Monday, November 14, 2011

Florida Keys Adventure - Fall 2011

Day 1 we drove from Richmond to Savannah.  I had the back seat to myself so I slept much of the way.  8 hours of riding in the car - with an occasional stop to stretch our legs - was boooooooooring.  But when we stopped for the night, there were lots of new and exciting smells, and Spanish moss hanging from the trees!

Spanish Moss!
Port Wentworth, Georgia
On Day 2, we finally made it to Florida.  After a good walk at the rest stop (lots of Florida smells!), mom and dad had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays, and I made a new friend of the waiter, who gave me some yummy biscuits!  We drove a couple more hours and ended up at Vero Beach, Florida.  The hotel was very nice - the valet parking guys and front desk clerk petted me every time I walked by.  The only thing I didn't like was that dogs aren't allowed on the beach in Vero Beach (some silly county ordinance).  But we walked on the sidewalk along the beach, and we could see the ocean.  When I saw the ocean, I tried to crawl under the fence and make a break for it, but momma wouldn't let me, law-abiding citizen that she is.  We had a great walk anyway, and I found a dead fiddler crab that was HUGE!  All night long I had dreams about all the amazing new smells and the creatures that made them.

No dogs on the beach?!?!  That's the silliest thing I've ever heard!

First Rest Stop in Florida
Dead Monster Fiddler Crab!
On Day 3, we explored Vero Beach (except, of course, the actual beach, which is off-limits to dogs).  We walked along Ocean Drive and I tried to catch the lizards that were all over the place on the sidewalks, but they were just too fast for me.  After lunch and a nap we set out to find the dog park, which was quite a challenge given that the hotel website said it is south of the bridge, but it is actually North of the bridge.   But we finally found it, and I chased a ball and romped with some local dogs and took a swim in the Indian River (which is salt water, so no gators).  I was so tired when we got back to the hotel, I was quite content to have a Kong in my crate while mom and dad went out to dinner.  After dinner, we all went out for ice cream at a place that the hotel website said has dog ice cream.  But they don't have dog ice cream.  I was extremely disappointed and plan to file a formal complaint about the inaccuracy of the information on the hotel's website.  But the valet parking guys made it up to me by petting me and giving me belly rubs and basically making much of me whenever we went in or out of the hotel.  That night I had very active dreams - mom said I was yipping and growling and running in my sleep!

Vero Beach, FL
One of the millions of lizards I was unable to catch

Searching for the Vero Beach Dog Park
Found the Dog Park!!
On Day 4, our departure from Vero Beach was delayed slightly because I wanted to hang out with the valet parking guys and let them rub my belly.  Also everyone who came in or out of the hotel wanted to say hi to me.  I enjoyed the attention and could have stayed there all day!  We finally got on the road, and I got to sleep a bit.  I woke up when we got to Key Largo and MORE LIZARDS!  But I was very disappointed that our hotel in Key Largo didn't have valet parking guys (AKA official petters).

Unimpressed by a banyan tree, Key Largo
On Day 5, we went on our first Key Largo Adventure Hike, through a tropical hardwood hammock.  We saw enormous spider webs and more lizards!  There were so many new smells, my snout got tired!  I napped all afternoon, then mom, dad and I went to Yappy Hour at the Caribbean Club ("where the movie Key Largo was filmed").  We met my idol Southernmost Moose there, and we got to hang out with Moose and all the cool local dogs.  It was wonderful to actually meet Moose and his momma.  We've been enjoying their Facebook posts from afar, so it was a treat to meet them.  I can't believe he's ten years old and has no gray hair!  Must be the coconuts and Key Largo air that keeps him young.  That and keeping all his foster lab siblings in line!

Monster Spider Webs
Hiking Dagny Johnson Hammock, Key Largo
Me and my idol Southernmost Moose at Yappy Hour at the Caribbean Club
On Day 6, I swam in the ocean!  Except it was different than the ocean I'm used to, because there were no waves.  We went to a place called Anne's Beach, which must be named after my friend Anne from back home.  It's a wonderful place with a shallow, sandy bottom, and it's dog-friendly.  Mom and I walked in the water and followed schools of fish, then I chased the ball.  I made a funny face whenever I picked up the ball because the water was so salty.  Afterwards mom tried to rinse me off in the human shower but I wasn't very cooperative because she didn't have treats.  We had lunch at my dad's favorite place in the world, Lorelei, and I got to sit in the shade under the table while they ate.  Afterwards we looked for manatees but didn't see any.  That's probably good because there were a lot of boats around for the fishing tournament, and boats hurt manatees.

Anne's Beach
Boardwalk at Anne's Beach
Our special table at Lorelei, Islamorada
Looking for manatees
In the morning of Day 7, mom and I went for a walk along the bike path, and I found a HUGE stick, that I carried all the way back to the hotel!  (Luckily there were no bikers on the bike path - I would have gotten them good!).  For lunch, we went to the Conch House, which is so dog-friendly, the waiter brought me my own bowl of water!  In the evening, we walked around Key Largo Community Park, then we had dinner together overlooking the canal at Sharkey's.  I love that so many restaurants in the Keys are dog-friendly!

The hotel in Key Largo was the same color as me!

Day 8 began with a walk along the bike path and down a road that led to the ocean!  I, of course, had to walk into the water even though mom didn't want me to.  The sun was rising and it was really beautiful!  Then we went out to breakfast at the Key Largo Conch House, and this nice woman (the owner, we think) asked if I wanted a piece of BACON!!!  Mom said I could have a little piece.  I don't think I've ever had bacon before and I thought it was possibly the yummiest thing ever!  Then we packed up the car and headed to Key West.  We stopped at my dad's favorite bridge, 7 Mile Bridge, and we walked out on the old bridge.  We saw a storm coming over the water and we started walking fast to the parking lot, then we started running, but the rain caught us and we got wet, which was okay with me.  When we got to Key West, we went to the Higgs Beach Dog Park, and I played ball with a couple of local doodles.  We went to Sunset that evening, and there was a street performer with cats doing tricks!  I was a very good boy, and lots of people admired and petted me.  Later, our post-bedtime walk was along Duval Street, and I was quite a hit.  LOTS of people wanted to pet me and admire my beauty.  I felt very welcome in Key West -- no wonder it's one of my mom's favorite places.

Seven Mile Bridge
I think I see a stingray!!!
Happy to be on Seven Mile Bridge!
The water is so clear!
Right before the storm got us!
On Day 9, we walked to the Southernmost Point in the USA!!!  I guess that made me the Southernmost Lab, at least temporarily!  It was a long walk, and was kind of warm, so next we went to Dog Beach so I could take a dip in the ocean and cool off.  I can't believe they have a beach just for dogs!  Key West is definitely my kind of place!  I spent the afternoon resting while mom and dad went to the aquarium - and of course mom volunteered to feed the sharks.  Then we went to Sunset.  I was wearing my beads and people were taking pictures of me, like I was the main attraction.  Lots of people wanted to say hi to me, and I loved that.  I even gave some of my beads to two nice little girls.  Then we watched Dr. Juice (the 53-year old acrobat) and then the fire-eater.  I was kind of sleepy and bored, but when the guy spit out a ball of fire, that woke me up.  Afterwards we made friends with Will the fire-eater and his wife Kime (who twists herself up in a box that Will puts a bunch of blades into). That evening, when we got back to the hotel, there was a message at the front desk that Will and Kime had brought me a coconut!  I had never had a coconut before and we thought that was the nicest thing EVER!

I LOVED Dog Beach!!!
Southernmost Lab!!!
Dog Beach!!!
Sunset at Mallory Square, Key West
(still looking for stingrays)
I met lots of famous people in Key West!

On Day 10, during our morning walk on the dock, we met the captain of the boat that goes to Sunset Key, and he loved me!  On the way to breakfast, we stopped and took photos with Marilyn Monroe.  I could have looked up her skirt, but I didn't because I'm so polite.  Then mom and dad bought me a cool new collar which was handmade in Key West.  We walked over to the waterfront for more photo opps.  Then I napped while mom and dad went out kayaking and snorkeling (well, mom went snorkeling while dad watched from the boat).  On our way to dinner, I got to meet Denise and Rich, mom and dad's new friends from the kayak trip.  We had dinner at the Schooner Wharf, and mom dropped a piece of Mahi Mahi on the floor, so I got a piece of Mahi Mahi.  Then we took photos with Elvis!

Key West waterfront
We were excited to meet Elvis in front of the Bull!

Stand-Up Paddleboarding at Dog Beach!!!

On Day 11, we had breakfast at Pepe's, a very good and dog-friendly place on Caroline Street.  In the afternoon, we went to Dog Beach, where I romped and swam and played with the local dogs until I was so tired!  We saw 2 puppies doing stand-up-paddle boarding with their moms and we decided we need to learn.  Then I sat at the bar with daddy while mom snorkeled.  Later we went to Sunset and saw my friend the fire-eater and gave him a thank you note thanking him for the coconut.  He even mentioned me at the beginning of his show!  (He was very impressed that I calmly watched while he cracked whips, blew a conch horn, ate fire, and spit out a fireball.)

My friend Will the fire-eater, spitting out a ball of fire!!!

On Day 12, mom and dad woke me up when they stumbled in, mom took me out, and then we all went back to bed.  That morning we left Key West and started heading north.  We were all very sad to leave.  We stopped by Robbie's to feed the tarpon on our way back up the Keys, and a tarpon almost ate mommy!  She said it was feeder error -- she didn't let go of the fish fast enough.  After seeing the scrapes on her hand (lucky for her, tarpon don't have teeth!), I was glad I stayed in the car!  We had lunch on the beach at Lorelei and mom gave me a small piece of Mahi Mahi!  When we stopped for a photo with the shark, I made a new friend at Lobster Trap Art Gallery!  She even let me come into the gallery, since I have a deep appreciation of art.  That night we stayed at the Melbourne Beach Hilton, on the 11th floor (!) and I proved that I have overcome my fear of elevators (mom was NOT walking up & down 11 floors of stairs every time I wanted to go out).   I also made a couple new friends among the very nice housekeeping staff.  One even gave me a treat!

Mom's tarpon-feeding injury
Me and my shark friend
Sandy snout
Our table at Lorelei
On Day 13, we continued the drive north, and I tried to convince my parents that we should just drive through the night so we could make the Dog Scout hike Saturday a.m.  I even offered to take a shift.

Melbourne Beach, FL
Watching the sun rise at Melbourne Beach, FL
On Day 14 we packed up and returned to RVA!  I loved the Keys, especially Key West, but I was glad to be home.  I missed all my friends in Virginia!

Making sure they don't forget me
Okay, I'm ready to go!


  1. Oh wow Garth, I saw some of the pics on face book but this is awesome! I know you could learn paddle boarding since you already skateboard and swim! I bet you meet a lot of unofficial letters everywhere you go! I am going to have to take Moose to Anne's beach, that looks nice too! You have been more places than me and I live here so I really enjoyed your journey!

  2. Garth! Dude! Moose sent me over to check out your amazing adventure. Wowee! You sure get around. And like that hotel was totally color coordinated with you. That is so awesome!