Thursday, November 20, 2008

Florida part 2...the road trip

So to me, this is when the real vacation began. We woke up Sunday, of course grabbed coffee, and then hit the road on our trek to the Keys. Before we even left Seattle for Florida, we had things mapped out a little bit, booked one or two hotels, and had a good idea of where we were going to be stopping and staying the night.

Sunday we left the beautiful beach of Clearwater and headed south. To break up the drive, we stopped along the way and laid out for a power hour at some random city beach. Good break from driving.

We made it into Naples in the early evening and Col found a coupon for the Holiday Inn and we stayed for like 55 bucks. What a bargain. The dude working the front desk was super nice and chatty and gave some great recommendations locally as well as for our drive to the Keys.

We strolled the cool 5th street they have, checking out all the shops and stopped in at sort of an island spot and had some good eats. Then strolled for a bit longer before stopping in at sbux for an evening mocha. We cruised around Naples for a bit and then called it a night.

Woke up Tuesday morning and headed off on our road trip. Next stop, Everglade city for an airboat ride. We had cool local dude that was our captain and he was a good cat. We cruised through the 'glades, both wet lands and dry lands, saw lots of birds and a handful of gators. Up close too. The airboat ride was sweet.

Not much else to see, so we got on the road. We did stop before we really got going at Clyde Butchers gallery. Very cool stuff. He is a local guy that has shot all over the 'glades which is what he is most known for, but also has some great stuff from around the nation.

There is this long canal that runs along the freeway (2lane) and nothing but gators everywhere. We walked over there, saw three gators hanging at the water surface level, and one close to the road. They are some scary looking creatures for sure.

There is quite a bit of history along the way and the 7 mile bridge was one of the large things we got to see along with the well taken care of grounds about the 2 mile mark.

We made it into Key Largo, checked into the hotel and made it out back to get a drink on the beach and hit the dock for the sunset along with everyone else. A bit of a windy evening and a little chily. Dinner at the restaurant was pretty tasty and we chilled. There is not much to do in Key Largo in the evening. It's a beach town, like most of the spots along the freeway.

Woke and headed south on our trek to the Keys. Coffee? Holy crap. No Starbucks anywhere along the way. Hell, almost no real quality independents. Then just a few miles outside of Key West, there is a popular spot called Babys Coffee ( Was not real sure of what we were going to get, but the girl whipped up a good mocha. I was now in one of my happy places.

Rolled into to Key West and checked into the fairly high end Ocean Sea and Spa Resort. The best pool in town. You can lay by the pool or even in the pool and enjoy the sunset. And we did. The routine down there; sunset was about 5:50 daily and everyone starts getting out there on the dock and seated at the bar around 5. Once the sun finally disappears in the distance, there is a round of applause and another drink. Then you hang out for another hour or so as the sky is way cool as it turns pink, orange, purple, etc.

Then you go for a lazy walk and determine what's for dinner. Lots of tough decisions that really stress you out. Not really. We had some good mexican food one night, and the some pretty good grub at the Hard Rock the next. The waiter recommend a great little dessert spot off the beaten path, Better Than Sex. No really, that is the name. And the menu's desserts all have sexual names (Jungle Fever, Pimpin Pumpkin Pie, etc). GREAT little spot and would definitely recommend it.

We stayed in the Keys for a few days and did some touristy things, but really, mostly just disconnected and chilled. On Thursday, we started our road trip at 10am back to Tampa where we were flying out of. In short, we drove all day into the evening. Couple of stops along the way to lay out, grab some eats, and then made it town by almost 8pm.

Dinner at Mac-a-roni grill, then a cheap stay at the high end hotel, LaQuinta. Right across from Busch Gardens where we spent out Friday before flying out. Some pretty sweet ass rides. Only complaint, way to expensive. Be sure to print off tickets so you can get the discount vs buying at the door.

I'm sure I am missing some funnies, but i just needed to get my thoughts down before it became January.

I would recommend a visit to the beaches of Clearwater and that stretch, as well the Keys.

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