We had a lot of fun in Key West. It was probably the most "vacation-like" of our destinations, which was a treat for us but hard on our bank accounts (oh well). We stayed at La Pensione Inn, in one of the upstairs rooms that opened out onto the wraparound balcony. When we first arrived (after our day in the Everglades), we walked around for quite some time looking for a beach without success (we didn't feel like paying to go to the State Park when it was already evening). Apparently Key West doesn't have sandy beaches anyway--who knew!? Anyway, we headed back to the inn and I took a dip in the pool, which felt incredibly luxurious in the tropical darkness. That night we went out on the town, having expensive cocktails on the upstairs porch of a bar I can't remember the name of before wandering up and down (and up and down) Duval Street looking for a satisfactory place to have dinner. We wound up at the Old Town Mexican Cafe, where we had nachos and a pitcher of sangria (and took the leftover sangria to go in plastic cups--legally, this time!)
The next morning it was time to go snorkeling! I had been looking forward to snorkeling since I first started planning the trip, so I was rather excited, but first I really wanted to stop and see Hemingway's house, because... I mean, come on, it's Hemingway. Not worth it. I don't have any pictures because we were going snorkeling and I didn't want to bring my camera, but I probably wouldn't have photographed much anyway. The house was SO CROWDED I could barely squeeze through it, and it was really just a bunch of posters from movies made from his books and that sort of thing. I was really unimpressed, actually. The only cool thing was the little writing studio in a building in the backyard that looked out over the pool (which, of course, I really wanted to swim in). Forget the house, I wanted to live in that studio. It was also the most untouched (or at least looked that way), so you could imagine what it might have looked like when Hemingway was actually writing there. The day only improved from there, however! We got to the boat dock super early so just hung out for a while until the trip was scheduled to start. We hopped onboard and were off into the turquoise blue waters of the Keys! It was gorgeous. On our way out to the reef, a group of dolphins came up alongside our boat and played there for a good 15-20 minutes until we had to speed up and leave them behind (the tour guide said that rarely even happens on the boats specifically dedicated to dolphin tours). We had booked the "double-dip" tour, which meant that we would snorkel in two separate locations, but because we'd been hanging out with the dolphins for so long we ended up just staying in one spot the whole time, which actually was much better (I think). We saw a shark, two barracudas (scary!), and a whole slew of colorful tropical fish. At the end (of course after I had used up all of the film), K and I were completely surrounded by a school of little white, black, and yellow tropical fish--it would have been such a good picture! We headed back on the boat, beers in hand, and basked in the sunny sunshine.
The rest of the day was spent walking around town taking pictures of buildings and roosters and the like, stopping at a cigar shop run by Cuban immigrants (closest thing to actual Cuban cigars), and finally having a yummy dinner (and of course, drinks) on the water at Alonzo's Oyster Bar, followed by gelato and a warm evening stroll back to the inn. We sat out at the pool for a while and K smoked his cigar, but then the lightning started and the rain fell hard and fast, whipping itself up into a wild tropical thunderstorm. We retreated to the balcony, but even that didn't provide enough shelter from the wind and rain, so we retired for the night. Early the next morning we got up and went to the southernmost point of the US for a photo op before commencing our loooong drive back through the keys to the mainland.