We park the plane on the ramp and notice that we, definitely, have the sexiest plane here. Oh, sure, the myriad of personal jets fly faster and speak volumes about the monetary success of their owners, but ours is slow, goofy looking and can land across most of the runways those guys use.
I puff my chest out and walk into the FBO as if I’m not a commoner flying a cheapo piston plane and we get a shuttle to our hotel. It’s a decent little place, but lodging here is unexceptional unless you want to pay a mint. Lots of average places to choose from and we hunker down to plan our next move.
Sleeping is a nice option, but it’s only mid-afternoon. Seems like a waste to spend bucks getting somewhere to sleep all day. Could have done that for free at home. So we grab cameras and start wandering around town.
The sun is bright and hot. We’ve spent the winter with a very mild mountain climate in San Miguel and then traded that for a bit of ‘cold and damp’ in the midwest before coming here. The blue sky is refreshing, but I’m going to need more sunblock if we’re going to do this for a few days.
We get to the main drag and are, well, disappointed. It’s definitely a tourist town and at least one cruise ship is in and Duval street is busy with folks who only have a few hours to drink as much as they can at Sloppy Joe’s before the bus leaves and they go to the next port.
After a couple laps up and down the road, we end up stopping at a drag bar that seems to be filled with locals. Always a good sign. The mixed gay/straight crowd is doing a music night with several of the locals sitting in with the band either singing or playing piano.
Travels being what they are though, we tire quickly and call it an early night.
The next day we go to Hemmingway’s house. There are apparently some 40+ cats that have descended from the original polydactyl cat that Ernest had, so they all have extra toes. It’s pretty weird looking actually, but they are all mellow (presumably the non-mellow ones were served down the street at one of the low-end restaurants) and are cared for well. The house itself is interesting and well preserved. Because it was occupied as recently as 50 years ago it’s a bit like visiting your old aunties house, but checking out his writing studio is fun. He had a large room that was minimally furnished and looked out over the gardens and the pool. Clearly I’m missing something like that and it explains the paucity of output on this blog.
After finishing up we decide to wander through town again. We head the opposite direction and soon find ourselves at the end of the island. There is a marina and a bunch of restaurants so we decide to take a break for some lunch. For no good reason we sit down at a random restaurant and I realize that I’m in the mood for a cheeseburger. We get that, a salad and a couple beers and watch the early boats get cleaned up after their morning charters.
The burger is plopped in front of me and is a juicy looking specimen with an appropriately sized bun, fresh toppings and some perfectly prepared french fries. Biting into the burger I’m happy to find that it’s among the best burgers I’ve ever had. Perhaps there is something to that frat boy Jimmy Buffet after all.
As night falls we decide to go to a drag show. The tickets are cheap and there are 50 people packed into the small room. The lead is a pretty talented dude with a good voice, but the rest of the cast is pretty weak. It’s an entirely lip synced performance, but still somewhat entertaining. It is fun, but I wouldn’t go back. The room quickly clears out and we are soon two of only five people left. We leave also and wonder how empty things have to get before they decide to stop.
The next day we mount up and head back to the airport. The array of airplanes on the ramp is still mostly those that have fuel bills equal to the cost of our plane, but we still have a cool ride.
We head east and follow the string of islands that make up the Florida Keys and then fly over mainland Florida for a little while before heading out toward the Bahamas. There is the standard low set of clouds and Beth doesn’t like to fly through them, so we stay low and enjoy watching the seas change from dark blue to emerald as we near the islands. We get turned over to Bahamas ATC and are cleared to land at Eleuthera, which will be our home for the next few days. The airport looks like a barely used runway, but it has customs and there is a lineman out to meet us and get our bags as we taxi up. And that’s as good a place as any to pause our story…