Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Florida Keys

Today felt like a road trip, and I love road trips. I love being able to stop whenever we want to see and do new things and try new foods. Our first stop this morning was in Islamorada to eat breakfast at Mangrove Mike's. Another place that was hard to find but worth the stop.
We shared an omelet called the Kitchen Sink. Chock full of ham, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, onions, potatoes, and cheese.
Hubby was quite generous with the pepper.
And of course, we needed a slice of homemade key lime pie before noon. While it might not look pretty, it was darn tasty.
The shop next door was clear about the origin of their items.
We then made a stop in Marathon, Florida for gas and a beach stop. Two things to note:
  • Once I checked my email when we got to Key West I found an email from Shell. My gas card had been frozen because of potential fraudulent purchases. Uh, no. They must have problems in this particular area because I've used that card for years and years all over this country (and plenty of times in Florida) and it has never been flagged before. We quickly cleared it up and all is good now.
  • We planned on spending an hour or so at Sombrero Beach in Marathon. A beautiful but busy beach. (I do keep forgetting it's Thanksgiving week. It's like I'm on a different calendar for some reason!) The busyness itself wasn't the problem, but the lack of seating for hubby was. He can't stand for long, and with all the picnic tables being taken it left him without a place to sit we couldn't stay. Looked like everyone was having a grand time in the water, though.
Thankfully our hotel (surprise - a real hotel this time) allowed us to check in early. It's one of the nice benefits of being a Best Western Diamond member. We saw lots of folks sitting out in the sun at the pool with multiple pieces of luggage. I tried not to make eye contact - didn't want to rub it in. Although there are worse places to be waiting for a room than at the pool.

After a little rest, hubby was ready to go out. We walked a couple blocks down to the southernmost point in the continental United States. I remember seeing this spot on TV during last year's hurricane.

It was such a beautiful day. We decided to eat not far from that spot at the Southernmost Beach Cafe. We wound up there during happy hour. A $5 rum punch? Yep, I'll take a couple. Hubby went with sangria which was not on the happy hour menu.
All of our food came from the happy hour menu. And bonus - we have leftovers for dinner tomorrow.

$4 pizza rolls.
 $5 buffalo chicken wings.
The most unbelievable tasty combinations were in this $4 grilled cheese sandwich with fries. Pork, onion jam, and cheese. It could probably easily make it to the top of the best thing I ever ate list.
And just to prove to ourselves we really are in Key West, we had another slice of key lime pie. This one had an Oreo crust and strawberry topping. I don't know how it is possible that each one we've had these past few days has been different but amazingly delicious. 
As we were sitting there watching the sun go down, we noticed a cruise ship heading out of port.
 Then another one. We  had both a Royal Caribbean and an Azamara in Key West today.
 It was a good day. Tomorrow should be just as good as we have an adventure planned involving a ferry and a fort. Stay tuned.

Find out how we spent yesterday in the Florida Keys here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Islamorada, Florida

I had never heard of Islamorada until we started searching for places to stay on our way to Key West. Up until today I didn't even know how to pronounce it. (It's eye la more ah dah.) Islamorada is a town hit hard by Hurricane Irma last year. You can see some drone footage shot by the Miami Herald here. Even now some businesses are still closed, homes are being repaired, and signs are everywhere about assistance.
Even real estate listings remind you a hurricane might be in your future with words like concrete, bunker, and fortitude.

We're also finding so many of these towns in the Keys have something else unique about them - you don't realize there is water like, right there. Trees and bushes hide the water on both sides of the road. These last couple days I've been following our GPS down narrow streets to find beaches and marinas. We always think the same thing when we turn off. This can't be right. But two minutes later and wouldn't you know it, there's the water. It happened at the place we stayed at over the weekend. A very nondescript looking place from the road had a great water view just a few feet away. 

And again, at the place we're staying now. It doesn't look like anything special from the main street. Probably doesn't look too impressive from the inside of our abode, either. 
But I knew exactly what I was booking here. Like I've mentioned before, we sometimes like getting out of our usual hotel lodging routine. I have fond childhood memories of camping each summer with my grandparents, hubby has fond childhood memories of heading every year in the camper to his family reunion, and we both have fond memories of our summer-long cross-country tent-camping road trip with our daughter. 

So this place - this trailer - in Islamorada was calling my name. It has electricity and water and even has a regular hotel-like toilet.
Who can say they are blessed enough to be able to camp on the sand in the Florida Keys? That would be us. But again today we again couldn't lollygag on the sand as we had some things to be done. First up, lunch. We wandered just a couple minutes down the road and found ourselves at the rough-looking Hog Heaven.
Go inside, walk through the bar, and plop yourself down outside to find a view like this. Order a drink like the Flying Pig. Vodka, peach schnapps, Red Bull, and cranberry. My first sip of alcohol in months and my first ever sip of Red Bull. Between the view and the warm day and the drink I was feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Or order today's special of the day, a Cuban sandwich. We're only 126 miles from Cuba so we knew it had to be tasty and it was. (Their fresh catch of the day wasn't dolphin like yesterday but was swordfish. We didn't order it.)
Look at those thick slices of meat.
Of course, homemade Key Lime pie for dessert. Very dense.
Then back to CVS to pick up hubby's prescription and onto a nice, clean laundromat to run a load.
Not as relaxing a day as I had hoped, but I'm not going to complain when I can sit in a trailer and type my blog and see this out the window.
The sunsets here aren't too shabby, either.
Even when the moon starts to make an appearance in the opposite side of the sky it is pretty darn nice.
We never ever forget what a wonderful life we live. Off to Key West tomorrow.

Tutorial Tuesday - How to Make a Reverse Applique Heart Christmas Tree Ornament

It's Tutorial Tuesday and today we are making a heart homemade Christmas tree ornament - or handmade Valentine's Day decoration - using fabric and reverse applique. Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds!

Homemade Fabric Heart Christmas Tree Ornament or Valentine's Day Decoration Sewing Project
For this project you will need:

Looking for more Valentine's Day ideas? Check out these projects!
Looking for something else? 
Check out some of my other Valentine's Day sewing and crafting projects!

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

The step-by-step how to video instructions for the fabric heart ornament sewing project can be found here:

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Day of Discovery

Today was a day of discovery. We started out the morning as planned by hanging out at our own little private beach at our motel in Key Largo.
We sat there watching pelicans and gulls. Even saw this little guy right in the water near the blue walkway that headed to the dock.
Then we went to breakfast at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen a few miles down the road. We were too late for breakfast (it ended at 11 am) so we had lunch instead. (I should tell you - their fresh catch of the day was dolphin. Don't worry, we did NOT order it.)

Pretty cool looking place inside. License plates on the walls and lamps made out of license plates, too. See Idaho up there?
What's that stuck in the lattice on the ceiling? Well, it's money of course!
They had the best homemade key lime pie we've ever tasted.

We then headed to CVS in Islamorada to get hubby's prescription. They had to order it so we'll be back tomorrow to pick it up. I certainly hope this guy isn't in the parking lot again!
To kill time before check in at our new lodging location, we went to Library Beach Park. Although with this warning we decided not to stay too long.
So we headed a little bit early to our new place. What a view, right? This is out our front window.

It's a unique place we're staying in. Sometimes you just have to break away from those standard hotels and branch out. And that's what we did. I'll give you a tour tomorrow.

What a great day of new things!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Another NASCAR Race & National Park

How can your day not turn out great when you take a few steps out of your hotel room and see this?

I walked out onto the dock and took a photo of the property.
Shh. Don't tell hubby he's in the picture.
I'm not sure it's technically a hotel. It's just one building with what looks to be four units.
Our unit is on the ground floor in the back. This side faces the water.
We would have loved to stay on the little beach all day, but there was no lollygagging for us. We were on to another National Park today. Everglades National Park. Not nearly as pretty as yesterday's, but there was wildlife. No alligators, though.

Then following yesterday's schedule, back to another NASCAR race.

So how did we become people who watched NASCAR?
On a Sunday in 2011 I was living at my daughter's. Two months out from shoulder surgery, I was still in my sling and could only use one arm. My daughter was at work and I was doing what I usually did when I was at her place. I was sitting where I slept - in the recliner - and flipping through the local channels since she had no cable.

I came across the Daytona 500. I rarely ever watched car races, but knowing I was heading home the following week and would need something to talk to my husband about when I returned, I chose the car race. I sat there and watched that race. And enjoyed it. (Granted, I was on pain pills at the time.) Right before I started this blog in March I was able to move back home. Told my hubby about enjoying the race. He suggested we start watching those NASCAR races. So we did. Our weekends from March - November began to revolve around race time on TV. For the first few weeks I always picked who I thought would win the day's race based on who had the prettiest car. (I still do it that way.) Wouldn't you know it, for several weeks in a row I was always right.

Fast forward to 2018 (and I was in a sling this week because of my shoulder again - dang!) and we made it to two races in two days. Championship Weekend is a biggie. It's the end of the racing season and the day they crown a new champion.

We can mark that one off our list. I think we both agree we'd much rather be in our recliners with our feet up in the comfort of our own home rather than be in a crowd of thousands.
Did you know this is how they get one of their camera views before the race? I didn't.
One thing to note for future reference: If you go from a 14 day transatlantic cruise to a NASCAR race on the same day, prepare yourself for a culture shock. Not the same clientele for sure!

Tomorrow we're relaxing at our private beach before check out, heading off to try and fill a prescription, find a laundromat, and relax and enjoy another new and somewhat different kind of lodging in the Florida Keys.