After my terrifying Uber drive and teetering on the edge of a road-rage fist fight, I settled back in my motel room with my bottle of white wine and drowned my USA super scary sorrows all at once.
And drown them, I certainly did.
My next-morning head wasn't so much a big fan of my previous evening's decision.
After I lied in bed for quite some time, I finally forced myself up... and to the airport, where I had rented a vehicle.
I know it was a bit ridiculous renting the vehicle from the airport, when the airport was sooooo incredibly far away... but I couldn't wrap my head around all the varying reviews for locations nearby Lauderdale By The Sea... and decided to go with reliability.
So I rented a car.
It was just a small, four door Sedan, nothing too fancy... but it did the trick.
My plan was to spend the day meandering the Florida Keys... and to stupid me, that seemed like a perfectly good day-plan idea.
Only 2 things got in the way.
The amount of driving to actually reach the BEGINNING of the Florida Keys.
The amount of driving to actually reach the END of the Florida Keys.
Had I been up at the crack of dawn, my idea would have been bullet proof. That was not the case.
Fastest route from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport directly to Key West, without stopping was 190 miles and guesstimated on Google maps as being 3 hours and 49 minutes. To just get to Key Largo was almost 2 hours. Considering I didn't get on the road until well after 11am, my Florida Keys daydream was evaporating quickly.
The truth... I didn't make it.
I could have... but it would have been only to temporarily tag in at my destination... and then turn around to head home again. Not really a smart move.
I did stop in Key Largo for lunch, at a place called Sharkey's Sharkbite Grill. Yes.. I will admit it was the name that intrigued me, and although it was located right beside a water canal, I saw no sharks. It was a short stop, designed to finally rid me of my lingering hangover, but the beer and the cheese steak tortes only served to temporarily ease the pain.
It wasn't exactly the perfect day for 9 hours of driving.
The keys were pretty cool and with each bridge passage, I wished I was on the water. Note for next time trip... get on a boat! Now I just need to find someone with a boat... and for them to invite me along.
The one thing I really love about the Florida Keys are the enticing names...
I want names like that back home.
Moosejaw... Chilliwack... Yellowknife...
Bring on the sunsets.
I did make another stop at a place on the Marathon Key, called The Island Fish Company... but stayed there much longer than I should have. I parked behind the pub, away from the main entrance. I made my way along the pier and sat at an empty table, dockside. The server walked past me without acknowledgement on several different occasions. She even made eye contact with a table directly across from me and said, "I'll be right back with menus and water." But to me, nothing. Not a smile. Not a nod. Nothing.
It was probably a good 20 minutes watching her serve all the surrounding patio tables and completely ignore me.
Finally... I spoke up.
"Excuse me. May I get a menu and a glass of water?"
She looked right at me and said, "Did the hostess seat you there?"
"Then how do I even know you're there?"
And with that, she turned on a dime and walked away.
I got up immediately and left.
It wasn't until I was driving out that I saw the front entrance. There should have been a sign or something. How RUDE!!!!
I drove on further and with the help of a Google Search for the Florida Key's coolest pub, I found The No Name Pub.
There are many ways to describe this charming little hovel.
Those are three very accurate adjectives - charming. little. hovel.
It was a very tiny pub, with low ceilings... a bit dingy and dark... but nonetheless, interesting and undeniably unique
There was money everywhere.
Money decorated the walls. Money decorated the ceiling.
Autographed dollar bills, to be precise.
I wasn't really in the mood for anything pub grub, which was the majority of their menu, so I settled on a sangria and a big glass of water. I wish I had left room for something to snack on, as I'd read rave reviews about their food.
This pub was a little off the highway, but well worth the detour, if only for the photo opportunities.
History of the place;
The history of the No Name Pub goes back to 1931 when it was a general store and bait & tackle shop. It remained that way until 1936, when the owners added a small room on to the main structure which became a restaurant and the Pub was born.
Early customers included people from all walks of life, world travelers that arrived from the mainland via ferry and of course, the local fisherman. The late 1930's brought an interesting twist to the No Name Pub history. In an effort to increase business, the upstairs storage room was converted into a brothel. While popular with many, the venture failed after several years, as the fisherman were reported to be better looking than the ladies.
After my short stop, I realized it was getting later on in the day and it was probably time for me to be heading back home. So I only made it as far as big Pine Key.
Key West was only another 50 minutes away, but that was also another 50 minutes back... and the sun was already starting to go down.
I headed back to Fort Lauderdale.
It was a long haul... and I was getting real tired, real quick.
I ended up back at the hotel around 7pm... cleaned myself up and headed to a delicious, local seafood restaurant for something to eat.
The Even Keel Fish Shack - highly recommended for anyone in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Watch out for the weirdo customers though.
I had the Adult Crab Grill Cheese with brie, blue crab, sriracha, pear & vanilla marmalade... and it was to die for. In fact, it probably would've gone down as one of my most memorable culinary moments, had the man seated next to me not been so irritating.
To be fair, he did seem lonely and probably just wanted company; someone to talk to. The problem is that his 'conversation' veered more on the side of talking at you, rather than talking to you. He went on & on about an RV he might buy, half way across the country. He showed me texts he sent to his son about the RV. He told me about all the money he had to spend on the RV. He told me where he would go in the RV.
Then it got creepier and it became increasingly more difficult to fake enthusiasm for his discussion. He started showing me photos he had taken of scantily dressed women, trying to explain to me that they shouldn't dress this way. Maybe he shouldn't be taking photos of them? He kept telling me that he didn't ever want to see his granddaughter dressed like this.
He continually ordered me oysters and vodka shots, and as many times as I turned both offers down, he kept insisting. He would not take NO for an answer, and each time both arrived, it was himself that was stuck doing them, as I'm not really a fan of oysters... and it was hardly a vodka shot evening. It was awkward. Overly awkward. I just wanted to enjoy my jalapeño margarita and crab grilled cheese in peace.
He was one of those people that seems genuinely interested in your travels, but then proceeds to list off all the places he'd been. We have all encountered those people. When he asked me what state I was from, and I replied "Canada," he actually APOLOGIZED for my "misfortune."
I'm surprised I didn't get up and walk away right there and then.
I'd had enough.
Even the bartender shot me an apologetic look.
Finally, after he'd done about 10 oyster and vodka shots, he decided it was time to pay his bill and move along...