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Posts Tagged ‘Florida Keys’

I’ll admit I consider myself both adventurous and educated when it comes to cuisine. An expert? Maybe, maybe not? But more importantly – I enjoy a good meal. Yes, I crave culinary creations of all kinds. Heck, at times, it almost seems as needed as the air I breathe.

And through my travels I discovered amazing eats, adventurous meals and absolutely delicious dishes. Certainly we all have our favorites and now after discussing my Shanghai surprise, I decided to share more. To write about places when a meal makes the trip.

Craig's Restaurant

Next Stop. Florida Keys.

I’ll admit it; I first became intrigued when I learned Craig’s Restaurant claims to have a famous fish sandwich.  There is something about a name. But when billboards advertise it as “world famous,” that may not always a good sign.

Right off the Overseas Highway ( RT 1), heading south (or actually West) to Key West at MM 90.5 you’ll find Craig’s Restaurant. And when you enter, the simple interior doesn’t impress. It neither shows much character nor charm. All you do notice is the countless award certificates dating back to the 1980s that fill the wall. All awards  for the fish sandwich?

Ok, let’s try one. I order the famous.

And wow.

The combination of grilled whole-wheat toast, fresh caught and fried Mahi Mahi, pickles, tomato, and melted American cheese creates the masterpiece. Simple – yes. Delicious – YES. And also seemingly easily replicated, it remains one of the best the Keys offers. And I tried many.

about to enjoy the famous....

Overall, the restaurant may seem pricey (I think it was $10.95 for the famous) since it lacks a waterfront setting, a water view, and that desired “keyz'” atmosphere, but it delivers delicious.

Every trip down to the Florida Keys, I make it a point to stop, and my order is simple. The famous – with Mahi. Try one. You’ll agree.

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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The sunset holds magic and memories. Many times I am fortunate enough to share that magic and memories with my Mom. And many of those occur when I visit the Florida Keys.

My most recent trip to the Florida Keys, however, I learned that a member of the community had passed away.  My parents knowing my love for sunsets handed my a part of the eulogy.  Touched by the power of its message, and the importance of the sunset, I thought to share a section with you.

This piece was written (and spoken) by a daughter about her Mother.

As the sun was setting on 2008, we found out that our mother needed to undergo major surgery. She was so sick that we were really concerned she might not survive.

Ginny was already at her side, Nancy on her way, and I was on standby.

The evening before the surgery, as I tried to think of something comforting to say to her, I witnessed a magnificent sunset. I took it as a sign that there would be beautiful moments ahead of us.

When I called, I told her about the sunset and what I thought it meant. I suggested that as she went to sleep that night that she try to think about the many spectacular sunsets she had enjoyed.

She thanked me for my thought, but said, “as I go to sleep tonight, I’m going to think about the wonderful daughters Daddy and I have.”

Well the sunset did fulfill its promise of more beautiful moments ahead. And since then, each time I am privileged to behold a lovely sunset. I remember that tender moment.  A sunset, the radiant refraction of light and color as the sun goes below the horizon, is one of God’s gifts to us at the end of the day.

The sun has set on Mommy’s days on here on earth; but I hope I hope each time you delight in a glorious sunset, you’ll remember the light and color she brought into our lives.

So let’s take a moment this week to reflect and recall one of those special sunsets we shared with our Moms. I know I am. I hope you are too.

typical sunset in the (upper) Florida Keys

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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Kayak. If you ever picked up a paddle and stroked the water to propel yourself forward to explore, then you know.

You know that some of the best memories of your travels come from the adventures afloat. Whether the stillness of nature, the rapids of a river, or the majesty of nature that surrounds, you witness some of the best earth offers from your seat in a Kayak.

In my life I consider myself fortunate for these moments. Grateful for all the places I explored in a kayak. From the caves of Thailand to the cenotes of Mexico, the coast of Maine to sunrise on a lake in Ohio, a peaceful paddle in Pennsylvania to a magical moment in the mangroves of the Florida Keys. So many memories, so many adventures.

And this “Sunset Sunday” I’d like to leave you with the image I captured as I just exited the backcountry in the upper keys.  Here I faced the vast ocean with a setting sun, truly a memorable kayak thru the Florida Keys.

...a kayak in the keys

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At first, when I heard “casting contest,” I wondered if reality TV decided to come to the Florida Keys.  After so much time down here, I truly believe a show about life on the souther tip of Florida can top the nielsen ratings. But just steps away from Islamorada, the “Sports Fishing Capital of the World,” casting clearly means using a fishing rod.

Fat Buoyz

Based in the Upper Keys , I asked the “twitter-verse” for advice for sunset locations further south in Marathon. Christy Johnson (@MarathonFlaKeys) responded and told me to stop by Fat Buoyz Bar and Grill for happy hour and meet Captain Spider for his casting contest.  Sounded like a plan.

In the quaint marina located at the base of the 7 mile bridge (mm47), Fat Buoyz provides the grub, entertainment, and patrons you’d expect from the name. A biker bar, with “Biker Mondays” creates a vintage keys experience for any day of the week.

I first arrived when the fishing charters just returned from the day at sea. Captain and crew cleaned up the boats and also the day’s catch – Spanish Mackerel.  And as the Pelicans positioned for the filet scraps, I positioned myself at a table to order the first round.

the lure and the rings...

Nearly done with my first $3 draft,  I spotted a man dressed in a Spiderman sweatshirt. Must be Captain Spider. I introduced myself, learned the details of the casting contest, and signed up to compete.

Captain Spider hosts contests multiple times each month at different locations. Each Tuesday night the proceed benefit the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach with Thursday’s alternating between the marathon high school ‘7-mile marina scholarship fund,’ and other community projects.

The contest rules are simple; 3 practice casts; 5 casts for score. Each contestant attempts to land the lure in set of styrofoam targets floating in the water. With seven rings at sea, each accounts for  a different point total – 50 for the center ring, 40 for either of the outside rings, 20 for larger rings, 10 for the largest rings. The one with most points scored  after five casts- your winner. (Ties go to an intense one cast sudden death shoot out).

the view from above....

The champion takes home top honors and a prize (donated), but essentially all participants seem to receive a consolation for their effort.

I can blame the wind, right-handed rods, (yes I am a southpaw) or casting early at sunset (challenging light)  for my results. An endless list of excuses really, but the reality – I lost.

Yet, the good news is these charities do not. My donation ($5 entry fee) will help create a scholarship for someone who wants a career on the water. Not to mention the evening certainly put a smile on my face.  Hey, next time I’ll do better.

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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the sunset sky on the oceanside in the Florida Keys

Times exist when you wonder. You stare at the sky and wonder if the sun has already set or if the day still “officially” holds a few minutes.  You can’t see the sun dip over the horizon.

Many times this winter in Florida Keys I found myself on the “oceanside” and not the “bayside” with the western view. But that did not mean I did not enjoy the majesty of the moment.

Nearly every night, nature put on a different show, each more beautiful than the prior. Vibrant colors illuminated the sky, the clouds, and my ocean view. In fact, on this very day I can’t imagine a more beautiful sky. Breathtaking.

stay adventurous, Craig

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The magic of a sunset seems to multiply on the water.  And when you climb aboard a sailboat, well that may just be the ultimate.

During my time in the Florida Keys this month I discovered Sunshine Sailing in the upper keys (MM 94.5) and just yesterday Captain Jennifer MacLean, a women of (and) the sea, invited me on board to experience a sunset sail.

After a lovely sail, munching on organic salads, sipping cocktails and listening to stories of adventure we anchored up just outside Tavernier key. Then as the sun began its final descent below the horizon, the Captain said, “let’s take the dingy for a ride.” The goal to capture the moment of the sunset with the Indian Summer II, her sailboat, in the moment. We did. Enjoy.

Sunset anchored at Tavernier Key

Stay adventurous,  Craig

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