Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Well, It's The Keys."

Yes, it was the 'good life'.

(What follows is my very long and graphical excuse as to why you didn't see an IWSG post, this month,  sorry about that. Not saying it's the best of excuses....but, it's the only one I got :P )

Vacations, even small ones, are funny things. You can't wait to get there and then you can't wait to get back home again. It never seems to fail.

Yesterday (Wednesday, the 6th) was our three year wedding anniversary. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we were standing on a beach, vowing to live the rest of our days together as husband and wife.

This year, we decided to go celebrate, so we decided to head down to the Florida Keys for a few days of 'R&R'. The fact that it's only about a three hour drive for us didn't hurt, either.

So, we spent a few days, last week, checking hotel prices and looking for something not too expensive, but not somewhere that would make a cockroach cringe, either.

We found what we thought looked like a good place just past Key Largo, in Islamorada (A Village of Islands), called Coconut Cove Resort. We had no idea what we wanted to do, besides check out an artisan village called The Rain Barrel, so we were just winging it for the most part.

Day One: We get down to the "resort" around noon and check in. It was cloudy and drizzling. The room was small, but clean, though the furniture looked like it came from a flea market. Dinged up, scratched up, and mismatched. The cable was out and we couldn't get a wi-fi signal. The manager tells us the "line is down" and hoped it would be up soon. There was no in-room phone to call the desk nor a coffee maker. There was a mini fridge (which, thankfully worked) and an old microwave (with dials, of course), that was in working condition. A good thing, too, because it was our last hope for having any sort of on demand coffee (we had brought some instant with us.). On the plus side, the bathroom was fairly new looking and nice with a jacuzzi tub, even though the towels were about half the size of a normal one.

"Well, it's the Keys." my wife (who has been coming down to the Keys for over a decade and knows the "commonplace") said with a smile. Besides, we weren't down there to hang around in the room. We came down for the sun, surf, sand, and to relax.

Not the most inviting view.

Anddddd here comes the rain...

The clouds begin to break!

Luckily, the rain passed fairly quickly (Well, it's the Keys), but it was still overcast, so we set out to explore. We hit up the aforementioned Rain Barrel artisan village, which was pretty cool. Neat, but over priced (in my opinion) crafts that I would have snapped a few pics of, except for the blaring "NO PHOTOS" signs that were hung, no kidding, almost every ten feet. I mean, it was cool stuff, but not "top secret" cool. 

Anyway, we drove further down and found an Outback and decided steak sounded good for dinner. Well, as it turned out, we should have run 'out back' and found somewhere else to eat. Worst service we've ever had at an Outback (they'll be getting an email from me regarding this, as well..."Keys" or not, no excuse) and the steaks were very unimpressive. The best part of the meal was the blue cheese wedge salad. Meh. By the time we got back to the room, the breeze was blowing and the clouds were clearing up so we headed down to the beach area to sit around with some instant coffe and relax. Coconut Cove is "famous" for their weddings and one was going on that night. We were in time for the reception and sat on the beach while they partied in the tiki bar area behind us. It reminded us that we didn't have much of a reception for our wedding, as far as dancing and merry-making went, and that we needed to invite everyone back for the 'lost reception' we never had.


We turned in early and decided to get up and try to catch the sunrise as we got rooked out of the sunset by the clouds that night. Wouldn't you know it....the clouds were back in the morning which meant no sunrise for us. I mean, there was a sunrise....we just couldn't see it.

Day Two: Our Anniversary! Even though we didn't see the sunrise, a bright spot to the morning was that the cable had been fixed and we could watch ME TV. If you like love old television (which my wife and I do), ME TV is for you. We sat around and watched a few shows as we were planning out the day. The clouds started to disappear and the sun came out. An awesome breeze was still blowing and the temps were mild. We still couldn't seem to pick up a wi-fi signal, so we asked the manager about it and was told that if you were in the rooms 'back there' you couldn't pick up a signal. The cottages close to the office could get a signal, but if you were 'back there', you were out of luck. 

Just a bit of a rant here, but if you advertise that your rooms have wi-fi then all the rooms should have it....not just "some". 

Well, it's the Keys.

Not a huge deal because, again, we didn't come down to hang around in the room and had only brought our Kindle Fires anyway, but still, it was nice to check in every once in a while. It was just too nice to do anything but, so we grabbed our Kindles and headed for the pool. What a relaxing day we had just sitting poolside, watching the egrets fly overhead and listening to Jimmy Buffet on the tiki bar sound system. We both caught up on a few 'social media' type things and napped for a few hours. We seemed to have the whole place to ourselves as we didn't see any other guests after the wedding from the night before was over. 

Fine by us!

After some time in the sun, we decided to travel around, again, and hit a few shops before dinner and the sunset. Well, wouldn't you know it....the clouds started rolling back in and we were gypped out of a sunset.

Well, it's the Keys.

So, after some shopping and lunch.....probably one of the BEST burgers I've ever had at Shula's.....we headed back to the room (where I managed to knock out four handwritten pages for NaNo, in the meanwhile) and decided to try and find a decent restaurant for our anniversary dinner. Another strikeout in a place called "Wahoo's". Over priced and an extremely limited menu. They didn't even have a fried shrimp platter on the menu, I had to ask for it, special. We had a nice view, though, and sat outside in the warm breeze with some great 80s music in the background, so it worked out nicely. 

After dinner, we hit the beach again and talked about our past three years together and how we want three hundred more :) Determined to catch the sun, whether it was rising or setting, we decided to turn in early and get up for the sunset before heading back home. 

Day Three: We had packed up the night before and already had most of our stuff in the car before we headed down to the beach to try to catch the sun coming up. Once again, the clouds tried to foil us, but we still got a very cool view, even it it wasn't, technically, a "sunrise". 

Well, it's the Keys.

I'll take it!

After the lightshow we, literally, kissed the Keys goodbye and headed home. With more info and experience under our belts, we're already planning our return trip in a month or two.

Did we have a good time?

Well, it's the Keys! :)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, at least you went somewhere for your anniversary!
The photos are cool. Especially those clouds in the distance on your last morning.
You ever decide to head north for an anniversary, I recommend Savannah. Or go farther and hit either Charleston or Myrtle Beach. Although where you live, you'd probably find Myrtle Beach mildly amusing in a tiny-Disney sort of way.
Sorry, typo in first comment. Hate that.

S.P. Bowers said...

Despite the difficulties it still sounds amazing. I'm glad you were able to do get out, do something, and spend your anniversary together. Congrats and best wishes for many more.

Unknown said...

Oh sigh and bliss-- it WAS the Keys, after all. I'm shivering in my mountains envying you this wonderful trip. May you indeed have 300 more! Happy anniversary.

Andrew Leon said...

Great pictures. I'll have to come back later to read, though.

Cross Planes said...

Come September...the Keyes will be sitting pretty! ;)

Love you guys!

WE said...

Congrats and best wishes for your 3rd Wedding Anniversary ! ! !

Robin said...

At least it didn't rain the entire time and you did catch one sunrise. The food was a mix of great and terrible. BUT, you were together and enjoyed some chillaxin' by the pool... It's the Keys!

jaybird said...

Oh my gosh love the pictures and the fact that you at did manage to go away to celebrate your anniversary. Priority one for me, is always finding the coffee. If the room doesn't have it, you better bet that I will go out and find some place close that does. LOL :)

As for the food, I think in touristy areas the service and food sometimes lack because they know they have you over a barrel; there are limited places to chose from. I always give solid, stable recommendations to the tourists who come down to the Jersey Shore area with that in mind. It's hard to find a place that can keep their staff and is consistently good, seasonally. I can't even imagine what it's like in the Keys, as they are a year round tourist attraction!

PS I especially love the picture of you and your wife at the end. You guys are too cute. Great post Mark!!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Happy Anniversary. The photos are wonderful. Now I am eager to take a vacation myself.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a delightful story. The 'happy to be together' feeling came through. I love those getaways where there's no set plan and you can play it as you go. Sunrises next time, I'm sure.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Happy Anniversary guys! Your pictures look like a before and after picture of the best vacation ever. Even in the rain there's love.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Even if it rained, even if it was cloudy and you got gypped out of a "real" sunrise or sunset, it was STILL the beach. What a fantastic place to be, and what a great place to get married! Beautiful pictures. A belated happy anniversary to you, and here's to the next three hundred years.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - congratulations on three years .. and this experience has taught you ... so next time it'll be fun. Still you had some fun experiences to share .. and it is "The Keys" after all!

Fun post .. cheers Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

In thirty years time, that break will be a 'do you remember when..?' conversation that will have you giggling for ages. Glad it wasn't all rain and disappointing food for you.

My Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary in September for the first time... it was our 15th :-)

Valerie said...

Those are beautiful pictures!! I went to the Keys a few years bad. It's magical!



LD Masterson said...

Let me make sure I got this right...did you go to the keys?

Loved the photos.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Beautiful pictures, especially that last one. Happy anniversary!

SpacerGuy said...

Chomping down beefburgers is a great way to celebrate. Looks like you had a cool time over there.

Unknown said...

This was a fantastic way to learn your "excuse" for missing IWSG. Sounds like you had a great time (with the exception of the crappy restaurant experiences), but then again, it's the keys.

Good to see what you're up to.

M.L. Swift, Writer

cleemckenzie said...

Rolling with the punches makes life so much easier. You two are perfect examples of doing just that. You don't need no sunrise or sunset when you have each other.

Ella said...

Island weather-the dark n' the light!
I love that you kept pushing through
the twists n' turns. You both will laugh and remember this and say, "It's the Keys"
Your love was the light that shined in this post~ Cheers to many more lovely years together!

Morgan said...

Mark, these photos have me MELTING... seriously sooooo beautiful... I'm SO glad you shared! And isn't it how funny it is how we can't *wait* to get home? When all we want to do is leave? So true. :)

Cynthia said...

These are some pretty pictures that you're sharing here...and I'm glad you found a good burger place too.

I remember the days of phones with dials but I don't remember microwaves with dials.

I'm glad you got to spend some quality time with your significant other- that's the important thing! =)

Chancelet said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time, filled with mystery, tempestuous times, close-quarters times, "fine" dining, and cuddles. Happy anniversary. Glad you had fun enough to want to return. Writer’s Mark

Elise Fallson said...

The Keys! You may have had a rough start, and bummer to hear about the crappy service at the Outback, but at least you got to visit and left with some great pics (love the last one of you and your wife!). And to think you went on vacation during Nano and still got some writing in. Awesome. (:

Anonymous said...

Well, it's the keys…and your photos and experience sound positively lovely.

Jack said...

It looks so WARM there!!!! Trees and sunshine. Must have been a lot of fun!

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