Let me reveal that in the process of writing this blog I’ve discovered that my memory is not as good as I thought it was. I had it in my head that the events of my Florida vacation happened in a certain order but when I looked back on the dates of my vacation pictures I discovered that the events happened in a different order than I remembered. Now I think I’ve got the correct order of events sorted out but be aware that some of the names in this blog have been altered intentionally and the order of some of the events may have been altered unintentionally.
Let me also reveal something about my father’s relationship with food and money. I’m not going to say my father is a cheapskate because he’s really not. He spends money on luxurious vacations and he’s taken us out to eat at some really fine restaurants. Yet my father knows the value of frugality and sometimes he’s frugal to an extent that some might consider to be excessive.
For context let me share a story from a previous family vacation. When my father was still married to my mother we went on a vacation to Arizona. For the first half of the vacation we went out to eat at restaurants. From these restaurants my father insisted on saving all the packets of butter, jam and crackers as well as the napkins, styrofoam cups and plastic utensils. By the time we checked in at a fancy hotel on the way to The Grand Canyon, my father decided it was no longer necessary for us to spend money on restaurants since we could eat the leftovers he’d accumulated from restaurants in our hotel room. When my mother told him that butter, jam and crackers did not constitute an acceptable meal, my father replied “What are you talking about? Of course it’s an acceptable meal, there are people in this world who would love to have a meal like this!”
“Maybe if they were living in an impoverished village in rural Africa but we are not living there!” my mother snapped. She then informed my father that she was taking my brother and me out to eat at a restaurant. At that point my father busted out his crackers, butter and jam and exclaimed “Bon Appetit, Mircea!”
So it was that as we left Fort Lauderdale I could not persuade my father to throw out a days old box of donuts and thus I had to deal with the frosting that melted near my seat in the humid car. So it was that I could not persuade my father to let go of the leftover fish from his meal at the seafood restaurant and thus Gabrielle did not appreciate the fishy scent one of her outfits took on when it ended up getting tossed in next to my father’s uneaten meal a few days later.
The longer the vacation went on, the harder it became to convince my father to eat meals at restaurants. I often had to settle for ice cream or key lime pie. I can’t complain much though because the key lime pie in Key West is delicious. On one occasion when Id’d convinced my father to stop for ice cream he and Gabrielle had no interest in joining me so they waited for me in the car as I went in to the ice cream shop. I have no sense of direction so when I exited the shop, I walked down the wrong road. I was confused when I couldn’t find the car anywhere and I realized I was lost. Thank goodness for cell phones.
When I returned from my Florida vacation someone asked me what my favorite part of it was. I told them that Key West was my favorite part. “Not Disney World?” they asked in surprise. Nope. If you’ve read my blogs about the Disney World portion of our trip you’ll know that Disney World isn’t that much fun when you’re there with three people who hate Disney World. My father and Gabrielle both seemed to really like Key West and I liked it as well so it was a much more pleasant experience.
Key West has a lot to offer. There are points of historical interest, sites of natural beauty and a vibrant nightlife scene. The first day we were in Key West we booked a boating expedition that included dolphin watching, snorkeling and sunset viewing. The woman who booked the reservations asked me how old I was. On the last vacation I went on with my father a woman asked how old I was. When I told her her mouth dropped open in shock and she suggested I was mistaken about my own age. Wanting to avoid a similar situation, I just said to the woman in Key West “A lot older than I look. She then asked if I was over 21. I assured her that I was but I wasn’t going to say how much older.
When we’d been on the dolphin watch boat for about half an hour and hadn’t seen any dolphins I was beginning to fear that we weren’t going to see any but eventually we came upon the dolphin hot spot where we saw a bunch of dolphins that put on a good show for us. After we said goodbye to the dolphins there was snorkeling. Snorkeling was physically uncomfortable for me but I did get some nice views of the aquatic life underneath the water’s surface. Then we saw the sun setting over the water, which was a beautiful sight. The tour guide told us that the dumbest question she gets asked is “How many sunset tours do you do each day?”
As soon as I found out about The Key West Butterfly Garden I wanted to go there. When we first tried to go there we ended up on the opposite side of town from it and then we had trouble finding parking but eventually we got there. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting it to be but it was beautiful and enchanting. In addition to the beautiful butterflies, there were beautiful flowers, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Several times during the vacation my father told me not to post pictures of him on Facebook and threatened to never take me on vacation again if I did. Hopefully he won’t follow through on those threats because when he tried taking a picture of me in front of the butterfly garden he accidentally took a picture of himself and I couldn’t resist posting his accidental selfie on Facebook. When he fell asleep in the hotel room with a butterfly sticker on his hat, I couldn’t help but take a picture. When Gabrielle saw the picture on Facebook she laughed hysterically. My father was not as amused.
I love nature and animals so I appreciate all nature sites. Historical sites, on the other hand, tend to be hit or miss with me. I enjoyed the Tennessee Williams museum and the Ernest Hemingway house because they combined history with literature, which I also love. The Ernest Hemingway house also catered to my love of animals, as it’s home to a family of six -toed cats. I also liked Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park because it had nice beaches and cool old structures. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the fort but we got kicked out when the park closed.
My dad enjoyed the Harry Truman house but I was not so fond of it. That’s fine because I liked the lighthouse, which my father and Gabrielle weren’t interested in. They did some shopping while I ascended the stairs of the lighthouse until I reached the top and was rewarded with a nice view.
I’m not much of a party animal and I had no interest in participating in the nightlife that’s one of the selling points of Key West but it was interesting to observe from afar. I did see some things in Key West that were kind of tacky but nothing so far out of the bounds of good taste as to be horrifying. I got a kick out of the dessert restaurant called Better Than Sex. Honestly the most offensive thing I saw in Key West was the guy who was wearing a Trump/Pence hat and unfortunately that’s something that’s not exclusive to Key West by any means.
The last night we were in Key West I persuaded my father to take us out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I was horrified when I saw dolphin on the menu but the waitress assured me it was a term for the fish mahi mahi and they weren’t grilling Flipper, as that would be quite illegal. I don’t remember exactly what I had for dinner but I remember that I drank pink lemonade and that my dish contained peas. I remember this because in the middle of the meal I started to feel really sick. I ignored it and hoped it would pass but by the time I went to the restaurant bathroom I was feeling awful. I retched over the toilet and unleashed a torrent of pink vomit with chunks of green in it. When I told my father I’d gotten sick he told me it was my own fault since I insisted on eating three meals a day and he extolled the benefits of fasting.
The next morning before we left Key West we stopped at the drug store to stock up on the supplies we’d need for the next leg of our journey. My supplies included anti-nausea medication and temporary filling to replace the filling I’d lost in Fort Lauderdale (which I forgot to mention in the Fort Lauderdale blog.) When we exited the drug store we were greeted by chickens in the parking lot. That was another thing I loved about Key West. How could you not love a city that has chickens in front of its drug store? My love of chickens stems from my childhood memories of keeping chickens under the trampoline at my father’s house. Don’t ask. That’s a whole other blog in itself.