That picture up there? That's a picture of our first sunset on Key West.
We'd just finished a sunset cruise on a catamaran and were sitting down to dinner on the beach at Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort on the south-eastern side of the island. I slipped out of my sandals and dug my toes into the sand ... I couldn't believe that it was real. So, I reached down, dug my camera out of my bag, and aimed out at the pier. But honestly, looking at that picture up there now? It still doesn't seem real. Warm breezes ... palm trees ... Duval Street ... Hemminway's house ... Blue Heaven ... heck, even the omni-present roosters. It all feels like something out of a dream.
At the end of April, we spent a week in paradise. I don't think there's a way to share it all. Our first day, Stoney went out deep sea fishing while I went on a foodie tour. Our group walked around Key West and tried all sorts of local favorites like Cuban pork, rum runners at a real speak easy, fish tacos, and authentic Key Lime pie. That evening, we went to Conch Republic for dinner ... and I'm not exaggerating ... I've never seen lobster tails so big.
Over the course of the week, we went to Earnest Hemmingway's house and Mel Fisher's treasure museum. We took a cab to Duval Street and had a delicious dinner at Fogerty's. PS - if you're thinking of going to Key West, stop by the Flying Monkey Saloon and order a Dirty Monkey. It's a frozen drink that tastes like an alcohol-laced chocolate-banana milkshake. Have I mentioned how I miss my alcohol soaked youth? That's a post for another day ...
We also visited Robert the Haunted Doll at the Fort East Martello Museum. Google it. It's unsettling. That was the "tourist spot" I wanted to visit on the island. The whole museum is full of odd, spooky remnants of old Key West. After the museum, we ate at Blue Heaven ... this beautiful, shady oasis ... and we listened to local music while we had steak and lobster eggs Benedict and fresh banana nut bread.
Casa Marina is gorgeous and we ate our breakfasts looking out over the clear blue waters. We spent our last evening having dinner at the Westin Sunset Pier enjoying the Sunset Celebration. I've never seen the sun dissolve like that. I'm not sure if that's an island thing? If it is, it was really breath taking.
Everything about the trip was fabulous ... my only complaint? The trip organizers told us not to bring shampoo or conditioner because Waldorf Astoria resorts provide everything. And they did. There were bottles of lotion and body wash and shampoo and conditioner. But ... I'm picky. I missed my products. Even though I know they're more environmentally conscious and healthier, I don't care for shampoo that doesn't lather. It's silly ... I know.
So, Stoney and I trekked down to the gift shop. I'd already bought a pricey beach hat there ... so I thought I was prepared. I looked around a bit and couldn't find what I was looking for ... so I asked the clerk, "Do you have any shampoo and conditioner?" "Just the Sun Bum products over there ..."
I hadn't even noticed that shelf! Joy!
I grabbed a bottle of each and headed for the checkout. My two bottles and a shot glass for Stoney added up to $52. I tried to seem nonchalant. This was a classy joint ... I didn't want look like a rube, you know? But I managed to push the bottles forward in such a way that I could glance at the price ... $19.99 per bottle. Forty dollars for shampoo and conditioner.
I'm aware salons sell products that are more expensive than that ... but I don't shop at salons. Oh, let me assure you ... my hair smelled fabulous. I spent the week smelling like fresh, island coconut. But I'm pretty sure I can buy coconut-scented Suave here in Illinois for about $1.99.
In the big scheme of things? That little complaint is miniscule. It was the trip of a lifetime ... with my wonderful love. He was patient with me when I got tired ... explored the beaches with me ... rubbed my back on the plane when it hurt. I couldn't ask for more ... and I was only there because of him. Thank you for taking me, Stoney ... it was the vacation of a lifetime.
I love you, baby!
Everybody's feeling warm and bright
It's such a fine and natural sight
Everybody's dancing in the moonlight
King Harvest - Dancing in the Moonlight