04 January 2013

2013 SOUTH & EAST COAST Key West 10 - Today is My Birthday - da da da da DA da

THE STATS: Miles and miles of walking.

THE HAPS: Woke up casual at 9:16am. Breakie served til 10am, so up and at 'em. Nice tropical breakfast of fruit, yogurt, bran muffins, hard-boiled egg, and umm-good coffee. Finished the morning ritual and off we go walking again.

We've seen the attractions sooo many times, so we decided to roam the back streets and not the busy Duval Street area. Saw the local light house (Florida has 30, but Michigan has more than any other state. 106, I think.) Walked past the Audubon House, the Hemingway House, the Merlin House (where we enjoyed a stay many times until the cool gay guys sold it), and many gorgeous and/or funky conch houses. Regretted one more time that we had not bought the salt-box style conch house we lusted after on our first trip to Key West. We've looked for it several times over the years, but feel it must be torn down.

Saw the "southern most" point in the continental US. This is the first time we've ever seen a line up for folks to get their photo taken at the big red-yellow-black buoy. We've got lots of those photos, so moved on down the road. Many street artists doing their thing at little stands along the street.

We criss-crossed block after block until we came to the Half Shell Raw Bar, one of our favorite restaurants on earth. Mike had a dozen oysters on the half shell and I had a pound of steamy beer boiled shrimp. Add two mojitos each and satisfaction achieved. 

We did not recognize the marina area so much. Many new buildings and streets. But our beloved pelicans were hanging around the roofs and roosters were strolling the streets. Mike says the government doesn't like the roosters, but the conchs (locals) love them because they have an "independent spirit." Don't see chickens prancing around though. Maybe they get et! Saw one cat sleeping in what looked like an abandoned car with all the windows open, and a couple with a cute, rompy kitten on a leash (like a dog). It didn't look unhappy. We remember there being way more cats.
Not quite as humid today and not quite as crowded, even though we did see another cruise ship parked near Mallory Square. Meandered back toward the motel where we tried to catch up on this dang blog. Takes a lot more time than one would think.

Also investigating a special place for birthday dinner tonight. Want something off the beaten track--not a commercial place like Margaritaville, but something more quaint, casual, romantic with really good food. The Flaming Buoy has been recommended by several, including our fabulous hotel clerk, Brian. He made reservations for us for 7pm.

Spent the afternoon lallygagging around the pool. Nice sun, nice breeze, lots of tropical flowering plants including orchids, little birds flitting around, a couple of clean-looking pigeons browsing for crumbs, many slender geckos from 2 to 10 inches long (including tail) darting. Yes, paradise. Mike was really enjoying the chance to read, so I soloed off to do a little shopping. Picked up a new neon pink shirt to wear to dinner.

Our motel has the cutest little (full) bar and happy hour starts at 5pm. It is a time to do some chit-chat and restaurant review talk with the other motelers. Everyone is quite relaxed and friendly. Everyone wants to know where you are from--quite a lot from Wisconsin and Michigan. Today we had a pinot grigio on the house and then ordered the motel special--the Purple Orchid Cosmos (pink and served in a martini glass). Wow, tasty.

About 6:40pm started toward the Flaming Buoy. Old brain syndrome. Could not find it. Looking for Fleming Street (which was the wrong street). Got directions from a few people along the way trying to be helpful but not succeeding. Asked one guy where the Flaming "Boy" was and he seemed confused. He said it might be because he was a recovering "soul" and had just gotten his 30 day chip. (Mike says this is an "award" from AA for being sober for 30 days.) He then asked did we mean Flaming Buoy (boo-y)? Yep, that was it, but still no success. Back to the hotel, now too late for our res. We apologized. Brian made the same reservation for tomorrow.

In the meantime, we settled on a wonderful Mexican restaurant named Salsa Loco. First course, liquor. Mike had a bottle of Pacifico and I had a shot of Patron tequila with a tequila sunrise back. We had a birthday toast and then on with the meal. Mike had some excellent chili rellenos with cheese. I had kind of a quesadilla with mushrooms, queso cheese, tomatoes, and fresh spinach. Each  had sides of Spanish rice, refried beans, sour cream, a good helping of guacamole and, of course, some really warm and tasty taco chips. Our camera battery ran out of juice, so no pics of this good meal.

Having heard our BD toast, we got a huge helping of fried ice cream on the house. It was a ball of vanilla about 5' in diameter with a "fried" coating in a fried tortilla cup topped with chocolate sauce and lots of whipped cream. I had a few bites, but Mike did the most damage to this extravaganza.

Then a slow stroll back to the hotel, window shopping along the way. It was a very good birthday.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.