Do you know about Island Jane Magazine?
They publish a great magazine online and in print too. I have a digital subscription and look forward to the photos and articles every month. Their tag line is “Connecting Island Women, one fabulous Woman at a time!” and the stories tell of great connections. Here’s a subscription link their blog.
I contributed an article to a recent issue and wanted to share it here with you today. These are my thoughts on visiting the islands as a part-time Island Jane!
“Someday I will.”
That’s my response when folks ask me why I don’t live in the Florida Keys. I’ve been visiting the Keys for twenty years, and when I hear Jimmy Buffett’s song Some Day I Will it always feels like a glimpse into my future. I’m a part-time Island Jane with a full-time love for the Conch Republic.
I’m in good company. Lots of folks are recent Keys visitors on their holiday getaways, or maybe they just arrived for their winter season – and we’re all part-time Island Janes. We love fresh catch on the grill, Mallory Square sunsets, and being on, around or under the water.
I first visited the Keys twenty years ago, to get my open water scuba diving certification in Key West as part of a memorable birthday. That scuba adventure with Captain’s Corner dive shop sealed the deal on my love of diving, and I went on to get my instructors certification with PADI (Professional Assoc. of Dive Instructors) a few years later. Captain’s Corner is still running the Sea Eagle dive boat out of Key West, and on my next visit you better believe I will be on the boat!
This year over Labor Day week was my “Definitive Keys Road Trip” to celebrate the twenty-year milestone. Driving the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Key West and back over ten days, and enjoying all kinds of adventures along the mile markers.
I don’t have a “bucket list” for my life. I have a “life enjoyed bucket”. When something’s special, I add a photo or journal entry or souvenir to my life’s bucket of things that have brought me happiness along the way. This year’s road trip added a bunch of things to my “life enjoyed bucket”. The freedom of driving the Overseas Highway to tropical islands – no passports, no airports, and doing what we wanted, when we wanted – was a treasure on its own. Add to that snorkeling at Bahia Honda, a seaplane adventure to Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, a beautiful B&B island stay, the Hemingway Home, restaurants all around Key West – and that was just a few days of our trip! We had just as many fun days in the upper and middle Keys too.
Afterwards back at home, it was fun going through trip photos, reading up a bit more on places we visited, and sharing it with readers in a series on my blog – a nice way to extend my island time. Thank heavens for digital photography! Even with sorting photos daily on the trip, I still had thousands of raw images when we were back home. That’s a lot of material for the life enjoyed bucket!
Every season in the Keys is different. And it’s more than just the changing color of the flip-flops. We loved being there as things were transitioning from summer to fall this year. The pace was a little slower, sidewalks were clearer, and restaurants were more available. I’ve also spent several holidays in the Keys from Christmas to New Year’s – including the big one in 1999 – with fireworks, boat drinks and lobster tails on the grill. And though it’s hot in the summer, the diving is great, and I’m a summer girl at heart.
Growing up all around the south, we were always near a beach or lake – especially the years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. I’ve lived in Atlanta now for a bunch of years, which has been good from a family and professional perspective, though I really feel it when I am too long away from the ocean. I know my part-time Island Jane sisters can relate!
In those times I close my eyes and think about past experiences – like coming over the Card Sound Bridge into the Keys, or standing on the bow pulpit of the dive boat in the channel heading into the sun on the early morning dive trip, or watching a trio of scrawled file fish doing an underway ballet around a moon jelly pulsing along in gin clear water on Molasses reef in John Pennekamp Park – then I smile, and I say someday I will.
In the meantime I’ll enjoy my part-time status, visiting my favorite spots and seeking out new adventures on the water and all along the Overseas Highway. If you see me along the way give a wave, and maybe we’ll be able to connect to trade stories over a few boat drinks – one Island Jane to another, of course.