It's kind of a long post, so just click below the cut to read!
Thursday night we drove down to Key Largo, and we stayed there in our usual spot at the Bay Cove Motel which is a very laid-back beach house type place, right on the water. We walked around the Key, getting some veggie sandwiches late at night, silly fun stuff like that. The next morning we went to a dive supply store and I bought a new shortie dive suit, and some new boots to go inside my flippers, etc. We hit some other stores and got some chocolate-dipped-Key-lime-pie-on-a-stick, which was crazy yummy. We went to the Wild Bird Sanctuary, and saw all kinds of birds. Then we drove down to Anne's Beach and played around there - right in the water next to crabs, cuttlefish, barracuda, and other sea critters. We got out and walked on the Old Oversea Highway (which goes out to Pigeon Key, right in the middle of the ocean), and walked around by the water, etc. We kept heading south and went all the way down to Key West which is one of my favourite cities - very cool, bizarre, & laid back with GORGEOUS old Victorian architecture. We went to the beach there and saw a Portuguese Man-O-Warwhich I stayed the heck away from!!!! We saw a little doggie surfing on an actual surfboard, which was adorable - he really looked like he was having fun. I took a picture of him - I'll post it later, hehe. We walked around Key West for a long time, looking at the little shops & galleries, and through all of the cool residential neighborhoods with the huge tropical Victorian houses (kind of like the ones in Celebration, but actually FROM the Victorian time period, hehe). We saw the wild chickens EVERYWHERE - constant crowing of roosters, mother hens walking down the sidewalks with their chicks, groups of chickens on the roofs, chickens wandering into stores and restaurants, etc. In addition of course there are the famous descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cats (all with six toed feet) that now live wild on the island, which are everywhere too! We went to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and saw lots of uncovered sunken treasure, which was really cool. We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is by far the coolest of the many Hard Rock Cafe's I've been to - it's in a fully restored huge Victorian home, and we ate outdoors right on the porch, lol. We walked down to the docks and watched the huge cruise ships go by, which of course now makes me want to go on a cruise.... Then we went back to Key Largo and made some tropical drinks and sat outside under the coconut trees talking until late in the evening. The next morning we went off to John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park and went snorkeling - I got to see some sunken cannons and a giant sunken anchor, and lots of parrotfish and all sorts of stuff! We walked around through the mangrove trails too - lots of fun. Then we went over to Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park and looked at the geological stuff at the quarry and went on the nature trails there. We then went back to our motel and Matt & I got a double kayak and went kayaking in the bay, which was of course lots of fun as well, and we didn't even tip over, lol. That night we went out to a restaurant called Coconuts (within walking distance) and had pizzas and salads and Midori margaritas. It was right over the water, outside on a deck, which was beautiful - lots of boats! (Man - I can't believe we did all of that in two days....).
The next morning we packed up and drove up to the Everglades National Park and saw piles of alligators, just out in the open - all over, not bothering anybody, hehe. We went on trails out in the wetlands, and had a great time. Then finally we drove on back home to Celebration and we went out to Disney's Boardwalk and ate dinner at Spoodles (an upscale Mediterranean place) and ate way too much before falling asleep, very tired.
And of course, I had just over 1,000 emails waiting for me in my inbox, which made me almost have a heart attack - eek!!! After I looked through them though, I realized that HALF of them were from the Auto-Response I set up to field my emails while I was gone. AOL's Auto-Response emailed absolutely ANY email address that contacted me, and since a lot of those were just notifications from eBay, Paypal, Homestead, LiveJournal, etc. (which are "No-Reply" email addys) I would get repeated "bounce" messages from Mailer-Daemon, lol. So I deleted all those and have been answering all the rest. I'm taking a brief email break though since I'm itching to PAINT!
Now of course, I'm filled with new ideas for paintings (I always get very inspired on my vacations!!!!)!!!! I want to make some brand new pieces to put up on eBay, and have some more commissions to work on (probably after I get some originals done - I'll be working on everything off and on). I took a lot of reference photos in the various parks I went to, and I might use some of them for paintings. I might even start on a painting based on a photo of my friend Delphine!! It probably won't look exactly like her, just modeled after her features. I'm trying to expand more with what types of faces I'm painting, etc. etc. etc. We'll see!