All of my memories of Florida existed on the small island of Casey Key. It was the place where I spent a good deal of my very young years and when I think about Florida, nothing can replace those shark tooth filled beaches, Sharky's popcorn shrimp, or the heron, I nicknamed him Big Bird, who would visit our back porch every morning and let me feed him Kraft singles. But last year, in need of some proper sunshine, Florida fell onto Travis and I’s list as a possible destination. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been to Florida since my childhood, but it was hard to see past those Casey Key memories. However, an inexpensive flight to Miami, a great deal on a hotel, and an adventurous boyfriend who discovered a guide to the Florida Keys later, we were making plans.
It was May of 2016. The weather was impeccable. And we were welcomed to Miami’s Nautilus hotel with a drink by the pool. In Miami, we explored the art of the Wynwood Arts District, made a last minute reservation at The Raleigh, where we had dinner poolside, and paid a visit to the lovely Perez museum. From Miami, we rented a car and drove south. First to Alabama Jack's for the much talked about seafood, then to Islamorada where we kayaked and walked the small beaches, chartered a boat for an afternoon fishing trip, jet skied, and laid in every hammock on our hotel’s property . We kept driving south and ate the best key lime pie. Ever. And as we drove, we blared our music with the windows rolled down. We finished our journey in Key West where we chased wild chickens down sidewalks and got sunburned on long walks around town. It was where we befriended an older couple who spoke wisdom into us and got so many laughs trying on tropical shirt in the local souvenir shops. It is all still such a vivid memory and I smile at the thought of it.
As time passes, it’s a welcomed reminder that perspectives can change. New memories can be made, new traditions created. No trips to Florida will ever replace those early childhood memories, but their allowed to come close.