Long, long ago, I wanted to travel to a land far away. I was about to have Taylor and Mark was thinking he would never have a vacation again. He wanted to go Tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys with some guide in a little boat. I asked Mark if I could go and he said I'd be bored to death because he was going to fish all day, every day. Anyone who knows me will know that doesn't interest me in the slightest.
I promised I would relax and read and it would be great. Audra could stay at my parents and it would just be the two of us, sort of. Mostly, him fishing and me at the "resort."
The plan was to fly in to Marathon Island, then pick up the rental car and drive to the "resort" at Islamorada. Well, that was the plan anyway.
We got going late because Mark owned a machine shop and it's almost impossible to leave one's business for any length of time. He had to run and pick up a check from late-paying customer so we would have enough to cover the trip. The customer didn't pay, which left us with $100 in cash and whatever we had in credit cards. It was too late to collect from any other customers and Mark was determined to go anyway. He'd deal with it once we got there.
So, we race to the airport and barely had time to get to the plane. I wanted to go one last time to a real restroom and told him I'd meet him at the gate. Only I got turned around and thought USAir was at the other end of the airport. Pretty soon I hear "USAirways paging Gale Thompson, please come to the gate..." Mark was holding the plane up for me.
We changed planes in Miami, but there was a delay. That delay landed us at Marathon (in a teeny, tiny plane that bounced a lot) just after the car rental places closed. There was no way to get a car. We wound up paying some guy $50 to drive us to Islamorada. I would come back the next day and get the car. When we got to the "resort" nobody was there.
We were starving and the only thing within walking distance we saw was a Burger King. I remember sitting outside with the luggage, crying in my Whopper.
Finally the caretakers returned and explained they thought we were getting there the next day.
The next day...
I thought the bad times were behind me, but they weren't. Mark left before dawn to fish and I was supposed to hop the 'hound back to Marathon and pick up the rental. When I got back, the money Mark requested to be wired to the Bank of the Keys would be there and all would be well.
It takes forever to go anywhere in the Keys because there is one road with most side streets leading to water. Rush hour there is an oxymoron because there is nothing rush about it. I finally get to the bank and think my Huntington Bank "Pulse" or whatever debit card would work to get some operating cash. Well, the ATM kept my card for some reason and I punched every button trying to get it back.
I go into the bank and politely explain what happened and may I please have my card back. They said "No." Really? I asked to speak to the manager and she said "No" with some ridiculous reason as to why. I even told her about the money wire and that I was out of cash, so she checked and said those funds weren't there yet. Of course, they weren't gonna cash an out of state check for me, though I had a little money in my account. Meanwhile, the cashier finds my card, picks up some scissors and promptly cuts it up in front of me. This she does to a very pregnant person who up until this point is being nice (OK, at least civil.)
I couldn't get hold of Mark because he was out at sea and cell service was in its infancy. However, I did go back to that very bank branch a little while later when the $3500 arrived--- after I got every cent from a different cashier, she told me to "Have a nice day." I replied "Thank you," then looked over at the manager and original cashier and said "I will now that I can go do anything I want with this stack of cash." Which wasn't true exactly as we had to pay the fishing guide and "resort" bill. But the truth wasn't important at that moment...
The "beach" at the "resort" was a couple lounge chairs, so it was just me and a few fish carcasses. I read and tried to take a little nap until the coconut crashed to the ground inches from my head. Mark convinced me to go snorkeling, which was fun except for the choppy boat ride. Unfortunately, I got the photos developed and nothing turned out. So, I was going back the next day with different camera settings and try again. Except it rained...
Then the toilet overflowed all over the bathroom. It was late and I didn't want to bother the caretakers, but I should have--Mark was still not back from fishing. So, I managed to clean it up with whatever was around. Turns out he was late because he caught a very large Tarpon. That is a big deal down there.
The next morning Mark went out to fish again and heard his name on the radio's fishing report. Guess the guide called the station.
As my reward for all of this solitude, Mark promised he would take me to the fabled "Key West." We drove and drove (see six paragraphs back.) I had listened to too many Jimmy Buffett songs, as well as folks telling us how cool the sunset is....ohhhh, can't miss that! We ate at "Margaritaville" which was terrible as well as there was no toilet paper (remember expectant moms go often!), so the restroom had used paper towels piled halfway up the wall. Gross!
We walked around a little and then waited for the big sunset party. We wondered if we were in the right place. People were gathering around, but if you looked out west, all you would see is this huge crane and some construction stuff. Not too scenic. Apparently, they were building a hotel, which I imagine pretty much blocks the view now. The sun went down behind the crane and Mark and I looked at each other like "this is it?"
The next day we had to get the car back early (because I picked it up early) so we went across the street and I remember having a chocolate shake. I never got over morning sickness, so that was all I got down. But, not for long, the puddle jumper back to Miami bounced so much it came back up.
When we finally got to Port Columbus Intl., my dad and his wife greeted us at the gate with Audra. We were happy to see her, but she was angry and didn't even want the candy I brought her (at least not right away.)
That said, "There's no place like home!" Wish I could say my next couple of trips went better, but you know better than that!
Until next time,