Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Vacation 2007

This year's Christmas Vacation viewing was hosted by Krista. David and I had only been back a couple of days, so we did not get too crazy with out costumes this year. Thank you for the loan of the coat, Mom! :)

Todd, on the other hand, turned a roll and a half of duct tape into a silver jogging suit. It was really something!

Wedding Pictures on Flickr!

Wedding pictures are now on Flickr! Click here to see them. I picked 150 or so of my favorites from the 1700 pictures that our photographer took.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

At the Blue Heaven Rendezvous

On our last day, we had planned to go on a kayaking tour. We woke up to rain, heavy winds, and a call from the kayak guide. No kayaking today. I was disappointed, but now it's just a reason that we'll have to go back. The day was much improved by breakfast at Blue Heaven. Jimmy Buffett sings a song about the Blue Heaven Rendezvous. We never figured out whether the restaurant or the song came first, but we did find out that Jimmy once did an impromptu concert there and sang that song. On our way out, a couple offered to take this picture for us. It was their third day in Key West and the third day they'd eaten breakfast there.
Our wedding was not the end of our journey to wedded bliss. Here we are at Mile 0 on U.S. Highway 1. A new beginning on our road...

On our last day in Key West, we had lunch at B.O.'s Fish Wagon. Our friend Scott had recommended it to us. His description was perfect and we knew exactly when we'd found it. It looks like a strong wind might blow it down. An eclectic mix of woods and metals make up the "building" and large spools serve as tables. David had one of their world-famous conch sandwiches and I ate a deep-fried hot dog. Delicious!
The sunset cooperated on our last evening at Mallory Square with a beautiful display before fading into the clouds. We finished our day where we'd begun - back to Blue Heaven for dinner in their beautiful candlelit courtyard.

The next day, we woke up early and headed north to the Clearwater airport. It's strange to think that in just one day, we watched the sun rise over the keys and saw traces of remaining snow on the north side of our yard. Key West is a place that I'm sure will call us back someday.

Boats on Parade

Saturday found us at the beach again. We just couldn't get enough. It was an extremely windy day, which kept us nice and cool while we snoozed in the sun. Amazingly enough, neither of us got much of a sunburn. Even the groom, who is not much of a believer in sunscreen. :)
Earlier in the week, we'd seen a large sign advertising a lighted boat parade at the Historic Seaport. It seems that everyone else on the island had also seen the sign, so we joined the masses to watch the festive boats. All of the boats were brightly lit, my favorite was the large sailboat with a lighted outline of the world.

Havana Daydreamin'

We had visited the Southernmost Point several times, but it was always difficult to get a picture. Not surprisingly, it's a pretty popular photo spot. Once we realized that few people were out and about before 10 a.m., we decided that was the time to go. A nice woman from Canada took this picture for us.
Next to the Southernmost Point is the Southernmost Christmas Tree.
Next we took a tour of Key West on the Conch Tour Train. We saw parts of the island we hadn't yet been to, and learned a lot about the history of KW.
In the afternoon, David rented a scooter for us to tootle around on. Yes, we BOTH rode on it. I will admit that it was very fun, but I'll stick to riding on back and not driving.
Our scooter took us to the Hemingway House. We first opted for the self-guided tour. Quickly realizing that we didn't know anything, we joined the guided tour. There are currently 47 cats on the Hemingway property and Hemingway always kept 40-50 cats during the time he lived there. Many of the cats are polydactyl (they have extra toes). Hemingway was given a polydactyl cat by a ship's captain and many of the present day cats are descendants of that first one. You can read more about the cats and Hemingway's home here:

Toes in December Sand

On day 2 in Key West, we found ourselves on the beach with our toes in warm December sand. We arrived on a nearly empty state park beach around 10 a.m. When we questioned the chair rental man about the lack of other beach goers, he explained, "It's early in Key West." The beach was beautiful and eventually we were joined by the late risers.
After the beach, we went to Margaritaville. I've never been to a Margaritaville that did not have an hour or more wait, but this one had immediate seating. We sat in front of a cheerfully decorated Christmas tree with a parrot at the top. We overheard the waitress tell another table that Jimmy had been there yesterday, but we also read that telling tourists that is a popular pastime of the locals.
We spent another evening watching the sunset at Mallory Square.
David's friend Keith brought us some Key West magazines and information from his recent trip. We read an article about the Cat Man and had to see him for ourselves. It was a fantastic show! The Cat Man has trained his cats by becoming one of them. It is definitely a must-see if you find yourself in Key West. Don't miss the Cat Man's website:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Downings!We picked up the DVDs of pictures from the photographer today. We're only through the first CD so far, but here is a sample!
Don't we have the best looking wedding party?
And a beautiful family?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cruisin' Down US 1

Margaritaville may be just a state of mind, but it is a state of being in the Conch Republic. After the wonderful wedding weekend, we left freezing rain in Springfield for the sunny wet heat of Florida. We spent a little extra time in the Springfield airport while we waited for our plane to leave Toledo for Tampa so that it could come to Springfield for us. The trip was well worth the wait! We spent the night near Sarasota, FL then headed to Key West in our rented VW convertible. I wanted to get off the interstate for a more scenic route, which added about 3 hours to our drive. We soon realized that neither of us had packed CDs. Can't drive to Key West with no Buffett music, so we stopped at Wal-Mart.

As we left the tollway outside Miami, the sun was beginning to set, so we drove through the keys in the dark.

It made it easy to pretend that there was land on either side rather than water as we crossed the many bridges. Our first day in Key West, we set out on foot to explore the old part of town. It was just like being in one of Jimmy Buffett's songs! We walked all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean on that first day! Okay, so that's only a mile and a half or so. Exhausted from our trek, we stopped for gelato. Sitting in the sun eating ice cream in the middle of December? Must be paradise.

We arrived at Mallory Square just in time to see the fading sunset.
To be continued...

One Perfect Day

Erin and Dawn
Erin and David - Cake cutting and toast
Erin and Dad

In the wonderful world of wedding planning, I never expected the big day to go perfectly. Weddings never do. But wonder of wonders, this one did! There were little things I guess -one of the large wreaths took a tumble. A wedding cake topper was placed on the cake instead of on the groom's table where we had planned for it to go. It was really foggy with a forecast for ice. But nothing disastrous really happened and it was a fantastic evening. Our friends the Halls and Houges did a phenomenal job of decorating the Discovery Center. It was beautiful! The food was great, our DJ did an excellent job, flowers were beautiful. I know when I start listing those sorts of things, I will forget something or someone very important! Our photographer has our pictures ready, so I will start adding those as soon as we can meet with him to get them. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my aunt Connie.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Weather Outside Was Frightful

But the wedding was so delightful! Many thanks to those who braved the forecast and fog to share the big day. We were hitched without a hitch. :) Everything turned out beautifully thanks to our family and friends who took care of so many things. A bigger and better post with pictures to follow, but for now we are off to Florida!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Santa's Little Elves

Check this out! Todd made us elves! Click HERE to see us dance! It takes a little while to load, but is worth the wait.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Can’t Get There From Here…

As the big day gets closer and closer there may be some folks who need another look at the map and driving directions.

Here is a link with a larger version of the map:

So far the weather looks like it will cooperate for next weekend. Forecasts are calling for partly cloudy skies with lows in the mid 30’s and highs in the mid 50’s. Not exactly tropical… but better than ice and snow. Erin and I look forward to seeing everyone.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

One Week

One week from today, we will be official!