Hello again from the beautiful FL Keys!
It was very nice, after that crazy ride from KY to FL, to have stress free relaxing drive down here. One huge factor in this – for me anyway – was I didn’t drive. We left the car at my parents and I rode in the truck. So, of course I was more relaxed!
We love the Florida Sunshine Bridge – it has such pretty views!
We stopped for fuel at our usual stop, Loves in North Fort Myers. I like to use Truck Master website to find places to get fuel when we are towing. You can enter your start and end locations and your route and up pops all the truck stops. Some places include prices so you can compare. I SHOULD have used it on our way from KY to FL, but didn’t, so we were winging it on fuel stops, at least the first day. With me in the truck with Bill, winging it is a lot easier b/c I can still search.
We boondocked overnight, for the first time, at a casino. We were given this awesome tip by friends we met at Amazon, Lacretia and Gerard. We pulled in and after only a short time, a security guard on a golf cart came by to chat with us. He let us know about the need to go inside and register, since we told him we were staying the night. He also told us about $30 free slot play if we signed up for their players club. Memories of how we won enough money for dinner in the Pittsburgh came to mind.
We quickly got settled and changed out of our travel day clothes and found our way inside. We learned there were a few different restaurants to choose from. The one place had a Steak & Lobster dinner for $9.95 – not a bad deal, but I could not shake visions of a teeny tiny piece of steak and 2oz tail that would leave Bill wanting a second plate. Although I guess that wouldn’t have been an awful thing, at $9.95 – just order a second plate! Anyway, we went up to the second floor to check out the International Buffet. It was still lunch time (before 5:30om) and all you could eat for $11.95. Done! They had many items, including a nicely prepared leg of lamb. I finished up by taking half pieces of a few different dessert options, bread pudding, Boston cream cake, red velvet cake and flan. I know that sounds like a lot, but I literally took one bite of each! It was well worth it!
After dinner we walked around to see the beautifully decorated for Christmas casino. There were many trees decorated – here are a few of the nicer ones:
We eventually came across the desk to sign up for the players club and get our $30 each free slot play. They basically take your driver license and after a couple minutes hand you your card and voucher. What we weren’t expecting was a packet of coupons with one for the buffet we just ate at! Oh well – now we had to walk out with at least $22 to pay for the dinner! We were told we could only play one machine, so I took my time to try and find “the one”. Bill sat next to me and between the 2 of us we walked away with $20.58 or something – just shy of what we paid for dinner – plus had some fun in the process! Can’t beat that! And a safe and free place to park for the night! Good deal all the way around!
I forgot to mention, when we arrived – it was pretty warm. There was a really nice breeze outside, so we cracked a few windows and turned on the fantastic fan. The solar had been charging the batteries all day so there was plenty of “juice” for that. When we got back after dinner, it was still a bit too warm for sleeping, so Bill got out the generators and started them up so we could run the a/c for a couple hours before going to sleep. They worked great! Gotta love it when things work like they are supposed to! Score! Gennies and solar! Awesome!
In the morning, we headed out after making some coffee. Yes – we still had enough battery to use the coffee maker! Bill got the generators put away and off we went! The drive was an easy one – no traffic and we arrived at Sunshine Key about 12:30pm. After checking in, we easily found our spot and let me tell you what – my man can PARK! I thought for sure at least one truck was going to have to be moved – but nope – he got right by it and into our spot! We set up and had some breakfast/lunch. We had some snacks in the truck, but by now REAL food was needed!
When checking in – I was given info about the local bus. Key West offers what they call “safe ride” for New Years Eve. We decided to take advantage of it. I had concerns about parking the truck due to the extra crowds. We caught the regular 6pm bus into Key West. There were lots of people! The first bus to stop was full and he only stopped to let us know another bus would be along shortly, which it was.
We arrived and made our way to Duvall Street, one block over from where the bus lets you off. There were already streets closed for the night, so everyone got off at the same place. We walked around some and decided we wanted some of the best wings we’ve ever had, which are at Lazy Gecko, right next door to Sloopy Joes Bar. We had our fill and continued our tour of the area. As the evening went on, the streets filled.
There were a few options for where to spend midnight. Instead of a ball dropping like in Times Square – Mallory Square dropped a Diva in a red shoe; in the Historic Waterfront area, there was a pirate wench that was lowered from a 75′ mast; there was also a key lime slice dropped into a giant margarita. We ultimately decided to go back to Sloppy Joes area and watch the giant rooftop conch shell come down. It was crazy! The energy was amazing! Everyone having a great time, celebrating a common cause – New Years! We had walked by about 10:30 and the party was really getting BIG! When we got back about 45 minutes later – it was close to being shoulder to shoulder. As the minutes to midnight drew shorter, the crowd grew larger. The only negative we witnessed was a guy, who had clearly been over served, puke on a woman’s shoe – well, it wasn’t exactly a shoe – more of a flip flop! Ewwwww!!!! This very nice guy next to her immediately poured his beer on her foot in an attempt to clean it off! They weren’t even together, just one stranger trying to help out another. The guy she was with walked down and got a large bottle of water to finish the clean-up. I know some of you might think it weird to pour beer on it, but seriously – I’d rather have beer on my foot any day vs puke! Considering all the drunk people we saw, only one puking could be considered lucky, unless of course you were the unfortunate soul who got in the way!
We sang “Auld Lang Syne” with the crowd and then headed back to the bus. We were ready to go home. We also assumed the longer we waited the longer the wait would be – which turned out to be true. While waiting the 15 minutes to get on the bus, the line grew and grew – after it rounded the corner, I have no idea how many blocks back it got!
We didn’t get home until 1:45’ish, which is VERY late for us. It was a very nice night and I’m glad we did it! This disclosure might surprise you, but that is the FIRST time we’ve ever been out for New Years Eve. We are generally homebodies, or at most celebrate with friends at home. We’ve been to parties, but again, with friends at their home or ours, not OUT. The closest we’ve ever come before was a party at a friends community room, where Bill acted as the bartender for the night. That was back in the days when he worked for Brown Forman and we shared his liquor allowance with fellow party goers. He is a nice guy that way.
New Years Day was spent at home, hanging out at the pool for a while (I even got in the water – which I hardly ever do!). We did go out only for a quick run to Publix for a few groceries. We watched some TV and went to sleep early. After all the excitement from the night before – we were tired!
I always check us into RVillage and one day I had an email from them saying I had a PM. We had been invited for drinks by Ken and Sandy! We walked over to their site and enjoyed a nice evening getting to know them. They are not full-timers, but do take extended trips in their travel trailer, with their 2 dogs and 2 cats! Turns out Ken makes his own rum – so he and Bill talked quite a bit about the rum making process! Thanks for a great evening Ken and Sandy!
Another day Bill moved the bike rack from the 5er to the truck and we took them down to Key West, so we could ride around and keep my knees happier. They still aren’t 100% after Amazon, and I over-did it with the walking New Years Eve. So, riding is much easier on them and gets you places quicker! We came across the Key West Eco-Discovery Center. We toured the center, which took about an hour or so, and learned a bit about Key West’s reef and the variety of fish and sea animals that live in these waters. Very interesting! And FREE! We did leave a donation though, as they had a collection box on the greeter’s table.
After riding around, we were getting hungry, so a stop for food was needed. We headed to Island Dog Bar, where we snacked on chili cheese nachos, jerk wings, Harpoon IPA (for Bill) and a no-banana Rum Runner for me. I usually wouldn’t have ordered that, but the table next to us shared their extra drink coupons with us – how nice was that?
My hair had been getting out of control for awhile, it hadn’t been cut since I was in Reading in July (OMG – I used to go every 5 to 6 weeks!) and since the weather was not very cooperative Monday, we decided, ok I decided I wanted to get my hair cut. I found Dee’s on Yelp, and made an appt for 2. It isn’t the best haircut I’ve ever had, but not the worst either. What was strange to me is she didn’t wash my hair, just sprayed it with a water bottle, even after answering her “When did you last wash?” question with “yesterday afternoon” Very weird. Then she asked if I wanted it blow-dried, for an extra $15. Well, knowing I would have to go home and wash it, I passed on that, paid my $20 (plus a tip) and got out of there. It isn’t a BAD cut, it is shorter than I asked for, but it will grow, right? This is one of the hardest things for me, where to get my hair cut. I am the person who will find someone good and stay with them for years. My last stylist, Jamie, had been cutting/coloring my hair for about 8 years! She cut it back in July, and it was an as usual awesome cut, but after MONTHS – UGH!
Tuesday was my man’s birthday! We knew from last year that Fury Water Adventures offers a FREE adventure on your birthday! Bill decided on the Full-Day Ultimate Adventure, and made us reservations! We arrived early and checked in.
We boarded the HUGE catamaran right on time at 10am and our day had begun! The crew set up OJ, donuts, yogurt and fresh fruit for our included breakfast. While we were eating, they talked us into renting wet-suits, not b/c the water is cold, but it was VERY breezy and when getting out of the water, we would be cold. It took about an hour to get out to the reef for our first stop – snorkeling. I generally don’t do well with snorkeling, but I wanted to try again. Part of the issue is I wear glasses, cannot see without them. Not small details are lost can’t see, more like “is that a human?” can’t see, so I making out a fish or anything else under the water would be a waste of time. I figured I would just swim around while Bill snorkeled and maybe I could just enjoy that. Nope – not happening – was in the water for about 5 mins – maybe not even – and a wave came up and over my head and that was it – I was done! Back up the ladder I went! I didn’t mind – I watched hubby from the deck. No biggie! He didn’t stay in too long, the water was rough and it was hard to see things.
Our second stop was back closer to the pier and the captain wanted to raise the mainsail for the ride back. Bill helped hoist it up, along with a few other volunteers. It turned out to be a bit silly, actually, b/c he still kept the engines on, so the sail was mostly just for show so they could say your full-day adventure included sailing. While we “sailed” the crew set out our lunch, small sandwiches, fried chicken, pasta and potato salads. It was actually pretty good. They also offered beer and wine, but only after you had your turn on the jet skis – gotta drive responsibly right?
We stopped at this floating barge thing where we would jet ski and parasail from. They had broken us down into groups of 10, and each group took turns doing the different activities. We were in group 2, and would be the second group to go on the jet skis. There was 2 per jet ski and they instructed us on how to switch drivers if we wanted to. I let Bill do all the driving, even telling him if he wanted to drive faster he could let me off, but he stayed at a comfortable for me speed the whole time. When we had done this in Cancun, many years ago now, he turned to quickly and dumped me in the water. That did not make me happy at all, freaked me out actually, and I didn’t want a repeat of THAT! Getting back up on it was very difficult and I ended up with a HUGE bruise, which took up 90% of my inner right thigh – and it HURT! I am happy to report that this time I stayed on it the whole time!
It was FINALLY out turn for parasailing! This was something we’ve both always wanted to do, just never did it. Well to be fair, I’ve always been scared to go – again due to a Cancun memory. We were going to go – were walking down the beach to where the boats that took you out were, and there was 2 people sitting on this thing, getting pulled up – and they were sliding all over on this bench looking thing. I looked at Bill and said “NO WAY!” and he agreed! Did not look safe at all! Since then, I’ve watched it a few times and decided I still wanted to try it. Well, it was just like when I did the helicopter – just got up and did it! The set-up on this was very different than the one we saw in Cancun. You will see in the pics.
After our full day adventure, we were both exhausted! We were originally thinking of going to dinner – nope – just went home, got showers and chilled while watching TV.
Today I am finishing up this post, sitting at the beach in Key West, listening to the quiet waves and sea gulls. It isn’t the nicest weather day we’ve had, actually a bit cloudy, but the temps are great (high 70’s) and we are going to get some of my fav garlic clams at DJ’s Clam Shack soon. As always, we have had a great time in the FL Keys and I’m not sure it will be next year, but I’m sure we will return again.
Tomorrow we move on to Wauchula, FL, where we will stay at Peace River Thousand Trails. We are planning time with fellow RV Dreamers, Gene and Eileen and Neil and Nancy. It will be great to catch up with them and all they have been doing.
Til next time…