This world is full of beautiful places and wonderful people. The trick is to combine those two as often as possible so you get to spend time with the wonderful people in the beautiful places.
Rita and I take a “time out” of sorts each April to celebrate still being here and living life to the fullest. You can find more of the details on that in the past blog past post: “Celebration of Living“. The short story is sometimes we don’t know how close to death we actually are at any given moment, but sometimes we do.
This year, our annual celebration of living happened the second week of April, between our 50th birthdays. She turned 50 at the end of summer last year, and I’ll turn 50 this spring. We’re golden!
In honor of making it this far, we decided on an extended celebration rather than just one day. Rita’s 21 year old daughter agreed to join us. I imagine her friends thought she was going to be a care taker for a couple of old ladies. I hope she’s able to laugh about that with them as much as we are. Anyway, reservations and airline tickets were secured, we had a plan!
The week before we were scheduled to leave I got a text as I was leaving work. A tick bite led to a swollen hand, an E.K.G. and some powerful antibiotics for Rita It was interesting to get that latest reminder of why we celebrate life so close to our trip. Lots of prayers and holding of breath happened as she went back in for her “clear to travel” checkup. As I write this post a couple of weeks later lots of prayers and holding of breath is still happening as she awaits results from her follow up tests.
Being on the first flight out Monday morning meant getting up and on the road before 4:30 am. Sure, it was a hectic morning, and we’re both grateful to our husbands for helping make this trip happen. Once we were at the airport started getting little reminders to slow down almost immediately. A random security search of a boot, delayed departure, an arrival delay courtesy of a vehicle blocking the gate, choosing a rental car with what turned out to be phenomenal gas mileage, then we were on our way to the Florida Keys!
The overseas highway is a beautiful drive. It’s not for anyone who doesn’t like bridges, but we loved it.
We reached the villa we rented at Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key right about 3:00pm that afternoon, and it was beautiful. We made it.
We could never get the folks at the resort to tell us what diffuser they were using, but the air in the lobby carried the most wonderful scents, light roses mixed with sea breeze and tranquility is the best way I can describe it.
From our little beach area, or either of the balconies, we could watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. We only needed to walk across the retreat to watch it rise over the Atlantic. Sunrise, sunset, both filled with absolute peace and beauty .
We found out the pools and fire pits were open and accessible 24 hours, which was perfect!
Our agenda was basically whatever we wanted to do.
We wandered over to a tiki-bar by the pool for late night pizza & bourbon.
We walked shoreside and snapped pictures of too many iguanas to count. We drove to Key West for the day, something we had dreamt of when we were still teenagers.
We had our morning coffee in the company of dolphins. I’m certain one morning they cried “No” as we were leaving. We turned around and spent a few more minutes watching them play and jump in the morning sunlight.
We watched a storm roll in and whip the calm gulf into small whitecaps.
We played in and at a little lagoon with stand up paddle boards.
Rita & I snorkeled while Sabrina went scuba diving at the third largest coral reef on the planet.
We swam face to face with schools of fish and took as many pictures as we could with tiny underwater disposable cameras.
We helped clean up the water and pulled floating plastic out of the sanctuary area.
We watched a 7ft nurse shark glide through the clear waters below us.
We watched a tangerine colored first quarter moon glow like a slice of sunshine after midnight.
Mostly, though, we spent hours gulf front talking and laughing into the late night. We laughed at ourselves. We remembered people who were no longer with us. We reminded ourselves where we were.
We sang One Less Day by Rob Thomas, the perfect theme song for this trip and this life. We answered questions we didn’t even realize were questions. This was not simply a trip to the beach. This was our golden celebration, and we made it.
I am a firm believer that one should take “the trip of a lifetime” as many times as possible. I’m also a firm believer that who you travel with makes all the difference in where you go.
We didn’t post much on social media while we were away, but we did use our phones & tablets to look at old photographs, and to take more photographs. Some day, maybe our children and grandchildren will look at these snapshots and and say “I can’t believe they did that”.
Or maybe, in retrospect, they’ll say something more like “Of course they did.”
So, here’s to friendship! Here’s to adventure. Here’s to family we call friends, and friends we call family.
Here’s to getting through and past simply surviving, and remembering to truly live. Here’s to cherishing every breath and celebrating every second.
Here’s to crossing things off the bucket list to make room for more adventures! Here’s to the ones we love, who remind us why we’re still here, and add life to our years every single day.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”Mark Twain