A Key West “Choose Your Adventure”

Need an escape from endless shoveling, worries about heating costs, and that cold white stuff that makes going about your daily business so difficult–if not downright dangerous? I do. Let’s go. Imagination is free.

Fly free of responsibilities...

This tropical locale is the kind of place where the biggest decisions are which restaurants to choose, which activities to enjoy, and which drinks to sip as we laze away the days.

Landing at your island destination, you enjoy the freedom that comes along with shedding heavy layers of clothes and leaving your daily routine behind. You check into your accommodations. It’s everything you hoped for. When you pull back the curtains of your luxury suite that leads to your private balcony, you wonder why you waited so long to make that leap and visit the southernmost city. Your view overlooks Mallory Square, one of the world’s most famous places to people-watch and enjoy the sun set. Oh, but the clock tower at nearby Key West Museum chimes one, so you figure you have plenty of time to explore before considering the night’s entertainment.

One of those balconies has your name on it. :)

One of those balconies has your name on it. 🙂

What will you do first? If you stroll down Key West’s main drag, Duval Street, you choose to stop for at Hog’s Breath Saloon, where you strum your fingers to the live music and chat with fellow escapees on the adjacent bar stools as you sip a Hogarita or two. Waving goodbye to your new friends, you finish your drink and head into the brilliant sunshine for another adventure. You make your way toward Upper Duval, stopping to read the crazy t-shirt sayings at the tacky souvenir shops or visiting bars such as Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, Rick’s, The Bull & Whistle, Fat Tuesday’s, and Buffet’s original Margaritaville.

Fogarty's on Duval

Fogarty’s on Duval

If you opt to visit a number of those establishments or even one for an extended period of time, be prepared to learn the true meaning of the phrase “Duval Crawl.” Otherwise, you can choose to continue your walk to the Butterfly Conservatory and South Beach.

South Beach, Key West

South Beach, Key West

Butterflies and beaches aren’t on the agenda for your first day? Retrace your steps, making a right at the Conch Train station and heading past the Hyatt Resort to the Key West Historic Seaport. You could relax on the deck of Turtle Kraals and watch the comings and goings at the marina or trek the boardwalk until you spy another eatery that fits your style.

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyAfter your late lunch, you could shop (perhaps buy a bottle of wine for later in the evening), talk with local tour charter vendors to book a ghost tour, sunset sail, fishing boat, jet skiing or kayaking eco-tour for later in your stay, or return to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. Before you rest, however, don’t forget to talk with your concierge about selecting just the right restaurant for that romantic dinner before you join the crowd headed to Mallory.

Mallory Square Performer

Mallory Square Performer

After your scrumptious meal and a picturesque sunset you wind your way through entertainers and tourists to Old Town’s quaint side streets, breathing in the ambiance and architecture of the city before returning to Front Street and your hotel. If you’ve had enough excitement for your first day, you can choose to stroll hand-in-hand to your suite, open that bottle of wine and enjoy your loved one’s company.

The following morning…you’re off to a new adventure. What will yours be?

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Daydreaming

Sunset Sail View

Today was one of those days. You know, the kind where you hit the floor running and don’t stop until your body and mind scream for relief. Prone to anxiety, I do my utmost to prevent days like this. I prioritize errands and am a faithful To-Do Lister and Completer. In spite of my best efforts, the occasional, overwhelmingly busy day still catches me by surprise. And, like today, I struggle to squeeze in a little “me” time, if only to curtail internal combustion.

My next-to-last errand today was a mani-pedi. I know, I know, this sounds more like a luxury than a chore, but when a writing deadline is looming, sitting still for two hours without a laptop propped in front of me is tantamount to torture for me. To alleviate the nerve-wrecking experience of watching a ticking clock as my nails are buffed, filed, painted, and dried, I daydream. (Yeah, we writers are good at that.)

If you’ve read earlier posts, you know I’m fond of the Florida Keys, and specifically Key West. What started as a three-night getaway years ago has turned into an annual escape. Among other things, Conch Republic is renowned for its beautiful sunsets. On previous trips, my husband and I reveled in the midst of celebratory crowds at Mallory Square and enjoyed our sunset dinner at a table for two on the Hot Tin Roof patio. For our third trip, we asked the manager of our little B&B his recommendation. Without a moment’s hesitation, he suggested taking the Wind & Wine Sunset Sail. We did, and the evening that followed was the stuff dreams are made of. Or daydreams, as the case may be.

As I sat in the nail salon this afternoon, instead of customers and chairs I saw gently flapping ivory sails above and velvet blue water beyond. Instead of the cash register’s ring and nail dryers’ hum, my mind heard waves lapping against our sailing vessel’s bow, wine glasses clinking, and seagulls calling softly as they flew overhead. I didn’t detect the slightest odor of polish remover or hand creams. No, I inhaled salt-scented sea breezes and my husband’s understated cologne as he leaned close to whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

I felt the rocking to-and-fro as we sailed through the evening waters within sight of Westin Marina and savored the taste of a merlot wine recently poured for me, its smoothly tart notes of black cherry, cinnamon, and oak swirling around on my tongue between bites of gouda cheese and spicy sausage stacked on water table crackers. Mmmm. This is the life.

And then I was asked to pay.

My nails were done, and I’d taken a break from reality. So the moral of the story is, getting a mani-pedi can be relaxing, even for someone who worries about the time-suck like me. I was rejuvenated enough upon returning home to complete my final “to-do” of the day–writing this week’s blog.

Enjoy your daydreams. (But please, for goodness sake, not during activities like cutting people’s hair, operating heavy machinery, or supervising children. That could turn your daydream into a nightmare rather quickly.)

Ahhh, time to go. I hear the whirring of a certain kind of blender and its calling my name.

Enjoy a glimpse into my daydream, if you’d like:

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