I got up early this morning to walk the dogs so Eliza and I could leave for Key West before the two lane Overseas Highway gets packed. We were so excited! We get to see Key West AND spend another day together, just the girls. This is our 4th day on our own – San Antonio, NYC, Washington, D.C. – and we were ready. We love the boys and obviously enjoy spending time with them, but being on our own is a blast.
Way above the loud music that we were playing in the car, I was screaming for most of the drive south, “ooh, look at that” ,”take a picture of that”, “did you see that?” and couldn’t stop talking about the color of the water. And the water was on both sides of the highway! Just gorgeous. It was hot and humid and I wasn’t complaining.
We took a slight detour on Deer Key, following my Google Map directions to what should have been a fish shack that sold a concoction that another RV’er said would keep the no-see-um’s away. Turns out they are really bad on Grassy Key, and of all things, our site was one of the worst in the RV park because we backed up to the mangrove trees where they live. And Grassy Key doesn’t spray for them like some other islands do. (Funny, that wasn’t in the brochure.) Eliza and I were covered with bites – both of us had about 30 on our legs and more on our arms. We tried not to scratch them, but if we did, they would swell up and not go away. I knew we were both going to be scarred, and I was willing to try anything to keep them off of us. Turns out I had hit the wrong button on the map, so we didn’t find the right fish shack until our drive back home. It was a beautiful island, however, even though we didn’t see any of the famous little deer. They are protected here, so you have to drive really slow. We looked and looked for them, but didn’t see one. They had a big sign at the beginning of the island that stated 125 Key Deer had been killed last year, and only 100 this year, so to be careful. We were comparing that to the deer that lived in our back yard at home, and how we’d scare them off any way possible as they devoured the garden.
We had more luck with the map locating our parking garage, and we walked down the ramp and straight into what became our favorite shop. Look at the name! Is that Key West-ish, or what?!
A local told us that the “Life is Good” brand started here, but we looked it up and the Jacobs brothers were actually living in their van in Boston, not Key West, when Jake- the -stick- figure- guy was born. I think Key West has enough of a reputation without having to take credit for another success! Every time I told a local we were going to Key West they started their comments with, “dude, you have to go see…” and would proceed to name a bar. Funny.
Eliza and I walked all over the wharf and main part of town, and I took almost a dozen pictures of the wild chickens that wander wherever they want. Made me miss mine! A local said that there have been wild hens here since the first settlers, but Dan said he didn’t see them when he was here before, just the mangy cats at Hemingway’s house. I loved hearing the roosters, but when you turned a corner and one was strutting toward me, it made me jump to the side. Our first rooster would go after Nate each time he was near, so we weren’t taking any chances. I also took a picture of a large pole that had names of cities attached to it, with the miles to each city. They didn’t have a city in Oregon listed, so we figured out that we were 3,303 miles away from Bend! Not our furthest spot because PEI to Bend was 3,555 miles. Eliza and I and Poppy are going to make a similar sign when we get home of all our favorite places and how far away they are from Bend. (Add that to our list, Dad!)
We had lunch at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and I couldn’t believe he wasn’t there to welcome us. What?! I’ve been listening to “Knee Deep” for months, getting ready for the Keys vibe, and he wasn’t available?! Eliza and I had a nice lunch, but the food definitely wasn’t the drawing card. To skip the expensive fare, we could have eaten at Taco Bell. Oh well, cross that off the bucket list. It was fun to see the old pictures of him all over the walls, listen to his music and I was so happy to finally be there.
We walked down Duvall street more, finally found the right hat for Poppy’s Christmas gift, and then went back to the car to drive to the other part of the island. I was wishing we would have brought our bikes to ride until I saw a car side swipe a rider. No one wears helmets in the Keys, so it wasn’t pretty and we quickly moved away before the ambulance arrived. It takes 10 seconds to put a helmet on people!
We bought matching sea star necklaces to remember the day and being the dork I am, I immediately put mine on. I won’t need it in the years to come, however, because I will never forget what a special day it was with my precious daughter in Key West. Magic, pure magic.