"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Headin' Due South to Key West

Saturday, September 10, 2011:  We took our almost-yearly pilgrimage to The Conch Republic this past weekend to celebrate Ashlee and her twin sister, Paige's birthdays.  This is one of their favorite places to visit, so it  seemed a natural choice.  We found extremely affordable airfare out of Nashville on Delta and after an annoying two-hour delay in Atlanta due to plane maintenance (man, we always seem to have problems with all domestic airlines except Southwest) we were able to join Paige, and her husband, Andy, who had flown directly from Atlanta earlier in the day, at the great rental house on Center Street in Old Town Key West that we stayed in last year for the first time (see September 2010 blog).

Sunday, September 11, 2011:  One of the biggest draws of Key West for us is the amazing food available all over Old Town.  We walked a few blocks from our rental house over to Simonton Street this morning and had a great brunch (Key West pink shrimp and bacon omelet for me!) at Sarabeth's.  We were lucky to get this opportunity since they were closing the next day for a month during the off-season. This off-shoot of a well-known NYC-based restaurant is housed in a beautiful old building that used to be synagogue.  Well, the praising and the "Amens" continue to this day.

Key West just has a style and feel of its own.  They don't take themselves to seriously down here and don't expect you to either while you are visiting.

According to Andy, a real boat-geek, Key West is one of two "Boating Meccas" in the world.  The other being Cannes, France.  That's pretty easy to see from the mass of beautiful boats in the harbour.

Everywhere you look here in Key West is a postcard.

We chose a new place for dinner tonight based on a friend's recommendation (thanks, John) and some research Paige had done.  The restaurant is called Latitudes and it's on the west side of  Sunset Key, a man-made island just a 10-minute boat ride from the Key West Harbour.  While the island is mostly a private residential neighborhood that includes a Westin Resort and is covered in fancy houses and cottages for rent, visitors are welcome to explore the island, and the restaurant is available to anyone willing to plunk down a good chunk of money for some amazing food (above: Ashlee's  yellowtail snapper with coconut risotto) and a jaw-dropping view of the sunset (see below).

Dinner with a view from Sunset Key (aptly-named).  End of the day, September 11, 2011:  I dedicate this beautiful picture of serenity to those who lost their lives 10 years ago today.

Monday, September 12, 2011:  Happy Birthday Ashlee and Paige!!  With a bit of ominous weather creeping about The Keys this morning and early afternoon, we weren't quite sure we were going to be able to get in our 3-PM scheduled boat tour and snorkel that we had booked.  While we have had plenty of boat rides and snorkeling opportunities in Key West over the years, this experience offered by Sunset Watersports was something different.  We actually got to drive the boats!  Pictured above is our boat, # 10, a two-seater mini-speedboat with a 30 HP outboard engine.  We are following our guide and there are four other boats behind us including one driven by Paige and Andy.  What a hoot!  See the short video at the bottom of the page to get an idea of the speed we were going at times.

Our first stop on our boat tour was about 15 miles out of Key West on a large sandbar that was only knee deep.  It was kind of cool to "stand" out in the middle of the ocean.

The weather cooperated with us during our tour and skies opened up with some amazing cloud formations.

Not a bad self-portrait if I do say so myself.  Ashlee is usually better at these than I am, but I proud to say that I snapped this one during our tour while Captain Ashlee did the driving.
The birthday girls after dinner at the always-delicious Mangia Mangia.  Our absolute favorite restaurant in Key West is Blue Heaven and that was our destination tonight for the girls' birthday dinner until we sadly found out they were closed for a month during this off-season.  We were surprised (and delighted) that the tiny Mangia Mangia Restaurant was open and it made a wonderful substitute.  Their fresh seafood pasta dishes are out of this world.

Key West displays beauty and character in all sorts of nooks and crannies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2001:  Sadly, our last day of our too-brief trip to Key West was upon us.  We did have most of the day to spend here before our 6 PM flight back home began, so we soaked up more pool time at our great rental house and finished off a few craft beers we had left in the fridge.
Even though our favorite restaurant, Blue Heaven, was closed for the off-season while we were here in Key West, we did manage to grab a late lunch/early dinner before our flight at it's new sister-restaurant, Salute! on the Beach.  This quaint Caribbean-style cafe sits right on Higgs Beach with nice views.  Ashlee and I split a large pork tenderloin sandwich that was delicious.  It was a nice place to soak up a few last rays and vibes of this special area before heading back to the real world.  Thanks again, Key West, we hope to see you again very soon!

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