Fine Dining

Tonight was one of the "formal" dinners on the cruise ship, necessitating that Deborah and I wear the nice clothes we packed for this contingency to the dining room. It was a classy affair, although the food was just OK. I wore a shirt and tie that Deborah had bought a me few weeks ago. This pretty much rounded out our day today, most of which was spent onshore in Key West FL.

We woke up at 6:45 AM, fully planning to work out in the ship's fitness center, but that didn't happen because I had a poor night of sleep due to allergies and when the alarm went off, I opted for more sleep while Deborah showered and got ready for our day.

When I did eventually get up, we hit the Windjammer restaurant for the breakfast buffet and much needed coffee. Deborah's foot was bothering her (I was wrong...she didn't buy the overpriced orthopedic inserts that the fitness trainer lent her yesterday), so we had Customer Service whip us up a wheelchair that I can push her around in on the boat for the rest of the trip. The only pain in the arse about it is having to take the elevator instead of stairs.

The ship docked at the naval station in Key West about 10:30 AM and we disembarked a little before eleven to meet our tour guides for a kayaking expedition. This involved riding a shuttle out of the naval base to the tour guide's van, in which she drove us over to a marina, pointing out interesting things along the way. For example, we drove past (but did not stop at) the southernmost point in the continental USA, where a long line of tourists were waiting to have their pictures taken. That's the kind of thing that doesn't need visual proof in my opinion. You can just make a note to scratch that off your bucket list and forget it. It was not especially noteworthy, just a historical marker on a beach, the kind of picture your friends do not need to see.

Kayaking was fun. Deborah and I doubled up in an aptly named "double" kayak, known to make or break relationships. Deborah wanted the front, so I took the rudderman position in back. It took Deborah a little bit to grasp that I had steering under control and that my random directional deviations were intended to avoid colliding with some of the more directionally challenged participants in our small tour group. The weather could not have been more perfect, partly sunny in the 70s with low winds. The tide was coming in as we paddled out from the marina, which was a bit of a struggle, but coming back from the excursion, the tidal current did most of our work for us. We saw big ol' iguanas roosting in the mangroves, waterfowl (including cormorants, pelicans, and herons) and a starfish that our guide (a different one than the one who shuttled us to the marina) plucked out of the shallow water for us to pass around. What must that poor starfish have thunk? We learned a lot about mangroves, like how the red mangoves protect the island from erosion and their adaptations for living in salt water (they actually "sweat" salt and every branch has a sacrificial leaf that takes up any salt that reaches the foliage and dies so that the other leaves can live. There are mangrove "caves" that boaters can hide in to be protected from freak storms (unlikely we would need them). These are just naturally occurring little coves and tunnels in the mangrove canopy. We saw a couple and their dog who live on a houseboat and our guide told us houseboats are popular because while real estate in the Keys is super expensive, you can rent a mooring ball for your houseboat for $80/month. Not bad...you just need to score a houseboat.

"If you were wondering what happens to lottery winners, there it is," I quipped to Deborah as we passed the houseboat where the couple was sitting on the deck drinking beer.

"I wonder how they walk the dog," Deborah said. I was more puzzled by where their poop goes...

After kayaking, the first tour guide drove us back into the touristy part of town and Deborah and I had falafel at a little Mediterranean joint (the "Bud's" of Key West) followed by slices of key lime pie (because, of course...that's the big thing in Key West) at another place. I bought a nice looking hat before we jumped a shuttle back to the naval shipyard and got back on our boat to gussy up for the aforementioned formal dinner.

Sedate with rich food, we had little motivation to make our way to deck 10 to workout in the fitness center (we are on deck 3). This is a bad sign.

Tomorrow I'm getting an overpriced haircut in the ship's salon in the morning, after breakfast. We are at sea all day tomorrow, chugging across the Caribbean sea toward Belize, where we'll hopefully snorkel one of the finest barrier reefs in the northern hemisphere in Belize City. There is no excuse other than sloth and utter laziness to avoid working out tomorrow. The cruise line has many activities planned for tomorrow to keep passengers from going stir crazy while surrounded by vast ocean in all directions, but most of them are not things Deborah and I are that into (bingo, poker, mixology demonstrations), so we can keep ourselves busy burning off all the calories we have been consuming. We will probably check out the men's belly flop contest up at the pool after lunch. That sounds fun, though I probably won't be a contestant (if it were a cannonball contest, I would).

Stay tuned.

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