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January 11th 2016
Published: January 13th 2016
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Florida Keys

Our time was mostly spent on Big Pine Key, with a day on Key West, and brief stops at Bahia Honda and Marathon.

I could wake up to this every dayI could wake up to this every dayI could wake up to this every day

10 steps from our room at the beachfront vegan bed and breakfast Deer Run.
Our big first day:







Today was one of the best days I've had in recent memory. After yesterday's hellishly long day of travel including a delayed flight, Miami rush hour traffic, an almost four hour drive from Ft Lauderdale to Big Pine Key, a ten pm dinner, which was technically our first meal of the day, and a couple of ice cold beers, we so looked forward to spending a relaxing day on "island time."



We came here only nine months ago, but timing was terrible and I spent most of our short trip working, while Jason spent a fair amount of time on schoolwork. We both vowed to unplug from work and school, and so far it has paid off well. Another reason we chose to come back so soon was because the owners of this award winning vegan bed and breakfast have decided to sell. Harry and Jen are wonderful people and I could easily write a whole blog on them alone, but I won't, we wanted to see them and their place as it is once more before someone else comes along and changes it.


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She's younger and smaller than the rest. Though her spots are gone and she's not quite full grown, she still carries with her the bravery and curiosity of youth.

After a delicious filling breakfast at Deer Run Florida B&B, we took a leisurely drive down to Key West. My only must-see on this trip, aside from the endangered Key Deer on Big Pine Key, was the Ernest Hemingway House. If we spent the entire rest of this trip doing nothing more than sitting on the beach or even in our room, I needed to see that house. Not because I'm such a huge Hemingway fan, though I may have a book or two of his, but because of the famed polydactyl cats which roam the house and grounds. We skipped the guided tour, though I'd recommend it for someone who's interested in the actual history, and moseyed around petting kitties for an hour or so. The house and grounds were interesting as well, I just didn't learn a ton without the guide.



After our first attraction, we walked over to the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center. This was a free place, and I learned a few new things, but for me it wasn't so amazing I'd tell anyone it was a must-see. From there, we walked over to Mallory Square and perused through some shops. We were about to enter the Shipwreck Museum when a trolley pulled up and
Free Range ChickenFree Range ChickenFree Range Chicken

Chickens roam freely throughout Key West. This majestic rooster is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
changed our minds. Turns out one of the tour options is a night tour about ghosts and haunted places in the area which also included a stop at the Shipwreck Museum, so we prepaid for the 6:00 tour and walked away to grab an early dinner and a few drinks before our haunted 90 minute ride.



As we did during our previous visit to Key West, we ate at a very vegan-friendly restaurant called The Café. I got an amazing curried "chicken" salad sandwich and Jason had a yummy colossal veggie sandwich with hummus. This is a must-visit establishment for vegans and GF alike. Once our tummies were filled, we headed to Duval Street, where the party starts early, to find a drink. Our first stop was a classy establishment which drew in just as classy clientele. Ok, ok, so I'm exaggerating. Don't go to the Hogs Breath unless you want to hang out in the aroma of rotting garbage, pay high prices for mediocre drinks, and surround yourself with folks with meth-mouth who feel it socially acceptable to pass gas extremely loudly and unapologetically (we were outside, but still!). I guess that's where the trash aromatherapy comes
The HeirThe HeirThe Heir

A descendant of Ernest Hemingway's cat. Proof in the polydactyl toes.
in handy?



After choking down our drinks, we were still too early for our trolley, so we popped into the Island Dogs Bar, which was immeasurably much better, and it was happy hour (1/2 price drinks!).



Our 90 minute Ghosts & Gravestones trolley tour was fun and amusing. I've always wanted to go on one (they exist in many different cities) and it just so happens that Key West is (supposedly) the fourth most-haunted city in the States, behind New Orleans, Boston, and Savannah. I found the whole thing a little hokey, but still entertaining nonetheless, especially our costumed and made-up tour guide, Bartholomew.



Now we're back at the B&B for the night, looking forward to a lazy day at Bahia Honda State Park and a visit to Marathon tomorrow.







The rest of the trip:



Sandspur beach at Bahia Honda was ok for me. Jason loved it. We went early enough in the day where there wasn't a ton of people, but too early where the tide had gone out far enough, but the sand was still wet and soaked our towels right through. We went to the
LionfishLionfishLionfish

One of very few live subjects at the Eco Discovery Center in Key West.
old bridge during our last visit, and didn't feel the need to go again. Even though we didn't stay long, I still have the remnants of a mild sunburn from that day. Proof it wasn't a dream!



After the beach, we headed to Marathon and the Food For Thought shop/café to pick up some dinner for later and other vegan goodies. The rest of that day and the whole next day were spent just hanging out at the B&B. Jen had previously hosted a vegan wine and cheese event the evening we'd arrived and decided to share some of the crafts with us guests in a little hors d'oeuvres sitting. We met the other vegan couple staying there and had some good conversation.



Our last full day was filled with rest and relaxation, and we spent most of it reading on lawn chairs and watching the deer wander the grounds.



Unfortunately the 80+ degree temperature swing from waking up in Big Pine Key, FL to landing back home in Minneapolis, MN was very unwelcome. Below zero should not be a thing. Why do we live here again? Probably to allow us to appreciate these treasured vacations.







The trip all around was wonderful and exactly what we both needed. I'd go back in a blink.


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InceptionInception
Inception

Photo of a photo. The tiny key deer are so close, and just timid enough.
Key DeerKey Deer
Key Deer

She's the subject of the Inception


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