I wake up numerous times during the night. I squint at the clock to see what time it is. I am afraid that the alarm won’t go off and I will be late for the seminar. I always forget to bring a travel alarm along and the motel alarm clocks frustrate me to no end. I can never figure out how to set them. Each one seems to be different and in need of having an accompanying operator’s manual. The same could be said for my cell phone. I don’t know how many times I have set it for a certain time but no sound ever comes out of it at the designated time. Apparently, I am missing something in the setting that should be obvious. That just leaves my hubby’s cell phone. At 6:20 a.m., I tiptoe over to Hubby’s side of the bed and attempt to turn it off before it wakes him too. But the click, click of doing so causes him to stir anyway. We both might as well get up and begin the day.
The sky is cloudy and rain drips from the soggy darkness as we peek outside of our ocean view window. The temperature is in the mid-60s. The people here think it is cold but to us Minnesotans, it seems quite nice. I don’t know what I was thinking when I packed as I am hot with my long sleeve turtle necks and sweaters. I make a mental note that we are going to need to stop and buy some t-shirts if I am to avoid melting while we are here. However, in the conference hall, I am thankful for my winter clothes. Even with them, I am freezing.
The first day of my conference ends at 1 p.m. and we are ready to go exploring. The clouds hang dark and heavy and the sky still cries its tears. It does not look like a good day to go to the beach or boating. We decide that our best choice is to take a road trip to Key West down US Hwy 1. Not that we have much choice. It is the only road through “the Keys” and a very busy one. The Gulf of Mexico lies to our right and the Atlantic Ocean to the left. This very small strip of land is a 120-mile conglomeration of small coral-based islands knit together by overseas bridges. Everyone’s house is built up on concrete stilts in preparation for the waves of water destined to flow over the land when the hurricane winds blow. Dotted with palm trees and tropical vegetation, it is a beautiful place. But the only available recreational activities seem to be water related. Everyone owns a house with a boat parked outback in the canal.
One of our first stops is at the Sandal Shop which has been advertising on big signs “10 t-shirts for $10”. As you can guess, that is not quite the truth. With the exception of a few plain t-shirts for the advertised price, most of them are over $20 per shirt. I choose a pastel blue one with a design of the Keys on it. Excitedly, I hold another one up for my Hubby to see. It declares, “Mariner’s rule: The Captain is always right… I’m the Captain.”
“Well, you might as well buy it. It’s true,” he retorts. And so I do. Now I have a couple of t-shirts to wear while motoring around Florida.
It takes us several hours to creep our way to Key West. The rain continues to fall unabated. Sometimes, it cascades in torrents that obscure our vision making it hard to drive. Sometimes, it just drips on the backs of the dedicated bike riders along the road. At least, it is warm. Our main desire is to tour the lighthouse in Key West but as we drive around the town, we give up that idea also. The only parking spots, if one can find any, require walking down the street to some guy in a booth to pay. We are really not interested in getting soaked even if it is warm. We content ourselves with driving past and waving at the big buoy that marks the most southernmost point in the United States. Mark that off our bucket list. It is too bad we don’t even have a picture to memorialize the event. It is amazing to think that just across the strip of water to the south is Cuba.