We began 2018 in The Keys; a bit of bad weather actually helped us stick to our New Years Resolution – the Keto diet – for the full week we were there.  (The Keto diet actually ended up being a bit of a disaster, but for anyone trying it, we recommend buying billions of already peeled hard boiled eggs at Costco to help you get started.)  While the rest of the states were getting freezing temperatures and record snow, we were lucky to get a few rain-free days, which we used to venture out and see a few “key” areas: Key Largo, Key West, and Islamorada.

Since we were fans of the show Bloodline, we were excited to find the Rayburn house in Islamorada.  The house is actually part of a hotel called The Moorings Village, which has a casual outdoor bar, a lovely indoor restaurant and plenty of white chairs to watch the sunset from.  There is quite a lot to do in Key West after driving across the incredible Seven Mile Bridge.  Obviously you must stand in line to take your picture next to the Southernmost Point Buoy.  (The fact that people were civil enough to wait in line was most impressive to me.)  Fort Zachary Taylor is walkable from Duval Street and is full of historic significance from the Civil War.  There are also chickens and roosters running the streets everywhere.  With the amount of restaurants serving chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken wraps, and chicken fajitas, I felt they were quite brave.

While wandering around Key West, it is difficult to remember that Hurricame Irma came through in September of 2017.  But the drive from Key Largo to Key West down US-1 is a reminder of the destruction caused not long ago.  There are 106 miles between the two keys; many of those miles are piled high on either side with ripped mattresses, broken appliances, damaged furniture, dirty clothing and other debris.  Watching the clean up, which is still occurring daily, brings a new awareness to the effort required to recover from a natural disaster.  Trash trucks drive in a little further south each day, use a crain to stuff large heavy objects into the back, and make the long drive out full of just a tiny portion of an endless pile of garbage. At first we were appalled to see so much trash on the sides of the road so many months after the hurricane.  But after a week of watching the clean up process, we concluded that the teams working on this project are doing quite an incredible job.  It would be difficult not to be discouraged by how much is left to do, but they continue to work make the Florida Keys beautiful again.  Keys Strong! Now we wonder who will be removing the sunken ships from the bottom of the canals in the Keys because some of the residents can’t take their boats out for fear of running into a neighbor’s yacht at the bottom of the water.  First world problems are really rough sometimes.

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