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Florida

Final Week

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Wow we can’t believe this adventure has come to an end. We are now in Miami packing up for our flight home tomorrow afternoon.
We’ve had limited internet so haven’t been able to write much this past week. But it’s been a blast ending our trip with Bill and Alice.
Here’s a summary of our past week.
February 11Bill and Alice left for Miami to the boat show. Darwin and I stuck around Orlando. We were hoping to go to Disney for the day. But that changed quickly. We woke up to 45 degree weather and our resort even called us and left a message “due to the extreme cold weather, all pools will be closed today”. Once we went outside and felt the COLD wind, we said, forget about walking around Disney. So we drove around Orlando. We decided to watch Avatar at a Universal IMAX theatre. What a great movie. Definitely worth the hype. Different from Canadian theatres, we could actually enjoy a cocktail during the movie. It certainly raises the bar on film for the future. There was NO ONE at Universal studios, maybe 300 cars for a major theme park. Obviously, we weren’t the only ones thinking it was too cold to visit a park.
February 12Headed off to Miami and met up with Bill and Alice at the Miami boat show. We headed off to the sailboat display at Sea Isle Marina, which is located at the Marriott Hotel, Biscayne Bay where we started our trip. Talk about serendipitous. The sailboats were amazing, big, and expensive. We walked around the docks until 6:00 and then went inside the Marriott for a cocktail. Well, we got inside just in time. A major storm blew in within minutes and lasted for a few hours. The winds were WILD and for a few moments, we thought a mini hurricane had blown in. This certainly gave us an idea of how fast and furious the weather can change in this part of Florida.
We wanted to watch opening ceremonies of the Olympics so asked a taxi driver to take us to a good place. So off we went to the Irish Pub – Playwright and yep they had the ceremonies on TV. But we had to talk to the bartender to turn up the volume and include closed captioning. This part of the country is much more interested in College Basketball and superweekend (whatever that is) than Winter Olympics. It was interesting to watch the ceremonies outside your country. We met a few Canadians who were cheering with us, but most bar patrons were not interested. Overall, we were impressed with the ceremonies, but very unimpressed with the torch lighting. We have not been privy to Canadian media coverage so not sure what everyone else was saying. Darwin was ecstatic to see Bobby Orr on the Olympic Flag and I was happy to see Terry Fox’s mom.
Back to the Arctic Fox for the night (Bill and Alice’s camper). We were parked in a high school parking lot and stayed there overnight.
February 13Off to the boat show again. This show is huge. We thought it was the largest but learned that Fort Lauderdale is the largest show, then Monte Carlo and then this show....we drove by the yachts.. OMG. These ships were huge. Some had helicopters on the stern. Bill and Alice toured them the day before and commented on how beautiful they were..... and they say there is a recession in the US... well didn’t notice it in Miami.
Mid afternoon we headed off to South Beach and rented Segways for the afternoon and toured south beach. Once again, these proved to be a blast. Bill and Alice quickly caught on and enjoyed the ride as well. We saw Versace’s house, the main condo from Bird Cage and Johnny Rockets where part of Scarface was filmed. We left Miami and drove to Marathon key for the night and stayed at Pelican Hotel and Trailer Park. Darwin and I got a room for the night so we could watch some Olympic coverage. However, we didn’t last too long and went to bed early.

February 14
Today was our swim with the dolphins. It was a cold Sunday morning. Darwin had a great idea to rent wet suits, so off to a dive shop to get equipped for our swim. Even the locals were saying it was cold out. So we were not sure what to expect. The air temperature was 55 and the water was 65. We arrived at the Dolphin Research Centre and got a quick overview on our swim, 20 dolphin residents and the hand signals we would do with the dolphin. Before we knew it, we were in the lagoon with Talon, a 20 year old male, who is a grandson to Little Bit, who I swam with 23 years ago. So that was cool.
We entered the water and it wasn’t so bad, as it was warmer than the air temperature. We got to back rub Talon, shake his pectoral fins and then we got to do a dorsal pull. This was the highlight. Talon swims beside you and then you grab his dorsal fin and off you go for a spin. Then you get to do a mimic trick. They learn to mimic from watching, so I chose a water fight and Darwin bobbed with Talon. It was a riot (see posted pictures). I was so proud of Darwin. He can’t swim too well and yet he got into the Gulf of Mexico with a 500 lb mammal and let him pull him across the lagoon. The pictures say it all. This was another highlight of the trip. We were all buzzing after this experience.
We drove down to Key West and checked into Boyd’s campground. Once we were set up, we headed off to Duval Street and checked out restaurants for Valentine’s according to Alice’s Lonely Planet recommendations. However, all restaurants were booked in advance. We lucked out and finally settled in to the Blackfin. It was recommended by Nine One Five (who was booked). Luckily the Blackfin still had room.They had a fabulous set meal for the night. We had Lobster Bisque, scallops in phyllo pastry and Yellowtail Snapper and a great chocolate desert. The owner was our waiter and he had restaurants in New York and was a great host. We got talking to him and asked if there was other fish we could try besides the yellowtail snapper. He was awesome and served us red grouper and mutton snapper so we could sample some other local fish. I have been to Florida many times and had never heard of the mutton snapper. It reminded all of us of Halibut...but better. This was a great fish and all of our favourite for the evening.
After dinner we strolled Duval street and finally found Sloppy Joe’s. The Pete and Wayne show was hilarious. These performers take famous songs and make up their own lyrics. They were very funny. They have one great song that was written based on them getting a fine in Maine for drinking on stage. You will have to ask us what the rest of the song is about......
From there we headed to Irish Kevin’s to enjoy some great 80’s tunes. Let’s just say Irish Kevin’s shut down Dar and Murph.
February 15
Today was a casual day around the campground. The wind died down a bit and we had a 67 degree day. So off to the pool for a few hours of sun. Hot dogs for dinner and then we watched our photos from the past few days and an early night.
February 16
Today we headed off the Southern most point in Continental US (the barrel) and then tried to find an old hotel Bill and Alice stayed at in 1989 and finally found Le Patio. We stopped at a beach and enjoyed a Pina Colada from a fresh coconut. We headed back to the campground and Darwin and Bill found us some fresh Mutton Snapper from Fishbusterz (the local fresh fish market just minutes from the campground). We cooked up some awesome fish on the bar-b-que, watched a movie on itunes and had a quiet evening.
February 17
Enjoyed our last day in Key West touring around Duval Street. We walked the street, enjoying the galleries and shops. From there we headed off to Mallory Square for the sunset Buskers. We watched a juggler who finished his act on a semi high wire. He needed an assistant and picked Darwin out of the crowd. Darwin had to wear a MISS SUNSET sash as his assistant uniform. Bill had to hold the Gay Friendly flag. It was hilarious and we have lots of video as a memory. We watched the sunset at Sunset Pier. It was an emotional time for us, knowing our trip was coming to an end, but it was also a great sunset and an awesome way to end our adventure with two of our best friends. We headed off to Hogsbreath pub where Darwin helped Americans understand curling.We then met two brothers from Brazil.One now lives in Miami and is an architect and his brother visits him every year from Sao Paulo. We had fun talking to them about our travels through Brazil. They were alot of fun to visit with. Then off to Sloppy Joes for some more entertainment.
February 18
Last day in Florida. Off to lunch at the Hogfish Grill which is beside Fishbusterz. This is a great place for fresh fish. The coconut shrimp is the best and so were the homemade onion rings. Said goodbye to Bill and Alice and then we headed off to Miami. Darwin has just finished packing and we are watching the Men’s Figure Skating Finals. Back to Calgary tomorrow night.
We will write some final thoughts on our trip in the next few days. A bit overwhelming today knowing it is now over.

Posted by winmouse 20:46 Archived in USA

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Darwin...the pictures of you and Mouse on the Snorkel Cruise and St Lucia/Peytons are fabulous...you look great. Obviously travel, walking ,hiking, drinking, eating, making merry, riding mules, segways,dolphins,etc makes you "look marvelous". Michelle you look svelte and very cool!!Amaazing to realize that this major event is coming to close...but I bet you will use this adventure as a springboard for more. Your blogs, your emotions and your excitement for new people, places and experiences has motivated me !!!

Keep it up...and I can hardly wait to to get together and hear 'some of your stories'. Congratulations on making each other happy, and keeping all of your family and friends on the edge of our computers back in Canada. You have been great Ambassadors and patrons for hundreds of bars, restaurants, pensions, pubs, and parties....I am impressed. Now I want to join the APWA, and see the World. PS Have you heard that the Argies are making noises about limiting ships from accessing the waters around the Maldive Isla's...I mean the Falkland Island !

Keep the buzz as long as you can, it's worth it.
Very proud of you two kids

Sandy Masterton

by sandy masterton

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