I woke up early because, not only was it a travel day and we wanted to leave by 7am, it was also Craig’s birthday and I wanted to make sure I had time to make his coffee and set out his gifts before we left. I was thrilled to be able to hide his gifts from him, I wasn’t thrilled that it was because we had let the Jeep get so messy while we stayed in one place for a few days that an extra couple of items (including a camping chair) went easily unnoticed.
When he woke up and saw his chair (something he had been talking about getting since we hit the road in October), he had the most adorable sleepy grin on his face. It was the perfect way to start the day. This time, the propane worked and the coffee was great and perked me right up as I got behind the wheel of the Jeep, tested the lights and headed off toward Key West, FL.
The drive was smooth and quiet. There was definite hurricane damage and it caused a reflective conversation. Our world is so fragile and for the past several years, I feel like I have slowly reverted back to living my life for other people, living the life they expect from me. This trip was a definite rebellion towards that, but even though we are on the road, it wasn’t until that moment that I felt like the chains broke. I decided then and there, as we were driving over each bridge, island to island, surveying what a weeks worth of weather had done, that life is entirely too short and if I have a choice in the matter, I won’t be doing anything that doesn’t bring me joy. Obviously, there are situations where I won’t have a choice, but, frankley, those are far and few between.
I felt elated as we drove into Key West and made our way to Boyd’s Key Campground where we would spend the next couple of nights. It’s not our typical way of camping, the sites are close together and it’s full of giant RVs, but it is right on the water and clean. The staff is friendly and our site was beautiful. There was an Iguana there to meet us (you can see pics on my social media sites) and some friendly neighbors too.
We parked our rig and went to lunch with our friend, Barry (the guy we met when we were in Naples) right down the street at this great place called Hogfish Bar & Grill. I had one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had in a long time and we chatted and laughed. After we were done, Barry left Key West and we headed back to our campsite to get ready to travel into Key West. We rented a scooter and put Zoe (the dog) in her backpack and with me driving and Craig on the back with the dog snug as a bug in a rug and smiling, we scooted our way downtown.
Key West is my favorite place in Florida, hands down. It’s like all my favorite things about Los Angeles – the arts, the creative vibe, Venice, Santa Monica, great food – all in one small area. Since it was Craig’s birthday and he was an English Lit major in college, he wanted to have an “Earnest Hemingway day.” So, we made our way to the Hemingway house and museum and were so glad we rented a scooter because parking was…well, just like Los Angeles, too. But, with a scooter, we were easily able to pull into a spot right across the street from the house.
We made our way to the ticket counter and were so glad that we had a secret stash of cash because they don’t take credit cards and we were also grateful to have the K9 Sports Sack (that’s the name of the backpack for Zoe) because it allowed us to go into the house with their 50 plus cats. We took the tour led by a really funny woman and it was so inspiring for this aspiring writer. I just love hearing about other writers’ processes and to hear that Ernest was religious about his morning writing time and to see his writing space made my heart sing. Craig was thrilled to see how one of the greats lived and we both left tired but happy as we made our way over one block to Duval street where we would hit up Sloppy Joe’s, Ernest’s favorite bar.
Once at Sloppy Joe’s we hit a snag (or so we thought) as we walked up and noticed no outside seating. I agreed to wait outside while Craig had a beer because it was his birthday and he had been talking about Sloppy Joe’s for weeks. He went inside and came back out quickly with a big smile on his face – they were cool with the dog being inside! Awesome! We went in and found a table in the back, right underneath a wall with a bunch of Earnest pictures and memorabilia. Perfect. We ate delicious food, Craig drank delicious beer and we reminisced about the day. It was awesome.
After that, we headed back toward the Hemingway house marveling at all the sites, we passed the bakery where key lime pie was created. We had to get a piece and decided to have it in lieu of birthday cake. We reached our scooter, hopped on a headed back toward camp, the sunseting over the ocean along side us with giant grins on our faces.
I think it’s safe to say that Craig’s birthday in a teardrop was a success.
Two years ago this trip was just a dream. Last year, I almost gave up on it. Want to know how I turned it all around and made this dream into a reality? Click Here