Thursday, March 20, 2014

My, my, my - my Key Lime Pie

I feel obligated to finish up my posts on our cruise, especially because it's almost time for my next trip! Since I use my blog as a scrapbook, I want to get the photos and memories recorded before they are gone forever. That can happen.

Our last stop was beautiful Key West. I did love watching from our balcony as we arrived and departed from each port.
I was very impressed with the ship parking. Since we have a fair amount of difficulty getting our pontoon back in our boathouse, it is totally beyond my comprehension as to how one parks a ship the size of Rhode Island.
Props to the captain who brought that baby gently up to the dock. There must be prayer involved. That's how we do it at the lake.
The port in Key West is part of the naval base, and passengers are transported in buses over the dock since it is a restricted area.
The adorable Angie Smith presented our morning devotion before we headed ashore to explore Key West. Since she and I are kindred spirits (at least in my mind) I expected her to be late, and she was. It's morning, after all, and she was traveling with four little girls. And a husband who failed to set the alarm. Or was at least willing to take the blame. But seriously, how can someone look that good straight out of bed? She made us laugh, made us cry, and reminded us that WE are sons and daughters of the living KING. Praise God!
We were happy to be in Key West, where we once again had cell service and were able to freely use our phone, update our status, and post to Instagram. We were charmed by the cute, quaint buildings and relaxed feel of the key. Ruthann and Becky found this sweet lady carrying her groceries. She didn't say much.
I found a quatrefoil fountain! Hello Phi Mu!
Our first stop was Truman's Little White House. I had done a little research on Key West before the cruise, and I knew this was one of the stops I wanted to make. We decided to tour on our own rather than with a group from the ship, and we arrived before the crowd. The house looks much as it does when Truman visited.
Our tour guide was very good, and shared many stories about the furnishings and the events that took place at the house. Truman was the first president to use the house as a retreat, but many after him have also visited. When we asked which presidents have stayed in the house, our guide said it is easier to list those who haven't stayed there: Obama, the Bushes, and Reagan. The house is still a residence of the President, and for that reason, photographs are not allowed inside. There are living quarters, which are not part of the tour, that are reserved for the President should he choose to visit.
Above the door, there is a Presidential Seal. Our guide told us that it was President Truman who made changes in the design of the seal, namely, turning the head of the eagle toward the olive branch rather than toward the bundle of arrows in the other claw. This was to signify the United States as a peace-loving nation.
Becky, Janet, and I posed outside after the tour.
We walked to our next destination, enjoying the beautiful homes along the way.
We were anxious to see the next stop on our 'tour', Ernest Hemingway's house.
We learned that Hemingway owned a white cat named Snowball, who had six toes. The 45 (yes, 45!) cats currently living on the property are all said to be descendants of Snowball, and half of them have six toes. This sign is posted at the gate.
I couldn't help but think that a place with that many cats is a perfect illustration for the beloved children's book by Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats:
They were. Here. There. Everywhere.
Our guide was both informative and entertaining. Hemingway was quite a character, and there are many colorful stories about his life in Key West.
From the upstairs balcony, we looked down on the garden currently used for weddings and events.
Hemingway had three boys, who spent much of their childhood in this house. I can imagine them racing around this second floor balcony.
The lighthouse, just a short distance away, was once used to guide ships. Due to the changing shoreline, it is now too far inland to serve that purpose. According to our guide, Hemingway knew that if he could see the lighthouse as he left Sloppy Joe's, he could find his way home.
Another cat.
The swimming pool was quite a wonder when it was built in 1937 at a cost of $20,000. It was the only pool within 100 miles at that time, and was built on the spot where Hemingway previously had built a boxing ring. It is a lovely spot on the property.
Our guide pointed out this cistern type rain barrel,
which sits atop a urinal from one of the local bars that Hemingway reportedly brought to the property. And a cat, taking a drink. Don't worry, it's water.
This cat is sitting on the gutter of the roof of the 2-story studio where Hemingway did his writing.
Another cat inside the studio.
The place where Hemingway wrote.
This part of the tour was on our own, since there is just a small staircase up to the studio, so we didn't learn about the furnishings in this room.
Of course, where there are so many live cats, there must also be some that are no longer with us. Even with nine lives, cats don't live forever.
And a cat, walking away as we finish our tour.
We did a little more walking to the Southernmost Beach Cafe & Bar.
Key West is famous for Mile Marker 0 on Highway 1, and is the southernmost spot in the U.S.
 We had a lovely lunch with refreshing drinks,
 and delicious shrimp tacos.
We also had a scrumptious piece of key lime pie. This isn't our piece, though. I think we were more interested in eating than in photographing. Ha!
(This photo of Southernmost Beach Cafe is courtesy of TripAdvisor.)

We hopped in two pedicabs to get back to the shuttle, and were entertained by our driver who goes where the wind blows and spends the winter working so he can walk (hike really) all summer in all kinds of exotic places.
We passed the New Orleans House,
 and the famous Sloppy Joe's.
We caught the shuttle bus to go back to the ship, and discovered that our driver was Chris Cringle himself. Well, maybe not the real Chris Cringle.
Home sweet ship.
I watched as we prepared to pull away from the dock, and took this photo of a Coast Guard cutter. It made me think of Jim's dad, John, who served in the Coast Guard in WWII.
 See those two guys? They literally nearly missed the boat.
Across the way, I spotted a Disney Cruise ship. Lots of fun over there. Hi ho, hi ho.
I took a picture of our cabin for the record. You can see one of our towel animals, a monkey, hanging on the wall. You can also see out our door to our little veranda and the ocean beyond.
Saturday evening, our last night on board, we were entertained with a concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'More Than Wonderful.' Some of the passengers had signed up to be in the choir, including two of the ladies who were our table mates at dinner each night.

Sandi warmed up the crowd by singing a few songs with her kids, Katie, Jonathan, and Aly.
She was joined on stage by Larnelle Harris and backed up by the fabulous choir. Those two can saaaanngg!
Each of Sandi's guests took to the stage for a final cruise performance. You know who else can sing? Amy Perry and Selah! They were awesome. Their new single 'You Amaze Us' is now available on iTunes.
Next up, the hilarious Anita Renfroe. She did the 'Mom Song' as her finale. If you haven't seen it, check it out on youtube. She taught us lots of good stuff, like how not to flush a toilet on a cruise ship, and how many pumps from the shampoo dispenser it takes to fill a water bottle. So so funny.
The sweet, talented, funny, genuine, beautiful Angie Smith gave us some parting thoughts.
She speaks conversationally, friend to friend, and just shines with the light of God's love.
Sandi and Wayne Watson sang one of my all-time favorites, Another Time, Another Place. A-mazing!
Pastor Jim Lyon shared with us throughout the week, and made us think. And laugh. He has a wonderful, somewhat unexpected sense of humor. He had us right in the palm of his hand. Especially with his story about snacks.
At the conclusion of the concert, Sandi and friends came together center stage so folks could get a photo of the entire group. It was hard to get close and in position, but it was entertaining just watching them having so much fun together.
They smiled,
they laughed,
they sang… so long, farewell...
and laughed some more.
I stole this photo from someone else who had a little better angle than I did for getting everyone in the picture.  It was an amazing evening wrapping up an unforgettable week.
We slept well, and returned to Ft. Lauderdale just as the sun was coming up.
Hello Ft. Lauderdale!
Good morning!
Our trip home was not without incident, and after one cancelled flight, we were rebooked and homeward bound. Bye bye cruise ships.
In Atlanta, we rode the train between terminals. The automated voice says, as the train pulls out, "This train is departing." Or, as granddaughter Haleigh heard on a previous trip, "This train's a party." So much better.
As we said hello to Indianapolis once again, we brought treasured memories of laughter and singing, listening and learning, inspired and embraced by God's great love and the gift of friendship.

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Terri D. said...

How wonderful! Your took us along with you and I enjoyed it so much! I have been to Key West and loved seeing all the cats. You got some great cat photos!!

Cathy said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of this. I've wondered what a cruise like that would be like and now I know. I believe I would love it!