Bikes and Bubbles

Do you ever find yourself blowing bubbles alone, skipping rope just for fun, or dunking a cookie in milk without counting calories?

Simple pleasures like these can bring you back to a time before you worried about laundry, bills, and work deadlines, when summers lasted a year and Halloween was near the top of your favorite holidays’ list.

As a kid growing up in New York’s rural Adirondacks, my bike was everything. First my Big Wheels, and later, my beloved ten-speed racing bike. I was excited to be independent, breezing along field-lined roads as my skinny legs pedaled to and from my friends’ houses.

Like many childhood toys, I left my bike behind upon entering college. By the time I pulled it out of the backyard shed, the bike was rusted and in need of new tires. Being an impatient twenty-something, I figured I’d buy a new one after my move. The NYC metro-area provided many wonderful opportunities for my husband and me, but traffic and the growing demands of family life convinced this transplanted country girl to switch over to a more conventional vehicle–the minivan.

Beautiful Southernmost Beach

Fast-forward twenty years, and my husband and I are on vacation in Key West, Florida. What’s the suggested mode of transportation?  Bicycles, of course. Called beach or island cruisers, these bikes are equipped with baskets in front, perfect for carrying a beach bag or souvenirs. They can be ridden at night, too, with strobe lights attached to the wheels’ spokes instead of handlebars.

My eyes light up as I gaze at the bike. In spite of niggling doubts about having enough energy to traverse this five square-mile island, I agree to rent one.

We bike to Smathers and Fort Zachary Taylor beaches, bask in the sun like lizards and float on the warm Atlantic waters.

A Banyon Tree, spied on one of our bike excursions (Click photo for KW Bike Trails Info)

Later, we sightsee. In the evenings, I scoop up my flowing skirt to tuck around me as we take a leisurely ride side-by-side to Michael’s or another of our favorite haunts for a romantic dinner, followed by sunset cocktails at Mallory Square.

On our more adventurous nights, we lock up our bikes on Duval Street, and begin an impromptu Duval Crawl. Hours later, we return to our bikes (Sometimes the toughest part is remembering where the bikes are located!), and take the exhilarating two-wheeled trip back to our B & B. We whizz past quiet, side-street houses in the darkness–with nothing but mesmerizing strobe lights guiding us.

I’ve learned it’s never too late to enjoy simple pleasures like the ones I loved as a kid. Key West is my favorite getaway, and the fun we have riding our rented bikes everywhere is definitely a big part of the draw for me, being a kid at heart.

What childhood toy or activity have you left behind that you’d like to revisit, or maybe adapt to your life as an adult?


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debora Dale
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 07:33:00

    I so loved this post. You took me along for your ride! So vivid and fresh. And timing is perfect. We’re just now going through my daughters childhood toys to see what can be donated. She’s sixteen now but we’ve kept almost everything stacked in her closet – Barbie houses, Bratz dolls, Polly’s. I think she’ll always remember setting up the different Barbie accessories – houses, planes, amusement parks, cruise ship, etc. – and pretending her dolls were vacationing. I’d play with her, of course, and think as she grows up, I’ll miss her Barbies as much, if not more than, she will.

    Great post.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 06, 2011 @ 13:53:04

      Yes, our children growing up takes part of us with them. I have so many wonderful memories like that, playing with my daughter and her American Girl dolls. Children can help keep the kid alive in all of us. Thanks so much for sharing, Debbie!

  2. Maggie Van Well
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 08:44:26

    In my neighborhood, if your bike was out of commission, you were an outcast! Having a bike back then was like having a cell phone now…you couldn’t go anywhere without it.

    Love the post!

  3. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 10:19:46

    I miss the exuburance of doing or seeing something new. That’s what I’d like to regain.

    Key West sounds beautiful – never been there. Thanks for taking us along.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 06, 2011 @ 13:47:43

      Donna, I hear ya. When I cannot get away to the Keys due to work or whatever, I like my mini-escapes, in my own backyard. I like to sit on my patio with a glass of wine and a good book after work on sunny days, and take 15 minutes for myself before making dinner or helping my son with his homework. I hope you get some “me time” for you today. 🙂

  4. Patti Yager Delagrange
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 12:20:12

    Just like you, I picked up a bike – something I used to ride when I was young – a couple of years ago so that I could get outside the house where I used my exercycle – and breathe in the air and see the sights of my small city. I absolutely love riding my cruiser around the tree-lined streets of Alameda, down to the beach where you can ride along the boardwalk, navigating through the dog-walkers and skaters. It’s my way of observing the world around me outside of the car, and it forces me to take life a bit slower. Thanks for reminding me why I love my bike!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 06, 2011 @ 13:31:56

      Patti, thanks so much for sharing. A bike brings us closer to nature, and yes, does slow us down a little. Good for you. May you have many happy miles on your cruiser.

  5. Dawn
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 12:37:22

    Sounds so romantic!

  6. Catie Rhodes
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 14:17:38

    You made Key West sound awesome. We’ve wanted to go but, for various reasons, never have.

    When I was a kid, I used to love to go rollerskating. This was back in the 80s, so we skated to Ghostbusters, Bananarama, Madonna, Quiet Riot–all those. A few years ago, I bought a pair of rollerblades, thinking I’d relive my childhood. Life lesson: Rollerblades are not quite like roller skates. I still have the scars.

    If I could find an 80s night at a roller rink, though, I’d be there. I think I could still skate on the old fashioned roller skates. I have zero desire to go skate to today’s pop, though. Does this mean I’m getting old? 😀

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 06, 2011 @ 16:53:40

      Thanks, I adore just about everything Key West-related. It’s where my husband and I reconnect and pretend we have no responsibilities for a few days every year. If you ever take the leap and decide to go, I’m your one-stop travel guide when it comes to Old Town. 🙂

      Yes, I loved roller-skating. So true about roller blades! I was an 80’s girl, too, and miss that rink and music.

      No, you’re not getting old. Don’t you know? Women are like fine wine, we improve with age.

  7. Angelique Armae
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 14:45:22

    One thing I loved to do as a kid was go outside and blow bubbles. I’m always buying bubbles for my younger cousins. Maybe this year I’ll get a bottle for myself 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 06, 2011 @ 16:56:47

      Hi Angelique, thanks for sharing. I adore bubbles, too, and love going to weddings where they have bubble favors. It’s such a frivolous, delightful activity. You go, girl. Buy that bottle yourself. You can make it at home too, if you have dish liquid and glycerin (sold in craft stores). Enjoy!

  8. jayne ormerod
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 15:51:42

    My age might be showing here, but I miss the Footsie! We used to race up and down the sidewalks, and stand and do that and talk! Hmmm, now that I think about it, I was a LOT skinnier back then. 🙂

    Great trip down memory lane. Thanks, Jolyse!

  9. Alica
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 19:18:15

    Hula-hooping I’ve recently re-learned how to hula hoop and it’s great fun.

  10. Tuere Morton
    Jun 11, 2011 @ 16:25:11

    *drools* Key West looks absolutely breathtaking!! 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 11, 2011 @ 18:24:21

      Hi Tuere! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Key West is beautiful, and offers so many difference experiences–depending on what you’re seeking! I’m excited to visit again this autumn. 🙂

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