My Winter Vacation – aka – South Florida is the Greatest!

Hello my faithful followers – I have been absent lately due to a few things:

a) I contracted what I’m fairly certain was the black plague. I rarely get sick, and even MORE rarely does it keep me in bed for 5 days. Ok, 4 days. On day 5 I tried to go back in to the office. They promptly sent me home.

b) a whirlwind trip to South Florida in early November for my dear friend Kate’s wedding. This seems to have been the year of weddings for me – this one was the last for at least a couple years til my sister gets married. BUT, being a destination wedding in the Florida Keys, who could say no. And it was AMAZING!!!

I promised pictures – be prepared, there are many.


We arrived on Tuesday, November 8th to a beautiful afternoon in West Palm Beach. Drove to Kate’s house in Delray Beach to spend the night before making the trek the next morning.

From there we left to pick up my sister and her fiance at the airport in Miami, and then it was off to the Keys! It’s a beautiful drive down and I would recommend it to anyone. Although, full disclosure, parts of it along the way are quite strip mall-ish and dirty, touristy, etc – there is a billboard for the Sandal Outlet every 5 minutes the entire 3 1/2 hour drive, but also other interesting roadside things to see, such as a sign for Crocodile Crossing (I hadn’t known that Crocodiles were indigenous to the US, but apparently they are in South Florida!), Key Deer crossing (a mysterious endangered creature I hadn’t even heard of), and a bunch of kitchy little souvenir shops and mom and pop restaurants that probably have the best food you’ll have on the trip.

And then there was our hotel room.  We stayed at the Parrot Key Resort right on Rte 1.  We had reserved a 3 bedroom cottage, but the hotel had undergone some renovations and had called me a few months back to let me know that they had instead switched us to a 2 bedroom and a 1 bedroom as they were phasing out a lot of their 3 bedrooms. They offered a $200 food voucher to make up for the switcheroo. I asked if that could be increased at all, and they doubled it!  The rooms were large and comfortable (all had a patio or balcony), the beds were heavenly, and the grounds themselves were great – 4 saltwater pools, interesting artwork all over the place, super friendly staff, and we even saw a 4 foot iguana in a tree! It felt very neighborhoodish, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there (plus it was very affordable compared to a lot of other places, although this was largely due to the number of people we were traveling with – I’m not sure what a single room would run if you were just going on a quick getaway. There was only one open air bar, which is located at the main pool and closes at 7pm (this was kind of a bummer), but it was decorated nicely and was very comfortable. These were hanging all over the ceilings:

Parrot Key is located nextdoor to a Walgreens, which we ended up going to on a daily basis for a variety of reasons (the biggest being they sold wine and beer after 7 pm, unlike the bar, which was closed). We developed a little obsession with Walgreens as a result and made a point to stop at every one we saw (more on this later).

Then the wedding prep began:

And the SHOES!

After a little snafu with the suits (which caused a little pre-wedding chaos), we were off to the beach for an amazing wedding!

This is Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, where the wedding ceremony took place. Gorgeous. We didn’t have a chance to get over to the fort, but I’ve heard it’s awesome whether or not you’re a history buff.

The ceremony was gorgeous! Beautiful light, beautiful waves, and a beautiful bride! My friend Kate is so incredible, and her husband is a lucky, lucky man to have her.

I mean, seriously, how hot is this girl?!

Here is my friend CL, the maid of honor. This picture exemplifies her personality =)

And then I was graced with a nice picture of my husband and I together – I have very few of these outside of our wedding pictures. Usually he is making a weird face or not looking at the camera – and he almost NEVER smiles in pictures, so this is about as good as it gets:

And where else would you have a reception in Key West?

Kate and Andy rented out the whole restaurant, so we had a lot of margaritas, good food, and got a little crazy:

This is me and my sister:

It was so nice being on this vacation with my sister!!

One of the nice things about this wedding weekend extravaganza is that the wedding was the day after everyone arrived (on a Thursday) so we had the rest of the weekend to explore the island and check out all the sites.

This is a marina right near the Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant.

Everyone drove these little scooters everywhere. I tried, and was petrified. The boys (and CL) got a huge kick out of them. I preferred the cabs, myself. $4 anywhere you want to go on the island. And no fear of skinned knees and elbows.

Unfortunately this place was closed, because I REALLY wanted to have a drink in there with the 4 people that would fit in there with me. Sidenote, in Key West the open container law is pretty much ignored unless you’re causing a huge scene, in which case if the Smallest Bar got too crowded, you could just finish your drink on your walk to the Garden of Eden, Key West’s clothing optional bar. I don’t have pictures – cameras aren’t allowed. However they do have hula hoops you can use. And I’m not making that up.

This guy was just hangin out on the street. I’m pretty sure he belonged to someone – I don’t think parrots roam free in Key West, but he was very pretty. And I’m afraid of birds, so that’s saying something.

We visited Ernest Hemingway’s house, where you are not allowed to pick up any of the 44 cats that live there. Interesting fact: all the cats that live there are descendents of the Hemingway’s original six toed cat, Snowball. Oh, and guys, guys, there’s also a full basement – which apparently is very rare in the Keys.

One of the more amusing things I saw while I was there was a bride on a bike. She was alone – no groom in sight! It was weird!

If you’ve never been to Key West before, this will be something you’re not expecting. There are roosters running around everywhere the way that squirrels run around in Upstate New York. Once I heard that there were wild roosters, I expected to see more chickens than roosters. And I did see one guiding her little chicks across the street (insert your favorite “why did the chicken cross the road” joke here). But overall, it was mostly roosters. Oh, and they start crowing at 3:30 in the morning. I know this because that was usually about the time I was going to bed.

So here we are, the girls, friends since high school (well, the others have been friends since age 4, I just didn’t meet them til I was 14). There are 2 more of us who couldn’t make it for this wedding and we missed them dearly!!! But we’re pretty much inseparable when we all get together.

There were some real perks to waking up in Key West. For example, this was breakfast one day:

Yup. A fresh coconut with a straw in it. It was delicious.

But then it was Sunday, and we had to leave the Keys for a few days in Miami Beach! There really aren’t too many beachy areas in Key West, so I was definitely craving some lay-in-a-chair time. BUT, before we left – one last Key Lime Mimosa!

Finally! The beach!!

And I am now very happy to be laying in the sun doing absolutely nothing. 

In Miami we stayed at the Colony Hotel, a South Beach landmark (in fact it is the prominent hotel in most pictures of the South Beach Strip). The room was small (and crowded – five of us ended up sleeping there the first night), but modern and certainly a good value. I booked it with credit card points and got 3 nights for $14!

We basically spent those three days laying in the sun. It was great! Kate and Andy drove down for the afternoon and had a beach day with us, then we had a huge crab dinner with them at Joe’s Stone Crab.  We wandered around and found a great little area at the Lincoln Mall (which is not a mall at all – more like a giant street that is blocked off to traffic, and there are a ton of outdoor restaurants, shops, etc). I had been there before, but forgot that it even existed! This is what it looks like at night:

So we stopped here for dinner, and you’ll never guess who I met!

Charlie the Lemur! Yep, held a lemur. Have YOU ever held a lemur? I didn’t think so.  This was a scam of the worst kind – Charlie had a cataract that needed surgery, so his owner was asking for $20 donations for the surgery. Of course poor Charlie will probably never have the surgery, because then dude will have to stop asking for $20 donations from every sucker like me who wants to hold the lemur. But knowing all this, I couldn’t pass up holding him. I would have paid him to let me hold him even if he didn’t have a bad eye.

This is interesting because not only is it one of about 5 or 6 different Walgreens that we stopped at (and took a picture of), but within 10 minutes of taking this photo something really funny happened. We ran into Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s curiously popular reality show The Jersey Shore (which I’ve never seen, because it’s stupid), racking up $300 worth of acne medication, women’s foundation, and some US Weekly magazines, among other assorted items, and while I was chatting it up with his buddy/brother/whoever, not having any CLUE who he was (literally, one of my questions was “so where are you from?”), his credit card got declined. We saw him later at a Wells Fargo ATM ($100k ferrari parked out front, license plate “SITCH1”), assumedly transferring some stuff around so that he could cover the large makeup purchase he had just made.

And finally it was time to leave Miami and head back home. =(

Side note – I wasn’t really as red as this picture is making my shoulders look!

To make matters worse, look what I had to come home to!!!

But what an amazing time we had! It was so nice to be with so many of our friends on an incredible vacation and to see our best friend Kate have such a beautiful wedding and a truly happy start to her new married life.