Saturday, May 18, 2019

In the District

Old Town Alexandria, D.C. suburb
I lived in Alexandria, VA, a suburb just outside of Washington D.C. for almost six years. I have not thought to write on living in the District because my attachment to it as a city was biased by my attachment to it as a home. When I lived here previously, it was excruciating. The traffic, the east coast personality disorders, and the excessively humid weather, all, over-shadowed anything great about this city (as a resident).
It was easy to overlook the amazing food which represents every continent. The number of languages overheard on the bus, or at the airport. D.C. is amazing. Let's not even get started on the museums and history. The architecture and urban development, which outline city streets, and make no sense to city planners or inhabitants in this day and age, are amazing when understood. The conflict of the structure and culture of this city is actually what makes it so amazing.

Since I have been back, I notice all the great things visitors think of when they come to the area. Washington D.C. and it's outlying suburbs reveal themselves as a mecca of international influence and sublime intellect.

Always on the "must-see"list for visitors
The monuments and museums are clearly at the top of the list to engage any world traveler. The White house and the Capital building are probably two of the most visited political structures in the downtown area. These symbols of modern democracy summon visitors from all over the world. Our international neighbors need to visually assess the power of this young nation, along with the marks of our great leaders, such as the Lincoln Memorial, and other famous monuments which have been placed strategically in the area of the Presidential grounds. These monuments, capital buildings and sculptures all represent the history and pride of the entire country of the United States.
There has also, always been rumor of Illuminati representation by the placement of some monuments and the symbolism weaved within their stones. If you stand at the Lincoln Memorial, the distance between the Jefferson Memorial and the National Mall form a perfect triangle. There are websites dedicated to the secret symbols of the Memorials. Unknown to me if this represents anything else other than perfect concepts of space, time and architecture. Still, interesting.

The university areas offer a vibrant energy driven city that keeps it youthful amidst the ever changing political climate. Generally represented by a stiff, American standard, having the young influx of ideas and energy truly keeps the city potent.

Howard University, the most prestigious(and popular) HBCU in the country is located right in the heart of the District. George Washington, American and Georgetown are also located in the center of D.C. and the level of international appeal for all these universities encourages the diverse population which makes up the greater mix of people and representation of all.

Many tourists visit D.C. to see the cherry blossoms (seasonally), which were a gift from the Japanese, after a war torn era, and still represent healing between two nations. Ideally, the blooms of a mending friendship. The District is underrated in the beauty it exudes and the many other features the city has to offer. The food, the attractions, the art and music are simply undervalued.

I got to experience the Spy Museum with my son who had no idea a museum could be so fun. My daughter and I got to view a special Rock and Roll - History of Music exhibit at the National Portrait Museum. A really special experience in itself, but also a reminder of other National Portrait Museum visits all over the world. The international appeal of the District is engaging and sophisticated.

The famous sculpture of the distressed giant, "The Awakening," which seems to rise from the underworld, I originally experienced at Hains Point. It has since been moved to National Harbor between the D.C. and Baltimore area. Yet, these types of art experiences have been crucial in introducing me to all aspects of art and history here in the D.C. area. I have so many memories stemming from different trips here. D.C. has become one of my most respected cities of the States even though my preference is living anywhere else.

My first fancy meal was here with a well known businessman, in the 80's.
One of my first live music shows was here in the 90's.
One of my first acting jobs - D.C.
I gave a special gift of NBA basketball tickets to a special guy and got to experience one of my first professional sporting events right in the center of China Town.
Breweries, speakeasy's, fantastic culinary delights - you can literally find everything and anything you want in this intimate, self designed, and beautifully diverse city.

This last trip to the D.C. area, I needed to see the Spite House.
The Spite House, Queen St. Alexandria

This house, originally built to keep trespassers and vagrants out of the owner's famous for the ingenuity and quaintness of it all. In all of our human pettiness, comes some semblance of creativity. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. The house has been designated a National Historic Building by the Historic Alexandria Foundation. On my visit, there were other visitors, cruising by, taking photos, but the neighborhood was not amassed with tourists and sight-seers looking for something interesting. It is indeed a quaint remnant of history, still standing in contemporary society.
In the same area, I visited an old well known eatery run by a well known local woman chef, Jamie Leeds. Hank's Oyster Bar, named after her father, represents the industriousness and innovation of locals who want to build where they live. I have been here for oyster hour many times, but this trip was different. I appreciated the effort; the honor of running a local business in such a prestigious town. The work. The loyalty. The neighborhood.

I have been to every monument and experienced every culturally inspiring activity/ memento in the D.C. area, but that's not what it's all about.
It represents freedom. The freedom of this country, our constitution and life.
D.C. is the small piece of America that IS America.

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Lovely La Jolla, California - 10 reasons to visit this beachside paradise

my personal favorite beach town

10. Family Friendly

9. Seaside dining

8. Live Sea Lion Entertainment

7. Boutique shops line the strand

6. World class Golf

5. Oceanside walks, La Jolla Cove

4. HH prices you won't believe

3. Sweet Beaches and Green Park areas

2. Beautiful Sunset views

1. La Jolla Caves


La Jolla is the mature, lush secret of San Diego. One of my all time favorite beach towns, La Jolla has a well manicured, affluent energy that draws in discerning tourists from all over the world, for the right reasons.
The La Jolla cliffs overlook a calm part of the Pacific ocean with walking paths which make the views accessible to visitors while minimally disturbing the local inhabitants. The well groomed paths are lined with florals, and the sweet birds they attract, enticing visitors like a charming, fairy-tale village.

The serenity and quiet vibe La Jolla exude make it:

Sunny La Jolla Cove
10. Family friendly - this is a place you can take grandpa and the toddlers. Age appropriate activities for every member of the family. The pace of La Jolla is suitable for ages 2 to 82.

Shops dedicated to children and their needs, as well as full service, family accessible restaurants and shops alongside the beaches. There are many dedicated trails along the cliffs to provide safe hiking experiences for the entire family.

For adult experiences, couples, or after the kids go to sleep there are:

9. Fantastically sexy, high-end restaurants and bars. The seaside dining is superb. Famous chefs, a reputation for white tablecloth service, and the most divine seafood along the coast. You can find lobster and oysters on almost every menu in this city.

The bar scene is fancy. Like Aspen in January, fancy. If that's your thing, you'll love it. It is the only part of San Diego where flip flops and tee shirts aren't truly welcome.

Sea Lions
8. The sea lions will keep you highly entertained for hours and hours. They play in the ocean and swim back and forth nudging one another with nose kisses. They bounce along the sand finding friends and mama sea lions to sun next to. The days grow long watching these sea creatures enjoy the lazy days of beach living.

When you've had your fill of the sea creatures life on the beach, make your way up the winding streets for your recommended dose of retail therapy:

7. The boutiques that line the curved streets of La Jolla are filled with various trinkets, boutique clothing items, as well as beach wear, and golf attire. Anything you might need for a weekend in California, you can find along the streets of this sweet town. The children's stores are reminiscent of animated stories and candy, with their bright colors and sweet accessories.

If you are not a big shopper, but still want to be outdoors:

6. Don't forget your putter. You will find world class golf in La Jolla, including the famous Torrey Pines golf course where Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been teeing up for many, many years. The greens are beautiful. The grounds are well maintained, and it is one of the most scenic golf courses I have ever had the pleasure of walking.

serene shell lined walkways
Before the sun begins to set, or you are looking for an early morning introspective walk along the oceans edge:

5. Walk the dedicated paths that line the cliffs in La Jolla cove. The walks will soothe your soul as you listen to the waves and feel the soft earth under your feet. The smell of the ocean and the sound of the water will take you to your happy place and you will never want to leave. It is a great place to meditate and reflect. This space was constructed with peace and solitude in mind.

As the day progresses and the warmth of the sun and the "feel goods" start to prepare you for the light of evening:

4. Sip a late afternoon cocktail at one of the famous restaurants and bars who dim their prices for the twilight crowd. I like a discounted glass of wine on the beach. Who doesn't? Yet, the bartenders at these spots have been around as long as the waves have been crashing against the beachside windows that overlook the ocean. They would give these new "mixologists" a run for their money.

One of the best Happy Hours in the area is notably at the Marine Room. They do have a dress code if you reserve a seat in the dining room, but the views are well worth the coat and tie. Sit in the bar area and enjoy the lovely background of ocean waves as families, and couples stroll along the sand taking in the gift from Mother Earth.

3. Some of the best beaches, albeit intimate and quiet, are located in this small strip of land. The beach areas are just as beautiful as the green spaces. Parks are everywhere - take the kids and the dog, or simply find a quiet place to rest the head of your lover on your lap for an afternoon of memory making to share with your own grandchildren in 30 years. Some of the park areas are so small, they seem to be made solely with you and your special one in mind, for an impromptu picnic. Just enough space for you, your love, the blanket you sit upon... and your picnic basket. Enjoy the moments. Appreciate the intimacy la Jolla offers. If you stay long enough to catch a sunset:

2. Make certain you enjoy a sunset view from the cliffs. Take advantage of the optimally placed benches along the cliff trails. Sit and watch the sun disappear into the ocean, or stand along the palm trees or on the bridge that connects the top of the cliffs with the city limit. But take it in. Breathe it in. Take a few minutes to observe one of natures most famous daily events and wonder how such a lovely gift is offered to us mere mortals each and every day if we stop long enough to appreciate it. The oranges and yellows as they finish the ocean blue is the perfect combination of the beginning and ending of life itself, in the form of day to night.

And finally, one of my favorite things to do in La Jolla is visit the seven caves at the foot of the cliffs:

1. La Jolla caves, whether by kayak, or via foot; Find yourself traversing down 145 steps to the inside of the caves. Read about the history of ancient pirates, human trafficking, and original migrant workers here along the coast back in the day. It's fascinating and well worth the couple of bucks it costs to check it out firsthand.

the steep trek into Sunny Jim Cave
Each of the seven caves has a name and a story associated with the cave. From The Cave Store ($5 for adults/ $3 for children), you can climb down the steep stairs into the only cave accessible by foot.

There is a kayak excursion which will take you on a scenic tour of all the caves and even allow you to enter the only cave large enough to allow traffic, the Clam Cave. If the tide is low enough, that is.

The caves represent history, and perhaps folklore from the time. The white woman cave gets its name from the story of a young bride who was swept away and never seen again. These tales, as interesting as they are, still represent the danger of the ocean and the very real consequences of daring too far to tempt Mother Nature.

La Jolla is the intuitive breast of California. I embrace this town for the peaceful space it represents (in myself).

"Shift your vibration to change your reality. Vibrate on a frequency that attracts what you desire. Make it your reality." SSK

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Key West Florida and my love for Hemingway

I have been fascinated with Ernest Hemingway for most for my life.

I don't know if it was his stereotypical writers life - the booze, the solitude, or the romanticism of being a tortured soul and writer. I have found myself drawn to him, his life and the cities where he is famous for living. I have this same fascination with Toulouse Lautrec (another tortured artist).  I do see my issue here, but you can't help what you can't help. These men were well known tortured souls who created something magical with their words and their art.

This is what initially drew me to Key West; almost, I should say, as fast as I was drawn to Havana. I knew I had to visit these places where this mysterious, reclusive old man, Hemingway had been inspired to live and to write about.
My trip to Havana was such a success, I knew I couldn't wait much longer to see Key West. Although, I despise Florida in general, (the humidity, the bugs, the simple blech), I made an exception to visit this writers famous home.

There have been songs written about the keys. Key Largo and Margaritaville are well known tunes that pop in your head almost immediately, if you are thinking about beach vacations, cocktails and sunsets. People equate Jimmy Buffet with spring break, and Florida. Lazy beach lyrics, go hand in hand with music written about island life and paradise. There is something to it.

The Hemingway museum located in the heart of Old Town Key West is the home of the famous author. The grounds are meticulously kept, even though the famous cats who live there roam the grounds freely. Although sometimes, there is a line around the block to get in, you do not have to pre-book, but note, they only take cash. Feel free to take a guided tour, or just wander about the house and gardens, and breathe in the old man and the sea.

The downtown Key West area has many museums, lighthouse, and shops to visit. There are popular restaurants and bars, and lots to see and buy. The downtown area is walk-able and the perfect place for a walking pub crawl. Live music can be heard bellowing out of open windows. The night seems to invite you in to each stage daring you to enjoy your night just a little bit more, and a little bit longer.
Downtown Key West is like many tourist destinations. Quaint shops that make money on the concept of the town itself. The music and artists that the town is known for, the famous songs. This cities tourism is built specifically around what the town symbolizes for the locals and the tourists. Pink houses have been translated onto t-shirts and mugs. Flamingos aren't just for lawns, they are for shot glasses and beach towels. Pineapples are for cocktails and icees. 

These famous fruity drinks are a popular item for tourists in the downtown area. We Americans have a thing for walking around with the largest non-cup item in our hands drinking something obscure from it.
I remember being in the Bahamas once and my kids demanding a coconut with something bizarre inside simply because it had a straw coming from the top of the coconut.
Juice in a nut.
I fear I may be too lazy for this drinking sport. Or, perhaps I am not fancy enough. I have been told that before as well.

I digress.

I stumbled upon a turtle rescue just outside of Key West in Marathon, Florida. What more apropos of the beach community I was so attracted to to have a rescue for animals I love the most. The turtle hospital was a short drive from our beach house and I couldn't pass by it every single day without a nagging feeling to see what was inside. Their main focuses are rehabbing injured turtles, research and education. This turtle facility is doing great work and I was happy to contribute to the cause.

This also may have been the saddest part of my visit. Seeing the damage we do as humans to our earths living creatures and wildlife. These rescues had debris stuck to their shells, in their nostrils, and deformities due to our garbage in the ocean, and/ or being hit by boats and disregarded.
It was terrible to see, but happy to see we have resources that care enough to take care of them.

Of course, after visiting the local turtles, I found my own personal watering hole to call mine, for the week. I felt like Norm from "Cheers" by the end of my stay. Where everybody knows my name; it is far too easy to fall into a place like this and feel at home.

Vacations give the illusion of life, as is - but this place had a local feel to it that is genuine and tangible. More locals than tourists made conversation and invited us to feel welcome in their small community. There really is a sense of kinship, and it is pretty solid.

Key West is very special. It still suffers some damage from the hurricanes that rip through there almost regularly. But the sense of neighborhood there is strong. The people are there rebuilding and living their island life dream. The homes were quietly coming back. The beach debris is slowly getting picked up. The ocean is still there, vast and as far as the eye can see.

The silence is just as loud as the noise. The water gave weight to beach life, instead of the bars.
History outweighed the masses. Key West is magical and I can see why Hemingway split his time here. I felt his solace and peace spending time here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Subtle Allure of Palm Springs

Palm Springs is hot hot hot!

Topping 100 degrees for over half the year, Palm Springs is known as a retirement paradise for the elite golf, and senior community. A well known tennis resort destination, the beautiful weather affords some of the biggest tournaments to visit the city. The upcoming BNP Paribas Open Mar 6 - 17 is a huge annual draw for tennis pros and spectators from all over the world.

Great restaurants and bars, live music, and fabulous shopping invite tourism of all kinds.
Palm Springs has some of the best resale and consignment shops I have ever visited.

Coachella is the new young draw, but this golf destination has been drawing the elite wealthy to this desert city for decades. The music hype has become a trendy reason to bring yet, even more money into this community...and, Good on them.

This year, April 12-21 the trendy desert music festival brings headliners like Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino, both young icons in their own right, for two weekends of woodstock-like shenanigans.
I am not a hater and any reason to listen to live music, in the sun, have some cocktails, or whatever makes your kitty purr is a reason to dance like no one is watching even when the whole world is doing exactly just that.

As a popular snow bird destination, the winter temperatures are easy on the joints, and the soul. Pool temps are comfortable year round and I believe anytime the sun out is bikini weather. Let's do this.

Desert heat and mountain landscapes line the upscale communities. Pool life is an integral part of the Palm Springs lifestyle.

One of my favorite warm weather retreats, what I love most about Palm Springs is the effort to seem casual and low key while surrounded by the elite rich and famous.

The golf and tennis clubs outnumber all other entertainment establishments in the city.
The cost of hotels here also out-price  any hotel in the country, competitive with New York and Los Angeles.
One of my favorite stays is the Hilton Doubletree golf resort. It is pet friendly, has a fantastic pool area and spectacular golfing for the price. One of the more reasonable resorts in the area and if you are a Hilton Honors member, you can use points for this booking and utilize all the Honors benefits during your stay. I always need the complimentary water, and who doesn't love the famous Doubletree cookie?

AirBnb's are plentiful and accessible to travelers providing access to the upscale lifestyle and quiet neighborhoods of Palm Springs, and many times less expensive than a hotel or resort. Why rent a room when you can have the whole house?

The AirBnb I chose was landscaped beautifully, with an inviting pool as the centerpiece.  Fire-pits accessorize the outdoor entertainment area and provide a sexy backdrop for nights outdoors by the pool. The designer payed special attention to keeping the decor aligned with the Palm Springs aesthetic yet still remaining contemporary and clean. This is always my favorite option when traveling to Palm Springs.
Indian Wells Private Retreat available for rent, year round.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Sunny San Diego

San Diego is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. The sunny weather and year round activities bring people from all over the world to experience what some consider the best of California.
Craft breweries abound and the restaurants are amazing, especially in popular neighborhoods like La Jolla and Little Italy. With a variety of prices, you can enjoy fine dining beach side, or a quaint Mama's dining experience at the famous Filippi's Pizza Grotto. A neighborhood like Old Town has it's share of good bars and restaurants serving the authentic Mexican fare that San Diego is well known for. You will find your choices are unlimited when it comes to international fare in downtown San Diego and the attached beach areas.

The craft brewery experience has grown leaps and bounds with new brew pubs popping up every week. Some of my favorites, if only for the patio dining experience, in the glorious weather, are Stone Brewing Co. and the Coronado Brewery on Coronado Island, just a short ferry ride from downtown San Diego. The beers are diverse, fresh, and highly recommended, but the staff experience at both these places is amazing. There are a number of reasons you want to visit both these places - Did I mention the food, *slurp*. Stone Brewing Co. has a dining room experience that offers private dining areas and has a delightful, original menu. Coronado Brewing Co. is far more casual but has a more diverse menu with salads, pizza and sandwiches, as well as plates.
Popular Motor Ride, Lime-S

It is easy to scoot around SD lately with the addition of motorized scooters, electric bikes and traditional bikes you can find docked all over the city. Ride and go is extremely popular here. You can find stations on almost every corner to check out a bike, or motorized personal unit of transportation to get you all over the small city. I took a quick ride from downtown to Point Loma on a Lime-S motorized scooter, and in under 30 minutes I found myself seated on the patio of my next brewery. When I came out, ready to uber to my hotel, another scooter riding tourist had already taken my scooter to the next cool landing-place.

Then there are the more traditional modes of transportation such as taxi, shared ride, and rickshaw (especially popular in the mission beach and Point Loma areas). The downtown area is easy to access and maneuver without a car, which makes it a prime travel destination.
I am more than happy whenever I find a boat to taxi me to another destination, and the Coronado ferry runs on the hour and on the half hour to and from the convention center and downtown areas.

Potato Chip Rock

There are many scenic hiking and climbing areas. Hikes and trails for every experience level. The number of parks and rec areas is astounding with over 400 parks and 40,000 acres of park assets. This makes San Diego extremely lucrative for outdoor activity seekers.
For the more leisurely athlete, there are numerous places to jog and skate along the coast. Or simply walk along the coastline and enjoy the ocean nearby.

USS Midway/ Unconditional Surrender Statue
If boating is your thing, San Diego is the ideal place to be. With a heavy U.S. Navy influence, numerous naval bases, and various marina's throughout the city, San Diego is the perfect locale to see every type of boat or ship you are interested in. It is the best place to learn how to sail year round. Is is a cornerstone of history for nautical information and experience.

Find yourself vacationing in a beautiful location with everything outdoorsy you can imagine, and a cold brew too. That's my San Diego!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Secrets of Amsterdam

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been torn between visiting Amsterdam (and not). The stereotypes of the red light district, and being able to smoke weed, or hash, in public had me terrified. What kind of wild version of my parallel life was this? First impressions from propaganda and third hand stories were too much for my naive mind to comprehend.

traditional windmill
So, down the bucket list it went, getting bumped by destinations like Florence and Rome, Vancouver and Montreal, Copenhagen and Bali. Hell, even Thailand somehow made it on the list before Amsterdam. After visiting so many places that I knew nothing about, I somehow raised my travel bravery bar. I decided it was time to see what all the hubbub was about.

I am so glad I did.

Amsterdam is one of the most outgoing, inviting, international cities I have ever visited. Men and women alike, stopped to talk to me, smiled and even asked me questions. Faces like mine; all shades of human - many shades of multi-ethnic mix. It is beautiful. The men are extremely friendly, on the verge of flirtatious, but I try to never mistake common hospitality for flirtation. Although very much welcomed, from someone accustomed to brushing down busy streets surrounded by people not making eye contact, or receiving a sneer in lieu of a morning smile or a genuine, "good morning." Here, the train conductors are happy to smile, and say, "Good morning Beauty, what can I help you with?"
Not only did the little girl from the midwest find it utterly charming, even the east coast cynic in me had to smile and just take the compliment...and the assistance.

museum district
There is so much to do in Amsterdam, let's start there. The museums, the canals, the tours, the historic architecture - these are all just the beginning of what the canal city has to offer locals and tourists alike. Parks, and art are bountiful in this city. I was able to see the work of Banksy at the MOCO, a quite diverse selection of works at the Van Gogh museum, and the historic Anne Frank House. Before you go, please note some of these museums require reservations and ticketing far in advance, so be prepared for disappointment if you do not do your research and plan ahead.
The prostitution museum is also quite famous. You can find discounted tickets to this exhibit at most of the hotels.
I like to utilize the hop on hop off bus/ boat system to visit as many of the cities attractions as possible in a succinct manner. There are always things on the tour I know nothing about and I am happy to learn.

The well known components of Amsterdam like prostitution and marijuana aren't as "in your face" and offensive as you would believe (by American standards). Amsterdam has a come as you are attitude, and doesn't push who they are on you. Oh, but you want it. You want to inhale it all, because it is magnificent.
The bars and restaurants are very European, almost with a Parisian cafe air, but with German styled sausage and beers. Fries, cheese and local meats define the delicious tastes found in most eateries here. You can find international fare of all types as well as you travel down the winding side streets and canal lined avenues.

There is a natural social ambiance which lends itself to a sense of unity and community living. One of my favorite moments in Amsterdam was standing on the canal watching a man in a rowboat in a yellow rain jacket play the trumpet while a church bell nearby responded to the tune. All while it rained and an audience of probably 200 people stood and enjoyed the musical dialogue. This interaction gifted me my biggest smile the entire trip.

Watch out for the bicyclists. In the spirit of NYC bike couriers, they are everywhere. They will run you down, then curse you out for not watching where you are going. There are areas of downtown where you must be so careful entering and exiting buildings and crossing the street. There are dedicated bike lanes everywhere.  It is quite apparent that most visitors are not used to this, and do not know how to accommodate.


The foodie revolution is in full swing in Amsterdam. Like the rest of the world, top tier tastes and flavors have mutated all over the city. I had great food at my hotel, as well as downtown. Even the bar food I tasted was well above par. International favorites and local cuisine alike were both above standard.

Trendy bars such as Icebar combine tourism and chilled liquor in a friendly and unique atmosphere that even impressed me. They even provide coats, gloves and hats to enter into the arctic back room bar where the frozen shot glasses are kept. The Heineken brewery is also a big tourist favorite. I did not visit the brewery, but the canal stop is a busy intersection of the city where many locals and tourists meet and gather for socializing.

Amsterdam has all the qualities of a great international city. It is livable and walk-able, and most certainly bike-able, but overall has the vibe of a down to earth culture of individuals who just live and let live. It is remarkably simple, and they get it. The art scene is magnificent, and they do a grand job of highlighting the historic value of the city. IAmsterdam is a slogan I can relate to.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

If I could buy an island...

Have you ever thought about buying/ owning an island?

Most women will answer, no.
Men on the other hand, admit, this is a fantasy. If they had all the money in the world, they would buy an island. Maybe it is the ultimate land ownership, maybe it is the concept of being a pirate, boys and their boats (and other toys), whatever it is, it's a thing. Who knew?
After I found this out, and actually researched it. I started getting pings on my smartphone: "half off island rentals" from Groupon. Unbelievable. I thought, who rents an island?
The seed had been planted. The more I thought about it, and the more I thought about what I really wanted for my 50th b-day, I thought, F yeah! I want to rent an island. A private island to share with my girls. I could picture us, on a boat, laying out, cocktails in hand, looking at the white sand and the sea life swimming around us...with no loud, obnoxious tourists to be heard for miles. The fantasy was real.
I went back to Groupon and searched for my deal. I noted many of the destinations were in faraway countries - international islands that many of my friends would not be able to travel to. I then went to Airbnb and searched for domestic island rentals. Lo and behold, you can find everything and anything on the internet.

You can rent an island!! Just like a hotel.

I found the cutest, little island with a docked houseboat (included) in the rental that could host 6-7 people. The island had no housing but was equipped with shelters for lounging. They provided tables, a grill, and hammocks for ultimate relaxation. The rental also came with kayaks and a 17' boat to take to and from shore, fishing excursions, or simply exploring the waters nearby.
After making contact with the owners/ management company at, I rented Quiet Cove Key in Key West, FL for a full week to celebrate 50 years of life on this planet with my best girlfriends.

Upon arrival, the island itself was cute. It was small enough that I didn't feel like creepers could hide and sneak up on us while we were vacationing peacefully. It was green and lush. The shelter was a bit storm - worn, but still capable of shielding us from the sun. It was actually more of a landing pad for all the giant lizards on the island, but that's another story.

I know share this planet with all living creatures. It was as much their island as it was mine that week.  They swam from the mainland to the island, likely looking for scraps of food. They stayed in the trees and moved quietly about the island.
There was a little shed that held all the water toys and supplies. I was a bit afraid to enter the shed because of all the giant iguanas and such. I never knew when one would jump out from a  rooftop or a shelf to get me. I jumped out of my skin on more than one occasion, as the iguanas would leap from branch to branch, but happy to provide a good guffaw to my girlfriends.

The houseboat was large enough for 5 or 6 people to sleep on if desired. It got warm throughout the day, so I wouldn't recommend sleeping on the boat, but to each his own. In my twenties, I would have lived on this boat, no question. Now, I prefer a bit more luxury. I equate boating to camping. The experience is great if you've never done it, but I like to sleep in the cool comfort of a bed that isn't rocking back and forth, or has rocks underneath it. You get the picture. That said, it was the perfect spot to store all of our island goods, take meals and wrap up our day before going out.

Over the course of the week we developed a great routine of breakfast, a quick boat ride, sunning and kayaking, lunch on the houseboat, taking the small boat out to fish, then cocktails and dinner. All while equipped with Pandora and our personal speakers. I will never think about the soundtrack to my life the same.

Of course men want to own an island! It's a lifestyle. The ocean itself is reason enough to want to live as close to nature's beauty, but if you have never driven a boat. Let me tell you, I have rarely felt so powerful. Surrounded by marine life, swimming with the manatees. We even discovered baby sharks, and saw stingrays up close and personal. We fished, for sport. Lobster was easily retrieved just by swimming below the surface of the island. Crabs walked right up to us on the deck and like a gift from the Gods; lunch.

a quiet island nook
The best thing about this island experience is the actual vacation matches any lifestyle needs. This experience was perfect for a girls trip. It would have been perfect for a romantic getaway, or a couples only trip. The island experience is perfect for family reunions, children and is pet friendly. It offers the seclusion for family bonding and for children to be as rambunctious as they want, without disturbing anyone in hearing range. It allows couples to have all the privacy they can stand. It is a quiet, shallow place to swim and kayak and just enjoy the lazy days of summer.
You can camp on the island at night - albeit the large lizards you share the island with. Or sleep in a fairly comfortable bed on the houseboat. I like to sleep on the deck with a cool breeze and open sky above me, or in a hammock on the island. When all is said and done, there is something for everyone.
The amenities were well thought out...for a private island. When you are on an island, what do you really need? Snacks, sunscreen and beer. Wifi??!? Well, yes indeed.
my dearest friend taking advantage of the island supplied kayaks
Beach towels, water, a working stove, fridge and air conditioning were all provided on the houseboat. They even provided flippers and floating noodles to float around the still, calm island waters. The kayaks came in so handy. That was a bonus. Before we left, we bought a couple more balls, float toys and fishing rods and left them for the next visitors. I truly believe part of the great experience in traveling is leaving something, in kind, for the next traveler.

me(age 50) / RJ (on right)

I failed to mention, as my (birthday) luck would have it, there was a cancellation the exact same week we were scheduled to arrive.
In addition to the island rental, a few days prior to arrival, the hosts at were kind enough to add a beach house to our rental for a nominal additional charge. At the owners suggestion, instead of eating the week and allowing the beachhouse to be empty, they offered it to my group. For a small portion of the usual rental fee, we rented the island,  houseboat, and a sweet waterfront, beach house. I called it luck but it is true favor. Keep paying it forward. Keep giving. Good is out there, give it, receive it. Live your best life.