Bikes and Bubbles Encore

Happy Margarita Moment, all! This week I’m traveling with extended family in celebration of my in-laws’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. Please enjoy this reader favorite I originally posted last summer. I look forward to sharing the sights of Bermuda with you next week. Until then, cheers!

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, like items from the KW Jewelry Bar. They can be ridden at night, too, with strobe lights attached to the wheels’ spokes instead of handlebars. (More on that to come!)

My eyes light up as I gaze at the bike, thinking, I’d miss you even if we’d never met. (Movie Quote Alert…answer below.) 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.

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 our fuzzy brains. Whee!

I 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?

Movie Quote Answer: Wedding Date, 2005 (Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Peter Egan) Debra Messing’s character, Kat, complains that Dermot Mulroney’s character, Nick, knows everything about her and she doesn’t know a thing about him. He responds, “I’m allergic to fabric softener. I majored in comparative literature at Brown. I hate anchovies. And I think I’d miss you even if we never met.”

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan Romes
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 18:49:34

    Jolyse, I loved your blog article!! *It sounds like you wrote about me — haha!* I love bike riding and would kick my own fanny for not doing it more (If I could get my foot up that high :-D). And Key West will always be a one of my favorite vacations! In 2005 we rented a little bungalow on White St. and spent the next five days exploring. Key lime pie, Ernest Hemingway’s house on Whitehead St., Sloppy Joe’s, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and Mallory Square!! :-)) It sounds like you had an incredible time too!!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 20, 2012 @ 09:02:47

      Thanks, Jan! For me, bike riding symbolized freedom from parental control when I was a kid. Today, it symbolizes a temporary freedom from my adult responsibilities. What’s not to like. 🙂

  2. Piper Bayard
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 23:30:52

    What a fun blog! I remember riding my bike miles to visit friends out in rural New Mexico when I was a kid. Before we moved to the country, all of us town kids rode our bikes constantly, whether to school or two blocks away to a friend’s house. Thanks for reminding me of those times.

    Biking around Key West sounds like a great way to spend a vacation. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 21, 2012 @ 09:19:41

      Welcome, Piper! I’m happy to have stirred happy memories for you. My husband and I enjoy biking in KW so much, we’ve talked about buying our own Conch Cruisers to ride around our Long Island neighborhood. Do you own a bike as an adult? I wish I did.

      • Piper Bayard
        Aug 21, 2012 @ 12:27:35

        I actually have a good, old-fashioned one speed Huffy. My family tries to get me into something a bit more high tech, but I’m not interested. There’s still nothing like feeling the wind in my hair while I’m cruising downhill. It’s that uphill part that keeps me from riding much. I jaunt around the neighborhood park now and then, but otherwise, I walk or drive.

  3. Tuere Morton
    Aug 20, 2012 @ 03:34:23

    Wow, 50th, huh? A huge congrats to your in-laws. In my line of work, I always ask couples who’ve been married for decades, what’s the secret to a long lasting marriage and the answer, hands down is: the husband will chime in and point his thumb @ his significant other and say, “she’s the boss.” lol. Love it. Yes, it would’ve been more traumatic graduating to my mini-van if it wasn’t all black with tinted windows, giving me the illusion of hippness. lol. Let’s see, childhood toy…definitely the My Little Pony estate with the swimming pool. Time and time again I wish I preserved that toy to hand down to my daughter. Ah well : /

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 21, 2012 @ 09:22:34

      Ahh, My Little Pony. I saved a few of my Holly Hobby Dolls and Mrs. Beasley, along with a few of my favorite picture books. My two kids get a kick out of seeing their mom’s old-fashioned toys. 🙂

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