A Travellerspoint blog

Sorry, Winter, Please Leave a Message. I'm on Vacation.

Finding the sun on Guana Cay

It was February 2, 2015. Punxsutawney Phil climbed out of his little hole, saw my excessively white body covered with a nice layer of winter fat, screamed with terror, and ran back inside, thus dooming us to six more weeks of winter.

That was it. I’d had enough winter.

The winter doldrums had set in and Matt and I were both getting cranky. It was 18 degrees and we’d just endured 2 weeks of repeated snow and ice storms, which is UNHEARD of in Tennessee….the state where mere snow flurries force thousands of winter weary citizens to flock to the nearest grocery store to stock up on milk and bread and cause entire cities to shut down.

16823773636_f018dc9238_b.jpg

10 Signs I Needed a Winter Break:

1) I needed a reason to put down that cupcake.

I don’t know about you, but in winter, the caveman part of my brain takes over and I start storing up fat like I am in danger of going for months without food. I eat without abandon. Knowing that a bikini might be in my near future makes it harder to curl up on the couch with that half gallon of ice cream.

2) I needed a reason to paint my toenails.

I was sporting a half grown out gel pedicure from November in “So Hot it Berns” Red and my feet were rough enough to sand my coffee table. Something had to give.

3) I was pretty sure I had Rickets.

Laugh if you want, but lack of sunshine can cause Rickets. And I was pretty sure I had it. Just like some orphan in a Charles Dickens novel, I just knew my serious lack of Vitamin D required an ocean view room for a cure.

4) My tan had faded to the point that I was translucent.

Which would be awesome if I was a VAMPIRE. It had gotten so bad that I was considering using a self-tanner. Lest I end up looking like a giant Cheeto, I needed tan lines. Fast.

5) The last frozen drink I had was because it was 12 degrees outside and my latte iced over on the way to my car.

Matt and I did try making some tropical drinks one night. We turned on some Caribbean tunes, mixed up some coconut rum and mango, and then cried. Because it was snowing outside.

6) The only umbrellas I had seen recently were the kind for rain. Which sucks.

There are so many uses for umbrellas that are SO MUCH BETTER. Like garnishing my Pina Colada. Or blocking the sun from my burger at Nippers.

7) I was obsessively checking my airmiles.

Like 4 times a day. To see if some had magically appeared and I now had enough to run off somewhere exotic. Unfortunately, I only had enough to make it to Detroit. On a Tuesday.

8) The last beautiful sunset I saw was on a Lifetime Movie.

I had literally been trapped in the “dark when I go to work” “dark when I go home” zone for so long, I was pretty sure I would need some of those sunglasses they give you when you have your eyes dilated the next time I actually SAW the sun.

9) The last book I had read was the Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas.

I needed a fluffy, pointless novel in the worst possible way. Possibly something with a shirtless man on the cover.

10) The only salt I had in my hair recently was when I fell asleep on the couch on a bag of Doritos.

Which takes us back to reason #1.

16823765476_0f8ab9870a.jpg

It was a bone chilling 14 degrees with a wind chill of 5,000 below when we left Tennessee on a Friday morning. By 9:00 a.m., we were stepping out of the plane into the bright sunshine of an 80 degree day.

Does it get any better than that?

16662034028_4531ff2293.jpg

16848465652_28ebe9c69b.jpg

This was Rooby’s first beach trip and she traveled like a pro: sleeping through the flight, navigating her way politely through customs without peeing on the clean tile floor, and riding quietly in the taxi.

All of that was lost when we put her on the boat.

We were lucky enough to have our boat waiting for us at the Curly Tails dock when we arrived at 9:30, so no need to wait for a ferry. Yay, Darvin!!

We loaded our luggage into the cuddy cabin below, tossed the dogs into the boat, and went down to change before heading to Lubbers Landing.

16823741246_eea68437c1.jpg

That little gate thingy (is it obvious I am not the boat Captain?) that is between the inside of the boat and the platform on the back of the boat was missing.

"Watch her," I told Matt as I went down into the cuddy cabin to change.

"She won't go off the boat," he said smartly just as we heard a loud SPLASH!!!!

Poor little widget had never seen a large body of water. She thought she could just step off.

Might as well start things off with a BANG!

The good news: Rooby can swim! After that, she had to wear her life jacket.

16227069714_504a5f20e6.jpg

It was a challenge getting changed.

First, it is not our boat, so we are not in control of the condition it is in when it comes to us. This time, the bottom 2 feet of the cabin were filled with water. So, our luggage was piled on top of the bed thing (again, I am not a "boat person," I do not know the proper names for "boat things"). Every woman knows that putting on a swimsuit under the most agreeable conditions is not easy. It's like trying to put an elephant inside a rubber band. In this case, I was balanced precariously on top of our luggage, a chip bag shoved up my butt crack, while trying to get out of 19 layers of winter clothing without exposing my girl bits to the luggage boys on the dock or falling into the fuel infused water that filled the cabin floor, complete with 12 sodden life jackets in varying stages of disintegration floating about.

Somehow, I managed to get changed without getting arrested for indecent exposure or pulling a hamstring and climbed out of the cabin, sweating profusely and cursing, so that the next unlucky person could go in for a turn.

It was time to get this party started.

16823735436_fa2fdf68b1.jpg

16229622493_1c1c3baa86.jpg

16848433992_d75c01e79e.jpg

16848427382_df57f3f6f3.jpg

Within minutes, we were at Matt’s favorite place in the entire world: the dock at Lubbers Landing. It gets our vote for Most Relaxing Spot, Best Drinks, and Best Food. You simply can’t beat it.

And they even had a friend Rooby’s size! Well, almost.

16227118064_5ed5d12379.jpg

16642161817_18e3e97216.jpg

Honey is Austin and Amy’s super sweet Chihuahua. The Roobs is only 5 lbs., but next to Honey she looked like a GIANT. I think this did a lot for Rooby’s confidence.

Lubbers Landing has the coolest Bohemian Chic vibe going, thanks to Austin’s flair for building and Amy’s flair for decorating. It has an exotic, yet casual feeling that immediately puts a smile on your face and a Reggae wiggle in your booty.

Okay, the drinks might have something to do with it.

16661930498_7e2c1ca019.jpg

16849477255_2c512bfd98.jpg

16229547523_340126585d.jpg

16229534123_daa590cdc9.jpg

16849500085_3776f277de.jpg

16849485725_57c2cc51c3.jpg

16663354869_90ae456cc3.jpg

AND........It’s the perfect place to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing.

Which is exactly what we did.

Absolutely.

Nothing.

16663435159_aac17af016.jpg

16661941818_5fa85efc47.jpg

16848407872_3760aa716e.jpg

16848490921_bb8a095bd5.jpg

16848400712_90db51109c.jpg

16227089214_aa44f91d91.jpg

16642211047_c2fb7970c3.jpg

16642123207_a9fd288e28.jpg

16849528685_d77acedf40.jpg

Except sample nearly every drink from the bar and gobble up some delicious island burgers and cauli-wings.

16227140654_bbdc5fb38f.jpg

16823606216_98a9fafaa2.jpg

16229499383_43256ab57e.jpg

16848298612_972236a99a.jpg

16227098444_c3e1a49643.jpg

16849447895_ea09c0bf3c.jpg

As the sun dipped lower in the sky, we reluctantly pried ourselves off the deck so that we could boat to Guana Cay before sunset. We hadn’t even been to the house yet. We still had bags to unpack!

The views from the house were almost so good we stayed to watch the sunset from the deck.

16663292569_0095501c21.jpg

16642110167_c487897dd7.jpg

16227056514_c27c9fd381.jpg

But I always look forward to that first sunset with a frozen Grabber in my hand, so we got the bags unpacked and the dogs settled in with plenty of time to catch the sunset at Grabbers.

16642095767_3dfd9536e7.jpg

16229436503_1ed027d73e.jpg

16849389095_8ebb2b7229.jpg

16823525996_5a5085ccd5.jpg

16663241349_067ee38e9d.jpg

There is nothing like watching the sunset with a frozen grabber in your hand.

16662014560_0e25898909.jpg

16661784368_5d028916fa.jpg

16849355925_f1672d016b.jpg

16642045737_9b118a7074.jpg

Okay, maybe watching it with a lobster bite in your hand.

16661759968_029780e1a2.jpg

Or a conch fritter.

16848202952_8b4c65cf8e.jpg

Or a lobster dinner afterwards.

16848189322_189a09a933.jpg

Or playing the hook and ring game.

16642040707_29537b8fd6.jpg

Okay, it was all good.

16661972910_e92a6b80a8.jpg

*************************************************************

The next morning, we woke up early to take Rooby and Bella to the beach for sunrise. It was Rooby’s first time to see the ocean.

She was an immediate fan.

16848251331_2a1a34dbed.jpg

16642012937_bcca29b71a.jpg

16663187859_b496dfd1c6.jpg

One of my favorite things about the Bahamas is that you can take your dogs on the beach. Without a leash. And there isn’t even anyone there for them to bother.

There is no way to describe the joy of a small house dog that has been turned loose on a beach. With a ball.

16848132712_06d24f2fb0.jpg

16663135049_3719d50363.jpg

This must be how people with kids feel on Christmas morning. Except that I didn't have to clean up 7 bags of wrapping paper while listening to the unholy noise of a new Barbie Microphone accompanied by screams of "MAKE ME SOME PANCAKES!!!!"

I could just take my kids home, spray them off with the garden hose, and put some food in the floor.

The sky was cloudy on one side and clear on the other, which made for a spectacular morning sky.

16849313535_794552df4e.jpg

16229352293_0362b8e74d.jpg

16226951424_070081d37c.jpg

16848160662_144f7f6720.jpg

16641984297_5a710e335c.jpg

16641980187_4c8ae2dabf.jpg

16661701118_4a12830a32.jpg

16661914540_93004ca277.jpg

16661681038_01da45363f.jpg

16226902914_e59bb74cc0.jpg

16663123119_113efb52e2.jpg

16848199801_7b13b90291.jpg

The day looked beautiful, and we had never taken John and Teresa to Treasure Cay, so it seemed like a good plan for the day. The boating from Guana to Treasure isn’t the easiest, so a good weather day is essential.

16226887034_fc3c6f1510.jpg

16661656548_9ca00affd2.jpg

16226878404_63ac1cf9bf.jpg

16661647438_fb13099531.jpg

16641911467_7914dc0207.jpg

The ride over was gorgeous…..crazy blue water as far as the eye could see, the color of the water growing more and more intense as we got closer to Treasure Cay.

16661851950_10c785d551.jpg

16226852404_a8f58800bf.jpg

16848157061_b09c4511d7.jpg

16849198605_441b536d9d.jpg

The water was a dazzling electric blue as we motored slowly toward the dock at Treasure Sands Club.

16229237843_338f78e78a.jpg

We had never been to Treasure Sands and decided today was the day. Partially because I had heard good things about the restaurant, but mostly because they had a dock and I was tired of wading in with my clothes wrapped around my shoulders and my bag on top of my head.

“NO DOCKING.”

Wha??????

That’s what the big sign on the dock said.

At least there were mooring balls we could tie up to nearby, but I still had to wrap my tunic up around my shoulders and balance my 18 lb. beach bag on my head like a Sherpa toting a load up Mount Kilamanjaro.

16641877267_85832cbb45.jpg

16663051289_ddf2921b15.jpg

16663046349_7233d75861.jpg

16848125081_d3d9753500.jpg

16849165135_59036c8054.jpg

16663031959_943dcc5fed.jpg

16849155255_863be759a7.jpg

As we approached Treasure Sands, I heard music playing, I saw brightly colored curtains billowing in the breeze, I saw colorful drinks carried on trays, I saw a sparkling pool surrounded by loungers with candy colored cushions.

16229194263_32dc1f6869.jpg

Treasure Sands was a little more South Beach than Abaco, but in a place where paper plates and faded picnic tables are the norm, it was a fun change of pace.

16661784370_17c9c480d4.jpg

16226783464_248a470d6d.jpg

16847993202_51177843ed.jpg

16847949202_fa26371e7e.jpg

As I sat down to lunch in my rubber flip flops and sun dress, I noticed another patron walk by in skin tight jeans, a long sleeve silk blouse, more jewelry than the display counter at Cartier, blonde extensions, and 5 inch platform Perspex stripper heels. I watched with a mixture of horror and giddy expectation, waiting for the moment when she would fall over and sand would stick to her super tight jeans and her ankle would expand to the size of a beach ball……….or her enormous silicone breast. Wait, same difference.

Why, why, why, why, oh why must women wear stilettos at the beach? For that matter, why skinny jeans? Or Night at the Roxbury makeup? Isn’t it bad enough that we have to fall to these masochistic trappings in “real life?” MUST we bring them to the beach? Isn’t that the one sacred place where a ponytail, flip flops, and a little lip gloss is enough?

I looked at Matt, “We’re not on Guana anymore….”

Sure, it was a little pretentious, and the hamburger cost $25, but the drinks were strong, the lobster club was to die for good, and we got to waste our afternoon beside the pool listening to superb DJ tunes.

16229169233_08aaaa29e6.jpg

16662993729_fdef356229.jpg

16848070891_29b26bed15.jpg

16229155433_4f6e53c0eb.jpg

16848063021_5eae99f65e.jpg

16847964282_1bca68074a.jpg

16662971159_f2eb0dfe0d.jpg

16229138233_7c34b93aa2.jpg

16661499498_582376c1e3.jpg

16661490968_6d59ddf0f9.jpg

Worth. Every. Penny.

I just gotta’ remember my stilettos next time.

It was around 2:00 p.m. when we noticed the sky had started to darken. It also happened to be one hour from low tide.

Anyone who has made the boat trip from Treasure Cay to Guana knows that these were not ideal circumstances.

We debated staying or going. Staying? Going? Staying? Going?

Every 15 minutes, I’d look at Matt and say, “I think the sun is about to come out.”

When it failed to make an appearance, Matt said, “I think you can stop saying that now.”

The sky continued to get darker. We could not see any end to the darkness creeping our way, so we decided to hurry home before we ended up boating back in the rain or the dark. Power boating on the ocean in the rain just plain sucks.

Now it was actually low tide.

And the wind was picking up.

Matt was a tense bundle of nerves as he carefully piloted the boat back toward Guana. He was white knuckling it as the waves soaked us with water again and again. I could tell he wasn’t having a lot of fun, so I thought I’d lighten things up.

“You know what……” I ventured, as the waves rocked the boat again and again, water spraying into our faces and soaking our already wet clothes.

He looked at me and unleashed all the fury he wanted to hurl at the ocean and the sky and the wind and the waves.

“What I NEED is for you to be quiet. All of you. TO BE QUIET. You’re all laughing and giggling and having a grand old time while I am trying to drive this boat. Do you want to drive this boat? Huh? Do you?” he shouted as I sat still and quiet as a statue.

He sighed.

“I’m sorry. This is intense. What did you want to tell me?” he asked.

I pointed at the sky, completely filled with ominous black clouds in every direction.

“I think the sun is about to come out.”

He laughed.

And we survived.

16226705374_268da5bc3a.jpg

The sun never did come out, so we got cleaned up and headed to Grabbers for a NON sunset, which, with a frozen grabber in your hand, is just as good as a sunset.

16847977751_d884c302ca.jpg

16662890719_5e7044296c.jpg

16226657554_5276efc779.jpg

We discussed where to have dinner. When you only have 3 restaurants, it should be easy. Right?

(There are actually 4 restaurants, but we don’t really like the 4th one…so we don’t count it)

Not really.

You already ate at Grabbers on the first night without planning things out properly. Now, what about the other two nights? Do you do Grabbers, Grabbers, Nippers? But you’re having lunch at Nippers on the 3rd day, so that doesn’t work because you’re double Nippering.

Double Nippering [duhb-uh l] [nip-er-ing]
the practice of eating a sequential lunch and dinner at Nippers

Fine then. What about Grabbers, Nippers, Grabbers? No, lunch on Sunday is at Nippers, so you are still double Nippering.

Well, we haven’t tried that new place yet. Okay, how about Grabbers, Island Flavors, and Nippers? No, we can’t eat at Nippers Sunday night because we are eating at Nippers on Sunday for lunch and we always get Grabbers pizza on Sunday night.

(The apparent lesson here is: if you only have 3 nights and the 3rd day is Sunday, you should eat at Nippers first, otherwise, you over Grabber yourself. Write these things down, people. This is sound advice.)

16641730457_07aa6cce79.jpg

16661688730_26eaec68d8.jpg

16847987221_84d63a0eee.jpg

16641721127_2d433be2c5.jpg

We ended up at Island Flavors.

To avoid any double Nippering.

We had never been to this relative newcomer , but had heard good things about it. I immediately liked it when I saw the bathroom sign.

16662879649_18368924d0.jpg

There were some plain tables scattered around under a garden style canopy next to a simple shack with a gas grill outside. A brusque woman who offered no greeting of any sort put several menus on the table and walked back into the kitchen without a word. She returned several minutes later to take our order. We ordered. She left to go back into the kitchen. A few minutes later, she returned with our food.

What Island Flavors lacked in ambiance and congeniality, it made up for in flavor.

The food was REALLY GOOD.

I had some loaded fries that were basically nachos with French fries instead of chips. Holy Jalepeno, they were good.

16847956441_dfca851696.jpg

Just in case a basket full of French fries, taco beef, and cheese slathered in sour cream wasn’t enough to sufficiently clog my arteries, I also ordered the grouper sandwich.

16661636760_fde2a841b3.jpg

It was a mile high, delicately fried, and unmistakably fresh.

We decided to have a late night Nipper, because when there are only 3 restaurants on the island, it just makes sense to visit them all in one night.

16642016107_a4a1870b82.jpg

**************************************************************

We took the girls for another run on the beach bright and early the next morning.

16847944961_44d60521a9.jpg

Rooby can get an entire day’s worth of exercise in one hour of running on the beach because she takes 4 steps for every one step we take and, while we walk in a straight line, she looks like a drunken sailor zigging up this way and zagging down that way, making sure not to miss a thing, with Bella as her ever-loyal sidekick.

16661626460_189586f6ab.jpg

16847846062_b913c49324.jpg

16229024123_deb2e83389.jpg

16661394608_39c5f1a490.jpg

16823115646_7a012ce446.jpg

When we felt like we had sufficiently worn them out, we loaded up the boat to head out for a while before the Nippers Sunday pig roast.

Back when we were Guana Cay newbies, we thought you had to get to Nippers at 10:00 a.m. and stake out a table. That lead to early drinking.

Which lead to early drunkenness. And we all know where that gets you:

me_T.jpg

These days, we like to boat for half a day and get to Nippers in the afternoon, just as things are getting interesting. We have found that it keeps US from being what is interesting.

It was a beautiful day to boat over to Shell Island. The tide was up, so it wasn’t the best for shelling, but it was perfect for soaking in the sunshine and amazing views.

16226585864_cd3e9a88d3.jpg

16226606624_5e2c3c3d36.jpg

16226597134_6da740fc90.jpg

16823095246_afc39b302f.jpg

16823077356_c4738bf6b1.jpg

16641612457_92e0f1ddcd.jpg

16823063436_0dd4e26280.jpg

16848903995_03ebca6dbd.jpg

16661320398_4f70486775.jpg

It was also perfect for rum punch and Kalik!

16847842141_bc31bbda2a.jpg

16662758039_c5893ae169.jpg

And for fishing Matt’s hat out of the water!

16823030406_ebff9ba8e6.jpg

After Shell Island, we boated over to Bakers Bay. They can keep me off the land, but they can’t keep me off the beach.

Thankfully, there are still a few “house free” stretches of beach where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful spots on Guana Cay.

16226522074_dda4dfc5d5.jpg

16847823751_317fa7744f.jpg

16226402584_bd1be978c1.jpg

16641553127_d9257b595d.jpg

16661271328_c5b39bbca1.jpg

16661233418_1b339735c8.jpg

16661227478_5f851c15d8.jpg

16847747061_38752dbefb.jpg

We enjoyed.

16823013326_125fef214a.jpg

16823000396_c55ee5ab9e.jpg

16641528547_3264030e66.jpg

16847703282_ecbd04981f.jpg

16822967456_804fb2bbe7.jpg

16848815045_4de114418a.jpg

16228833253_947b1f1be9.jpg

16661248398_851e4f22eb.jpg

16661199788_6a6505ecb4.jpg

16822930416_eeb218125b.jpg

16226417524_8af03cd66a.jpg

16662636289_64fc81c80a.jpg

16226413074_78879210bb.jpg

16641438277_7151bfcc82.jpg

16641443217_650c872056.jpg

But my love of the beach is no match for my love of a good burger, so we eventually made our way to Nippers to enjoy some lunch, some frozen Nippers, and some fun.

16848741335_e86dc1b82b.jpg

16228781703_ce398001d6.jpg

Every time we go to Nippers on Sunday, I promise myself this is going to be THE DAY.

THE DAY that I only have one or two frozen Nippers. THE DAY that I don’t get out there and dance badly. THE DAY that I just sit on my rainbow colored bench and watch the fun rather than bursting into the middle of it like a 5’4” roman candle.

It was a gorgeous day. Things started off with grilled burgers and ice cold Nippers.

16641422387_2127814605.jpg

16661358990_dbab7082cd.jpg

16641407817_8f389481c1.jpg

16847570582_91002e2cdd.jpg

16822850076_7c7d501ed9.jpg

16661333680_c540ef2377.jpg

16661325440_7f835cd11a.jpg

16661315600_e98f7c3e54.jpg

16661311280_8db6b17bba.jpg

16662541689_f4ebc7dea9.jpg

16847525602_60984a5cd0.jpg

16847520842_1c983d46f7.jpg

16226294224_7cf8aedddc.jpg

16661291440_6f211b5a1d.jpg

Everyone was having a good time. The sun was shining. We were all laughing.

Next thing you know I’m clutching a water bottle like it’s an Oscar and screaming with toilet paper wrapped around my head on top of a table.

16641338407_11bc7ac805.jpg

Sigh.

Maybe next time.

After some naps, we made it to Grabbers in time for sunset.

Apparently, I didn’t get the “we must all wear orange” memo.

16661255470_cf5af268cf.jpg

16847473072_01e759b38f.jpg

16661058398_2a826b64b3.jpg

16641283877_31cc27263f.jpg

16661269950_3b0b55d6a9.jpg

16226271934_771c394e39.jpg

16847574181_ed747df27d.jpg

16848606065_264824f9c6.jpg

16661233940_713505f3c3.jpg

The sunset was memorable, the pizza was just as good as it always was, and I no longer had a toilet paper turban.

It was a good night.

16661239160_539d498e1c.jpg

*************************************************************

A bold pink sky greeted us as we piled up our golf cart and headed to the ferry.

16641273227_a62c7f56f9.jpg

16226228364_55ef473782.jpg

As we rode to Marsh Harbour on the ferry, Rooby gave Guana two paws up.

16641263937_363bdf64d7.jpg

It had been short, but sweet, and just long enough to get rid of my Rickets.

16662439229_6170c73447.jpg

(Don’t worry….we’ll be back on Guana next month! See you soon!)

Posted by vicki_h 13:00 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (2)

Key West.... One Bite at a Time

16461699746_3a5f4f1437.jpg

To everything there is a season.

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

There is also a time to eat.

Let's face it, I love to eat. Especially on vacation. When I am on vacation, I eat like a bear that has just come out of hibernation. A bear with a sweet tooth. And who may be a wino.

When we found ourselves in Key West for a long weekend in January, it seemed like the perfect time to do just that. Temps were balmy, in the mid 70s. Warm enough for shorts, but not warm enough for the beach. So, unless we wanted to spend 3 days looking at Hemingway's 6 toed cats, we had a lot of time to fill.

I had planned the trip to coincide with the annual Key West Food and Wine Festival, but after realizing our travel companions don't really like wine, I decided to forgo most of the Festival events and create my OWN Food and Wine Festival.

It was to be 3 days of strategic eating. I had an EATING ITINERARY, people. The food fest was about to be ON.

There is nothing better than an eating vacation.

Let the eating begin!

16488939652_faf7982aa3.jpg

"Pace yourselves, " I cautioned. "You don't want to eat too much at any one place."

We were behind schedule.

We had arrived in Key West on time....landing just before noon on a clear, breezy Wednesday.

16488192091_9ae8e24ee4.jpg

The trouble came in when Key West Hideaways couldn't seem to send the shuttle picking us up to the right place. Key West Hideaways had convinced us to let them arrange for our bicycle rentals, telling us they would send a free shuttle from the bike place to pick us up from the airport. As soon as I heard the words "free shuttle," I was convinced.

They sent the shuttle to the commercial airport, although we had told them we would be at the general aviation FBO. After several confused phone calls between me and the shuttle driver, he finally found us.

However, the real confusion came in when he turned out to be from the wrong bicycle company. He dropped us off at the bike office and left. Unfortunately, no one at the bike company had any idea who we were. There was no record of our reservation. I had paid a deposit, so simply changing rental companies wasn't an option. Six very unproductive phone calls back and forth with an extremely rude and unhelpful young lady at Key West Hideaways who kept insisting "that is the only bicycle company we do business with so you must be mistaken about your deposit," and we were unceremoniously dumped on the sidewalk with our luggage like hobos.

With no ride.

As luck would have it, I got a call from the ACTUAL bike company that Key West Hideaways had booked us with asking what time we wanted the bikes delivered. And it WAS NOT the one the young lady kept insisting "is the only bicycle company we do business with." I asked him if he could pick us up. He said he would be there in 5 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, we were still on the sidewalk with our luggage like hobos.

I called him back.

He said Key West Hideaways had called him and told him not to come pick us up. They were sending someone.

Son of a B*%$#.

Two more phone calls to Key West Hideaways, and a rangy late model mercedes with a "For Sale" sign tacked in each window pulled up.

Thankfully, it was not the young woman I had spoken to, because there would have likely been bloodshed, right there on South Street in front of all the nice people who were sipping their Cuban coffees at the cafe next door.

He was polite and apologetic and made several lame excuses about the confusion. And about the fact that we had to cram our bodies in on top of our luggage in the tiny back seat. Steve's leg was at an unnatural angle that I was pretty sure was going to cut off the circulation to his foot. I hoped the ride was short so that amputation of a limb wouldn't be necessary.

16301411809_cbd8465d2b.jpg

As we rode through the streets of Key West, someone from the bicycle company called me again.

"I'm over here at 828 Olivia to deliver the bikes, but no one is here," he said.

"That's because Key West Hideaways gave you the wrong address. We are at 1019 Varela," I sighed.

We were finally dropped off at the correct house and got our bikes at the correct address, no thanks to Key West Hideaways. But we had lost an hour.

Our eating schedule was now behind.

Oh, the horror.

"Where are we going?" Matt said as we walked down White Street, "I'm seriously hungry." In anticipation of the impending calorie-fest none of us had eaten breakfast and it was going on 2:00.

"Not far," I responded. "See? Right there." I pointed to the Chevron Station.

"What? Where? I only see a gas station," Matt said. He was getting grouchy, like a hungry toddler that missed out on the graham crackers during story hour.

"Yeah. The Chevron Station," I said.

"We're not eating at the gas station," Matt replied.

"Oh yes we are."

16488149571_11a0146e23.jpg

At the corner of White and Truman, right next to the bathrooms in the Chevron parking lot, we found White Street Station, a colorful food truck surrounded by tropical plants and brightly colored drums in the parking lot of the Chevron Station. We put our things on a yellow wooden bench next to a red ironing board that served as a table and walked up to the window to order.

"All of our fish is fresh, just caught," he said, "The fish tacos are excellent. I also recommend the Orzo as a side today. It's really good."

15867371654_cc98018bcd.jpg

15869759473_b0142f6012.jpg

15867362694_19cbf05bdb.jpg

15867351094_93fb7b11b5.jpg

Matt couldn't resist the fish tacos. The fish was insanely fresh and was prepared Caribbean style, topped with mango and black beans.

Fish Tacos almost sounded healthy to me, so I opted for the daily special: the Grilled Mac.......two giant crusty slices of Texas toast layered with American cheese and wrapped around a creamy slab of macaroni and cheese atop a pile of tender, braised short rib.

Oh my yumminess.

16303607369_9489acf068.jpg

16463880346_e791d91d1a.jpg

Matt stopped complaining about the Chevron Station when he realized he could run inside for a beer.

With the hunger monster quieted for a few hours, we took the time to head back to Mango Cottage and settle in. Despite being less than pleased with the rental company so far, we did love the cottage. It was squeaky clean, newly renovated, and cute, cute, cute.

16488172641_03b7865ea8.jpg

16489909715_013bf8e1f3.jpg

16302478780_cf9df14f0c.jpg

16489920735_3ac829e0ea.jpg

16304004267_b56f893b62.jpg

Until we lifted the cover on the hot tub. It was filled with funky green water.

Have you ever heard the story about the farmer and the mule?

A farmer had a really stubborn mule. He was out trying to plow the fields one day and the mule wouldn't budge. He looked at the mule and said, "That's one." After the plowing for a while, the mule stubbed up again, refusing to move. "That's two," the farmer said. As the day grew long and the mule grew tired, he bucked up on the farmer again. This time the farmer didn't say anything, but pulled out his shotgun and shot the mule dead. As the farmer came into the farmhouse that night, tired and dirty, he looked at his wife and asked for dinner. "It's not ready," she said flippantly. The farmer looked at his wife. "That's one," he said.

Key West Hideaways? That's two.

The one absolute when we are on Key West is Matt's daily visit to some place for oyster happy hour. It's as certain as death and taxes.

So we found ourselves at the White Tarpon late in the afternoon. The oysters are no longer 50 cents all day, but $1 an oyster still wasn't too bad, especially considering how large and fresh the oysters were. Matt was definitely in his happy place.

A key lime martini quickly put me in my happy place as well. Although, my happy place is pretty easy. It pretty much includes any place with cupcakes, cocktails, pork rinds, or half price shoes.

15869726683_6db1d99e71.jpg

16303952577_a4ef6dcb9f.jpg

We had early dinner reservations at Hot Tin Roof, hoping to eat dinner to a beautiful sunset.

16303593279_126b4fe0ce.jpg

16302421740_0a775a62f3.jpg

The meal started off with delightful cocktails: a Hemingway daiquiri and the best caipirinha I have had outside of Brazil.

16488868312_8c3335207e.jpg

16303933017_3248cd02b6.jpg

16303930277_17cce30c9c.jpg

As we perused the menu, the sun began to sink its way toward the sea. Seated on the outdoor porch, we watched it go down in a blazing ball of orange.

16488858432_dd4ede520c.jpg

Then the food orgy began:

We started with creamy melted manchego cheese topped with spicy chorizo and pico de gallo served with warm tortillas and a steamy bowl of mussels.

16303923927_ee17b44d44.jpg

16303920097_6c874fe76e.jpg

16303915837_e5b6c49eb3.jpg

As the sky turned from fiery orange to cool shades of blue, we discovered that our menus were illuminated. After a couple of cocktails, a lighted menu is fabulous entertainment.

16303912217_640b965361.jpg

Next up was the lobster cocktail with roasted corn guacamole, cumin crema, and yukon chips; caramelized grouper with chorizo, corn, carrots, red pepper, poblano, and coconut; and a pan of lobster mac and cheese with creamy manchego cheese.

16302094908_7688f7c483.jpg

16489817635_0736ed388b.jpg

16488073121_bc3d2cb53f.jpg

16489821235_6d84c17b22.jpg

After dinner, we headed to The Porch for cocktails. Even though it was located right off crazy Duval Street, it seemed a quiet oasis far from the throngs of people with their big gulp frozen daiquiris and Sloppy Joes t-shirts. As we entered the front door of the old house, a bar to the left was serving up craft beer and a bar to the right was dreaming up creative craft cocktails. This made everyone happy.

This bar was different from the "Duval Crawl" bars of Key West. It was cozy and cool, quiet, and the cocktails were a knockout. My banana bread bourbon old fashioned was crafted slowly, with care, and was absolutely fantastic.

16463814576_42424e31f8.jpg

16303533459_7ac3c6f178.jpg

16463801406_f2d6d4701b.jpg

Did a man in a sparkly tutu walk into The Porch while we were enjoying our cocktails? Maybe he did, but we were still in Key West, after all.

We decided to make one final stop before heading home, and the Green Parrot it was. I needed popcorn, bad lighting, a hint of danger, and an atmosphere that promised at least the chance of a bar fight to make my evening complete. The Green Parrot is the perfect dive bar. It's a dive, without being too, well, divey. It's just gritty enough to be interesting, but still more charming than squalid.

16302348610_5fe0106617.jpg

16489783125_198060af7e.jpg

In hindsight, we probably should have skipped that final stop. I think that "one last drink" was how I ended up with a gorgeous headache the next morning and a tote bag filled with popcorn.

16488033921_7a851e9188.jpg

I woke up early the next morning. It was before sunrise so I decided to grab some Cuban toast and cafe con leche at Sandy's on the corner and pedal my way down to White Pier, just a few blocks from the house.

5910596295_66b16fecf5.jpg

16489770995_b33886b14b.jpg

16303493949_12bf9f30b4.jpg

I would love to show you some glorious photos of that sunrise, but, while I managed to lug my 7 lb. camera all the way down there, I forgot the battery.

I blame it on the Green Parrot.

All I have is this crappy iPhone photo:

16301420699_b91503d250.jpg

Before long it was time for second breakfast, or was it pre-lunch? Whatever it was, we were going to do it up proper at Blue Heaven. I never tire of the colorful courtyard atmosphere and lively bar. On this particular morning, they had live Reggae and for a moment, I felt like I was in the breezy Caribbean.

15869608853_105f049c9b.jpg

16463749016_1a14b6ca95.jpg

16301986388_9f9c5e128f.jpg

16302299490_cbbb870109.jpg

16463736836_2fd4732f84.jpg

While we waited for our table, I wandered upstairs, simply curious what was up there. It turned out to be the overflow seating area. Colorful tables, eclectic decor, and this super cute little private room:

16302288750_9ba0339ab2.jpg

15869577583_eb75ef0c8f.jpg

16463719646_0c7724a6a8.jpg

We were seated in the courtyard with chickens running nervously around our feet, cats lazily sunning themselves on the metal roofs, and the sounds of the Reggae band drifting over on air that smelled like pancakes and home fries.

16302272560_b7cfa85f7c.jpg

16301988938_efbeba4a61.jpg

16303770227_90939f9340.jpg

16301967058_a4a6923fed.jpg

Matt had the BLT Benedict. Not to be confused with the traditional meaning of BLT, at Blue Heaven, BLT means "Bacon, Lobster, and Tomato."

16488708212_b37323157e.jpg

Because I felt like I had already eaten breakfast, with the thick slices of buttery Cuban toast I scarfed down on the pier, I opted for lunch. The Caribbean plate came with tender lobster cooked in wine, butter, and spices and served with Blue Heaven's key lime hollandaise sauce; savory black beans; rice; asparagus; tangy cole slaw; and a slab of moist cornbread.

15869551493_b9d2ce38f6.jpg

Of course we couldn't leave without a couple of slices of their mile high key lime pie.

16303419179_156c095c17.jpg

We then took Steve and Alison on a bicycle tour of Key West.

16302097787_62b48af697.jpg

15867142114_9e407bd84c.jpg

16301954188_314f582e1e.jpg

16487924181_c12f1bc469.jpg

15867105674_a2d0a47202.jpg

15869618653_b7b38af83a.jpg

15867116014_096ed40ca9.jpg

16303727757_69fe37dab3.jpg

16301943258_7052092dce.jpg

16489654885_e534940583.jpg

15867049474_37e2907f41.jpg

We ended up at the Martello Tower where we took a quick tour of the Key West Garden Club's beautiful oceanfront garden.

16463637756_0831298ae1.jpg

16302151900_d75f214780.jpg

16303703187_8399107c40.jpg

16463622716_568144e45f.jpg

16302189370_f5427a2779.jpg

15869458853_6aa063244c.jpg

16488605662_5845bd158d.jpg

15869446403_cd3ef4595d.jpg

All that pedaling made us hungry. It was oyster o'clock, so we headed back to the White Tarpon. This time, I got my own platter of ice cold oysters and washed them down with a hard cider.

16302142000_90d21ffdf7.jpg

Matt is going to be sorry he encouraged me to eat oysters. If I really get hooked on them, he's either going to get to eat 1/2 as many or pay twice as much.

Truth is, I didn't really even WANT the oysters. I don't LIKE oysters. I was just eating at this point to be eating. A vicious cycle was starting to take hold: get up, eat, ride bikes, eat, walk around and shop, eat, drink cocktails, eat, watch the sunset, eat. Before it was over, I would be eating in my sleep.

16303656327_556f97478e.jpg

That evening, we had tickets to one of the two Food and Wine Festival events I had decided our friends would probably like: Henry Flagler's Welcome Party at Casa Marina.

Okay, who am I kidding? I didn't care if they liked it or not, I just wanted to see the beach at this gorgeous resort. It was not disappointing.

16489477425_bb14138807.jpg

16303299979_918448808f.jpg

16303295099_e21acf2b7a.jpg

16303202949_ca7e3fac02.jpg

The KWFWF had set up a nice soiree right on the beach at sunset, complete with live band, wine flowing like water, and twinkling lights hanging from the palm trees.

16301843428_bd2f8e7a4e.jpg

16301820928_962debd951.jpg

16489510795_87c7dd53e7.jpg

16303613337_ebf53bd03f.jpg

15866985584_7c5b60b162.jpg

16487771451_c069cf578d.jpg

16489502285_171f6a7441.jpg

The snacks were pretty good too: a pastry of baked brie with figs, specialty pizzas, cheeses, and a carving station with mountains of fried onions. Yes, there was some meat too, but did you see all those fried onions????? Who can concentrate on meat when there are UNLIMITED FRIED ONIONS?

16489552445_3c300d4223.jpg

16488504912_4ff31976db.jpg

16487804791_1883dcd209.jpg

15869406273_dee7708e0d.jpg

15869387833_b09ef51a70.jpg

16301804868_eb4bf63f8c.jpg

16303568167_57d159fa34.jpg

After a dozen oysters, two slices of pizza, countless glasses of wine, tender beef with a crusty roll, a mountain of fried onions, and enough cheese to constipate a horse, most people would have called that dinner.

But we were on a mission.

So we waddled our gluttonous selves away from Casa Marina with no shame and headed to the Rum Bar to sip their delicious painkillers until we thought we could handle more food.

16489468005_e939f1b657.jpg

16303541397_9e655c788b.jpg

16463460106_7194437e02.jpg

16463455606_fcb00fdcae.jpg

It wasn't long before we were ready for dinner at Square One, a short walk from the Rum Bar.

16303177519_d4ebdca249.jpg

15866909224_063635ee3c.jpg

Their creative cocktails were a hit. Mine was a Bufala Negra: fresh basil, balsamic vinegar (yes...vinegar!), agave nectar, ginger beer, and bourbon. It was quirky, but delightful.

15866904844_64cfb55d71.jpg

16301684428_3565d6b83e.jpg

16489396805_d219434f03.jpg

We then severely overordered. And overate.

There were soft little pretzel bites with savory herb butter.

15866900204_b78d70c3d6.jpg

There were pork potstickers with pineapple hoisin sauce and a massive platter of lobster cobb salad with arugula, fresh tender lobster, crispy pancetta, egg, avocado, roasted corn, manchego cheese, and a togarashi ranch.

16488424952_a8ef97cf92.jpg

16301697898_ed5dd151e5.jpg

There were pulled cuban pork sliders with sweet plantains and red onion marmalade on pretzel buns with crispy fries and a lobster roll with shredded lettuce on a pretzel hogie.

16463429986_2130452583.jpg

16301688288_afbb998c64.jpg

There were shrimp and grits with spicy poblano peppers, manchego cheese, and caramelized corn butter and a pound of drunken mussels cooked in vermouth, fresh herbs, and shallots.

16489429815_2057118fb0.jpg

16489420405_428e082296.jpg

Too full to go to bed, we ended the evening with cocktails at Point5, the upstairs bar at Nine One Five on Duval Street. The breezy front balcony was a perfect place to watch all that was coming and going along Duval.

16463396286_b4e517b675.jpg

15869247783_f47e2231f0.jpg

15869243483_f243061fee.jpg

Eventually our choices narrowed to 1) stomach pump or 2) go to bed, so we called it a night.

15868001473_3bdfb00fec.jpg

We woke up the morning and did a group cheer to get us psyched up for the day's eat fest.

It started at Firefly on Petronia. Their menu promised all manner of fried goodness, and they delivered. We started off with mango mimosas, to wash it all down and then ordered all the fried things we could find on the menu.

16488010141_9ed9336e64.jpg

16489379345_614951ae80.jpg

15866842594_58893e2d16.jpg

Fried okra, deep fried mini corndogs, and deliciously cheesy stuffed peppers.

Then fried chicken and waffles, fried chicken and biscuits, and fried crab beignets on a bun with crazy good garlic fries.

16463037986_b950996110.jpg

15866497294_37af9772fa.jpg

16487283701_cd76e839c9.jpg

16488035682_e61d989967.jpg

16487627941_ac56ce8f53.jpg

15868877393_c1e1d9dc30.jpg

15866484174_1c5ece387b.jpg

16487267421_141d91e6d9.jpg

Oh....and then there was that one person who ordered a salad. I think she was starting to feel guilty about what she was doing to her internal organs, but never mind her. We would get her back on the food train before the day was over.

15866481254_b888a9d89c.jpg

The will is weak.

Especially when tater tots are on the menu.

The guys had decided their new favorite place was the Rum Bar so we headed that way. If I learned one thing on the island of Jost Van Dyke, home of the Soggy Dollar Bar and home of the painkiller, it is that it is never too early for a painkiller.

16488383242_9eccbedc30.jpg

15868852053_3b16a2265d.jpg

16487254801_e815820501.jpg

We spent the day shopping up and down Key West's quaint streets in between snacks. We had decided that the best way to see the sights was on the way to and from our eating opportunities. If we followed the food, we'd naturally see the sights along the way. We wanted to see Hemingway's House. Did we pay admission and take a tour? Of course not. We snapped a selfie by the gate on the way to Firefly for a mango mimosa and a plate of fried okra. Just like we grabbed a walking photo of the harbor and the boats as we made our way to Half Shell for a pound of beer steamed shrimp and grabbed a glimpse of the Southernmost Point as we made a quick detour on our way to the Rum Bar for painkillers.

15866475634_748689e19f.jpg

16301265498_c5b7d74bbb.jpg

16487992732_4b76fd887c.jpg

16301255338_2542af0cc4.jpg

15868826803_fcff8b9f78.jpg

15866428794_93400d739d.jpg

15866423064_0d363524ea.jpg

16487961642_e7b412d082.jpg

It had been almost 3 hours since we'd had anything to eat and it was making me nervous. Certain that my stomach would shrink, we needed food and we needed it fast. As luck would have it, it was oyster happy hour.

We decided to try Pepe's for oysters just for a change of scenery, if nothing else.

15866411034_dc9ea3311a.jpg

16302662609_2519070fd8.jpg

I liked Pepe's oysters best. They were served with lime instead of lemon and their house made cocktail sauce was so thick and chunky it was more like salsa. Paired with one of Pepe's hand squeezed margaritas, it was afternoon perfection.

16487944042_7c0e809965.jpg

16302653989_7ab220cc8a.jpg

15866390574_b6723cf91d.jpg

Since it was their first visit to Key West, we wanted Steve and Alison to enjoy a proper Key West sunset. That meant NOT at the sunset celebration where they could only catch a brief glimpse of it obstructed by 27 boats as they peered around the back of a guy with a combover and a Patriots jersey who was busy watching a guy juggle fire. Don't get me wrong, I love the festiveness of the sunset celebration, but it's not ideal if you actually want to SEE THE SUNSET.

We had done the Commotion on the Ocean sunset cruise on our first trip to Key West and, despite the total cheese factor of it, I loved it. It was not a classy affair, but I knew that. Bad wine and cheap beer were served in plastic glasses, cheap deli trays from the local supermarket lined the counter promising "free eats" as the smell of old grease filled the air. I was pretty sure I could smell cheap meatballs and frozen chicken wings cooking somewhere. The boat was also crammed with bodies. Bodies everywhere and all of them clutching a plastic solo cup of boxed wine.

I still loved it.

16301196958_6d472990e8.jpg

16488910015_72840310fd.jpg

16462904896_edeb65170d.jpg

The band was good, the sunset was amazing, and the atmosphere was the kind of cheap fun you can only have at a frat party or, if you are over 22, on a cheesy party boat. I can't explain it. I loved it the same way I love the $1.09 bean burrito at Taco Bell or the way I love watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians when no one is looking.

As we boarded the boat, I promised myself I would enjoy the band and the sunset but I would not drink the bad drinks on the boat.

Three glasses of boxed wine in a solo cup later I found myself enthusiastically accepting a crappy margarita like it was heaven's nectar handed to me from an angel. It was even worse than the boxed wine. I drank it anyway.

We watched the sun as it made its way toward the horizon.

16302992997_b1452191a1.jpg

16488901635_e91121ed59.jpg

15868741803_3a46d0085f.jpg

15868720613_3b3ec97d2a.jpg

Before I knew it, I was drinking cheap champagne out of a plastic cup.

What is it they say? Wine before liquor? Never been sicker? Or is that beer? Did it matter? I was pretty sure I was going to be sorry I drank from the "Cup of Gallo" no matter what order I did it in.

16487870422_23541d3283.jpg

16462857646_7d100435a8.jpg

16302932867_9fa6fa1aea.jpg

16487855942_6a62719e5a.jpg

16487084491_514cb1fcdc.jpg

15868704923_7be3d3c940.jpg

16487080661_39cfe0b92a.jpg

16301099028_93910fc3e7.jpg

15868665543_a4511cf8dd.jpg

As the boat made its way back toward the harbor, the band cranked out oldies. Everyone was smiling and drinking champagne, snapping selfies in front of the fiery sky, laughing, having a good time. It was lovely.

15866265814_040093b213.jpg

16462802756_cffab1cec3.jpg

15868652223_6693c90803.jpg

16462787596_7ee19253ec.jpg

16302848837_89d34e93b8.jpg

15868613433_23f97d8696.jpg

15868603173_613028aa3a.jpg

And then they played Rocky Top.

My friends, you always know who the hillbillies in the group are when the band starts to play Rocky Top.

If you are from East Tennessee, and you hear Rocky Top, it doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing. You can be in church, at a funeral, or walking through the mall and you are instantly and inexplicably compelled to start singing at the top of your lungs and throwing in a lot of "Yee Haws" for good measure.

Or maybe it was just the boxed wine singing.

16488786525_d8b4706d2e.jpg

There was only one thing that could follow Rocky Top: tequila shots.

I mean, what better to do after drinking cheap wine, cheaper champagne and a margarita made with bottom shelf liquor?

We got off the boat and found Agave 308. The decor was creepy and dark, but in a fun way. I liked it.

16462744626_9b171a31b0.jpg

16302454709_baf9e3a793.jpg

15868595783_40d382e008.jpg

15868585973_d93351082f.jpg

16301281270_c8a056417f.jpg

16302439519_4951d6754d.jpg

With absolutely no plans for dinner, we wandered in search of Garbo's. Or was it Grunt's? Garbo's at Grunt's? We weren't sure. I just knew they were supposed to have great tacos. We found what we thought was Grunt's and wandered around looking for something that appeared to be serving tacos. I did see what appeared to be a stand of some sort in the back, but there was nothing making it obvious that you could get food there. I also saw a sign shouting "Tennessee Steve's BBQ" with an arrow that confusingly terminated in a chain link fence.

15868571513_da85c2a1b3.jpg

Unfortunately, the Grunt's / Garbo's set up seemed designed for those in the know and was simply confusing as hell for a group of people who had consumed entirely too much boxed wine and cheap tequila, so we made our exit, and headed straight for the predictable safety of Amigo's.

15868529933_5fc26a24e1.jpg

Not only did they have tacos, they had tater tots.

And fire roasted corn.

And GOOD margaritas.

16300962038_948c5360c3.jpg

15868539953_05f64cd2b1.jpg

16302759617_55009c5512.jpg

Because we NEEDED another drink.

16302383289_b276fd638e.jpg

The following morning, we all made it a point to get up in time for the sunrise. This is not hard to do when you fall asleep at 10:30 pm. It is hard to do if that early sleep was induced by a tater tot and tequila coma.

We grabbed hot coffee at Sandy's and rode our bikes to the pier to watch the sunrise.

It was spectacular.

15866117334_f4d9c51d0f.jpg

15866112484_221b79f2ba.jpg

16302362179_2cfd404d6b.jpg

16300811460_37a1c891dd.jpg

16302321047_f5c4854a9d.jpg

16302312977_fef1e4439e.jpg

16486445181_5a6f6e75c8.jpg

16302262057_ecbaa07f47.jpg

16301880379_3ae0a78346.jpg

15868010053_1d652ef660.jpg

A sunrise that spectacular called for a hearty breakfast, so we headed to Camille's at the recommendation of our surly waiter at Pepe's the night before.

We hopped on the bikes and headed that way.

15865483074_01bd976334.jpg

15867994893_fa80dab1f4.jpg

15867986473_3c1b36a07c.jpg

16487127022_8df2d4fa27.jpg

Camille's was kitschy cool. With orange sherbet walls, vintage movie posters, and a smattering of quirky nicknacks, Camille's was one part crazy old Aunt Hilda's house, one part 1950's Hollywood diner, and one part Old Florida Retirement Community Party Room. Camille's had also stolen my 1984 high school mix tape collection.

16462103976_a409c64136.jpg

15867950283_144cb94a48.jpg

16488073125_443354abc0.jpg

15865531834_4f7d3df619.jpg

We ordered mimosas and bacon bloody marys, diving into the menu with gusto.

16301781599_10c5d76168.jpg

16302138947_f87337ca74.jpg

16302129507_e264635b44.jpg

Matt had the carb cake benedict. No, that's not a typo. Sure, there were some crab cakes in there somewhere, but it was really a carb cake. Especially with that pile of cheesy delicious grits.

16487049692_c50944cde7.jpg

I went for the omelet special which was loaded with sun dried tomatoes, bacon, asparagus, and lobster. It came with a side of perfectly toasted, buttered Cuban bread and crispy home fries.

16300302298_8411d09e0e.jpg

Then we all went home and took a nap.

I wish I was joking, but I'm not. It was only 10:00 a.m. and we needed a nap. This eating quest was wearing us out.

It was when I woke up from my late morning nap at Mango Cottage that Key West Hideaways got their final strike. We ran out of toilet paper.

Now....I am not one of these "high maintenance" rental people that has unrealistic expectations of a vacation rental. But when I pay $2471 to spend 3 days in a 765 square foot house.....I should not have to go buy my own toilet paper.

We were up and at 'em in time to ride our bikes to catch the 11:45 a.m. shuttle to the second KWFWF event I had purchased tickets to: The Hogfish Grill Shrimp Boil on Stock Island.

16301725239_3e10e6b8da.jpg

16486243501_0e99cceaf5.jpg

I loved almost everything about the Shrimp Boil.

I loved the table of endless wine.

16487000742_3ea83410cb.jpg

I loved the appetizers of ceviche and coconut shrimp.

16461980926_396505b83c.jpg

16486986232_f2f536c655.jpg

I loved the giant bowl filled with amazing shrimp, lobster, sausage, corn, and potatoes topped with the most delightful cornbread square I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The food was FANTASTIC.

16300239358_99fcdd9264.jpg

15865421234_a3aa5f31c1.jpg

16300224758_c6d12e9139.jpg

I didn't like being seated at cheap, crappy tables with no shade in the broiling sun in the freaking parking lot. It was almost as "unclassy" as the Commotion on the Ocean. At least the boat had a band.

It had all the atmosphere of a potluck in the church fellowship hall or dinner at a table set up outside of Lowe's selling girl scout cookies.

We left on the first trolley.

16486192481_39538e7bd7.jpg

We wasted the afternoon sipping painkillers at the Rum Bar and eating shrimp and oysters at Half Shell.

16486950812_e6fd5126c3.jpg

16302016387_99554effd2.jpg

16300193728_726317febd.jpg

16301635489_01df4e58ac.jpg

16301621659_f9a550912f.jpg

16300451880_80240b90aa.jpg

15867743403_18acd0e0bb.jpg

Now that they had seen a proper sunset, we wanted Steve and Alison to experience the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration. We headed that way just as the sun was making its way toward the horizon. It was the usual assortment of fortune tellers, fire eaters, magicians, and pigs in top hats. There were popcorn carts, mojito carts, and guys whacking into green coconuts so passers by could grab a straw and sip them as they watched a guy on a unicycle juggle swords.

15867737113_4f48fb5d2a.jpg

16486123251_8ba7f9a6fd.jpg

15865333094_abdf0bfc3c.jpg

16300129658_841441f516.jpg

16301936637_82eeef924c.jpg

We hadn't made any plans for our final dinner. I like to leave the last night open so that we can see what catches our eye during the trip. What caught our eye was the promise of "all you can eat crab legs" at Camille's that morning.

15867701363_dc696865fc.jpg

We should have felt ashamed. We had been eating about 8,000 calories a day. The last thing we needed was "all you can eat" anything unless it was Lipitor or a colonic.

That didn't stop us. We dove in with enthusiasm, like we had not already eaten 3 times that day. The crab legs were large, perfectly prepared, and Camille's was generous. Of course we all had to get at least two orders lest we violate the secret code of "all you can eatness" which says you must get at least 2 plates of whatever it is or be forced to spend the rest of your existence as a chump who didn't get her money's worth.

15865297844_c3233319a2.jpg

16487818655_46ce439afa.jpg

We decided to go out in a blaze of glory. It was time for dessert.

We stopped at Better Than Sex Desserts on our way home.

Walking inside was like entering a whore house, but one that traded chocolate instead of sex. It was dark and sexy. You could catch glimpses of the red walls from the dim lighting cast by the ornate chandeliers.

16300059328_a506f1a8f2.jpg

15865284954_1ff80228de.jpg

16487807885_182626f0e3.jpg

16486055961_15ac9b0c4b.jpg

From our illuminated iPad menu, we chose our desserts. For Matt, that was their signature dessert, the "Better Than Sex," which looked like a deep, dark chocolate bread pudding. I ordered the "Jungle Fever." It was described as, "Smooth. Soft. Supple. A warm airy chocolate cake full of body that’s oozing a subtle chocolate pudding underneath. Rubbing up against cool white vanilla bean balls." And vanilla bean balls they were.....

16300066488_826e41f837.jpg

16461801386_3e3e3efc08.jpg

They also served wine in glasses rimmed with dark chocolate. The chocolate was soft and melty, but didn't slide down the glass. As Matt sipped, I figured out why it was so dark in here. When he looked up, he had a line of melted chocolate across his forehead from the glass. If they didn't dim the lights, no one would leave this place feeling sexy. Instead, they would look like a 4 year old that got into the Halloween candy without permission.

It was uniquely indulgent and delicious. I was a fan.

Who am I kidding? I am a fan of sugar. Period. It could be a cheap, stale donut on a paper plate in the Kroger parking lot and I'm going to like it.

But throw in some red walls and velvet curtains and you make my day.

Or night.

16302730287_6334a6e7de.jpg

I woke up the next morning knowing it was time to pack up and head home. It had been a ridiculously indulgent few days.

I decided to take a total body inventory to assess the damage.

My mouth felt dry, like I had spent the past 10 hours snacking on cotton balls. Woman can not live on wine alone, I supposed.

The back of my throat was a little sore. I attributed that to belting out Rocky Top loud enough for folks in Michigan to hear.

My chest felt normal, but that was only because the fat had not yet had a chance to harden and make it's way into the lining of my arteries. It just needed a little more time.

My stomach was physically protruding over the elastic band of my PJs. I could poke it. It felt soft. Much like I imagine the Pillsbury doughboy would feel if you could poke him for real.

My butt cheeks were sore. No doubt because my butt was at least two sizes bigger than it was when we arrived, which made my bicycle seat increasingly uncomfortable as the trip wore on.

I was very sleepy from going to bed at midnight and getting up at 6:00 a.m. every day to see the sunrise.

And, inexplicably, I was hungry.

4108181510_1361a9c2a9_b.jpg

I'm back home now and I am paying the price of gluttony.

I'm not as young as I used to be. My 44 year old metabolism can't quite keep up with a 9,000 calorie a day diet. The only cure for the food vacation hangover is, of course, lots of deprivation and raw vegetables.

I’ll keep telling myself that the miles and miles we walked and biked more than made up for our obscene caloric intake, but really, deep inside, past the thick layers of adipose tissue, I know better.

Was it worth it? Was 3 days of gluttony worth this horrible kale and spinach juice that is serving as my lunch today?

Yeah. It was.

Bottoms up!

Photo_on_2..at_12_50__3.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 07:29 Archived in USA Tagged food island tropical wine key_west kwfwf duval_street Comments (1)

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation.

Decking the Halls in Sapphire, NC

16243862799_6014879e51.jpg

For all our love of travel, Matt and I have NEVER gone away for Christmas. It’s just not what we do.

As a child, my family spent Christmas driving. We’d drive from our home to my grandparents in Tennessee, which was 4 hours in one direction. Then we’d load up and drive to my grandparents in Alabama, which was 4 hours in another direction. Instead of hot chocolate by the fireplace, my Christmas was more vinyl car seats and Waffle House.

This is why I declared, upon becoming an adult, that I WOULD SPEND CHRISTMAS AT MY HOUSE. ALWAYS.

It's a rule.

I decorate our big old Victorian house with all manner of glittery, twinkly, pine-scented things. I bake cookies. I make candy. I play Christmas music until Matt is singing Bing Crosby in his sleep.

Christmas is my thing.

So, when Matt asked if I’d be willing to go away for Christmas this year, I am pretty sure I started to hyperventilate.

Before I managed to work myself up into a full blown panic attack, I stopped to think what it might be like to go away. Maybe I could make this awesome? Maybe this could be even better than being at home? Was it possible?

Could I go away for Christmas?

After looking at hundreds of potential Christmas options, all of them wooing me with their cozy cabins and snow laden streets…..I decided on the mountains of North Carolina. In the end, being able to take the dogs and go somewhere we could drive to in case the weather was too bad to fly was more important than whether or not the destination guaranteed me a white Christmas, actual reindeer, or had “tap your own” maple syrup farms.

It was Christmas Eve and we were headed to Sapphire, NC.

Because we were driving into the mountains, I had stocked the car with anything we might need in the event of a snow storm: a shovel, sleeping bags, hats and gloves, a gallon of water, flares, and 18 granola bars.

Given that it was about 50 degrees outside, this was probably unnecessary.

What I should have packed were paper towels because we discovered on the winding, twisting, mountain roads that Rooby is prone to car sickness. She is also unable to hold her 5 month old bladder for 2 hours. We arrived at the cabin with Matt still trying to wipe the dog vomit off his arm with an old Dunkin Donuts napkin we found in the glove compartment. I arrived with a lap full of dog pee.

Things were off to a rough start.

But all that changed when we pulled up to the cabin.

I knew I had chosen the perfect place.

It was rustic, but luxurious. Crafted out of 150 year old hand hewn historic timbers salvaged from two old barns, one of which stood on the battlefield at Gettysburg prior to and during the Civil War. The other barn was built by Amish craftsmen. The salvaged materials were lovingly crafted into a cabin that can only be called a work of art.

15691363763_b440766a86.jpg

15691359113_b2f9319583.jpg

15688816454_e16e0e28f0.jpg

16123684778_afb168dd6f.jpg

15688814454_36c1b0991d.jpg

16285290616_dfdb03e24c.jpg

16285286776_db5255d088.jpg

16123678968_7de60de879.jpg

16123845430_c9e2389a04.jpg

16310361172_8237166bdb.jpg

16123676158_e241a8acb9.jpg

15688805684_026d29892d.jpg

16125063429_58f8b2ac01.jpg

16125062669_f486d88e61.jpg

16125060309_1d6f1a9639.jpg

16125059229_310c96893f.jpg

While Matt got a fire going in the enormous fireplace, I set up a Christmas tree that I had brought with us. The end result was cozy Christmas perfection.

16123689028_beb4717168.jpg

16125077539_699ed8d14a.jpg

We had Christmas Eve Dinner reservations at Paoletti’s, an intimate Italian restaurant that has been a favorite in the small town of Highlands for over 28 years.

16311630505_5020f0e1c2.jpg

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about eating out on Christmas Eve, but we threw on something festive and stepped out into the crisp December air.

16115822059_cacb4e6323.jpg

16301962025_8a0e3c38b6.jpg

Paoletti’s was a warm and indulgent experience.

The restaurant was PACKED. All of the people made it lively and festive. There was warmth and laughter from every table. Candles glowed. Lights twinkled.

Seriously…..it was merry and bright! Corny, but true.

We started off with cocktails while we looked over the menu.

Dinner started with a tomato caprese, with fresh basil and balsamic, and an arugula salad with goat cheese and pecans. We followed the salads and cocktails with a bottle of red wine and some hearty pasta. I have a weakness for meaty red sauce, so I dove into the Spaghetti alla Bolognese while Matt opted for the Penne alla Vodka. We wrapped up the evening with tiramisu and chilled limoncello.

I genuinely thought I’d be a little sad that I wasn’t at home, but I can’t remember a Christmas Eve I enjoyed more.

15807605424_2d03dd2cc4.jpg

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

16404135846_d1e511d67c.jpg

We woke up to the smell of woodsmoke and had coffee and cocoa by the fire. The only thing that would have made it a more perfect Christmas morning was snow.

15691326203_104b247abf.jpg

Christmas Day was a warm and cozy affair. There were presents and new toys for the dogs. I baked cookies. We simmered mulled wine. We took a soak in the big teak tub on the porch beside a roaring fire.

16243836079_808791bcc0.jpg

16285289606_2e6234d6a8.jpg

16123681088_3d249060d7.jpg

15688810944_ce8b9c9172.jpg

16125378427_578bd90bb0.jpg

16404136576_e7ab8ce19b.jpg

16125364947_3149a6edd2.jpg

I made a big Christmas dinner: rolls with olive tapenade, a pear and goat cheese salad, green beans with bacon and mushrooms, honey glazed carrots, parmesan crusted mashed potatoes, and the two biggest filets I could find grilled perfectly on the outdoor barbecue.

16285272226_d7ed897b80.jpg

16123664338_5dca422348.jpg

16123832500_f977281107.jpg

16285270316_7c7eb17c1b.jpg

16123830770_658927d637.jpg

16309421671_85a6c230ee.jpg

16309425531_9ec6355349.jpg

Oh, and don’t forget the red velvet cake with a giant layer of cheesecake filling that I made.

Oh yes I did.

15691333433_facdeeb833.jpg

16125047529_7073787897.jpg

We wrapped up the night with snacks by the fire while we watched old Christmas movies.

16123825100_86777b1bfc.jpg

The next morning brought a beautiful clear sunrise over the mountains and a hearty breakfast by the fire.

16123654798_16c59dd484.jpg

16125043509_038f39c05e.jpg

Thinking we would be cabin crazy by this point, we had decided to drive to Asheville for some massages, shopping, and food.

Things started off well with massages at the Grand Bohemian hotel spa in their rustic luxe surroundings.

16123649848_2f5212300d.jpg

16123817190_2613e5ec6d.jpg

16285252606_bba220e48b.jpg

16285252186_bf2ebb71f3.jpg

We followed that by the best barbecue known to man at 12 Bones in the River Arts District. It didn’t look like much, but any place with a line has to be good.

16311188495_bc9ba036ce.jpg

16310328632_8e80d051df.jpg

16300959751_da92da5fe5.jpg

Matt’s ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and his smoked potato salad had chunks of smoked meat that made it maddeningly good. The jalepeno cheese grits were delicious. My pulled pork was so juicy it made my mouth water, making it hard to remember I also had mac and cheese and sweet vinegar cole slaw. The square of cornbread was so moist and so tender it was more like cake.

16123812210_f4dbcd8ed5.jpg

16309403071_8d744daea1.jpg

My favorite had to be the wedge salad, though. The menu described it like this:

Iceberg wedge with sugar bacon, tomato, cucumber, fried onions & spicy ranch.

What it didn’t say was that there was a plethora of crispy bacon…..that it was drowning in the most savory, spicy dressing that has ever existed…..and that it was BURIED UNDER A MOUNTAIN OF FRIED ONIONS.

FRIED ONIONS, GUYS!!!!! A MOUNTAIN!

This ridiculous pile of awesomeness is only $5.

16311187155_bfaae4c831.jpg

Oh, wedge salad, will you marry me?

After the high of fried onions left us, things started to go downhill. Quickly.

Remind me NEVER to go to Asheville on the day after Christmas again.

Asheville, a tranquil bohemian downtown that I have come to love, was a thriving, fire breathing monster. There were so many bodies on the sidewalks, that you couldn’t move from one location to the next without getting jostled and shoved like you were trying to get the last loaf of bread at the Piggly Wiggly on a snow day.

It was horrifying.

We quickly cancelled our dinner reservations for that evening, ran screaming to the car, and made our way back to the peace and serenity of the cabin.

16125045119_34f0e5d2d2.jpg

Were we becoming home bodies?

Why yes, I think we were.

A few more days and we'd be spending all day in elastic waist sweatpants and eating Little Debbie's while we watched the Home Shopping Network.

The cabin called to us like a siren. We couldn’t escape it. It was warm. It was cozy. The fire crackled and the sun glowed on the horizon as it set over the softly rolling mountains. The dogs sat curled up on the floor chewing all their new toys at once.

It was just a wonderful place to be.

16123656488_a6a7d27be3.jpg

So, instead of a dressed up night on the town at Limones in Asheville, I got creative and tried to figure out what to make from our Christmas leftovers.

Filet, mushrooms, green beans, and carrots were quickly sauteed in a skillet with some fresh rosemary I had from the potatoes:

16116892797_e8fc6814fe.jpg

Cream and butter were added, along with some spices, to make it creamy:

16116892097_131d41672c.jpg

Then the parmesan mashed potatoes were placed on top, it was baked, and VIOLA!

A Shepherd's Pie, y'all.

Top that, Paula Deen.

16116891307_9686b14c8c.jpg

Oh.....and smoked salmon canapes!

15680338744_41576794fa.jpg

16116889777_f90e6eedd4.jpg

Not bad, if I say so myself. Maybe if Shelley Duvall has made Jack Nicholson something like this in the Shining, he wouldn't have gone cabin crazy and tried to murder them all.

16276814676_22ee973910.jpg

16302740745_3afb72d45f.jpg

16115196158_7cc19ccc8b.jpg

Another beautiful sunrise greeted us the next morning. We knew better than to make plans that didn’t include spending 95% of our day at the cabin, so…..we didn’t.

Matt chopped wood. We ran around in the woods with the dogs. We read by the fire.

16309412031_ab66ea0b4b.jpg

16285258606_3715388793.jpg

16311194265_fb6cb9fc1d.jpg

15691344873_9a6dbf2a9d.jpg

16125369657_8e638f978f.jpg

16115366720_fbd65d2455.jpg

16300951361_feb7b04cee.jpg

16300952491_b7af270e34.jpg

15682861793_ec5d88b131.jpg

We made a quick run into Cashier’s for pizza and wine at Slab Town pizza. We even managed to stroll around in a few of the quaint shops before we literally ran back to the cabin.

16115360350_e617cc8369.jpg

16300946361_6639e3c2c9.jpg

16115359340_51051505c8.jpg

16115362270_80079a99af.jpg

16301872722_98a5af1a9f.jpg

Seriously. We loved it there.

In hindsight, we should have just had our last meal at the cabin, but I had only brought enough food to make one meal and we had already managed to get two out of it. Three was simply out of the question unless we wanted sugar cookies and scrambled eggs for dinner.

We had made reservations at the Brown Trout, primarily because I saw lots of white twinkly lights and a fireplace when I searched it out online.

And it did indeed have lots of twinkly lights and a fireplace.

15679559614_3b3989662b.jpg

16430112785_056db0662a.jpg

Unfortunately, that is where the awesomeness ended.

The food was fine….spaghetti and meatballs for me (hey, there is nothing wrong with spaghetti, pizza, and spaghetti a 48 hour period….nothing…it was my Christmas and if I wanted to spend it eating spaghetti every day, I could) and the trout for Matt. It was good, not special, but good.

15682097073_e8cf5fe481.jpg

15679556004_0ec894ae77.jpg

The problem was that it took an hour and a half to get our meal served in this very uncrowded restaurant.

An hour and a half for average food is not fabulous. This is Matt's "I'm unimpressed" face:

16276038696_a01b5303e4.jpg

Maybe if my plate had been covered in fried onions when it arrived……

Our last morning dawned misty and cool. The fog rolled over the mountains and into the valley as we packed up Christmas and headed home.

15680327254_5d770eeaa0.jpg

When all was said and done, did I like being away for Christmas?

So much that we are already planning for next year.

Happy New Year!

15807546594_b019ef3fcb.jpg

Next up? We’re heading to Key West to EAT ALL THE FOOD.

Posted by vicki_h 13:40 Archived in USA Tagged mountains christmas highlands north_carolina asheville blue_ridge cashiers Comments (0)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 7

All Good Things Must Come to an End.

Going home is always bittersweet. I never want to leave, but I'm itching to get back to my house and my dogs.

We had an afternoon flight, so we were at least able to make a leisurely departure.

Of course, I had to take one more photo of the Trunk Bay overlook....or two:

16011832672_b5572734b5.jpg

15827135497_1fc456d041.jpg

And the Cruz Bay overlook:

15826780477_33f594e33a.jpg

We made a final stop at Mongoose Junction to look for those final few things we couldn't live without.

16010574261_ac3af319ea.jpg

15825264620_028a95bc8a.jpg

15392905343_aa0931f1c2.jpg

15826779147_87a1366fd4.jpg

16012982545_40d5b4c18d.jpg

And one final painkiller at the Beach Bar to ensure I had consumed the appropriate amount of rum on this vacation.

15825263910_f09f5f874d.jpg

16012524145_96317b100a.jpg

15825263210_ca03ccec03.jpg

Okay....and maybe a bushwhacker too!

15825263470_4df2cbca56.jpg

15826494619_a94aeaf741.jpg

To ensure we didn't get to the airport an earlier than was absolutely necessary, we made a final meal at Pie Whole in Frenchtown on St. Thomas.

15392900723_d7e6e80288.jpg

15390262204_c374f22812.jpg

16011826592_ecaf5c9c00.jpg

And then......just like that.....it was over.

Sure, the trip started off a little rough, but in the end, it was everything we wanted it to be.

And yeah, it kind of sucked leaving the balmy warm beaches for the 24 degrees that were waiting for me at home, but you know what else was waiting for me at home?

CHRISTMAS!

At least we were returning to the season of twinkly lights and sugar cookies. A time when excessive shopping is allowed and binge eating is practically required. I was ready for glitter and peppermint mochas.

Bring on the eggnog!

Posted by vicki_h 12:10 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (4)

Turkey & Pineapple: An island-style Thanksgiving Day 6

Gobble Gobble!

16012882175_313561690b.jpg

It was a beautiful morning to give thanks. No rainbows this morning, but the clouds reflected in the water were a nice touch.

16010947491_766307e9a5.jpg

15826873979_7bf457abb8.jpg

And it was Thanksgiving! I started thinking of all the things I was thankful for. Of course, I was thankful for my wonderful husband, sweet parents, my dogs (on days when Bella hasn't shredded a roll of toilet paper on my bed and I'm not running after the puppy trying to get a piece of dog poo out of her mouth), my job (at least on Friday afternoons), great family and friends, my health....... but on this particular day there were so many extra things to be thankful for:

  • I was thankful that I hadn't ordered that last plate of all-you-can-eat shrimp the night before.
  • I was thankful that Matt hadn't decided we needed to bring running shoes on this vacation.
  • I was thankful that, as much as I love them, my dogs were with my mom and I didn't have to pick up one single dog turd all week.
  • I was thankful for turkey. And for the fact that I am not one.
  • I was thankful that I didn't have to cook a turkey because Sam and Jack's Deli was doing it for me.
  • I was thankful that I was stuck on an island so that I wouldn't feel compelled to go out at 2:00 a.m. in my PJ pants & Uggs with no bra so that I could fight all the other women for $5 scarves at the Old Navy Black Friday sale.
  • I was thankful for RUM. (and Advil)
  • I was thankful for pumpkin pie. And thankful that I didn't feel a compulsory urge to Google "How Many Calories Are In a Typical Thanksgiving Meal?" Seriously. Who cares?
  • And Maho Beach! This morning I was thankful for Maho!

16012204772_592298e944.jpg

15987118036_1338bbc473.jpg

15825486098_c11f650299.jpg

15390630274_8d2ce882c6.jpg

15393268363_acd2d7559f.jpg

15390628394_ed6e80b5d5.jpg

15826871479_0b93acd2ef.jpg

15827144367_5bfb9963ef.jpg

15393272413_4d2080b254.jpg

15825487018_eecf480180.jpg

16012202192_9565a2be29.jpg

15827142987_ae05e89068.jpg

We dropped the ladies off at Annaberg and we headed to Francis Beach. I decided I was also thankful for Francis Beach.

And a couple of hours alone with Matt!

16012191882_26a7502d6c.jpg

15987110006_a487ff0d7f.jpg

15825627880_bbdf5a3e38.jpg

16012889175_289701f80c.jpg

16012193062_bf0f7fa780.jpg

16012885455_b4aeccfa73.jpg

15827133307_d89fe7d544.jpg

16012192372_d52d2e7e98.jpg

15987108196_e532ea1545.jpg

15826858499_9be283d41d.jpg

Francis was lovely. And not just because we didn't have to tote 4 beach chairs up and down the sand. It was just a perfect day. It was early, so there weren't many people on the beach.

We had a "let's try to eat all the leftover food since we are leaving tomorrow" picnic at the beach. I think my favorites were the bastardized deviled eggs I made with spinach dip and cream cheese because there wasn't any mayo.

15393259483_90b3c8fd3b.jpg

Before long, it was time to collect Elaine and the MIL from Annaberg. The views across the water were spectacular.

15827131267_b3b6c659ae.jpg

15827130787_41ec7458f1.jpg

We stopped for more photos at the Trunk Bay overlook, because I only had about 986 Trunk Bay overlook shots so far on this trip and everyone knows you can never have enough photos of the Trunk Bay overlook.

15987100776_327cbbfe76.jpg

15986758526_d151bf7ae4.jpg

15826854839_3570e79194.jpg

15825281510_21db297d0e.jpg

Then it was on to Sam and Jack's to pick up our Thanksgiving feast. We had ordered the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 4 and when she brought out the food, I was sure there was a mistake. It was enough food to feed a family of 20.

We dropped the food off at the house and left the ladies to rest while we decided to take advantage of our last beach day and hit Cinnamon Bay until the sun sank low in the sky.

15825134328_04c64bb915.jpg

15826793837_47204f9a6f.jpg

15986756276_bb4b9eb988.jpg

15826792377_a96fcb6a1e.jpg

15986755716_3abb9e09e9.jpg

Still not ready to give it up, we made a quick stop at Gibney / Oppenheimer. It was my last beach day, after all.

16012538885_69e57b09af.jpg

15826509879_cc4d6698ae.jpg

15986753966_a68faea939.jpg

15825277250_51fb5d448c.jpg

Enjoying some alone time, we headed to Caneel Bay Beach Terrace for a cocktail before calling it a day.

15390276764_dd00aefc78.jpg

16010584791_52ddd70f86.jpg

15825128948_ed7b3e6511.jpg

16012535895_7acfcbf036.jpg

16012536815_3cf5d702e8.jpg

It was getting late, and I had a Thanksgiving affair to put on, so we headed back to Azul Peter Bay so that I could rummage around in the kitchen to see what sort of Thanksgiving table I could set.

It wasn't too shabby.

16011840452_1743121268.jpg16300033601_0a9b46e74d.jpg

The food was RIDICULOUS. It was enough to feed an army and it was outrageously delicious: Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots with Tarragon, Green Beans with Crispy Fried Onions, Ciabatta Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples, and Sage, Rosemary Cranberry Relish, Garlic Buttered Rolls, an Herb Roasted Turkey with gravy, and a Pumpkin Pie. We also had a dish of plantains that Elaine had cooked up using some plantains the landscaping crew had whacked out of a tree and left laying outside.

16011839772_62678b4b01.jpg

15826505519_5e4fb4a80e.jpg

16010579731_11cbe0bf99.jpg

16010577911_b337dfbf0b.jpg

15825125598_bda32ab891.jpg

15392909793_75794a4acf.jpg

16010579131_9c0f95f152.jpg

15390273974_9908dba25f.jpg

15826504669_c02fd9a85b.jpg

15392908723_f4829e99b5.jpg

15825269020_b8edfc9507.jpg

15392908203_73a51d7dc0.jpg

15390268464_3fdedb76cf.jpg

As the sun set on our Thanksgiving and our last night on St. John, I WAS thankful.

I was thankful that I could be here and spend this week with family. I was thankful for my sweet husband who loved his mother enough to make her this promise. And keep it. I was thankful for a MIL that loves me and accepts me as her daughter and is a delight to have in my life. I was thankful for sweet Elaine who had been a joy all week.

I was also thankful that I had brought a pair of elastic waist pants.

Posted by vicki_h 05:51 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tropical coral_bay stj st._john virgin_islands usvi cruz_bay Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 165) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »