Key West - Day 1 and 2

, Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day 1

Day 1 was, of course, a travel day. We left snowy Minnesota behind and flew to Miami with a connection in Chicago. Rain greeted us in Miami, making it hard to navigate the roads around the airport. Our hotel was supposed to be a 10-minute drive from the airport, but we took something like an hour and-a-half.

Day 2

Easter Sunday dawned bright and clear like Florida is supposed to do. We planned to attend a church in Coral Gables called St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church. Margaret found it on the internet. When we were in Washington DC over Easter a couple of years ago she had us attend services at the National Cathedral which turned out to be pretty interesting. That place was so large and well attended that we had to secure tickets ahead of time.

The Coral Gables church didn't have the same fanfare, but was again pretty interesting. Pastor Carroll took over responsibilities of the church less than a year ago, at which time the building was in disrepair and the congregation had dwindled to about 10. Fortunately for us there were about 80 people there on Easter. The service was Spanish/English bilingual, and felt dynamic and alive. We met a fellow Jayhawk (Go KU!) and got directions to Key West via "the flyover."

On the way to Key West we stopped in Homestead at a Buddhist temple. We almost gave up trying to find it amongst the surrounding orchards, but a final effort put us at the gates. This time we were alone, and we thought we'd have to continue on after looking around by ourselves. But a monk walked out of his apartment just as a big crack of thunder ripped through the sky; he's either pretty powerful or has good timing! We lit some incense and he escorted us into the temple where we sat on our knees and had a few lessons in Buddhism. When we left he gave us some prayer beads and a kind farewell.

After our visit at the monastery we continued on down highway 1. It's a long drive, which was made longer by bridge construction. There are an amazing number of "keys" (low islands)
 heading down to Key West, and more beyond. At the start of the famous "7-mile bridge" there is an historic island that was used as a base for Henry Morrison Flagler's construction workers for the seven years it took to build his "impossible" bridge which extended his railroad into Key West. The town of Marathon gets its name from the "marathon" construction project. The original bridge is now for pedestrians only. The island can be toured, but we motored on down the highway.

We rented a convertible thinking that we'd have fun with the top down our entire drive, but we hit heavy storms and kept the top up instead. The trunk of convertibles is pretty small, and we had to trade in our first one for a bigger one when we picked up the car at the Miami airport. All-in-all it sounded more fun to have a convertible that in actually ended up being. Cars aren't really necessary in Key West, so we returned our car when we got there, after a brief top-down tour around the island.

We checked into the beautiful Casa Marina Resort and soaked up some nice Florida sunshine into our pasty Minnesota skin.


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