Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Florida Keys Day 4: Getting Down With the Dolphins

Day four of my AAA Florida Keys adventure continued in Key West.

Cypress House, the B&B where I headquartered in Key West, served a terrific breakfast that was included in the nightly rate. The other travel writer staying there and I wolfed down fresh fruit, bagels, bacon, eggs and assorted pastries. All my good intentions for taking it easy on the food that morning lasted until I hit the kitchen.

Our morning was free. The Newman Agency that honchoed this extravaganza provided us with its V.I.P. Pass that was good for free admission to all sorts of attractions and tours. It also offered free meals at some hotels and free drinks at a few other places.

I spent my morning strolling around Old Town and reacquainting myself with the sights. The difference between Duval Street at 10 in the morning and Duval Street at 10 at night is startling. Unlike the French Quarter in New Orleans, though, despite curb to storefront drunks crowding the street at night, everything is relatively clean the next morning. The next morning on Bourbon Street,  you can see the remains of the drunken carnage the night before; not so on Duval Street.

I met up with the rest of the group and we headed to Hogfish Bar & Grill in the Safe Harbor Marina on Stock Island for lunch. What a treat. I had the fried Hogfish sandwich smothered in cheese and grilled onions. Oh man, it was good! I washed lunch down with a couple of Mille Lites. The total bill was 21 bucks -- a bargain by any standard.

Our big organized activity of the day was a boat trip with Dancing Water Spirits Retreat that runs out of Murray Marine at MM 5. We were hosted by none other than the Dolphin Whisperer herself, Captain Victoria Impallomeni-Spencer.

Victoria walks a fine line between New Age quirky and just plain loopy. I don't mean that in a bad way; but I am a cynic and all that touchy-feely, I-am-one-with-the-earth crap isn't in my DNA.

She has been conducting expeditions into the water wilderness for 30 years. She knows a lot about the Florida waters and its wildlife. And, when I say, a lot, I mean nearly everything there is to know.

She didn't promise us a dolphin encounter, but she seemed quite confident she would conjure up a few. Using a combination of music played through her boat's audio system with speakers attached to the boat's hull, as well as a sonic signal she puts out using the electric motor that raises and lowers the Yamaha 200 engine she called the dolphins.

For the first hour her choice of music probably lulled the dolphins to sleep. I'm surprised several of them within hearing distance didn't fall asleep and drown. It was the sort of music that plays in the background in $1,000-per-day spa. Snore….

Finally the music selection improved, but the dolphins still did not come. We puttered around for another hour. Eventually we gave up and just as we began to turn to head back, four dolphins came swimming up. They played around us for 45 minutes. Swimming around and under our boat, they frolicked like kids as Victoria talked about how intuitive they are: they know we are, she told us. Okay, fine.

I have no doubt she can produce dolphins on just about every 3-hour cruise.

It was a great day on the water.


  1. Miller Lites? Why didn't you have a couple of beer?

  2. I've been out with her several times and there have been lots of dolphin every time ... I get that she is a little new age for you, but Captain Victoria also has in depth knowledge of the environment and wildlife, too, and tailors her tours to be more educational or more spiritual depending on what customers request. I've been on a 'spiritual retreat' with her and on a more educational wildlife and nature adventure and she shines on both. IMO.