Sunday, November 9, 2008


Key West
November 1-8, 2008

Saturday, November 1: Travel. Lots and lots and lots of travel. A hotel stay, then a shuttle from the hotel to the airport. Two flights. A four and a half hour drive from Ft Lauderdale to Key West. Oy!

Sunday, November 2: Drove around the Key, took in some sights. Stopped and parked near Mallory Square, immediately starting buying things and taking pictures. (In the new encyclopedia coming out early next year, there's a picture of us next to the entry for Hoosier Tourists.) I did snag some Key Lime Lotion that is really great, and we bought some Key Limeade that was really great ... sensing a theme, are we? We went to the Aquarium, where they had a touch tank that I was armpit deep in within seconds of sighting it. Crabs, starfish, urchins, sea cucumbers, etc. Had some lunch, stocked up on groceries for the week, and went back to the resort and hit the pool.

Monday, November 3: Brian found a half-day chartered fishing trip to join (the boat's name was the Captain Conch), whereon he caught a 20 lb barracuda. I do not have pictures of this yet, he took the waterproof disposable and we don't have it developed yet. He also caught another large fish, I think he said a big mackerel. While he was doing that, my mom and sister and Seth and I went to one of the small beaches on the south side of the Key. There was no surf, the water was almost completely still. For someone who grew up going "down the shore" to LBI, with sometimes monster breakers, it was weird. Almost eerie. There was also lots of broken glass, so I, of course, spent my time looking for and picking up and grousing about bits of glass so Seth wouldn't cut his feet. He spent all his time running around like a crazy man. He does love the beach!!

Tuesday, November 4: My mom and sister went their own way, so Brian and Seth and I went on a glass-bottom boat cruise, out to some coral reefs. A pod of bottle-nosed dolphins joined us and swam with the boat for a while, I was excited to see naturally the battery in my camera died right about then. I got a small bit of video and a couple shots where you can sort of maybe kind of tell that they're dolphins. The cruise itself was very cool, we saw some beautiful fish and coral while we were out there. Then we walked down Duval St and had lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Had our first conch fritters there (or, as Seth calls them, critters); they were quite good. Did not see Jimmy Buffett. After lunch, we bought some ice cream cones, bought some large matted prints from a professional photographer and had it shipped home, and then went to the Pirate Soul Museum, which is tres cool. Even the stuff you had to smell.

Oh, yeah, I went and found the house on Duncan St where Tennessee Williams lived. It's not a museum now or anything, just a private residence, so I just had Brian take a couple shots of me standing outside. I was dying to see the studio out back where he wrote but it's fenced and, of course, the yard is completely full of palm trees and other lush green things.

Also, Brian and my sister and I stayed up to follow election results and to hear the acceptance speech from Grant Park. I wept. I was so proud of this country!! (Missouri, not so much...) John McCain's speech was very gracious ... where was *that* guy during the election? The John McCain I liked a year ago finally showed up! I think if Obama had run against the *real* John McCain it would have been a tougher race.

Wednesday, November 5: The Big Day, the trip to the Dry Tortugas. Seventy miles west at 26 knots on choppy water ... Seth threw up before I could get him outside. Then two other people threw up. I thought maybe, just maybe, I would have to join them, but I stayed strong and did not ralph. Thank god, because the rest of the day was BEAUTIFUL! I have never seen water like that, so incredibly, perfectly blue. I could have put up a tent and stayed on that beach forever. Fort Jefferson was cool, also. Could use a few ghosts, some eerie noises in the dark corners would have spiced things up. But my god, the water.

I tried snorkeling. If anyone reading this knew me as a child, you know I used to enjoy swimming. Loved to swim underwater; I was like a seal. Then I hit puberty and inexplicably lost the ability to keep water from entering my head through my sinus cavity. And one summer wearing a nose clip around your Jersey cousins will permanently cure you of wearing a nose clip, so no more swimming underwater for Jennifer. Anyway ... I put on the mask, got the tube or whatever in my mouth correctly, put my head underwater ... and hyperventilated. WTF?!? So now I'm AFRAID of going underwater? When did that happen?

Also, the captain of the catamaran we rode out pulled Seth and me aside to show us what was quite probably the biggest fish I have ever seen or will ever see up close, a 300 lb grouper, one of five or six that hang around under the docks and boats there on the island. It was huge. The pictures I took don't do it justice, there's nothing really showing for scale.

We doped Seth up with some dramamine for the ride home, and he slept the entire way. We had supper at Finnegan's Wake (complete with authentic swearing Irishmen in the front bar! Fookin' this and fookin' that! It was great!) and then hit the hay, we were thoroughly worn out.

Thursday, November 6: More shopping in Mallory Square, and a visit to Mel Fisher's Maritime Museum. If you're into underwater archaeology (shut up, Anne-Marie) and shipwrecks and gold, Google this guy. He found the wreck of the Atocha and brought it all up. It's quite something. I wanted to see more gold, but what the hell, it was still cool. In one part of the exhibit you get to heft one of the gold ingots from the wreck. Heavy! Later in the evening we went back for sunset at Mallory Square, when lots of street performers and artisans and vendors set up shop. It was neat. Seth was being a pill, really whiny and grouchy, wouldn't even smile for the pictures with Captain Wasabi, a very nice pirate who didn't make us walk the plank or anything.

Friday, November 7: Our last full day on Key West. Because I'm me, we went for some more shopping. I caved and bought a replica coin from the Atocha; it's a replica, but it's made from a silver ingot that was on the Atocha, so it's *almost* real. It was authentically expensive, in any case. Brian and Seth and I went to a restaurant for lunch called the Conch Republic Seafood Co., and I fully and wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone going to Key West who wants a fantastic seafood meal. OMG!! I had a dish that was ravioli stuffed with crab meat, paired with seared jumbo shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach, in a lemon-garlic-parmesan cream sauce. My basic reaction was "Holy Shit!" I also had a real mojito, which I *think* might have made the meal even better. :o) Later in the afternoon we went to our third beach, at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park on the west side of the Key. It was nice, but really rocky and full of shells. We traveled home the following day, landed at KCI around 10:00 pm, where it was SIXTY DEGREES COLDER than where we were all last week. That makes it rather harder to be glad to be home. Also, our furnace isn't working. Did I mention how cold it is here?