Monday, January 7, 2019

A Time to Every Purpose

You could say we came 1,016 miles to hear a Rickenbacker guitar, but that might be overstating things just a bit.

As it happens, we did hear the distinctive sounds of a Rickenbacker last night, not because we set out to, but because we went to Lorelei's Restaurant and Cabana Bar, ostensibly to drink and watch the sun set over Florida Bay.

It seems to be a Keys rite of passage to settle in at a tiki bar to ogle the setting sun - to a person, everyone we've asked for eating recommendations has instructed us to catch a sunset, especially since we're staying on the ocean side - but Lorelei's had the added advantage of having tables directly on the sand.

That's immersion and we're all about the immersion.

Add in that the sunset doesn't happen until almost 6:00, nearly an hour later than in the Capital of the Confederacy, plus it was an easy walk and I was more than happy to give over three plus hours to lounging with tourists and locals.

The latter were especially easy to spot because, like the couple at the table next to us,  they asked their server questions like, "Do you still have smoked fish dip today?' a surefire clue that the dip must be good to run out of it regularly.

Not so sound smug, but fortunately for us, we'd already ordered ours. That it arrived with Captain's Wafers rather than basic Saltines would be my only critique, but then I'm partial to the old school ways.

Another way to spot locals was when one or the other of the two guys who made up Webb and Davidson, the duo performing at Lorelei's last night, spotted a local in the crowd and called out, "Hey, Pam and Saul! Nice to see that the snowbirds are coming back!"

Mr. Wright identified the duo's sound as pure Florida Keys and we found out how right he was when one said he'd been performing at Lorelei's for 29 years and for the other  guy, it had been 20 years.

Later, pointing to the pink glow on the water just after the sunset, he gestured and announced, "This is why we live here, folks. It never gets boring!"

Tiki bar pontoon boats floated by, music blaring, as we sat there sipping rum punches and taking it all in. On a trip to the loo, I spotted a pink Cadillac which had been converted to a sea-going vessel (and, naturally, was available for rental)  floating at the dock. Hanging from palm trees along the way were bird sculptures made of palm leaves, almost invisible in the greenery unless you were paying attention.

Webb and Davidson, with their years of playing experience, were just the right accompaniment to the late afternoon vibe. From the Beatles and the Marshall Tucker Band to songs like "Wooden Ships," they made their allegiance to the '60s and '70s clear with guitars and the occasional fiddle.

"This next song is the reason I bought this $2,000 Rickenbacker guitar," one of the guys said. "When I first heard that guitar, it sounded like god to me. It's the guitar Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Tom Petty played."

Even a non-musician like me knew what he meant as they launched into "Turn, Turn, Turn." One of the first albums I ever asked my parents for at Christmas was "The Byrds Greatest Hits" and it was because when I heard that guitar, it sounded like, well, not god because I'm a  heathen, but certainly it resonated on an emotional level I responded to.

And hearing a Rickenbacker live? Yes, please.

After the mass selfie and photo-taking explosion that happened with the sunset was over, many people around us headed for the doors. Not us. Sensing the potential for a fish fiesta, we stayed on to sup and sip more rum drinks, as befits the best kind of post-sunset tiki evening.

While you can bring your catch to Lorelei's for cooking, we'd been too busy exploring the island to fish (ha! as if), so we went with menu offerings instead. The piece of fish on my grilled mahi mahi sandwich was almost twice the size of the bun, while Mr. Wright's mahi tacos were obscenely fat because of all the local fish stuffed in them. It's looking like we're both good candidates for island cuisine.

Not to mention that hearing that gorgeous Rickenbacker tone on a beach with my main squeeze while watching the sun slide behind mangroves made it plain why the locals had insisted we do the requisite sunset visit.

 And if that's the rum punches talking, we'll take another round.


  1. The evening you described is a perfect Florida/tropical paradise and I'm ever so jealous. I'm living vicariously, so keep it up!