Monday, February 22, 2010

Tavernier Nuptuals

Kathy and I exchanged vows on the sand in the shade of a palm tree. Brenda Cockrell officiated.

According to a Keys tradition, the rings are placed in a shell containing Key West sand.

The guests were not shy about joining Captain Josh on his repertoire of Jimmy Buffet songs, nor about dancing a conga line around the pool.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Key West Quest

The ride from Key Largo to Key West takes about 2 hours, but we all felt it was something we wanted to do. It was more than worth it, with ocean and bay vistas much of the way.

We stopped at the Parrotdise Waterfront Bar and Grill in Little Torch Key for lunch. Nobody had the featured wine (see sign); we opted instead for a round of Key West Sunset Ale. We learned from the owner that lower keys people regard anyplace north of the Seven Mile Bridge as the mainland.

We found a parking space not far from the madding crowd at Mallory Square, the center of Key West's tourist area.

The downtown area is full of colorful shops, restaurants, and sidewalk bars. One of Key West's mottoes is "a small town with a big drinking problem." The three huge cruise ships in port added to the throng.

As Kathy and I passed Irish Kevin's, the entertainer spotted us from the stage. "Hey, Michael McDonald," he bellowed, "bring her in here and we'll get her good and shitfaced." That's why everyone is looking at us.

We were apparently being stalked by pirates. Avast, ye scurvy knaves!

Another obligatory stop: the southernmost point. You can practically smell the cigars across the strait.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pre-Cana Reef Fishing

On Wednesday, February 10, the male members of the Keys wedding contingent went on a fishing trip aboard the SOZ, docked at Sundowner's Marina in Key Largo.

The weather was less than ideal. We all hoped that Mark, the only midwesterner, had taken his Dramamine. We headed through a waterway and a channel through the mangroves, stopping to catch some pinfish for bait along the way.

Out on the shadow reefs, we caught a variety of snappers: a bunch of small yellowtail, mangrove, and some big mutton snapper that we kept for the grill. We tried to get Boss to give this one a kiss.

Late in the morning, brother-in-law Paul hooked into a real rod-bender that struggled to find some underwater structure to break the line. "25 pound grouper," I said aloud.

It was a 25 lb. grouper. This fish would have fed the entire company, but due to a recent restriction on grouper fishing, we had to release it.

My brother John is known for his bad fishing mojo. When he hooked into a good fish, we all hoped he could reverse the curse.

And he did! He giddily displays a fat black grouper that we dutifully released.

Everyone having caught fish, we headed back to port through the mangrove channel.

Dinner that evening would consist of mutton snapper grilled three ways: lemon pepper, horseradish, or blackened.

John and I did some serious fish-grilling after dark out by the cabana.