Man, what haven’t we done?

We’ve been parasailing, snorkeling, and walked the strip until blisters formed on our feet. The other night, we even took in a Drag Queen show. I must admit, that living in Hawaii and working at a bar while in graduate school, I have seen my fair share of drag shows…and frankly I have never understood the allure. But I must recant, this one was different, not only were the ladies very talented, they were hilarious!

Two days ago we got up early, rented a jet ski, and took a tour around the island. Being the gentleman (don’t laugh) I allowed the lady to drive first (big mistake). I didn’t know where we were going to die, but I was surely convinced upon how. After the first 15 minutes of torturing my cousin with my backseat driving, she relented and allowed me to take over…although I am forced to admit, it wasn’t as easy as it looks. 🙂

After that we still had quite a bit of the day left, so I went diving. Luckily, our tour guide was a spearfisherman, and he told me of some coral heads near our hotel. I swam out to them and had a great time chasing fish. I found 3 Conch shells with the animals still in them. I said I wasn’t going to spear anything this trip, and haven’t but I brought my 3-prong just in case…err…uh…I changed my mind. I had my chance to get some good size Bar Jacks, a bunch of Hog Fish, a Grouper, Barracuda, and some pelagic fish that I’ve never seen, and don’t know what it was. Couple that with the fresh ceviche that could be made with the Conch, we could have had quite a meal, but in the end I decided to let them all be at peace.

Good thing too. When I got out I was telling a local guy about what I had seen and he related to me, “Good thing you didn’t take the Conch. Man, if the fish and game had caught you with those they would have buried you beneath the jail.”

The rest of the afternoon, my cousin and I lazed around the pool of our hotel. As evening came, we packed into the car and drove North to Key Largo, arriving just in time to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday we decided to sleep in, and then head to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park just to arrive at the same time as the storm. They haven’t had rain in 6 months, and sorely needed it…well they got it. While we waited for our dive boat to be ready we watched the rain come in sideways and obliterate our vision of everything not 10 feet in front of us. Some people had just escaped the storm, and hurriedly trying to tie up their boat and get under shelter. They said they knew it was time to pack it in when they saw a water spout. (A tornado over the water)

We canceled the trip and headed to Starbucks 🙂 . What else do you do on a rainy day? When we got back to the hotel, we decided to make the best of the day, and put some beach chairs in the bath water known as the Gulf of Mexico, and sipped foofy drinks with umbrellas while the rain pelted our heads. It was the best rainy day I’ve ever spent.

Soon the skies cleared, and we were left with a beautiful day. I snorkeled around the docks and caught 8 lobsters, and two big Stone Crabs. I let them all go, but the Lobsters got the better of me, because my arm got stuck in a hole and as I broke free, my watch became the sacrifice to the god of crustaceans.

We decided to postpone our traveling north and back to Miami for as long as we could. We were going to charter the dive boat again today, but decided to just hang out at the hotel on the water again. I went for a run this morning, and after the rains of yesterday, I about died. It was so hot–so humid. I got in the water as fast as possible, and dove some other spots near our hotel. I found some spade fish, and a lot more lobsters and barracuda (one big one). The coolest thing though was finding a horseshoe crab. I have never seen one alive before, and it is soooo cool. It was a big one about 9 inches across, with a tail about 12 inches. I’ve done such little art this trip, I have been in withdrawal. So last last act in the Keys was to do this watercolor. I think it turned out pretty good, and really captures the feel of what the day was like.

As my cousin and I drove our car into the airport hotel’s lot, she whispered, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” The trip is over. The relaxation, the carelessness, and the serendipity have come to an end. Sad to see it go, but so much sadder if it never was. C’est la vie.