We just soaked it all in. We had reached the final day of our stay in Islamorada, and we were torn between hitting the road for new adventures and wanting to stay forever on the Purple Island. I munched on a black-and-white cookie and downed the last swallow of lukewarm coffee from my mug.
After checking out of Pines and Palms, we visited a few galleries and tried to make some connections for possibly placing my art. We were somewhat successful, and I hope to eventually have a few pieces of work for display and sale in Islamorada.
There were also no empty spots on the beach, so we opted to sight-see instead, taking in some wonderful views of the keys and the bridges spanning the Bahia-Honda channel. Again, like everything else down here, it just made me want to fish very badly.
So we did. Big Pine Key, Cudjoe, Big Coppitt, Stock Island … they slowly went by our car windows as we tried to keep pace with the sun. The only detour was the Key Deer National Refuge on Big Pine, where we lucked out and spotted several of the reclusive little cousins of the white-tailed deer that frequent our backyard in Tennessee.
It took a while, but eventually found a parking spot, grabbed our camera and joined the crowd, which we figured had at least a six-beer head-start on us. We then set several personal southernmost records (however, I refused the opportunity to wait in line to get a picture next to the gaudy landmark), before making a long walk past Hemingway's house and on to Mallory Square for the daily sunset celebration.
As the sun finally set, we took a gazillion photos before raising our glasses to salute the end of another day at the southernmost city in the U.S. As was tradition on this trip, we spent the next couple of hours trying to find a place to stay, but unlike the previous six stops, we encountered some major trouble in locating a hotel. Everything was booked solid, as a weekend crowd had descended upon us. Through major effort and some considerable help from Key West's friendly residents, we eventually landed a pretty cool spot in the "new town," and called it a night.
Betsy meets Spongesquatch.
I took the first shower, then sat on our hotel bed while Betsy took her turn. Staring at my reflection in the black screen of our in-room TV, I looked tired. Maybe a little fat, too. Yet, happy. I let out a little laugh and shook my head before grabbing the remote and clicking on Sports Center. It took us eight days to do it, but we had finally made it to Key West.It was all uphill from here.