|Our little fishing spot at the west end of Seven Mile Bridge. There were colorful patches of live coral right at the shore.|
It was the first time while packing, that I didn't have qualms about heading out of the hills. I usually get nervous, cranky, and short-tempered when we are getting ready to leave, not just because of all I need to get done and the worry of forgetting something important, but out of fear that something major will go wrong, such as a car accident or mid-night hold-up at a deserted convenience store we happen to stop by for gas. I worry and worry and worry, usually, so much so that when the time has come to get in the van I know I'd rather stay home. Then, when the mountains turn into foothills and the foothills level out, I get the tiniest feelings of panic.
I have a friend who tried to explain to me once that our mountains are full of rubies and that rubies are the crystals that make us feel grounded and that is why I feel lost as soon as we drive down out of the Appalachians. I love the idea, but I know that it's more than that. I'm just insecure and would love to stay hermitized here in our little town. I never realize this, however, until I am down out of the mountains and switched over to the "other me." I really am an introverted home body if I allow myself to be, but forget that I can also thrive in a different setting, thanks to my upbringing in the city. And if there is an adventure on the horizon? Just try to stop me.
This time, however, I couldn't wait to shake the convalescent feeling our home had adopted since the heart attack and all the fear and tension that had filled it. I was antsy and hyper and urging, with butterflies in my stomach and an excitement I haven't felt in years, for everyone to hurry up and get out the door. It was so great and I even kept saying, "Isn't this cray?! I'm not cranky or anything!" Fun. And it did not stop. I drove us almost to the Florida border before I realized how tired I was after a night of little sleep, a day of last minute trip preparation, and a state to state drive till dawn. Hubby took over for me the last little stretch when we hit dense fog and I realized my reaction time was diminishing after miles and miles of interstate reconstruction.
Two fabulous nights with Dad and his sweet wife and then we headed south. It's such an abrupt change, reaching The Keys after travelling through northern, central, and south Florida. Crossing that bridge and landing on the other side on Key Largo is more like taking a plane flight to me. Island hopping to our first night's hotel stop was bliss, even with frequent stops in search of quality, affordable swim fins. Our boys had outgrown theirs.
|Sombrero Beach, Marathon, FL|
For this reason, I was very concerned that we had decided to spend the majority of our vacation parked on our butts in one location on Key West. We aren't shoppers and modern Key West, from what I could recall, was made for shoppers. And as I said, we aren't beach ploppers, though the reason we chose a hotel with a small beach was so that my husband could slow down and finish healing that body of his or at least give his mind a rest from the hectic lifestyle he leads on a daily basis, and we aren't bar hoppers, either. You could plan a Key West trip solely around bar hopping, I'm sure, if you are into that. But we found ourselves on so many adventures in Key West that we realized as we were packing to leave the island the day we were to head back north, that we could have used at least another two days to fit in all we wanted to do.
|I was a Hemingway fan before the trip but after seeing his favorite hangout, home, kitties, and writing studio I'm a hopeless addict.|
|Duval Street from Ripley's Believe It or Not|
|Fort Zachary Taylor|
|Atocha silver at the Mel Fisher museum.|
I felt the two me's warring the whole time we were back home, and for the first time the mountain girl wasn't putting up much of a fight. Florida Girl took over and took hold. Amazing that there was a period of time when I used to say I hated Florida and went kicking and screaming to visit my aging grandmother when I had the chance to head south. Well as it turns out, a discovery I made a few years ago, I dislike East Orlando, not Florida in general. It's disgusting and no longer looks and feels like my home. But the rest of the state, major cities not included, is just the same as I remember. I really enjoy zig-zagging and criss-crossing on one adventure after another in my Florida. What I find by avoiding the major cities is the old Florida I love. It's all still there if you look for it.