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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Friday, August 30, 2013

FAMILY VACATION 2013

We  planned to spend a few days in Key West when Jenni and Tony came down. They had never been there and it had been nearly 20 years since Dick and I had gone. Geoff recommended a place he and his friends stayed when they went fishing. I reserved a couple of rooms at KingSail on Marathon Key and after I finished work on Wednesday we headed out for parts south and east. 
Tony drove, Geoff was our GPS and Jenni was our official tourist. When she saw something fun, we stopped. Tony wanted flip flops, but they had to be special. It took three stops at three Sandal Outlets (there must be 80 of those between Key Largo and Key West) but he did find something that suited. I was gasping at their "outlet" prices...$186 for a pair of shoes that cost $39.95 at Bealls! Tony paid an awful price for his acceptable flip flops, but I wasn't buying so oh, well!
When we reached Key Largo, Jenni wanted to stop. She'd seen the movie and liked the sound of it, but Geoff and I both assured her there was nothing to see so on we went. We got to Marathon around 5 and sorted out the rooms. 
One was on the second floor and had a kitchenette and 2 double beds, the other was on the patio near the dock and had two double beds and a sunroom with a mini fridge and microwave. No stairs, so Dick and I took that one.
Both rooms had white with black trim tiles floors and cheap wood paneled walls, with tattered, broken matchstick blinds at all the windows. Everything was old, somewhat chipped, and quite clean. Nothing had been updated since 1970, but the beds were comfortable, and the TV got the golf channel so Dick was happy.
Outside on the dock a short round mahogany tanned gentleman wearing flip flops, a baggy swim suit and a floppy straw hat cleaned his catch, filleting each fish perfectly to prepare on the nearby grill for his dinner. He was there the next day, too.
We had a lovely dinner at a little Mexican place Geoff knew and spent the evening between the pool and the patio, sipping cool drinks and watching the Cubanitos play in the pool while their parents congregated on the patio.
Geoff knew a lot of good inexpensive places to eat so we ate well and cheap and except for the Waffle House on Thursday morning, not once did we darken the door of a chain restaurant.
It was Key weather. Hot and sultry with a lovely breeze. After breakfast we headed for the end of the USA.
Our aim was to find a glass bottomed boat for Jenni, and an Atlantic beach for Tony. We drove once around Key West to get our bearings then parked near the trolley stop.
When we got out of the car the traditional Key West chickens fluttered and clucked at us.  With his usual enthusiasm Tony skittered across the puddles trying to capture the rooster for a photo op. The rooster was having none of it and being far more experienced in escaping boys than Tony was in capturing chickens he got off scott free, or Tony free in this case.
We boarded the trolley and rode around the route listening to the wonderful patter from the driver. He had a story for every point of interest and a joke as well. We got off for a photo op near the buoy at the end of the world, or what ever they call it. Geoff and Jenni got some great shots, but when I tried to use Geoff's camera it kept going to the main menu without snapping the pic. The tourists in the long queue were beginning to grumble so we moved on. We stopped at a little row of cutsie tourist traps and fingered merchandise while Tony ordered T shirts for himself and his 2 brothers and the littles.

We found a little place for lunch...decent and forgettable. Used the bathroom, checked the merchandise, and moved on.
Back on the trolley we enjoyed more patter from the driver and viewed more Key West sights. About midafternoon Dick and I were feeling our age. We sat on benches near a museum and wished we'd thought to bring water. Back on the trolley and back to the beginning. Tony went to fetch the car while we sagged against a bike rack. They drove us back to Marathon to the KingSail, provided us with Subways and such then Jenni and Tony drove back to Key West, caught a sunset cruise, checked out the beach action, and got lost good and plenty. They got back about midnight, full of experience and sun.
In the morning we headed back, stopping for breakfast at a little cafĂ© around Bird Key. By the time we got to Key Largo Jenni had convinced us to stop, even though there was nothing there. We found a sign advertising cruises on the real, original AFRICAN QUEEN. 
It sure looked like it. Maybe even smaller than it seemed in the movie.  They offered dinner cruises...our group of 5 plus someone to run the boat would have scuttled the shiplet! We snapped our photos and moved on.
As we pulled out a sign told us a state park was nearby with beaches and such. We took the wrong turn, meandered pleasantly about, but finally reached John Pennekamp State Park. Besides a lovely beach they offered glass bottomed boat rides out to the coral reef at $24 each.  The cabin was air conditioned and had 2 glass "windows" in the boat bottom. Benches lined the cabin and you could climb down into the cavity around the glass and get a closer look. We passed over a couple of turtles, a sting ray, a small shark and plenty of colorful fish, as well as seeing the corals along the reef. They were selling seasick pills for $1 a dose, so I fortified myself. I was fine, but I saw a lot of greenish gills and many seasick bags as we moved along. It was a bargain of a lifetime trip with expert park rangers giving us the lowdown and uptick on all the sea life. The glass bottomed boats on Key West cost in excess of $50 each. I do suppose there are more and better reefs off Key West, and I am sure they have knowledgeable guides, but were they cute, long legged, shorts clad, pony tailed young women swinging from bench to glass bottom like a trapeze artist? GO, Key Largo!
We drove, passing through refurbished Homestead and  points west and north. At home Tony  grabbed a beer and flopped onto a floatie in the pool.
Jenni called Aunt May to tell her we were back and happened to mention Tony being in the pool with a beer.
May cries out "Ginny, you git him outta thar! He ain' usta drankin' and he's li'ble ta dround!" 
Tony was fine. We love May.
Saturday Tony and Jenni went shopping at Fish'ville for souveniers to take back to the littles. Sunday they left.
The following week it was so quiet I wanted to jump in the pool and "dround" my own self.  On Saturday I got a call from Jenni. Tony thought he'd left the precious Key West flip flops on the front porch. Would I go see if they were there. I opened the front door and there was Sam. Hallelujah. Sam. We didn't do much, but we talked and he walked Baby. We had a birthday dinner for the birthday boys, Geoff and Sam and Dick drove him to the airport Tuesday. It was wonderful.  A family vacation complete.