Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The three-hour tour...

Remember Mr. It’s-going-to-rain-all-day-and-you’ll-be-stuck-in-your-room-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-do-here? Yeah, well, he can rely on the weather forecast all he wants because the One who controls the weather had a different plan for the day. We actually woke early in the morning to a downpour. I grumbled, rolled over and went back to sleep. We slept in a bit and then enjoyed a leisurely bit of time “together”…Jon with complete control of the remote control and The History Channel and me with the bathroom all to myself and no critters underfoot. We even had an extra hour before our 10:30 appointment (gasp!), so we decided to go for a drive and find some water and snacks. Okay, yes, and a Coke for me. We were wonderfully surprised by the bright sunshine and blue skies that greeted us! So much for that gloom-and-doom forecast!


I actually took this photo on our way out of town, so the sky isn't the beautiful blue you see in the rest of the pictures below. I included it for posterity...a humbling reminder that our first night in the Keys we drove back and forth on the Overseas Highway about ten times, looking for this highly recommended little dive...and never found it until the light of day.

We made it back just in time for our update appointment, and I thoroughly enjoyed politely rubbing the weather in the concierge's face. Again, remember...better than a punch in the face. We sat through our obligatory spiel....update...blah blah blah...new resorts...blah blah blah...really need more points...blah blah blah...great deal...blah blah blah...no, thank you...blah blah blah. We ate our free breakfast and took our $50 gift card and hit the road.

The new Seven Mile Bridge on the left...

The old Seven Mile Bridge connecting to

Pigeon Key on the right...

Our original plan had been to drive the remaining hour to Key West and make the most of a rainy day by enjoying the shops and musical entertainment our country's southernmost city has to offer. We scrapped that plan pretty much immediately and decided to capitalize on the beautiful day instead of spending two hours of our day driving. We settled on taking a ferry to a little island, Pigeon Key, that was part of the chain of islands Henry Flagler used to build the Florida East Coast Railroad at the beginning of the 1900s. We only had about 10 minutes to make the next boat, so we grabbed the sunscreen and a bottle of water. Upon arrival, we received lesson #1 on life in the Keys. This was our "ferry".

I swiped this and the one above from their website...
the name of the file? "FerryBoatBig"

I admit I was a smidge apprehensive about taking such a small boat out on the ocean, but it turned out to be a blast! We tooled out of the little harbor, past some really cool places...not schmancy mansions (although I'm sure they exist somewhere down there), but nice homes built to enjoy the locale. I think the idea is that a lot of life is spent outside here...why spend a fortune on life inside? It was then I started to fall in love with the small scale, laidback atmosphere of the Keys.






Got some fun photos as we motored gently under the new Seven Mile Bridge and the old Seven Mile Bridge that connects Marathon to Pigeon Key. Then when we hit the open water, Captain Larry floored it! Jon and I just looked at each other and grinned...it's not something we get to do every day, you know. At the dock, we were greeted by our tour guide, Chris, who escorted us to a group of chairs under some palm trees and gave us the lowdown on Henry Flagler and his endeavor to build a railroad from Miami all the way to Key West. Turns out the guy was loaded...like Rockefeller loaded. Pigeon Key served as a base during the construction, housing around 400 men, In 1912, the railroad to Key West was completed, but, sadly, it was badly damaged in 1935 by the Labor Day Hurricane. Because of the impending Depression, it was discontinued and turned into the Overseas Highway.





Pigeon Key is now historically preserved by a non-profit corporation that uses the island for educational purposes. There are all kinds of school group visits and summer camps. The kids stay on the island and learn all about marine life. They snorkel with sharks and fish and have science labs...really cool stuff. All I could think of is how much Mickey would LOVE this place...and how we might never talk him into leaving.


Pretty sure this is the bridge Reva drove her car off of

during a Guiding Light episode way back in the day...

We toured the island buildings and then spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun and endless blue waters that surrounded us. It wasn't fancy, but it was heavenly. We even saw an enormous nurse shark swim around the dock! Finally, at 4 pm, we were ready to board the last boat of the day and head back to Marathon for dinner. Only the boat never showed. It was moored out in the waters off Pigeon Key, and it had a broken impeller, which apparently is a very bad thing. So there we were. We waited for a while to see if they could repair the boat before our tour guide, Chris, employed Plan B. We weren't really all that stranded, you see. In fact, we could have walked the two-plus miles back via the old bridge, but I vetoed because I had pretty shoes on. And because I really didn't want to leave. But we were getting hungry, and I wasn't really into playing Survivor...pretty shoes and all...so by the time Chris offered up golf cart rides back, I was ready to go. We all but howled with laughter when the golf cart stalled out on the bridge and we had to wait for the engine to cool.


My blue heaven...


He was going somewhere with the staging of this shot...


A good-sized, supposedly harmless,

nurse shark under the pier...


Well, at least we weren't stuck ON the boat...


Our island tour guide, Chris...


We finally made it back to our car...what a great afternoon we'd had...and headed back to our room to freshen up for dinner. We chose a little place on the water and had the best mahi and nachos! It was one of my favorite meals of the trip! I'm not normally one to enjoy fish, but the mahi (which was technically Jon's dinner) was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. After that, we managed to miss the sunset again, mostly due to the clouds that were rolling in again, and called it a day.


We sat just to the left of the blue cabana...


The view from our table...

I wish, in some ways, we'd made it to Key West. I wish, in a lot of ways, we'd been able to just chill for a few more days. But I am grateful in every way that we had that day together, just the two of us. We needed it so much.


Ally said...

Beautiful pictures! and what an adventure! It is so nice to get away being husband and wife. We make it a point to plan a trip once a year. Everyone benefits from it:)

Kristi said...

So I know jealousy is a bad thing, but I have to admit to having a little over your blue water day! I'm very happy for you two that you had a blissful day together, just the two of you.