It is hard to believe we have been in Key West just shy of 8 weeks. It went fast. Ironically when we got here, parked the boat, chilled out and then hit the town for happy hours and shrimp🦐 5 nights straight, I didn’t know if I could hang out that long. After a year of moving from place to place and the change of scenery often, I felt itchy to move after just a few days. I had to change my thoughts to, “this is home for now and we don’t have to squeeze all the sights into a few days.” Once this set in and we slowed ourselves down, I settled in and relaxed. We had a whole series of company starting with my kids for Christmas. It was an absolutely wonderful 2 weeks with them. This Christmas will be one of my favorites in my memories. There was no pressure, no entertaining, no big dinners. Just the 4 of us and it was wonderful. (See my previous post).
So what did we do for 8 weeks in Key West??
Sunsets at Mallory Square. This is a real happening every night. People gather at this square to see the sunset. It’s the furthest western most point on the island. Street performers come here, people stand with a drink and watch the most magnificent sunsets. We did this at least 8 times bringing our friends who visited and fellow loopers. My phone is full of photos and they are all amazing. Here are just a few.
This sunset was aboard out friends boat Lucky Me when the kids came out. We loved seeing it from the water. Thank you Susan and Gregg!
It’s quite amusing to see all the phones come out and people taking selfies and photos. It is fun to people watch but mostly the sunsets never disappoint. We are from the West Coast so we know our sunsets!!
We pictured being on the water snorkeling and cruising around the reefs everyday. Unfortunately this wasn’t our reality. December and January turned out to be quite windy and the ocean was not calm. We learned that even though this is the high season for tourism, it isn’t exactly the season for water activities. This didn’t really matter to me. I live on the water. I do enjoy snorkeling but it has to be flat, calm and hot. I am a fair weather snorkeler. Andy got out with a fellow looper on our dingy where he found a great reef and he had a great snorkel. Just as we were ready to move on it seemed the weather was getting better. We chatted about staying. After all, we really have no schedule or anywhere we had to be. We both decided that we were ready to move.
This is Saunders Beach. I am a total beach girl. I can sit all day watching people and looking at the water, spotting dolphins. I could walk the beaches all day finding treasures. This was the ONLY beach on the island. We did come to the beach but not for all day sit down. When the kids were here we took them to the beach where I found a pile of great heart shaped rocks. Other then that it wasn’t a real “Beachy” island.
We stayed in Stock Island which is just 6 miles from Key West. The marina is awesome. It is associated with The Perry Hotel. The hotel did a big expansion adding another pool and has 3 restaurants. The marina is really nice. One of the nicest marina we have stayed in this last year. We loved being here along with lots of other loopers. There was always something going on, people to talk to and have dinners out with. It was awesome. One of our favorite places to eat was a thatched roof local spot called Hogfish. We took everyone there. We ate there a bunch. It was soooo good!!!
Stock Island local!
Stock Island, as well as Key West have chickens and roosters all over. They can be found in restaurants and all along the sidewalks. When you drive you have to dodge them. Not really sure what this is all about and I never got an answer if they were for eating or just an island mascot. Another restaurant we loved was called Roostica and was decorated with everything chicken! They were all very pretty roosters. They all looked healthy and happy. But noisy!! Thankfully they didn’t hang out by the boat at 4AM.
We had company. Our friends Mike and Tammy Becker flew in for 5 days. We had a great time with them. We drug them to all our favorite spots. They rented a golf cart and cruised around. It was awesome to see friends. We have been away from home for a long time and I miss them.
Mike and Tammy in the famous Sloppy Joes. One night we even stayed up past 9PM and partied in town.
Next visitor was my college friend Karen Burg. She stayed with us on the boat for 7 nights. We caught up, walked Duval Street, laid by the pool and ate at my favorite spots. By now I have grown a list of favorites.
We took the Conch Train with Jodi. I was surprised how fun this was. We learned local info and saw the streets with the bungalows and Caribbean houses. It was fun!
Next visitor was my brother Mark. He drove his Harley down from Miami. He lives in Amsterdam and has a garage full of motorcycles in Miami. We rarely see him so this was an awesome visit. I miss him.
How cute are we🏍💙
What else does one do in Key West besides eating and drinking?
Shop of course. Duval Street was lined with bars but also shops. I have not shopped very much this last year. I crave getting lost in a Target. I managed to shop here and I found some really cool stuff that I had to have.
I love this flamingo bag!! Cigar shops line the streets and I found these vintage boxes. Not sure what I will use them for but they will remind me of this place.
This towel says it all!
LOVE THIS DRESS!!!!!
I can totally seeing myself wearing this if I was getting married on the beach. I really wanted to buy it just to have it. It wasn’t for sale. I told the guy “everything’s for sale for the right price.” He laughed and asked what I was willing to pay? I left! A photo would have to do. I will use it for inspiration later.
If your in the right place at the right time you will see manatee. We got lucky one day at lunch. A mother and baby just hung out and ate fish that the fishermen threw into the water. ( I know they are vegetarians but I know what I saWe sat for an hour and Alyssa and I loved watching these big gentle animals. They have been in the marina but I haven’t seen one yet.
One thing I have missed while looping and living on a boat is gardening. Getting dirt under my fingernails. While shopping I found these tiny tiki shot glasses. I instantly told Karen, who I was shopping with, “these would be so cute with a succulent!” After she left for home, I set off to find a nursery with succulents. I eventually found them and returned to the boat to pot them. I pulled them out of their containers and played with the dirt and felt it in my hand. As small a project as this was, it filled that void. And they are ADORABLE!!!
One day I woke up feeling blue. Company was gone and we had nothing going on. I had boxes of beads onboard but they had gotten hidden away for company. I asked Andy to help me unbury the boxes. When I opened the first box, the first thing that literally jumped out at me was a little bright pink happy Buddha face. I smiled and said to myself, “well that was obvious, and he needs to be worn by me!” Making bracelets makes me so happy and I also enjoy the creative energy. I made myself a few new pieces. Then I asked other girls if they wanted some while I had all my stuff out. Before I knew it, my bracelets graced the arms of several girl I have grown to love along the way. I hope that when they see them years to come they will remember me. I love sharing!
Happy Buddha. A reminder to smile.
As our time approaches leaving this great place I want to reflect on how lucky we are to be here. I am still in awe of this last year. Holding still for 8 weeks has been great. It has been a mix of laying around, touring, eating, drinking, bike riding along the ocean, driving along the keys, and company. We loved having so many people come see us here. As I write this I have to admit that I am ready to go.
Whats to come?
We need to get back to Fort Lauterdale to officially “cross our wake” and complete the loop.
Our current plan:
Stop in Marathon for 4 weeks. We have friends meeting us there and I cannot wait to see them. (Ted and Robin from Curti-Sea and Rick and Rhonda from R&R)
Then we will make our way up the coast. Key Largo, Miami and then Fort Lauterdale. This is where we change our flag to a gold looper flag, take a bunch of pictures, cry, drink the bottle of Dom Perignon I have saved for the occasion. (I hope its still good!)
What’s after that???
Well, we have been having A LOT of discussion about the next chapter. It was hard to fathom doing this loop and there was no way to project any thoughts about what would be next. We did this trip with our eyes wide open to places that might feel right. I liked a lot of towns but nothing that I said, “honey, we need to live here!” Andy and I are definitely not done boating by any means. We love being on the boat, BUT we both seem to have the desire to put some roots down. Make house again. We both want the same thing. Small, simple, not fancy and a boat in the backyard. A place we can paddle together often. A place we can spend part of the year and then travel to exotic places the other part of the year. It looks like that place is going to be Florida. On the gulf side, there is an abundance of boating, islands to explore with white sand beaches loaded with seashells.
Our idea of the perfect day looks like this: Get up, Coffee, Yoga, Walk (the dog I don’t have yet), make a healthy salad, load up the kayaks, spend the afternoon paddling the mangroves looking for dolphin in the ICW, home for a cocktail and a dip in the pool, out to dinner or BBQ. Ok, thats too much for one day but you get the point. Florida offers us all that as far as we can see. The house hunting has begun. Don’t worry, There will be several guest rooms and I expect a lot of company. 😍