Route 1 to Paradise!


Early in our marriage, my husband and I made our daily commute on Route #1, or Boston Post Road as it’s called in Westchester, New York. I had no idea this busy road, should we have chosen to follow it south, led to a place that, years later, would become our favorite getaway destination.

Key West, a small island with nicknames such as Bone Island and Conch Republic, is located at the southwestern tip of US Highway Route 1, one hundred twenty-seven scenic miles and 43 bridges from the Florida mainland.

After many happy years of marriage, we welcomed the arrival of our second child. We were thrilled, but overwhelmed! The baby we had waited for so long and love so dearly was born with special needs. We dug in our heels, advocating tirelessly for him to become his personal best. Unfortunately, with our focus on our son, something had to give. That something was us.

A wise friend advised, “The best gift a parent can give their child is a great marriage.” Now, if a typical couple’s divorce rate is about 5o%, adding in my husband’s line of work and our new family situation, the odds were stacked against us. (I realize it’s not always possible to make a marriage work; all we can do is try our best.)

Sharing my concerns with family, I was grateful when my kind mother-in-law offered to babysit. We hadn’t been on a couple’s vacation in a decade,  but we knew what we craved–tropical weather, hammocks, water sports, romantic walks on the beach, fresh seafood, and fine spirits. With a little research and a lot of faith, we took a chance on Key West.

Landing at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport one summer morning, we rent a sexy Mustang convertible and are on our way. You know, like in the movies. Well, those movies lie, people. By the time we reach Key Largo in the upper keys (an hour into our drive), I notice my husband’s forehead is fire-engine red and his shirt’s dripping wet. Laughing, we give in, putting up the top before one of us collapses from heat exhaustion.

View from Overseas Highway

Aside from the rental car, our first getaway is memorable in a good way. Overseas Highway locations are found according to mile markers (MM) and whether an establishment is bayside or oceanside. We stop at MM102 to eat lunch at the Fish House, a casual restaurant that features, you guessed it, fish. But these aren’t ordinary fish. They are bought directly off boats, not through distributors. Now, that’s fresh! I become an instant fan of yellowtail snapper.

Back on the road, we cross the famous Seven-Mile Bridge toward paradise. The layers of worry and responsibilities unravel as we listen to the rhythmic steel drums of Caribbean music. Sparkling, turquoise waters beckon on either side of our vehicle, while fishing and sail boats dot the horizon. We even glimpse wildlife at Deer Key when a small, four-legged inhabit skitters along our path, safe behind its nature preserve fencing. At that point we remember, “Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away.” (Hitch, 2005)

Reaching Old Town, Key West, we check into our B&B, welcomed by friendly faces and refreshing drinks. It’s only fitting:  Happy Hour has begun.

Do you have a special place where you can escape the ordinary?

KW Butterfly Conservatory–CLICK photo for Website                                   

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Glover
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 09:55:01

    I’ve always wanted to see the Florida Keys (if only because of Bogey & Bacall!). It’s looks beautiful. Now I want to go even more.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 20, 2011 @ 10:29:58

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, Key Largo would be your place to check out if you’re a Bogey & Bacall fan! My photos don’t do this beautiful island chain justice. In addition, the people we’ve met on our travels through the keys are some of the nicest, down-to-earth, fun-loving people we know.

      I hope you have the chance to experience it first-hand someday! Until then, enjoy those little moments of escape, right at home. 🙂

  2. Catie Rhodes
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 10:04:04

    Great minds think alike! I blogged about the same thing today. Other than Luckenbach, I tend to lose myself on Caddo Lake. It’s like another world.

  3. alicamckennajohnson
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 11:14:23

    It sounds wonderful. My mom’s advice was similar- the most important thing for a child is healthy happy and sane parents!
    Alica

  4. Patti Yager Delagrange
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 11:32:30

    Wow! As Catie said, today seems to be the day for “getting away from it all” and traveling to new places. I agree that the best present you can give your kids is a good marriage and my husband and I are lax in working toward that goal. Life seems to get in the way so much that we don’t tend the garden of our relationship as much as we should. Everyone is so busy doing their own thing ALL the time. We all go our own separate directions and sometimes it feels like my family is fracturing before my very eyes. Not only do we need to come together and be on the same “plane” but we have to be flying in the same direction.
    Thanks for the great post.
    Patti

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 20, 2011 @ 17:11:38

      What a beautiful analogy, Patti, comparing your marriage to a garden. So true. Sounds like it may be time to plan a little getaway with the kids, and reconnect as a family. Thanks for stopping by, and I’d love to hear your plans. 🙂

  5. Debora Dale
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 13:05:55

    Oh wow, Jolyse. You took me right along with you on this ride. How wonderful that you and your husband were given time to enjoy a couple’s vacation.

    I find it so hard to break away from the rut of routine that I often think a getaway is simply too much work. You remind me how breathtaking it can be. I LOVE the movie quote, too. 🙂 It sums up your post beautifully.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 20, 2011 @ 17:04:58

      Thanks, Debora! I love my routines, but spontaneity has its place in life, too, don’t you think? Maybe surprise your husband with a little getaway, even for a few hours alone. And promise not to discuss the home, finances, kids, or other relatives. That helps you focus just on the two of you and get back to why you fell in love in the first place.

      As for the movie quotes, I’m a sucker for a good movie, including all romantic comedies. My husband and I love to insert quotes into our conversations and see if the other one can catch on where it’s from. Only natural for me to include them when blogging, I suppose. I especially like this week’s quote, which I believe has also been attributed to George Carlin among others, prior to Will Smith’s character in Hitch.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Dawn Berkoski
    Jun 21, 2011 @ 11:00:03

    Too cute about the mustang. 🙂

  7. Jeannie Moon
    Jun 21, 2011 @ 18:33:15

    My husband and I have been married for 23 years. The last time we went away sans children was 21 years ago. We’re going away this summer to Maine–without them–and I can’t wait!

    I loved the feel of the post…I put Key West on our list for next year.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jun 21, 2011 @ 19:16:32

      I’m excited for you! Maine in summer is breathtaking. Enjoy your “alone” time. Thanks for stopping by, Jeannie! KW will be featured in future posts, I’m sure. 🙂

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