Celebrating my 50th Birthday in Key West

In typical procrastinator mode, I’m finally writing about my birthday even though it was 11 days ago. To be fair, I was on vacation when the event occurred, and when we got back 2 days later, Don was sick and I was starting to feel like I could be, so we both took it easy that weekend. The beginning of last week was busy trying to get back into the swing of things, and the rest of the week was just plain busy. So, 11 days later, here I am to talk about the milestone event: My 50th Birthday!

For about 4 months before the event, I had been toying with doing a daily journal and calling it “My 50th Year” and I fantasized about having a fabulously transformational year with all sorts of profound changes and adventures, documenting it all with prose, poetry and pictures and eventually publishing then immediately having it on the best seller list with a movie option and the works.

That. Didn’t. Happen.  Granted, it’s only 11 days into the “year” but I haven’t documented a word, and it hasn’t been all that exciting or transformational and I haven’t really felt like writing poetry or even prose.  It is a wonderful idea, and alas, probably one that will be filed with all the other wonderful ideas I “thunk”  but never acted upon.

At any event…back to the subject, my FIFTIETH birthday!  It was an awesome coincidence that I’d be spending it on vacation with the love of my life, but the actual fact was that the love got sick on the 3rd day of the vacation, so sick that all he wanted to do was sleep and cough and be miserable in the room. I could have been depressed and called the vacation ruined, but instead I pulled up my big girl panties and made the best of it. Luckily we had signed up for the bus tour to Key West upon arriving at the resort, so on The Big Day, I sent Don a kiss from across the room and headed out the door and walked to the bus stop! There were 2 buses and about 100 people. Since I was by myself and have no concept of shyness, I held a number of enjoyable conversations with my fellow tourists while we were waiting for the buses. Everybody was very nice and we were all excited!

Here’s the bus…a photo of the tour bus and people waiting to get on

Once we boarded, I was lucky enough to have the window seat since my sickie partner was coughing his little heart out back in the room. I settled in for a nice relaxing ride.

Here I am on the bus enjoying the window seat….A selfie of me looking out the bus window

It was about a 3 hour drive down there, but our tour guide Filipe made it interesting by talking about the history and progress of the area.  In the early stages of development, a lot of non-native species of flora and fauna were introduced. Some of them were introduced to make the everglades more habitable, such as the Melaleuca tree, and some were just let loose due to human carelessness, but now those species are taking over!  I absolutely LOVE Florida, and I love that environmentalist and activist groups are finally realizing the delicate balance of the eco system and trying to get it back to how it should be.

We arrived in Key West a little after 12. It is a cute little island, but SOOO overcrowded with tourists and all that goes with them such as tourist shops and trolley companies. I did splurge to get an all day ticket on one of the trains so I could get a good idea of the layout and history of the island. That was my first order of business after using the little girl’s room. The tour was interesting, there are gorgeous old houses and lovely trees and flowers all over, and the historical information was interesting. I got off at the stop near the southernmost point. Apparently that is a big deal, being, well, the southernmost point of the US.

Southernmost beach in Key West, Florida

This is the southernmost beach.  The water was beautiful, but the beach was kinda smelly and very seaweedy. There were a number of people just sitting there in lawn chairs apparently enjoying the view, and maybe even the smell.

A photo of the buoy of the Southernmost Point of the Continental US in Key West, FL

 

 

 

I found it amusing that there was a loooooong line of tourists waiting to have pictures taken by the southernmost point buoy. Since I was by myself, I just cut to the front of the line and snapped a few pictures of the buoy itself.  I can always photo edit myself in later, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Once done with that, I hopped back on the train and got off at my initial stop, so I had taken the round trip and saw all there was to see, seen all there was to saw and all that fun stuff.  I wandered around a bit and found a place to get a slice of the infamous key lime pie. Any thoughts of eating healthy or right or low carb or whatever were off the agenda today. I was going to have whatever I wanted so I got a latte to go with it and of course the pie was yummy.
a slice of key lime pie and a latte

Key West Key Lime Pie Co sign

 

Next order of business was taking a walking tour up and down the touristy Duval Street, which lines the entire length of the island and has a ton of bars, shops, restaurants and art galleries up and down both sides of the street.

One of the most memorable things to me is the fact that chickens just run loose on the island and nobody pays any attention to them. The train driver told us on the island tour that they are great pest control. I gawked, ooohed and aaahed over and took many photos of them.

a rooster perched high on a sign

mother hen and her chicks on a brick sidewalk

 

 

 

 

 

The one disappointment for the day was not getting to the Butterfly Conservatory in time to go through the exhibit. I got there at 4:08 and the last tour started at 4:00. VERY frustrated, but alas, it was not meant to be. I just carried on the walk back up Duval Street and bought myself a neat tank top from The Peace Store as a present.

Once I had completely traversed up and down Duval, I brought out the trusty map Filipe had given us to reorient myself to where the bus was to be waiting for us. It had been made very clear before we disembarked that we should make sure to NOT MISS THE BUS on the way home. an image of the Key West Map given by the tour guide

With only a couple hours left, I headed to the boardwalk where there was a street fair type of event going on with entertainers, beer tents, psychics and a knife eater that was drawing a large crowd. I was more interested in food and finding a good place to have a birthday dinner, so after about half an hour wandering the area, I started slowly to head back to the bus and find a place to eat on the way.  I passed the original Margaritaville, but it was way crowded, so I kept going until I found a quieter place with outdoor dining.

My birthday menu choice was fish tacos with coleslaw and a margarita.  Sadly they didn’t have any birthday specials, but I did have a coupon from the Conch trolley brochure for BOGO on the margarita, so got 2 for myself! Since I was flying solo for the day, I got the very nice waitress to snap a photo of my celebratory meal. A basket with fish tacos and coleslaw

A frosty glass with a blended Margarita

Surprisingly I didn’t feel intoxicated after imbibing, but still managed to initially start walking the exact opposite way I should be going to get back to the bus. With only 30 minutes until the deadline, I stopped to consult my map about a block into the trek and discovered my error, so was still able to get back in time, and boy did it feel good to sit down after those few hours of walking!

The bus trip home was much quieter than the ride down, we were all happy but tired from our day in the sun and salty sea air. I slept like a log that night and poor Donald was still just as sick as ever when I got back to the room. No birthday kisses for me this year 🙁

All in all, I had a very good day. There would have been many worse ways to spend my 50th birthday, or any day for that matter. Hanging out on a tropical island tops my list of things to do any time!  I didn’t really have any epiphanies or life changing insights, but I had a relaxing time and was very mindful of all the abundance I have had in my first 50 years and had some thoughts on how I want to spend my days from here on out.

Me raising my glass to the camera during dinner

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