Part I: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted…

…was to not die.

There are certain things that you learn about yourself when you go on vacation. You have to admit that you have more time for introspection and getting in touch with the ‘inner you’. Don’t get me wrong – I had a fantastic time with Angela in Key West last week. There were just a few hiccups along the way that I should’t be surprised happened since I had several omens which I should have paid attention to.

First things first: went to a wedding in Orlando. Had drinks and a night out with a friend of mine since grade school, Michael Hendricks. Time out with Mike: pretty swell. Time at the wedding: wanted to punch people left and right. Meh. Not my family. I don’t have to live with them.

After the wedding we drove from Orlando to Key West in our rented Mustang convertible. It was fun even while it rained. Poor Angela, though. I think she had to suffer through at least 30 minutes of me talking about how a hard top convertible is superior to a soft top during a zombie apocalypse. While heading out through the keys we were amazed at the number of manatee mailboxes people had. If there was a way that I could grab one of those suckers and bring it back home with me I would have. So, omen number one that things may not go as well as we had planned: needed to go to a Walgreens to pick up supplies – suntan spray, drinks, candies. Did not foresee that the Twix that we bought at an earlier rest stop would get melty and look like the inside of child’s diaper. Not a big omen but one nonetheless.

We finally get to our resort, the wonderful Southernmost Hotel in Key West. We arrived a tad late so rather than try and rush things we decided to take it easy. We decided to have dinner and drinks. This is one of the few places that I’ve been to that serves the Yamazaki 12 year old scotch. Angela was practically vibrating with the need for a cold, slushy, froo-froo drink. When it came I thought she was going to swoop down and grab it like an eagle with a salmon. Afterwards we walked up and down Duval Street, which was nice.

The next day was proved to be my greatest challenge yet: My omen was a simple one. I shaved. More importantly I dry shaved. With as few facial hairs that I get dry shaving, although bad for my skin, is quick and easy. I feel bad for all you Sasquatch looking mofos. After wandering a bit and having breakfast we got ready to go on what was known as the ‘Island Adventure’ tour with the Fury company. They specialize in dragging rubes like me out and showing them the wonders of the Florida Keys. What we had scheduled for that day were three things: snorkel, kayak and then watch the famous Florida sunset.

When we set off in our catamaran wit 15 other people we were told that snorkeling would be first. The question was asked, ‘Is this anyone’s first time snorkeling?’. I thrust my hand up in the air and then realized that I was the only one. That, my friends, was my second omen. When we got our gear on and, when we got to our spot, we jumped into the water.

At that point I realized that dry shaving pretty much cuts and rips the hair from your face leaving your pores open. Salt water plus several hundred hope pores on my face = the shaving scene from Home Alone.

For the sake of brevity I’ll outline my three daliances with death during our vacation:

  • Almost drowned snorkeling because I couldn’t get a good fit with my mask and I wasn’t used to breathing through the snorkel. Oh, that and being thrown into the ocean with very choppy waters almost led to me having a panic attack. One of the crew dragged me back to the catamaran using one of those Bayatch orange floaty pill things.
  • During our kayak excursion they put us in two person ocean kayaks. No less than two minutes into it Angela and I flipped ours. Mentally, I’m not prepared for this as I was still trying to burp up salt water from snorkeling. Angela takes things casually, even when she almost lost her $600 pair of sunglasses to Poseidon.
  • Finally, we’re allowed to go back to the boat. As we’re closing in on the catamaran you’re supposed to get as closed to the boarding ladder as possible and then climb aboard. Angela? Not so much. She bails from the kayak and causes it to almost flip. The crew member who was supervising the return held the kayak there. I wanted to get closer to the ladder. He pretty much said ‘Well, let’s go’. So…I flipped the kayak trying to reach the ladder while too far away.

My arms are exhausted, I’m slightly waterlogged and I’ve just been whacked in the head with a kayak. At this point the crew member said ‘Wow. You better just kick them legs and get to that ladder.’ I, however, wanted to just sink like an anchor. Eventually, I made it to the ladder. Slightly worse for wear, dejected, exhausted, and salted like a ham. At least I would be able to end this excursion on a high note: being able to view the sunset at the end of the day. From there we would walk the mile back to our hotel room and I could make sweet, sweet love to the dry land and the sand.

Except that as we pulled back into the docks and swung the boat around that’s when we realized how truly evil Mother Nature could be. After taking me aside and essentially kicking me in the naughty bits Mother Nature decided on one final bit of humiliation at the end of my trip.

You got it. Clouds.