Wed. Nov. 6, 2019:
Toronto flight to Miami, Florida:
The downside to a 6am flight is the ungodly wakeup, in this case 2:45am. The subway was not running yet to so we took a Lyft to the airport. We were desperate for any possible time savings. Brent had thought that security didn’t open until 4:00 and the possibility for Wendy’s was floated. But the lady by the gate said that security was in fact already open. We had checked in the previous night and we had our boarding passes on our phones. I kept dropping my phone and forgetting that I had the boarding pass on their, I was so used to having a paper pass. I had chugged a Red Bull on our way to security but apparently that was not enough to keep me awake. Once past security, I went to Starbucks in search of more caffeine. The dragon fruit refresher with lemonade really hit the spot, it felt too early in the morning for coffee. I had gotten Brent a bacon-cheddar-egg sandwich from Starbucks and I was genuinely surprised at how good it was. Also weirdly good were the ketchup Pringles. I finished off the last of my Halloween mini candies while browsing Buzzfeed on the complimentary iPad bolted to the middle of the table. It was awkward to browse and eventually I gave up and tried to load my ebook via the TPL website but it didn’t want to cooperate so I brought out my iPad and set it in front of the bolted one. Much comfier and now I could read Best American Food Writing 2018. The story about peanut butter & jelly sandwiches was making me hungry again. I went back to the bolted iPad and loaded up reddit, the aww subreddit did its job. I lost my marbles over the cuteness of a baby hippo and left it for the next person to see, it was time to board.
Boarding was really fast, except then we were delayed for 40 minutes because apparently, they had forgotten to file a flight plan. We watched the first episode of Fleabag and it was great, but I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake. I starting falling asleep and twitching but my head kept snapping back, which was unusual because usually it snaps forward. Eventually I woke up and downed a whole can of diet Coke and ate some Biscoff cookies while listening to All In The Mind podcast. And then I immediately went back to sleep. I reached a point where I couldn’t sleep any more, but at this point Brent was enthralled with the Dead Cells video game. I was still kind of groggy so I watched Friends. Because we had been up so early, I was already really hungry again. The sweet chili heat Doritos were a nice break from all the sweet stuff I had been eating.
I always forget how hot Florida is. As soon as we had our car, I changed into a skirt and sandals- right there in the parking lot. It was way too hot for socks and pants. It was a 20minute drive down to South Beach in Miami. I could not believe the size of the Norwegian cruise ship in the port. I wondered how it compared in size to the Titanic. We drove by Joe’s Stone Crab and there was no line-up which was a good sign. We parked just down the street and then walked by again, just to make sure. We had 40 minutes before it opened. Still no line, maybe lunchtime wasn’t as popular? It was still early in the season as well. We walked down to the beach, the sand felt so nice. The water was not as warm as I had expected and it soaked the bottom of my skirt. As we walked, I reminisced about GTA Vice City and joked about their being a moped behind a building with a pizza delivery mission. We stopped at a liquor store on the way back. Brent pointed out a drink called “The Claw” which apparently everyone was going crazy for. I was skeptical as it said it had seltzer and was low calorie. We dropped it off in the car and walked one extra block and arrived at Joe’s right at 11:30am. All of the staff were so fancily dressed, it felt a bit awkward but then looking around everyone else was dressed as casual as we were. This only got further confirmed when our server tied paper bibs around our necks. It felt so silly and I couldn’t stop laughing. We ordered six stone crab claws, fried chicken coleslaw and sweet potato fries. We had a good assortment of hot (chicken, fries) and cold (coleslaw, crab claws) dishes. The crab claws came pre-cracked and we just had to fish out the meat. On the side there was a mustard dipping sauce, but the crab was good enough on its own that it didn’t really need the sauce. Everything was delicious but it was not a blow-away meal. The sweet potato fries were good, sprinkled with cinnamon but the serving was too big and they didn’t stand a chance against the crab or chicken. The sides were way too big and eventually we had to give up. We went to the takeout shop next door to get our key lime pie to go, otherwise it would have been embarrassing given how much food we had left.
Driving back to the mainland we passed by Star Island and I could not believe the size of the yachts in the private docks. Some legitimately seemed bigger than our apartment. We wondered if we could go onto the island but as we passed the road, I spotted a gate. Too bad, it would have been fun to drive around and gawk. We ate the key lime pie in the parking lot of Villa Vizcaya because we were full of savoury but not sweet and it would not have survived the trip to the hotel. A lesson we had learned last time we were in Florida when we got key lime pie to go from Frenchy’s. It was a good pie, not too tart but not too sweet, with a good buttery crumb. In the end it ranked second place for me. Villa Vizcaya was great. As always there were a few quinceañera photo shoots happening. As we were walking up, I told Brent the story of the giant spider between the trees I had seen last time, and wouldn’t you know it there was another such giant spider in that same stretch of path! I joked it was the same one. We saw a weird bird standing among the mangroves. There was a lizard whose head, body and tail were all different colours. We also saw an iguana. It was so hot I drank as much as I could from the water fountain until my stomach was full.
Back on the road Brent’s phone rang. Our snorkelling trip for the following day had to be rescheduled until Friday. Apparently, they were expecting 4-foot high waves tomorrow. It wasn’t so bad, we would just have to move around some plans and have a bit more driving but at least it wasn’t outright cancelled. Pretty soon we were in the Keys, but not before the final warnings. Leading up to it there were signs saying last food/gas/whatever for x number of miles. Soon we were seeing signs for the Sandal Outlet, warning us not to pay Key West prices for t-shirts. There were a lot of weird little shops in Key Largo. There was a pickup truck advertising a shop where they were selling pigs feet and Speedos?! In between the little towns there really was nothing on the road, they weren’t joking. In the next town they had a Hobo’s Café. The first part of the drive was not as pretty as expected, passing through the larger towns with their sparse outcroppings of chain stores. Eventually the view changed, from the bridge we could see narrow keys in the water and a single parallel line of hydro towers. The water was a beautiful blue. But I still got the feeling that it was better from the sky, we needed an aerial view.
We were staying in Marathon and our first stop was Publix. Our dinner plans consisted of Pub Subs, cake and snacks. I also stocked up on coffee and instant pudding (Oreo, Sonic strawberry milkshake and coconut!). I had read online that Publix bakery’s soft frosted sugar cookies are also great so we got a pack of those in addition to the funfetti vanilla cake with buttercream frosting. Brent recreated the Tampa Bay sub with chicken tenders and I had the jerk turkey. Only after I had ordered it did I see that they did in fact have the holiday turkey sub, I had just missed the sticker. We also got giant chewy sour Nerds (are they even really Nerds then? Yes, they taste just like Nerds). The chicken tender sub was the clear winner. The cake was perfect as always. The cookies, a usual favourite of mine, somehow fell short. They seemed kind of powdery/dry, it’s hard to explain. Thankfully we had also built a six-pack at Publix, The Claw was not good. It was exactly what you would expect from an alcoholic lime seltzer. Thankfully I had some Angry Orchard rose cider for my second drink. We alternated watching Modern Family and Family Feud. We were staying in a mini apartment complete with fridge but the ice maker was broken. Brent was drinking a Boston marathon beer and I only realized later in the night: was this because we were IN Marathon?! He said it had been unintentional but makes sense why that obscure beer was available. TV got better as the evening wore on, now we were watching Bob’s Burgers and Jeopardy and an episode of Nature about cheetahs. I gave up on the cookies and The Claw, they were just not good. I was so tired and it was only 8:30, I wanted to go to bed so bad but I made myself stay up until 9pm so it was at least a little reasonable.