We went back to our good friend the Hampton Inn in Fort Lauderdale. The breakfast buffet and super-reasonable Hotwire rate proved irresistible.
I checked out while Eric and the kids had a swim. Then it was off to meet my parents at Costco to get some shopping done for our week in the Keys.
It turns out that Costco on a Saturday is a bad idea in any city, not just Richmond or Vancouver. The place was packed, but we still scored great food and an awesome 1.7 litre bottle of Malibu rum. It was like a holiday in a bottle.
I was excited for the drive to the Keys. Despite spending quite a bit of time in Florida as a kid, I have never been to the Keys before.
One of the first things I noticed was that the Keys are reminiscent of how I remember most of the rest of Florida. It was more eclectic and beach-oriented. It had the little tacky stores I remember. The strange small towns. I love it.
We made our way to Marathon and then found our house. Oceanfront, with a pool.
Here is a shot of the kids int the house pool.
And here is a shot of the house from the dock.
These two huge pelicans were hanging out at the end of our dock.
We settled in and made our official drink of the week: the Yellowbird. It consists of ice, Malibu rum, orange pineapple juice and a squirt of coconut cream. Blend and consume...
Sunday morning, we decided to make the drive to Key West. After driving through Key Largo, which seemed like an extended mobile home park (really, Beach Boys? Your lyric about Key Largo in Kokomo threw me off...), Key West blew my socks off. I can't remember the last time I fell in love with a town like this. We were planning a quick afternoon there, but I knew right away that we had to come back.
Here we are in front of the Southernmost Point in the USA. We were 90 miles from Cuba. I noticed a couple of people sitting behind this red marker, looking out to sea with tears in their eyes. I imagine it is a natural gathering point for homesick Cubans.
My mom and dad. You can see the lady in the blue dress beside them. She was crying.
Most of the Keys don't have great beaches, which makes this gorgeous beach in Key West even more special.
The sand, the water...the sun and palms...sigh.
The temperature was perfect. There was a breeze. There were a couple of little shelters...
Then we went back into the city to walk around a bit. The first thing you notice when you get out of your car is the number of CHICKENS running loose all over town.
They are crowing, squawking and pecking on every corner.
If you know me at all, you know that I am no fan of birds. I braved it out and got close enough to get these pictures. Please appreciate it because I faced my fears to get these.
We stopped for a coffee and my new favourite thing...the NYT Sunday paper.
We already knew that we were coming back another day, but things like this old building made it impossible for me to just walk away from Key West. This hotel was a temporary home to both Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. In fact, Williams penned some of A Streetcar Named Desire RIGHT HERE.
More on the literary history of Key West to come. I made a pilgrimage to Hemingway's House. It was divine.