Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In The Florida Keys - Pt.1

A strange sequence of events lead me to visiting Florida and the Florida Keys last week. Connor and I had planned to go to the Keys for our honeymoon. (It was a place full of vacation memories for him that he wanted to share with me.) It ended up being too overwhelming to plan around wedding, so we started looking into what it would take to go at our 1 year anniversary. But after learning that: 
1. He had previously gone only in May or August, which would guarantee warm water
2. His family was going to be there this August 
3. I had promised to see his family again sometime this year (Which would have been to Kentucky)
I told Connor, "I have this crazy idea."

The beginning of the trip was full of issues. (I've just deleted my long rant about what happened, but Expedia's customer service is non existent and we won't be using the service again. We felt taken advantage of and lied to. Jet Blue, however, was awesome even though it wasn't their problem to fix. We will be using them again.) We took a red eye out and upon landing I got teary and said, "I want to go home." Connor took me to a breakfast place at Miami Beach and my attitude improved. Then we walked out and I touched the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. I had never seen the Atlantic before and I was skeptical that an ocean even could be warm. I wanted to stay in it.
A wave hit my leg and went up underneath my shorts. But it was a warm wave, so I was ok with it.

From Miami Beach, we drove to the Everglades and took a fan boat tour at Buffalo Tiger's. Buffalo Tiger was the chief and as such, this tour company has more rights as to how deep into the Everglades they can go. He passed away this year at the age of 95, but we were told he was one of the last to be born on the tree filled islands that are in the everglades.
Our tour was 30 mins as opposed to the usual 60 mins due to low water, but that was more than enough for me. Our guide was wonderful. He also was able to give a demonstration with one of the male gators that swam out to meet us.
He told us he was keeping an eye on this guy's tail because the tail would tell him about the gator's intentions

We drove to Big Cypress before doubling back and going to the Biscayne visitor center. It had close a few minutes before we arrived. Luckily we weren't far from our hotel in Homestead. We popped out to a Cuban restaurant two doors down and Connor asked the waitress what she recommended. Connor likes fish, but he wasn't expecting to have it still look like one. I got a steak. It didn't still look like a cow.
How will I eat this?

The next day we got up bright and early and headed back to the Biscayne visitor center to grab a patch and walk around. It was beautiful out there, but most of the park can only be accessed by boat. I hope we get to visit there again in the future.
Much of this day was spent in the car as we took the Overseas Highway to Key West. We got caught in some traffic though, so we started singing silly songs to the tune of the Beach Boy's "Kokomo." My favorite was:

In the Florida Keys
There's a place we'd like to go
But the traffic's really slow
It's not moving at all
7 mile bridge towards Marathon Key

We skipped a bunch of what we had planned to see on our way down in order to get catch a late tour at the Hemingway House. It was worth it. Our guide was informative and entertaining. The house is full of cats descended from Hemingway's polydactyl cat. All of them have the gene, but only about half have the extra toes. Our guide also had a pocket full of cat treats, so some of the less shy cats followed us around. He also let every lady on the tour feed the cats, much to Connor's disappointment.
Me: "If you want to feed that cat, ask him for a treat." Connor: "I don't want to break the tradition."

After the tour we walked all around Key West. First we got me fitted for a snorkel mask. I had never been snorkeling and would be trying for the first time the next day. We decided that it was worth the investment because the best way to ruin a snorkel experience is to have an ill-fitted, leaky mask. As we passed by Key Lime Pie Co. Connor insisted on going in. I am not a pie person, but I was more game after I saw that they had a gluten free version. (Being gluten free is pretty trendy these days. I, unfortunately, am not doing it to be trendy....) The pie was amazing. After my first bite, I said, "Oh no!" then preceded to consume the rest of the pie in an unladylike fashion.
They marked by pie with extra whipped cream so we wouldn't mix the two slices up

We wandered around a bit while looking for a few more landmarks. Here is mile marker 0 at the beginning of US Route 1. (Not to be confused with California's Highway 1.)

Then we waited in an enormous line to take a picture by the Southernmost point in the continental USA. I have to admit, I'm a big fan of cheesy tourist destinations. 

After the picture, went to a nearby cafe that touted itself as the "Southermost" and watched the sunset while eating tasty seafood. After filling ourselves to the brim, we waddled back to the inn and passed out.
(A big shoutout to Chris at the Cabana Inn. He prepared us a breakfast to take to our room because we were going to leave before breakfast was served the next day.)


Anonymous said...

What an amazing trip. Aren't you glad you pushed yourself again? ;-) Key.lime.pie.... yum!!!!!!

Alicia said...

Key West is lots of fun! I went there for spring break in college b/c my cousin was stationed in the coast guard there and we had a place to stay. Florida is a really fascinating place, ecosystem-wise. I hope the rest of your trip was great, too!

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