Thursday, July 5, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation - Part I.

Around here summer usually begins with a bang. A bang of a large wooden gavel, that is. As soon as someone says "adjourn sine die" and bangs a gavel on a rostrum, my (fried) brain immediately switches from "all legislature, all the time" mode to "VACATION!" mode. Not so this year. 2007 is a year of different. As soon as the gavel struck the rostrum to end the regular legislative session in May, "VACATION!" mode was postponed by six weeks to accommodate a special legislative session. In the middle of June.

Aside from the "most significant property tax relief in Florida history" (snore...), special session produced three most excellent things: 1. more comp time (aka more free vacation days); 2. a grateful boss willing to grant vacation requests, even on short-notice; and 3. a feeling that we got to start summer all over again. Not too shabby.

Within a week of returning from the sweat box that is Tallahassee in June, Peegie and I were happily on our way to the Florida Keys for a 10-day interlude at Quiet Water, my mother's house in Marathon.* Towing my mother's 19-foot Mako, "Sook" behind us, were were giddy with anticipation, looking forward to new adventures in the Keys. And what an adventure it was!
Sook proved to be the perfect boat for exploring the Keys. She performed flawlessly - except for one small incident involving a disconnected oil line, a plastic bag and a healthy dose of profanity. (Peegie: When all else fails, try profanity. Paige: Trust me, it works.) We visited old favorites: Sparky's Landing, Cabot's on the Water, Dockside Lounge; and discovered new favorites: Islamorada Fish Company, Wahoo's, Smuggler's Cove, the D.A.B. (aka "Dead Animal Bar" or Safari Lounge) at Caloosa Cove, and the Chiki Tiki at Burdine's Waterfront in Boot Key Harbor. All by boat! It was a good thing we brought along a substantial supply of boat stickers...

Our good friends, Jimmy, pictured at the far left with Peegie...

and near left with the catch of the day...
and Melissa, enjoying a frosty beverage in the picture to the right, joined us for two days of nonstop fun. We obligingly initiated them properly with boat drinks, and trips to Coffins Patch, the sand bar, Sparky's Landing, and the Brass Monkey. Oh, the Monkey, a last little piece of authentic Marathon. Peegie treated us to a yummy supper of BBQ chips and Chili Fritos, and it was a good thing! We needed the energy to fuel our groovy dance moves to the vocal stylings of Freddy & Co. And, making good on an earlier promise to Peegie, and despite being filled to the brim with liquid courage, I did NOT attempt to sing Mustang Sally with Freddy.

At left is the view of the southernmost point in the continental United States. Cuba is 90 miles due south of that painted concrete monument. As we arrived in Key West (two hours running time, with an hour stop at Looe Key for snorkeling and lunch), I wondered how Cuban refugees feel when they see the southernmost point from the water, knowing that if they step onto dry land they can stay in America.
It was a fleeting thought, however, as just in that moment my frosty beverage ran dry and, well, when in Key West...plus, it was getting later in the afternoon and the Schooner Wharf Bar was beckoning me to enjoy a mahi melt. And the sunset celebration was drawing near. And there were too many more fun adventures ahead of us...

*We did NOT go on vacation WITH my mother. She's a lovely person, and we delight in her company. She was not in residence at Quiet Water during our visit and we were happy for the alone time.