My husband and I have always loved the Keys in Florida. As you can see above, these little islands stretch out into various bodies of water from Homestead , where Hurricane Andrew wreaked his havoc several years ago just south of Miami to the last Island, Key West, home of “Papa” Ernest Hemingway and howdy rowdy annual “Fantasy Fest”. Now the stage has been set for my little story “Revenge of the African Queen”.
But first a little back-story. My husband Tom and I began taking our four children, all boys, to Marathon in the Keys when they were just little ones for summer vacations. Marathon, as you can see on the map is about half-way down in the Keys. We always stayed at “Blue Lagoon” efficiency cottages right on the water where the kids could fish to their hearts content during the day and swim in the pool, and then every night we would go out night fishing on the Marathon Lady fishing boat. We‘d come home early a.m. , filet fish , cook em' up and eat til' we popped and then crash.
Then, just about every year, we would take another trip to the Keys, this time, sans kiddos and travel all the way down to Key West and do what came to be fondly referred to as the “Duval Crawl” seeing how many bars we could hit, how many jello shooters, rum runners and pain killers we could down while remaining vertically inclined. Needless to say these trips were an absolute blast but how many "Duval Crawls" can one survive?
A few pictures, first of the Marathon Lady, then about mid-way through the “Duval Crawl” Key West follow:
|Jason, Erikh, Tom in sexy cut off T, Brian, kneeling and Justin|
|Me (Carrot Top) Justin and "Edsel DOPE" to be (Brian)|
|Mid-way on one "Duval Crawl" and one click away from horizontal.|
So after some years of this pattern of behavior Tom and I decided we wanted to do something, well, a little more adventurous? This vacation was to be our "get back in touch with nature vacation" instead of "sipping Pina Coladas by the pool vacation and crawling Duval Street". To set the character backgrounds, the last time Tom and I had come in touch with nature and adventure was Woodstock, but we had seen this ad..... "Cruise the Florida Keys in your air conditioned houseboat or stay dockside and enjoy the Tiki bar, outdoor grill and our beautiful tropical rain forest, it said. We reserved the boat for one week and option for second week. Wishful thinking...
Day 1. We arrive...the houseboat is being "worked on".....an omen?
We check the place out....The Tiki Bar...The last time it was used Humphrey Bogart was in kindergarten. The Grill...A 1955 "Hibachi". The Rain Forest...a thatch roof 2' X 2' shower head raining rusty water from a white tank via centrifugal force. Think positively I said!
Four hours and a few beers we purchased at Winn Dixie later, we're off...she (me) decides it is time for a dip...:she dives in...."oh, what's that big thing in the water" she says..."It's a shark", he says...She tears half her shin off trying to get back on the boat....he laughs his head off....divorce is discussed. He says, "Let's just calm down and call it a day... She says, Calm down, How? These mosquitoes are big enough to fly us to Europe and back that are attacking this boat. So we get out the mosquito pics...all of them.....Ever try sleeping in a 4' x 3' area with the doors closed with three mosquito pics burning?
Day 2. "Good Morning"...(she)..."Boy do I need a shower". Shower...another rusty tank with a hose the size of a pencil, yes, working on centrifugal force. I'm not even trying it. So in the water I go with my bar of ivory soap. Now, ever try to get a bar of ivory soap to suds up in salt water? Try shaving your legs in an inner tube with a bloody shin, a razor full of seaweed while looking for sharks!
Him "Let's back out of this lagoon and go fishing"... " Oh, wait, something is wrong with the boat he says...no reverse"....She "Well, fix it"....more talk of divorce. "Don't panic (me) Let's just go forward and fish a while, work our way down the Keys a bit, find a good marina, SPEND THE NIGHT, GO EAT REAL FOOD." Hours and no edible food later we pull in to a nice marina. We are tired, hot, dirty, hungry...."We don't accept over-nighters" they said...You'll have to BACK-OUT"...(us)......"WE CAN'T BACK OUT...WE HAVE NO REVERSE"....(them) "Well, it will be two days before we can fix it but we'd be happy to give you a push outta' here." (Looking back, I can understand...we must have looked like we just escaped from an asylum and stole the ramshackle houseboat!)
So, we go on down a ways to a KOA Campground with a dock - spaces where you can rent a space and electricity....yay!!! we can plug in the AC, take a dip in the CLEAN pool, take a HOT shower...they are CLOSED....a really nice man feels sorry for us...we look like we just spent two years on the African Queen! He lets us go ahead and dock...says we can pay in the morning. First things first. We plug in the AC....WHOA! .it catches on fire...we are out of water...we each have a beer in our hand....we use our last beers to get the damn fire out and use what's left of our fishing rags, paper towels, napkins etc. to clean up the mess. "To hell with it he (he) says" ..."I'm not paying to plug in and stay here if I can't have AC, Let's GO!..."Hey, nice man, can you give us a push, we don't have reverse" ...and push he did, pushed us right into a MEGA BUCKS boat. I'm on the front desperately trying to stop us while 'he" steers but it was hit the boat or break both legs, so hit the boat we did. Skip over much BS to much later................after stocking up on many beers, we anchor off shore for another fun filled, mosquito pic filled evening of sleeplessness, "he" at one end of boat, "me" at the other. We stink too bad to even think of sleeping together, besides, we are not even speaking, not even about divorce. You've heard of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb"....This is an entirely new concept.... "Uncomfortably Numb".
Me "We have to make the best of this.."Let's go get some gas, some bait, a chum bag, more beer, let's have some FUN...We pull into a marina...get our stuff; get ready to go....boat won't start....battery dead...Husband lugs battery to a "place" way down on A1A get's battery charged, nice lady there gives him a ride back to marina...WE push boat out of marina this time. Get a little ways out in the water-way...throw out the chum bag, bait those hooks...chum bag gets caught in propeller....He "THAT'S IT"....I'm taking this "blankety blank" houseboat back and I'm getting my "blankety blank" money back and I'm going to a "blankety blank" "blankety "blank" resort" where "blankety blank" normal people go. I've blankety blank had it!".
Misery was not to be denied!....A famous Florida squall came up... I couldn't direct "him" through the channel markers that he couldn't see see because, of course, the wipers didn't work. Me on brow of boat couldn't see my hand in front of my face....we ran up on a sand bar.....more expletives...not to mention whiplash...now "he" is in the water, the chum bag still flopping around the propeller...saying "make sure a "blankety blank" shark does not tear my legs off while I get this "blankety blank" boat off this sand bar.
Hours later we dock right next to the Rain Forest that didn't make it through the storm and now has made it's home on the rickety dock...Oh and here comes the proprietor....you can tell he's been through this before. He takes one look at my husband who now looks like the Terminator on speed. We have have no problemo getting a full refund.
Several hours later......checking in to the Whale Harbor Inn, Islamorada, luxury accommodations with a real king sized bed and bath and awesome restaurant and Tiki bar where we licked our wounds, regained our land-legs and got totally inebriated every night at the Tiki bar singing “Wild Thing” at the Karaoke bar and normal things that Duval Crawl people do. Divorce cancelled....and to hell with nature and adventure!
(NOTE: All preivous old blog comments deleted)