.
after hitting the highway again, No-no returns and Richard and
I are entertained by the following exchange:
know it’s here some place.”
It’s a deli.”
no, it’s coming up soon though.”
right there. That one. On the right.”
it’s… wait… oh yeah. That’s it.”
and gentlemen… No-no. She’ll be here all week. Please remember
to tip your waitresses.
headed in to the Sunrise Suites Resorts… and looking to check
in for two nights instead of one. When we get to the office, the
girls head in and have no problems arranging for us to stay in
the same room for both days. If you had asked me when we got started
this morning, I would have told you I honestly didn’t think it
was possible for Ellen to have a bigger smile. Then, after catching
up with Nancy and a terrific lunch, she was beaming. Now she’s
meandering around our room… unpacking things in the bedrooms…
watching television in the living room… changing and preparing
for the night. We’ve got reservations on a sunset cruise with
we leave the hotel room for the evening though, I want to back
up a few paragraphs. Did you see where I described our group as
“relaxed, refreshed and just thrilled to be exactly where we were”
while eating lunch? Ok…
and I can be funny some times. The best way I can describe it
is to say we are quite comfortable acting as the designated driver
on any given evening. And while those evenings can be filled with
fun and a carefree attitude… being a designated driver carries
a bit of responsibility.
no matter how willingly accepted… carries with it pressure.
pressure… no matter how great… doesn’t easily merge with relaxed
anyway… you’ve got the basic idea. Right? Relaxed… refreshed…
thrilled… getting ready for an adventure. But potentially… there’s
call for a cab to pick us up and deliver us to a marina near the
corner of Whitehead and Greene streets. And here’s a good summary
of the relaxed island lifestyle… the driver had one of his feet
up on the dashboard and was using his cell phone to send and receive
text messages. (I was stunned Ellen didn’t move toward the front
of the van and deck him, but he managed to stay under control
and drive ok.) He was nice enough, but for the first time in a
long time we tried to hold a conversation with a cab driver and
ended up with no real answers to any of our questions.
arrive early and end up with time to look around the Westin Hotel
Marina area. It’s hot… and muggy… and we’re sweating… and it’s
been a few hours since lunch and we have no real clue exactly
what food they’ll be serving… and that’s when I spot the ice cream
stop in the Key West Polar Bear Homemade Ice Cream shop. It’s
ok… but honestly, not worth the money. Very expensive… and yes,
I’m quite aware of the fact that I was on vacation, in Key West,
and on a hot day looking for ice cream.
continue along, walking around a couple of other shops and then
head back to the meeting point for our cruise. We met Haig… our
captain for the evening… and were led to the boat. Our crew includes
Haig, his first mate Don, and Sarah. And for this next part, let
me use myself as a source… from an article I posted specifically
cruise featured an assortment of wine and promised a variety
of appetizers. Actually, let me quote the web site on this one:
“In addition, an array of quality beer, and hors d’oeuvres are
also served…” You’ll notice the word “quality” doesn’t appear
next to the food. There’s a reason for that… the food was average.
(Ok… look… it wasn’t bad. Veggies and dip… cheese and crackers…
more cheese… more veggies. But heck… let’s face it… if you’re
out on the water for a Key West sunset, the quality of the veggies
shouldn’t be determining whether or not you had a good time.)
members of the crew were fantastic… the wine was outstanding…
and the cruise was beyond fabulous. We had a simply amazing time.
Here’s a list of some fun moments…
– When we left the dock (and, yeah, when we returned) we sailed
Vandenberg. About three weeks after our visit,
the Vandenberg taken about six miles off the coast and sunk to
create the second largest artificial reef in the world.
– About two hundred yards away from the boat there were some dolphins
playing. Didn’t get a great view, but Don pointed out some spray
hitting the air.
– The wine. Back to my other column…
started the evening with a Grandial sparkling wine that everyone
agreed was pretty good and had a nice taste. We progressed through
a Lurton Pinot Gris that was very good into a Yangarra Chardonnay
that we all felt was ok. After that… a rose and on to some red
wines… and the boat was on open water, the sun was going down,
and my notes don’t cover everything else that was poured for
us. I was distracted by, well, everything. (I do recall later
being served a Fresca, which was a completely unexpected treat
and kicked off a string of Caddyshack sailing with Judge Smails
jokes. “How about a Fresca?”… “Spalding, get your foot off the
boat.”… “You’ll get nothing, and like it!”)
fourth – Richard. This is a longer story, deserving of paragraphs
and the full development. Here goes…
was the example of a perfect storm on this evening. See, first
of all, he didn’t have a care in the world. Not one. We hadn’t
driven at all. We were on vacation. No work… nothing to worry
about. Remember that pressure? Yeah… none of that here.
of all, he was sitting in the best spot on the boat. Sarah was
pouring wine for the passengers. She reached Richard, poured him
about two-thirds of a cup, and then ran out. She went to get a
fresh bottle and Richard drank his two-thirds of a glass. Then,
she would come back to Richard and fill his glass back up with
a full pour. As the night went on, she kept starting in the same
place and finishing in the same place and every bottle was about
the same size. (See where this is going?) The pattern of ending
a bottle with Richard and starting a new bottle with Richard was
repeated with every bottle.
Richard was hammered.
few minutes after sunset… in the fading light of a beautiful day
that was just brilliantly filled with color before the night arrived…
Richard turned to Ellen and said:
know what makes this so much fun? Because I love you so much.”
get off the boat and it’s official… Ellen and Richard are drunk.
say our goodbyes to Haig, Don and Sarah and begin the walk to
Duval Street. I bring us down Whitehead to the Mile Marker 0 sign,
and a fight breaks out.
has decided she wants to go to the Hemingway House. For some amazing
reason, it has at this moment occurred to her that Whitehead Street
is the home of the Hemingway historical sight, and she is looking
around trying to spot it. The reason for this… and I quote… is
because “they have cats.”
debate begins, with Richard and I agreeing that we would be willing
to look for a synonym of the word cat, and trying to figure out
if we would find that at the Hemingway House. Our offer is refused,
and not too politely.
Ellen trades seeing the cats for a promise that we will take her
to Mallory Square.
swing over to Duval to begin our crawl. We’ve decided to kick
it off at Margaritaville.
and Ellen went with margaritas. I ordered a Kahlua colada. And
hindsight, this is probably the point in the story where things
changed for Richard. Now… mind you… we are still about ten hours
away from knowing this as we enter Margaritaville and sit at the
bar. And given our experience on the boat, there is evidence worthy
of note at other moments in the timeline. But if you lived the
evening, and kept fairly detailed notes… you know, like I have
by my side right now… and you were looking for a moment when Richard
made a mistake that would create a problem for him… my guess is
the following sentence describes such a moment, and such a mistake…
ordered a black Russian.
is the bartender, and we strike up a good conversation. It turns
out they fully expected Jimmy Buffet to show up for a surprise
performance that night. He was supposed to be in town to appear
on the Today show and discuss the sinking of the Vandenberg. But…
swine flu… Today cancelled… no Jimmy. (We immediately blame the
most annoying woman in the world, her touring group of four others
and the unidentified three of five that were sick, for missing
Jimmy perform in his bar.)
leave Margaritaville and head in the direction of Mallory Square.
As part of her reasoning for that specific location, Ellen is
now promising us the best mojitos ever. According to her these
will be served at a place right next to the square. And I can
only hope that written words can do justice to what happened next,
because it was friggin’ hysterical.
tend to be a Capt. Tony’s Saloon kind of guy. I can’t explain
it… so much of the Key West night life is marketing and touristy.
And Capt. Tony’s is in the heart of that, filling it’s own little
space just off Duval on Green Street. But back when my best friend
Chris and I first came to Key West in 1994, we saw a band play
an awesome set at Capt. Tony’s. And it just felt right being there
that night… not quite polished like other places, just very comfortable.
had every intention of stopping at Capt. Tony’s. Ellen though
had Sloppy Joe’s on her mind. So, keeping the trek in order, we
had crossed the street from Margaritaville so we could head up
to Sloppy Joe’s. We could always cross over to Capt. Tony’s, with
thoughts of hitting the Hog’s Breath on our way to Mallory Square
a part of the process. (But it wasn’t a well developed, true to
the word process. Any interesting bar, corner stand with a blender,
or paper bag in between us and the square might just be fair game.)
group is together but separated. Ellen has spotted the sign for
Sloppy Joe’s, and even though it isn’t necessarily the definite
next stop, she has locked in and moved to the front of our pack.
Richard and I are almost stride for stride next to each other.
And Terry is following all of us by a couple of paces.
and I are having a discussion about nudie bars. (We weren’t using
the word “nudie” though.) I have no clue how we had decided on
a thousand dollars… neither of us was carrying twenty dollars
in cash, never mind a thousand… but we were trying to figure out
if it would be worth it to offer each of the girls a thousand
dollars for all of the one-dollar bills they had.
we are having this discussion, and while I’m looking ahead of
us, I can see Richard right in the corner of my eye. I mean… you
know the idea… something is immediately next to you… it’s right
there… it’s not at all in your line of sight because you aren’t
looking at it, but you can see it because it’s right there.
then he isn’t there.
suddenly Terry is laughing uncontrollably.
you have to understand, to my point of view it was like Richard
dropped off the planet. He vanished from my sight. Just vanished.
He was there… then he wasn’t… and if a magician was standing on
the curb waving a wand, I would have applauded.
could see him, walking next to me, at exactly the same pace I
was moving. The lights and signs of Duval Street are moving past,
and Ellen is cruising toward Sloppy Joe’s, and Richard is right
there almost floating along.
I turn around I quickly see the problem. Richard walked directly
into a pay phone. And when I say directly into a pay phone, I
mean he was walking right at a set of pay phones lined up together,
while looking at them, and smashed into the first of three.
thought this was the funniest thing she had ever seen. Later she
would claim that because of how he was walking (behind and blocked
a bit by Richard), she didn’t see the phones. But even if she
had, she isn’t certain she would have warned him, because he didn’t
move at all to avoid them. She simply could not figure out how
he didn’t see them.
I see the phones, I begin laughing and then lose it completely.
Because Richard goes through three seconds of facial expressions
that were absolutely priceless.
I first see his face, he’s kind of stunned. It was no more than
a heartbeat between him hitting the phone and my turning to see
him, and he still has that “what the hell was that” look as he
tries to regain his composure. This immediately turns into an
anger, as if he thinks someone walked into him and that guy should
be looking where he’s going and he wants an apology. And then,
the third face is the realization it’s a phone and understands
he walked into it but can’t figure out where the damn magician
is that put the phone in front of him..
all that in three seconds or less.
we begin walking again… Ellen had pulled over to a bar to look
at the menu and we lost sight of her, Richard almost causes another
accident as he keeps stopping to turn back and look at the phones
while mumbling that he can’t believe he didn’t see them.
finally arrive at Sloppy Joe’s, and Mumbles joins Ellen on the
dance floor. Terry buys our group a round. And here we reach,
perhaps, a breaking point for Richard.
in fairness to Richard, let’s keep in mind, he’s so far ahead
of us in alcohol consumption at this point it’s not even funny.
I like wine, but I’m not a big drinker of it for an evening… so
I had switched off of it on the boat. After my Kahlua colada,
I had decided to stick with rum drinks for the rest of the evening.
Richard and the girls went from wine to mixed drinks.
now, as Terry asks what they’re having, the three have moved over
to beer. This is kind of funny in several ways, one of which is
because both Richard and I will only drink ridiculously cold beer.
(Let’s just say these places aren’t known for frosty mugs and
color-shifting labels on the bottles… both of which are signs
to Richard and I that the beer has gotten too warm. These places
serve beer… by quantity, not temperature.)
three claim the move was motivated by cost… and I can’t say I
blame them there. But umm… ok… let’s leave Sloppy Joe’s and head
over to Capt. Tony’s.
we head outside, Richard decides he wants some water. So… we stop
and grab a bottle of water. We get to Capt. Tony’s and order drinks.
Then I head over to check out the shirts and hats. I turn around
to look at the table, and Ellen is pouring the rest of Richard’s
water into a beer.
none of us understand that one. Usually she just steals the water
from Richard’s bottle. Why she dumped it out… into his beer… no
was in the restroom, comes back to the table and reaches for the
beer. He makes a face, but doesn’t say anything, then starts looking
around the table. Ellen asks him what he wants. He tells her that
he didn’t like the beer and wants his water. He stares at her
for a few minutes as she tries to explain why she got rid of it.
he notices all the bras hanging around the bar. I suggest to him
that Ellen could make up for dumping out the rest of his water
by hanging her bra from the rafters. Richard decides this is a
great idea and begins to needle her about it.
happen. But Ellen and Richard have now moved past drunk into the
land of as smashed as we’ve ever seen them. (And we are having
a great time.)
leave and meander over to the Hog’s Breath Saloon. There’s a good
band playing, offering up a solid rendition of ZZ Top’s “Waitin’
for the bus” and “Jesus just left Chicago” along with some other
covers. We stay for a quick drink and then begin to finish up
our crawl by arriving on the edge of Mallory Square.
looks at me and asks if I have the number to call for a cab home.
Ellen hears her and tries to stop me. We have the following conversation:
wait, we have to go to Pepe’s first.”
Yeah. Pepe’s. That’s the place with the mojitos.”
Pepe’s it is. How do we get there?”
get us to Mallory Square and I’ll do the rest.”
in Mallory Square.”
down.” (She does, then begins to fall, and finishes it off with
one of those hop-steps that are so useful for catching yourself
when drunk.) “That’s Mallory Square.”
looks up. Stares at me for a moment with a quizzical, disbelieving
look on her face, and then starts looking at the nearby buildings.
(Long, thoughtful pause.) “I’m not going to find Pepe’s tonight.”
Five ~ Wednesday, May 6, 2009
wake up this morning to two unbelievable moments.
first… which we’ll come back to in a second… is Ellen knocking
on our bedroom door with the news that Richard is sick.
the second is that Ellen is denying ever dancing the evening before.
No… no… she didn’t do it.
pull out my camera, display the pictures from the previous evening,
and let her take a look at a shot of her and Richard with the
sign from Sloppy Joe’s in the background.
stunned. Then she points out that this probably explains Richard.
Oh yeah… Richard…
Richard had a rough night. Didn’t get any sleep. I’ll be kind
and avoid a more detailed description.
tells us to take off and enjoy the day… or once we’re ready, maybe
if Richard seems alright on his own, she’ll go with us… but ultimately
wants to cancel the drive out to the Dolphin Research Center.
and I look at each other… then back to Ellen… and then back to
Ellen asks, sensing something is going on.
we have to admit to her our devious and evil actions.
made reservations for the four of us to swim with the dolphins
at DRC… the Dolphin Encounter. And… it’s too late to cancel.
she screams, and Ellen is off for their room.
comes back out, tells us we’re heading to breakfast to give him
some time to pull himself together. A trip to Denny’s, we return
with some toast, and find Richard awake, dressed and ready to
the drive out to the DRC, I get to check something off of my list
of things I want to see. Actually… three of us get to check it
off. Terry is sleeping. And since we aren’t 100% positive, we
don’t wake her up.
over the ocean side of the highway is a cloud. I point it out
to Ellen and Richard and mention it looks like a funnel cloud.
I tell them I think we’re looking at a waterspout, while thoughts
of actually seeing a tornado race around my mind.
trouble was that the cloud was several miles offshore. And while
it looked pretty well formed at the top, it was almost see-thru
in quality near the water. It would get a bit more defined, look
even bigger and stronger, and then kind of fade a bit. And in
questioning ourselves about it, it never really occurred to us
to pull over, wake Terry, and grab cameras. (I have zero clue
why such a sensible idea never occurred to us.)
finish our drive to the DRC and walk inside. Nancy and several
of her friends are preparing to surprise our guests of honor,
only to be disappointed as we explain that they know all about
it. But, everyone gets a good laugh out of the reason… and if
you could have seen the faces, it really looked like everyone
appreciated what he had done, as if the memories of personal experience
granted understanding sympathy.
going to be swimming with Cayo and Gypsi
today, in one of the front lagoons. Nancy has arranged for a friend
of hers to use our camera to shoot some video of the swim, and
we also have the DRC photographer on hand taking some pictures.
is going to be great.
love to tell you how long the swim lasted… but you never really
look at a watch. I could mention walking onto the landing… dock…
deck… whatever it was we stood on… but I can’t even remember getting
in the water.
is simply too exciting an experience. Memories last… moments blur.
a pre-swim meeting that all participants must attend to provide
some background and review safety information. After that, we
split up into groups, heading to our specific lagoon to join the
trainer and dolphins we’ll be with for our session.
begins with introductions… the dolphins swimming over to us and
more or less getting a bit acquainted. During this time we each
get a chance to pet the dolphins.
there we begin an interactive segment. This includes each of us
having the chance to swim out from the deck, extend our arms,
and then get swept away by Cayo and Gypsi for a dorsal pull. The
ride goes in a bit of a circle, with the dolphins dropping us
off near the landing.
experience wraps up with a training segment… sort of. We’re given
a few different commands to select from, each of which asks the
dolphin to perform a different task. Our choices range from initiating
a splash fight to an aerial maneuver, along with a couple of others.
And… honestly… I don’t think it’s even close. Virtually the entire
group picks a splash fight.
leave the DRC and meet up with Norm… Nancy’s other half. We spend
a few minutes catching up and then head off to dinner… at the
Island Fish Company Tiki Bar & Restaurant. And it’s there
that the next surprise of the trip will be unveiled.
there is a more beautiful restaurant in the world than the Island
Fish Company, I’ve yet to hear about it.
that’s probably not true.
this place is an absolutely brilliant, exotically perfect union
of staff, guests and location. The water off to the side is gorgeous.
The thatched-style roof is creative, distinct, and great. And…
you are thinking of going on vacation… and you are picturing a
tropical area where you can sit near the water with a frozen beverage…
and it would be great if they served some decent food… this is
it. We don’t need to exchange thoughts or blueprints. I’m sure
of it. This is exactly what you would design.
you were retired… kicking back and trying to look like a local…
wanted an every day spot where you would fit in, know everyone’s
name, and have some casual conversation while working on absolutely
nothing… this is it. This is exactly what you would design.
Island She Krab was simply ridiculous. Absolutely and amazingly
delicious. Most of the food was good, and I’m sure if I became
a regular I would find a few outstanding items to create a solid,
our time together, we also learned something interesting. Turns
out that Ellen’s long time friend Nancy has been a friend of Terry’s
for even longer. While exchanging stories of the good old days,
Terry and Nancy realized they knew each other while growing up,
and that Terry had even attended Nancy’s birthday party one year.
begrudgingly bid a good night to Nancy and Norm and meandered
back in the direction of Key West for the night.
the drive back to the island, we decide to take in a few sights
before heading back to our room. We go to the Southernmost Point
and also return to Mile Marker 0.
trip should have some memorable moments. Things that you were
thrilled to experience… places that create a desire to return…
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
trip is only about half completed, and we already have several
memorable moments. The Blond Giraffe may be the simplest and most
unexpected of them all. Because all we did was stop for a slice
of chocolate covered pie on a stick.
had finished our travels around Key West for the night, and decided
to return to our room for some cards. And we all thought that
a slice of key lime pie might be a perfect snack. The Blond Giraffe
was on our listing of places to look for, so we plugged the address
in and Mi Luv U led the way.
we didn’t find it.
funniest part of following her directions and more or less ending
up lost would be one of two things. (1) That she actually led
us off of the island of Key West to find the address of the Key
West store. (2) That we drove right past the location we eventually
returned to for our pie. (And saw it when we drove past it… which
is why we went back to it.)
Ellen and I got a piece of chocolate covered frozen key lime pie
on a stick. Richard, who avoids chocolate, went with a slice of
traditional key lime pie. As we were ordering, I spotted something
and decided I needed to try it… key lime meringue pie.
we got was good… but as I tried the piece of pie later I decided
I had to return before we left the island to get a full pie. It
was just outstanding.
Six ~ Thursday, May 7, 2009
day begins where Tuesday night left off… more or less… as Ellen
is absolutely convinced that she can bring us to Pepe.
day four, with Ellen and Richard positively smashed, she told
us that if we just got her to Mallory Square she would find the
Cuban bar named Pepe.
discovering that she was at that moment in fact standing in Mallory
Square, she decided that she wasn’t going to find Pepe.
this is day six. And it’s daylight. And she’s sober. And she wants
a mojito. Or… as she has promised… the greatest mojito ever.
on a couple of hours of walking around the area, we park the car
a few blocks away from this opening target and start out to Duval
Street. We turn to face Mallory Square and begin moving on our
intent to find Pepe. Still in the morning hours though, we’re
taking our time and stopping along the way. One visit includes
the Wyland Gallery. (We’ve been to a couple of his galleries.
Very nice, always different, but we don’t buy anything on this
day.) Terry and I do find a t-shirt for Richard with evil plans
on our mind. (It’s a Christmas present in the making. Says “I
got Duval-faced on Shit Street” and ends up looking amazing in
a frame with a few pictures from the Tuesday night adventure.)
we hit Mallory Square and learn we aren’t looking for Pepe… we’re
looking for El Meson de Pepe… and Ellen was 100% right. She should
have found it. In fact, give her one or the other… daylight or
sober, you wouldn’t need to allow her both… and I think she would
have had us there on Tuesday evening.
I stand by my comments that the Island Fish Company was the perfect
location to sit back, order a drink, eat some food and stare at
the water… this place isn’t too bad at all. In fact, it’s damn
nice. Not twenty feet from the bar I’m taking pictures… of a pelican
with glistening water only slightly in the distance behind it
and gorgeous palm trees nearby. While it doesn’t strike me at
the moment as being as relaxed as the night in Marathon with Nancy
and Norm, I will say this… it is quite obvious that there is zero
need for a watch in this region.
finish our drinks and walk around a bit… including picking up
some jewelry for Terry… and we decide it might be time to think
about lunch and when we’ll head back to Fort Lauderdale. While
we love Key West, we know we’re not spending another night, and
being here into the evening hours and sunset would be just too
brings us to Crabby Dick’s…
years we used to go to a Crabby
Dick’s in Baltimore, Maryland. (Don’t look
for it. They closed up shop and headed over to Delaware. (Which
is another story entirely.))
we kicked around ideas for lunch, one place kept getting mentioned
by Terry and none of us were dismissing it… Crabby Dick’s down
at the other end of Duval Street. And so it was… off we went.
have to be honest… it was a bit of a disappointment. The menu
wasn’t the same… well, of course it wasn’t, this
was a different Crabby Dick’s and not some Florida Keys
outpost of the same establishment. The food was fine… but when
you’re expecting hush puppies, a cheeseburger isn’t even close
to the same.
finish up with some more shopping… in and out of a couple of stores,
but nothing jumping out and becoming musts. I mention heading
back to the Blonde Giraffe and hitting the road. With Richard’s
promise that he’ll help devour it, we buy a whole key lime meringue
we get back on Route 1 and pass Marathon, we finally settle the
radio battle. We find The Coffee House.
I have to say this up front… I’m very disappointed with The Coffee
House today. Because the songs that made it so great to us on
this trip, and then for several months when we found it after
we got home as a DirecTV station, no longer seems to be the offered
programming. So don’t go looking for it and wonder what I’m talking
then though… this was a great station playing acoustic music.
And they ran from amazing and fresh versions covering well known
material to some really incredible stuff you wouldn’t find any
place else. (And now? Plugged in, more popular stuff. Kind of
depressing to see it happen.)
we pass Miami and close in on our home base, we begin debating
what to do about dinner. And once again, our friend John comes
to the rescue. I can’t recall the name of the place he recommended
when he had been talking about Chima’s. So Terry gets out her
cell phone and calls him. It’s J. Alexander’s…
and it is awesome.
not really amazingly hungry at the time. We just want something
to finish off our night before we kick back and take it easy in
our rooms. The sun has been knocking us around a bit for the past
couple of days, and we’re all exhausted. So as we look over the
menu, a few things stand out and we decide to mix and match a
and I both order the rattlesnake pasta. Richard goes with a rotisserie
chicken. Terry goes really basic with chicken fingers. John had
been bragging about the calamari though… so we get an order of
that to split along with what seems to be an irresistible option.
(And since we ordered it… yeah… irresistible works.) Not your
ordinary mac and cheese.
was awesome. There was very little talking during dinner. Maybe
we were tired… maybe it was too good to stop and speak… whatever…
fabulous ending to the second segment of our trip.