Last weekend my friend Beth and I went on a road tripin’ adventure through a really long peninsula, navigating the treacherous turn pike, past four towering landfills with ominous vultures, wrestling an iPod that kept playing the same damn songs over and over again while speeding through sweaty gator infested swamplands to the tiny island Key West.
I know, I know, so out there and exotic you’ve never even heard of it!
I must be crazy to get into a car and drive 394 miles … only to run 13! And I’ll have you know that once you hit the keys … that last 100 miles … it’s near impossible to find a coffee shop. Dreadful. After 6 hours of driving we were in desperate need of a caffeine kick. And all we could find is seafood and beer. The road signs went some thing like this …
bait shop …
dive shop …
boat shop …
Was it a hallucination? Were our heavy eyelids, stiff shoulders and cranky moods playing a trick on our brain? It was real! But just as our luck would have it, locked doors were what we found. Closed 20 minutes before we got there. Figures. We found a Mickey D’s a couple miles later to fuel up our energy with a McLatte and then finished the journey.
The view was gorgeous. Luckily our friend Vanessa led us to a relaxing local hangout on the beach for us to get into the Key West swing of things. After watching the sunset and indulging in a plate of stone crab legs, we had completely forgotten about our long drive.
Key West is known for celebrating the sunset, but the next morning we were catching the sunrise to run in the Key West 1/2 Marathon. My friend Beth got me back into running last year when we went for a jog while on a weekend getaway. I thought, “heck, why not! If I run, I’ll be able to eat my breakfast scone without guilt.” So we shlogged (that’s a shuffle/jog) through 2.5 miles. I thought I was going to die. And now 3 miles seems like an easy warm up. Heh! Who would have thought?
If you are a runner, I highly recommend the Key West 1/2 Marathon. It’s a scenic run, hugging the coastline most of the way. And it’s a Bucket List worthy goal … to say that you ran around the entire island of Key West. Bonus points if you can follow it up with the Duval crawl afterward. I couldn’t … I’m a one-beer kinda girl.
The second highlight of the trip was visiting my Travel Channel Academy bud, Vanessa. Having been a marathon runner and triathlete herself, Vanessa was quite the cheerleader for my first big race. She zipped ahead in her SUV with the windows wide open blasting the theme from Rocky, video camera in one hand, her Cannon swinging from her shoulder and her fists pumping up and down in the air in a winning champion style. She made me laugh. I looked forward to seeing her every couple of miles.
The first part of the race included a zip through downtown, mile marker zero, and the Southernmost Point. So, of course, I had to take some photos and upload them to Twitter via @TravelBlggr. But taking the time out for social media put us dead last. And I do mean, the final two. But we caught up after the photo ops and finished in 2 hours and 35 minutes. WOOT!
Here are my tips & confessions for this road trip:
ROAD TRIP TIPS
Stop at the Racetrack on US 1 right at the end of the turnpike. It is the cheapest gas you’ll find in Florida at an average of . 25 cents less per gallon. Also grab some coffee to go.
Card Sound Road is a great local tip Vanessa shared with us. Right after the Racetrack Gas Station, look for this toll road on your left. It’s only a dollar and will and will zip you past the construction on US 1 and give you a glimpse of Florida swamp and gators.
On your way down, or your drive back up, stop for breakfast and coffee at Leigh Anns in Marathon. You can’t miss it with the big pink coffee cup in the sky. Not only do they have great coffee, but their breakfast is to live for. I ordered a mushroom and brie frittata to make up for the banana and Cliff block breakfast I had the day before.
I eat all the round toasts out of a Chex Mix bag.
I’m completely addicted to running. So much so that I’m going to tackle a Marathon next. Another fun one I can’t wait to try … the ET. It is another Bucket List worthy race as it goes around/near Area 51 on Extra Terrestrial Highway and starts at midnight.
We found some little heroes to help us on our road trip back home. Meet Jaws in the picture to the right. Rex is his alligator side kick. They were quite the entertainment on our trip back up the state through the rain. Next time I think we’ll just ask Beth’s husband to fly us.
Want to learn more about where to stay in Key West? Check out these videos Vanessa (Brock Media) produced for some of the local Inns: