The Brawny Sherpa and I head to the Florida Keys while everyone else is obsessed with the holidays, or already hungover from them, or still regretting the government shutdown and embracing the frustration of Obamacare websites and this truly miserable economy. It seems the perfect time to flee, so we escape to a place guaranteed to please. Has anyone, ever, had a bad time here?
After flying to Fort Lauderdale, we hop into our rental car, to whose doors we are expeditiously delivered courtesy of a Jetsons-like Hertz live-agent self-service kiosk. Then off to the Rickenbacker Causeway we point, not long before we begin wondering what the difference between a causeway and a bridge is. The Brawny Sherpa drives, and I google. I’m not sure I understand the distinction between a raised road, or causeway, and a structure providing passage over a barrier, which defines a bridge. The quest keeps our minds off the traffic before we’re transported to the easy tranquility of Key Biscayne, where we will be staying with a friend.
Once unpacked and soothed with wine, fruit, and crackers, we head for a late-night dinner. The restaurant at the Ritz is already closed, so we opt instead for Novecento Key Biscayne, which is lively and lovely and serving wonderful empanadas.
The next morning, the Brawny Sherpa and I head by golf cart to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Walking the beach toward the lighthouse, we also get to see and critique the setup of two weddings to be held later that day. Our suggestion? Place the altar to face the water!
Later, we head by boat up the Miami River, where we are awed by the highrises and wonder how they survive hurricanes. Stopping at Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, where I enjoy some oysters (technically still vegan in the minds of some because they lack a central nervous system) and salad. Later, after supping al fresco at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, we are treated to some evening musical festivities at the Village Green.
Too soon, our time at this onetime haunt of former president Richard Nixon (for those of us who remember the phrase Winter White House) comes to an end. Our short stay has achieved its purpose: immersing us in the calmer, warmer, sunnier life of the Keys.
Note from the Brawny Sherpa: When boating on a boat riddled with 90 horse-power motors going at top speed, bring a straw if you intend to enjoy a beer instead of wearing it. I almost lost one whole Heineken due to the choppiness.