Sunday, February 10, 2013

Islamorada, Island of Misfits

"Drink and Navigate the Island Life" - Barstool Sailor

The first birthday in the year of 100 was spent in what has become my favorite place on this big blue ball we call home, Islamorada.  My travels are rather limited to make such grand statements but there's something about that halfway point in the Keys   Cast of characters included Wingman, Coon Dick (CD), one Nanner, CoPilot and his girl the Dogwalker.  I'm not sure how we all managed to descend upon such a small plot of land at the same time being that most of the time we barely manage to find each other if a happy hour is involved. I can only imagine of some drunken coordination and odd planetary alignments involvement.  I'm going to have to start carrying a recorder, as taking notes is tough and even tougher is the deciphering of them later.  I think that I must've signed on a 3 year old with a drinking problem to do shorthand conversation notes on my behalf.  Some of it doesn't even appear to be in the English language. So suffice to say I'm working more off of memory than my attempts of documentation.  I'm going to include links to alot of the places so if you ever head that way you can find them.

It was our second visit to the Breezy Palms.  It's old Florida Keys style right on the ocean at MM 80, with a little marina and beach...heated pool and all kinds of flavored coffee creamers.  If you want more frills than that you can pay an extra $150 a night for nice warm cookies at the Hampton front desk...or you can be us and just walk through the lobby and pick them up when leaving their tiki bar.  It's all your choice.  When we arrived CD had already been there long enough to get the maintenance man Mark drunk one night.  Mark is what I imagine when I hear Key's critter. He refuses to cross either bridge that links to other parts of the think about it he's not so different than most of the folks at home that fear "the bridges" or the "state line".  He had the odd story of how he got there and no real plans for staying or leaving even though he had logged ten years.    He was a very talented painter and collector of oddities and old bottles.  His paintings were all of local railroad...ocean scenes.  He seemed someone that material things meant nothing to.  Before the night that we met him was over he made us take pick of his antique Avon bottle cars and sent Wingman home with a box full of old bottles.  Now in possession are an old Jeep CJ Wrangler and a model T...the jeep still has some Hi Karate or something in it.  I attempted to wear it out one night but was met with a bit of resistance from the Velcro.

CD, always being my go to guy for information, came up with so many stories that I'm thinking that he needs a biography written instead of a blog.  I'm not sure how up until this point we had missed the astrological sign conversation.  It's rather common knowledge of my views of the Virgos.  If you offended by my opinion, it either means you are one or you've never been married to one. Period.  Since finding out that CD is in fact a Virgo, I've learned that they are tolerable when properly medicated.  I've never seen the side of him that he refers to as neurotic, worrying constantly about "bats in the cave" and such.  He was the first to point out just that situation "You got a bat in the cave there buddy" to a non booger suspecting Wingman.  The true test...I asked him his views on touching the drawer or the  handles when closing dresser drawers.  That will draw out even the most closeted and cleverly disguised Virgos.
He started referring to Wingman as "lover" after about day 3 of them sharing a bed.  Of the two I would guess CD is the lighter sleeper, since every morning we were entertained with stories of what Wingman did in his sleep the night before.   After I saw a poolside conversation headed toward something I would imagine CD didn't want aired to all of the world, I was forced to give the obligatory warning. "DO NOT TELL ME ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T WANT IN PRINT!"  Undeterred he continues "So you've never had the crabs?"  "" ....pause...."me either".  There was a very lenghty conversation that followed with the boys enlightening me on everything from pinchers to the use of Rid.  My love of knowing everything about anything that no one cares about made me a sponge for this new random knowledge.  I now consider myself somewhat of an expert on dick lice... if you need any questions answered. 
I heard about first "pieces of ass" and tricks of the trade passed along from a local lifeguard named One Lung.  One Lung long since gone said the trick was to leave your zipper down when coming back from the apparently worked on the subconscious and you were guaranteed to get laid. I'm not feeling it but who am I to question tried and true. The joke for the rest of the week was who was going to try it out.  The stories ran wild and I did all I could to write as fast as he talked...a close acquaintance woke beside a particularly unattractive "coyote" and found there was a glass of water with teeth in it beside the bed.  As he faked sleep he saw her roll over, shove the teeth in and chug the water...offers for breakfast were declined. 

Barstool Sailor was playing at Island Grill our first night in town so we stopped in to see him.  A singer songwriter playing Islandgrass music, he can be found in different bars almost every night. We know this because we stalked him all over the island...creepy fucking tourists that we are.  After Velcro asked him to sing Wagon Wheel for me the first night he never forgot my name or sing it when we showed up.  The Hampton that is right beside Breezy Palms has an Outback Steakhouse in it and part of they have a tiki bar ocean front. We walked over to see Barstool Sailor and Wingman knew everyone at the bar.  What part of North Myrtle Beach that we hadn't brought with us had found their way down on their own.  I was quite stoked to meet the Judge (he came with his own nickname)  I'd just finished reading both of his books and had heard stories from Wingman.  Because I am a supreme dork, I should not be trusted on first encounters with those that I have heard about and want to meet (flash back to my meeting CD).  I doubt he expected to be greeted with "OH Holy Shit I love your books!"  No since in a sugar coated approach I say.  I can't believe we had to travel close to a 1000 miles to make friends with people I see across the bar at home. 

We made a few day trip runs to Key West and Marathon, mainly in pursuit of stone crabs or fish sandwiches and drinks in a different locales.  Superbowl, also known by us southerners this year as who gives a shit bowl, was also Velcro's birthday.  All I ever get is about a once in a life time accidental Easter overlap on mine...and no one wants to throw a party and drink for that.  We spent the afternoon at the Post Card Inn, you know, eating fish sandwiches and drinking and listening to Barstool Sailor.  It was my first live exposure to the jet pack.  This may be the coolest thing I've ever scene.  They strap a super powerful water pump to your back and you shoot around over the water like a super hero.  I want one.  I can also imagine jamming my head through the roof of the tiki bar or taking a header into the swing bridge at home but those things can be worked around.  (I had a video but it appears I lack the tech savvyness to get the damn thing uploaded)
CoPilot and his Dogwalker have rented a house for the month on the bay side a little farther souther on Lower Matecumbe Key.  We all piled up for some birthday celebrating...the sunset...some wings...some dog leg humping... 

The highlight of the night was somewhere between their little dog Fluffy falling in love with Wingman's leg and me getting my very own coon dick.  Although it caused an argument over which end was attached and which end is used.  I am positive I was right and will not be swayed to believe differently.

Quote of the evening, "I wish Wingman was ready to go now so we can get in the bed and watch the second half".  Its my belief that the boys had spent too many nights in the same bed when the situation had desensitized to that point. 

It seems that most of the adventurous things we did, most of the breakfasts we ate, and all of the things we bought all came from or happened at Robbie's Marina.  Possibly the best $5 spent the whole week was on Tarpon feeding. They give you a little blue bucket of fish and a warning.  "Careful of the pelicans...they know what's in the bucket."  We were greeted at the door leading to the dock by the pelicans, it was like excusing yourself around people in a crowded street...they were just inches away trying to stick their heads in the bucket.  The tarpon were from 3-6 feet long and everywhere you could see.  You had to sit down and lean over the water with the little fish in your hand.  The fish weren't super aggressive...more laying back and eyeballing the fish as it dangled above their heads. All of the sudden this fish almost as big as me had my hand up to the wrist in his mouth.  I squeaked like a dog toy and felt like a little kid.  I've never had so much fun.  I was a lot quicker to let go of the subsequent fish.

Back at the Hungry Tarpon the following morning, our breakfast standard place of the week, I'd made the executive decision of wear bathing suits to check out the kayak rentals.  It's no secret that Velcro doesn't have as much of the adventurous spirit as I myself and I'm sure he was a bit apprehensive.  I had talked him into venturing into the ocean kayaking while in the Turks & Caicos but it wasn't what I would have considered ideal situations so I was pretty impressed that he big boyed up to try it again.  They rented by the hour, half day and full day.  Convinced that there was no way he would want to stay  out there over 2 hours, we figured they were getting a good ride out of us since we went for the 4 hour option.  The wind having laid down from earlier in the week, they said we had a couple of kayaking options.  About a half mile out the Atlantic side was an island called Indian Key.  It was inhabited in the 1830's by a wreck salvager and his "colony" for lack of a better word.  There was a general store there that sold over $ 30,000 in one year.   The island was attacked and burned down one night by Seminole Indians, at the time all of the keys had been abandoned with the exception of Indian Key and Key West 13 of the 60 some people where killed.  History has always been my most detested subject  but recently I read a book about Henry Flagler and the building of the over seas railroad, so the Keys history is interesting to me these days.  You can imagine how annoying I can be with this kind of information under my belt.  After kayaking to the island and walking all over it we headed back to check out the mangroves.  They supplied us with a little water proof map attached to the boat via's a good thing that I don't have the navigation skills of the average female.  We paddled down larger canals that ran behind houses, finding the crocodile that we'd heard had been known to nap on a particular sea wall.  Her name was Fluffy (good thing she didn't want to mount a leg too).  If I was guessing I would say she was 7-8ft long and appeared to be a lawn ornament.  We paddled right up to her and took pictures, her right front leg was tucked back like she'd been walking and just got tired and laid down.

Later on in the afternoon when we came back by her tail was straightened out and her head came up and every move made was followed.  Trying to paddle closer to see what would happen, I couldn't get the boat to work like I'd become accustom to...I turned around to find Velcro braking and back paddling like a fucker.

Not far down the canal from Fluffy the wide channels shrank to narrow canopy mangrove covered creeks.  Some areas were so low that you tuck your paddles and guide yourself by the roots, others you just had to time your strokes to not nail the trees.   There was a small finger creek where we saw the bubbles from another croc...I am also somewhat of gator expert also since watching back to back episodes of Gator Boys on Animal Planet.   Even I knew paddling into that little cut to look down through the water on it was a poor plan....and I don't back down on the normal day.  The kayak shack had given us a cooler to use and I'd gotten a 6 pack....its the new gatorade.  After about 2 beers a piece we realized there's no where to go pee.  I figured we could just stand up since you could see the bottom but after sticking a paddle into the ubber squishy bottom that plan was abandon.  I'm not sure how much you know about mangroves, but there is no ground's all roots and water.  So we edged the nose of the kayak up into the roots and overhang and managed to overhang to become one with nature.  "You're peeing in the boat!" made me readjust...that can't be fully appreciated unless one has tried to stand on pee out of a tandem kayak.  In just over 3 1/2 hours we returned our rental.  As many times as either of us have been to the Keys, we've never seen this side of it.  I doubt we will ever go back that we don't kayak the mangroves. 

Our last night in town we decided to stop back in the Island Grill for happy hour.  Brenda Starr, an amazing raspy voiced island looking chick was signing R&B and reggae.  If you're in Key Largo and the upper Keys look her up.  Hog Heaven was next on the bar hop list but as soon as we walked in the non verbal agreement was that there was too much sausage in Hog.  Deciding last minute to stop in Morada Bay for a picture of our ladder back chair by the water, we rolled up just after sunset...just like the first time it was unplanned and wound up being perfect. 

The next morning we headed the slow way back to Ft Lauderdale on the slow decent back to reality.  Bahia Cabana is on the edge of the Bahia Mar Marina, where the infamous Travis McGee lived on his house boat the Busted Flush at dock F18 for so many novels.  It's become a traditional every time we're in town stop.  At some point the Hog Heaven evacuated and all the sausage descended upon the bar.  One side of the bar was covered by what I call bitter know the kind, that have very happy men somewhere because they are being left alone only at the expense of whichever of the girls have the smallest bladder.  Between them and the airport I turned to Velcro with the observation that women are bitches and people are assholes.  If you are in the Spirit terminal at the airport there you will know that it is JAM PACKED...ALL THE TIME.  People, your luggage does not have a passport therefore does not justify having it's own seat.  I wish I had more of a hairy ass...enough of one to walk over and throw some one's bag in the floor while looking at them and picking my nose.  Also, if you have white hair and wear a suit in the are a tv my book at least.  The modern version of a medicine man was in the row in front of us on the plane.  He wore a Doc Tari hat and started immediately about some miracle drug with an almost  hypnotic effect on his two accented row mates.  The man being a little older was skeptical and eventually asked for ID to see if the medicine man was in fact as old as he claimed to be since he magical potion made him seem so much younger.  When the announcements were made the lady said "This is your plane, this is your crew...lucky you".  The plane smelled like either BO or roast beef, I preferred to think of the aroma as some fancy brisket.  There was no since in going for the sober approach at this point so we went for the 4 drink bargin tactic.  Velcro completely freaked out a guy flight attendant by touching his arm to ask for extra ice.  By the way he jumped you would have thought he tapped him on the ear with his dick.

Realistically speaking our everyday reality is better than most.  Most times I don't realize how different life at the coast is compared to the "real world".  Most times I do realize though how good life is with someone you can't get enough of...

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