23/9/16 – We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Usual early up and get ready to get the rest of our stuff packed. Only this time I had to get Mom to try and help me put my hair into pigtails. That was fun, since Mom is nowhere near as perfectionist as Kel, which is what I want when it comes to my hair. Safe to say it took a few tries. We then loaded up the car and went off on our way further down the Keys. Once again, the drive was beautiful. Had to go across several long bridges and at a few points, the road narrowed out so much that we were driving the with the sea right on either side of us. Apparently one side if the Gulf of Mexico and the other is the Atlantic, but I’m rubbish at geography, so I couldn’t tell you for sure without Googling. Either way, the water was so incredibly still and flat that you could see the sky reflected in it to a point where you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began.

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Now that’s scenery!

We stopped off at a Walgreen’s because Mom said that Auntie Lynne had requested us to bring back a specific toothpaste, of all things. I ended up having another mad shop when I found more DC stuff and bought a Harley Quinn makeup bag and lipstick, a mini Deadpool plushie and more Red Bull, of course. We then didn’t get much further down the road before stopping at an IHOP for brunch. Now this is what I’m talking about. I had to have my usual country omelette – ham, cheese, onion and has browns – with a side stack of pancakes and plenty of strawberry sauce. I also had a lemonade mixed with lime and mango syrup. Yum yum.

We made the rest of the drive uninterrupted down to our room in Key West. Another really cute place. Our ‘hotel’ building is like a small collection of massive houses with a pool and lots of front and side porches with swinging chairs on them. However, it’s also the first room where we haven’t got a fridge and we have a lot of drinks to chill. Thankfully, there was an ice machine out by the pool, so I did the first trip to fill up the ice bucket and then try to fit as many drinks in as possible. We had a quick settle into the room before going off to explore.

First off, I felt like I was in a Zelda game, because there were escaped chickens just randomly around on the streets – and some baby chickens, aahh. We headed on straight down towards the harbour. We walked past a pool party where a guy and girl were fully recreating the dance-off scene from White Chicks with Run DMC playing and everything. It was hysterical. Of course, technophobic me didn’t know how to find the video camera on my phone, so by the time I did start recording, they were just finishing. I need a tutorial for my phone, even after a month of having it.

We stopped off at the Key West Lime Shoppe for key lime pie and a lime slushie, mmm. Gotta have things where they originate from. We sat in a nice little courtyard with a koi pond. The shop itself was really cute. They did lots of lime flavoured sweets, sticks of rock, soaps, drink making kits… It helped that they were playing Red Solo Cup too. I sand along whilst Mom bought a proper, easy-use lime crusher so that we can make even better margaritas back home. We have our priorities straight. From there, we had a wander down the harbour, right along the waterfront. It didn’t have the same fishing village type feel as Key Largo, as it was much busier. Still totally welcome atmosphere though. Buzzing, but not crowded, not like poor new Bourbon Street.

We took great enjoyment in watching some very exotic fish along the edge of the harbour and that was where the excitement then came in. We saw more wrasse and Sergeant Majors, some electric blue wrasse-like fish, big fat jellyfish, a beautiful blue and yellow angelfish and some giant, giant tarpin. We saw a huge one lurking in the shallows and looking super evil before it disappeared under the dock. We were trying to point another one out to Mom, who couldn’t see as well, and then the show-off flashed all the silver on its side, right under the surface of the water. It was four foot long! But then whilst we were distracted waiting to see if it would surface again, Dad spotted a seven-foot nurse shark, right under our feet! Talk about seeing something exciting in the wild.

We headed back up one of the strips from there. Saw a Senor Frogs, which made me giggle as it makes me think of Impractical Jokers, as well as a shop that had a lurid pineapple design painted across the window that looked totally Psych-esque, as well as lots of real pineapples in the window. I went in all excited, but then they didn’t actually have anything pineapple themed that they sold. Boo the false advertising. On the way back to the hotel, we walked alongside a huge cemetery that was all built above the ground like Lafayette. It seems to be a real imitation of New Orleans here. They do Creole cuisine, have several bars named after Bourbon Street and some of them even do Hurricanes. Not sure why the similarities are there when the places aren’t even close.

We got back to shower and get ready. I broke out my last Mike’s Hard Lemonade that I’d managed to cool some in the ice bucket, which I then had to down on the way because the oldies suddenly put a speed on and were ready to go. We went to a nearby Peruvian restaurant called Inca’s. We really are getting around. Our server Jessica was so lovely and shared drunk sangria stories with us when we ordered a pitcher. For food, I had Peruvian styled fried rice, which was rice fried with chicken, spring onion and some kind of salty, soy tasting sauce. God, it was so good. I scarfed literally every single grain.

We all agreed none of us wanted to walk past the cemetery again in the dark, so we headed off towards one end of the town, which is actually the most southerly point of the states. However, when we realised how long of a walk it was, we changed our minds and hit a bar instead. Big mistake. The moment I walked in, it was very easy to tell that it was a smoking bar. Good god, it was disgusting. I hate the lack of smoking bans here. I had to breathe through my mouth the entire time I was in there, so I passed on having a drink as I wouldn’t be able to taste it. I actually went to stand outside for a while for some fresh air, but when the same middle-aged guy somehow found a way to walk past me three times and told me twice that I was “too cute to be out there by myself”, I swiftly decided to go back in and watch the oldies play pool and just go back to mouth-breathing. It was actually quite funny when Dad then ended up playing some crazy woman from Kentucky.

Came back to the room after that and did some more planning for the trip going forward. I then read some more Shock Wave and broke open the Seagrams before bed. The next move is afoot.

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The fake Psych shop that lied to me.

7/11/13 – When in Napa do as the winos do

Skyped the oldies before leaving this morning and lied some more about when our return flights are, since we want to get home a day beforehand and surprise them. We told Sar and Auntie Ann in secret just in case we need some inside help, and they’ve now decided they’re going to pick us up from the airport! Too, too sweet! Now I’m probably gonna blub at arrivals. Hooray. As we left San Francisco we got to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. That was pretty awesome and we got another great view of Alcatraz from there. We went to an Ihop for brunch just after leaving San Fran. Cue another country omelette and more pancakes, yummy scrumboes! There was a petrol station right next door so we got to feed Klaus too whilst we were at it.

Why is it even called the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s red. Or if we use the technical name: “industrial orange”. Ooooh, fancy.

It was a pretty short drive to Napa so we got to our hotel around one o’clock. Wine country is seriously beautiful – vineyards everywhere you look! We Skyped Sid for a little bit and then headed back out to a winery for our wine tasting tour. They went through the processes of how they make the wine and more info on the winery itself. We got to try two white sparkling wines, one sparkling rosé and two still reds (the reds in particular were vile). I wasn’t keen on any of them, but it seemed to amuse Kel watching my reaction. The guy in charge asked what flavours we could taste in one of the whites and were people saying things like ‘peach’, whereas I quietly muttered ‘vinegar’. I’d anticipated I wouldn’t be a fan from the beginning but hey, when in Napa do as the winos do!

One of my favourite drives so far!

We had takeout pizza for tea (I’m gonna look like a sodding pizza). Got another chunk of writing done and watched some Big Bang Theory, including a brand new episode! Totally can’t wait to catch up on the new season. Then much to my delight, Interview With The Vampire was on! God, I love Lestat. Tom Cruise really is perfect in it. Made me miss Kay a lot though… But Kel did spot that the steamboat (the Natchez) is the same one that we went on! Awesome!

Can you tell I wasn’t impressed? I think the man behind me was enjoying his a lot more!

21/10/13 – Marine encounters

Up and packed, Skyped Mom, then went for a nice waffle-y breakfast. Headed straight out to the Texas State Aquarium. Less than twenty dollars admission and it was easily better than Seaworld the other day! We looked round some of the tanks (including a variety of jellyfish and also some teeny tiny seahorses!) and listened to some info on sharks. After that was more tanks and then a dolphin show! The two dolphins were called Shadow and Kai. After the show we went down a level so we could watch them underwater. They were so adorable – they looked like they were trying to play basketball underwater!

Upsidedown, underwater basketball! It's all the rage in the ocean...

We found more animals outside in other exhibits, including giant sea turtles, an otter called Merlin, various birds of prey (one was called Gus!) and a fat alligator. Best of all was still the ray pool for us. We just love those friendly little kites. I stroked quite a lot of them – a much better improvement on last year – mostly because they actually seemed to want the fuss! Too cute! There was a similar pool under the canopy, though this time I got to stroke a horn shark! Most of the sharks had hid in the middle and out of reach, but I found this guy kipping in the corner. He felt so strange – kinda like a living, breathing rock.

After that was another show. Mostly of birds, but there was also a mammal apparently from the raccoon family and a tall wildcat that I think was called a serval. It was very cute – I wanted to hug it. We got to touch a ball python at the swamp encounters talk (I felt proud that through my snakey knowledge I knew they were one of the most popular for pets) and then watched the people feed the rays. We opted out of doing it ourselves – partly because you had to pay and mostly because they ate small dead fish. Urgh. I’ve decided as well that fish eyes are terrifying and I don’t like them.

We wanted to find a Walmart before our next long drive and guess what was next to the first Walmart we found? An Ihop! I’d been dying to go back to one and had exactly what I had that time last year – country omelette (cheese, ham, onion and hash brownies) and a side of pancakes with lots of strawberry syrup. So good! We then did our Walmart shop and got back on the road itself. The drive itself took around four hours; it was a killer. We discovered that Cody is very greedy too. We had to do our first petrol stop, which was a complete faff, but at least we get the idea of how it works now. We got to our hotel then around half eight.

By this point we didn’t want to do anything. I’d felt crappy for most of the drive too, so I didn’t even want anything to eat (shock horror!) So instead I showered and then we watched bits of This Is 40. It was weird but actually quite funny. Especially Billie Joe’s random-ass cameo line of “Shut the fuck up, Tom Selleck” to a beardy Chris O’Dowd. Honestly though, I was just happy to sit somewhere that wasn’t a driver’s seat and unwind. We have another three-plus-hours drive tomorrow as well, just for a change. Yay.

Strokey strokey Sharky