Heading South to Key West
Our two first nights’ sleep couldn’t have been more different. I woke up feeling restored and grateful for my own bed, air-conditioning, and the somehow silent household of men that got ready and left for work at 5am without waking either of us. Miranda cooked breakfast, while I packed up the van. We filled ourselves with her famous breakfast potatoes and mangoes and hit the road, windows down. I had done a little research that morning on places we could see on the way from there to our friend’s house near Key West, in hopes of avoiding too many last-minute sharp turns. The drawer lock screws were too difficult to install without a drill, which we didn’t find at Justin’s house, so the duct tape fasteners we had made, would have to suffice.
I saw on my Road Trippers app that there was an abandoned bat tower on sugarloaf key that looked like a good photo op. I plugged its location into my GPS and off we went. We later learned the tower had been torn down, but not knowing that then we drove around in a few circles in search of it. We didn’t find it, nor much of anything in that area, as it was now a ghost town save for its one attraction: Sky Dive Key West. We passed their sign several times in search for the tower and decided to call and see how much it would be, knowing it was probably out of our budget. The phone call confirmed that hunch; $260 to fly, $130 to prove you actually did.
Next on the site-seeing list was Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Gardens. Miranda had mentioned earlier that the word “Botanical” was overrated, which may be true, but certainly was not true of this garden. At its entrance were several xylophone type instruments surrounded by flowers, butterflies, and turtles that came near when you played a pretty tune. Miranda, a musician and myself, musically inclined had quite a bit of fun drumming out some melodies for the turtles. We then winded through the intricate paths scattered with art, information, and wildlife. We came upon a meditative labyrinth, and oddly chanted our way through it- though I’m sure we were the first to make such strange sounds in between those stones that guided us to its center.
It was around 1pm when we tried calling our friend, but after a few missed calls and texts with no reply, we deduced that he was still asleep. We passed our time in search of a museum that had a haunted doll, supposedly the inspiration for the movie chucky. Instead, we were directed to the airport where we took the loop and at its end, landed on Smathers Beach. Once more, we switched our breathing to only through our mouths, as we strolled along, observed a wedding, and climbed a rock jetty to take a few photos. We hastily made it back to the van and normal breathing.
It’s almost 2 pm and our friend had told us to arrive around 11am so that we could go out on the boat. We decide it’s late enough in the day that we can head to his house and wake him up if need be. We arrive at another waterfront property and awkwardly wait in the driveway. Now faced with the reality of actually waking up our host, we feel a bit more intrusive. After no response to our knocking on the front door, we loudly dance around the house’s perimeter, tapping on the windows until we make it back to each other at the van, with similar looks on our face: Now what? Ding. Miranda gets a text from Adam, doors unlocked, come inside.
He claims we didn’t wake him, as he scratches the sleep from his eyes. He had a gig the night before and didn’t make it to sleep until about 8 am. He shows us our room, suggests we turn the AC unit on now so it will be icy when we return from our boating adventures. We spent the whole afternoon catching up, drinking beers, and snorkeling at a reef about a mile away from Adam’s house. It was awesome. The water was warm, the beer ice cold, and the company homey. The beer lessened the fear of sharks and certain death, so after a couple cold ones, I felt totally comfortable both near and far from the boat. That is until Adam speared a fish with his Hawaiian sling. Memories from when I lived on a boat in the Bahamas as a child flooded me, and my flippers turned into a motor and I was back in the far-away boat within seconds, safe from anything that wanted Adam’s dinner more than he did.
After 4 or 5 hours of snorkeling, we headed back to his house, so Miranda could cook up the dinner Adam caught, and I could throw some veggie burgers on the stove to replenish some of the energy we had just burnt. We chatted about what we should do the next day, contemplating snorkeling tours or parasailing experiences. Miranda said she was down to go skydiving if I would front her the cash, since that was more money then either of us was prepared to spend. I told her I would, but was overtaken by exhaustion and unable to make any decisions right then. I was asleep by 9pm. The sun had taken it out of me and the beers cradled me right to sleep.