My daughter, Amy, took me with her on vacation. I’m so thankful for the experience and for spending such a good time with her and the Grand Girl. We left Houston on August 28 and flew into Fort Lauderdale. From there we rented a car and drove straight down to Key West. Someone told us it was a two lane highway but I didn’t think it would be that bad. It is. The speed limit is 45 MPG as soon as it changes to two lanes as you hit the “straits” and the Everglades area. It was twilight when we arrived. We ate at a restaurant in an old house, on the top floor balcony overlooking Duval Street. I took this picture because it’s a gigantic Marlin. Hemingway’s house is not far from this spot. We stayed at the Blue Marlin Inn, an old hotel two blocks from Duval Street and three blocks from The Southern Most Point. It was old but clean and well-kept. The next day we walked here, the southern most point of the USA. It was hot. There were chickens and cats everywhere. Then, we walked to the Butterfly Conservatory. I believe this place was 10X better than the butterfly museum in Houston. There were hundreds of butterflies and birds and reptiles. I highly recommend visiting here when you go to Key West. Don’t think of Key West as a place to swim. There aren’t any beaches except at the resorts. The island is a big piece of dead coral. No beaches unless they were created for tourists. It’s pretty enough without them, with lovely old Victorian homes everywhere, museums and great restaurants.
Next, we loaded up and drove to Marathon Key. It’s in the middle of the long trip back to Fort Lauderdale. Marathon is one of the larger Keys. We stayed at the White Sands Hotel. It’s an old roadside motel reminiscent of the 1940’s. It was clean and well-kept and steps from the ocean. Here is the view from our hotel room. How can anyone resist? I spent the better part of the day in that hammock. Here’s what the Grand Girl found. It’s a baby horseshoe crab. Dead, but fascinating to this almost 3 year-old. She and her mom did some exploring and climbing. While I lay in the hammock. That evening we found a nice restaurant. A lot of locals were there so we knew we had chosen well. It was lobster season. They have the spiny lobsters here. Amy and I shared a lobster casserole. Yummy! Then we found a beach to enjoy because the beach you see at the hammock wasn’t a swimming beach. Here is the local state park. You can see the sea grass shedding in this picture. The next day we loaded up the car and drove north toward Ft. Lauderdale. But, first we had to have our pictures taken with the giant lobster. and we stopped and ate breakfast at a diner that served breakfast. That’s my son’s name. Then we drove on through the “Next 3 miles crocodile crossing” sign areas and the two lane, white-knuckle, 45 MPH road – yes, a lot of it is bridges. At one point the bridge is 7 miles long over ocean. The ocean is gorgeous with azure, turquoise and amethyst colors. The shores weren’t so nice this time of year. This was the sea-grass shedding time of year. The sea grass sheds (looks like St. Augustine clippings) and it stinks like dead fish. But the wind is strong so the smell isn’t overwhelming. We reached the Crown Plaza in Ft. Lauderdale at about 2 PM. Plenty of time to get to the pool. Here is the Grand Girl dressing for the pool the first day. And here is me at the pool the first day. She who has the most toys makes new friends fast. We rode the trolley. We ate at the hotel restaurant for a lavish breakfast the next day. Then went to the beach which was just across the street. The water really was too rough to actually enjoy swimming. But the sun was warm and the sand soft. And it’s always nice in the shade of the coconut palms. But the best part was this pool at the Crown Plaza. We spent most of our time here and it was wonderful! We had a lovely Cuban meal one night. And had a picnic on the floor in the hotel room one night. Anything goes on vacation! Cora loved the pool, and putting mom’s lipstick on. She calls it lips. One night she was asking for “lips” and I said, not thinking, “we don’t have lips at night.” Okay, I’m probably contributing to nightmares. Sorry. We ate at this diner too mornings in a row because it was soooo good. My favorite? Corned beef hash and eggs. Tuesday we checked out of the hotel and went exploring. We visited the Science Museum in Ft. Lauderdale. Where we got stomped by a mastodon swallowed by a Megalodon watched otters play and, of course, flew a fighter jet. Then, we went out to eat and danced. We walked across the street to the park, which of course was on a canal. Amy and the Grand Girl put their feet in the fountain. And we got caught by a mangrove tree. We made it to the airport in plenty of time and someone was exhausted. And I made a new friend who told me she was already hooked in my book.