Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Key West - Snorkel, Pool and Hemingway Day

This was my favorite day in Key West. We did so much!

Lainey and a vacation buddy (whom we already received a post card from to initiate a pen plan letter exchange) sat at a craft table creating all sort of cute things.

It's impossible to explain the beauty of Key West. We've been to many Florida destinations and this one is far superior to anything else.

Carter enjoyed a few non-alcoholic daiquiris. He loved it.

The pools were fabulous.

Blake might have spent more time making necklaces for Lainey and me than the girls at the table did. So cute.

The boys and I set out to snorkel and enjoyed a bit of fun here. The water was murky, so we didn't stay too long. Later in the day, Carter and I journeyed over to another pier and jumped right in and then swam to shore checking out the sea life. It's not for snorkeling, but underneath was known for much better for seeing critters.

This was a part of the trip that I will never forget. Snorkeling is so fun for our family and I love that the kids enjoy it, too.

Family beach volleyball. Our kids did well!

Later on, we took a walk over to yet another pier and watched the kids paddle board.

They were awesome!

I bribed Carter to go to the Hemingway Home and it worked. But, he couldn't resist acting miserable in this photo.

I, on the other hand, was elated.

The tour was excellent. 30 minutes, walks throughout the ground and home, interaction with the famous Hemingway cats and more. Highly recommend if you're in Key West.

Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline, installed the first swimming pool on the island.

One of the 48 cats on site and this one has 6 toes like many others.

Pauline said that Ernest suggested that the pool would cost a 'pretty penny'. It did. So, she implanted a penny in the ground and it's still there today.

Side note: I love his first wife, Hadley, more than Pauline, but I do love that she did this.

Kitties everywhere.

Our tour guide! He was super passionate about Hemingway. Loved hearing him talk.

Just after our tour, we walked to a beautiful cafe with views to grab a snack (and a daiquiri for Carter). So much fun spending time with Carter on our own. He's so smart and interesting. Adore him.

We ate at the Roof Top Cafe. Lobster gnocchi and crab cakes were devoured. Yum.

Just a random chicken walking the streets of Key West. This place is super weird, which make me love it more.

We returned home for dinner and to find the littles. Laine was in vacation mode dress.

We explored the tide pools before sunset, which was gorgeous.

We saw the sun go down off the pier above and were able to spot a barracuda from high above. Love the clear water in Key West.

Such a fabulous hotel, experience and highlight to our Key West portion of this mega-vacation we enjoyed.

Last day is up next! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Key West and the Fabulous Waldorf Astoria

After Key Largo, we set out to drive through the entire chain of Florida Keys to Key West. The journey was fun.

We stopped at Bahia Honda en route. This is another awesome state park many people recommended.

We saw protected sea turtle nests. One of my biggest goals in motherhood is to get my kids to experience life intensely and authentically. 

As much as we love zoos and parks, there is nothing like seeing nature and critters like this outside of the aquarium and in person. 

We enjoyed three days at the amazing Waldorf Astoria, which is perhaps the nicest resort we have ever stayed at. It was a treat for us. The Hampton Inn and Double Tree are more our style. We love nice resorts, but with as much as we travel, it makes more sense to stay at reasonably priced resorts.

We arrived without our room ready, so the hotel sent us out for free cocktails and conch fritters. Heavenly. 

Kids collected bracelets around the grounds after they read and learned about each historical point. Of course, I loved this. 

The hotel is old and fabulous and felt a lot like The Del Coronado. 

Ocean view. Laine was in love. 


After enjoying the pool and resort, we met a professional photographer at the beach and then in town. 

It was fun. Always my favorite souvenir. 

We walked into town and wandered through Mallory Square. 

Couldn't help but eat at Caroline's! 

My husband. Love this photo. 

Did some shopping and loved this candy store. 

So perfect for Jack since his obsession is Hersey's. 

We read historical markers everywhere, much to the kids' dismay. This was the original bank in Key West. They couldn't have cared less. 

Stopped at the Southernmost Point in the U.S. so that we didn't have to wait in the two hour line during pool and ocean time the next day. 

Jack found the entire situation belittling and "stupid", so he's standing behind the marker. Awesome. 

Laine now sleeps in her own spot, regardless of whether there is a bed for her or not. Girl needs her space sometimes. 

One last day of Key West and then we were back en route to California. Coming soon!