So, off to Key West we go.
There is but one road in and out of the Keys, which can be nice. Tourists don't loose their way that easily on the way home, but it can be rather hairy also for locals during hurricane season when they are trying to evacuate, or if there is a traffic jam and they need to be in Miami an hour ago. For me it is wonderful, because I don't usually get past Marathon in my trips down there. In the past 20 years, I have been to Key West 2 times and I have never stayed overnight there.
On the trip down, I had planned on stopping and investigating anything that caught my or Zman's interest. This caught my interest, NOT my co-pilot's:
He groaned: Oh please, don't stop at every little place again! : ) I replied: Come on, get out, you may learn something... We didn't learn anything. They charged $20 to get in for a tour that took at least half a day, and I wasn't about to take a sulking teenager in at that price. I think I will save this for when Sweetie Pie and The Rocket come down with me, I know they will enjoy it and probably learn alot! It looked like a really neat place.
When we got to Big Pine Key, I had wanted to stop at the Key Deer Museum. Hunger was overtaking us at this point, so we ate instead. After lunch, we mosied on down to Key West to catch up with the cousins, who had beaten us there.
Robbie's Marina is a true boat yard. There are lots of boats in various stages of repair and disrepair, up on blocks, with owners( and sometimes renters-don't ask) in occupancy. It is very interesting, at least to me it is, as my parents had a boatyard that I grew up in. We were to be staying at my cousin's houseboat, however there was some confusion with renovations and occupiers, so we had to stay in a hotel. Now, that sounds like an easy fix, right? NO! Remember, this is the first weekend of lobster season? Key West was PACKED! The hotel we tried first said the chamber of commerce was instructing hotels to send anyone else to Key Largo because there were NO HOTEL ROOMS AVAILABLE ANYWHERE on Key West! That was not good news. Jodi got busy on the phone and found us a kickin' room anyhow, on Key West, the last one available... Here is the view walking in the front door:
Two master bedrooms with king size beds:
With a master bath in each room( the shower and toilet are in a separate room to the right of the jacuzzi tub):
Out on our balcony enjoying the sunset:
The view from our room:
After we took the kids to the pool( it was small and crowded, yuck!), we watched the beautiful sunset and then set out to eat. We cruised downtown on foot a whopping two blocks to Duval street where they were having a concert and people were milling about. LOTS of people! I am super glad we didn't have a passel of kids to try to herd through that crowd, it was hard enough with one kid for each adult! We only spent one block on Duval and then took off on a sidestreet over to Whitehead St., which was much quieter but still busy. Jodi was on a mission to find a restaurant that was a favorite of my Aunt and Uncle's, God rest their souls. We walked many blocks, ended up passing it, going in the opposite direction on the wrong street, and then 'round the block, till we finally found it- and it was worth it! Blue Heaven The place reminds me of New Orleans, it's partly outside, partly inside, a maze of buildings on a corner, with a large tree in the middle of it all(we'll come to that later...) Our party of 6 was seated in the building with the kitchen. T, one of Jodi's kids, loves to cook(well, actually they both do!), and after supper our waitress offered to take him into the kitchen for a lesson with the chef. They made us up some pasta and brought it to the table so we could sample it! YUM! T can cook for me anytime! : )
This is how packed with people Key West was: Just before they brought us our supper, the power went out on the whole island for about 30 minutes! It made for an interesting evening, one that will not be forgotten any time soon! It was dark out on the streets, but in the restaurant, we had atmosphere! I think it took us about 2 1/2 hours total time there(we didn't rush, it was already late when we got there), and when we left they brought down the rope swing hanging from the large tree I mentioned earlier. No, I didn't get on it, although I think this one was safe for adults...
The next morning Zman and I got up and went to breakfast. Then we hit the streets to walk around a bit, and see it in the daytime(Zman hasn't ever been to Key West that he remembers). We "happened" upon the Green Parrot(after I steered us there-hehehe). Since we were both thirsty from our walk, we stopped. After a cold beverage for each of us, and having some conversation with some locals, Zman wanted to play pool. I obliged, and he promptly whipped me. I stink at pool. Now, the band started to warm up and the locals I was conversing with, were in the band. Sunday morning Jazz, playing pool with my boy, drinking a cold beer, and having a wonderfully easy time! Now this is my kind of "church"! I definitely was thanking the Lord for happy times- no joke! Then Jodi joined us and whipped Zman at pool for me, big smile!
He is a good sport, even though he wouldn't make a face with "Smirk"!
(if you have been, you know who that is)
After a while, the Lobster Nazi and kids came along and we moved on to lunch. El Siboney, Cuban restaurant, another fav of my Aunt and Uncle's. We sampled soups, cuban sandwiches, and beans. This is the Cuban sandwich:
I think my favorite was the black beans-there were no garnishments to it, however, you could taste all the subtle flavors of the ham, onions, spices, the creaminess of the beans- it was heaven!
We went back to the hotel to get ready to go lobstering again. Over at the marina, there is a cove where we could find some more of these succulent bugs. After loading up in our cars and heading over there it was 6pm, about the time that the mosquitos and no-seeums come out to feast on anyone who is unprotected. Zman and I decided we were not really interested in being eaten up, so we opted to go back to the hotel and get ready for supper. (Zman was getting short driving lessons every time we went drove out to the marina, or we drove back and forth from my cousin's house to rent a boat, he was loving it!) We enjoyed sunset on Mallory Square with the performers, which is a must see, it's like a circus! Zman's choice for supper was Guy Harvey's Island Grill, just off of Duval St. On our way there, we snapped this:
When we got to the restaurant, it was not busy and evidently there were not waitresses working that night, only the bartender. We ordered a plate of fish and split it because the cousins were on their way to meet us. They were unsuccessful at finding any lobsters, but they had a good time anyhow. They had a beer with us and then we started off towards Azur, a local restaurant serving fine foods. Such nice people running that restaurant, and OH! the food. Here are some pics of the things we had to eat:
Hummus plate as an appetizer, very flavorful hummus, not bland like normal hummus.
These are T's scallops he had for supper, he's a foodie, that kid...
This is the homemade gnocchi Zach and I shared, here is the description from the menu:
toasted in brown butter with pine nuts, arugula and grated parmesan, garnished with truffle shavings...
all I have to say is WOW, it was good!
This was the special of the evening, tripletail, with key west pink shrimp, over green beans and beets with a lemon butter sherry(?) sauce over it. And it was quite possibly the best fish dish I have EVER had!
All of this was washed down with bottles of champagne(and water), the kids had a great time and the chef was pleased that we were pleased! We were the last patrons to leave the restaurant on a Sunday night, but our host&hostess were so very gracious!
We had to get back to the hotel so we could get some rest, tomorrow is Dry Tortugas day!