Key West

Key West was on our list of places to visit in Florida for quite awhile and we finally made it this past weekend.  Both of us visited before but only for a day or two.  We spent three nights on-island meeting new friends, reuniting with old friends and helping other friends get engaged!  Although it was Dave’s birthday weekend and our anniversary weekend, our focus reached beyond ourselves this year.

We took Thursday and Friday off and drove down so we could stop along the way and check out some cool south Florida spots that you miss if you take the interstate.  We also did this to avoid the wildfires in Naples.  I never paid attention to how vulnerable Florida is to wildfires until I started working in emergency management.  Beyond the possible property damage, the smoke can shut down interstates, which would have delayed our arrival significantly so we decided to take a slightly longer route, cutting through Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades.  We also stopped in Marathon so I could meet the final member of the North Florida Mafia (not really a mafia…just some incredible human beings that kept Jacksonville safe for years) and get an idea of what to expect if I was ever deployed to the Keys after a storm or other disaster.  It was enlightening, energizing, and just plain fun to meet Marty.  It also helps that I got to hear some fun stories about my boss back in the day-who knew he could fly?

We arrived in Key West around 6pm on Thursday and grabbed dinner at Hogfish Bar & Grill.  This is definitely a dive but the food was awesome.  Dave got, well, hogfish and I got the shrimp tacos.  It was a great 4th anniversary meal-no fuss, no frills, just some serious face-stuffing going on and grateful to get off the road.

We tried to make it to Mallory Square for the sunset but just missed it so instead we met up with Ian and Kate from The Tail of Two Puppies and had a couple of drinks at their hotel before we walked back for a dip in the pool…errr after the pool had already closed for the night haha.

The next day we did our own thing and relaxed for Dave’s birthday.  We checked out the beach for a few hours before heading to Hurricane Hole for lunch, took a dip in the pool, and on to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park to set up for Ian’s proposal to Kate!  I’m still amazed that she had no idea it was coming because I swear we accidentally dropped a million hints!  We purposely didn’t spend the day with them because I was so scared I’d mention something and blow the surprise.

Dave and I went to the park around 6 and set up a conch shell with the ring box in front of it.  We had to shoo quite a few people away, accommodating only two newly married couples and their photographers who wanted to get shots at the same corner we chose to set up on.  I was so nervous that they wouldn’t finish up in time and that Ian and Kate would stumble upon Dave and I awkwardly trying to reset the proposal stuff.  Thankfully we got everything back in place and just so happened to see them before they saw us.  We quickly hid in a bush while Ian proposed with a few quick words (sweet and simple) and next thing we knew, Kate had a sparkly diamond ring on her finger and our cameras were going crazy!  We took some “newly engaged” shots immediately after and then sent them off for their dessert reservations back in town and then headed off to find a place for Dave’s birthday dinner.  Two Friends Patio hit the spot as we quietly celebrated his birthday and recounted the proposal.

Saturday morning I checked off a stop on my Florida bucket list: Glazed Donuts.  A friend from high school opened the shop a few years ago and I’ve been dying to go ever since he and his wife started posting pictures of their delightful masterpieces and foray into the coffee roasting world.  It was incredible to see Jonathan’s dream come full circle from the kid cooking shark with his dad in their kitchen to one of Key West’s most successful small business owners and community icons.  Congratulations Jon and Megan, proud of you!!!  I sincerely hope y’all can make it to Bern’s with us in September (and crash with us, Daisy will share one of her beds with Buoy!!!) 🙂

While we were there, Kate’s sister Jordan sent me a mug that said “I said yes!” to give to Kate the morning after the proposal.  Dave and I made it to Glazed a few minutes early to conspire with Jonathan so that he would magically hand her the cup of coffee in a mug that was made just for her.

After we committed some serious donut gluttony, we bounced around some shops, picked up some souvenirs for friends, and then settled on Conch Republic Seafood Company for lunch.  This was a bit more touristy than what we would normally go for but the food was good and a light salad was pretty refreshing by that point.  We headed back to Ian and Kate’s resort to hang by the pool for a bit before heading out on a Fury Sunset Cruise.  The crowd was pretty rowdy but the band was great and it was nice to see Key West from the water.  We finished up the night with burgers at The Waterfront Brewery and I spaced out watching hockey (shocker).  It was a very full day but the memories we made were awesome!

Sunday morning we stopped by Glazed again (because why not?) to grab a dozen donuts so I could bring some of Key West back to our coworkers and t-shirts so we could spread the Glazed love through Tampa Bay.  And Red Buoy Coffee for the drive, of course!

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Farewell Key West, you were good to us!

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