Sunday, February 16, 2014

Key West and Kids

As most of you know, my family went on a cruise a few weeks ago.

Back in November when I was planning out our Christmas gifts for the kids, it just hit me. What my kids need is not more electronics to occupy ALL of their time, and toys that will be forgotten or broken in a matter of months. What my kids need is family time.
            Anyone who knows my family knows family time is not something the Williams’ get to experience often. With my kids’ activities, my schooling, and Travis’ job, (though I am so grateful he has one) our lives are a bit intense. Travis works more hours then I really want to sit down and calculate and he travels quiet a bit.  Though, he loves his job, and that is a blessing.
            Family vacations don’t really happen that often. For example, we plan and plan, kids get excited, then, we cancel at the last minute because Dad is needed at work.
            So, back in November I decided that enough was enough, we were going to go on a vacation gosh darn it! One we could not back out of even if we wanted to, and one where we wouldn’t be interrupted by demands at home. So we came up with the cruise. Perfect, right? It was a close call. We worried up until the day before if Dad was going to be able to make it. Miracles of miracles, he did.
            Boy, that was a lot of backstory. Now, what I thought I would do is give you all a bit of a travel log/ do's and don’ts of the places we visited, just incase you wish to plan a vacation such as ours. Today’s installment is on Key West.

            First off, Key West is not for kids. At least we didn’t think so. Don’t get me wrong. It is a cute, eclectic island. But, there is a reason a lot of retired people live here.
            For starters, there is no good beach; we learned this the hard way. Because there are no waves due to a barrier reef, there is no sand. So, they have to ship it in. The one okay beach that we did find, one on a military base, in which we had to pay for admittance, and then walk what felt like miles to even get to, had no sand, but crumbled shell.
            We made the best of it, collecting shells and building shell castles, but, my kids all agreed that Key West was their least favorite day. One good thing about the beach was the trees lining it. I was able to sit in the shade for a while and just enjoy the breeze coming off of the ocean. HEAVEN!

            As an adult, I enjoyed the hop on hop off trolley. It was a bit pricy at $29. But we did get a free bottle of water. J And Kids 12 and under are free. The good thing about the trolley is that you get a bit of a history lesson. I am a total history nerd, so that was right up my alley. Again, my kids were not so impressed.
            I saw Ernest Hemingway’s home. Though I am not a fan of his writing, I do appreciate his accomplishments. Not just his home, but many of the older homes on the island were beautiful. Nothing like the cookie-cutter stucco homes in Phoenix.

            Overall, would I go back? For free, heck yeah. But if I had my choice of another island, I would probably take the other island. Sorry, Key West. These are just my thoughts. By bad luck we may have missed something super amazing that is only seen on this island (so take that into account). We did miss the key lime pie. I hear the trip is worth it just for a taste. And, I do think everyone should go at least once.

 One crazy thing about the island is that it is a bird sanctuary. Chickens run free EVERYWHERE! so bizarre! 

So, here are my do's   

Do: buy the hop on hop off trolly,
Do: or rent bikes, if you don't care for the history.
Do: check out the museums on the island
Do: wear comfortable shoes…. you will be walking. ALOT
Do: dress appropriately. It is HOT! 
Do: check out Hemingway's house. the six toed cats are strange.
Do: go to the southernmost point on the island. (United States) totally a tourist thing, but worth saying you were there.
Do: bring money because the shops are fabulous!!! I recommend that you leave with a little silver. (I got the most awesome bracelet)
Do: if you are on a cruise, this is the place to buy soda or bottled water to bring on the ship. It Is outrageous what the ships charges for these items. (Yet, they will feed you until you explode)

Don't: bring the kids. Save the money, they won't appreciate it.
Don't :wear flip flops. (my feet are still scared from the blisters between my toes)
Don't: believe your guide when he gives you beach recommendations (Do your own research).
I think that's about it. Good luck.

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