We asked our delightful front desk attendant where to rent bikes, where to find the cool places to eat, and where Hemingway's House was, and she gave us the 4-1-1. Seriously, she was very helpful and even gave us some coupons for some places.
The first day, though, we walked. We walked to Duval Street, which was already crowded and blaring music at 11 a.m. We walked around the block to get the lay of the land. We walked to the wharf to see what there was to see. We started to walk back to own hotel that evening, glancing at some of the famous houses and B&B's (including places I had wanted to stay, like the Artist House, but it was already booked up). During our sight-seeing, right after sunset, I realized something was itchy and sharp on my foot. We stopped in doorway, and I inspected my foot.
Somehow, my pinkie toe was digging into the toe right next to it; so much so, that the pinkie toenail had cut open the neighboring toe. What the hell? I was not wearing my usual high heels, just sandals. Okay, sandals with like a 1/2" platform.
After I took off my sandal and the Key West night air hit my piggies, I realized that more things hurt. Where the thong of my sandal fit into between my big toe and the rest were giant blisters. On both feet. Putting the shoes back on again was like pouring grain alcohol over my feet and then lighting them on fire. I begged my Unit to even call a taxi cab (it didn't even have to be a pink one), but she pointed out we were only a few more blocks from "home."
As soon as we reached the hotel, we made a mutual decision: tomorrow we ride!
But then the discussion came of mopeds or bicycles. The pros and cons are as follows:
- Pro: mopeds are infinitely cooler
- Con: mopeds are loud
- Pro: bicycles make it easier to communicate with each other while riding
- Pro: bicycles are cheaper to rent
- Pro: mopeds are faster
- Con: faster speeds means more likelihood of one of us (read: "me") hurting ourselves
I was very, very nervous. I had not ridden a bike (that wasn't stationary) in about two decades. We immediately came up with a disaster plan: should one of us fall off, fall down, fall behind, hit something, be hit by something, we were to yell loudly "DOO-DOO DOWN!"
It is legal in Key West to ride your bike on the sidewalk, except on Duval Street (as it's simply too busy); when riding in the streets, one must follow the regular rules of traffic. We stuck to the sidewalks for that first half hour, with my Unit in the lead. To watch us was probably like a comedy of errors.
I couldn't seem to steer my bike; I whipped the handle bars back and forth, correcting and overcorrecting. I swerved and squealed and tried to avoid telephone posts, fences, overgrowth from yards, and, of course, pedestrians.
My Unit took us down lesser-known paths (fewer pedestrians), past a graveyard (not exactly inspiring), and finally down to Key West's (and the United States') Southernmost Point (which isn't even the southernmost point, but let's not split hairs). After Southernmost Point we found ourselves in a quiet, tree-lined street with wide roads. We actually started heading back north, putting me in the lead. My Unit was finally able to see my ride a bike.
First, amid the laughter, she had to take a picture so there was photographic evidence that I was both outside AND on a bike:
So we didn't swim in the ocean, but we did snap another picture to prove that I was actually outside.
|My Unit's tattoos make an appearance in every one of these pictures.|
We stopped at another dock later on during the day. Here's something I've learned working with animals: any time there's a group of people crowded around, something interesting is happening. Lo and behold, there was a small crowd gathered near the edge of the dock. Naturally, I elbowed my way into their midst so I could see what was happening.
|The sea cow!|
|You can see his wee flippers in this one.|
|"I'm watching YOU, Mr. Manatee. Just you wait."|
But the manatee-sighting had inspired our next big ticket item: a dolphin tour. Coming up next: dolphins swimming, dolphins having sex, and gratuitous food pictures!