Friday, September 19, 2008


When Ashley and I were growing up, we spent a lot of time in the Florida Keys. Our dad spent his high school years in Homestead and loved everything about the Keys: boating, fishing, spearfishing, snorkeling, diving, lobstering, drinking green-bottled beer after a great day on the water, everything. Our mom fell in love with the Keys, too, after going there with our dad.

Our parents are really cool people. They took us pretty much everywhere, including most vacations. Every summer, after returning from our annual 6-week stay with Grandmama and Grandaddy in Fort Deposit, we headed to Marathon for three weeks of swimming with angel fish and sargent majors; tickling lobsters from their lairs; eating cuban crackers topped with squeeze cheese; drinking ice-cold Chek-brand flavored soda from Winn-Dixie; boating; lots of sun; fish, dirty rice and beans for supper; one day-trip to Key West; and always one night at Pizza Hut.

Until our parents built the house at Quiet Water in 1985, we spent our three weeks at the Valhalla Beach Motel - a 12-room efficiency motel on a spit of land that is a child's dream come true. There is a big beach, a small beach, a lagoon, a mangrove forest with intersecting canals, and nowhere to get into trouble. Our parents always let us roam free, and we had a blast. So it's really no surprise that Marathon, and all that goes along with it, has been the fabric of our lives.

Now that we both have families of our own, Marathon has become even more hallowed ground as we pass down the traditions of our parents to our children. Quiet Water is our family haven. It is "Pappi's BIG house" to the little boys, and it's a landmark of memories for Ash and me. Memories that are the loom on which we weave the fabric of our children's lives.

My little pirate baby. Zane at 5 months.

At Ryan and Kylene's favorite sand bar.

Chiki-Tiki Lounge at Burdine's Waterfront.

This just cracks me up.


Keysgal@QuietWater said...

OMG....are you and Ashley trying to make me cry all afternoon?? I really enjoyed reading your post (between sniffles) What wonderful memories we have of our visits to Valhalla and Quiet Water. I would not trade our time spent there for any amount of money in the world. I am so glad that you treasure the memories as I do and I certainly intend to help make all my grands "Keys kids". Love you.

Ashley Long said...

I love this post! Reminds me of all the stuff we did as kids. Too cool.

*pab said...

@ashley: remember how we were each allowed to choose the flavor of 12 sodas in the case? i always got black cherry. and, remember how it was the only time that daddy would go grocery shopping with us? we'd all four be in the winn-dixie and, somehow, we only had to shop for groceries once. oh! and i almost forgot: starbursts and tootsie rolls. mama got them for us one year when we crossed the 'stream to the bahamas, and then the next year, she let us get them in the keys.