Travels to Key West

When I asked if I'd be interested in working an event in Key West, my answer immediately was yes. I've never been and rarely turn down an opportunity to travel to a new destination. Plus it's the middle of March and Spring Break for many colleges and I'm there over the weekend. I became very excited when I found out that my Saturday would be free.

The flight from Indy to Fort Meyers was decent, until the last 30 minutes. Then it became one of the worst flights I ever flown on. I damn near had to use the barf bag. After landing and getting my air legs grounded, I had to reticket and re-enter security. What a pain in the ass. The thunderstorm was still passing through so my flight to the Keys was delayed. Then delayed again. And delayed once again. Normally this annoys me, but the plane scheduled to take us was small ten seater. The other passengers and myself quickly became travel buddies as we were all certain we were all going down together. Unfortunately I did not partake in the bar activities because I was scheduled to start working as soon as we landed.

Eventually the flight took off and landed. Not the worst flight ever, but not the best. I landed and grabbed a cab (immediately noticed the endless bikinis strolling the area) to the Casa Marina and started setting up gear for the next day's meeting. We finished about 6:3opm and went to our hotel. It was so damn muggy. I cant believe that I forgot to bring cargo shorts! About an hour later we hit the city bus to travel to Duvall Street, which is the main tourist area of the island. I wanted to beat down a group of early 20's guys there on Spring Break. They were so damn annoying.

Duvall Street reminded me a lot of a smaller, not quite as wild Bourbon Street. With all the bars and restaurants and party atmosphere, there's a similar feel. We had dinner at the Hog Breathe's Saloon where I at conch fritters and conch chowder for the first time. After walking around a bit and a stop at Irish Kevin's Pub for a couple of more drinks and listened to an entertaining guitar player, we headed back to the hotel for our early morning. Too bad as I felt like I could drink all night long.

After a bad meeting with some audio difficulties, we struck the gear and stored it away. We finished up by noon and had almost 24 hours until we needed to be back for set up and an award banquet.

We hit up a Winn-Dixie grocery store and I ate lunch. I decided to take a stroll up the coast to the beach area. Such beautiful coastline. And not nearly as muggy. It was amazing outside with a nice breeze coming off the ocean. After about an hour, I realized the sunscreen was quickly wearing off so I jetted back to the hotel. Then I went to the poolside bar and had a couple of drinks. There were a lot of regulars there that had a comfortable feel to the place. Went back to my room and got cleaned up for another night on Duvall.

Upon arriving we walked right into the end of a wet tee shirt contest and women flashing their breasts for beads. These are practices and customs that I've never really understood, but I'm all for female nudity so I'll never speak ill of it. Then we headed over to Mallory Square where there are several street performers. A couple of delicious mojitos later and being distracted by some women walking around with only painted flesh for clothes, we found a place for dinner at Guy Harvey's Island Grill. I had a tasty Carribean crabcake sandwhich and the best piece of key lime pie ever.

Now it was time for bar hopping. We started at the orginal Sloppy Joe's, which is now called Captain Tony's. Had a huge glass of island punch. About this time, my stomach was full and my head a bit tipsy. I had to make a decesion to go all out or cut back. I chose to slow down. We then hit up Rick's.

This is where the night turned. Next to us was a table of guys. They were being loud and obnoxious and one was hitting on a married girl, who's husband didn't look very pleased. Suddenly two of them jumped up and decided to arm wrestle (one was around late 20's, the other early 50's). The older guy won. He jumped up and screamed "You got your ass whipped by a gay guY!", repeated in an even more flaboyant nature and proceded to dance and give high fives all around the bar. This included me and my co-worker. He then sat down and started talking with us. Then his husband joins us from the other table. We're all chatting, the table of obnoxious drunk people, the married woman and her husband, and myself along with my co-worker. Then one gay guy was actually orginally from Fort Wayne and he starts talking about things in the Fort. Small world, I guess. Some how it's decided that we will all go to the strip bar, The Red Garter Saloon. I didn't really want to go, but my co-worker did so I agreed. Plus we got in free as the gay couple had free admission tickets. Most of the night I sat at the bar, drinking moderately priced beers, occasionally checking out the all nude dancers, and talking to a bartender from Poland. Eventually the rest of the party fizzled out and left us alone, which was good as they starting to be very annoying. I was getting really bored but my co-worker wanted to stay awhile. I ended up leaving. I grabbed another drink at a Bull & Whistle before flagging down a cab back to the hotel.

On Sunday, we headed back at the Casa Marina to set up for the Awards Banquet. The set was long and tried my patients. We had several obstacles to jump through from not having the right equipment to the room being a lot more packed than we were told. The doors opened and the client fed us an awesome steak & lobster dinner. Excellent. Finally it was awards time. The meeting went long and we struck the gear and stored it until morning. Back to the hotel after a 14 hour day. I was exhausted.

We loaded out gear at 7:30am. My co-worker headed back with the equipment and I went back to my hotel and waited until noon. Going through security at the airport, I got pulled over for a hand swab. The TSA agent said "Hope you're the lucky winner today!" It was not very funny to me. That's not the lottery I want to win. In the waiting area, I saw one of my travel buddies from Friday. She was a very fun gal to talk with and we were both much happier about the sunny skies. Taking off was awesome. You could see the island all around and the ocean. Wish I would've got some pics. The flight got rough as we closed in on Fort Meyers. In fact it was so bumpy that my head hit the air vent. Twice. Leaving two nice marks on my scalp. After saying goodbye to my travel pal, I got reticked and went through security once again. This time no humor from TSA. Two and half hours before my flight. I ate nachos and had some ice cream. A full flight back to Indy and then a two hour drive back to Fort Wayne. I finally got home around 11pm. Another long day.

I really enjoyed the laid back, go at your own pace lifestyle of Key West. No one gets too excited and everyone likes to have a good time. I can myself revisting some day as I could get used to that life. A houseboat maybe...

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