2018-06-25 The Key West Garbos Cheeseburger.. 4.5! 🧡🍔

My Key West vacation might be over, but I’m not closing the book until I capitalize on the opportunity to do a review the two Cheeseburger experiences I had on my journey. All I have to say about this first one is “move over burger boys, you never stood a chance”. In all fairness, my score of 4.5 is somewhat biased due to the overall experience. This was truly a Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Mid-way through our trip I mentioned to JS that I’d like to find a delicious burger and like everything else in my life right now, it was “ask and you shall receive”. No sooner did the words slip from my lips, and he was hot in the case finding the perfect place. That place turned out to be the Blackfinn Bistro.

That afternoon we drove the familiar route from our condo to where all the hustle and bustle of the Island starts. The island is small, 2 miles by 4 miles. Lots of people get around on bikes and scooters and parking a car is a serious bitch, so once we found a spot and paid for it, we were committed. The bistro was a short two or three blocks away and when we arrived we were met at the door by a printed page that indicated the establishment was closed for an indeterminate amount of time for renovations. What??!! It would have been nice for them to put that on their web sight. Epic fail.

Not to worry, Jim was Johnny on the spot with a backup plan. Soon we were off on foot to find Garbos, which was number 2 on his list. We walked almost 2 miles, which if you are paying attention, is most of the distance across the island. When we arrived we found a dive bar and nestled in back of that lot was a tiny food truck. That’s Garbos.

The reviews of this place are great and they are known for their spectacular fish tacos, but that’s not my game. Nope.. for Miss SugarCookie it’s all about the Cheeseburgers. There’s only 1 on the menu.. the Umamiburger:

UMAMIBURGER

1/2 pound angus, topped with a heirloom tomato, applewood bacon, chipotle gouda then served on a brioche bun. If you are feeling a little adventures ask for the Landon Calrissian.

Since I don’t care for chipotle flavor, I had them substitute their smoked Gouda instead. It was a Gouda choice! 😜 After we ordered, we had a seat inside the bar and had them pour us a couple of cold ones while we waited. There was no AC and it was damn hot out. I was sweaty, hot, and hungry from our little walk across the island and so when they placed it in front of me, I dove right in (after getting a quick pic for posterity of course).

Can you say “amazing”? Say it with me… “Amazing”. Like the Universe was rewarding me for all my good deeds, this burger was perfect for me. The burger was cooked to my liking, medium rare and had just the right amount of juicyness. The Gouda cheese was melted on the patty and topped with bacon and tomato, also at just the right proportions. The brioche bun was delish. This burger was proof that if done right, no sauce is required. I would not have wanted it any other way. It’s also proof that a food truck can turn out food just as good or better than any fancy Bistro. Sorry Blackfinn, you loose.

My 4.5 rating out of 5 is a comprehensive score that takes the experience into account too. That’s why I’m saying there’s a little bit of bias in it. I mean, having something that you love with someone that you love in a wonderful place is tough to top.

Well done Garbos.. if I ever get back to the Keys, I’ll be paying you another visit. Maybe next time I’ll get the fish tacos instead. (Hahaha, fat chance).

Enjoying Every Bite,

~Miss SugarCookie

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2018-06-24 A Farewell to the Florida Keys

Writing quite a bit after the fact now and somehow the days and dates aren’t adding up. In total we had four full days in Key West and one day on the front and back side of that dedicated to mostly travel. The day after our sight-seeing day when we visited the Hemminway house, we took a Jet-ski tour all the way around the island. Gulf side, to the Atlantic, and back again. It was another great experience and another opportunity to overcome my fear of the water. In truth, the JetSki wasn’t nearly as terrifying as snorkeling because you are above water the entire time AND in control of your own equipment. Plus we had life jackets, so even though we ventured out to deep waters, I never really felt that fear of drowning.

That afternoon it was a different story. We went to fort Zachary Tailor which has one of the few beaches on the island and we tried to swim out to snorkel around some rock formations. We didn’t have flippers to swim and got three quarters of the way and had to turn back. I could not do it and Jim agreed with me. There was more current at that location than the beach at the Dry Tortugas and the water was deep and I simply didn’t have the energy or skills to get there. He said later he would not have been able to make it either even if I wasn’t there, which made me feel a little better. Instead, we ended up trolling around some rocks closer to shore but didn’t really see much.

That evening we walked around Duval street a bit more, but nothing seemed very appealing so we called it off early. The next day would be another long travel day home and I knew it would be better to be well rested for that than to party it up on Saturday night.

Sure enough, we were up early on Sunday and got packed up to leave. We had one more stop/excursion planned for noon up north in Key Largo to hit before heading on to the Miami airport. The drive back up highway 1 was pretty un-eventful and the tour was a relaxing one. Two hours on a pontoon boat exploring the canals of Key Largo and the southern tip of the everglades with its Mangrove trees. We saw a manatee and It came right up to the boat to get a drink of fresh water from a jug they had me pour out over the side. That was really cool. The whole area was fascinating and you could tell the tour-guide/boat driver had been doing that for a long time.

We had a little bit of a dialogue about the prices for the lots and the houses and its incredible how expensive it is. Houses along these canals going for 2-5 million dollars. I can’t even imagine. What’s even more fascinating is that this area of the country gets just wrecked with hurricanes and it’s got to be incredibly expensive to insure those lots/houses. I can’t imagine living there. It was a great place to visit, but I can definitely rule out ever wanting to move to a place like that.

When the tour was over we stayed in Key Largo for lunch at the Sundowner bar and restaurant. I had my second cheeseburger of the trip and it was not as good as the first.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. It just seemed to take forever. You know when you are traveling to a place, there’s lots of excitement and anticipation and it doesn’t seem that bad. Traveling home is a whole different story. You are worn out, sad that it’s over but looking forward to being home. Every step of the way is blah. Packing, Driving to the airport, returning the rental car, waiting for your flight, yada-yadda. It’s all just blah! We didn’t land until after 10PM so by the time we arrived home, I was ready for sleep.

It was quite an amazing trip and will go down in my books as one of the best vacations I have ever been on. 99.5% of the credit for that goes to my love, for planning everything and being amazing in every single way!

For this one I’m going out in true Miss SugarCookie style and ending with a Keys top 10 list for posterity. In no particular order…

1. Snorkling at the Dry Tortugas/Fort Jefferson.. Holding hands with my sweetie.

2. Riding in the cockpit of a seaplane.

3. Giving a Manatee a drink of fresh water off the side of a boat.

4. The Garbos Cheeseburger experience.

5. Watching sunset from Mallory Square… followed by the street performance of ridiculous Reece.

6. Getting that Jetski to 71km per hour out on the open water.

7. Touring the Hemminway house.

8. Walking up and down Duval street holding hands and stopping into random bars for a cold drink.

9. Sitting on the patio of our condo lazily watching the water, storms, and lizards.

10. Having this whole trip be a surprise and getting to spend so much QT with my new best friend.

And with that, it’s Time to wave Goodbye to the Keys..

Peace and Love Until Next Time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-23 Key West Day 4 – Meeting Hemminway

Don’t blink or you might miss it. The days of vacation seem to fly so fast. Why is it normal life goes so slow sometimes, but when times are good it’s all just sand slipping through an hour glass? Oh what will be will be I guess. I just want to have enough time to write a little bit so I can remember all of it in days and weeks and years to come.

The first few days of this trip were action packed for sure with lots of scheduled activities. The last couple have been a little more chill and impromptu. I’ve said before that Key West has a lot of history to offer, one of those things involved one of the most decorated US writers of all time, Ernest Hemminway. I didn’t have to say a thing about this to JS, he knew I would want to visit the house that he lived in which is now a national treasure.

I’ll admit going in all I really knew was that he was a celebrated writer, and not a whole lot more about his life. Now I do. We took the tour and thus got the full story from our tour guide. His life was fascinating and also tragic. Most of his prize wining novels were loosely based on people, places, and events of his own life.

He was a romantic, married 4 times, lived mostly in Florida (the Key West house) and Paris, and suffered as individual with bi-polar and several other physical ailments that he had his whole adult life. One of those injuries kept him from being drafted during the First World War yet he still volunteered and ended up getting wounded from shrapnel in his legs.

The end of his marriages and beginning of the next was a pattern of having affairs and being caught. His wife would ask for a divorce and within a few weeks he would be married again. In touring his house it was clear that he loved boats and being in the water. One typed note I read was a letter to a friend confessing he was broke and needed to make a certain amount from his current writing endeavor to cover the cost of the boat he had his eye on.

Another pattern of behavior with the wives was that each was richer than the last. He married into money and most of what we were touring was bought and paid for by the families of his wife. Besides his legacy of writing, he had 3 children (all boys) who have had a number of children of their own.

When the Hemingways sold the house it was bought by a woman who had the mind to keep everything “as-is” and that’s how we are still today able to see what his writing studio looked like including original furniature and typewriters. I got emotional seeing that. It was like an amazing pilgrimage for an aspiring writer to experience. Among the treasures preserved for future generations is something else he had an affinity for.. his six-toed cats.

He had a fascination with the six toed cat and had been given one at some point. He had other cats and they had litters and to this day the same line is being kept in the house. At present, there are 56 cats on the premises and each female is permitted to have one litter of kittens before being fixed. All are given famous peoples names in keeping with the tradition he started, naming them after some his favorite people, who were actors and actresses. Most of them have the six-toe trait. On the tour they were in almost every room of the house. Just laying around on the tables and chairs living a life of luxury.

The tour guide explained how they were cared for and how every night part of her job is helping to round them all up and get them to the kitty-cat condos which are in the back yard. People asked if they ever wandered off to which she replied, “no, they have it so good they never go missing”. If they wander off property, they always come back. That’s a lesson People, recognize when you have a good thing and don’t mess with it.

Hemingway lived a full life, and I can see how all the drama could lend itself to inspiration. At what cost though? What I did not know before the tour was that his mental suffering eventually led to depression and subsequently shock therapy treatment. He was only in his sixties when he ended his own life with a gunshot to the head. There’s another lesson there which I just don’t have the words for right now…

***

After that tour we did the lighthouse tour across the street and I was somewhat brought back to the reality of the day. Hey, did I mention it’s effing hot in Florida? Just walking around in that heat for an hour wears a person out and neither of us felt like more sight-seeing after that.

That afternoon we cooled off in the comfort of our AC before venturing out again to get my other vacation destination “must”.. a Key West Cheeseburger. Of course the area is teeming with fresh seafood and I’d already had several crab cakes, but my time on the island would not be complete without some cheeseburger experience. That deserves a post all its own so I’m going to save that one for later, but trust me when I say it was good.

So good in fact that I ate every last bit and ended up not being so hungry for dinner at the fancy place we had reservations for. Among all the days touring and eating was a fair bit of day drinking. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted and ready to finish the night off with one last cold one back at the condo. We sat on our patio watching a storm roll by in the distance. It was a nice ending to an incredible and satisfying day.

At every turn Jim has been making sure my every need has been met. I mean, all I had to do was say I wanted to find the best Cheeseburger on the island and he was immediately researching how to make that a reality. I feel a bit like those spoiled Hemminway cats. I know a good thing and intend to stick around… for as long as life will allow.

Feeling is Believing,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-22 Key West Day 3

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, it does. Here I am again on my newest favorite elliptical machine facing the ocean thinking about my day yesterday.

We’ve had a steady set of planned activities but it hasn’t felt like we ha e been rushed at all. Waking up in the AM feeling good (perhaps a little hung over), but not needing to jump out of bed right away for any reason. It’s been a great balance of excursions and R and R.

Yesterday was the piece de resistance thus far. A sea-plane ride out to the Dry Tortuga National Park. Arguably one of the most difficult to get to and therefore least visited National Park in the US. If you ever looked at a map of southern Florida, you would think that Key West was as far as one could go, but in fact it is not. It’s just where the highway ends.

About 9:45 AM we boarded a plane with 8 passenger seats (plus two more in the cockpit) and took off from Key West International Airport and glided a cool 500 feet above the water and tiny uninhabited islands until we arrived at our destination, Fort Jefferson. We landed on the water. That’s what makes a sea plane a sea plane, it can take off and land from water or a runway. It was super cool, and surprisingly a really smooth ride from start to finish. We landed near a beach at the north side of the island and departed into sand.

At the island there’s two main attractions, good snorkeling around the outside of the fort and touring the fort itself. The structure is massive. They said it was the largest brick structure in the Westen Hemisphere and can be seen from space like the Great Wall Of China. Three stories high and circular in totality. The interior of the structure was large enough for rooms and hallways and of course the inside a wide expanse of land. Built for strategic Naval positioning but most often used to house prisoners. Such interesting history.

Our first order of business after arrival however was to get to the snorkeling. I could do a whole post about that and since we are going again today (somewhere else of course), I think I’ll save that for later. Needless to say, with my fear of drowning, it was quite the experience for me.

The whole excursion, plane ride included took about 4 hours. It was just enough because the Florida heat and sun is unforgiving. On the way back, the pilot asked us if one of us wanted to sit in the cockpit. My answer.. “Hellz yes!!”. It was icing on a delicious cake.

I saw so many sea turtles out in the ocean. JS saw more than that, dolphins and Rays, but that’s probably because I don’t j ow what I’m looking at. Or what to look for.

When we arrived back at the condo we were wiped out and laid around napping for a few hours. Just enough of a rest to recharge and eat bedore heading out to find drinks and watch the sunset from “sunset pier”. There were literally thousands of people gathered there to also witness it. The pier is hopping with bars and shops and restaurants. After sunset we stopped to watch a steer performer… ridiculous Reece. Then we wandered around more and eventually decided to call it a night.

It was another amazing day and like I said, hard to top. We have a more chill day planned for today with no absolute scheduled activities. More snorkeling, visiting a few Key West sites, and whatever else we can find…

Live from Paradise,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-21 Key West Day 2

We’ve already done so much here I can hardly believe we’re only in the middle of day 2. Yesterday we went on a glass bottom boat tour around the see and it was about 45 minutes out, 30 tooling around out on the aqua water and 45 back. What can I say about Florida so far?… it’s hot and the sun is brutal.

When we arrived back at port we walked around that very touristy part of town and stopped in a few places to have a drink. One of those places was Captain Tony’s which had live music and hundreds of dollar bills stapled to the walls and ceiling (it also had a bunch of bras hanging from the ceiling too). We sat for a bit and talked and then moved on down the street. I’m not much for shopping so just walking around and talking was nice. We It’s a very interesting area with lots of rich history. In the evening we had dinner reservations for a really nice place.

We had crab cakes and oysters for apps and I had rated my crab cake at lunch the day before at a six out of 10. This one was a solid 8. It’s about the crab and the way it is prepared, but also about the sauce. A good sauce can elevate any dish a few points and is absolutely necessary to hit the top. Cheeseburgers might be my main jam, but crab cakes are on my top three list. If I go somewhere they have these things, I’m commanded internally to order them. The third thing on that list is a Reuben sandwich. If I ever go somewhere and they have all three, then I know I am in trouble.

The name of this place was Prime – and I knew JS would be getting the surf and turf and I didn’t really feel the need to have a steak also so I elected to have order the pork chop with mashed potatoes instead. Again it was the sauce that made it what it was. At dinner we had more great conversation and I ended getting a little teary confessing my feelings. Not that the alcohol had anything to do with that but I had had a few more drinks with dinner and they were not made for a lightweight like me. I know he feels the same as me because I can see it in his eyes. He reciprocated my affections and we finished our meal and walked hand in hand around the docks. It was wonderful. Everything with him has been wonderful. He has gone above and beyond to make this trip really special and has done a great job planning everything.

When we got back to our condo, I was still really tipsy and insisted that we get in our swim suits and head out to the pool. We grabbed another cold drink from the fridge and did just that. By this time, the sun was long set and it was dark save for the lights around the pool area. We were the only ones around and swam back and forth for a little bit. I suppose I was just trying to get the most out of the day as I could, because that’s just who I am. I didn’t want the day to end. I know I will never have an opportunity to re-live the day, so I didn’t want to waste a minute.

I don’t even know what time it was when we decided to head back inside, but it eventually seemed like the right thing to do. Of course we had a little bit of sexy time and then both fell fast asleep for the night after that. A very full day indeed.

Today has already topped yesterday which is tough to imagine. I definitely intend to write all about it because I never want to forget all the things, but we are soon to be headed out to explore a different area of town soon.

Loving Every Minute,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-20 Sunrise in Key West

Today I am waking up in Key West Florida. Yesterday at this time, I still didn’t know where I was traveling and so far it’s been an incredible adventure. You know you are on to something when even the longest travel day turns out to be an amazing experience. JS has spared no expense to make sure of it. Just being together through the “fun” that is air travel made it not as bad.

First thing in the morning we had a three hour flight to Miami which was delayed by about 45 minutes due to a thunderstorm in the area. When we arrived in Miami it feels like we walked like 5 miles to get our bags and get to the rental car. After that, we drove for 3.5 hours to get to our final destination with just a few stops along the way.

We drove through all the Keys to get to the very last one.. Key West. I had heard of the Keys but never researched much. Some of the drive was across bridges that connect the islands and on the map, it looks like you are just driving out on the ocean. We got out of the car a couple of times to check out different things. The first time it was to see a monument to a hurricane that hit the area in 1937. The second time it was just to get out of the car and take some pics of the vanishing horizon. At one point, you could look out at the ocean and the sky and not tell when one ended and the other began. I’d never seen anything like that before in my life. While we were stopped we also climbed down to the water on some giant rocks and saw the biggest iguana I have ever seen in my life (including at the zoo). There he was, just basking on the rocks. He ran away when we got close to take a pic of course, but it was neat.

When we arrived we got settled in and had a quick rest to recover from our travels. Our condo is just a few blocks from the southern most point in the US and it is absolutely spectacular here. After that, we got back in the car to head to a fish market in town for drinks and a late lunch. I had a crab cake sandwich and a tiny little bottle of Rose. The town itself is very quaint and all the houses and businesses are nice. The buildings have a sort of Caribbean feel (lots of white) and of course there is a ton of lush vegetation and it’s quite tropical.

We went to the grocery and got supplies for the condo and then drove around at sunset looking for a good vantage point.

When we arrived back at our home away from home we had a few more drinks on the patio overlooking the water (which is when we realized we forgot bug spray). JS cooked a late dinner and we settled into the couch for a relaxin evening. It was truly a full day and a great start to what I can now call our Florida getaway.

It’s 7AM here now and the sun is up. He’s planned a fun day for us today which includes a glass bottom boat ride. I can’t even describe how lucky I feel to have met him. We’re going to have such amazing adventures together. First thing is first though – back to bed! 😉❤️

Loving Life,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-18 Destination Unknown

I’ve been waking up super early the last week or so. It’s actually an advantage when it comes to all these early-ass flights I’m booked on. 4:30am wakeup to make it to the airport.. no problem. Tomorrow trip number 2 starts with a 6:30 flight and I’m just about ready.

I’ll have had a break of two days in between touching down and taking off again. My trip to Nashville was really great and a good balance of work and play. I got to see Broadway and had a drink at the Honkey Tonk. We walked down to the river and chilled for a while on a 4th floor patio overlooking the scene. It was great food, however, I was slightly disappointed I never had a Nashville Cheeseburger. Wherever I end up next, I’m gonna get my fix.

By This time tomorrow my destination will be revealed. Based on various clues, my guess is somewhere on the East Coast. I’ve got a growing list of people who I’m supposed to inform when I find out.

Here is what I know…

1. I don’t need a passport.

2. Its “oceanic”. (That has to mean in the Coast right?).

3. The temps will be in the 80’s all week.

4. Its not on the same Latitude as Nebraska. (That could be anywhere).

5. It has been mentioned (that could be anywhere too, cuz I’ve thrown out a lot of guesses).

That’s it. That’s what I have to go on. That’s why I’m saying East coast but not sure where. I’d welcome any guesses! 😉

I’m getting totally excited to being swept away to some unknown place. Honestly, I don’t care where it is. I love my kids and my job and my life here, but balance is important and I need some major QT with just my sweetie. We could be just anywhere and as long as we have all day and night to just do whatever it will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) sleeping in and laying around relaxing and probably doing some sight seeing and exploring of the area.

Going on our first trip together feels like it should be some sort of a test, especially since travel is kind of important to me. Do we travel well together? But for some reason I’m not thinking about it like that at all. I have a level of confidence about it that makes me feel warm and happy inside. I mean, I must have a pretty good level of trust to let another person take the wheel and take me somewhere unknown. I’m ok with letting that happen, which says a lot coming from someone who is used to being in control.

What I am still responsible for at this point is wrapping up Work and packing my bags. True to form, I’ve got my checklist. Today all I have to do is execute. I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to write more, so this is basically that cliffhanger ending with no promise when the next episode will be coming out. Whenever that is though, all will be revealed.

Cheers to Adventure!

~Miss SugarCookie