Key West, Day 2

I had a plan. I wanted to eat someplace specific. The last time I was in Key West, it was where I had breakfast before leaving the island, and it was obviously memorable, or I wouldn’t have wanted to return. I checked BringFido again, looking up Sarabeth’s, and saw there were mixed comments, none of which were recent. I mean, the marks were high, but the comments told a different story. They said the people bringing dogs were shoved into a corner and basically treated like second class citizens. I thought the food was good enough that it didn’t matter to me.

Nothing in Key West opens until 8 at the earliest. Seemed reasonable, but when you are awake early and hungry, it feels like forever.

Another part of my plan was sleeping more than I had the night before. I’m a sensitive sleeper and sounds and lights set me off when I’m trying to get some rest. I have been getting better at home, but that is an environment I’m used to and there were the regular sounds I was eventually able to ignore. This new environment brought new sounds. Nothing that really kept me awake. The air conditioner is loud, but it is white noise. It was the light that became an issue. There is a window above the door to the room and it lets in just enough of the outside lights that when facing in that direction, it is like interrogator trying to find out what I possibly know about stolen Nazi diamonds (“Is it safe?”). So, every time I rolled over during my sleep, I was awoken by a flash of light. It was not a very restful experience. Either way, Lily wanted up and I wanted breakfast.

So, Lily was fed at her regular 6 a.m. She became insistent on having a walk, which was justified, as she did her thing. Again, the solid stuff. We returned to the room to let time transpire and I tested the WiFi again. Still not working correctly. As I was up before the hotel staff was working, it would have to wait.

Seven forty-five rolls around and this place is just down the block from me. Lily and I head over, and they are closed with a sign that reads, “Opened at 6.” Knowing they have a break during the day and I read they open at 8, I assumed that meant they were not ready for the breakfast crowd for the last two hours. I waited, and a few people started lining up. I spoke to a couple that had a dog at home. They mentioned a bar they were at the night before that had a Newfoundland and a St. Bernard. They also questioned the sign that was posted. We all thought, Island time.

Eight o-clock and one minute, the door opens, and they start dragging the hostess podium out. In my eagerness, I did not consider that and only saw they opened the doors and there were people to ask a question to. “Are you pet-friendly?” After seeing the look, they were giving me, and they were doing something, I backed off and gave them room. Once situated, they asked the couple that got there after me how many there were in their party. As the couple was nice, they informed the hostess that I was there first. I was then taken to my seat… In the corner. Had I been with someone else, I could see the discomfort. As it was just me and the dog, the seat was just fine and preferred by me. I’m a fan of sitting in the corner.

So, we sat, and I perused the menu. They have so many options I was interested in. I ordered their Four Flowers Juice, which was a mix of orange, pomegranate, banana, and pineapple. The banana came out stronger than any of the other flavors. It was refreshing. Thankfully, they gave me ice water, as well, because there were no refills and the glass was rather small. Bare in mind, I am not complaining about this. It was the perfect quantity to go with my meal, just that I thought I had more last time. Also, there is only so much sugar one should have in their life, and being addicted to it as I am, I am trying to cut down in some ways. Oh, I still love my rum, but more on that later.

Another waiter brought water for Lily, shortly after I sat.

The waitress returned to take my order and I had five things in mind. I asked for her suggestion and it was one of the five. When I asked for confirmation she not only smiled, but nodded her head vigorously. I went with the Key West pink shrimp and bacon omelet with scallions and smoky mozzarella. Later in the day, I was told getting Key West pink shrimp is a must if I am on the island. I was not disappointed, as the shrimp, although cut small, was packed with flavor. The pieces in the omelet were a perfect size, and from what I gathered by that, the shrimp were colossal. The bacon, on the other hand, was rather pointless being there because it offered no flavor, and other than the fact there was a reddish-brown chunk in the omelet every so often, I forgot it was there. To be fair, I have discovered ordering bacon with my hamburgers seems to be a fruitless endeavor, as I can rarely taste the bacon then either.

Overall, Lily was good. She decided to play in the water. At one point, after she had her paws entirely soaked, she decided to shake and I’m pretty sure the table next to me got a bit of her wetness. After trying to get my food with no success, she started to do her cry begging. It starts as a little whine that she will increase in volume if not addressed. I told her to be quiet and gave her a treat if she did. I went through that endeavor five times during the meal. As I was wrapping up, she was getting antsier. I paid the bill and we snuck out quietly, having said bye to the couple I spoke to earlier as they left ten minutes prior.

We headed back to the room and I figured this was a good time to let the staff know about the internet issue. I informed the person at the desk and he said he would reboot all of the expanders. I wasn’t sure when he was planning this, but by the time I got back to the room, but still wasn’t working.

As soon as we arrived at the room, Lily decided to leave her mark there. I kinda thought she peed in the room the night before. Not because of a smell, but because there was a spot that looked off. There is a bamboo rug that is not absorbent and that was where she decided to go. I tried dragging her out, but she wasn’t stopping. After that ran its course, which explained why I didn’t see her pee in the last day, I made an internal pact to get a cleaner. Since she was done for the moment, she took a nap.

As Lily napped, I was able to write. I figured, island time, nothing opened until 10. I took some time to look at the internet issue and concluded that my phone will need to be my hot spot and I was glad I had the bandwidth. I was miserly the last month, so the data could roll over.

I wrote the last entry and chatted with someone I had been out of touch with for a few months. Once I looked at the time again, it was 1 p.m. I wasted a chunk of the day writing but was happy to because I have been so distracted at home, this “vacation” gave me just what I was looking for.

Afternoon hit, and I wanted to do something. It seemed too late to take a tour, and Lily wasn’t going to be welcomed in many places, so it was time to hit a bar. The night before, someone suggested I try the Rum Bar. Being a fan of rum, I thought that was a perfect way to waste an afternoon. I really didn’t have too many plans. I was taking it as it hit me. I checked the map and saw it was on Duval Street (the main strip). Unfortunately, it was at the other end of Duval. It’s not a long walk, but when they say the temp is going to be 66-70 and you plan for that, and then it turns out to be 81, a long walk in the sun can be a bit uncomfortable.

The dark at the end of the light tunnel was a friendly, almost empty bar. As I approached, I saw there was a water bowl for pets, and a man sitting on the corner stool. I asked Bruce, the corner guy, and employee, if they were pet-friendly and he said they were. Expecting to have to sit outside, I asked if there was anywhere I can sit, and he directed me to the indoor bar. Pat, the bartender, asked what I would like, and I asked back, “What would you suggested,” as I was overwhelmed by the number of rum varieties they had. At one point, Pat said they had over 320 different ones on hand.

Pat recommended a recent acquisition that was locally distilled. It was a Papa’s Pilar Bourbon aged rum. It was a blend of several different rums up to 24 years in the mix. It took on the characteristics of the cask it was finished in and most noted flavor of the oldest of the rums it contained. I had to look up the proof, but I read it was 86. Mine was served over ice and did not get me drunk.

I followed the Papa’s with a Chai Rum. I have some at home that I got on my rum tour in St. Martin. This stuff seemed rare, as I have never seen it since and that was the reason I got it in the first place. Loved the stuff there and wasn’t sure it could get better. I actually asked for it as a Chaitini, but Pat said not to go that route and try it his way. Earlier, Bruce mentioned that the owner of the distillery came into the bar 6 months prior and drank it the way Pat served it for me. I didn’t realize that I had that option, but Pat, being a great bartender, made me a new favorite. He grabbed a block of Maplewood and pulled out a baker’s torch. He proceeded to burn the wood until it smoked and placing the glass I was to imbibe from over the block. He let it smoke up the glass, and let me take a picture, and then flipped it and added the rum. Now the first time I had that rum, it tasted just like drinking chai tea. For those not in the know, chai is just an Indian word for tea, like curry just means spices. So, chai tea is the same thing as saying PIN number. It’s redundant. Anyway, the rum tasted like spiced tea in St. Martin. Today, it tasted like sweet smoke. It was almost like drinking a mild piece of the best bacon one could have. Well, in my opinion. Because I have a bottle of the stuff at home, I might have to try that. Again, it did not make me drunk.

While I slowly drank the Chai Rum, people came through the bar and ordered, used the restroom, or, as one couple did, sat next to me. Occasionally, Lily would start chiming in for attention. Pat was kind enough to bring her some treats. He also calmly said, “We can’t have that now. There are people upstairs.” Since I’m overly sensitive to the fact that she shouldn’t have been in there in the first place, and they were being kind enough to let her in, I was in full agreement. I had to bribe her to shut up, but it was not easy. As each person passed, Lily had to make it known that she was there. She either blocked their way until they pet her, or she just sat there not moving at all. When the couple sat, she started to get noisy until Jennifer played with her. Then she calmed down again. Jennifer’s husband mentioned that they were from Colorado and the three of us chatted as we drank. Jennifer mentioned that I would never need Tinder as long as I had Lily. I informed her that the only people that have talked to me, while in town, have been men in casual conversation and taken women. I figure Lily is a bust as a wing dog.

We were later joined by Fernando, a local TV producer who just sold a reality show about charter fishing, he does locally, to a station in the Baltics. Eventually, Jennifer and Evan left, and Lily wasn’t too happy about that. I continued to talk to Fernando and Pat about things that were going on. They were talking about travel as I mentioned what I was doing. I told Pat that I liked what he had served me, but I wasn’t at all drunk. Bruce mentioned that was a mistake to say. I said I wanted something else but wasn’t looking to get drunk. I did see the selection they had and was not sure where to go next. Trusting Pat, he gave me Bumbu on ice. It had a simple sweetness to it. It reminded me of the St. Teressa I had at home. After drinking that, I started to get buzzed. Lily was also getting unruly. Pat, Fernando, and I had one more bit of info we shared about women, and then I was off. Ironically, they both said in unison, doing favors for people is rewarded karmically. Never look for it, but you will always get it back. How cool of a concept is that? As I’m in the middle of what several people are saying was finding myself, that was an encouraging thing to hear.

So, I took Lily back to the room, a bit wobblier than I hoped to be. We encountered one of the Key West roosters and I had to take a picture. Lily was being pretty good about it and didn’t pull me away. When we returned, she crashed hard.

I took a nap and decided I needed to do something about the marks Lily kept making in the room. On the drive in, I saw a Pet Supermarket, so I planned on going there. I was having issues on the order I was going to do things and just winged it. I heard there was a bar that was near the water that was pet-friendly, and planned on going there, but I kept going around it on the way to my car. Eventually, I gave up, seeing how the whole waterfront area was full. Lily and I kept walking and we came across a gaggle of college girls that fawned over Lily. They were going crazy and Lily was loving it. After they passed, I heard one of the guys with them say that that was the most affectionate the head girl was all week. I told him I understood and wished him luck.

We proceeded to a small deli that had Kermit’s written all over it. Kermit was a Key West staple, selling Key lime products of all sorts. This was the restaurant attached to the original location of Kermit’s Key Lime Store. Because I can get their products locally (turns out their distribution center is 30 minutes from home, in DeLand), I didn’t have an interest in getting anything from the store, but the deli said they were pet-friendly and seemed healthy. I ordered a curry tuna wrap (they asked if spinach wrap was fine) and fries. I sat outside near a koi pond in the shade and waited for my meal. Lily wanted to play with the fish, but I put that idea out of her head quickly by distracting her and keeping her on the other side of the table. Unfortunately, it was also where people, very few, needed to go to get to the back of the seating area.

My food showed and looked pretty good. Nothing special. The fries were hit or miss on the temp, but they were the right density and salt. I have had some fries in my life that need not call themselves that, as they were potato strips or soggy mash. The pickle, on the side of the plate, looked a little wilty. I’m not the biggest fan of sour pickles, but this one was just right with a solid crunch. The wrap was all green and filled with lettuce and tuna. The curry was sweet and not at all hot. It was something I might get again before I leave. At the very least, I will be adding it to my seasoning when making tuna at home.

After eating, I looked at the time and realized I had to get going soon. I wanted to go to Mallory Square, but the timing would be tight. I headed to the garage, which was around the corner from where I ate, and walked up the stairs I thought were the ones I came down when I left. I circled up the ramp to a long, covered vehicle I thought I parked next to. My car was not in the row. I had concerns that I might have been towed because of the ease I was able to park and not have to worry about moving my car. If I had opted for a more expensive choice, I would have had to move my car every morning. I was given a discount parking tag, and as long as it was displayed in my rearview, I was good, so I was told. I rounded another corner and checked for the car. Still didn’t see it. I went up another level and so another long vehicle. Parked two spaces over was my little car. I sighed audibly and told Lily to stop freaking out. As she didn’t care, she continued to ignore my banter. I think she was just thirsty. We were not offered water at the last stop.

Got to the car and drove to the pet store. Picked up a bottle of stain and smell remover and a dematting comb. I figured, now might be a good time to brush Lily, but forgot to bring her brushes, and I wasn’t keen on the selection at the store. I had just read the comb worked wonders for someone else I knew so I was willing to try. While there, I heard a conversation to the side of me on the other side of the store. Someone said, “Siberian?” talking to someone in their party. To which I replied, “Alaskan.” And then I heard, “Told you!” I then spoke to them when I was checking out, as everyone has had a husky in their life somehow. Malamutes are another story.

We headed back, parked in the same spot, and contemplated going to Mallory Square. After seeing how tired Lily was, we headed back to the room.

I sprayed the spots on the rug and, when Lily wanted attention, I pulled out the comb and used it on her. Amazingly, it did work. I easily grabbed fur from her undercoat I have been trying to get. I also think it is time for it to come out.

The WiFi was still an issue. That meant no TV for me. This seemed like a perfect time to catch up on reading, so I pulled out my Kindle and read the rest of the time. Again, the old timer that I am fell asleep shortly after nine.

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