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Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Kittery, Maine
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Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

WOW! What a great week of totally relaxed down time combined with getting acquainted with some wonderful people – both locals and visitors. This was our first return visit after our initial trip to Key West last Nov.

My initials aren’t K.W. for nothing!

Kittery, Maine
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862 posts
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1. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

First of all I want to say what a pleasure it was to meet many of you other TA posters who were in town over the Memorial Day weekend. It’s great to put faces with names and to establish real friendships with people I know we’ll be seeing again and again.

Day 1: We arrived at FLL before noon on Wed May 21 and headed south on the Fla Tpke. We took the excellent local advice and avoided Rt 1 construction via Card Sound Road . A delicious and inexpensive grilled mahi ceasar wrap on the shady upper deck at Wahoo’s on Islamorada watching the charter boats come in directly under us was a great intro to the upper keys on a sunny and warm (low 90s) but comfortably breezy day. One of those lucky fishermen now has the memory of reeling in an enormous mahi-mahi catch that drew congratulations from a crowd of very jealous onlookers. Our first night’s stay was on Key Colony Beach just off Marathon at Continental Inn. The very affordable poolside studio condo was just steps to the beautiful mile-long white sand beach that stretches across the ocean side of this island. We swam in the crystal clear 80 degree Atlantic and then lounged under the rustling palms, thrilled to watch a school of dolphins frolicking 15 yards or so offshore. Oceanfront dinner at upscale Cabana Breezes was ok but not spectacular, however it’s a very nice spot to linger and enjoy a warm summer evening.

Day 2: After a morning swim we headed south again but before leaving Marathon we explored Sombrero Beach – free parking, lots of shady picnic areas and another long white sandy beach that looks sooo inviting. We stopped again on Pine Key and spotted a few of the endangered key deer near Blue Hole – out of the way and a good example of what the keys looked like before vehicular transportation and inevitable development changed them forever. I must say though that driving that 7 mile bridge, admiring clear turquoise vistas in every direction is one of the highlights of my trip to the Keys. As the saying goes ‘Where else but in America can you drive 100 miles offshore to paradise?’ We arrived at our K.W. lodging in time for a swim in the pool before happy hour at Schooner Wharf Bar where the Dark n Stormies have become favorites. Dinner followed at Conch Republic where the Royal Reds which are not listed on the menu are a Must ! The Mango Tree Inn on Southard at Simonton is an elegant, lushly landscaped tribute to Peggy and Johnny, the gracious couple who own and operate this gem

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Kittery, Maine
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862 posts
61 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Day 3: On Friday morning Sarabeth’s restaurant across the street served up tasty omelets and their signature four flower juice with enormous mugs of coffee. Delicious. For the remainder of the warm sunny mid day we relaxed by and in the large pool amid brightly colored hibiscus, bougainvillea and chalice vines. Happy hour was the only thing we ventured out for as we made and renewed many acquaintances as we were introduced to the outstanding music of Howard Livingston and MM24 Band . A magnificent sunset viewable there followed by an evening swim in the pool capped a totally stress-free day.

Day 4: Saturday morning I set out early for a neighborhood stroll and located 5 Brother’s grocery on Fleming for their renown coffee con leche . Sipping the strong brew, I followed the walking tour guide along Southard, Fleming, Williams, Eaton and many of the cross streets and lanes. One of the reasons I love K.W. is for its architecture – particularly the small cottages and unique gingerbread trim. Large homes that are now open for lodging welcome your visit and offer to let you tour their grounds. It’s a great way to see inside several of these magnificent mansions. Afterwards a cooling swim (the inn dog Kaylee joined us to our delight – how she loves her frisbees and her own floaty!) and more relaxation then dinner with another couple at El Meson de Pepe, home of the best mojito in Key West.

Day 5: Our 2nd floor room opened to a ‘tree house’ balcony in the foliage of a royal poincianna tree. The bright orange blossom clusters create a canopy affect in these magnificent trees which are now beginning to come out in full. Many around town are already fully aflame in tangerine splendor but the peak will reportedly be next month. We enjoyed our breakfast of treats from Croissants de France with fresh squeezed juice from Fausto’s and in-room Kona coffee from our hostess – an elegant but inexpensive meal. Soon we were walking hand in hand to our event for the day – and a major highlight of the trip – side by side massages at the Casa Marina beach-side cabana under the swaying palms. How decadent is this! Listen to the palm fronds rustling overhead and the gentle waves breaking on shore and feel the refreshing breeze on your bare back as any vestige of stress is massaged away. Afterwards we were encouraged to relax so we did – for hours under those shady palms and then swam out to the swim float and then back again for more relaxation. Later we joined friends at the Gardens Hotel for Sunday afternoon jazz happy hour amid the lush tropical flora. When you visit be sure not to miss the pair of tortoises who live in the gardens! Dinner followed with more friends at Salsa Loca, another of our favorite places, then on to Grand Vin – a first for us – great wines to sample. Key Lime Pie from Blonde Giraffe finished me for the night!

Day 6: Monday was Memorial Day and though I had intended to get to the cemetery for the commemoration I just did not make it. First another walk about – this time in the quiet residential neighborhood between Georgia and Eisenhower, We breakfasted again in the tree-house balcony on delicate pastries and eggs then I wandered over to the Mel Fisher Treasure museum which was on my list of ‘don’t miss’ items. I was wishing our kids were there – they’d have enjoyed this site so much. The pool beckoned so I obliged again without remorse! Off to happy hour at Alonzo’s for half priced appetizers and drinks then on to Mallory Square for sunset and Dominique’s crazy cat capades then El Meson de Pepe’s again for a final mojito and to see our favorite waitress there, Maria, who remembered us from our last visit. Coco Flan dessert is another discovery as is Tres Leches – yummmmm.

Day 7: Tuesday was departure day but an evening return allowed time for us to visit Ft Zachary State Park first where we snorkeled and viewed the beautiful fish before a final drive through quaint neighborhoods and then bid Key West farewell. Natrually we could not pass MM 15 without two pounds of fresh Baby’s coffee and then another stop at Boondocks to pick up a take out a yellow snapper sandwich for later. I stopped in to say hello at US1Radio but sadly Leigha Fox was not there. I listen every day on the internet – a great way to stay in touch when so far away. We lunched just before the bridge to Bahia Honda at the roadside turn off – a great view of the Flagler railroad bridge from this point too. It was ‘Last Train to Paradise’ the Flagler story that had gotten me interested in K.W. several years ago so admiring the remains of this wonder and contemplating the lives lost during in its construction is a must do for me. We continued north through the middle and upper keys, turning again onto Card Sound Rd for the detour around all the Rt 1 construction. Wow do people make up time on that stretch! Going 70 mph or more, I was being passed by one car after another. We eventually turned onto the Tpke and got to the FLL airport just in time to turn in the rental and make it to the gate as the plane was boarding. Whew that was a bit too close for comfort but we made it and had milked our last day in paradise!

Once again – thanks everyone who made this trip so memorable! See you again soon!

Ken (and Judy)

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Athens, Tennessee
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37 reviews
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3. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Beautiful trip report. I can picture everything as you described it.

Columbus, OH
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307 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Great report-I think I will start my next KW trip with a massage! I am one of the few people that stay wound up-even on KW (I might miss something)!

Marathon, Florida
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for Marathon, Islamorada
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5. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Great trip report. I'm glad you stopped to check out Marathon.

Come back soon!

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Marathon
Marathon
Florida Keys, FL
minneapolis
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1,511 posts
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6. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Dang! You guys remember a lot of stuff. It was nice to meet you at the Gardens. Pretty cool place that I never knew was there. Sounds like you guys had a really relaxing time. Glad to hear you fun.

The Frozen North...
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414 posts
72 reviews
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7. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

visual and sensory bliss! thanks for sharing. that outdoors massage sounds like a splurge well worth doing. and isn't it nice to try something new every time?

Kittery, Maine
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862 posts
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8. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

It definitely is nice to try something new - and it's also so relaxing to be returning to familiar grounds - not having to learn your way around this time, having places to return to because you had great connections there the prior time. It was much more relaxing this trip than the first one.

Key West
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for Key West
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3,344 posts
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9. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

It was so nice to be able to spend some time with you.

I love reading all the trip reports...I learn so much!

I bet I'm not the only local that has a "to do" list for Key West. Glad you enjoyed your second trip...I hope you'll be back for another soon.

Limey

Pjk
New Jersey
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for Key West
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10. Re: Trip Report - First return - Many to come !!

Co-incidentally we were all at El Meson de Pepe on Saturday night for dinner. I had to sit inside because there was a to-do in the garden so there was a wait for the veranda.

I stopped afterwards to listen to the band for a while afterwards. If you like their musiv they just cut a new CD.

Pjk