Sunday, September 30, 2012

Miami and home again

After we were done snorkeling, we drove back up to Miami. Cahl really wanted to go on an Airboat tour of the Everglades, so that was our next stop. The boats are cool, and seeing the gators and cranes was pretty cool too.
 
 


 








After our ride through the swamp, we found our hotel and promptly took a nap. Once we were rested, we set out to find some dinner. I was super duper hungry (and therefore a little crabby), so when we turned a corner right behind the hotel to find none other than my favorite Johnny Rockets, I nearly cried with joy!

Then next morning, we went down to South Beach for a while. The buildings were all really pretty, and I wish we had taken some photos of them, but we didn't get a single one. We did walk around and find some souvenirs for the kids, and after lunch we started heading toward the airport. We had time to chill out and go to a movie, before hopping on the plane home. It was a fabulous five days! We did do much and had so much fun, and I'm really happy we were able to go.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Snorkeling

The next morning after we reluctantly checked out of Casa Thorn, we drove up toward Key Largo to do some snorkeling. We got on the boat and headed 7 miles out to the reef. By the time we got out to where we going to be, Cahl was throwing up over the side of the boat. Not really a good sign considering we had both taken Dramamine beforehand. But we got our gear and got in. At first I was kind of paralyzed and didn't want to put my face down. So Cahl dragged me along while he snorkeled and I just bobbed along behind him. Finally I stuck my face down, and it was super cool. The coral is so beautiful, and it was really cool to have the fish swimming all around you. Then suddenly Cahl and I both threw up. Again. Right in the water. Ugh. I guess all that bobbing really isn't cool for someone like me who gets motion sick easily anyway.
 
 
 
 
Once we started snorkeling again, we looked down and saw a huge Barracuda right below us. I nearly had a heart attack, but it thankfully he didn't come any closer.
 
 
My awesome underwater self portrait:
 
 

When the trip was over, we made it back to shore without too much more sea sickness. It was definitely a fun experience and one that I'm glad we did.
 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Islamorada

We left Key West and headed to our next spot. On the way we stopped at a few little shops. At one of them, this GIANT lizard was right in front of our car. I'm so happy I didn't see it until we got done shopping and back in the car, otherwise I probably would not have gotten out in the first place! You can't really see him the photo, but trust me, he's there.
 
 
Driving through the Keys is so cool. There are so many islands, and the railroad alongside is pretty amazing too.
 
 
 
We chose to stay our next night at a little bed and breakfast in Islamorada called Casa Thorn. It was super awesome! Ms. Thorn runs the place, and she is is quite a character. She's elderly and in a wheel chair, but you definitely get the sense that that little lady has stories to tell! The main house is nice and cozy, filled with things from her travels. Each room has its own theme, and we stayed in the Moroccan room. It was big and comfy, and the bathroom was amazing. The bathroom itself was about the same size as the bedroom, with a tub big enough to need its own lifeguard! The room has a private entrance from the courtyard, and right outside the door was our own table and chairs where breakfast is served daily. Ms Thorn gave us a great recommendation for dinner, an outside restaurant that was really pretty, but sadly we didn't get to eat there. By the time we got there, the place was packed and we didn't want to wait that long. So we found a Brazilian steakhouse and oh my goodness. So good! We ate until we couldn't move, and it really was incredible.
 







Leaving Key West

The next morning we slept late, then walked down to the beach. It was really nice until we discovered a TON of Portuguese Man of Wars! I hadn't really been paying attention to where I was sitting, but when we started walking around they were everywhere. So we didn't venture into the water at all, but it was very pretty.
 




 
When we got done at the beach, we went back to pack up and checked out of the hotel. Then we headed back down to Truman's Little White House. That was probably one of my favorite places to visit in Key West. I love history and there's so much of it there. We also had a really good tour guide, and it always makes things better when they keep it fun.
 

 

Our last stop in Key West was lunch down on the fishing docks. We ate at this really cool place called Conch Republic Seafood Company, which was a huge open sided warehouse that had been converted in to a restaurant. It sat right on the edge of the dock, so you could see all the boats coming and going. It was a really neat place with really good food. After lunch, we just had to get one last Key Lime pie fix. And the best place to do that is Kermit's Key Lime Pie Shop.  I had a slice of frozen Key Lime pie dipped in chocolate. Holy crap, it was super yummy! My favorite Key Lime pie to date!
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Key West- Parasailing and the nightlife

Walking around Old Town Key West is awesome. It reminds me a lot of the little beach cities in Cali, with a lot of little shops and galleries. I think we enjoyed just walking around and looking at everything almost as much as we enjoyed actually doing anything. These are some of the huge sculptures downtown:
 
 


On our way to the pier, we stopped by Truman's Little White House. We didn't have time to stay for a tour, but we walked around and looked at the grounds.
 

We went down to the pier and found the shop where we had made reservations to go para sailing. It was a cool little surf shop, and the crew was super nice. We were early, and they made room for us on the boat that was leaving just then. I have been dying to para sail for a really long time, and I was super excited. Our boat had 2 crew members, a family from Minnesota (I think), and a father and son from New York. Once we got out into the ocean and all harnessed, it was time to go up.
 









It was amazing! We went about 300 feet up, and the view was so beautiful. It happened to be pretty windy that day, so we seemed to bounce around a lot. There were times we'd just be floating along, and then all the sudden a gust would come and it would feel as though we dropped 20 feet. But it still a great experience, and I would love to do it again! After our ride was done, we hung out in the boat while everyone else went up and had their rides. Lucky for me, sitting in the boat was a lot rougher than being in the air. The water was really choppy from the wind and we were bouncing around a lot. I started feeling a little sea sick, but I figured I'd be fine since I'm pretty good at holding it in and we were almost done. The ride back to the dock was really smooth and I was feeling much better. As soon as we docked though, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was the last one off the boat, and as I was getting off I just kept thinking "there's a bathroom a hundred yards away... I can make it!" But no. I did not make it to the bathroom. I took about 10 steps away from the boat and lost my lunch. And in doing so, I broke the number one rule of throwing up: NEVER try to catch your puke. I tried and I failed. I somehow managed to get puke from my forehead all the way down to the ground. Our poor captain looked a little horrified but was kind enough to bring me a hose to clean myself up with. But no matter, I still consider the day to be a raging success. Not only did I cross para sailing off my bucket list, but I can also now say that I have thrown up into my own eye balls.

We made it back to our room, showered and changed, then set out for dinner. Our para sailing guides told us about this little hole in the wall Cuban restaurant called El Siboney and we were really excited to try it. Sure enough, we found it and it turned out to be the best place we ate the whole trip! There was a bit of a wait to get in, but it was so worth it and I would gladly go back and wait again. After we stuffed ourselves, we walked back downtown and found these lovely ladies:


Now, I'm 5 foot 4 and I was wearing 6 inch shoes. Standing next to these gals I felt like a dwarf. But they were fabulous and very friendly! I'm still sad we missed their show.