Turtle love // Day 3

Today was the day that we’ve dreamed of. Turtle Hospital Day! It was also surprisingly so much more than just turtles. Although that was all we had really planned, we surprised ourselves with a drive to Key West for lunch and beautiful sunset dinner. Such a winner of a day.

Despite hugging myself to sleep last night after Bloodlines, I couldn’t resist catching sunrise on the beach. Initially I thought I had missed it because the horizon was this faint shade of orange… but no, it was only going to get better.
Turtle Hospital
It’s hard to say who is the target market for The TurtleHospital. Initially I thought it was for families, but our tour group was 75% retirees so I guess it is just meant for anyone who loves nature. Fine with me. The place we stopped for breakfast on the way (Leigh Ann’s Coffee House) was also heavily biased towards retired individuals. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t alluring to wear only 1 layer of Patagonia in January.

The hospital has a really interesting history. It started out as a motel then became a motel slash turtle hospital and finally just a turtle hospital. After one of the big storms, the owner couldn’t afford to rebuild both and just loved turtles. As a result, some of the full time staff stays in the original guest rooms… and the original saltwater pool is actually filled with turtles and fish.

You get so close to the turtles here that you want to touch them. It is absolutely one of those instances where as soon as someone tells you not to do something, you want to do it. More than want perhaps, it just feels like a need. But we didn’t touch the turtles. Instead we just learned a lot about them. Like, if you bring them a rescued turtle you get to name it and that a turtle’s gender isn’t really known until they are 12. These facts combined are why turtles named “George” and “Captain Morgan” are actually girls… and “Gwen” is a boy.
Key West
Armed with matching Turtle Hospital sweatshirts (because obviously), we were ready for our next meal. The only logical decision was to drive to Key West because we were half way there and had some extra time. Our original plan for the day was to kayak a local nature preserve but it was fairly windy still.

The drive to Key West was really pretty and easy. I’m sure with a car filled with kids, it is less than fun – but our car only had two turtle loving ladies that were hungry. The hardest part of Key West was finding a place to park. We lucked out with a spot that didn’t make me fully parallel park a sedan – Winner – before having lunch at Firefly. This place was one million percent perfect for us. The menu was so good that we didn’t realize there was a second side to it until after we ordered. I will never complain about a meal that starts with flaky southern biscuits and sweet tea… and ends with a crispy BLT.

No trip to Key West would be complete without going to the Southernmost point bouy. There was probably a 30 minute wait in an unofficial organized line... or you could do what we did and just walk to the other side of the bouy that didn't have words on it. Cheating? Don't care. 
Like any good vacation spot, Islamorada is seemingly known for sunsets and dinner places that specialize in them. We missed out on this the night before but were not about to make that mistake twice. We took a brief detour to Anne's Beach on our way to dinner. The highlight of Anne's was some guy asking us if we worked for the Turtle Hospital. Also, this perfect little shell that was home to a hermit crab.

I had found Lorelei’s during our previous dinner research – but deemed it very casual and perhaps specializing in fried seafood. Now, there is nothing bad about either of these potential attributes which is what made it perfect for our Sunday dinner. After a wonderful long day of turtles and driving, Lorelei's was perfect. We felt perfectly comfortable strolling up in our matching Turtle Hospital sweatshirts and getting two seats at the bar. The sunsets here are just amazing. We may have gotten it on a good night but this was a spectacular spot. Also, by far our cheapest dinner of the trip. We had some happy hour drinks and split an order of mahi mahi tacos. We did also try several times to get someone to take a good picture of us wearing our matching sweatshirts – epic fail. I guess next time don’t ask people that have been enjoying happy hour specials.

Tomorrow? Headed to the airport for our return journeys home. I’m not confident that I’ll keep watching Bloodlines without Meghan but I’ll probably fall asleep a lot easier and not be afraid of people who run B&Bs.

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