Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Key West - Home of the Sunset - Huh?

There are quite a few things worse than traveling when you are not feeling well, but if you are the type that likes to be left alone to suffer in peace, it ranks high on the list. I know I'm like that and it seems my grandson may have the "please leave me alone" gene as well

January 28, 2009 - Disneyworld, Florida, United States

Three out of four of us awoke on our last day at Disneyworld feeling wonderful, and full of energy, ready to start the beginning of the end of our adventures. Poor little Jonathan was "under the weather." He was so quiet and withdrawn, didn't seem to have a temperature, but you could tell, just didn't feel well. We thought maybe being in a strange hotel room, first time from mom and dad with us, he might be a little nervous, but he said that he just didn't feel well and went back to sleep.

We showered and packed, and Jami and I strolled around the hotel looking for a good setting to take a picture. We settled on the huge football helmet. It is really clever how they incorporated the various sports paraphernalia into the design of the hotel, and how clean everything is.

We made our McD stop and got Jami and Jonathan cinnamon sticks to go. Jami happily ate hers (she is always smiling) and Jonathan snoozed in the back seat. It's a short 15 minute ride from our hotel to the Wilderness cabins and we arrived exactly 30 seconds before Jonathan expelled (upward, thank goodness)all manner of things from his digestive tract. We thanked him profusely for having the decency to wait until he was in the cabin and over the toilet as we had a lot of miles yet to put on our little car in 85 degree Florida heat.

A&K and the kids had planned on one last trip to Disney to do some souvenir shopping before a bus pickup to the airport. Kat and I offered to stay with Jonathan (he slept right through so it was no big deal), while they headed to the park for a few hours. We were still waiting for them to return to the cabin 15 minutes before the bus was due to leave for the airport from a spot that was about 5 minutes from the cabin. Talk about cutting it close. The end of the story is that they made it onto the bus, we air-kissed the kids as they ran up the stairs, and think we saw them waving through the tinted side windows. I needed a drink.

As their bus turned north toward the airport our car headed south toward the keys.

It's longer than one would think to drive to Key West from Orlando. It is in the same state and it doesn't really look that far (at least to me) on the map. Realizing we weren't going to make it straight through we decided to break it into two days, stopping just outside Ft. Lauderdale for the evening. It just so happens there is a casino a few blocks away from the Marriott where we were staying. We can (and have) spent many a happy hour playing 25 cent slot machines and it was a nice break. Even nicer was that within moments Kat had won $100 and was very pleased with herself.

January 29, 2009 - Key West, Florida

By noon we were heading west (it says South and I know it's the same Route 1 you drive from Maine to New Hampshire) over causeways, islands, and bridges always just a few feet in altitude above the Gulf of Mexico and/or the Atlantic Ocean, and that is pretty cool. We dutifully drove the speed limit, particularly through the "key deer" area of pine key. We didn't see any, but they are purported to be about the size of german shepherds, and I hope they are not the Floria version of jackalopes for the tourists.

Being the tourists that we were, we stopped at a tourist office and arranged a night at the Bonefish motel (cute in a Florida touristy sort of way place) on Marathon Key, about 40 miles east of Key West for $80. If the tourist office people were to be believed (Oh look, see the key deer!) the rates increase at least 5 dollars for each mile you continue westward without locking down lodging for the evening (plus it had real tile floors, and we KNOW how important that is, don't we?)

We arrived on/in Key West about an hour before sunset, and based on the stink they make about "their" sunset, it is apparently one of those things that happens only in/on Key West. We dutifully made our way down to the concrete lump that says it is the southernmost point of the US, (to the south of which was someones back yard) and a view of the famous sunset. I've seen a lot of sunsets over the past 61 years and didn't think this one was that different, but I may not be an expert. I know I sound grouchy here, but as we were walking up the street towards Truman's house, I had the unmistakable feeling that my head was about to bloom with one cracker of a head cold. Maybe that explains my cynical mood?

We walked by Hemingway's house, and spent a lovely half hour with Bill and Robin at the Key Lime Pie Outlet on Greene Street. Very nice people and he makes a great key lime shake. I sucked it down hoping there might be one chance in a zillion that it would protect me from what was fast becoming the nose dripping, chest congesting, headache hammering, breath shortening mother of all colds and flu's. It did not.

February 17, 2009 - Studley, Virginia

The next two days driving straight back to Virginia is a blur. I know we stopped in St. Augustine, and ate at the Columbia (which was as good as the one in Ybor City), but no details were retained. Now on February 18th, almost 3 weeks since the start of it, the headache has gone (after 8 straight days), the head dried up, and there is just the slightest hint of chest congestion remaining. I don't like to complain but this was something to behold. Kat suffered along with me, running about a day behind, and I would try to hide how bad I felt so that she had nothing to look forward to. Really something.

I'm sure Key West is beautiful, and fun, and that there are plenty of great places to eat delicious food. I'm sure they have a beautiful sunset, maybe they can justifiably call themselves (as they do)the "home of the sunset", but I still think that's stretching it. We didn't even get to see our friends Wayne and Helen (one of the main reasons we headed down there). Drove right by mile marker 11 but were too sick even to glance in their direction.

That's our middle month of winter. A lot of good, a little not so good, but one that has many memories. And it sure beats working for a living.

PS. Kat sent Jonathan a McD gift card that he and mommy used to get some cinnamon sticks in Rhode Island. He was fine the next day and did not have (nor was he the cause of) whatever bug we picked up. We did leave Danny's bike and helmet with Rose and Moe to bring back with them (which gave Lisa some kind of perverse thrill as Moe had originally argued (it appears successfully) about taking it down there to start with. Sorry Moe).

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