Fri. Nov. 8, 2019:
Key West, Florida:
The key lime pie from Kermit’s was so good, it was the best one yet (and overall, it is still the best one I’ve ever had). The pie was smooth and creamy and the crust was barely noticeable but in a good way because the crumbs were so buttery, they just blended right in. We had an early wakeup on account of the rescheduled snorkeling trip. It was way too early for me, case in point my notebook: “there was no coffee for milk again” and we were up before the hotel started serving breakfast. Thankfully I had spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts on our way in yesterday and wouldn’t you know it we had to go back that way to get to snorkeling. It was meant to be. I have never been in the States this close to Christmas before, I was tempted to buy a DD donut Christmas ornament or a winter hat but it had a pompom. The gingerbread s’mores flavour was alright, it was a bit too sweet for my liking but they nailed the marshmallow flavour. Our snorkeling trip wasn’t until 9:30am but we had to be there early to sign in and get sorted. I felt naked without my rings on.
There were more people on this trip than the last time we had gone snorkeling which was good, we didn’t have to make small talk. As we sat on the boat in the dock going over the safety procedure it started raining. Luckily, we were under the roof, but some of the others just sat there in the rain instead of either stripping down to their bathing suits OR coming under the roof. It made no sense. It was about a 30-minute boat ride to the first spot off Louee Key. We passed by Palm Island. Brent looked into staying there because they had snorkeling out to the coral reef we were going to, but they still haven’t fully recovered from the hurricane two years ago. I had a mild flash of panic at the thought that we were out in the open ocean with no land in sight, it was unsettling to think there was nothing to swim towards should something awful happen. We didn’t have wetsuits or pool noodles. Instead, in the interest of safety, we had to wear screaming neon yellow vests that could be inflated. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I really was expecting to have to go back to the boat for a noodle. As always, I had to remind myself that with the snorkel I could breathe with my face in the water. Even still, the first few times I held my breath. Then I would only put my face under for short intervals akin to holding my breath. Even then I was still breathing heavily and having to remind myself to calm down and just breathe normally. All I could hear was my heavy breathing. Adding to my discomfort I couldn’t pee in the ocean.
We also had some scuba divers on our boat and it was neat to look down and see them far below us, much closer to the reef. They scared a school of yellow fish who swam up to the surface and I just floated along with them. It was kind of fun swimming along with them, I had finally gotten used to swimming with the snorkel mask and breathing normally. There were two giant beautiful blue (parrot?) fish pecking at the reef. One fish had a red head and a green body and reminded me of Christmas or a traffic light. It was not a stop-light parrotfish though. Back on the boat waiting for everyone else to come back, we tried to identify what we had seen using laminated cards. It was hard to focus as the boat kept rocking and we were both trying to keep it together and not get sick. I was too tired to go back in. at the second spot everyone was clamoring to one spot but i was too slow to get there in time. I missed seeing a shark! The annoying yoga dad would not shut up about he got “like 40 seconds of shark footage,” as if that is so impressive. Brent got to see it, but he missed out on the eel that the last stragglers saw. He missed out on it because he wasn’t doing so well. I knew he had gotten sick because when I looked over at him, he was suddenly surrounded by fish. Gross yes, but it was also effective. It was cool to see all the fish poking about and the corals were a beautiful shade of deep purple. The coolest part was that at first you could barely see much, but as your eyes adjusted a whole underwater world would appear. The ocean was an incredibly beautiful shade of blue that was unreal. Off in the distance you could see the shallower corals as darker patches of ocean. Towards the end I was kind of just swimming laps, not quite tired enough to risk being on the boat but too tired to swim out too far. Back on the boat I was tired and hungry and trying so, so, SO hard to keep it together.
Back in the shop I purchased the salt & coconut oil scrub I had sampled in the bathroom that morning. Their marketing gimmick paid off. On the way back we stopped at Wendy’s and Publix for lunch. We grabbed spicy chicken nuggets with creamy sriracha dip from Wendy’s and ate them in the parking lot on the way to Publix. The chicken nuggets were so damn good, they need to be a regular thing and made available in Canada, as does the equally good dipping sauce. The selection at this Publix was not as good as the previous one we had been to. They didn’t have the holiday turkey sub but they did have the Miami Dolphins one. I got the Havana Bold which a lot of people said was good. Watching her make it, I realized oh man it was meat heavy: ham, bacon and melted cheese. I added some spinach and lettuce and pickles to try and balance it out. The drink selection was equally paltry, I got a Stella Artois cider and was about to give up when I found two wine spritzers from an aptly named company, Day Drinkin’. To change things up we got a chocolate cake slice with buttercream. There were no wacky Oreos but I did get the Publix brand raspberry iced tea (another internet recommendation).
The sandwich was indeed heavy, but so delicious I could forgive that. Needless to say, I didn’t finish it. That’s ok, it would hold up well for later snacking. The raspberry iced tea was more of a sweet tea. The chocolate cake was a sad pathetic dud, it was hard to believe it was from the same bakery! Our final verdict on Pub Subs: chicken tenders are the best. At first, I was not impressed with the Floyd’s spiked lemonade but the more I drank it the more I liked it (shocker!).
We left earlier this time for the sunset, we had to make a pitstop at CVS for aloe. When Brent had mentioned getting sunscreen for our snorkeling trip i laughed, it’s November I said! Turns out i was wrong and now we both had badly burned backs. I felt bad for laughing earlier. I was also hoping to find the Burt’s Bees Res-Q ointment for my itchy legs but there was no sign of it. They didn’t have any travel-size aloe but it was only $3 and we needed it badly. Brent was wearing his Santa Paws t-shirt and it seemed to be a cat charm. We had met three super cute cats before even getting to CVS. We also passed a couple who were debating whether or not they should go back to the hotel to change first. She was in a thong bikini. She was nowhere near a beach, a boat or a pool.
I joked again about going to Margaritaville and Brent called it lame. Except then he mentioned that he had looked into staying at the Margaritaville resort. What a missed opportunity! We walked out to the pier for the sunset except we arrived at a hotel (?) dock with a giant yacht, not the nice square from yesterday. There was a drunk guy on the yacht yelling at the people on the land down below about how drunk he was that he couldn’t remember who he was. I needed to get away from him, fast. We walked along the waterfront, periodically stopping so I could get a slightly different view of the sunset. We sat down by the busy waterfront. The beauty was periodically interrupted by a terrible singing busker, she really needed something new to do. And a lady talking about her “energies” and how they can be neither created nor destroyed, just repurposed. There were a lot of yachts and sailboats out on the water making for pretty pictures. To complete it, a seaplane flew by as well.
We walked over to Tiki House because apparently tiki bars are a Keys thing. I based this solely on the number of bars I saw on the drive down. Given we were in a tiki bar, I had to order a zombie cocktail. I grabbed a table while Brent went to the bar to order. I could not see him around the pillar, apparently, he was trying to get my attention. I could see why when he arrived. There was a blue flame shooting out the top of my drink. They lit a lime on fire! It seemed a bit dangerous. I took a picture then took a sip, only then realizing I had taken a picture of the backside of the glass. Oops. It was such a popular drink that they had it premixed on tap. I liked the hint of cinnamon. It was also very appropriate as I had listened to an episode of Gastropod about tiki bars and the zombie cocktail a few weeks ago. A lady walked up to us and asked me about my fire drink, I had to explain to her that you first have to blow the flame out and then take a sip. She was not as drunk as the guy dancing by himself, his shorts slowly falling down. We missed it, but it looked like he had been asked to leave the bar.
Up next in our mini bar crawl we went next door to Captain Tony’s, allegedly the original site of Sloppy Joe’s before it was called that, and they also claimed to be Hemingway’s favourite haunt. As if the man could not have two favourite bars?! We ordered at the bar and got a table. This was the strongest but not the sweetest mojito of the trip. The more I drank the more I contemplated taking off my bra and donating it to the bar to add to the decor. The bar was strung with bras overhead. Literally hundreds of them. This bar was more dive-y than tourist-y and I liked it. There was on food menu and they only had two cocktail options: mojito or a rum punch in a 22oz souvenir cup. I joked about one day dying in a house filled with crappy plastic souvenir mugs and the poor soul who would have to clean the place out. I was tempted by the latter, but the size put me off- i still had to make it to dinner. It seemed a little more like a place Hemingway would like, compared to Sloppy Joe’s. All around us people were smoking cigarettes, it was odd given how long it has been illegal back home. The place was filled with drunk baby-boomers. A guy walked in just to use the bathroom. He was wearing a cream coloured linen suit and he could not be more Miami vice if he tried.
We couldn’t cross Duval St because there was a parade of speed-boats. This did not bother me in the least, I was feeling nice and slightly drunk (or loose, if you believe my notebook). We had missed all of the speed-boat races and now we were seeing the end of the parade. Except there were still going to be races that weekend, so why the parade? It made no sense. Plus, the boats were pulled along in trailers on their sides. One of the boats had people on it tossing little bottles of chocolate milk and then the next one was tossing mardi gras beads. We followed along behind as it wrapped up.
We stopped in at Kermit’s so I could get the fancy tin of cookies. I also sampled some of the other key lime products and debated getting the key lime peanuts as a late-night hotel snack but Brent talked me down. We were on our way to dinner after all!
Pepe’s was predominantly known for their key lime pie so our dinner options were wide open. When the server led us to our table, he apologized to a black and white cat that he had disturbed. It was when I turned, I saw that the merchandise featured a cat. This restaurant had its own official cat. I was all for this! Brent had the filet mignon with green beans and one of the best baked potatoes I’ve ever had, so good and salty. I ordered one of the daily specials: mahi mahi with pink shrimp and lobster sauce. I had coleslaw and corn on the side. Both dishes were excellent. To start I had a rum punch to make up for earlier. The people next to us were some lit baby-boomers. One of the husbands started talking about when he first discovered bourbon, at which point I locked eyes with his wife and we both chuckled. They had the same salt scrub in the bathroom and I was tempted to buy more. We got the key lime pie and my freshly squeezed juice margarita to go. And from here things just started to go sideways. It was a strong margarita. I remember saying something about a dingy taxi resembling a coyote?
We got to Duval St. and it was packed, all the boats were packed in the streets and people were crowding around and drinking. It was like a mild, middle-aged Bourbon St. At this point I was “comfy drunk.” We stopped at KWest to get Brent a walking beer so he could catch up to me. I found peanut butter topped Reese’s peanut butter cups and it was the closest we’ve ever been to finding all peanut butter Reese’s cups! I tore right into it, forgetting that we were in Florida so of course it was a melty mess. It was a king size, so my second one would have to wait until it froze a bit back in the hotel. It was so damn good though that i did periodically consider eating it, even though it would be even messier, having had more time to melt. Passing by the cemetery the usual cat wasn’t there, which made sense, she was probably out hunting.
Back in the room I got into my pyjamas. We alternated watching Planet Earth and Spongebob– as in the exact same shows we had been watching before we left for the sunset hours ago. We put the pie in the fridge, we were still too full from dinner (good thing I hadn’t gotten more snacks). The pie would have to be for breakfast, as was quickly becoming tradition. No complaints here, I was all for it.