Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas in the Keys - Recap

A Snap Chat from My Sister
from the Trip Down

My family went to Disney World without me. It's okay. It was the maiden voyage of my mom's midlife crisis RV. I don't like the RV and I don't really like being in cramped quarters with my messy siblings. They were towing my mom's car to drive around once they got there. It's brakes caught on fire near Chattanooga, TN on the way down. At some point the generator in the RV stopped working. I was happy spending Christmas in Maine with my husband, my in-laws, and the cold.

We were all supposed to meet up with my Mom's family (her mom, my grandma and her three siblings) the week after Christmas. My uncle (No. 4) had rented a house in the Florida Keys starting Saturday. I flew down on Friday.

My morning started horribly. As I was going down the stairs in our apartment I slipped and fell I the stairs. (I've fallen down the stair three times since October.) My big suitcase fell on the plastic tub we store our Christmas decorations in. The plastic box shatter but nothing else broke. I caught myself with my left arm and hurt my left wrist. (The previous week I had a ganglion cyst in that wrist drained.) My wrist hurt so bad I couldn't carry my suitcase with it.

There was so much ice on my car the we got an extra late start on getting to the bus station. Mr. H got my bag out of the car for me and walked me in. The 8:30 bus to Logan was full and left with out me! I felt so anxious I was sick to my stomach because the situation it reminded me of when I was supposed to fly to Bora-Bora to join my family but my plane out of Portland had mechanical trouble so I had to be rebooked through Logan and I almost missed my flight from Logan because I didn't get to the bus station in time.

It was okay thought. They had a back up bus ready in 10 minutes. AND, it was the newest bus in the fleet and it wasn't crowded since most of the people leaving at 8:30 got on the first bus. I got to Logan in time to get a holiday doughnut from Dunkin and make use of the free wifi in the airport. I was also able to check my big carry on bag for free because the flight was full and there would not be enough space for everyone's carry on luggage. I volunteered to check my bag and I was so glad because I didn't know if I could make it through ATL with my big bag to my connecting flight if my wrist still hurt.

I made it to ATL with plenty of time to make my connecting flight. I ate lupper (a sandwich and the largest slice of cheesecake I've ever seen) there and evesedropped on the couple next to me. They were having a very serious conversation about something that ended up with the woman in tears. I wouldn't have that kind of conversation in an airport restaurant.

Between ATL and FLL I sat near someone with very strong perfume and I began to itch. I was so worried I would need to use my epi-pen on the plane. I was sitting next to someone else who seemed to be very nervous about flying and was possibly on their first plane trip. So I took my allergy medicine early so that I hopefully wouldn't totally ruin my seat mate's trip. PSA: Please do not wear stung perfume when you will be in enclosed places with strangers some people are very allergic or sensitive to perfumes.

My mom and sisters picked me up at the airport in my mom's RV. Her car was in the shop in Orlando. I thought I would have time to talk with my Dad but he had just left on his flight back to Chicago. (Doctors don't get much time off.) The RV was in bad shape. As I mentioned earlier, the generator wasn't working so there was no light and the fridge wasn't working. Also, it was so messy. I am by far the tidiest person in my family. E2's things were all over. E3 is messier than I but she keeps her mess more contained. I was so happy that we stayed in a hotel that night and that I could shower in a real bathroom the next morning. I was also happy that we would be spending time with my mom's family since both my uncles and two and a half of my cousins are engineers who could fix the RV.

The next morning we started our drive down through the Keys. I got to sit in the front and keep my mom company because I get car sick sitting at the kitchen table in the RV. It started off grey and rainy but the sun came out and it got to be pretty. (I also saw a drive thru liquor store, us Puritans up here in New England don't have anything like that.) Traffic was horrible though. My mom told us (I think I was the only one paying attention) about the times in the distant past when her family had gone camping and snorkeling in the Keys. They had lots of fun I guess. I spent the time on the ride down live tweeting my location and complaining about how I was hungry because my mom forgets that most normal people eat lunch.

My sisters shared a snack with me because I was
complaining. Thank goodness for Epcot's World Showcase.

When we got close to our destination we called one of my uncles (No. 2) and arranged to meet him for lunch at Mangrove Mama's on Sugarloaf Key (So different from our Sugarloaf here in Maine) and I had the only seafood I ate on the entire trip--a crab cake sandwich. And I didn't take a picture of my food. My uncle told my mom to read the owner's manuel for the RV so that she'd know how to fix the RV herself.

Then we got to the house. It was right on the water and had a beautiful view. It was also large enough for our party of seventeen. My mom parked her RV in the driveway and popped it out. I set up camp in the corner of the house's living room so that I could use a full sized shower. Uncle No. 4 helped my mom "fix" the generator. I unpacked and settled in to a corner of the living room. Most of my cousins were in Key West exploring and waiting for my grandma to get in at the airport.

E3 Wore this Skirt to Dinner

We had dinner at Boondocks Grille & Draft House & Miniature Golf to honor my cousin (cousin no 2) who had more or less eloped in Maui. I went over early with my Aunt (No. 4's wife) who watched me when I was a little girl and my mom. We weren't sure if there would be enough space in all the cars we had since my cousins had taken the biggest car into Key West to get my grandma.

At Boondocks

Dinner was interesting. An Eagles cover band played. : / My youngest cousin had a wedge salad for the first time ever and had no idea how to eat it. E3 took pictures of her dismantling it. She though it was cabbage. I had a wedge salad too and the soup of the day. (The soup ended up being really, really salty.) We all exchanged our snap chat user names and had a good old time at the children's end of the table (At 27 I am the oldest child. The youngest is 15.)

We stayed up after dinner talking. It was mostly the children. From the snap chats I saw it was pretty exciting. E2 tried my uncle's (Aunt No. 3's husband's) fancy gin with permission. E3 pretended that the sculpture of a money in the living room was her pet. And, everyone decided that the photographs of the birds on the living room wall were pornography. My mom and I had gone out to the RV to go to bed early. I felt so bad. My mom insisted that I sleep in the "bedroom" and she slept on an air mattress in the "kitchen."

The next morning was interesting. My mom's next youngest brother--his son died almost exactly two years ago. We miss him. But it's been so incredibly hard for his sister my next youngest cousin and her father. After uncle no. 4's family went to church, my cousin and her father started talking and grief and anger poured out. It needed to happen. E3 helped my cousin. My grandma helped my uncle. We thought my grandma was taking sides and being unproductive but E2 got really upset about it. She got so angry she yelled "F*** you grandma . . ." I have never been so thankful that my grandma is in the early stages of dementia. She doesn't remember that part of the morning where E2 yelled at her at all.

My Cousin's Towels Drying on the Fence and Fishing Supplies

I also got to chase my barefoot grandma out on to the gravel driveway as she tried to keep my uncle from driving away. Then I helped her get back in. I followed my cousin out on to the pier and told her I thought she was doing good things with her life even and stayed around after my grandma came out on to the pier to make sure they'd get along after we all felt like grandma was taking sides.

Then my Aunt No. 3 and her husband came back with lunch! Thank goodness for a distraction.

My cousins were reading the Divergent trilogy. That motivated me to solve my ebook reader problems on so I spent half an hour one morning chatting with tech support so that I could read ebooks on my ebook reader. I had, had trouble purchasing new books. I got help solving that problem but then I couldn't read them on my computer, eReader, or iPhone. I started with Divergent again after fixing most of my problems.

I told E2 that she spent too much on my present.

I had sent my immediate family my presents for them early in December so that they could open them before they left or so that they could open them on Christmas day. My mom had saved all of them, even the present for my dad who wasn't there, until I got there. *Sigh.* We opened our presents. My mom had already sent me mine. My sisters had gotten presents for me. E2 wrapped my wonderful present in a garbage bag. E3 bought me a Star Wars book and made me a CD at Disney World and that was wrapped in a plastic bag. I love my family but they are so odd sometimes.

That night we had a sunset cruise booked courtesy of Aunt No. 3 and her husband. We dropped E2 off at the tiny airport on the way to the docks. She couldn't stay longer because she had to be back in Chicago on Monday for the start of her obstetrics rotation, Aunt No. 3's specialty. We were jointed by Aunt No. 3's husband's family. He used to live in the Keys. We sailed on the Appledore which sails out of Camden, Maine in the summer. The sunset was surprisingly nice as was the company.

I Love Feral Chickens!

I went to Key West in the afternoon with my mom, Cousin No. 2 and her husband, Cousin No. 4's wife, and Cousin No. 9. I got to go into my first Lilly Pulitzer Corporate Store and then we walked down Duval St. and looked at all the tacky tee shirt shops, tourists, and odd people. I saw a man walking down the street with a parrot on his shoulder! FYI apparently, you can drink alcohol there on the street! Cousin No. 2 and her husband had two drinks while we were strolling! I was content with soft serve frozen custard--a dipped mint chocolate twist. I only got one souvenir--something to give to Mr. H next Christmas. (I'd share a picture but he might read my blog!)

So Delicious!

We got back and headed to dinner. Aunt No. 3 and her husband were treating us to dinner at this pizza place he kept talking about! He said it was really great and had deep dish pizza. We got there and there was a long wait but some of us, myself included, played a catch phrase like game using No. 2's phone. It was so much fun. Even thought the pizza was not deep dish, he doesn't know what he's talking about. It was good pizza though. We got in side and the walls and the ceilings were all covered with dollar bills.

We sat out on the patio--there was a "kids" table and a "grown up" table. We made plans for just us to meet up in 2015 for our own parentless vacation. We'll see how that goes. We think it might be a good idea to have our parents along so that they can pay for some things. I hope I don't get put in charge of logistics but I am looking forward to it.

Then we headed back. We opened presents. (Those of us who headed to Key West got to open some of our "presents" early since they would be useful shopping.) Cousin No. 2 gave all the women lovely scarves made by one of her in-laws and gave the boys gift cards. Then I packed up my things so that I'd be ready to leave the next morning.

Bye Bye Key West!

I was dropped off at the airport as my family was on the way to the botanic gardens. I am so sad that I didn't get to go. My Aunt No. 3 is a birder and I had left my bird book behind and I wanted to learn a bit more about the "tropical" birds we saw. Then I headed home. My flight out of Key West was delayed. But I made my connection in ATL and had time to grab a roast beef sandwich at Arby's. I got in Logan in time to catch the bus up to Maine and my husband was there waiting for me with my warmest coat and mittens. It was so cold, 10º, and I was wearing a thin jackie cardigan and shell and just had my quilted jacket over it. We headed to my in-laws to ring in the new year.

Sorry for that novel! But I had to write ALL about the fun time I had. I promise I'm not getting paid by the word like Dickens. Did you have fun over the holidays?


  1. That looks like so much fun! I'm glad no one was hurt when those breaks caught on fire! Scary!

    1. My family was able to drive the RV around so it didn't matter so much that the car was in the repair shop.


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