Monday, December 31, 2018

A Low Key (West) Holiday

Pete and I spent last week in Key West, Florida having a non-religious, non-traditional holiday filled with sunshine, ocean breezes and key lime pie. (And copious cocks. Key West is full of feral chickens. Roaming roosters emit a near-constant cacophony of crowing, Just a tip: bring ear plugs if you don't want to be woken up by alarm cocks). It was a restful, stress-free trip. These are some memorable moments from the week:

Running to the Southernmost point in the continental U.S. on Christmas Eve morning. Taking pictures along the way of the palm trees lit up with Christmas lights. Suddenly realizing that my military ID must have fallen out of the Spi belt when I took out my phone. Starting to panic. (We had rented a vacation condo on the Navy base. It's a sweet 3 bedroom with a full kitchen and washer/dryer and it's way cheaper than any of the hotels in town. It's a nice perk for military members and their families. But the base is guarded by an armed sentry, and I wouldn't have been able to get back on base without my military ID card or without calling Pete to come to the gate and get me in with his ID. Not to mention, it wouldn't be good if someone else found my ID and tried to use it). Sprinting back to the place where I'd pulled out my phone and luckily finding my ID still on the ground where I'd inadvertently dropped it. Feeling relieved that it was still early enough that no one else was really around and thankful for this minor Christmas miracle - I found my ID and I'd actually done speed work (kind of). Still making it to the Southernmost point in time to see the sunrise. And at the same time as two other tourists who offered to take my picture and asked me to take theirs.

The Southernmost Point. Yes, I will do all the touristy things. 

Site of my lost ID card/only speedwork of 2018

Eating all the key lime pie (it is so good!) My recommendations: Kermit's for chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick, and Moondog and The Cafe for vegan key lime cheesecake. Drinking all the frozen coffee I could since it's going to be many months before it'll be warm enough at home for me to want anything other than piping hot drinks.

Randomly wandering into an art gallery, where I was mesmerized by the underwater scenes in Andres Franke's The Sinking World (check it out, it's cool) and even more mesmerized by an old English Bulldog who I immediately befriended.

Key West trees are amazing. I wanted to climb all of them!

Climbing the tower at the Shipwreck Museum and announcing to Pete at the top "Well, now it's officially vacation since I made you climb a tall thing!" (On our previous trip to Key West in December 2016, we'd climbed the lighthouse tower, which also has great views). Inside the Shipwreck museum, lifting the 64 lb authentic silver bar. The guide only asked Pete if he wanted to lift it, apparently assuming that I wouldn't be able to (not cool, tour guide lady). So Pete lifted it easily and then told the guide that I'd be able to lift it too and how I'd even lifted him in the past (technically this is true, but it was only a couple of centimeters off the ground for a couple of seconds). The guide looked super skeptical, but I lifted the silver bar easily (It's not hard to do. The bar is in a case, presumably so no one can steal it, so you can really only lift it a couple of inches anyway).

Shipwreck museum tower
We climbed the tower. We did not spot any shipwrecks. 

Doing the Truman Little White House tour (It was somewhat interesting, but I liked Hemingway's house better, which we visited in 2016. But it's not Truman's fault - it's hard to compete with 6 toed cats).

Going to the Naval Air Station on Boca Chica Key, where there's a nice little beach and bar & grill at the marina. Eating lunch and swimming, watching the fighter jets practice their jetting (Or whatever it is they do. All I know is that jetting creates maximum surround-sound level roaring noises).

Big roaring sound. Tiny little fighter jet.

Running with Pete on Christmas morning, followed by coffee and breakfast on the screened-in porch of our rental unit. Exploring Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (The fort has a lot of cannons. The beach is beautiful, but bring your own chairs as it costs $30 to rent beach chairs and an umbrella there. Damn, Zachary Taylor, that's too rich for my blood. If I'm going to pay $30 for a chair, it had better be a massage chair. Or in a helicopter. I'm not picky).

This rooster wants coffee and breakfast too

Spending Christmas night on the Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour, hearing about all the ghost stories of Key West. Apparently, Key West is one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. and apparently yes, someone does keep track of these things and rank cities in terms of ghostliness. The tour wasn't scary but the guide did tell us a few creepy stories, the creepiest of which was the tale of Carl Tanzler. Creepy Carl stole his patient's body and lived with her corpse for years, until he was caught. Before this weird corpse bride shit, he had abandoned his wife and kids and changed his name to Count Carl von Cosel. Super creepy, Carl.

If you enjoy riding a trolley while hearing about creepy dudes, this tour is for you.

Watching the sunset from a glass bottom boat at sea. This was supposed to be a tour out to the coral reef, where we'd be able to see everything from the glass bottom of the boat. But due to high winds and choppy seas, they switched it to a harbor tour instead. Initially I was disappointed, but it would be super lame to complain about being privileged enough to be out on a boat on a beautiful sunny 82 degree day in December in Monroe County (Monroe County, Florida that is. A beautiful sunny 82 degree day would never happen in Monroe County, New York. If it did, we'd have far bigger problems, mainly that global warming has fucked things up beyond all repair).

We're on a boat

Renting bikes and riding around town. Well, first trying to rent bikes and being told they were all out for the morning, but we could try back in the afternoon or rent hybrid bikes which were more expensive than the one-speed cruisers. While we were deciding what to do, two cruisers were fortuitously returned and we rented those. While she was taking our information, the rental lady asked where we were staying, Pete told her on the Navy base and she said "Do you have a military ID? Show that everywhere in this town. We put service members first. I would have canceled someone else's reservation and given you their bikes." Which I guess is nice of her, but we'd rather not get bikes at all than take someone else's reservation away from them.

Looking for a restaurant to eat dinner on our last night in Key West, we browsed a menu at one place, but everything had meat or fish in it so there was nothing I could eat. We went to a restaurant across the street instead. I tried to order a salad but the waiter said they were out of salad, so I ordered the veggie wrap (which was 75% spinach and was basically a salad inside a wrap so not sure how they were out of salad? But anyways, nutrients were had by all). When the waiter said they were out of salad, Pete said we could just go somewhere else if I wanted. This was the second place we'd tried for dinner. We were both tired and hungry and he was just casually like we can go somewhere else, not irritated or inconvenienced like other people can get sometimes. Pete eats meat and fish and pretty much everything besides onions. He doesn't really understand why I don't eat animals, in that he doesn't feel the same way about it that I do. But he accepts it and accepts me, without hesitation or annoyance. I'm not a grand gestures kind of person. It's the small, ordinary moments like this where I feel like I got the best life partner for me. I'm a difficult person to love. I don't mean that in a self-deprecating way. I don't think I'm unlovable. Everyone is inherently lovable. But I'm stubborn and strong-willed and fiercely independent. I have strong convictions and high expectations about who I want to be and how I want to live my life. I am a lot of motion and words and ridiculousness compressed into human form. It's too much for some people and that's ok. Pete and I are different in some ways but there is space enough for each of us to be who we are and I am thankful for that.

There were many more moments that I'm forgetting here, but suffice it to say Key West is a fun place, an island of cocks and seamen and pie. What more could you want from a vacation?

We are weird

The sun sets on another adventure

Lyric of the moment: "And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last. I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself to hold on to these moments as they pass..." ~ Counting Crows "A Long December"