This is the first and last picture we have from our snorkeling trip in the Keys, and I’ll tell you right now – it went downhill from here, and this was only about five minutes in. I got terribly seasick, and both Anna and Chelsea got stung by a Portuguese Man O’ War. (The stings were mild and both of them recovered quickly; Chelsea even got back in the water a little bit later.)
However: We all agreed that snorkeling in general is really cool, and we’d like to do it again. On this particular day, we had gone out to the Looe Key Reef, which is about a 45-minute boat ride offshore. The Florida Keys are essentially the above-water portion of a vast and wonderful coral reef that sits on the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The marine life we could see was amazing.
The seas were much rougher than we had expected, which didn’t help. All of us were rookies when it came to snorkeling, and it turned out everybody else on the boat was more experienced. Not a big deal – everybody was very kind and helpful – but it was an important clue that we had gone for the intermediate-level experience when we really needed something a little more basic to start. Snorkeling is obviously something that goes against your basic life instinct. You are sticking your face into the water and taking a deep breath. It probably stops being weird after a while, but definitely not on your first day.
I mention all of this because it’s important to say that not everything on a vacation is peaches and sunshine. We have our rough moments, and sometimes things don’t work out like we had hoped. I would like to believe that we learn something useful from those experiences, and even more important, we will try again when the time is right.
We have a long list of things we want to try, and places we want to see. Some of those things and places, frankly, will be duds. Doesn’t mean we won’t give ’em a shot!
We have also learned that a big trip will present some big challenges – especially in the early going. It’s almost like the trip itself is asking us, how badly do you want this? When we set out for the Badlands and Yellowstone in 2011, the ‘check engine’ light came on the first day of driving, a crucial part of our towing equipment failed the second day, we got pummeled by a freak hailstorm on the fourth day, and on the fifth day, Maria got violently sick to her stomach. While driving 500 miles (800 km) to Wyoming.
So maybe it won’t surprise you if I mention that on this trip, I failed to hook up the trailer properly when we started out, and the trailer came free of its hitch before we had even traveled ten minutes from home. I mean, off the hitch, tongue scraping on the ground, only the emergency chains holding it to the van. Smashed up the third wheel that sits on the tongue. I was rattled, for sure. But we got out of the van, heaved the trailer back into its proper position, and kept driving.
The trailer made it through another 3,000 miles (5,000 km) of trouble-free driving after that. We did okay.
There’s some kind of life lesson in there. Hmm.
Tomorrow: A few last looks at Florida.