We killed the buggy in paradise

We killed a car in Florida. My aunt, uncle and grandma's shared Florida car, that is. Nothing like having to get a hold of your uncle and say, "Thanks for letting us use your car and condo! By the way, you're going to need a tow truck." 


Apparently the drive from Fort Myers to Key West and back was just a little too much for the throttle positioning sensor on the buggy (as it is affectionately known) and it went kaput. If you're not familiar with that particular sensor, when it goes bad, the ABS and traction control flip out and there's zero throttle. It goes into limp mode.

Here's the beautiful and God part of this story: We had zero car problems on the entire road trip. We made it back to the condo safe and sound, went inside for a few hours to rest, then came back out to go to dinner. Dead ride. Yes, the very next time we started the car after returning from a 600-mile road trip, it wouldn't run. Did I mention that a large chunk of that road trip was along a highway called Alligator Alley through the Everglades? Have you ever been to the Everglades? Cool as heck, but there aren't too many places to stop along the way.

Thank the Good Lord in Heaven that sensor held on until Fort Myers!

Fast forward a day and lightning hit the airplane we were supposed to take home, grounding the aircraft and delaying us by 3.5 hours.

Moral of this story: Don't let us near any vehicles you want to work.

But in all seriousness, we had such an amazing trip and wonderful time of much-needed rest! Plus, we were able to check off a bucket-list item of driving the keys. I'll let some photos do the talking. After the photos are some reviews of places we stayed and restaurants where we ate.

To get to the Keys from Fort Myers, you have to drive through the Everglades along Alligator Alley. There are a few lookout points and rest stops with neat views!
A recreation stop in the Everglades where you can put your boat in the water.
Robbie's on Islamorada is a kitschy little tourist trap where you can pay to feed these giant fish (aka Tarpon). They leap out of the water and take the bait from your hand and, yes, they have teeth. This was a fun little stop along the way.



There are 42 bridges between the tip of mainland Florida and Key West. This is the famed 7-mile bridge.

The original Seven-Mile Bridge was railroad. It has now been turned into pedestrian bridges on both ends.

View from the southern end of the Seven-Mile Bridge.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

I don't actually know what exactly this is, but you can see it from the Southernmost Point on Key West.
After a nice bike ride to the Southernmost Point.


Sunset on Long Key. It was the most glorious sunset of all time.

Reviews

Cantina Laredo
Fort Myers

Cantina Laredo is a chain, but one we don't have in Indiana. It's one of our favorites in South Fort Myers and we hit it every time we're there. It's a higher-end Tex-Mex restaurant so the prices are about $15-$20 a plate. The warm salsa is my favorite, but beware: It's spicy!

Sun Harvest Citrus
Fort Myers

This is a favorite stop for us in Fort Myers as well. They make their own fresh fruit juices in-house and if you go during the day, there's an observation window where you can watch them make juice. They also have tasty ice cream. My personal favorite is the orange/vanilla twist, while my husband goes for the key lime/chocolate swirl.

Sunburst Cafe
Naples

This was our first stop at Sunburst Cafe and I hope it wasn't our last! This small, family-owned restaurant is a gem with an impressive and delicious coffee menu and fantastic breakfast. The prices are extremely reasonable. Definitely worth a stop!

Sunset Pier
Key West

Sunset Pier is a happening little outdoor restaurant next to the cruise ship port and, as the name suggests, is a great place to catch the sunset. They have live music in the evenings and a tasty Cuban sandwich. The prices here (much like all of Key West) are insanely high and if you go too early, you will bake in the sun.

Key Lime Pie Co.
Key West

Delicious key lime pie and if you go earlier in the day, they have an observation window where you can watch them make pie.

Old Town Bakery
Key West

This is a must do! Old Town Bakery has the most delicious baked goods. My personal favorite is the peach cobbler danish, but the croissants are amazing too. The bakery is tiny, so there's no indoor seating, but don't let that stop you. Stop in, grab a cup of coffee and a pastry, and find a spot outside to enjoy!

The Florida Boy
Long Key

The Florida Boy is a brand new restaurant and is one of the only options on Long Key. That's okay, though, because the food is delicious! We had both lunch and dinner here. The fish tacos and the chicken wings and fries got our stamp of approval, as did the pizza we ordered for dinner. This restaurant has a menu that ranges from casual bar fare to higher-end dinner entrees.

Fairfield Inn and Suites
Key West

Our preference in Key West is the Island City House near Old Town, but because we planned our trip so last-minute, the Fairfield Inn on Roosevelt was a more affordable option. The Fairfield is comfortable and clean and has an excellent tiki bar/restaurant and resort-style pool. The location is pretty far from Mallory Square (close to 3 miles) and many of the other happening spots on the island. Fortunately, there's a bike rental shop on-site where you can rent a nice cruising bicycle for $15 for 24 hours. A taxi to Mallory Square runs about $15 each way. Hotel staff are friendly and attentive and this is a great place to stay if you don't mind biking or driving around the island.

Lime Tree Bay Resort
Long Key

The location of this resort is pretty fantastic. The water in the bay is calm and you can see to the bottom. Guests can check out paddle boards and kayaks for free and the resort is right next to The Florida Boy restaurant. The sunsets here are phenomenal and breathtaking. Unfortunately, the rooms are very small and have a slight musty smell to them. Long Key doesn't offer much to do other than the ocean, which is great if that's what you're after. If you prefer to be more active on vacation, it would be easy to get bored pretty quickly here. Also, the pool at this resort was hot -- as in, hotter than a bath. At 90+ degrees, the air temperature was cooler than the pool water, which was at least 100ยบ. Not awesome. The resort does offer lots of hammocks, a giant chess game and a nice pier to walk out to swim. It was a good place to stay for a night, but we agreed we wouldn't plan an entire vacation here.

***

Thank You

Huge heartfelt thanks are in order for all of the people who made this vacation possible for us. Fertility treatments have a way of straining the budget, so the generosity and kindness of family members made this trip a reality.

Aunt L., Uncle D., and Grandma - Thank you for letting us use the car, the condo and offering us the house so that we didn't have to rent a car or pay for lodging in Fort Myers.

Mom B. - Thank you for watching the fur kids so that we didn't have to pay to board them and for giving us the peace of mind of knowing they were in good hands.

Mom S. and Brother M. - Thank you for the airport rides so that we didn't have to pay for parking.

Y'all are amazing and awesome and we love and appreciate you so much!

P.S. Thanks also to Southwest Airlines for the free flights (their credit card is awesome if you have the self control to use it and immediately pay it off) and the $100 travel vouchers per person for the Saturday night flight delay!

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