Kara's First Carefree Vacation

Growing up on a small family farm in Central California, my family didn't take many vacations.  Most of our "vacations" were day trips to Sequoia, Yosemite, Disney Land, or to the coast.  Okay, I typed that, and realized I probably took those things for granted.  Not everyone lives in a state where beautiful mountains and the beach are both day trip options (I appreciate that now that I live in the Midwest).  Still, one day of bumming around downtown San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay always left me wanting one more day.  Alas, we always had to head home just before it got dark, so we could throw some hay at the livestock and make sure everything was still in tact (livestock have a way of getting up to no good when you're gone... at least, ours did).  As an adult, I really appreciate that my parents made the effort to get away every once in awhile, and even though Morro Bay isn't the hip kind of hopping California beach most people think of --- it was often overcast, windy, and sometimes foggy --- it's my favorite beach of all.  We'd peruse the shops, laugh at the seagulls who would hang around the outdoor fish shack and beg for tasty morsels of seafood, pester sea anemones during low tide, and every once in a while, we'd go to a neighboring beach and watch the sea lions' antics there.  Hands down, those are my favorite childhood memories.

So, it should come as no surprise that I'm "vacation challenged" as an adult.  I don't know where I should go or what I should do, so if I go anywhere, it's to the nearest big city.  I'll bum around town, window shop, and make sure to grab a bite of something delicious, and I call it a vacation.  Back in October, my boyfriend asked if I'd be interested in going to the Florida Keys with him and a few other couples for New Year's (he lives in another state, which is why it might seem odd that he asked me if I was "interested").  We were going to take boats, rent a house with canal access, boat up to restaurants, go offshore fishing, snorkel... um, yes!  What is this brilliant thing called a vacation?  Teach me!  Teach me!

Well, that man taught me.  We got to do all of those things.  And I loved every minute of it.  I was so relaxed the entire time... except for when we went offshore fishing, and I spent the majority of the time hurling over the side of the boat.  It's fine, I predicted it.  I did get to catch a couple glimpses of the sailfish he caught, though!  That was exciting!

We stayed in Key Largo and took an evening to go check out Key West, which was a nice change up up from just lounging by the pool and taking the boats out.  My only regret is that I didn't think to make time for the Hemingway house tour.  I really enjoy Hemingway, so when we walked past the house, I kept trying to tip-toe high enough to see over the stone wall that surrounds most of the property.  Despite not getting to enjoy that (I have a feeling the rest of the group would have been the opposite of interested in that tour), I really enjoyed our evening in Key West.  After the disappointment of finding out that our intended dinner spot on top of the roof of a fancy hotel was no longer in business, we found a neat place on the docks where we bought a couple drinks, watched the boat tours on the water, and listened to a couple of old men rock out on a stage.  Afterwards, we enjoyed an amazing dinner (woof, fresh seafood is expensive!) and headed back to the house in Key Largo.

As all good things do, vacation came to an end, and I flew back to Kansas.  And single digit weather.  And snow.  So sad.  Thanks for everything, Florida!

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