Family Adventures

Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River —

It had been 30 years since he’d last seen the place, but my husband Nico insisted on taking Baby and I on a family adventure to see Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River.  I was a bit skeptical; picturing a run down, or shut down, remnant of what once had been a fun party place on the bend of the river.  Boy…!  Was I ever surprised!  –In a very good way.

I had already found myself quite charmed by the tiny ferry boat that had carried our crew of three across the ship channel, quite a ways inland and up the waterway from Galveston Island.  Able to carry not even 20 cars at a time, The Lynchburg Ferry was like stepping back in time, in a way.  Unlike the Bolivar Ferry — which we’ve ridden often — The Lynchburg Ferry looked a bit unstable at times, and traveled much slower than its much larger neighboring ferry (Bolivar Ferry).

So I snapped one-after-another photos of our crossing, and we were on our way…yet-again, down the road, searching for that place Nico had left in his past…until this day.  Bumping down the two lane road in our old VW Camper Bus, we stayed on the look-out for a sign…any sign, to let us know we’re heading in the right direction.  Then…we spotted it!  — Banana Bend…Just Ahead.  The sign said, in a nutshell; though Nico was going too fast for me to read the small print.

A few miles down the road, we came to an overpass that Nico didn’t remember ever seeing decades ago when he last visited Banana Bend.  So…we turned around and went back to the sign he’d sped past in such a hurry at last pass.  Sure enough, in small print, it had listed the street where we should have turned before.

Making our turn onto a much smaller road — a Farm to Market road — we continued on our adventure, searching…searching.  Then…there we were: facing two yellow kayaks planted vertically in the ground, reaching up into the sky, with a sign in the middle telling us we had arrived.

A nice little man was working the entrance gate, and let us in to look around since they were soon to close down for the day.  I felt like we had entered an island hide-away…on the river!  Palm trees everywhere, along with tiki palapas style cabanas and picnic tables.  And it was all so secluded, you’d never know it was there…unless someone told you.  I was thankful to Nico, for bringing us to such a charming island escape as Banana Bend.

And even though we were only able to stay for a short time before dark was beginning to fall and we had to head back and try to catch the last ferry, we had already began to plan a day trip to our new island escape (or escape from the island).  Having recent bouts of island fever, I know Banana Bend is just the place I’ve been needing all along.

*Here’s to new adventures, inland…and beyond!*

**NOTE to Families**  Recommended Family Days – Saturday/Sunday Afternoons & Weekdays (off-season): After careful research, it seems that BB is quite the party place during summer months and on weekends.  We visited late on a Saturday during the off-season, and all was peaceful and quiet.  It’s best to do your homework before visiting, to know of which events are taking place on any particular day or weekend.  Visit Banana Bend on Facebook.    

Life After Forty — Breaking The Mold of Average

Starting Your Career After 40 —

I’ve been thinking a lot about our music today.  I guess, in all reality, I think a lot about it each and every day; even in my dreams.  Even though, by societies mold, I might be considered a bit past my prime to get my musical career off the ground, music is still inside…the songs keep coming.

In my dreams…when I’m awake, in the early morning hours, the rare quiet times throughout the day…even when I’m driving, a song is always on my horizon of thoughts.  So…in my heart, I know, He is giving me his Blessing to keep at it.  –As long as you still believe, the music is always there.

But I’m the kind of person–what most folks don’t realize–who doesn’t like to be restricted by labels or molds.  If-ever anyone says I can’t do something, or they come across as unbelievers of my dreams (i.e. our musical ambitions), then I make it a point to prove them wrong.  It may take a little time to situate myself, but I’ll eventually have my day in the sun.

Still, I feel I’ve learned a lesson by these types of occurrences, and certain people who I’ve come in contact with over the years, whether good or bad.  I’ve discovered that some folks feel uncomfortable with anyone who doesn’t blend in with the mold of normalcy.  –Something I’ve never been any good at!

For me, anything worth dreaming is certainly worth the rugged climb or a few hurdles of nay-sayers, trying to build themselves up…by bringing someone else down (I know we’ve all had these kinds of encounters).  Besides, anyone who’s anybody knows–if you allow your dreams to be corralled into the mold other’s deem fitting for you, you’ll never get anywhere but right where they wish for you to stay.  I for one, choose to break the mold of the norm, and prove these small thinkers wrong.  A life worth living is certainly worth jumping over a few hurdles to get there!

*Never let anyone keep you down*

 

Thoughts on Being a Gypsy

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It seems to me that there’s been a spike in popularity when it comes to folks wanting to mimic the Gipsy way of life. Well, let me just say; it looks pretty and all (the clothing styles, the caravans painted bright exotic colors) from the outside looking in, but in reality, it’s a very hard-fought way of life. I cannot claim to be a Gipsy by origin , though we’ve been referred to as-such many times (hence the name Gypsy Vin Rose).

I can however, resonate with the way of life: moving often, though not as often as one might like, for lack of money (no residual income or retirement to keep us going); doing anything…everything to make a living (which often includes salvaging items from curbsides to sell…or selling aluminum/metal, thus saving it from the landfills); playing music for measly tips and meager offerings of passersby…but performing or playing for the love of music; living in a trailer (though many frown-down their noses at such living arrangements); shying away from many situations where crowds or socializing is involved (most Gypsies like to keep to themselves); overcoming the pressures to conform to societal molds; persecution for not being, or living, like everyone else; homeschooling of children, to keep them from the influences of others; being seen as outcasts by many mainstreamers, though they all want to act like Gypsies.

I could go on and on, when it comes to how actually living like…or being a Gipsy is different from just saying you are a Gypsy. Most folks are just full of a lot of hot air, though very few want to make the sacrifices or give up their luxury autos or 2 story brick monstrosities, nor do they want to scrounge for a living or live small in a trailer. They do, however, have no problem with saying they are Gipsy and dressing the part for their own image-appeal.

One thing that comes to my mind when I do see so many trying to play the part is: if you’re going to talk about it…try being about it. It’s not an easy way of life when you don’t have thousands to spend on travel, and you feel the need to keep on the move to avoid persecution. That is the Gipsy way of life.

I just wanted to share. Agree or disagree. It is….what it is.

Blessings & .V..

Singers…Songwriters…and Dreams

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No matter where I go, there’s always a song in my head.  Sometimes it’s one of the songs my husband and I have already written and composed for our Indie duo Gypsy Vin Rose, but more-often-than-not, it’s an entirely new tune that comes to me at any time of day, no matter what I’m doing.  Many times, I dream these new songs – just small tidbits for me to go on – and if I’m lucky enough to salvage a clip when I wake up, I will quickly make a recording (no matter how bad it sounds in the early morning hours), scribbling down any lyrics I can recall.  With time and effort, a lot of tweaking too, I will have a new song if I dedicate what is needed to my craft…for such an accomplishment to ever be heard by others.

Facing all the restrictions of a next-to-nothing recording budget, a toddler screaming her own verse in the background while we try to practice, the lack of equipment and zero time to dedicate to our craft (because we are still keeping afloat with a regular job). I often feel helpless as I see our dreams falling by the wayside.  Still, the songs in my head won’t let me give up – the dreams I dream won’t let me quit on Gypsy Vin Rose.  The fire is still there inside of me…on a low, but steady, flame.

Last night I dreamt of Bob Marley, he didn’t speak, but I could hear him anyway.  I knew his thoughts…I knew his feelings.  He wanted me to keep with it, he wanted to help.  I just wanted to be where ever he was, but he somehow just kept disappearing.  I searched, but he was gone…and I felt alone…desperate to find him once more.  I’m not sure what to make of that dream, but I enjoyed being where I was; lost somewhere in the dream realm.

I believe that dreams are symbolic; never meaning what most people might think they represent.  I know last night’s dream doesn’t mean I’m thirsting for the man himself, but…rather the music and the freedom of expression for which he sang, for which he stood.  He was a good man, I believe.  I wish I could’ve known him.

Still, there are dreams like this one…that keep me going, when it comes to the songs I write and compose.  I remember past performances, when I was flying solo as an artist, before I met Nico…my husband and the other half to Gypsy Vin Rose.  I always felt more alive…more like ‘me’, on the stage; even if I was mostly singing the songs of other artists.  But I was never prepared at the right time; and most artists know…timing is everything, talent is a must, but luck plays a very big role as well.  The time I had a radio interview, but no CD’s ready to offer, always comes to mind when I think of being prepared for anything…everything in music.

I also think back to the time I met a big-time Sony Record Producer backstage at one of my musician friend’s concerts.  The producer – his name was Rob – asked me for a demo, but like always…I wasn’t prepared.  But he was a very nice man…and he thought I had the look, the image, so he offered me his business card, scribbled some contact information on the back – confessing that he never does business when he’s drinking – and we parted ways.  I guess most folks might think I’d never hear from him again, but I did.  The sad thing was that we just kept playing phone tag, until…I guess he just gave up on me.  It just wasn’t meant to be at that time, is all I keep telling myself.

Deep within my very being, I know I should never give up, no matter if I am on-up-there in years now, no matter if all the odds seem to be stacked against me…and GVR.  I look to the bright side, forever the optimist, and cling to the fact that I have been able to pick up the mandolin at my age, and actually learn to play it; composing my own songs after barely a few months of playing.  That, to me, is reassuring!  Knowing, already, that when it comes to recording our songs…we have that down too, since Nico discovered when he recorded his instrumental composition of The Journey in our van, that Hippie Van Studios has great acoustical sound…and no toddler screaming in the background.

The dream keeps the music alive with us…within me, the songs just keep playing in my head, and my heart still races at the thought of being up on stage…performing once again.  But, I have to admit that the best part of that waking-dream is…I know the next time I am up on stage using the talent that He has given, I’ll finally be singing and playing…my very own tune.

A Visit With Santa On The Strand in Galveston

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Yesterday, we finally broke-away from the remodeling chaos, and took Baby down to the Strand District…here on Galveston Island.  It was her very first ‘Claus Encounter’, and it went really well.  But…I think Daddy might’ve embarrassed her just a little.  ;  )

It’s a rarity these days, for us to get out-and-about–I hate to admit–and just see the sites that our new hometown has to offer.  The cost of such an afternoon?  Nada!  Which is about all we have to spend after Christmas shopping.  Still, I have to say, our little tour of Downtown Galveston, and the Santa Claus photo shoot with Baby and Gypsy Vin Rose, was a huge success!

Next  year, Santa…we’ll see ya again!  Same time…same place!  And we promise, we’ll be good in 2014.

Blessings to All this Christmas…New Years…and Always!

.V..

Ringing in the New Year…on the Sands of Time

Memories of one New Year, spent on the Sands of Time.

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The Difference Between Conchs and Whelks

A Conch by any other name…is probably a Whelk!  Click the pic to discover the difference in the two!

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Beach Bum Scribblings

Stories on Yahoo!

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A Place To Call Home

Cozumel Caravan

Cozumel Caravan

Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted in life, including ‘life’ itself.  But in the end, if a lesson has been learned, we find that the simpleness of living is priceless.  This is what I’ve come to find since we up-rooted from my hometown of Fort Worth, and relocated to Gulf-Coastal Texas.  It has been a long road to plow (as my dear Mother used to put it), but I find now that our ‘garden’ (the garden that is life) is beginning to come-in quite nicely. 

It all began the day we pulled out of Jamaica Beach RV Resort; happy to be leaving the paved-but-posh confines of the best RV park on Galveston Island.  (Our opinions…and we’re sticking to it!)  I have to admit, our past experiences with campgrounds has left us with a bitter taste for such surroundings.  JBRV would have to be an exception…if you ask me.

Either way, and even though we would miss the hot tub, laundromat, pool…playground, and the charming little Seven Seas Grocery just across the road, we remained hopeful that we’d be well-on-our-way to actually gaining a semi-permanent address on Galveston Island.  The Blessings we’ve been met with since that day have been abundant.  We have been at our island home ever since; being lucky to have a very understanding landlord who knows what it means to start from the bottom and work your way up.  He has become somewhat of a friend since we’ve gotten to know him better. He has also taken Nico under his wing by teaching him a trade that my husband had never-before learned.  It brings to mind a saying I hold close to my thoughts: We never stop learning until we are no more. 

So there we were– we had a place…but not entirely.  Our very understanding landlord had taken a chance on us–renting us a lot, even though I know we appeared a rogue bunch.  We had made a deal that if we could rent the place ‘temporarily’, and set up Camp Peniki, we’d be hard-at-it to find a better-suited living quarters…to keep up appearances mostly, since we’d live in our old Campervan full-time if society allowed.  Had it just been us (Nico and I), we would still be out there…giving in to Wanderlust.  But most vandwelling souls with little n’s find out the hard way–like we have–that we really aren’t free after all when it comes to the way we are ‘allowed’ to live or be. 

So…we had a limited time to find a larger place to put on our really great lot…with a priceless view of the sunset…out over the bayou.  I set to work searching and combing the internet, selling everything we didn’t need in storage to raise the money for our new home.  Two weeks later, with half of our belongings sold and our storage half empty, we were on our way to get our new/old place: a vintage caravan in major need of some love.  Perhaps it was the way I had called and called the man to see if our ‘home’ was still there (I had already claimed it in my mind).  Maybe it was the desperation in my voice (I’ve never been very subtle with my emotions).  I guess I’ll never truly know.  All I do know is that he (the seller) took pity on us and ended up knocking $200 bucks off the price when we showed up with cash-in-hand.  It’s a very good thing too, cause without that extra money…we wouldn’t have made it back to Galveston with our new place. 

I know I’m just one of the numerous folks who believes that Blessings often come in disquise.  This was so true for us when it came to getting our caravan-home…home.   More than 24 hours later we finally pulled into our lot with what would become a full-time remodeling job.  As that day before had gone, we’d suffered a major blow out in Liberty, Texas…right in front of a church, where the pastor had just arrived, on Memorial Day weekend.  Due to the holiday and the late hour, no tire shops were open anywhere near the small town.  The nice preacher man Blessed us with the offering of allowing us to park our travel trailer there…safely in the church parking lot for the evening.  We all headed back to my Mother-in-law’s to stay the night, with hopes that we’d find a place to buy some spare trailer tires on a holiday Sunday.  It’s great to know people when you are in a desperate state to do business when everyone else is on vacation or just off work. 

Thank God we have good family to help us pull heavy things our old VW Van can’t; nice folks who know Nico’s family back in his home town; nice sellers on C List who don’t mind taking less and giving more to a family who was in need of a place to call home.  And even though it has been a steady stream of remodeling our badly damaged and neglected caravan, I can honestly say…”It sure is a great feeling to actually ‘own’ our home.  Bought and paid for; it may be small and not so pretty to some, but to us…it’s perfect! 

It’s all in how you look at things.  From where I’m sitting, this place is really coming around.  I’ll gladly be sharing photos of our remod when the time is right.  I hope it inspires some family…somewhere, to step off the crazy train of keeping up with the Jones’s, and live within (or below) their means.  We are so-very glad we made that leap! 

Blessings your way, from our Vagabond family to yours! 

.V.. (Peace),

GVR    

Crossing Texas In A VW Campervan

Lunching With My Chitlins at Hollywood and Vine in Glen Rose, Texas.

Lunching With My Chitlins at Hollywood and Vine in Glen Rose, Texas.

I guess when you have no where to be at any given time, you lose all track of the hours, days, weeks…months.  That’s pretty much how we had been until we drove back across the Texas state line.  Even if we did enjoy our drive on the biways of Tejas, we realized with each mile we came closer to home, that our journey would soon be ending and we’d once again be back in the rat-race.

Some years back, I finally realized that me and the rat race…don’t mix.  People are always in a hurry, they cut you off; even flip you off at times, and they really have no good reason to race to the finish line.  We’ll all have our day at the finish line.  I’m in no hurry to get there.  Which is why our old girl Peniki is the perfect mode of transportation for our little family.

I swear, that old VW can get around town just fine, but she has to go at her own speed.  Being a classic Volkswagen Westfalia, I’d like to think our van has earned seniority in mileage.  Either way, she got us back home…safe and sound.

So many miles we had traveled, and by the end of the day…we were pulling into Fort Worth.  I could hardly wait to see my kids, even though I was already missing the travel…and the next destination; knowing we’d no longer be spending our nights in Peniki.  I was sad for that.

It wasn’t long after our return that we settled back into the old routine, but our journey was still fresh on our minds.  We knew we would have to go again, but we didn’t know quite when.

Here we are, almost 2 years later, and the wanderlust is swelling up inside of us both, though we realize we have responsibilities and Baby is now older with a mind of her own.  It was so easy when she was in her playpen.  We could set up camp while she played safely in her space.

Now, she wanders everywhere and is like a little octopus with too many hands in too many things.  But, she comes by that honestly.  Nico and I are both exploring spirits with curious minds as well.  And there is still so much more to explore.

*Live The Life You Love*

Family Road Trip

Walking to Texas

Walking to Texas

 

— Free Camping at Rest Stops —

It’s funny how scenes, places, conversations, and miles-traveled can all turn into one big blur after a full day on the road. Leaving Natchez Trace Parkway and Rocky Springs Campground was the highlight of this particular stretch for home. Booking it as fast as our old VW Van could travel; topping speeds of 60 mph at times, we made it across the Mississippi state line to Louisiana in one jaunt, and many miles and hours later we found ourselves once again on Texas soil…just barely.

After surrendering my former belief that folks just shouldn’t sleep at Travel Stops or Rest Stops, we bunkered down for the night in our camper van; exhausted and glad to be so close to home. Even if we hadn’t wanted to leave the Florida Keys, the one’s we’d left behind back home insured our return. One thing we know, looking back on it all, is that we knew the place to where we were returning…was surely not where we’d stay.

*Let your heart roam, let your spirit be…like the child you used to see*

Sunday Mornings at the Club…

It’s a beautiful Autumn morning here at the Sailing Club; I’ve been walking along the shore admiring all of nature’s bounty in the trees…filled with pinecones just waiting to fall; the shrubs brimming with berries of red…purple…blue. 

I’ve already polished off my first cup o’ joe…and I’m hankering for another.  Little Blanca, our bratty schnauzer, didn’t mind me sharing my cold tamale with her; we both like ’em that way. 

I hear another dog—not qute as content as my little dog laying quietly beside my chair—barking off in the distance…over across the cove.  I feel the breeze brushing my hair, the sun on my face.  I hear the wind rustling the leaves on the half-bare trees, the waves lapping ashore.  And all is right in my world. 

Nico and Baby sleep soundly inside our old camper van, though I know I don’t have much longer to be alone with my thoughts.  I think I hear a rustling inside…baby is now waking.  My morning is fast-turning into day.  I sigh a farewell to peaceful morning. 

Blessings to all this Sunday. 

.V..

 

Fort Worth Parade of Lights…On Water!

Fort Worth Parade of Lights…On Water!.

Key West Road Trip — The Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

DAY 4:

‘Pulled out of St. Joseph’s Peninsula at around 1:30 or so, headed West on Scenic 98 to 71 North.  We’re planning to visit the Southern Tip of Georgia before we head home on El Camino 84 to Texas 287.  That’s the plan anyway.

*Update*

We ended up at a rest stop off of Interstate Highway 65 at 1 AM in the morning.  Ugh!  ‘Drove all night, but we didn’t want to pay the $$$ on a room for just a few hours of sleep.  So…after stopping numerous times at various motels–and trekking out to the ONLY (what seemed like it) National Forest in Alabama, we settle for a nice…much safer, rest stop.  It was the best choice, and one we should’ve made much earlier in the evening. 

*What I Learned*  Sleeping at rest stops isn’t half as bad as I suspected.  Guess it pays to listen to Nico sometimes; as much as I hate to admit it.  lol

Key West Road Trip — Day 2 Trip Home

Florida Gulf Bridge

Key West Road Trip — Cottages of Ocala

[Journal Entry from June 2011]

Day 2 of Journey Back to Tejas:

Got out early for once and headed North on 41.  Somehow got all turned around and wasted a few hours weeding through traffic in St. Pertersburg and Tampa (Yuk Towns!  Stear clear for your sanity!)  Finally stopped at a lovely rest stop off Hwy 275 and sat a while to enjoy the breeze and ocean views.

Got turned around again somewhere betwen there and Hwy 19; laiden with traffic and chaos!  Detoured as fast as we could out of city traffic and found Hwy 54 East to 301 North.  A short time later, following a brief struggle through small-town traffic and road construction, we were enjoying a leisurely drive in the country…still on 301.

Found a quaint little roadside cottage style inn near Ocala called the Hill Top Motel, and paid for a night.  We loved this place!  The motel/Inn consists of about a dozen or so adorable little cottages.  Nico and I were wishing we could live in a quaint little cottage just like the one we were housed in for the night; beautiful pine trees and green grass all around, peaceful country setting.  Just lovely!  We would definitely recommend this little out-of-the-way place to any road-weary traveler.  We hope to return soon.

Travel: Journey Home From Key West

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{Journal Entry}

Day 1 Trip Home:

Smooth sailing most of the way.  Only lost once per T.J.’s directions, so we stuck to the map from then on out.  Stopped in Homestead, FL., for gas and rest-stop (diaper change, etc.) and quickly realized that it’s a BIG produce, vineyard, garden/greenhouse town.  Agriculture everywhere!

Finally got on the right track on Hwy 41–Tamiami Trail–throught Miccosukee Indian Reservation Territory.  *Neat adobe houses of bright ‘earth tone’ colors, with tiki style thatch roofing.  They were hard to see because of the stockade fencing surrounding the villages.  We wanted to stop and visit.*

Instead, stopped at a little wayside park for a bit of a rest and saw first Alligator on this entire trip.  Many more swam up when Nico brought Baby up and she started to squeal a bit from excitement.  I think the gators thought she was lunch; an injured animal or something.  Lunch…either way!  Talk about scary…freaky!  It was eery to say the least!  **SEE Video Below**

We quickly escaped ‘gator park’ and made our way to a Motel 6 in Fort Myers for the night.  Exhaustion had set in, but it had been a good day trekking from the Keys…across Florida on the Tamiami Trail (Gator Ville, USA) back West to the Gulf Coast.

**CHILLING ALLIGATOR VIDEO**

Take it from me.  Keep Your Baby or Toddler AWAY from the Gators!  Far…FAR away!  We shot this from waaay up on a overlook, enclosed with fencing and thick gage protective barnyard wire-mesh fencing.  Even though we were at least 8 feet above the water, this still sent chills up my spine just to see how these gators responded to our little girl’s screams.  We high-tailed it outta there as fast as we could.  I had seen enough of the gators to last me a lifetime!

Playing the Sunset Celebration in Key West

So…we’d set-up to play the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square there in Key West.  We’d never done the ‘street performer’ gig before, so we had no idea what to expect.  After being directed into a nice spot near the water’s edge, we began belting out a few of our tunes; not sure if anyone was listening at the time.

I have to admit, without any sort of amplifier or speakers, it was all I could do not to strain a vocal chord to two.  But we managed to get through it all just fine.  In fact, Nico did wonderfully and seemed to fit right into that sort of scene.  With my soft voice, I can’t be so sure anyone ever even heard me, much less have an opinion.

But there was one man who did seem to have something to say, and a few folks stood close by listening as best they could while we sang the sun into the ocean.  The nice man told us “You have great spirit.”  We took it as a compliment since he and his wife had been listening to our show for quite some time.  Click on link below to see hightlights from our performance on Mallory Square.

Video:  ‘Flaminco Sunset’ by Gypsy Vin Rose

All in all, we had a great time–it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!  And the next time we head back down to Key West and the Florida Keys, I look forward to going back out to Mallory Spuare and singing my heart out…once again.  After all, I have nothing to fear…and nothing to lose.

.V..

GVR

www.gypsyvinrose.com

 

Party in The Florida Keys

Party at Mangrove Mama’s:

There are a few things I know I’ll never forget about our 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and the Party we attended at Mangrove Mama’s on Sugarloaf Key is definitely one of them.  We’d been invited by the owner earlier in the week, when Nico just happened to be introduced to him at the KOA Bar…in the campground next to LL.  He’d gone to the store for something and, as luck would have it, ran into a few friends from LL, who were enjoying their 4 o’clock refreshments.

Needless to say, Nico and the owner of Mangrove’s hit it off and we were accepted into the rather tight-knit circle of friends/acquaintances on Sugarloaf Key.  According to Nico, the party would be a benefit auction for a friend of Mangrove’s owner…who’d just-recently passed away.  He was an artist…and so, they’d be auctioning off his works to raise cash for this, that, and the other.  Either way, it was for a good cause, and the food and drinks were ‘on the house’.  How could we refuse?

No…really!  Since Mangrove Mama’s was classified more as a restaurant than a bar, we felt it was safe to take Baby, and lo-and-behold, she wasn’t the only kid there.  I was a bit worried we might be walking into an environment not suited for our little one.  But in the end, it all turned out to be a fun night…minus a few mis-haps and misgivings on the part of a few drunks and loud-mouths.  It seems…there’s always one (or two) in every crowd.

All in all, we danced to a bongo band called the ‘Margarejects’…laughed with new-found friends, and made it safely home at a reasonable hour…across Overseas Highway and back to Lazy Lakes.  In the end, Nico and I both had to admit “They really do know how to party in The Florida Keys!”  What a blast we had with the local Conchs!  I hope we can see them again…someday soon.

Video: Party at Magrove Mama’s

..V. ~~ www.gypsyvinrose.com

Hippies on Duval Street in the Florida Keys

Okay, so we’d been lingering a lot on Sugarloaf Key and not had too much time for Key West until…  Until we decided we had to know more of the island that our friend T.J. swore to us was ‘much better than we’d so far experienced’.  *not word for word*  We knew we’d have to make a day of it and, once and for all, see it for ourselves; Duval Street…Southernmost Point and everything in between.

In no time at all, Peniki was blaring down Overseas Highway at 55 mph and we were once again on Key West.  This time, we’d left our bikes back at Lazy Lakes and opted to go afoot.  We tried to think like the local Conchs and check out the ‘not so touristy’ spots where, in our opinions, the local-focal were likely to frequent.  In our search, we ended up at a little outdoor bistro with a tropical setting like no other we’d seen anywhere near Duval…complete with talking birds.  One Mango Daquiri later, I was sure we’d made the right decision by choosing to take a more intimate look at Key West and Duval Street.  We were fast becoming friends with the Florida Keys.