I'm going to skip right to the best part and then fill in the rest of the day later in the post. Today, for about three hours, I was 12 years old again. I literally (well, maybe not literally) re-lived an entire afternoon that I had experienced over 34 years ago. You see, there's this barracuda that lives under a dock in Islamorada that I have been trying to catch for as long as I can remember (since like 1978ish - no joke). His name is Brutus and he's big. I mean really BIG - even by barracuda standards. As a kid, for years I would try to catch him and he would somehow figure out a way to not get caught. Vacation after family vacation I would go visit him. Each year I would bring something new to the table to try to out smart him but each new thing I tried had ultimately failed. Once, just once, I had Brutus on my line but after several jumps and long runs he managed to get free. This time would be different (or so I thought).
|Gentlemen we can rebuild it. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, fatter.|
Brutus had a different plan. He was just as determined (if not more so) to not take a photo with me and not be captured. After all, he wasn't that large by mistake. "He was a smart, big fish." to quote Quint from JAWS.
Have you ever re-lived an entire afternoon that you had as a kid? It was really special - something out of a storybook. With my dad watching over me, I tried everything I could think of to land this fish. Brutus saw me coming and going every step of the way. In the end, he won. But ultimately it was the entire experience that gave me joy beyond words. It wasn't just the fish. It was the magical place, the weather and the company with my dad. Losing Brutus (once again) only adds to the allure and the fascination of this story that now continues. . .
This was only a small excerpt from what was a very, very, very long day. Backing up to the beginning, I had to wake up at 3:30 am in order to catch my flight to Florida. Dad was up by 2. Air travel is certainly not the most comfortable mode of transportation but if it gets us to the Keys in a few hours then I'm happy to sacrifice a bit of comfort.
|The plane was not full...|
|...so I got to stretch my legs a bit|
|Always the first meal in the Keys - Conch|
|This is my Zihuatanejo, Andy.|
|Enjoying the Cheeca's outdoor grill in PERFECT Keys weather.|
|Shadows of the past|
|Nurse shark off the dock - released|
|Excellent, local, rustic - the Rut's Hut of Key Largo|
|Tis the season for Stone Crab Claws|
|$42 but hey, you gotta live a little on vacation!|
|Nuttin' beats a nice piece of Mutton... (snapper that is)|
Oh - I almost forgot. . . This day would probably never have happened if it wasn't for the Survivor Diet Challenge. I've said this before but the SDC makes me go outside my comfort zone and forces me to seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where I've never been before (or revisit special places I have been before).