Saturday, January 16, 2016

A trip to the Florida Keys

Happy Belated New Year! It's hard to believe it's mid-January already.  I have been meaning to write this post for a while. Last year was such a hard winter that my husband and I swore a pact that we would go somewhere warm this winter. Ironically, this winter hasn't been that bad -- we have had only a few cold and snowy days, thanks to El Niño.

We still went, though. We flew into Miami and rented a car to drive down the Keys. The traffic was pretty bad -- after all, we decided to go during the very busiest time of year -- but the drive was fairly scenic and we could open the windows and smell the salt air. Once we got outside of the hectic Miami area, we were on a mostly two-lane road for miles and miles, crawling along at less than 20 miles per hour.

We stayed in a very nice bed and breakfast, the Barnacle Inn on Big Pine Key. We had actually stayed there quite a few years ago and really liked the quiet location. We could see so many stars at night, and there are small dog-sized key deer all over the island in the evening and morning hours.

Some photos from the B&B:

Deer nibbles on landscaping at the B&B

The sign
Courtyard from the rooftop
Sunrise over the private beach

Rooftop Lookout

View from the roof

Little tiki hut for B&B guests 

We also got to spend some time on a beautiful beach a few minutes from where we were staying, Bahia Honda State Park.

Key West was only an hour away when we wanted more excitement:

Old Town House decorated for Christmas

One of the beautiful roosters wandering everywhere 
Souvenir shopping

Cool old theater converted into a Walgreens

Performer at the drag show at Bourbon St. Pub

Yes, he is wearing a suit, it's just very small. And also a matching hat and elbow-length gloves.
We also had a few active adventures. One morning, we borrowed two of the kayaks from our B&B and paddled around. It was much harder than we thought it would be -- neither of us has done much kayaking or canoeing.

My husband took this photo of me kayaking.
My favorite part of the trip was snorkeling on Looe Key. We went with Strike Zone and they were great. My swim skills came in very handy. I felt totally comfortable in the water and got to see beautiful fish, coral, and even a shark. I moved very quickly away from the shark, which turned out to be totally harmless.

Pre-snorkeling selfie

It was hard to come back to reality. I literally felt like it was summer again while I was there, and all of the things that have been worrying me vanished from my mind while I was surrounded by sun, sand, and surf. Of course, it all came right back when we landed in Detroit.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07