|Sunset party at Islamorada's Lorelei.|
I'm not the kind of guy who doesn't recognize when he has it pretty good. For someone who doesn't have a pot to piss in, I get around. Not exactly Saul on the road to Damascus, nonetheless I was thunder struck by the thought of just how good I've got it as I was trekking from the condo where I'm staying with friends in The Keys to their boat for a little predinner tour of the bay.
|Just a little something of a ride: My E63 AMG wagon.|
I used Delta Sky Miles to fly from Atlanta to West Palm Beach where Mercedes Benz had a $107,000 E63 AMG station wagon waiting for me. I was met by a representative of Prestige, a vendor for several carmakers that delivers cars to media types. He carried my bags to the sleek wagon, had me sign on the dotted line and sent me on my way.
All of this wasn't without some cost. My friends who extended The Keys invitation have a utility room/half bath that required painting. I like doing that sort of stuff, so I underwrote some of the expense of adding me to their merry little band of slackers (In The Keys, everyone who isn't gainfully employed is a slacker – that includes vacationers.) by investing much of my first day in Florida painting. I packed all the painting paraphernalia I anticipated needing in a second suitcase and brought it with me.
Completing my painting mission, I tossed my stuff back in the E63 and headed south to hook up with my friends. I have two sets of Delray Beach friends who each rent a house in Islamorada for a month every summer. This is week No. 3 or so of this year's adventure.
|Some of our little band of slackers mugging it up for the camera.|
It's been years since I drove to Islamorada that is just south of Key Largo. There was a day when I humped down there several times a year. Sometimes just to hang for the day before heading home around dinner time. Depending on the time of day and the day of the week, the trip from Delray to Islamorada can take from 2.5 hours to 4 or 5 hours. This particular run required about 3 hours. It's south down the Florida Turnpike to the Turnpike Extension to Florida City and then on the Overseas Highway to Islamorada.
I forgot what a stressful drive parts of the Turnpike Extension is as it cuts through sections of South Miami. A car fire along the way also turned the stream of traffic into an exercise in braking and swearing. Something that has changed since I last slogged my way to The Keys is that the Turnpike Extension is now basically a Florida Sun Pass-only stretch of highway. If you don't have a Sun Pass, they photograph your license plate and send a bill. This works fine for people driving their own cars; but not so fine for mooches like me piloting someone else's ride. I suspect Mercedes isn't going to be thrilled when that bill arrives.
|Some sunset entertainment.|
I arrived at my friends' rental in plenty of time for a brew or two before heading to the iconic Lorelei for some dinner and the sunset spectacle. Here we were entertained by a talented guitar picker as we wolfed down burgers and beer.
|Take us to the Lorelei, Jeeves.|
One of the kids earned her driver's license earlier in the day before heading to The Keys. She expertly chauffeured us to dinner and back.
All things considered, it was an ideal first day unwinding and working hard at doing nothing.
|What a sunset!|
It's always 5:00 somewhere when in The Keys.