Friday, June 21, 2013

Vacation: Day 2 (posted by Steven)

Thursday, June 16th: As most of you know, Tiffany likes to sleep in as much as possible.  So I began Day 2 by taking the 3 boys to breakfast in the lobby of our hotel.  I then brought Tiffany breakfast in bed.  Our only objective for Day 2  was to drive about 126 miles from Florida City to Key West.  It could have taken us about 2 hours.  Instead, we stopped about every 15 minutes, so it took us about 8 hours.  First, we stopped at Diver's Direct at MM 100.  We didn't buy anything, but the kids found lots of "treasures."  They filled their pockets with pieces of broken hangers and the little plastic tags from the hangers that indicate the size of the clothing.  Dylan even found a shark's tooth in the store. Dylan turned it in to the cashier, who told him that he could keep it.
We then drove about 10 minutes to a place that sells pottery, tikis, and other outdoor decorations.  We thought it would be a good picture to have the kids in pots, but Tyler refused to look up.
We then realized that he wouldn't look up because there was a big moth buzzing around his feet.  I caught the moth and surprised Malia with it because I knew that she would love it.
There was other cool stuff at this place:
Tiffany later confessed that she was the one who wanted to stop at this place because she wanted to buy me a big outdoor clock/thermometer to put out by our pool.  We then stopped at a place with a giant lobster outside (MM 86.7).  Got Butter?
This place actually turned out to be really cool because there is a small village behind this store.
Next, it was already time for lunch.  We hopped back in the van and drove a few miles to Whale Harbor, where we had been a couple times before.   
Tiffany loved her portobello sandwich.  Our first stop after lunch was about 5 minutes away- Robbie's at MM 77.5.  We stop at Robbie's to feed the tarpon pretty much every time we go down to the Keys.  This was the first time for the kids.

After Robbie's, we had our longest leg of the trip without stopping, which was about 40 minutes.  Tyler had a chance to take his afternoon nap.  We pulled off to the side at the beginning of the 7 Mile bridge because Ron Crew told Darren that there was an iguana nest there. I was skeptical, but agreed to stop.  
 Ron Crew was right, we saw at least 5 iguanas there.
This is actually the old 7 Mile bridge that is no longer open to vehicles and runs next to the new bridge.  Tiffany stayed in the van with Tyler because he was still napping.
Before getting back into the van, I asked the kids if they needed to use the restroom.  They said no.  Then, about a mile onto the 7-Mile bridge, Isaac said that he needed to go.  This was the only unscheduled bathroom stop of the entire road trip, which is amazing.  After our brief bathroom stop, our next plan was to try to see Key Deer on Big Pine Key.  Key Deer are an endangered species of deer that are not found anywhere else in the world.  Every time we drive down to Key West we all try to spot one grazing, but we have only been lucky a couple times in the past.  This year, we drove off the main highway, through the refuge to try to get a glimpse of one.  We drove down a long road, until a dead end.  We turned around a bit disappointed, but on the way back to US1, Darren's car spotted 2 in the distance.  We did u-turns and parked the vans on the side of the road.  We got out to take photos.  Unfortunately, the kids were more amused by the tadpoles in the puddles by the road.  As we were admiring the 2 in the distance, something amazing happened-- another deer came out of the trees behind our vans and came up to us.  It was obviously looking for food, but it's a $10,000 fine if you feed one of these.  He hung around even though we didn't feed him.  
Here is the first deer we saw in the distance.  Up to this point, this was probably the best view we have ever had of a key deer:
 Until this one came up behind us:
The kids liked the non-endangered tadpoles better:
 Isaac brought a tadpole back in the van.  We didn't know until later.  
The last stop before our final destination, was the Bat Tower on Sugarloaf Key (MM 17).  In 1929, this bat tower was built so that bats could help control mosquitoes that carried malaria.  However, when the bats were put in the tower, they all flew away.  We actually couldn't find the tower at first.  There were no signs and you couldn't see it from the main highway.  So against my natural instincts, I asked for directions and we found it.  Tiffany was crazy enough to climb up it.  She confirmed that the bats never returned. Also, Isaac's tadpole was released back into the wild in a puddle by the Bat Tower.
After we left the Bat Tower, Dylan said that he was disappointed because there was no one at the tower dressed in costumes.  I guess we should have been more specific.
We then drove the rest of the way into Key West (MM 0).  We did a quick loop around the island while listening to One Particular Harbor to get us into the Key West spirit.  We then arrived at our resort, the Casa Marina:
The Crews stayed at the Southernmost Hotel nearby, and Andre & Barbie stayed at a bed and breakfast a couple blocks away.  Even though we had a full day head start, the amazing thing was that Andre & Barbie left the Tampa Bay area just that morning and arrived in Key West only about an hour after us.  They didn't get to see the giant lobster though.  After we all got settled-in, we met at Fogarty's for dinner.  We love the food there and usually eat at Forgarty's at least once per trip.  
 Do I have anything in my teeth?
 Captain Jack Sparrow:
 This is acceptable in Key West:
 We tried to make it down to Mallory Square for the sunset, but missed it.  We did get to watch the Fire Lady perform though:

End of Day 2.


Aunt Kat said...

Wow, you guys sure know how to have a vacation! Sounds like you took advantage of every single fun thing and photo op along the way, and you did your research beforehand so you knew where those things were! And the resort looks AMAZING.

So where's Ivy? I didn't see her in any of the pictures.

And were the kids scared of the tarpon? Seems like a kid might fall right off the dock when a big old fish jumped up right in front of him or her! And did the tarpon get close to Darren's face? I bet Corrie didn't want to kiss that face after he'd been biting a fish's tail--gross!

And were there stairs to get into the Bat Tower, or did Tiffany have to really and truly climb up the legs of that thing?

And what did you do with the tadpole that Isaac brought into the van?

Man, I love your writing and the detail and all the pictures, but it just makes me want to know more and ask a ton of questions! :)

Anonymous said...

Ivy was left home with the grandparents. Darren did not want babies on the trip. We still took Tyler. That is one reason we stayed at a different hotel. The kids did not seem scared of the tarpon, but I was scared of one of them falling and the tarpon taking him/her for a ride. Malia actually stuck her hand down there without a fish and one of them jumped and bit her hand. She only bled a little though. The tarpon did not get near Darren's face. It seemed like none of them wanted to get near it. The fish tail then broke and it just fell into the water. The tadpole was released into a puddle at our next stop, the Bat Tower (I should add this to the post). There were no stairs at the tower. We pulled one of the vans partially underneath it and Tiffany got on the roof and climbed up from there.

- Steven

Vicki B said...

Love the humor. 'should have been more specific', 'Acceptable in Key West', 'We didn't know until later'. Keep it coming, Steven!