When my friend and her boyfriend broke up, she was single (obviously), sad, and wanting new scenery. Wait, what?! You mean everyone doesn’t just curl up into a ball of misery after a breakup and disappear from the world for at least a week? Now that’s a superpower! I must admit, I was inspired and in awe.
Now, I had been itching to travel again since my last trip, but I wasn’t rolling in money or time. And so, over morning coffee at the cafe, we decided a day trip would be best, and the Florida Keys would be our destination. We each darted off to our consecutive homes to grab a bag of whatever we thought we might need and met up two hours later to head out.
About an hour into our 2 hour trip, the weather was looking iffy. Then it was raining. Then it was pouring. Then it was all of a sudden a clear and sunshine-y day. Florida loves to do this sort of thing. Just when one is considering turning back around and making other plans, the weather changes completely, leaving no trace of unpleasantness. We Floridians see this all the time. It’s one of the ways that we spot tourists on the beach. Some raindrops fall from the sky and all the out-of-towners frantically scatter while we natives stick our phones under a towel in our beach bags and wait for the sun.
Well as soon as the clouds parted, our windows went down and our music turned up. We call up a snorkeling establishment to reserve a spot on their next excursion and are told that because the winds are high and seas are rough that only very strong swimmers should join. “Are we strong swimmers,” we are asked by the kind and concerned woman on the phone. We are driving very far for this, we glance at each other, shrug our shoulders and say yes. Naturally. Obviously, we learned nothing from the Saint Augustine canoeing debacle.
Besides the obvious danger and stupidity of our mission, here’s why I should have said absolutely not.
Problem #1: I have a real fear of deep water. Anytime my feet cease to touch the ocean floor, I flip the fuck out and practically run back to shore. You’ve seen those cartoons in which a character becomes so frightened that they start swimming so fast they are swimming above the water? Yup. That’s me. Fish give me the hebegebees. My one experience snorkeling was on a vacation ‘Swim With the Stingrays’ excursion. I could’ve chosen to swim with dolphins but I thought that would be cliché. It went something like this. I panic before getting into the water. I finally get in for sheer embarrassment at my fear. I look into the water beneath me and lo and behold, gliding up from the depths of the murky water is an all white stingray with red eyes. In hindsight, I don’t know if the eyes were really red, but that’s what I remember. Needless to say, I start thrashing about, swallowing water and screaming simultaneously, “Get me out! Get me out!” First and last time. $80 down the toilet.
Problem #2: I am not a strong swimmer. I do not have endurance. The little I’ve managed to build up over many years is precarious. It diminishes within a week of me not running. It is NOTHING that I should be depending on to save my life. I am a sprinter, always have been (see problem 1).
So yeah, we be dumb sometimes. We be real dumb. I like to think the universe was telling us to settle our crazy asses down because it turns out that we were running far too late to catch the boat. There’s such a thing as too much adventure too soon.
Seeing as snorkeling was out, when we reached Key Largo, our first order of business was to order as few drinks as possible and hit the booze, hobo style. We pulled over at a liquor store and bought ourselves some cute little bottles of tequila and whiskey. Save your money for snorkeling folks. Or kayaking. Or diving. The Keys have all of that. And as a sidenote, what they call a beach in Key Largo is absolutely not a beach. We discover this once we get there. There’s so much coral in the water that beaches don’t form. There are a couple of man-made beaches, but save your time. Visit the National Park instead, and be sure to call ahead to make reservations for activities. Of course, you’re welcome to bring your own kayaks, canoes, bicycles, boat, etc.
There are many places to pull over and fish or just dip your feet into the water and admire the beauty of the landscape. And this is exactly what we did. And because she had a ton of old school board games in her car (long story) we decided to pull one out and play. Guess Who was the winner and I swear this was the most fun part of the trip; we laughed insane amounts. Of course, we didn’t play it exactly the way it was intended. We created an adult version that really should exist. I’d show you the videos, but I need an upgraded account for that…
We did finally make our way to a pleasant restaurant right on the water. Everything is practically right on the water. After grub, we were right back in our bikinis and ready to get our feet wet.
Pulling off onto the water’s edge is a great place to feel at peace. The tide starts coming in and the sun starts going down and the whole world seems to slow. Everything seems steady and just as it should be. Nature knows how to take care of itself, pace itself, cleanse itself. It’s a way of being that we should all emulate; and that’s exactly what we did that day.
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that on the way home, the gorgeous weather we had had all day decided to flee, and the downpour of that morning returned. Us. Highway. Buckets of rain. That was a whole other adventure.
Till next time, Dear Reader. Keep seeking adventures big and small.