Our First Trip to the Florida Keys
by Glen Monson
(Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada)
During our 60+ years of marriage, my wife and I have shared many wonderful and memorable visits to various places in this world of God's creation.
Many of these trips were with our children, when they were young and with them as adults. Sharing these times with family is the perhaps the most rewarding experience any couple can have during their brief time on earth.
Fall, 2012 Nanaimo, British Columbia With My Wife Phyllis
We create memories every day and since we all have a "Best Before Date", our motto has always been, "Why waste your life sitting at home and complaining?" With a bit of effort you can travel and take in all the wonder and beauty of this world, then relive those memories when you return home.
Memories are a funny thing, they have a tendency to embellish somewhat with each year's passing. Sort of like "the older a man gets, the faster he could run as a boy!" scenario.
Several years ago when our daughter and her husband were living in Pt St. Lucie, Fl they suggested a trip to the Florida Keys. They told us how unique and special the area was and they insisted they take us while we were visiting.
Frugal by nature, we couldn't pass up the offer of a trip. Plus our love of travel only fueled our desire to go. My wife and I looked at each other and said "Let's go for it!" and so the next day we all headed south.
It’s been a long standing tradition with our kids that when we travel, we have a picnic along the way. We had decided to take the interior roads on the way down, so we'd have different scenery on the return trip. At the south end of Lake Okeechobee we found a wonderful picnic area, complete with pond and token alligator!
After lunch we headed south on Highway 27 and I spotted a sign that said "4 feet" above sea level. Wow! For someone used to living in the Rocky Mountains at 3000+ feet elevation, 4 feet was not
very high. I realized there was no reason to worry about getting an altitude nose bleed here!
We continued south and then finally headed east towards Key Largo and the rest of the Keys. We spent the night outside of Key Largo before starting off on the next leg of our journey early the next morning.
Once on the road again, we pulled out the map and saw the long chain of islands and bridges leading the way to Key West. Just by looking at the map we realized we were about to experience something incredibly different. It was one of those "I've gotta see this!" moments. We knew this was going to be a whole new set of special memories, that we'd fondly remember with our family.
Time Out To Stretch Our Legs
As we traveled down the road, some of it being four lane, we saw so many points of interest, including the whole Upper and Lower Matecumbe Key area. We also had a chance to see some of the cute little key deer at Big Pine Key. We also took time to stop, stretch our legs, and enjoy the water and the beautiful day.
Even though we saw amazing things, the most striking aspect was all around us. It followed us along the stretch of road almost everywhere we looked. It was the water, and it's colors changed from green to blue to turquoise to aquamarine, and every imaginable shade in-between.
The scenery was breathtaking and it was especially amazing to see the many small islands dotting the water just offshore. Some islands sported a solitary magnificent home complete with yacht. I was surprised to see the vast number of boats and watercraft plying the waters in pursuit of various activities. For a boy who grew up on the prairie this was definitely a WOW experience!
Islands Dot The Waters Off The Florida Keys
Finally we reached Key West, and what an impressive city it was. Centuries old buildings beautifully restored and actively in use, blending in with the most modern up to date developments. The charm of the area and the old buildings stirred up my imagination of all the various historical happenings that must have occurred here. I knew it could take years to satisfy a person's curiosity of those bygone days.
Yachts In Key West Harbor
While in Key West we also visited the harbor and that was especially impressive to see. I couldn't get over the number of large luxury yachts and cruise ships visiting from all over the world.
Southernmost Point Of Ohe United States
It was the yachts however that got me believing Key West must certainly be a destination drawing point for the rich and famous. I couldn't help but chuckle and be thankful that even common folk like myself could equally enjoy this city.
Freedom makes it possible for everyone to live life to the fullest. This point was driven home when we stood at the marker for the southernmost point of the United States. It said Cuba 90 miles, and I was positive there were no takers heading in that direction.
To top off the end of our memorable vacation to the Florida Keys, we treated ourselves to an enjoyable lunch. There are so many fabulous Key West restaurants to choose from, but we selected one that had open air dining. This way we could sit out on the patio beneath the shade of an old gracious tree, enjoy our meal and of course, our key lime pie. We truly enjoyed the meal, and I broke my record of frugality and shared the cost.
As this was only a day trip, we reluctantly headed back to our lodging outside of Key Largo. On the return trip, we again crossed the impressive 7 Mile Bridge and had a flash back to the movie "True Lies" we’d seen only a few days earlier at my daughters.
This was our first visit to the Keys, and we were right. The trip provided us with many wonderful memories. Memories that may embellish somewhat with each passing year, but are wonderful to have and relive with family.
The point of my story is to get out and have fun, while "there's still enough gas in your tank". Make memories with family and with friends. Life is too short to waste sitting around in a rocking chair. Be brave and buy green bananas! And while you're at it, visit the Keys - it'll be good for your health. So enjoy!