Friday, April 21, 2006

Report from the Keys, Part 1: Getting There

It looks like I'm going to have to parcel this story out over a few posts. So much to do, so little time to do it.

We booked a very early flight out of BWI to Miami on Friday (4/14/06). As a result, we left Lewes on Thursday evening after work and stayed in a Holiday Inn near the airport. We were able to leave our car at the hotel and take the hotel shuttle to the airport, but had to be in the lobby, ready to go, at 4:20 a.m. Ugly.

That penance, though, earned us a late morning arrival in Miami. We were able to rent a car and roll onto Duck Key by mid-day. We were able to register at Hawks Cay resort and get in a full afternoon of lazy sunning that day.

Our flight was full, and full of families with kids. The iPod proved its worth. I was able to retreat into music for much of the flight, as were the girls. Karen took refuge in a partial doze.

Miami/Dade, by the way. Wow. Sprawl. Ugly.

Other than a cruise-ship whistle-dock stop last spring at Key West, I hadn't been to the Keys since the early 1970s. I was a kid then, but had some memories of a series of sparsely populated islands. Things have changed.

We only saw the top half of the Keys, but it looked to me just like the Lewes/Rehoboth area, with more tropic weather and flora. Imagine the Midway section of Delaware's Route One corridor, followed by a bridge, followed by Dewey Beach, then a bridge, then a causeway, then Bethany Beach, more bridge, Rehoboth, causeway, bridge, Fenwick Island, etc.

The Hawks Cay resort is part of a seven-island grouping known as Duck Key. Its high-end residential and resort hotel development began in the 1950s and has grown to hotel buildings, pools, tennis courts, marina, villa-style hotel rooms, homes, vacation homes, a spa. The works.

Very nice. Well-landscaped. Established and smooth.

Our room was on a second floor, overlooking a pool and a man-made swimming lagoon. Beyond lay a channel, bridged by part of US Route 1, which winds through the islands from Key Largo to Key West.

We could sit on a small balcony and observe the pool, hot-tubs, and lounging area. There were afternoon steel-drum and guitar players, mostly ignored by the families at the pool. Several of the musicians were quite good.

We had lunch at a cantina next to the pool, and made reservations for a late dinner at a fancy restaurant in the Hotel. Very nice.

A word about kids. At lunch, we were a table away from a group of six, or maybe seven, 8- to 10-year olds, shepherded by two moms paying little or no attention to the little monsters.

It was like lunching next to a mis-tuned jet engine.

These kids went from shrieking, to screaming, to standing on chairs, to chasing each other through the restaurant, to climbing the juvenile palm trees potted in the doorway.

It's telling that the loudest child was sitting at one end of the table, repeatedly yelling "Quiet! Qui-ET! HEY! Be QUUIIEETT!" Endlessly.

We noticed that may of the people at this place were letting their kids run riot. Not all of them; many were quite pleasant. But there were some who made middle-class America look bad.

I was proud of my kids. They stress us at times; but in contrast, they are angels.

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