Key West

Okay, before I get started with a look at Saturday, Feb 17th, I need to go back to yesterday.

3 Things…what do they have in common?

1 – Earl’s Dead
2 – Cadillac for Sale
3 – Tamiami Trail

Well, if you are a Parrot Head, you will know, but if not, click the link below to reveal the true meaning of yesterday’s blog title!

We now return to our regularly scheduled program….


As I said before, Key West.

We left the Hotel in Florida City after a brief breakfast of cold cereal and a banana, in what turned out to be a crazy breakfast area. No offense, but when did everybody become so self centered, expecting to be waited on, and totally non observant of what’s going on around them?? Holiday Weekend, remember? I don’t know who’s worse…the Americans who decide that one person on the phone can take up a table for six, or the foreigners who knock you over or just stand in the way of everyone? And please folks, when you’re done, put your dirty dishes and garbage in the area provided! Needless to say, we had a quick breakfast and were out of there!

After a couple of showers, we left, filled the Sonata up with gas, and proceeded south on US-1. As we were in Florida City, it didn’t take long for us to run out of civilization. We don’t know if it was because of it being the Saturday of Presidents’ Weekend, or a normal Saturday occurrence, but traffic was sporadically heavy. We’d go along at a nice clip for a number of miles, and then grind to a halt for a mile or two, then open up and move again. Hard to tell why, but as usual, there was no shortage of the jerks who have a need to get there a few minutes before you, and make everybody’s life miserable. Saw a couple of near accidents for that exact reason. Please, life’s too short!

So anyway, we were on the Overseas Highway, which is a 123 mile highway carrying US-1 through the Florida Keys. Much of it is built on the former right of way of the Overseas Railroad, the Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Another one of Henry Flagler’s Florida rail projects. The railroad was heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1935, and the roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the state of Florida. Over the years, improvements were made, and during the Second World War, the Navy wanted better access to the Keys, and further improvements were made to the route and roads and bridges. In the early 80s, more modern bridges were completed, and today there are only a few of the original structures remaining. Several have been turned into fishing piers, but others just sit next to the current roadway, as a reminder to the past. One such bridge, is the original Seven Mile Bridge, which you may remember being featured in the movie True Lies.

As you continue south of Key Largo, you come to Islamorada, Florida, which describes itself as a, “village of islands’. The village was not incorporated till 1997, and for us, this is when the road turns into what we really expected the Overseas Highway to look like. As it was about 12;30, both of us had our eyes out for the perfect kind of spot to have lunch. You know, a grass shack, kind of place, where we’d eat fresh fish, listen to the perfect kind of music, and look out on some of the best views Nature has to offer. Guess what? It exists, and we were lucky enough to spot it in a place that was easy to turn around and go back!

The Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant was the place. A fresh fish store, fronting US-1, and exactly the kind of place and the kind of food we wanted out back. The sky was blue, the water was green, the temperature was perfect with a nice breeze, the music was right, and the company was the best! Take a look at these pictures, and tell me you don’t agree with us!

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at this video, and then tell me what you think!

You probably remember that back on September 10th, Hurricane Irma ravaged the Keys, and for several days, the entire area was cut off from communication with the rest of Florida. The overseas Highway didn’t reopen till October 1st to regular traffic, and when we were planning this trip, we wondered if a visit to Key West was really going to be in the cards. We were lucky enough to have several Facebook friends who were either vacationing down here or reporting on the aftermath of Irma, and they all said that there was damage, but that the people of the Keys needed visitors. It is, after all, a $1.6 billion a year industry that employs about half the Key’s work force. So plans went ahead.

Did we see damage? Well, the good thing is that the Overseas Highway, and all it’s bridges are fine, but yes, we did see damage. We saw houses that were being rebuilt, destroyed house trailers sitting on the side of the road, buildings with no roofs or with half walls, lots filled with tangled plants and other debris, and sections of the highway that were surrounded by walls and fences that were lying on their side. So yes, there is damage, but as we commented, it’s almost like you have to look for it. To us, it looks like one of their biggest issues is getting rid of the remains of the damage. For the most part, we had great views and the usual Florida Keys Creatures.

We are staying in the Best Western Hibiscus on Simonston Street. We’re a block off Duval, and about 3 blocks from the Southern Most Point Marker. A little quieter area than down by Sloppy Joes Bar, but still with lots around. Old Key West, rather than one of the new chain hotels that look like you could be in Atlanta!

Realizing that tonight was going to be the Saturday of President’s weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to have a dinner reservation. Thanks to Open Table, finding a great restaurant in a strange town is an easy task. Tonight we dined at La Te Da Restaurant, which was just a few blocks away from our hotel. We ate outdoors (what three wonderful words to say in February) and had a great meal. We started with a nice bottle of Rose, then 2 delectable shrimp cocktails, then we split a burrata cheese caprese salad, and believe it or not, for our entrees we both had meat loaf! We figured that when a restaurant this elegant has meat loaf on the menu, you gotta try it! It was good…not as good as Susie’s meat loaf, but for restaurant meat loaf, pretty good. This from someone who never eats meat loaf out, because I know it wont compare with my wife’s! Here are some pictures. I didn’t include any food pics, because they love blue lights in this restaurant, and blue food doesn’t look too appetizing, but trust us….it was!

Then we decided to walk a bit down Duval, and see what we could find. There were a couple of bars we passed, but nothing caught our fancy till we came to Grand Vin Wine Bar. We sat basically on the street, and each had a couple of glasses of wine. Reminded us both of the Tini Martini Bar in St. Augustine, that we loved many moons ago. We watched people walking by, watched people in the place, and I even had a brief dance with the bar tender! A good time was had by all!

Then we walked the 5 blocks back to our hotel, changed clothes, poured a couple of vodkas, and here I am writing away to keep you up to date, while Susie texts with Krissi and Mike who are at a wedding on Long Island in the snow! I think we’ve got the better situation.

Tomorrow we plan some Key West exploration, some bar visits, and having fun in the warm weather! Tomorrow’s forecast…high of 79! Have a good night………


Day Sixty Three – Saturday, October 22, 2016

We are Home!! The car is unpacked….


The first Martinis are made (thanks Melvin at the R Bar on the Liberty of the Seas for all the martini knowledge!


I overestimated a smidge on what we traveled when I said 10,000 miles…the total for our trip was just under 9,800 miles!

Right now we are relaxing, enjoying being home (it is nice), watching shows from our DVR (we really like Kevin Can Wait) and ready for the gentleman to bring us our take out Chinese food order!!

See you tomorrow, because frankly, I’m lucky I wrote this much! All I know is that when we left Long Island on August 21, it was summer. Today, it definitely isn’t summer!

Day Fifty Nine – Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Tonight finds us in a very nice Hampton Inn, located on the side of Interstate 40 in Forrest City, Arkansas. Today we traveled a total of 301 miles, having left the Horseshoe Hotel and Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana a little after 11 this morning. Before I go into today, let me update you a little on last night at the Horseshoe.

As I told you in yesterday’s blog, as the Horseshoe is a Caesar’s property, and since both Susie and I are Diamond Members (well, at least we will be till 2016 ends), our room cost us $0, and if you looked at the pictures in yesterday’s blog, you know it was a very nice room. Due to the free room, we decided to make a 6:30 dinner reservation at Jack Binion’s Steakhouse in the hotel, and trade a dinner bill for a room charge. In the end, we didn’t do that either, but I’m getting ahead of myself!

We changed (no denim shorts in the casino for me), and went down to the casino about 5:30, and thought we’d play a little. They are very serious about the age requirements here, and they have a big sign saying that they will card anyone who looks 35 or under. Susie kidded with a security guard, who said he thought she was about 28, and asked for her license! She promptly handed it over, and once he saw it was a NY State license, we had the “Trip Discussion” Nice guy, as was everyone we encountered!

We played some video poker, and I won $100. We played some penny slots, and I won $100. The last thing we did before going to our dinner was play a $2 Double Wild Cherry machine. We used to play a similar machine on every trip to Harrahs AC, till the machine disappeared about a few years ago. This was a $2 two coin machine, so $4 a pull. Susie and I each put $20 in and played partners. We were very happy when we thought we won $245 only to realize when we cashed out that since it was a $2 machine, we’d won double that! Not too bad a session for a pre-dinner jaunt to the casino, but now it was time to head to the steak house!

Now, we are no strangers to steakhouses, having been to them in NYC, Atlantic City, Vegas, on the cruise and many other places, but we have to put Jack Binion’s right up at the top…probably the best ever! We started with a bottle of wine, then two incredible shrimp cocktails, and then we both had a great salad. Susie had a warm spinach salad, which she said was probably the best spinach salad she has ever had. A sucker for the traditional steak house wedge salad, that’s what I ordered. Incredible presentation, and the bacon was candied!!! Probably the best wedge salad I’ve ever had in a steakhouse!! Susie’s entree was a Filet Oscar which looked great, while I had the smallest cut of Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding! I’d hate to see the large cut, because the small cut filled the plate, and I only made a dent in it!

Of course, I had to be a pig, and ordered a baked potato too! Years and years ago, when I worked at WHN, we did a show from the Oak Room at the Plaza hotel, and ever since then I have been boring Susie with the tale of how when you ordered a baked potato there, they would remove the potato from the skin, mix it whatever you wanted added, and then pout it back in the potato skin. Well, now it’s the Oak Room at NYC’s Plaza Hotel, and Jack Binion’s Steakhouse at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana. And the best part…we used Harrah’s comps to pay for the meal! All it cost us was a tip!!

img_5940Check out time was 11, and after we slept as long as we desired, and showered this morning (the BEST shower of the trip!), it was very close to 11 when we vacated the room, and went down to the valet to get the car. We had a little trouble finding the beginning of our trek for the day – we think perhaps our GPS girlfriend was a little under the weather this morning, but eventually we were on the right path. With the exception of about the first 10 miles of the 300 we did today, the rest was on Interstates, and this is the first day we’ve done that in some time. We headed north out of Bossier City, and it really wasn’t long before we passed out of Louisiana and into Arkansas, so another state for our list. Susie says Arkansas was state #21 of our trip!

fullsizerender-78As we didn’t get a “free breakfast” this morning, we decided to do something we rarely had done the past 2 months, and that was stop at a fast food place for lunch. We’d see Whataburger for many days, and even this morning in Louisiana, but they must not cross into Arkansas, so we settled for a Burger King, in of all places, Hope, Arkansas, the birthplace of Bill Clinton! The exit is marked with a huge sign saying, “Hope, Arkansas…the birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton”. I know they are trying to be respectful, but who ever calls him anything but Bill? Oh well, he is their home town boy!

So listen. If anyone else, like Susie and I, have been fascinated by, and contemplating going to Burger King and ordering a Whopperitto… don’t. On the TV commercials, it looked to me to be the basic inside of a Whopper chopped and put into a burrito, but in reality it’s more like something you’d get at Taco Bell, but with dill pickles added! It wasn’t the burger meat, but rather traditional taco meat, complete with the red grease dripping down your arm. Thanks, but we will stick with our traditional Chicken Sandwiches.

fullsizerender-79If you share driving, like Susie and I do, you are rather dependent on rest areas along the highways as an easy, convenient, and safe place to switch drivers. Back in the beginning of this trip, you may remember that Indiana and their “Toll Road” earned bad points from us for having so many closed rest areas. Well, sad to say, but Arkansas is another state that makes you either pull onto the shoulder to stop, or exit the road altogether, as so many of their rest areas were closed.

Stick a Fork in Us…We Are Done!!

At lunch today, Susie and I talked about our decision to head home, and we wondered if we should continue to stop at places or not. After a bit, we realized we were both of a mind that we are done, and being at home sounds like a great idea. So, our object now will be getting back to the East Coast, and we will probably stop at no more attractions on the way…including Graceland. The tour books say to leave a minimum of 3 1/2 hours to tour Graceland, and frankly we are not sure either of us have that much patience left, plus I’ve got a really rotten cold, and you know what a pain in the ass men are when they’re sick! After all, we are retired, and our time is ours, and a visit to Graceland gives us an excuse for another Road Trip!! As my cousin Jeannie said to me today on Facebook, “You know Road Trips are really a bit like retiring. There comes a point when you know it’s time to end it and move on.” It’s time!
****One Last Piece of Good News****

Just as I was about to call a wrap to today’s blog, we got the following email from Krissi, and I just had to share it with everybody, as proud parents are prone to do:

“Good evening,
I am pleased to announce the promotion of Krissi D’Elia to the position of Senior Account Administrator for Weill Cornell Imaging at NewYork-Presbyterian (WCINYP). Krissi started as a Pre-Authorization Coordinator in May 2014. In July of this year, she was given a lead role in the pre-authorization department because of her reliability, dedication, and excellent teamwork. She has shown her ability to lead by example, and has continuously looked for ways to improve communication between our patients, referring physicians, and staff. She will utilize her widespread knowledge of our referring physicians and her expertise in customer service to continue to enhance WCINYP. She will be focused on expanding our pre-authorization department and creating efficiency in service delivery while maintaining the highest levels of patient and referring physician satisfaction.
Please join me in congratulating Krissi and welcoming her into her new role.
Thank You

Director of Operations
Weill Cornell Imaging
NewYork-Presbyterian | Weill Cornell Medicine
1305 York Avenue, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10021”
Congrats to our favorite daughter, and a young lady we are very proud to call ours!! We know you will be great in the new role baby, and as with everything you have done in your life, Mom and I will be nothing but proud and supportive of you!

A great way to end today’s blog!!