We are almost caught up.
At this point in the story it is now December 4, 2009, and it is time to leave Sunshine Holiday Resort for Sunshine Key, located near Big Pine Key, about 30 miles from Key West. (It is actually on a privately-owned island.)
We were only supposed to stay at Sunshine Key for one week, leaving on the 11th but like I said before we had missed our travel window, and the weather in the Keys was so completely fabulous that we decided to stay through the winter. I mean, really, the best places to be in the contiguous US are San Diego and the Keys, with Key West having no frost or snow in recorded history.
Our trip from Fort Lauderdale to Big Pine Key should only have taken about four hours but due to some fuse issue between the Chieftain and the CR-V that caused us to have to pull over every 45 minutes or so to change out another fuse our trip took almost eight hours. Ugh. Thank godtopus that I had a computer and DVDs to watch.
We checked out of Sunshine Holiday Resort at noon and didn’t leave the mainland until after 7:00, which meant that we were driving on US 1 aka Overseas Highway in the dark. And Overseas Highway is not a place you want to drive on in the dark since you have to drive on a lot of bridges and the lanes are not very wide and for a lot of the time there was construction. With like, those moveable construction pylon thingies. Basically, our lane was only barely wider than our Winnebago. It was a few hours of white-knuckling it coming out of Key Largo. *shudder* Actually, I had the white knuckles. The Dude had a tight sphincter and was concerned that it would never unpucker thus making the rest of his life quite uncomfortable.
We finally arrived at Sunshine Key, found our spot, and got everything set up pretty quickly. (We’re getting better at our tear-down and put-up times. Tear-down takes about an hour, and put-up takes about 30 minutes.)
We decided pretty quickly to stay at Sunshine Key for a while, and that turned out to be the best thing because we would find out a day later that the Dude would have to fly to Dallas to take care of some business.
The Dude took a puddle-jumper out of Key West International Airport on December 10 and my birthday was a few days later on the 13th. During this flight the Dude met a lady who owns a Mexican restaurant in Key West, and one of the pilots was this huge black man who has had three major careers, all of them superhero kinds of jobs: schoolteacher then fire fighter and now pilot. Good on ya, huge black man whose name I don’t know.
Now the Dude would be gone for my birthday but being stuck on a private beach, surrounded by partying retirees for your birthday really…doesn’t suck. My birthday started out shitty because no one had even put a Facebook shout out much less called and I was feeling really down. Luckily, my friend from Philly, Royal, called me and that made the day better, and then my bestest friends from Austin called (Cyn, Jame, Katie, and Dane) and played pass the phone and wished me a happy day (love!) one of the neighbors invited me to their cookout and let me pretend it was my party, and then the Dude called and told me that my presents were in the CR-V and I had been driving around with them the whole time! That was fun! (He got me two beach chairs.) So the day turned out to be great even if the Dude was in Dallas.
Not much happened between my birthday and Christmas. The Dude got back on the 16th and we mostly spent the next week and a half working and enjoying the weather, i.e., sitting in the sun in a beach chair, reading my birthday books from my mom, and getting a tan.
We had Christmas Eve dinner, curried tofu over brown rice on a bed of arugula. (I know, I know. But I told you. I like tofu and the next day was Christmas and I figured that the menu at the brunch was going to be pretty heavy on the carnivore side, and I was right.) (See those trees? Gulf o’ Mexico right behind.)
I volunteered to work at the Christmas Day brunch at the park so I could get to know some of the regulars here and eat for free. I had my first corned beef hash. (Not really too bad for being, you know, meat. Of some sort.) Karen, the activities director, whipped up a batch of Bellinis for the volunteers so I was drinking before noon but it was Christmas and it was brunch and that’s what you do at brunch, and what do you drink if there are no Bloody Marys to be had? You drink yummy good Bellinis. It was delightful. Not as delightful as having Bellinis at Harry’s Bar, possibly sitting on the same chair that Hemingway sat in while writing, but still pretty nice. (Speaking of Hemingway, well, that’s the next chapter.)
Anyway, Christmas came and went. (I got my first BBQ grill as a present but it hadn’t arrived yet so I really got a picture of the grill I would be getting.) We were back at the regular life for another week, working, playing occasionally, and still working on that tan.
We did go fishing (I went fishing. The Dude took pictures.),
way out in the big ocean with Captain “Jersey” Bob. Cap’n Bob spends every winter at Sunshine Key, running fishing charters out of the marina. The day was super windy and the waters were really choppy, but luckily, even though neither of us has ever been seasick, we had the presence of mind to take preemptive Dramamine. We didn’t get sick and I caught a bunch of fish just in time for the grill that had arrived that morning! It was cold and windy that night but I grilled that fish anyway. It cost me $120.00 to catch that fish so I was by god going to grill it and eat it.
The one other time I went fishing in Florida was crap because the captain and first mate did everything for you. All you did was take the pole and try to reel the fish in. Well that’s boring. That’s about as much fun as buying the fish at the store. I know how to bait a damn hook. I know how to cast. I’m not all that great at recognizing when a fish has hit but let me learn. They way those other guys did it, with us just grabbing the pole after the mate hooked the fish, is right up there with “hunting” by sitting up in a blind and waiting for the deer to wander up to the salt lick. Yeah. There’s a sport that takes effort. Want to hunt? Get a fucking bow and arrow and track the sucker down.
Ah ha, now it’s New Year’s Eve: There will be a party in the RV park as the clubhouse and we have tickets. The Dude and I get “dressed up” with me wearing a sundress, showing off the sunburn
I got earlier that day and he was in shorts and a tee-shirt. (It’s the Keys. It’s the Keys lifestyle. It’s the “Keys Disease.” Everything is so laid back that “formal” means wearing socks with your sandals and time is a nebulous concept, which, I mean, of course it is, but for the sake of convenience, we, meaning society, have agreed on what 10:15 am or 6:00 pm/1800 hours means, and if you say something closes at 6:00 pm, society understands what you are saying and everyone agrees that “it” closes at 6:00. Unless you’re in the Keys. (*cue ominous music that will resonate with the next installment*)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, New Year’s Eve. We got to the party around 8:00 and everyone was already pretty looped and I danced a lot, even the line dances, which I don’t know and can never pick up but I try, and I drank a lot but surprisingly I didn’t get really lit. Maybe it was all of the activity. We counted down with the rest. I kissed everyone and then we went home. Not a bad start at all.
To move the story along I’m just going to bypass the fight the Dude and I got into where he made me cry and I wished we hadn’t gotten rid of the hand cannon we had in Philly. (What? I wasn’t going to actually use it. I’m too pretty for prison. And I don’t really want the Dude dead forever just temporarily. When we were in Philly I wished he’d get hit by a bus but buses are few and far between on the island so I think of guns or that he’ll fall off the pier into a school of sharks.) We can just not talk about the other horrible fight that the Dude and I got into wherein I hummed an eyeglasses case at him (broke the shit out of it too; luckily the glasses weren’t in it) (especially since it was HIS case).
Just a couple of words on our first two shots at Key West. The first time was right after we got here when we thought we were only going to stay a week. We went to Bo’s Fish Wagon and then walked around a little bit, looking at all the feral chickens and roosters (They are everywhere. It’s all, “Chicken. Rooster. Chicken. Chicken. Rooster. And no, Dude, that rooster? Isn’t “killing” that chicken. Yes, I know he’s on top of her and she’s yelling but what he’s doing? Ain’t killing.), and feral cats (only called feral in that they have no home but you can pet them), went to Mallory Square and saw a busker who had taught his dogs to take the tips (way cute).
The second time we went to lunch at Hog’s Breath and it started to rain. And rain. And it kept raining. And the drains filled because it was raining so fast and so much. I had to wade through calf-deep water to get to the ladies’ room and all I could think was, ‘Oh please, oh please don’t let the bathrooms be flooded where I’m walking in pee water.” (The bathrooms were flooded but the toilets weren’t overflowed. I still wasn’t happy about it and was convinced that I was going to get a social disease but I had to go.) And the streets flooded.
For the first time since I sold my Prelude I was glad I wasn’t in that little car because it would have had water half-way up the door and my seat and the CR-V was fine. Because of the flooding we had to stay in Key West a little longer so we went to see “Avatar,” which is really pretty and probably out of this world (no pun intended) in 3-D but is really just “Dances with Aliens.”
Please stay tuned for the next installment of the Keys Disease.
Keep these words in mind: Federal. Marshal.