April 25, 2014:
Okay, I’m going to be honest. We awoke from the previous day’s Big FOUR-OH in a bit of a drunken slumber. The sun rose, we moaned and groaned our way back into the upright position and stumbled our way back over to the Cuban Coffee Hut,
to do more stupid things … but not faster. With the vast quantities of rum and tequila still swimming in our veins, three Cuban coffee queens and we would still only be doing things at normal stupid human speed. But, we were Day One into Phillip’s second forty years and still on the hunt for new adventures in Key West. It seemed everywhere we walked there were plenty of interesting sites and scenes to take in.
“What the truck?!?”
“Don’t dredge on me!” it says. You gotta love the quirky conch personalities on this little island. Take this for example.
I know you see her. That pirate-clad pixie up in the upstairs window. What’s she sayin?
Uhh-uuhhh Miss Sparrow. You got yourself commandeered up there. We want no part of your pirate drama! But, do feel free to show us some pirate booty!
I know, I know …
Speaking of, while we were mozeying around downtown, I got to show Phillip the little hole-in-the-wall bookstore where I stormed in during my first blaze down Duval Street to get his birthday book. For some reason, the Captain didn’t think that story was funny the fifth time I told it … “C’mon, that’s good stuff! Wait till I write up the blog on it!”
But, a couple of coffees down and now on the hunt for lunch, right around the corner we found our haven. A pink stucco gas station-turned-Cuban Caribbean eatery! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Paseo’s!
Take it in …
Phillip ordered up a hot pressed Cuban sandwich,
and I got the Paseo’s Greens bowl.
Basically, a huge Carribean bowl filled with pickled beets, cabbage, and piled high with the most succulent chicken thighs I have ever put in my mouth.
And … I’m a champion wing eater! That chicken was so moist I started to think they had to be wringing their necks out behind by the building upon order and roasting them up in house. And, then my suspicious were confirmed! Because …
... that’s when the roosters came!
They were clucking around all over the place!
Even little baby ones!
Right by my feet!
“Those must be the thighs I ordered! Grab ’em Pedro!”
The roosters really started to rally the troops when our shared side came out – a whole roasted ear of corn (still in the shuck), slathered with seasoned sour cream and topped with fresh chopped cilantro.
I mean …
The Captain and I ate ourselves just about sick. It was hard to sit upright after we finished. A good fifteen minutes after our meal, and we were still kicked back under the gas station awning, picking corn from our teeth and letting the misters spray us down.
After that meal, we were stuffed! We headed back to the boat to nap it off. Because that’s what you do in Key West. Drink, eat and nap. In that order. Oh, and wash your boat. We did that, too. Since the previous day had been devoted entirely to celebratory matters, we spent most of the afternoon getting our boat chores done – filling the tanks with water, filling our spare diesel cans and giving the boat a good, long scrub-down. She was literally caked with salt from the passage. You could physically see it on the handrails and stanchions. Our girl was itching for a bath. And, it was a hot day to do it, but there’s just something about getting that boat all cleaned up, even in the sweaty heat of day, that’s truly rewarding. We showered up afterward, too, and the boat and crew all felt better for it.
As you may recall, we had plans that night to have dinner with our buddy Postal Bob on his Catalina 34. Remember, we had the mackerel, he had the shark, and Captain Ron was coming with the yellowfin tuna!
Bob invited us over around dusk to start with some sundowners and tall tales at sea.
“C’mon on board!”
And, there’s Johnny, too! Mr. Walker and his son made the trip from Ft. Myers to Key West with us on his 38′ Morgan, the s/v Windwalker. Bob’s boat was set up perfect for hosting. A big spread was laid out in the cockpit, a full bar was opened to everyone below. Bob had a specified “beer cooler” in the cockpit full of brewskies and he was working on a four-course feast when we arrived! Not to mention his boat. Gees! It was like a condo at the marina. He had A/C, a microwave, TV … That’s living! We sat down below in the A/C for about all of fifteen minutes before our teeth were chattering. It seems we had fully acclimated and preferred to dine al fresco. It was a beautiful evening out anyway, and the cockpit is just always a great place to gather.
There’s the Windwalker/Plaintiff’s Rest crew. Johnny next to me, and his son, Jeremy, next to Phillip. They were a lot of fun and, thankfully, they hadn’t yet heard all of my crazy stories.
“No, wait, wait. Let me tell you boys about my bikini sprint to the bookstore … “
Bob was such a generous host, too. He did all of the prep work himself down below and plated everything up while we were visiting in the cockpit.
“You keep passing drinks up here and we’re going to want some dinner to go with it!” I call it the “Give a Mouse a Cookie” phenomenon. But Bob had us covered. He cooked up the mackerel we had caught on the way down to the Keys (yes, we still had plenty enough left over to feed the whole crew). That was one big fish!
And, Bob taught us a great trick about mackerel, too. We had cooked up a few filets our first night in the Keys and while it was good, it had turned out a bit more meaty, a little tougher, than other fresh fish we had caught and cooked up. But, Bob said “just soak it in milk!” He let the filets we brought over soak for a bit before he grilled them up, and that did the trick!
That mackerel was perfect. And, Bob had made beans and rice, a salad with fresh grated parmesan and grilled zucchini and squash! See? A four-course meal … pretty much. Certainly a fit feast for a boat. We passed a few plates around and this crew didn’t wait to dig in!
It was a great night spent with great fellow sailors down in the Keys. Phillip and I really felt like two of the group. We were cruisers now! We watched a beautiful sunset from the dock while we polished off the mackerel and another round of drinks.
We decided to call it an early night because we had a big day the next day. The biggest of the whole trip perhaps (aside from the Captain’s birthday).
Where were we going tomorrow you ask?? I’ll let you wager a guess …