From Key West to Orlando, FL

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March 2nd 2006
Published: March 16th 2006
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This adorable dog works hard for his money! Only in Key West! And yes, he is real!!
Ok, I admit it - I am addicted to Key West's key lime pie. I don't care if it's The Blond Giraffe's or Jimmy Buffett's....just give me that key lime pie - please. I think about it when I wake up and don't relax until I have a piece. I am sure I dream about it at night. Maybe they put something in it to tempt unsuspecting tourists. I usually don't go this crazy over food but there is something about this damn key lime pie that is making me obsessed! LOL! Plus we are leaving Key West today -- so this is it for awhile. My last chance to have a piece of TRUE key lime pie. Key lime pie without the lime -- who would've thought??

Enough about that (for! I should write about yesterday. The weather was PERFECT. If someone asked what perfect weather was like -- this would've been it. Sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. 75 degrees. Let's not forget about the gentle breeze that carried the smell of suntan lotion, grilled burgers and sea salt through the air (I am not even exaggerating -- it really smelt like this). April and I,

The Chicken Store on Duval Street.
taken by the beautiful weather, put our bathing suits on and went in our hotel pool for about an hour. It felt SO nice and refreshing. We had wanted to visit Bahia Honda but had so much other stuff we wanted to do, plus we will be back in Key West later this month. After we got out of the pool we decided to head to Duval street for lunch.

I never thought I would add the sound of rooster's crowing to the description of a "perfect day" -- but I have to. Our first stop on Duval Street was the Chicken Store. This ADORABLE store and safe house for runaway/homeless chickens/roosters is another MUST DO when in Key West. The lady who runs this store/orphanage is truly doing it for the love of the chickens. I guess a lot of people who buy million dollar + houses on the island don't like rooster's invading their property or mamma chicks taking coverage with their baby chicks so they try to-- SHOOT THEM!!!!!!!!!!! 😞 How sad is that? So this lady takes stray chicks/roosters in. She has a lot of them and sells the most adorable chicken memorabilia to help

We met King Cockles at The Chicken Store on Duval Street. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concered about BIRD FLU...umm?
pay for this coop. I won't get into it but let's just say there are a lot of products that have the OTHER NAME for a rooster on The old lady that works at the store is so silly. She is originally from Massachusetts but now lives here (don't blame her one bit). She was so funny and, a' hem....."raw" shall I say! Very, very funny. April had fun buying stuff for her sister who loves...a'hem...chickens. We must've been there for almost an hour! It was so much fun. We saw lots of cockle decedents including King Cockle himself -- woah. He flew past us, up on a shelf and crowed his loving cockle off. Never thought I would type that sentence in my life.

ANYWAY, after hanging with king cockle we proceeded up Duval street for lunch at Hog's Breath Saloon. What a perfect Key West moment. There was this pirate looking biker guy lying on his bike (yes, lying) with a baby parrot sitting on his handle bar (yes, baby parrot SITTING on his handle bar). I tried to get a picture but was too nervous (I didn't want to wake the pirate guy who looked

April fell in love with one of the orphaned cockles. I think I started purelling myself. Woah.
like he was fast asleep...or dead). The parrot stayed put. I did get a picture of it from a distance. The parrot was SO cute. We walked past the pirate and parrot into Hog's Breath open-air bar/restaurant to the sounds of acoustic music being played by some local guy which unfortunately I will always know as local guy. The sun was shining and it was another one of those "pinch me" moments -- pure bliss. Ape and I both ordered Hog's Breath famous burgers....oh my.....they were delicious. I hate to say it but they beat out Jimmy Buffett's. They tasted like they were right off the grill. Nice and crunchy -- yet not burnt. The fries were also amazingly crispy with NO oil. I swear -- they were the crispiest fries I ever had. I know it sounds crazy to talk this way about simple food -- but it was THAT good. My hips are getting pissed at me with all this very bad food. By the number of people who sat around us eating their hamburgers -- there is no doubt why Hog's Breath is so famous for them. They use their special seasoning which adds to the delicious

Mr. Jake Cockle ruled the roost.
taste. April got a mojito which she said was kinda strong but OK. Not her favorite but she gulped it Did I mention it wasn't even noon??

After Hog's Breath we walked most of Duval Street stopping in the many shops and honky tonks w/ live music. After a while, however, we both started having REALLY bad headaches and feeling a bit flush (again). Both fighting a cold we decided to head back to the hotel to rest/work a bit -- however, before we did so we had to (of course) stop for a piece of Jimmy Buffett's key lime pie at Margaritaville. MMM....MMM.....delicious. I just can't help myself. Serious guys, I need help. We stopped in for desert and drinks. Ahh....this is the life I thought. Some nice ladies from Michigan started talking to us. Both own houses here in Key West as well. How cool is that? I would love to own property down here some day. I would like to live here during the winter for a month or two and then rent it out the rest of the year (especially the summer when the heat & humidity is too unbearable).

After resting AND

Little baby chicks waiting to become cockles.
working we headed back out. It was about 8pm. We wanted to head down to the gay area of Duval Street for their Mardi Gras celebration. An RSVP cruise had docked (an all gay cruise) so there were 2,000 + gay men and women having a blast (mostly men). We stopped for dinner first at Key West's only BBQ restaurant -- Meteor Smokehouse. This award winning BBQ restaurant was awesome. Very quaint and cute with Christmas lights hanging and outside seating. We were hoping to get some nice lean turkey but they only serve that on Thursdays. Instead I got the roasted chicken and April got the Texas brisket. Delicious! Their BBQ sauce was excellent. So much so that I bought a bottle.

After dinner we walked down to the Mardi Gras celebration. It was so nice to see gay & lesbian couples holding hands, hugging, dancing and just having a non-rowdy good time. So many times these events are SO sexual. I just don't get that. This was a NORMAL celebration. The mardi gras beads were flying, the music blasting and people dancing all over. What a great time. The cool thing was how un-fazed the "straight" people

One of my favorite streets in North America!
seemed. I wish it was that way EVERY WHERE. It is such a shame it isn't. We are ALL THE SAME. Normal people with normal lives that just want to be accepted and have the same rights as everyone else. We love our partners just like straight people do. Places like Key West and Provincetown make that possible or at least FEEL possible.

Around 11pm we headed back to the hotel room, took some cold medicine and went to bed -- which brings me to this morning. It is 9:05am and check-out is at 11am. We are heading to Orlando for 5 nights before driving back home. We'll spend 3 nights at Universal Orlando's Portofino Bay Hotel and then 2 nights at Universal Orlando's Royal Pacific Resort. Both hotels are run by our favorite hotel chain, Loews. Not only are they gay and pet friendly -- they have gorgeous properties and the most comfortable beds we ever slept on. That should be nice since we really are both flighting colds! Ugh! LOL! What a winter this has been. We can't escape getting sick -- even at the southern tip of the US! LOL! Oh well....better here, right? Right!

Hard Rock Cafe - Duval Street.

This blog is being picked up on Thursday morning, March 2nd. I am writing from the beautiful (and newly renovated) Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. It is 77 degrees outside and only 10:25am! Temps are going up to 85 today but will feel more like 75 due to the lack of humidity and cool breeze -- Perfect -- one problem though -- April has a cold. A nasty head cold. Stuffed nose, sneezing, watery eyes, tickle in her throat -- the works! UGH! 😞 So sad. Honestly it is like we can't escape "sickness" this year!! She felt it coming on from late last week and it finally blossomed. I have been popping cold pills every 4 hours in hope that I can AT LEAST hold off on getting it until next Wednesday, but the outlook is bleak. Ape and I have been together 9 years (10 in May) and there hasn't been one cold of hers (and vice versa) that I haven't gotten. I keep hoping that the warm sunshine and cold pills will destroy the germ before it grows to something bigger. The good thing is that after THIS cold -- that REALLY should be it for

Gotta love the fact that Key West has a PINK taxi company! :-D
the year. With spring comes better health. With winter comes the colds. I did get April to eat some chicken soup and blow her nose so that was good!

Yesterday before departing the paradise known as Key West we stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Cheeseburger. I figured we were already doomed, weight wise on this trip, so what the heck! Back to the gym once we got back home! This restaurant, which originated in Hawaii and then grew to 6 other locations, is a GREAT success story. Two girls (in their early 30's) were visiting the island of Maui. They both loved to travel and visiting tropical locations. One of the girls, not happy with the amount of seafood being served and lack of good burgers on the island, said she would give anything for a "gooey cheeseburger"! When they returned home to California, one of the girls was listening to a favorite song (which I am pretty sure was Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffett) and it hit her to open a restaurant that SPECIALIZED in cheeseburgers. Her and her friend (partner?) had no prior knowledge of the restaurant business but with the help of their

Crowd gearing up for Mardi Gras festivities. See them gearing? See? Wow.
family & friends got enough money for a down payment to open their "dream restaurant" -- CHEESEBURGER! The restaurant was an instant hit on the island. The girls opened another location and then another, another and so on and so forth! They followed their passion and dream and a success story was born - awesome! I love stuff like that. Ape and I sat outside in the back court with the beautiful sunshine and cool breeze and ordered lunch. Full (and feeling guilty) we paid for our bill and walked
Duval Street. Around 12:30pm we headed out for our ride to Orlando, Florida. The drive took us (once again) past breathtaking scenery. The water was at high tide but turned to low tide by the time we hit Islamorada/Key Largo. The turquoise and mint green water lit up the horizon and sunshine cast a breathtaking glow. My picture finger was sore from snapping so many pictures! I just can't help myself! 😊

Of course, before leaving the Keys, we made one more stop for key lime pie! This time we stopped at a small shop in Key Largo that not only had key lime pie but lots of great

Great restaurant on Front Street. This place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and known for their karaoke.
key lime products. I stocked up on this new obsession. Key lime hand lotion, soap, cookies, coconut patties and one last piece of key lime pie to boot! Yet again, it was different. This piece was almost like a key lime cheesecake. It is like the pizza back home --- so many different varieties and all so good. My favorite is still Jimmy Buffett's, second The Blond Giraffe and 3rd -- the un-named store in Key Largo, but I sure hope I am getting key-limed out.

We took the Florida turnpike north to Orlando. Poor April was sniffling and blowing her nose every few minutes but was quite the trooper. We listened to a Dean Koontz novel on audio CD called Odd Thomas. This story is scary and SO interesting. We are completely sucked in. We rented it from Cracker Barrel for $3.50 for the week! :-D It really made the 6+ hour drive pass by (although the first 3 hours were SO scenic we didn't listen to the book). Prior to this audio book we rented Lost in the Outback which was also very interesting. We listened to that for most of the drive down from Georgia. My

If you look carefully you can see a pirate type biker guy lying on his bike with a small parrot on the handle bar! Hog's Breath is a must do when in Key West.
i-pod is on the fritz (I know -- the horror---ugh --- but I am sure it'll be OK -- it has to be -- I have almost 3,000 songs on it...yikes)!!

Like an oasis in the desert the Orlando skyline lit up the way to Portofino Bay Hotel. Poor April couldn't wait to have her head touch one of their heavenly pillows (but of course when we got in the room around 10:00pm -- she went right on her computer and worked past midnight)! The Portofino was as beautiful as ever. The rooms have recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. The new rugs, bedspreads, pillows, curtains, paint etc., make the room even more gorgeous than before. Only this time it has more of a "hip" Italian feeling. Before it was more "refined" -- I like the new colors a lot more! Lots of creme, cranberry, lime green and light yellow -- nice.

I took cold medicine the second I got in the room and "crashed" --- I awoke to the Florida sun shining through our window and a perfect temperature. Although we are both under the weather we are hoping to go out today. Not sure where --

Crowd at Hog's Breath Saloon.
CityWalk? Downtown Disney? Mall of Millennia? The pool? :-D We shall see!

Until then....

Happy Travels & Good Health Wishes!


Additional photos below
Photos: 51, Displayed: 31



Bar at Hogs Breath, musician on stage and cast member from the Sopranos.

Another view of Hogs Breath Saloon.

Popular bar on Greene Street.

Popular - Sloppy Joe's Bar. Musicians play continuously on their stage!

Look at the little dog in the basket of this lady's bike! Awww! And stop looking at this lady's freakishy long hair. How rude.

Musician playing at Bull & Whistler on Duval Street.

Pretty church on Duval Street.

April feeling good after a nice drink and slice of key lime pie at Margaritaville!

2nd March 2006

Glad to see it's nice and warm where you are. It is currently SNOWING on delightful Cape Cod. You are definitely in the place to be. Love-Me

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