While driving down the Jersey shore when I was younger a jeep wrangler passed my family’s Volvo. It had no top and no doors. The driver and the passenger were both bare foot and swinging their feet out the door well. This was the most insanely cool thing I have ever seen in my life thus far.
Since then dreams of racing down the highway with the wind blowing through my hair and toes, off to some exotic beach location have been with me. And when Kit and I were deciding what to do during a quick weekend vacation to Miami, I knew this was my chance to live out my dream.
We would drive down to Key West for the day. It’s only 4 hours from Miami and it will be amazing in an open-air car.
Wait, how much is a jeep wrangler rental?
Hmm. How about a car with a sunroof?
Ok, so what do you got that’s a cheap rental?
Not exactly what I pictured but screw it, it will do. We set out in the morning on an overcast day. The weather forecast said it should be a lot nicer down state. We were off. About 2 hours later we finally reached the long stretch of road through the Everglades. An hour after that, we finally saw the sun, it was a sight. I immediately rolled up my sleeves and hung my arm out the window. It’s not my foot and I’m not in a convertible but I can adapt.
We reached Key West in about 4 and half hours, walked around, got the most ridiculous suntan and had a few beers on the street.
After a few hours of doing mostly nothing the weather started to turn and raindrops were interrupting our drinking. We headed back north on Highway 1 and by the time we hit Marathon Key the sky had opened up. Rain so thick you couldn’t see the hood of your own car kind of rain. The kind of storm that movie studios film disaster movies in. I felt like a storm chaser from the movie twister. Kinda glad the jeep rentals were so damn expensive. We would have drowned in a convertible. We were safe and dry in our trusty ford focus.
Then Kit noticed that rainwater had flooded the road and was licking the side of the car. My entire life I had made fun of my mother’s driving position. If you have a short mother then you know the position I’m talking about, seat pushed up almost into the engine compartment. Like if she could drive the car from on top of the dashboard while steering, seat pushed up. I don’t think car manufactures make the seats go up that far, I think my mother had to special order it. Well, that’s how I was driving. My knuckles were pure white, no music, no talking, windshield wipers going a mile a minute. On the surface I looked as cool as a cucumber, inside I was running around like a Muppet screaming with my arms flailing. I wanted to get home.
Almost 5 hours later we made it back to the main land and the weather had let up Little. We were tired and hungry. The sign for Denny’s was like a beacon of light. It encompassed everything we needed at the time. Food, warmth and hope. It’s funny how the first meal you have when coming back from the brink of death always tastes amazing. If there was a Denny’s at base camp during a Mount Everest expedition, I bet more people would push for that summit knowing that there is breakfast goodness below.
I’m glad I did the drive, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Key West is an amazing Island. The people, the views and the bars are what good stories are made of.