Sunday, October 17, 2010



Time to head south to Key West!

We packed up for the three hour drive for the one night stay - Dad had a tiny little Red Sox bag, Val and I brought about 24 items of various shapes and sizes, including a giant suitcase. I would blame this on having a baby, but we did the same when it was just us.

To break up the trip for Cooper in his car seat, we stopped in Key Largo at a popular Rushing spot, Senor Frijoles, which is next door to our favorite sunset restaurant, Sundowners. You'd have thought we entered "The Stand" when we went in because it took at least five minutes for someone to even come out from the back. Guess they weren't expecting customers at the inconvenient lunch time of 11:30 a.m.

Even though it was a windy and cloudy day, we still sat outside on the back patio by the Gulf. I mean, it wasn't that windy. Our tacos didn't blow away or anything.

By the time we got to Key West the sun was shining and the wind had turned into a pleasant ocean breeze as we checked into the Pier House Resort off Duval Street, the main drag connecting the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. It's only a mile long, so not as far as it sounds. We stayed on the Gulf side on the north side of the island.

Once the 24 pieces of luggage were in our rooms we took a stroll down Duval Street. It was Val's first visit, so she got an early peek at the shopping, the eccentricity, the numerous Key West t-shirt shops that featured, shall we say, "questionable" material. She turned down all offers to buy one for various family members who might appreciate shirts about drinking, the F-bomb or boobies. The next day we settled for a more appropriate shirt with baby turtles for Cooper.

On the way back we made the one stop at Dad's request, Hog's Breath Saloon, so he could treasure their chili cheese hot dog. Hey, I craved Cheesecake Factory earlier on the trip. We all have the one thing that will happily derail a diet!

We walked back to the hotel to give our Cooper a nap. He was tuckered out from the driving and stroller ride in the warm weather. Once he was awake we made our way to Mallory Square, the popular touristy spot to catch the world famous Key West sunset.

We stopped at one of the few spots where you sit down by the water and wait for the sun to go down, while Dad took Cooper in the stroller to look at the vendors. The sunset was great and all, but behind us, Val and I were instead watching an old guy in a funny hat play songs on his guitar while his dog (wearing boxers) would take dollar bills from tourists and put them in an orange bucket. That's his act. To our left, the sword-swallower didn't seem happy that he wasn't getting as many watchers as the dog.

Then, when we were taking pictures of ourselves and the sunset, some drunk European lady (there are a lot of European visitors to Key West) actually jumped in the choppy water ten feet below. We have no explanation. It took five guys to pull her up, and she didn't look like she cared one bit, nor did her guy pal. I'm pretty sure she ended her night several hours later retching into a toilet at Sloppy Joe's bar.

Once the sun was down, we strolled to the other side of the square for some ice cream. As light became dark and we sat comfortably outside enjoying the breeze and the view with few others around, it was one of the most relaxingly pleasant times of the trip.

Well, except that Cooper was exhausted and didn't want anything to do with the stroller anymore. Even walking in Daddy's arms didn't make him any happier. The boy needed sleep. So we headed back to the hotel, put him in his PJs, got him to sleep and put him down in the crib where he crashed.

At least until 12:30 a.m. If he was at home in his own room he probably would have gone back to sleep after some crying. Here, however, he was in the same room only a few feet from our bed. We couldn't just ignore him. He's standing up looking over the crib like, "Hey, I can SEE y'all! Get me out of this pack 'n play!"

At first we tried to get him back to sleep in bed with us in the dark. After an hour of failing, I turned on the TV to pass the time while he played on us in a good mood. Finally, by 3 a.m. he went back to sleep. Hey, it's his vacation, too, am I right? If the boy wants to be entertained, he shall be.

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