Blast Off

2014 was another year for the books. Looking back I can’t believe the amount of adventure I squeezed into 365 days, not to mention all the while maintaining a full-time commercial real estate job, dealing with that old cancer thing, and wakeboarding.

Then again, maybe I can.

I’ve never needed to travel to find adventure – fun is what you make of it. “It” being your situation, location, etc., but I did find myself all over the map this year, both domestically and internationally for one reason or another. Throughout each trip, regardless of purpose or destination, I was certain to travel mindfully, soaking up all information with each of the five senses in order to learn and broaden my horizons. I had intentions of sharing my experiences via blog, however, as noted earlier, my 2014 new years resolution was to be more selfish…and I did a pretty good job at it. As each trip came and went, I was so deeply involved in fully living each experience that I didn’t get the chance to write about it (in my spare time, I also had a full-time job to tend to). With that said, we’ve now blasted off on the space ship that is 2015 and my resolution has taken a contrasting turn. For me, 2015 is The Year of Creation and Expression.  Lucky you.  Though I have many more adventures penciled in for the coming months, I’d also like to share a few of my experiences of the past year, even if briefly, and touch on the importance, or non importance, of each. We'll start with the first couple, and I'll proceed unleash the rest of them in posts over the next couple of weeks.

It’s always been easier for me to write in the past tense, anyhow.

(Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. During any special experience, stopping to take a photo isn’t the first thing on my mind…I have some photos, but most often I save the best parts for myself.)

January was a mellow month I spent shaping my first surfboard and battling the flu resulting most epic sinus infection ever documented. I shaped, I fished, and I was recognized as the Solar Bear’s “Hometown Hero of the Game” for Hockey Fights Cancer night.  #OldTimeHockey.
Eddie Shore.

The first cut is always the hardest!
"Rubbin' one out."
The finished product -"William Bass"
Finally, after having absolutely zero taste sensation for over 10 days, my friend Brett brought some homemade chicken noodle soup over, and for the first time in two weeks, I experienced the ever so slight taste of the savory broth. I knew then that my year was about to get underway, and I was comin' in hot.

The following Thursday, Tiff, and I, after one glass of wine too many, decided we needed to go to Key West….the next day. So, we booked the last hotel room on the island, literally, and headed South.

Tiff, Steve, my friend Spencer, and I arrived at the Southernmost Florida island late night, but with the help of the instigator known Patron, we were able to catch up with the rest of the folk on Duval Street in no time. It wasn’t easy getting up at 7am the next morning, but to feel like Hemingway’s Santiago fishing the sea, I’ll do just about anything. Our guide, knowing we’d be late, showed up just as we did and got us out on the water in a jiffy. 85, sunny, and no wind - perfection. We chased a few fish, drank some hair of the dog, and ended up catching a good sized permit on the fly. The Old Man would be proud. What followed was standard Margaritaville protocol, involving lobster dinner, Guinness chugging at Irish Kevins, and a not so pretty ending to the night at the Garden of Eden…
El Capitan
Having been told to bring my passport for unknown reasons, I woke up the next morning to Spencer telling me to pack my bags – the waves were firing in Barbados, and he’d booked fights out of Miami at 5pm – surf trip. Miami International is a 3-hour drive on the two-laned US Highway 1, the only road connecting the keys to the mainland, so we’d need to leave by 12 noon to make our flight. Being only 10am, we packed our bags nonchalantly until we realized that we’d misplaced the car keys. Frantically, we tore up the hotel room - no luck. The only place they could have been was the trunk of the car. We called the only locksmith in the southern keys, who just so happened to be near and miraculously showed up at 11:15. After telling us he didn’t have the proper equipment to open Spencer’s BMW, he somehow jimmy’d his way into the trunk and sure enough, the keys were in there. I’m not sure if that’s a trick they teach you in locksmith school, but starting off by getting our hopes down only to “somehow” get the doors unlocked worked. We gave him proper praise (and tip) and blew him kisses as we left Key West in the dust just one minute after noon.

Heading north, having just avoided catastrophe, it seemed as though nothing else could go wrong – vibrant blue water on either side of the car, seabreeze blowing through the windows. Even as we came to a stop on the road for what seemed to be a minor hold up I said, “Man, even being stuck in this little traffic jam is enjoyable. FL Keys traffic jams don’t suck!" 

Until they do. 

After 15 minutes passed and we hadn’t moved an inch, we began to sweat a little. As the clock ticked away, our dream of making it to the airport began to fall apart. We phoned a bait shop located a couple miles up the road. They let us know there’d been a wreck and the road wouldn’t reopen for 2 hours. The dream imploded. Barbados would have to wait.

After a few much needed minutes sulking in self pity, we realized that we just so happened to be stopped in Islamorada, only a mile away from my favorite restaurant in the entire 200 mile chain of keys. So after moving a few inches a minute, we’d had made it to the restaurant around 4pm. I ran across the street to the nearest hotel and booked a room since everyone in the keys was trying to get out and it would have taken us 10+ hours to get back to Orlando. We sat next to the water at Lorelei restaurant and drank margaritas, enjoyed fish tacos, reminisced about our Key West extravaganza, and listened to the three salty man island band that played barefoot in front of the setting sun. Not a bad “plan B”.  We ended the night by narrowly avoiding getting into a skirmish with a local at the "Wild Hog", which is nothing out of the ordinary for a visit to the group of keys known as "Islamorada". 

Lorelei sunset

"Plan B"

Waking up in a hammock in Islamorada instead of Barbados...could've been worse.

Turns out we were able to reschedule our Barbados trip for two weeks later. We had a blast.
It was worth the wait.

This was only the tip of the 2014 travel iceberg for me, but it reminded me of an important lesson and set the tone for the rest of the year's adventures: Sometimes you need to simply sit back and let things work themselves out, and, oftentimes, the journey becomes the trip itself. 

Fun is what you make of it. 

To be continued,