I took, and confirmed with my schedulers, several assignments for Key West for Friday and didn't remember until it was too late not to go that Spring Break season is still in full effect. Good Lord, please let me kept reimbursed for parking fees!!
We stopped for a drink refill and potty break at a Circle K in Key Largo somewhere, and the ladies and I stopped for the all-imporant selfie. Or ussie, as it were?
Speaking of Circle K, they're pretty ubiquitous along the Overseas Highway. Someone must have received a pretty sweet bonus when s/he landed that contract.
Also, the soda refills, mentioned in the previous Sunday Stealing post, are even cheaper (69¢ + tax) at Circle K than at my beloved 7-11. Can you imagine? I can barely hoist my cup, it's so big, and they're almost free. I filled up about eight times yesterday.
And speaking of ubiquitous, you can hardly go anywhere without seeing or hearing a rooster crow. The further south you go, the more you see. I love those crazy chickens.
And speaking of chickens, I did a quick #cockadoodledoo search on Instagram (I'm @Smellyann there, if you want to follow) and found this gem. Rob and I laughed about poor Sally from Mile Marker 12 or so all the way down to MM-0.
About 5 miles outside of the entrance to Key West, where US1 turns into Roosevelt and you can only go either left or right - you know the place, right? - I had to stop and take a nap. I hadn't slept much or maybe at all the night before, and it's a 6½-to-seven-hour round-trip. The caffeine stopped being enough 2¼ hours in. Anyway, the girls decided to pass my naptime by making faces, which I only know because evidently I took this picture. I kind of don't remember a little bit.
After we got into the most westward of Florida Keys, I took Chloë with me on my first assignment. Jack and Sophia were supposed to be wandering around that strip mall with Rob, but they all pretty much hung out in the car the whole time. With the windows down. I had the only car keys, so they had to sweat it out. Methinks we oughtta get a copy made. Or two.
Finishing up job #1 some 45 minutes later, Chloë and I piled back into the car and headed to Duval Street to look for parking. I knew it would be a nearly impossible task, so imagine my surprise when I found a parking spot near the action! Of course, the fee was gigantic, so after I parked and found out how much, we quickly vacated the spot for the guy who was so patiently waiting for that gem.
Little did I know, I shouldda kept that spot. I ended up 0.6 miles from the action, which is nothing, or would have been nothing, except that meant over a mile of walking back and forth to get things done. Rob walks with a cane. (NO, we still haven't gotten the disabled person placard... shoot.) You do the math. The cost wasn't horrible, so we forked it over.
I grilled Rob as to whether he was well enough to stay with the girls while Jack and I did the shop. He insisted, and seemed lucid enough to say so, that he was. Nevertheless, I gave Chloë specific instructions for what to do in case of Daddy Emergency of any kind. She understood. Jack and I left.
Unfortunately, I was rushing too much and forgot to pay attention to the cross streets where I parked. I had done a walking navigation route to my destination, but when I later went to get reverse directions back to my origin, where the car was, it wouldn't work.
So, Jack and I did this assignment as quickly as possible while still trying to have some semblance of a good time. Fortunately for me, he was pretty scared and ran through many of the exhibits, so I didn't have to feign a reason to have to leave earlier than I wanted to.
Jack's not much of a selfie-taker (ussie), and it took four tries to get this one halfway-decent shot, so he was more than exasperated with me by the time I let him climb those stairs! Also, will that other front tooth grow the rest of the way in, please? He looks ridonkulous.
After we finished my Job #2 of the day, we headed back in the general direction of the car. I thought I knew exactly where I was going, well give or take, more or less, so I wasn't terribly worried. I took a picture of this sign at Rick's on Duval because it's so... severe compared to the general Key West atmosphere, y'know? So serious. So ... strict! I mean, it is still a night club, you guys. Please.
So then, I got a text from Rob insisting that he was okay, but that he fell. He and the girls were just going to sit in the car. I had given him the keys, in case they needed to get back in car for any reason, so I knew they could at least have air conditioning. I hoped, anyway, that after he'd hit his head, he wouldn't forget that part.
I couldn't find the car. I text him. No answer. I called him. No answer. I texted, called, texted, called, and grew ever more frantic. Finally, he returned my call and told me they were on Applerouth.
Now, even if you know Key West, you probably don't know Applerouth, because it's really just a short alley way and not really a full street at all. I walked the length of it with Jack about six times, but no sign of a parking lot, let alone our car.
I texted Rob. I called. No answer. Text, call, text, call. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE BLAST THE HORN FIVE TIMES IN A ROW!!!" I finally sent through the airwaves. But no answer.
A sense of deep dread came over me. I imagined him and the ladies, passed out, possibly dead from heat exhaustion in the car. I was terribly afraid of what I would find. Jack reassured me that the girls were smart enough to get out of the car if they grew too hot. I had to believe him. And yet... and yet.
So I found this tapas place, which doesn't bill itself as much but really is, called 2¢ on Applerouth. A man came out, and I inquired quite vehemently as to whether this was the only Applerouth on the island, or was there another stretch of it somewhere. He gave me a short answer, affirming it was the only one, and I thanked him and turned away.
A tall, blond man came out. My guardian angel must have sent him. (Thanks, Mom.) He told me his name was Chris, he was the owner of 2¢, and asked my name. And Jack's. And said I was looking pretty frantic. And offered to help me.
To say I pinned all my hopes in the world on this one man would have been an understatement. I was picturing my daughters and husband dead in the car, people!!
I told him the problem, and he said something like, "Are you sure he didn't say, 'Angela,' because it sounds like this little parking lot on Angela."
You guys, I had never heard of Applerouth Drive before. It's a really, seriously weird name, in my opinion, and there was really no mistaking that Rob had told me Applerouth. I had even gotten Chloë on the phone, before Rob's phone died and he didn't have the wherewithal to realize that and plug it back in to recharge, and asked her to tell me what she could see, so that I could find them.
"There's really nothing here, Mom," she had insisted then.
"Chloë, this is very important. What can you see? Anything! A street name, a building, a really big tree, anything! WHAT. CAN. YOU. SEE??!"
"There's a small white building. Centennial Bank."
"Thank you! I will find you!"
And yet, I couldn't, because the closest Centennial Bank I could find on Maps was somewhere way the hell up in Miami-Dade or Broward County.
So when Chris told me he knew where the parking lot was, and Centennial Bank, and that my husband must have said Angela, well, I followed him frantically and prayed the prayer of a woman who did not not want to lose two daughters and a husband, you know what I mean?
(By the way, Jack, famous for being a complainer, was a real trooper. I can count on NO fingers the number of times he complained about the heat, the walking, the being lost, etc. Not one complaint. The kid could sense Mom was in a panic, I guess, and to have complained would have compounded the issue.)
Chris led us the stretch from Duval and Applerouth, which is where Rob insisted he was, up to Angela and Whitehead. And he pointed out a parking lot ahead. And I recognized it, along with the attendant. Oh, my God, I recognized it.
I thanked him - I'm sure I thanked him - and then I took off at a dead sprint for the car.
I'm not a runner, folks. I don't run unless someone scary is chasing me, or I'm about to miss a bus. But I ran as hard and fast as I could. Thankfully, Jack followed me.
And I opened the car door, and looked inside, and there sat my husband, blinking back at me. And I looked in the backseat, and there sat my daughters, blinking back at me.
And all the dread and fear and worry of the past 70 minutes came flooding in, and I don't know exactly what I said, but I do know one thing: I was LOUD.
Panic over, relief set in, I made sure everyone was fine, and then I did the one thing I could do at that moment, other than yell.
I took another nap. For an hour and a half. Maybe two hours, I don't recall. I slept.
Thank you, God, thank you. My babies are alive. My husband is alive. <----- Last thought before falling asleep, first thought upon waking up again.
I missed Job #3 because of the fear and the nap, but I was determined to go do Job #4. I had to go by myself, which sucked, but this time, I made damned sure I knew exactly where the car was at the time. And I gave Chloë her dad's phone.
This time, this walk, I could enjoy the sights and sounds of beautiful, zany Key West. Like this chicken crossing the street. (No, Julie, I didn't ask him why he did it.)
Like these shakes, a Strawberry Banana Protein no-sugar one for me, and a Nutella Espresso one for Rob, at a local café instead of the Haagen-Dazs across the street. Because local is so much better than big box, y'all.
Like this barefoot musician and his faithful dog, playing Pearl Jam for tips on a Duval sidewalk. The sticker there reads, "Wag more, bark less." I loved this whole little vignette.
And then I was finished. The kids were all right. Rob was all right.
We headed home. It took three hours. I drove straight through, stopping only for potty breaks and refills.
Of course, it rained. It rains every time we drive home from Key West. Every. Single. Time. But this wasn't a driving rain, and it didn't last the duration of the trip. Just a sprinkle from Key Largo to Homestead.
When we arrived home, I had to go pee, and the kids were all asleep. I ensured Rob was all right, and got them into the house to go to bed, and then I went to use the bathroom.
When I came out, Rob was still outside, so I went to help him into the house. He was sitting in the parking spot next to ours, stunned. He'd fallen again, and this time he said he'd hit his head on the grass.
Dammit, damn, damn, damn.
I'm glad it wasn't the concrete, but...
I helped him unsteadily to his feet and led him inside, to the couch. He's been up to pee and get meds since then, but otherwise he hasn't moved. I will be calling to make us both a doctor appointment first thing on Monday morning.
Speaking of insanity.
This is how our life goes.