My Summer Holiday to Florida - The Keys
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Monday the 21st - The Journey from Orlando to Marathon
Surprisingly, I actually managed to get out of bed at 7am. While packing my stuff up, I found a pair of socks that didn't smell as if they belonged to me. I assumed that either Alex or Michelle had left them on Saturday morning. Colette rang to make sure that I was awake and I met her and Nick in reception. I left the old pair of socks (together with their wedding present) for Alex and Michelle to pick up when they checked out.
There's not really much to say about our journey down to The Keys. We stopped of for a Burger King on the way down and got held up by some stupid woman, who couldn't understand the menu. The views were quite good on the way down and I got more and more excited as we approached The Keys. We found the hotel that Steve had booked easily (it's very difficult to get lost in The Keys - just follow the one road that runs from Key Lago to Key West and you'll get there eventually). Colette and Nick left me at the hotel to continue their journey south. Thanks to Nick for driving all that way - top man.
There was some nice totty at reception when I went to check in (although not as nice as the one that sorted Steve out when he arrived). I said, "My mate's booked a room, but I don't know whether he's here yet or not". She looked at the computer and Steve hadn't checked in. She then looked again and said, "But he's only booked one room!". She sounded quite surprised at this - what I didn't figure out until later was that the term "mate" in America means it in the nudge-nudge-wink-wink sense. I still don't see why this shocked her, but never mind. It felt like the room was miles away from reception as I walked towards it. The walk back to reception to get another key-card because the first one that she gave me didn't work felt even longer.
Steve had agreed to pay extra for the room with a view of the sea, rather than a view of the main highway. As well as a view of the sea, it also had a view of the hotel swimming pool - worth every penny (sorry, dollar) in my book. It was a bit too hot outside to spend ages perving from the balcony, but I did pop out there every now and again. There seemed to be a poolside bar - I decided that we would have to check it out later.
After a while, Steve arrived. I hadn't seen him since we'd been to Westonsupermud just before he returned to America. It was good to see the old man again. After dropping off his bags, we headed down to reception, only to find out that the hotel bar was closed on Monday nights. We were not impressed. She gave us directions to another bar and off we went. Her directions took us through a dodgy looking Mexican neighbourhood before we got to the bar. The bar seemed pleasant enough - it served beer and overlooked the water. The barmaid was quite friendly. She'd previously worked in Sloppy Joe's in Key West and was complaining about the number of sad old men who go in there trying to look like Ernest Hemingway. It didn't stop her wearing her Sloppy Joe's T-shirt though.
After a couple of beers (we even got given stumpy holders because I'd left mine at home), we decided it was time to find somewhere to eat (the bar did food, but it all seemed to be deep-fried). We headed back to the main road - there were a couple of restaurants, but they all either looked crap or closed. We headed back towards to bar, but saw a fish restaurant along the way. I'm not a big sea-food man, but it seems silly not to when that fish has been locally caught that day. The service was friendly (from a bird from Lancashire) and the food was tasty. We had an early start the next day, so didn't stay too late.
Tuesday the 22nd - First day's diving
I was a little concerned about the breakfast - it was a "continental breakfast", which meant that I wouldn't have a fried egg to ward off the bends. Since we weren't going to go deep, I decided to risk it. We found the dive centre (sorry, dive center) fairly easily, filled in all the forms, sorted out our kit and got on the boat. There were 5 other people on board - an older couple and a man with his two daughters. One of the daughters had problems with her ears, so just stayed sunbathing on the boat. Everybody seemed quite interested in Steve's rebreather, but I don't think that anybody really understood what it was.
I was only wearing the waistcoat from my 7mm wetsuit - more than enough to keep me warm in the sea, but not really enough to cover up my Baywatch swimming trunks - lucky girls. The dive was pretty good - warm, good visibility, loads of fish, big lobsters and we even saw a ray. We didn't really pay attention to the bloke's brief (except the bit that said he'd pick us up if we surfaced away from the boat), so we just swam around going with the flow. We surface quite a way from the boat and it took a while before he saw us (or he ignored us for a while) and picked us up. Once we were on board, off we went to the next dive site. After about 5 minutes, we were there. He gave us another quick brief and then said, "In you go". I couldn't believe it - we'd had a maximum of 15 minutes surface interval and he wanted us to go back in. we waited for another 15 minutes (perving at the sunbathing totty), before getting kitted up (he was leaving an hour after he told us to go in and we wanted to at least have some time in the water).
After about 10 minutes, Steve's leaking rebreather had used up all his air, so we had to surface. He got back on the boat (I don't reckon that he'd run out of air, I just think that he wanted to check out the totty some more) and I went back down. I swam around for a bit on my own before I found the other bit of totty and dived with her and her father for the rest of the dive. We then headed back to the shore (with me hiding in the shade while everybody else soaked up the sun). We then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up. Steve fancied driving down to Key West because he'd only been once before, and that was when he was 3 years old (a long time ago). We had a bite to eat and a quick drink in the poolside bar (which was open today) before we headed off. We were both in love with the woman in white.
Anyway, off we went to Key West, it took just under an hour to get there. We turned right out of the hotel and saw loads of restaurants that we hadn't seen the previous night. As we were driving across the 7-mile bridge, we saw a bloke who was walking and had got half way across. Good luck to him - crossing the bridge right in the middle of the day in bright sunshine. Anyway, we parked the car and got the bus into town. We got off in the centre of town and wondered around. Steve had been given the mission of buying a T-shirt for his mate (and not one that said, "My mate went to Key West and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"). The first one that we saw was the best - it said, "The liver is evil. It must be destroyed"!). We also bought a little present for CherryBoy.
After a quick drink in Sloppy Joe's (laughing at all the sad old men trying to look like Ernest Hemmingway), we headed off to get our pictures taken at the furthest southerly point in the continental USA. We had a bit of a problem finding the point - although we had a map, we started walking north - which wasn't much use. After a long hot walk (about 10 minutes, but it felt like longer), we got to the point. It's not actually the furthest south one can go, but the navel base further south isn't open to riff-raff like us.
We walked back towards the centre of town, passing all the "Further South Hotel", "Furthest South Motel", "Furthest South GuestHouse" rubbish. There was quite a bit of totty around, so I decided to start using TottyCam. We headed back towards Sloppy Joe's for another quick pint (I was up for more, but Steve was driving, so I only had a few). More pictures were taken using TottyCam.
I went into the Sloppy Joe's T-shirt shop to buy a T-shirt for Bird. While I was paying, the bird serving me (top totty according to Steve, I can't remember) was admiring the T-shirt that I was wearing. "That's a nice T-shirt", she said, while slowly rubbing her hand up and down my chest. What a pity she didn't finish until 11 o'clock. I didn't actually realise that she was coming on to me until Steve pointed it out later!
We then headed off back to Marathon for some more beer and a bite to eat. On the way back, we saw the same guy that we'd seen walking across the 7-mile bridge still walking - it looked like he was walking all the way to Key West. By the look of him, he looked as if he'd been walking for quite a few days already. We went to the nearest restaurant to the hotel. There was a bloke playing a guitar, loads of boat skippers, and some quite nice totty. Yet again, I ate far too much. I'll never get into my wetsuit when I get back to England.
Wednesday the 23rd - Second day's diving and the evening in Sarasota
We had another 2 dives booked before Steve was going to drive us all the way back to Sarasota (a 6-hour drive - everything is just so far in America). On both dives, we managed to surface miles away from the boat - just to keep the skipper on his toes. There were 2 others on the boat. Once the woman found out that I was from England, she started whittering on about her English pen pal who died of some heart problem. I'm sure that it was very sad at the time, but do I really care about somebody I've never met?
Somehow, I managed to lose Steve on the second dive. How it's possible to lose somebody wearing such a big yellow thing on his back, I'll never know. We both surfaced fairly close to each other and to the boat. We went down for another 15 minutes so that we could surface miles away from the boat as normal! We saw sharks, more rays, and loads of fish. The first dive was hard work - the current was running quite a bit, so we kept on having to stop for a rest (we're getting too old for this diving malarkey!).
Anyway, we got back to the hotel just in time to have showers before we had to check out. Then we settled down for the 6-hour drive. Being American, the thought of driving for 6 hours really didn't bother Steve. I'm not quite sure what he thought about being stuck in a car with me for 6 hours though. I can't remember too much about the journey up there, but we had a giggle the whole way. Towards the end of the journey, there were plenty of cop cars (marked and unmarked) pulling people over for speeding. We went along "Alligator Alley" - I think I saw an alligator, but it might have only been a bit of wood floating in the water. Still, it didn't really matter because the lake at the back of Steve's house had its own resident Alligator.
In Sarasota, I offered to buy Steve dinner - the least that I could do after he'd driven all that way and lent me his open-circuit dive kit. Off we went to his local curry house (imaginatively called "The Indian Restaurant"). There was some nice totty in there with her mother (she was obviously a regular and she was going to be coming back on Tuesday of the week after - I think I know where Steve'll be eating that night!).
As soon as we got back to Steve's place, the phone went. It was his mate Alex, who persuaded us to go down to the Brewing Company (a place where the regulars have personalised drinking mugs made - Gordy got one when he visited). It was a really nice evening - Alex and Judy are top people. It didn't take Alex long to start giving me jip! He said that he found it quite easy to understand me - much easier than "Hardcore Emma". What a name! "Hardcore Emma" and "Porno Steve".
And then we went to Sarasota
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Created on: 30 Aug 2003. Modified on: 30 Aug 2003.
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