One of our Georgia friends saw a photo I posted on Facebook during our Islamorada trip and quipped, “Wait a minute. You live at the beach, but you also go on vacation to the beach?”
It does seem a little excessive, doesn’t it – especially as much as I complain about the heat. But – when your kids invite you along on their vacation, you happily say “YES” and start packing!
Ted and I dropped the pooches off at Lily’s Thursday morning, then turned the truck southward. Ted hadn’t been to the Florida Keys since he was a very small boy, and the furthest south I’d been is Miami. What we’d both forgotten was how LONG Florida is. We consider ourselves living a little north of the middle of the state, but the trip to Islamorado was an almost six hour drive!
Julie, Matt, Jordan and Matthew went down on Tuesday, so they’d already been there a couple of days when we arrived.
Breezy Palms Resort was our destination – nestled directly on the Atlantic Ocean.
Islamorada is called a “Village of Islands” and is located on the islands of Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key.
The kids had towed their boat down from Ormond Beach and had chosen Breezy Palms because they could tie up at the dock there. We walked down to wait for them to come in and watched fishermen cleaning the day’s catch . . .
. . . . and throwing the leftovers to the waiting Pelicans.
There were other seabirds waiting for hand-outs . . .
. . . and an unbelievable number of iguanas roaming around.
This big guy always got my attention whenever I’d walked outside. I kept my eye on him constantly . . . .
. . . because you never knew where he was going to pop up next!
Soon the kids arrived from a day of fishing and snorkeling, and after they cleaned up we went out for what was to become one of many, many meals of fresh seafood. Thursday night’s choice was the Islamorado Fish Company, where we first heard of and ate hogfish. They showed us a picture, and the name is actually a little too glamorous for what this fish looks like. But, man oh man, was that some good eating!
At 5:15 the next morning I awoke to Matthew leaning over me whispering, “BeBe, it’s time to go fishing!” Say what??? But by 6:00 a.m. we were pulling away from Bud n’ Mary’s Marina, where we’d grabbed breakfast sandwiches, bait, and gas for the boat.
It was hard to take in so much beauty that early in the morning, but I tried my best to capture it. There were a few clouds, but the sun rising through them just added to a scene that was surreal in its tranquility.
All the Hewitts love to fish, but Matthew takes it all in and processes it through a young teenager’s brain. His passion to learn every single aspect of fishing knowledge is a grand thing to behold.
Almost past the rocks . . .
. . . and heading out to sea. We came upon our first group of boats – all busy catching bait fish. We continued on out for a little over eight miles, looking for . . . .
. . . . a line of seaweed, flying fish, and seabirds. According to Jordan, all three of those indicate there are fish around. As soon as we saw all those signs, Matt and Matthew began to put out all the trolling lines. Just take my word for it that trolling is a lot of work. They put out six lines and were constantly checking to make sure the lures hadn’t been covered with seaweed.
Jordan took over the duties of keeping us parallel to the seaweed. Every Hewitt can capably “captain” the boat.
We hooked and lost several fish before getting this small dolphin aboard (this is the dolphin you eat, not the “Flipper” dolphin. In seafood restaurants you would order it as Mahi-Mahi. This one went back into the ocean to grow some more.
With the fish bites not coming at too steady a pace (we didn’t catch any keepers), we headed in, with a stop at Alligator Key Lighthouse (where the water was a blue unlike any I’ve ever seen except in Bermuda) . . . .
. . . for swimming and snorkeling.
Matthew impressed us with his backflips off the boat. The day before we arrived Julie and Matthew had climbed to the top of the lighthouse, then back down to the platform you see beneath the tower. They both jumped off from there!
Ted – bless his heart – had to take a little nap on the way to lunch at Island Grille – also by boat.
We arrived back at the Breezy Palms around 3 p.m., where Ted and I claimed exhaustion and the kids went back out on the boat. Ah, to be young!
On Saturday morning Ted and I went out to do a little island shopping, while the kids went out to sea again (they promised to come back and get us for lunch). We saw a lot of things we’d have loved to bring home if we’d brought along a moving van, but our only purchase was a pelican for the front yard (more on that later).
We went to lunch Saturday on the bay side at Robbie’s, which took us past houses . . .
. . . that were unbelievably beautiful – and HUGE!
At Robbies, we bought a bucket of fish and fed the tarpons, ate a great lunch, and asked a tourist to snap a family photo.
After lunch the kids returned to fishing, and Ted and I just took it easy for the afternoon.
Before dinner on Saturday night, we went for drinks at Zane Grey Lounge – then walked outside on the porch . . .
. . . to watch the sunset.
it was Chef Michael’s for dinner, where we all had seafood again (Ted and I have been checking to make sure we aren’t growing fins).
Matt once again had hogfish – a whole one, lightly fried, with all the trimmings. Ugly, yes. Delicious, YES!
We left the Keys around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning . . .
. . . and stopped by Delray Beach for lunch with Blake (it seems everyone in the family except Jason now lives near the water).
What a wonderful vacation time with family! We came in late Sunday afternoon, and I started doing wash. I didn’t even unpack what I didn’t wear – I’ll just put the washed stuff back into the suitcase and then pack another one full of cool weather stuff for Michigan. Gotta be prepared for everything in Michigan!
See you back here in a few days – probably before we leave on Saturday morning for our trip North . . . . . . .
Oh, oh, oh – almost forgot!
Our pelican buddy from Islamorada – safely transplanted to Sunset Inlet.