We set the alarm for 5am Friday morning and due to our 1am load of laundry, we ripped ourselves from the sheets at 5:35am – later than anticipated but not too bad. We had to finish packing (no surprise there) and attempt to load up the Vue with luggage, snacks, cooler, dog beds, dog food, dog toys, dog treats, dog bowls and of course the girls. Did I mention that we were bringing Stella and Phyllis? When we planned the trip, we decided to bring the girls because Key West is so dog friendly and thought that it would make us more at ease to have the dogs with us…. That was before we had to try to pack all the dog crap into the ever-shrinking Vue and then enjoy the good times it is to coax the dogs into the cramped car. We only had to head back home once to get something we’d forgotten so we took our “smooth” morning as a good omen.
Let me just say that Frank is especially fun on road trips. He plays games with me, chit chats about anything at all, and (probably because of his lack of ipod), puts up with my incessant girly music and show tunes, so I was excited to be on the road. After we took our time on the road to enjoy the view (especially the sparkly aqua water), a few potty stops (apparently dogs can’t hold it that long, however much I’d like to keep moving), several fiber one bars (Frank’s so lucky), and about 7 hours we arrived in beautiful Key West.
We’d rented a house since the gang was joining us and that turned out to be a TERRIFIC idea – it was beautiful, open with lots of light, was colorful, and private. Hope had arrived a bit earlier so we told her to wrap up her bikini wax and pedicure and come on over. We freshened up (because after 7 hours in the car I truly look like a homeless person) and decided to explore some of the island…. And when I say explore some of the island I mean go out for a frozen beverage from the Flying Monkey and a Chocolate Covered Key Lime Pie on a stick – mmmmm delicious! Shortly after our afternoon of shopping and delicious treat eating the boys arrived. Now that Jed, Mike, and Mike were there, it was time to properly enjoy the island! We all headed down to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration. We searched to find the man who juggles the cats and the rest of the crazies and just at sunset we found the lot of them. It was a beautiful evening and the island was super crowded – just the right atmosphere for a birthday weekend!
I consulted online advice from regulars and locals to find the best dinner spot for our first night on the island and so we’d planned and made reservations to have dinner at Santiago’s Bodega a locally owned tapas restaurant…. What none of the reviews said, was that we’d have to walk through the Harlem of Key West to get there. After noticing several unsavory sorts we finally arrived at the tiny location. When I say tiny, I really mean tiny. There were four tables inside the restaurant and one outside. We checked in and the six of us were seated inside – something we were grateful of because we were hella hot from the July heat and lengthy stroll. It wasn’t necessarily air-conditioned but there were fans, which made it a bit cooler. We ordered drinks and eagerly looked at the variety on the menu. This would be the last good service we’d experience at Santiago’s Bodega. When we were almost decided, the hostess came to the table to tell us that we’d taken someone else’s table and wanted to know if we really had a reservation or were crashing. After an uncomfortable back and forth, she discovered that we had similar last names and she supposed they’d have to sit outside. Then the drinks came…. But not with glasses, napkins, or silverwear. Once the glasses did arrive, the restaurant was apparently out of wine glasses so he delivered beer pints for us to drink our sangria out of – not the end of the world though. Orders were placed and once we’d told him what we wanted, he proceeded to roll his eyes and explain that even though we’d ordered separately, that’s not how it’s done and frustratingly explained how tapas works…. Which would be understandable if we hadn’t made a reservation several weeks in advance – wouldn’t that kind of forethought tell him that we’d probably done some research? But I digress. This was the point when we made friends with the chatty English lady and her family at the table next to us. You should know that the table next to us was only about 5 inches away from our table, so we were practically sitting together – why not make the best of it! Jed foolishly asked for a pitcher of water to which I think the server actually growled at him and then in one refilling moment, dropped Mike M.’s glass onto him. Our new English lady-friend found this all loudly amusing and wildly inappropriate with a good sense of humor. Though the service was deplorable, the food was really fantastic – interesting, full of flavor and portions that were quite plentiful but when it was time we knew immediately that this clearly wasn’t going to be somewhere that the idea of separate checks was likely to be embraced. We scrounged up what cash we had (thank goodness, we had quite a bit as it was the beginning of the weekend) paid and began our trek back through crack-town.
We headed back to our beautiful house for a dip in the pool and to relax. Jed, of course, passed out immediately upon returning home, crawling into a ball onto the side chair in the living room and the rest of us went to enjoy a splish-splash in our private pool – how fancy are we?!?!
Well, all of us except for sleepy Jed.