We have been planning this trip for a YEAR! We LOVE to visit Tyler and Brittany in Fort Lauderdale, and usually take the opportunity to do so in May when we go down for one of Todd's big events. But since they had a brand new baby in May, we decided to come down this year for the lobster hunt/Tyler & Todd's birthdays.
Now this is a hunt I can get into, not like deer hunting where you're just sitting around in cold weather waiting for a deer to happen by, only to shoot it with a big loud gun, have to watch the poor thing bleed and die, gut it, cut it up, haul it out of the woods, stick it in the freezer, and stick its head on the wall. Lobsters are quiet. They live in warm water. You don't have to shoot them with a gun. They don't bleed. You can eat them pretty much right away. They taste good.
After a nice relaxing weekend with the the FL Rhodes (and some minor repairs to the boat) we headed down to the Keys. We stayed in a nice little condo that was perfect to share. This was my first time to Key West. I've wanted to go there for a while. I helped design two Del Sol stores down there but never got to go on an install. I was surprised to see that it was more "civilized" than I had expected (and larger), but we'll get to that.
Tuesday was day one for the hunt. Tyler, Landon (Tyler's co-worker), Todd, and I went out in the AM to a spot Tyler and Landon hunted last year. Brittany stayed in the condo with the kids that day and put together a cake and decorations for Tyler's birthday party that night. Due to some storms off Cuba and Grand Caymen, the waters were rough and the visibility was not great. We stayed on the lee side of the keys where the water was more calm, but there was nothing but sea grass.
We headed over to the Atlantic side and braved the rougher waters in search of rock ledges and coral; as Tyler likes to call it "lobster condos." We were never in water deeper than 7' or 8'. There are so many sand bars and whatnot that sometimes we would be close to a mile off shore and could stand up in the water. Alas, there were no lobsters the first day. We did experience the company of a manatee as it swam along side us for a few minutes. I didn't see it until i put my mask in the water and it was swimming between my legs (in 5' of water). I freaked out a little; they are really big. But we followed it and then it followed us. Who'd ever thought I see a manatee in the wild.
We consoled ourselves with a little dinner out that night. No one ordered lobster. We are at Hogfish Grill. It's charming, outside, on the water...
That day, Brittany and the kids did this:
And then we did this:
Owen is really good at birthdays. He sings and everything.
The next day, we ALL went out on the boat. I am so glad because I wouldn't have had fun if Britt and the kids couldn't be with us. I think we were all a little nervous about having a 2 year-old and a 2 month-old out on the ocean for a whole day, but Owen and Collette were CHAMPS! Owen is a little sailor man and Collie slept pretty much the entire time in her tiny life jacket.
Todd and Tyler did a little reconnaissance that morning and with the use of an iPad and Google Maps found what looked like a great place for lobster condos. We used a GPS and Todd's iPhone (in a waterproof cover) to locate our spot. It was gorgeous. As the tide started going out there was a very strong current, but that did not stop us from hunting or from Owen enjoying a swim. He's such a good swimmer!
As the day wore on with no signs of lobster it was clear that while this was a great place to find them, they had probably been cleared out of their condos the day before. The radio had said that there were 20,000 to 30,000 people down in the Keys for the lobster hunt this year. So now we know where to go FIRST next year. Brittany and I were actually praying that we would find a lobster. I don't think Todd and I cared as much as Tyler, he was the host and I think he would have felt bad had we come all that way for naught.
And YAY! our prayers were answered! Tyler caught a lobster!
To celebrate, that night we went out for pizza. The condo was not adequate for cooking such a special catch. We walked up and down Duvall Street, the place where all the stores, restaurants, and people watching action is. It was HOT, but fun.
I love that first pic of Brittany holding a baby while taking a breathalizer test in a bathroom hallway. Only in Key West.
We were sad to leave the Key West. But the drive home was fun, too. There is a road side attraction called Robbie's where you can eat, charter fishing boats, and feed the tarpin. Tarpin are really large sport fish, not great for eating, but great for fishing and feeding.
We all took turns throwing sardines and dangling them just right to get a tarpin to jump up with its giant mouth and swallow your fish. These photos are in backwards order, but I am too tired of writing this to fix it. This is me enjoying Robbie's.
I love this one of the boys all checking out the fish.
These suckers are 4' long!
The tarpin actually have big teeth. Sometimes they scrape a knuckle or two, but Todd was brave.
These are all of the object that have fallen out of pockets and off of heads as people have fed the tarpins. There are brand new phones, really nice sunglasses, and other really random objects hanging here.
The night we got home from the Keys we ATE the lobster.
Tyler cooked it up on the grill and slathered it in cilantro butter. It was yummy! We split it four ways...
On out last day in Fl with the Rhodes, we decided to take the boat out and cruise the canals of Fort Lauderdale. Tyler and Britt live in the historic section of town, so it's fun to cruise around and look at the big houses and the giant yachts anchored along the canals. These are in backwards order, too.
We ended up at a state park on the other side of a little canal from a huge beach. It was gorgeous and we played for a little while.
These are our gracious hosts. We always have such a good time. We miss them while they are not living in Utah, but we LOVE that they live somewhere so FUN to visit!
Here's Owen, the little sailor man.
This is the drawbridge near Tyler and Brittany's house. We affectionately call it the "Jack Donaghy Bridge" because the old-timey image on the bridge looks like Alec Baldwin's character on "30 Rock".
It's always sad to say goodbye to the Rhodes, but we are excited to see them at Christmas and to be together then. Thank you for having us in your home and on your boat! We love you guys so much!
On Monday was Todd's birthday, I don't know that I could top his birthday tribute from last year so soon, so you'll just have to scroll down and revisit it (you know you want to ). We spent the evening with Sara and Ben Jensen at their lovely apartment in New Canaan. They have a roof top patio with a grill, and Todd's birthday wish was to grill us up some New Yorks, so who I am to stand in the way of a birthday wish?
The menu was Todd favorites: New York steaks, sweet potato fries with a bacon-brown sugar dipping sauce (thanks for the suggestion, Tyler), tomato-cucumber salad, and green beans...
Here are Ben, Sara, and Todd enjoying the view, the after-rain cool evening, and the food...
Sara made Todd a DELICIOUS German chocolate cake in the shape of the "forbidden doughnut". It was darling. I need to get one of those pans.
Ben and Sara even got Todd a gift, which is more than he got from me... isn't the sky pretty?
We've had such an amazing summer. We are grateful to friends and family who actually want to hang out with us. We have been missing home and family so much not being with them this summer, but we have tried to take advantage of any and every adventure during this special time in Connecticut. I will be home on August 28th and Todd will be home October 1st. I have four more weeks of summer and those four weeks are packed with FUN. I can't wait for more adventures!