Key West Redux

This photo was taken on our first day in Key West, before the rains hit. Simply spectacular, if you ask me.

Ordinarily, today I would post the next installment of The Road Taken series.  But, after my Rick saga, I’ve decided to take a break as I’m not quite sure where my story should go next. Blame it on a brain freeze, or on one too many rum punches imbibed while on vacation. Either way, I’ve hit a wall. If you have any suggestions on how to get past it, I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, since you have been so encouraging about my photos from Key West, I thought I’d share a few more today. After all, the ones I’ve already posted, in Key West, Rain & All, largely focused on the lousy weather we had while there.  It’s only right that I also show you some photos that capture Key West at its best.

If you ask me, Key West is an idyllic locale, and the perfect place for anyone who enjoys a good walk. I didn’t let the rain stop me from clocking in a lot of steps on my pedometer as I wandered around, taking in the lush beauty and flavor of Florida’s magnificent coastal community. As a writer, I found Key West to be very inspiring. I can’t think of a more fitting place in which to lose yourself, if only for a short time.

So, please indulge me as I reflect on my favorite moments visiting the southernmost point of the continental U.S.   I’m hoping, that those of you who commented last week and said you’d never been there, will be motivated to start planning your own trip to the Keys.

Let me know what you think!

I put together this collage as a reminder of all that Key West has to offer. Balmy days, and some good, old-fashioned R&R.

This alley looked like a prime spot for basking in the atmosphere.

What's the story behind this structure, located at the southernmost point? Wish I knew.

One of the many spots where you can stock up on cigars.

I love signage. For some reason, this one reminded me of one of my favorite films.

No doubt, this is the Number One photo-op spot in Key West, a mere 90 miles from Cuba, after all.

Anyone watching the new "Pan Am" series, might be interested in reading this sign. (This photo was taken by my sister.)

Intriguing front yard, don't you think? I wonder what they do inside, when not "Closed," that is.

I'm a sucker for statues.

This dog, on Duval Street, is waiting for his pirate booty.

Chickens and roosters roam freely in this laid-back town.

When I came across this whimsical yard, I felt a yearning to sit down and have a tall glass of refreshing lemonade. Or should I, more appropriately, Key Lime-ade?

This house, with its purple bicycle, green foliage and blue shutters, spoke to me. I wouldn't mind spending half the year here, writing away, and getting around town on my bike, as most of the locals do.

The Banana Cafe is a little French restaurant open for breakfast and lunch. The Key Lime Crepes are mouth-watering divine!

This may look like a dive, but it happens to be Virgilio's, one of the hottest places on Duval Street, for live music and dancing. We had a blast here. It's beautiful inside and an enormous tree growing in the middle of the roofless bar adds to its charm.

I love taking snapshots of flowers. This photo was taken while standing on a small bridge over a pond on the Hemingway house property, looking directly down at a lily pad.

Papa's Hideaway is a bed & breakfast, just a few blocks from Hemingway's house. Maybe next time, I'll stay here.

Hemingway must have spent a lot of time in the bathroom because his bathrooms were absolutely stunning! I love the tile on this bathroom floor. So art deco!

Check out the vanity in this bathroom. Look closely and you'll see my reflection.

Key West, Rain & All

The view from our hotel, Casa Marina Resort.

Last week, I headed to Florida, for what promised to be my niece’s very romantic, sun-kissed wedding by the ocean, on the beach, on the white, glistening sands of Key West, proudly known as the southernmost point of the continental U.S. I assumed we’d have warm, sultry days and plenty of time to bask in the sun.

Having made my travel arrangements months in advance, I started counting the days to this much-needed vacation and destination wedding, sometime last spring.  I couldn’t wait to be with family and friends for this joyous occasion. In fact, to make the most of the trip, I had decided to extend my stay by taking a few extra days off–before and after the wedding. I was eagerly looking forward to it all, including the chance to explore Key West’s famous haunts.

Well, the sunny portion of the vacation lasted for a total of 24 hours. After that, we had rain, rain, and more rain, often mixed with gusty, tropical storm-like winds. In other words, after one gorgeous day, the weather went south. Luckily, though, the good times stayed put.

There were 70 of us in all, many of whom hadn’t seen each other in years. A family reunion, a fabulous wedding, and buckets of rainfall. Flooding, too. What more could we want? So maybe, the ceremony didn’t take place on the beach as planned, but it was a magical wedding all the same.

Key West proved to be a most magical setting for a decidedly romantic wedding, rain and all.

Kudos to the mother of the bride and to Wedding Specialist, Erica Fuhrman of Simply You, for planning a superb, unforgettable wedding, right down to the scrumptious, elegant cake draped in orchids, and the fun photo booth, replete with costumes for the guests. And don’t even get me started on the exquisite decor and gorgeous flowers!

Herewith, are just a few of the more than 600 photos I snapped during my stay. Rain or no rain, I can’t wait to go back!

I loved this sign, especially the quote from Tennessee Williams. With a little pluck, I can see myself enjoying a writer's life year-round in Key West.

Out for a stroll, before the rains, I came across this shop, which reminded me of my blogger pal, Bella (One Sister's Rant)

The rain was sporadic while visiting the Ernest Hemingway House. There's really so much to do--and see--in Key West!

Hemingway loved cats and there are currently 44 cats living in and around his home. They're special cats, too, with extra digits on their paws. These cats are commonly known as Hemingway's cats, or, by their scientific name, Polydactyl Cats.

On the wedding day, the rain arrived full throttle and stayed for the next three days. Yikes!

Even these terns didn't have much to do except stare at the gloomy weather.

On Mallory Square, stormy clouds hid what may have been a beautiful sunset.

Rain? What rain? On this day we had one hour free of rain.

Would you believe it's early afternoon in this photo? And to think, the locals kept telling us it never gets this bad.

Breakfast of Champions

I’m thunderstruck. Amazon, my favorite place to shop online–and if you don’t believe me, read my post, Addicted to Amazon–has kicked me to the curb. Yes, you heard right. My supplier, my source for just about EVERYTHING, has sent me what amounts to a  “Dear John” letter.  An email, to be exact, and the message has left me completely and utterly flabbergasted.

It seems the cereal they have been shipping me for the last five years is no longer available. Discontinued. Manufactured no more. Swimming with the fishes.  And, in case I still don’t understand, they add: It’s over!  For added effect, these last words are underlined and written in bold.

Now, if I want to eat my cereal, I have to get it from the likes of Tony Soprano.

WTF??? How can this be? I was so faithful to them, ordering my six-box supply every three months like clockwork.  I had a standing order. They had me on automatic pilot thanks to Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” plan, which knocked an additional 15% off the price. So I thought we’d go on this way forever.

Sometimes I’d run out before the next shipment was due, but one click of the mouse, and Amazon would ship my order instantly, no questions asked. We had an understanding. Or so I thought.

I cannot begin to express the crushing blow this has been for me. This product has been my favorite breakfast indulgence since the summer of 2004, when I was first introduced to it while summering in Key West. In an instant, I was over the moon. Not only was it deliciously refreshing,  it also had magical powers that helped keep those pesky, high cholesterol numbers at bay.

But now, my cereal is gone. We had our good times, our laugh-out-loud times. And what do I have to show for it? Nothing, but three boxes left in my pantry.  I will treasure them and savor them slowly. Perhaps I’ll even save the last box for 2014, the 10-year-anniversary of the day we met along the Key West beach, just 90 miles from Cuba.

Of course, I blame the manufacturer.  Though perhaps I should have seen the writing on the wall, back when all the local grocery stores, one by one, stopped carrying my cereal.  The reason for its sudden disappearance from the store shelves I was told, was because there are so many cereals available. Mine, it seems,  was an under performer and needed to be retired to make room for the newbies.  Under performer? Why my cereal performed very well, thank you very much! Always tasty, always reliable.

Nowadays, my cereal bowl is empty. My cup no longer runneth over.

I called the manufacturer about this unexpected turn of events. The woman at the other end of the line sounded a bit exasperated–perhaps she’d been receiving many calls like mine? Wearily, she notified me that I could still buy this product on Amazon.  Amazon? Why, of course. Amazon sells everything! So Amazon became my dealer, my lifeline for five incredible years. And now, in the blink of an eye, it’s over.

Though in a recent visit to the Amazon website, I noticed that they still carry my cereal. Only now it’s sold by one of their independent sellers, which I’m assuming is code for The Mafia, as now the going price has tripled.  TRIPLED! Plus, add to that a $21 shipping fee. We’re talking black market prices!  Is the cereal coming from Columbia and being brought into this country by drug mules?  I wouldn’t doubt it. All I know is that my cereal has been hijacked and taken underground.  Curse you, General Mills!

Yet, no matter how much I know I’m going to miss my cereal, I just cannot bring myself to pay these black market prices. It’s plain wrong.  Besides, I saw The Godfather and I watched The Sopranos on HBO. I know that nothing decent comes from messing with the Mob. The Cosa Nostra, if you will.  I will have no brush with organized crime. Not even for a bowl of the best cereal that was ever made.

And so closes another chapter of my life. Goodbye, my morning companion! You were too good for American palates. Indeed, too fine for this planet.  Find solace in knowing that you brightened my mornings. In your honor, I will leave an empty cereal bowl in my window. You are gone, but not forgotten. At least, not by me.