Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Escape to the Florida Keys for Valentine's Day

Ahhh, the Florida Keys. Sounds so romantic and warm. I wish I were going there. To escape the cold and ice our area is expecting, I'll stay inside, play some Jimmy Buffet tunes and dig out some old pictures and reminisce about the time we spent in Marathon, the middle Florida Keys.

The year was 2002. It was our first winter in Florida on Mai Thai. After spending December/January in Fort Lauderdale, we cruised south to Key West, then return to Marathon to spend the month of February at Marathon Marina, located approximately a half mile before the historic Seven Mile Bridge. 2002 and 2014 have some similarities. Both years are the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2002, the Winter Olympic games opened Feb 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah (remember Michelle Kwan, the gold favorite for figure skating?) That year, Chinese New Year fell on the same day as Valentine's Day, and word on the docks was to dress in red and bring an hors d'ouvres to the potluck party. We later learned that every day is a party in the Florida Keys.
Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year at Marathon Marina
Many people make the drive to the Florida Keys with Key West as their destination, so they probably never stop in Marathon. I don't blame them because Marathon is not exactly a pretty town. But if you're a cruiser, this place is a paradise. It has everything you need - parts and boatyards - to fix your boat (what boat doesn't need fixing?) Marathon is a major stop for cruisers bound for Central America or the Bahamas and the Caribbean, so it's a great place to meet or rendezvous with friends. If you're an angler, you're in fishing heaven. Marathon's pristine shores attract both fish and fishermen.The abundance of wildlife is unbelievable - dolphins, manatees, sting rays and birds like cormorants, anhingas, woodstorks, egrets and herons. You can sit on your boat and watch them patrol the shores. One day I was washing dishes when something banged on our boat. I ran out to see a gentle giant manatee drinking out of my galley sink drainage. And this turned out to be a daily event.
Manatee drinking from Mai Thai's galley sink drainage

Entrance to Boot Key Harbor, circa 2002 (it has since been cleaned up)
Burdines, our favorite restaurant in Marathon
Key West is renowned for its incredible sunsets. People congregate at Mallory Square every evening to see the sun go down. The sunsets at Marathon weren't too shabby. Every evening, boaters would walk the docks with a drink in hand, rain or shine. Some swore they've seen the green flash. Here are some sunset pictures we took from our marina at the time.

Here are links to some favorite events happening in Florida this weekend:
Feb 13-17 Miami International Boat show
Feb 15-17 Coconut Grove Arts Festival
Feb 15-16 Downtown Sarasota Festival of the Arts

and some related stories inthis blog:
Smelling the roses in Miami 
Top 5 things to do in Miami
Art Festival and a picnic in Sarasota, Florida
Retirees with a zest for life in the Florida Keys 

Wherever you are, hope you're keeping warm. Be safe on those snowy/icy roads. Have a great Valentine's Day!

You might also like:
Things to do in the Florida Keys Gone Cruisin’ Happy Chinese New Year from icy Chattanooga!