Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lucy's visit and the Florida Keys

We returned from St. Maarten on Saturday evening right on schedule and my BFF, Lucy, arrived almost simultaneously. After figuring out what gate everyone was at we had a wonderful reunion. We got Lucy back to the BP and spent most of Sunday unpacking, grocery shopping and generally, lazing around. Then after dinner, I repacked as Lucy and I were heading to the Florida Keys for a few days of "girl-time"!!
We were on the road to Marathon by 9:30 Monday morning and had a beautiful, sunny, warm day for our drive. We were in no hurry, of course, so we stopped for a good lunch and an even better Lime Pina Colada at the Postcard Inn Tiki Bar....YUM!!!

After the refreshments we continued on down the Keys to Marathon and after a bit more putzing (and shopping) we checked into our incredibly kitchy and cute room at the Sandpiper Inn.

We didn't hang around to long before heading to Burdines Bar for a Corona and our first Keys sunset.

Then it was a short walk down the Marina to Castaways where Lucy had researched and found the best place to go for Sushi....and I NEEDED Sushi! And Sushi I got. We actually only had 2 rolls and an order of Conch Fritters so we were just right in terms of satisfaction!

Our waiter, Frankie, was awesome and after helping us with our sushi selection, he also helped us with our next stop, filling us in on the local hot spots and entertainment. The greatest thing about the Marathon area was all the entertainment (and I am talking every bar, every day) plays, like, 6-9 p.m. My kind of hours! So...we decided on Salty's and enjoyed a few hours of great island music compliments of Billy Washburn. Fun!!!

Tuesday we started out early and went to the cafe that some friends of Lucy's from Door County manage at a campground on Big Pine. Joe and Tina have an amazing life, running the family restaurant in Baileys Harbor from May to the end of October then running the cafe in the Keys the rest of the year. Their kids grew up starting school in Wisconsin, moving to the Keys and finishing the year back in Wisconsin and managed to not only adapt, but excel! After visiting with them we continued SW to Key West where we were lucky enough to find a parking spot (spring break....need I say more). We had picked up a brochure for the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory so we thought we'd check that out first thing. I anticipated nothing and found nirvana. It was an absolutely amazing and surreal experience walking through a beautiful garden surrounded by thousands of beautiful butterflies, birds and flowers.

Lucy and I, both quite accidentally, had worn very colorful, bright dresses and the butterflies were attracted to us like flies on doodie so we had them landing in our hair, and on our dresses and bodies.

Now that's a hair ornament!

This guy hitched a ride for a long while!
After the conservatory, we walked down to the "Southern-most Point in the U.S." then wander down Duvall Street, eventually having to stop for a cocktail. Lucy, who already has one cocktail named after her at Origami (the Get Up Lucy) wound up having yet another cocktail named after her at the bar we stopped at...The Lucy-Colada. Lucky!

We drove back to Marathon and after a quick change, met up with Tina and Joe at Sunsets Bar. Gorgeous beach bar with it's own pool and great cocktails. We ended the evening with a disappointing dinner there but over-all....enjoyed the entire day!

Wednesday we were really hoping to go out on Tina and Joe's boat but it dawned gloomy and very windy so boating was out of the question. Across the street from our hotel was the Turtle Hospital so we walked over first thing in the morning and found we could get in on a 2 p.m. So we made our reservation for the afternoon and wasted a few hours snooping around town and checking out a few beaches as well.

Pretty soon it was time for the educational tour of the Turtle Hospital, one of about 15 in Florida. we got a good introduction to the various species of sea turtle, the dangers they face and how the hospital rescues, rehabilitates and releases them (when possible). The hospital currently has 10 permanent residents and 11 rehabbing turtles. We got to see them all. Some had amputations due to fishing line and crab/lobster pot entanglement, some were paralyzed or brain damaged due to prop hits and some were recovering from surgical removal of viral papillomas (probably caused by pollution to our waters).

Izzy...hit by boat

Soon to be released

Permanent resident Bubble-Butt

After the amazing time at the hospital we decided that instead of going ONE place for dinner we would "appetizer" our way down Marathon. We started at Keys Fisheries for Stone-Crab Claws.

Next we were on to Breezes in Key Colony and our daily favorite....Conch Fritters. Oh and Billy Washburn for music!
Next up...Porky's and their amazing Sesame Tuna. I had actually been at Porky's many years ago on a family trip with my parents and sister/family. It was an awesome memory and a lot of fun to be there again with my Lucy!

To finish off the night we returned to Salty's where we heard another amazing performer and had an amazing pizza. we ended the night talking to the artist, John Burdis,  at the bar until they almost kicked us out (at all of 11:30!!)
Today we returned to the campground cafe for breakfast before heading back to Southbay and the BP (and Jeff).

It had been a wonderful few days in the Keys and an even better time laughing with and truly enjoying time with my best friend!

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