Sunday, January 20, 2019

Back to Knowing What Day It Is

Bye, bye beach.

And, just like that, Islamorada is in the rear-view mirror and we're cruising up Card Sound Road en route to the Miami airport, photos on devices and memories firmly in place, all conveying some ridiculously relaxing vacation time spent.

Books read: I finally finished the Playboy Lennon/Yoko interviews, read "Kafka Was All the Rage" and got a quarter into "The Tender Bar," so let's say I managed just over two and not dwell on my lack of reading time.

Favorite restaurant tagline: "Peace, love and hogfish" at Chef Micheal's. But what the chef really wants you to eat is the invasive lionfish because their only predator in the Atlantic is us humans. The restaurant's claim is that they're eradicating lionfish one plate at a time. Pshaw, I eat skate and puffer fish, so I've got no problem eating these invaders, too.

Typical billboard: "TIKI HUTS New or re-thatch." I bet the children of entire families have been put through college on those profits because tiki huts are ubiquitous around here.

Handwritten farmer's market sign, "Cold coconuts sold here!!" Just don't put coconuts in the trash bins because we've learned that's strictly forbidden in these parts.

Swankiest car seen: a red convertible Bentley, driving into a members-only fishing club. Who knew that Venn diagram overlapped?

Points for keeping to a theme: Because Islamorada's claim to fame is being the sport-fishing capital of the world, everyone riffs on it. When you head north to Key Largo, the sign reads, "Catch you later!" For a book on swashbuckling Jewish pirates, there's the local bookstore, Hooked on Books. Hungry? Check out the Reel Burger restaurant.

Most unexpected testament to Key West life: IVs in the Keys, a business that will fill your veins with just the right concoction to make the night before stop hurting.

Tie for most colorful Key West spots: a dessert cafe called Better than Sex and a clothing-optional rooftop bar called Garden of Eden. We hear tell of a brothel, but see no evidence.

Unexpected sighting: two gray squirrels chasing up a palm tree although we only saw them one time, so it could have been a mirage. Iguanas, on the other hand, are as omnipresent as, well, squirrels in Richmond. When you have all the windows open all the time, you just get used to occasionally seeing an iguana on the curtain.

Because the reentry to the real world begins at the airport and I'm hoping to delay that moment as long as possible, we make the requisite dive bar stop, just like we did on the way down, except this time arriving just as a handful of Harley riders do. Only problem is it's 10:15 and they're not open yet except for beers, so we cruise a bit, which is when we spot the rare Bentley.

Along the way, I notice a pattern of signs on the bridges. It's either a "No jumping, No diving" sign or a "No fishing" sign, meaning you never have to go very far to find a bridge you can jump off of or a place to catch your dinner.

Somehow, this sums up Florida for me.

Back at Alabama Jack's, I'm exiting the rental car as an SUV pulls up next to us and the guy immediately initiates a conversation with me. Seems he and his posse are just off a cruise boat but instead of  heading home, they've set their sites on a wild night in Key West. "Sort of a post-vacation vacation," he insists, smiling broadly.

Hey, I get it. Surely that's the smartest way to lessen end-of-vacation blues.

When AJ's finally lets us in, we see the bar is already full of people willing to drink beer until they opened officially. And because Cliches "R" Us at Alabama Jack's, "Don't Stop Believing" is blasting overhead as we slide into a waterfront table lower than the last time, but with a better view of the bar and its colorful patrons: serious cyclists with accents and day-glow hot pink socks, a table of self-important weekend-type Harley riders and a quartet of grizzly locals eating lunch and sipping Coronas.

Hard to tell who's coming and who's going from vacation.

Next to us is an older couple who not only know their server, but have brought their own Koozies - two each, mind you, one of which has no bottom - to encircle their bottles of beer in the sunshine. They also know to save bits of their lunch to feed to the fish under the deck.

The most I can manage from my double crabcake sandwich (not that I'm complaining, but who ever heard of two crabcakes on one sandwich?) is tossing the fish bits from the over-sized bun and not a bite more before we hit the road to catch a plane.

Le sigh. If vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it, ours was a major success. As for the adjustment to cold weather and the responsibilities of real life upon return, well, that's a work in progress.

For now, tanned legs and Mr. Wright's insistence on having "something to look forward to" will carry me forward. Or I could take Journey's advice and hold on to that feeling.

And I'm trying...with every relaxed bone in my body. Catch you later, warmth and indolence. Man, oh man, are you seductive.

No comments:

Post a Comment