Saturday, May 4, 2013

So Long, Key West!

Yes, yes.  It’s a totally original idea to start a blog.  How unique!  No one else is doing that at all!  I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while, and I finally decided what topics I’ll ramble about for whoever decides it might be worthwhile to skim through my nonsense.  

Mostly I’ll write about the adventures of moving around to different types of locations being a Coast Guard spouse, over-sharing stories and pictures of our best-est boy – our dog Cheety, (who, as you’ll see, has quite the personality), reading-related subjects and book reviews, crafty projects and home decorating, and any other whim I deem worthwhile.  I know – it’s good that I’ve really focused in on a specific topic.  

Since my husband and I are on the verge of a pretty substantial lifestyle change with our next tour assignment, (Key West, FL to Kodiak Island, Alaska!), I thought now would be a good time to finally get started.  I certainly need the push to have more of a writing routine.  

One of the many beautiful sunsets we saw in Key West

I’ve been a Coastie wife for about 4 years, and Lord knows I was reluctant toward the whole concept of moving around so often when the idea was first on my radar.  My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and we were at the same air station for 6 of them before any talk of moving around together and getting hitched was even discussed.  

Turns out, I’ve done a total 180 and I’ve not only drunk the Kool-Aid, I actually start to get restless after being in one place for more than a few years.  Funny how much my attitude toward the lifestyle has changed from when I first entertained the idea of living like a nomad to now.  Let’s just say I’ve evolved.  Not to mention I've learned quite a few acronyms...PCS being the most meaningful.  Permanent Change of Station.

So, we’ve lived in Key West for the last four years, and it's PCS time, so we received the next set of orders.  Sadly, our pseudo-Caribbean existence will be over, and we’ll be moving on to our next adventure soon.  Instead of a goodbye love letter to Key West, this is my goodbye “love list.”  If you’ve made it this far and are still reading, I should probably warn you that this first post is kind of on the long side.  Cause there’s just so much to miss!
My Love List to Key West

1.     Ohhhh, the MUSIC!!  I’ll so very much miss the 5:30 sound check and Sunday Jazz at my all-time favorite spot for live music, The Green Parrot.  They’ve had some truly fantastic, unforgettable shows:  The Revivalists, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Honey Island Swamp Band, The Red Elvises, and so many others!  And of course, I can’t leave out the slew of talented, entertaining local musicians who play live so often all around town:  Scott Kirby, Jeff Clark, Lance Taylor & the Accidentals, Michael McCloud, The Pianimal Barry Cuda…and many, many others.  I’ll MISS you.

Hubby at our favorite music spot

2.     Ohhhh, the FOOD!!  I can’t pretend I won’t miss all the fresh, local, delicious, and easily accessible seafood, particularly the Stone Crab Claws and FL spiny lobster.  (Especially since they won’t be available where we’re going)  Sure, I’ll have plenty of salmon and king crab, but it won’t be the same!

Hubby's Curry Butter Grilled Lobster Tails

3.     And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few favorite dishes from some of the restaurants we go to regularly that I just know I can’t recreate: The fried balls of cabbage and potato love and best hot wings (and mac and cheese, for that matter) on the island at the only Irish pub I ever go to – Finnegan’s Wake.  The enormous bowl of garlic & wine infused mussels at that absolutely unique vegetarian place I’ve been to more times than I can count – The Café.  The hands down best breakfast I’ve EVER had - the lobster benedict at that twenty-plus year old, quintessential Key West breakfast with the roosters joint – Blue Heaven.  The fish tacos at that unassuming little lunch truck that I recommend to anyone who asks – Garbo’s.  The delicious Indian-style salad at the fresh, organic food and smoothie mart right in my neighborhood – Help Yourself…and there are oh-so-many more.  I could write a whole list JUST about the food and memorable restaurants.

4.     Ohhh, the ART & ENTERTAINMENT!  Since the first time I walked in, I’ve loved The Tropic, the independent, art-deco theater downtown that’s always showing unique and interesting films.   And The Studios of Key West - that one of a kind historic building that houses such a talented variety of artists, exhibits, and garden sculpture.  It’s been so nice living somewhere that has such easily accessible, non-stuffy artsy-type things to do.  And, can't forget those fun and novel pubs & bars we've frequented over the years:  2 Cents, The Porch, Schooner Wharf, Grunts, Smokin' Tuna, Rum Barrel...I'll stop before I reveal too much of my bar-fly nature.
5.  Riding my bike anywhere I need to go – that unbeatable a lifestyle where driving a car is optional is unique and ideal.

6.  The most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen – I especially loved watching it at a somewhat hidden little resort bar overlooking the water, The Tiki Bar at The Galleon.

7. Kayaking with our dog, Cheety, in the mangroves and getting out on the water on our sailboat, or on kayaks and paddle boards as often as we could.

Somewhere off Boca Chica

8.     Christmas in Key West, especially the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

2012 Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. - My favorite event during Christmas in Key West

9.  Only in KW characters, like Red Hat man.  A quick description of Red Hat Man is totally necessary.  He’s a peppy and flamboyant older gentleman who jogs in the early morning. – He’s always shirtless with red running shorts and a big, floppy red hat and will wave and say good morning to anyone who looks his way.  He’s fantastic.  (I loved catching a glimpse of him on my way to work in the morning. – Always put a smile on my face). And of course, Hound Dog Man, who would sing Elvis to me whenever he saw me walking Cheety in the quiet, pre-sunrise hours.  Quiet until he started singing, “You ain’t nuthin but a hound dog…” 

10.  The Hibiscus plants, Bougainvillea, Poinciana, and Frangipani trees when they’re in full bloom

Poinciana around the corner from our was enormous and gorgeous in the spring time

11.     I mentioned it briefly before, but it’s worth mentioning again…living right down the block from a kick a$$ Irish Pub with a great beer selection, unforgettable food, and best St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Key West!  

12.  Hens and roosters roaming the streets, and posing for photos if you took any interest whatsoever in them. – Especially the post office roosters.  They were the professionals.

Post Office rooster

13.  The occasional drink and fabulous view from yet another quintessential Key West haunt down by the historic and opulent Casa Marina, The Afterdeck at Louie’s Backyard

14.  Witnessing “the wobbles” – i.e.:  Tourists who come down on vacation and get on a bicycle for the first time in about 15 years, and they can barely maintain any semblance of stability.  Slow speeds are particularly entertaining.  But, they’re having a fun time and all have a grin on their faces that couldn’t possibly be wider.  Love it.

15.  And then there are those little things that make Key West what it is. - Like almost every time I take our dog for a walk, I’m greeted by anyone we pass with a hello, good morning, or good evening.  Always makes me appreciate living in such a friendly town.  And as I might have mentioned, I’ll miss it.

So long, Key West.  It’s been a fun ride on this wacky little island.  Now, on to the next!

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