My dad was lucky enough to land a job transfer to Key West back in October, so my parents are currently living in paradise as I freeze to death in Virginia's frosty winter. Actually, last Monday was the first day of spring, so that's not an accurate statement. And it's currently 63°F, so I have very little room to complain. (Honestly, though, I don't mind cold weather. I'm just sayin' - You can layer and layer to stay warm, but you can only take off so many articles of clothing until it's no longer socially acceptable...Actually, in Key West, those rules might not apply. I'm pretty sure anything goes down there.) I was sad to see my parents go, but I was simultaneously excited for their new adventure. I was also counting down the days to visit them for Christmas!
After weeks of anticipation, my brother and I flew down to Key West a few days before Christmas Eve. It's always a surreal feeling bundling up for a plane ride, reaching your destination, and having to change in the airport bathroom because the climate difference is so drastic. I went from wearing a warm Patagonia sweater to slipping on a summer dress and sandals. It was heavenly. The palm trees were swaying in the breeze, the sunshine was warm and bright, and roosters ran across the street and crowed loudly. It's amazing that four hours on a plane can get you to a totally different environment.
Our week in Key West was filled with delicious seafood, boat rides, pina coladas, an abundance of Florida sunshine, snorkeling in turquoise waters, and plenty of laughs with my brother and parents. We took a tour of Harry Truman's Little White House, spent hours in the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, saw my dad's new office on base, explored every inch of Duvall Street, and rode beach cruisers along South Roosevelt Boulevard on Christmas Day. We also spent ample time relaxing, reminiscing on memories from the past, and playing with my parents' new kitten, Ginger. It was a perfect combination of sight-seeing and quality family time.
I'll leave you with two comical stories from my trip that still make me laugh. The first one took place when we visited the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. We went through twice because our admission tickets allowed unlimited walks through the garden. The entire time, I kept telling my parents how badly I wanted a butterfly to land on me. However, the odds were not in my favor. I accepted that it just wasn't meant to be, and we looked around the gift shop before heading to the car and finding a place to grab lunch. We were on the road for maybe ten seconds when I noticed movement near my waist. I was wearing a blue dress, and at first, I didn't see anything. But then, out of nowhere, a giant blue butterfly crawled across my lap! I think I jumped two feet in the air, which caused my brother to burst out laughing, which then caused my parents to panic and try to figure out what was going on. I remember saying, "There's a huge butterfly on me. This is not a joke. We need to turn around and go back to the conservatory." Haha! Luckily, the little guy clung to my dress until an employee came out and safely retrieved him. So yeah, I guess I got my wish!
The second story took place on our second bike ride along South Roosevelt Boulevard. We rode all the way to the end of the path, past the Key West International Airport and Smathers Beach. The wind was strong that day, but it helped push us along the sidewalk, so we didn't mind. The ride back, however, was a nightmare. The wind resistance was unreal, and we were pedaling hard, out of breath, wiping sand out of our eyes. After a long while of taking it slow and steady, Dylan and I pedaled ahead of my parents, because we just wanted to get back home. The whole time, we kept yelling, "HOLY SH*%$! THIS IS INSANE!" When we (finally) got back home, we realized we didn't have a key to the house, so we sprawled out on the front porch and tried to cool off. My legs were sore for days after that. Lesson learned: Always take the wind into consideration when planning a bike ride!
One week in paradise wasn't nearly enough time, so I can't wait to return to Key West again.