S: Our trip to Key West 2011
BC: Until our next adventure...
FC: Key West
1: Our vacation began on Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 5:30am. After groggily making our way out of bed, tossing on our clothes and checking to make sure we hadn't left the stove or air conditioning on, Christina, Andrew, Stefan and Christine II made their way downstairs to the awaiting stretch limo heading for Midway Airport. On the way, despite how tired we were, spirits were high enough to spare taking a few pictures inspired by some silliness.
2: Catching the Southwest flight down to Ft. Lauderdale, everything goes off without a hitch. Dustin meets the four of us at the terminal to complete our travel group. | We all sit comfortably with our iPads, magazines, snacks and watch the clouds fly by as we eagerly make our way down south.
3: Landing in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida the heat and humidity immediately hit all of us with the force of a hammer, but itâ€™'s not enough to damper our excited spirits as we begin the three and half hour drive through the keys, down to Key West. On the way, the silliness is irrepressible as the built up energy comes out in the form of pictures.
4: After arriving in Key West and checking into our King Suite at the Orchid Key Hotel, the A/C immediately goes on before we set out on the town. First on the agenda is to meet up with Brandon, Tabitah, Kyle, Shannon, Stefan, Dustin and Christine across the street to pick up scooters and bicycles for the weekend stay. After a brief test drive we make our way to Mallory Square to witness the beautiful sunset and the Street Performers. The crazy Cat Man is just many of the cornerstones of our visit and following sunset we head to Paradise Pizza for a bite to eat. Shortly after some delicious ice cream, we set out and explored the island via scooters in the dead of night before turning in for the evening. There is much planned in the next several days to make an exciting and memorable trip with a great group of close friends.
6: Photo-bomb! | Mallory Square | Entertainment | WOW!! | "Cat Man" | Sunset
9: This guy rode up and down the streets as he was jammin' with a stereo on the back of his bike & put on a memorable light show for all to see!
10: Early Saturday morning we started off shopping on Duval St. where Christina found a dress in a boutique shop for Mark & Cassandra's wedding that evening. Gathering the group together we made our way to Red Fish Blue Fish, which despite the relatively early hour of the morning, was serving $5 Strawberry, Mango and Lime Margaritas. After each of us consumed no less than two drinks, we set back out into the sun for more shopping and sight seeing.
11: Later, for lunch, we happened to stumble upon Garbo’s Grill and despite its humble appearance, this became one of the best-hidden gems on the island. Across the way and after exploring the 800+ spiced sauces at Peppers of Key West we returned to the Orchid Key to prepare for the wedding at the Yacht Club.
12: THE Big DAY! | Sunday, September 4, 2011 began a celebration of Mark & Cassandra's wedding. The ceremony took place on a small private beach at the Yacht Club in Key West. The setting was enchanting and the wedding proceeded with Dustin officiating, Kyle acting as best man and all of us playing the role of supporting the happy couple in their fruitful endeavor and everlasting love for each other.
14: " I love you beyond words could ever begin to express! "
17: After the wedding, we began one of our several pool parties. The water temperature was perfect and it was an ideal way to end the evenings.
18: Despite being devoid of a hangover, we were all still remarkably tired and dragged ourselves beneath the sheets to enjoy a bit more exploration of the island. Riding scooters, we covered the maximum amount of ground we can and see just about every crevice of the island we could want. Spending the lion’s share of the morning at the Ernest Hemingway house, it was a fistful of history, despite it being slightly educational – and being on vacation and all.
20: Before our next big adventure of the day, we stopped for a brief lunch at Sloppy Joes. The music was loud and yet entertaining. There wasn't an empty seat in the house, however, that didn't stop people from pouring in for a sandwich and a cold beer. Our order included the infamous Sloppy Joe, the most amazing nachos we have ever tasted and delicious fried calamari . . . delicious!
22: The group made their way towards the Marina near The Conch Republic restaurant for our Kayaking and Snorkeling tour. A perfect day with exceptional weather couldn't have been planned better. Despite a few difficulties along the way (Christina landing in the mangroves), the kayaking proved to be a lot of fun, if not a bit of hard work while the snorkeling seemed to be a bit tumultuous as our view of the ocean floor was not exactly perfect. However, we did seem to get a few good shots! All the same, we had an incredibly enjoyable with all our close friends.
24: We made dinner plans for A&B Lobster House as we returned to dry land from a our adventures in the ocean. A shower, nap and change of clothes later, we headed for dinner in the evening hours. The restaurant turned out to be exquisite. Following dinner, we checked out Garden of Eden, a clothing optional bar, before turning in for the evening. That was an interesting destination.
26: Tuesday morning, Andrew and Christina headed towards Fort Zachary beach on the far end of the island. Being a national park, it was worth the price of admission as it quickly became apparent we had found the most beautiful public beach in Key West. Christina immediately dove into the water and climbed the nearest rock formation she could before lying out on the beach so Andrew could bury her with all the engineering fortitude of a drunk beaver. Needless to say, when Christina gave it her best shot, it proved she had a bit more of a talent for it. The sand felt soft, warm and slightly grainy. There was an unusual amount of seaweed on the beach due to the tropical storm that was currently affecting the Golf of Mexico. Upon getting a fill of sun, the two headed back for a quick rinse and began scootering out to our next big adventure for the day. . .
28: . . . Key West International Airport for a biplane ride that carried us 10 miles out from the island where we saw dolphins, a whale, reefs and a beautiful view of Key West all from the sky.
30: After our plane tour we had worked up an appetite and headed to Mo’s Restaurant for some delicious Creole food that tasted like it had come directly from New Orleans. Afterwards, we stopped next door to have some ice cream before heading to the Southernmost Point in the continental US for a few pictures with the group. | Photobomb! | Photo bomb!
31: The Scooter Gang of Key West
35: Wednesday, September 7, our last day; the morning started early with a last group picture showing all of us on our scooters before returning them and heading back up the Keys for the long drive to Ft. Lauderdale. With barely a stop or two, we made it back up North as all of us were seemingly burned out from the vacation to the point that another, more relaxing vacation may have well been in order. Stopping at Subway before arriving at the airport and a short wait later found us traveling the airways home. Landing to a cool 65 degrees in Chicago could only be made better by the fact that we unexpectedly had an Excursion SUV-style stretch limo arrive to take us back home. Upon arriving back at the condo, we curled into bed and fell asleep. It was a fun trip, but amazing to be home. | Christina | Kyle | Andrew | Shannon | Christine | Mark | Brandon | Cassandra | Tabitha | Stefan | Dustin