Today was beach day. We checked out small fishing strips near the bridges, larger state parks and even hidden little gems. Since our morning visit to the Turtle Hospital was scuttled due to spring break (the tours were all booked), we decided to try a different beach we heard about from our favorite local, Amber the server at Hog Heaven (more on that place later). Since our “resort” was not really what we expected, Amber told us to check out The Islander just down the road. She said it was really nice, they have cleaned up from the hurricanes, had a few pools, a big beach and all you have to do is buy a drink or two. Lisa really wanted to lay out in the sun in style, Jim was probably thinking more about fishing. Soon both got to do what they wanted!
We talked the guard at the gate into giving us a day pass (he told us we are allowed to go on the beach and near the pool but not IN the pool. What the…??). We walked into paradise. Beach chairs set up on a large beach. The sand raked. The palm trees still wearing what Lisa calls their “crutches” (many were weakened from the storm). Lisa was in heaven. Jim not so much. He kept eyeing the water, wondering what fish were out there. Soon enough, he met with several local fisherman who where fishing for barracuda from the shore and from the fishing pier. Lisa lost him while he talked up fishing and gear and strategy with all the guys.
After Lisa finished her book, and Jim was topped off with fishing ideas, we decided it was time to leave this little part of paradise and explore other island attractions. We had lunch at the Islamorada Fish Company, a local landmark where we had lunch with Andy three years ago. The setting is beautiful and a wedding was getting ready to take place while we were there.
Then there was another brewpub we wanted to visit, Islamorada Brewing Company, where we got some merch for Jim’s shop and — believe it or not — we just couldn’t drink any beer! We’re topped off on beer. It’s too warm and we’re too full. Have we been here too long? Must be nap time.
So after a little siesta, we rallied and headed down the street again to Hog Heaven, our favorite place to hang out. We got to see our friend, Amber, and thank her for the island suggestions. We watched a alternative rock band get ready to play on the floating stage, most of the members older than us (we personally got a kick out of the bass player who had purple hair braided around his bald spot).
We checked out the fish around their little marina — parrotfish, barracuda and eels (tried to take a pic – see below). And we watched the first half of the Gonzaga game before we threw in the towel and headed back to the hotel to watch the rest. It was still the perfect way to end our last day in the Keys.
The Zags just won their game and advanced to the Sweet 16 – yes! Lisa packed her shirt to cheer them on this trip but forgot to wear it tonight. Guess she’ll keep it packed for good luck (?) Tomorrow we head out bright and early, heading north for the first time. We’ll see how far up the eastern Florida coast we’ll get. Jim hopes we can make it as far as Georgia. We have a few places we may check out on the way, but no more dillydallying in the Keys. If we don’t leave soon, we may just stay here.