When I first met my wife we lived in different states. That right there could have been the set up for a very old (and bad) joke about how I lived in Kentucky and she lived in Confusion….but, since she might actually read this, I won’t make that joke. *ahem*. Anyway, almost since the beginning of the relationship she’s told me just how much fun her and her family had when they went lobstering down in the Keys and that we should go with them at some point. Well, this past weekend was ‘some point’.
My first concern is being out on a boat and, don’t get me wrong, I’m not really afraid of the water….just what’s IN the water that sometimes concerns me. That and the fact that I used to get bad motion sickness when I was younger has put me off a lot of things…being on a boat only one of them. Regardless, I can swim and I can tread water so I’m o.k. going out as long as the seas aren’t too crazy. Jackie started talking about trying to go about a month and a half before-hand which, to me, is a good indicator that she really wanted to go down this year. I did my usual hemming and hawing, but couldn’t really come up with a truly valid reason to say “no”, so we made the preparations to head down to the Keys to ‘catch some bugs (lobsters)’ as they say.
The usual issue of money was the first thing that came up, but after some number crunching we decided we could afford a two night stay down at “The Old Wooden Bridge” cottage. A place in Big Pine Key, Florida situated right next to a boat dock for the convenience of the aquatic folks. Next, I was informed, that we had to buy some sort of ‘lobster license’ at $25.00 a pop….and we needed two. I guess that since Florida doesn’t have state tax, they have to make up for it in other ways….sheesh. So, we get all the money items squared away, for the most part, and when the time arrives, we pack the suitcases, make sure Jasmine The Wondercat is fed and watered, and head down south.
For the most part, the trip down was uneventful. We got to see some nice scenery (I made Jackie take lots of pics) and I waxed nostalgic when we drove through Key Largo, having spent a spring break there back in 1992. When we got to the cottage, I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed. It was small, which isn’t a problem, but it was also…..old. There was a refrigerator, small stove, microwave oven, coffee maker and toaster for amenities. The refrigerator had all these rust dots on the sides of it (not sure, exactly, what causes that), the stove was filthy inside and I was afraid to even turn it on (it was a gas stove), not that we were really going to need to…but still…, the microwave was o.k. but, obviously old….it had dials on it. The coffee maker and toaster were both filthy, as well, and looked like they hadn’t seen the business end of a rag in quite a while. The bathroom was, truly, economy sized to say the least. The toilet was smaller than standard and, while it got the job done, I had to make sure my aim was good…if you know what I mean. The shower was like trying to move in a broom closet, but at least the water was hot…I can say that was a positive. Oh, and the dual lamp above the sink had a burnt out bulb in the rusty fixture. That all said, though, we weren’t there for the room so I wasn’t going to let that damper our time.
After we unloaded our stuff, we decided to head out to the open seas for a bit to see how the lobsters were faring. Thinking we weren’t going to be out for any length of time, neither of us put on any sunscreen and paid for it later. We both got sunburnt which had me not sleeping much that night which, in turn, had me not even going out the second day and hanging around the cottage to catch up on some sleep and staying out of the sun. With no internet and not much on the t.v., I managed to keep myself occupied by finishing “The 13th Skull”, a game I had downloaded a while back. I also finished a little book I had gotten on the Kindle called “The Sovereign Era: Year One” a sort of superhero anthology. While it was no Wild Cards, it was entertaining and a good read. Jackie came back to the cottage after a tussle with a jellyfish, getting the worst of it but still in good spirits. She was having a great time and that, for me, made the whole trip worthwhile.
Later that night we all headed down the road to Key West to watch the sun set. Having never been to Key West before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I figured it would be something ‘out of the norm’. And, sure enough, as we drove down towards Mallory Square, I looked to the left to see two cops dropping a handcuffed man, sporting full arm tattoos, onto an ambulance gurney….in front of a Starbucks. Now that’s something you don’t see every day….or every year, for that matter. The sunset was neat (more pictures taken) and the place had a sort of Mardi Gras vibe to it with all the street vendors and performers. Definitely not a place to ‘bargain shop’. Oh, and I had my very first lobster dinner at an eating establishment called “Two Friends”. A nice place where the pigeons came in to eat, as well (and, yes, I have pictures of that too!) Anyway, we got back to our cars to find we each had a gift from the Key West Sherrif’s office….a ticket for not paying for parking….oy vey.
Jackie wanted to stay another day, but we decided that we should head back home…..mainly because she looked like she had sun poisoning on top of her jellyfish stings and I wasn’t in much better shape. The capper to the whole trip came as we headed back home and I got pulled over for doing 44 in a 35mph zone. The deputy didn’t seem all that interested that neither my insurance nor registration matched the car I was driving….only that I know just, exactly, how I could take care of payment. *sigh*
Regardless, it was still a fun and relaxing trip. We got to spend some time with Jackie’s brother Michael (one of the nicest and most laid back guys I think I’ve ever met) and his wife Trish. Both are extremely nice and funny and we don’t get to see them nearly often enough….another big factor for us going down.
I really like the relaxed atmosphere down in the Keys….
….just make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen.
(Just as a footnote, this is an example of an essay. Last week I was wondering what the difference was between an essay and short story. Here it is.)