The second day of the cruise involved our fist shore excursion to the odd place known as Key West and the (imagine scary music here) Formal Dinner.
Our ship pulled out of Miami at about 4 PM on Monday. It pulled into Key West at 8 AM Tuesday. Mrs Notthat and I wisely chose to ignore getting an early start and instead went for the 10 AM trolley tour of the island. We had the choice of sitting in the fairly open train-like cars (in the foreground) or in a mostly covered trolley-like bus (in the background). We, and most people without little kids, chose the mostly covered trolley. Since our ship docked at a naval pier, the area around the boat was strictly controlled. We got in the trolley bus and were driven into town past the guarded gate. (We had to go through a mini-customs sort of thing when we came back in.)
An awful lot of the Significant Sites on the island are based on Ernest Hemingway. "Ernest regularly got sloppy drunk at Sloppy Joes." "Ernest regularly avoided this church." "Ernest once spit on that brick right there." Additionally, Tennessee "Stud" Williams wrote the first draft of "Streetcar Named Desire" (working title "Cruiseship Named Leaky") in Key West. Also, based on the number of times we saw him, Captain Jack Sparrow apparently is still alive and well here.
There was a long line of people waiting to get their picture taken at this landmark, the "Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. that We Could Find To Put this Landmark."
One thing you saw was a lot of anti-BP sentiment. This was one of the few that did not contain extremely rude words. (In case you are curious, we saw no evidence of the oil rig disaster on the cruise. I hope that cruisers will still be able to say the same thing a couple of months from now, but fear it won't be long before Key West will be affected.)
One of these is made out of natural sponges and the other is not real.
There are a lot of whimsical statues scattered about the town.
As well as a lot of shopping opportunities.
Me hanging with a banyan tree. (We had seen a huge version of the trolley tour, but were unable to get a picture of it or find it later when we were walking around.)
Mrs Notthat looking into a fixer-upper. (It was listed at $3.9 million, down from a bit over $5 million. A bargain if they can prove Ernest stumbled on its pathway once.)
An odd bar that Mrs Notthat spotted with many signed bras hanging from the ceiling. I was way too scared to venture in.
And that was about it for Key West. The boat left the docks at 2 PM. During lunch, Llessur heard about a hairy chest contest. Llessur is not a wild and crazy guy. He is a quiet, reserved, grownup. But he really wanted to win this contest. Brave Ydnas encouraged him to go for it.
Here are the final contestants (eight guys on the right) and judges (three women on the left, being coached by the hardest working person on the ship - I believe her name was Rachel or something like that - who ran a LOT of these little contests throughout the day).
Some enthusiastic fans named Sirhc, Eibbed, and Mrs Notthat. Brave Ydnas was calmly sitting at her table.
The shirts came off. As it turned out, winning had little to do with having a hairy chest, and a LOT to do with how rudely you could dance. The guy on the right won. The guy massaging a couple of his private parts to the left of the wooden beam made it to the finals by virtue of mooning the audience.
Quiet, reserved, grownup Llessur took the high road (well, let's just say a higher road than the others) and was rewarded with a genuine medal. It was amazing that he gave this a shot - I could have had chest hair like a wookie and you couldn't have dragged me on that stage.
After that event we all participated in a Name That Tune contest, which we failed miserably at due to it being based on 90s music that most of us had never heard of, followed by a trivia sort of thing based loosely on Who Wants to be a Millionaire where both Llessur and I won trophies - him for knowing that Green Acres was based near Hooterville and me for knowing that lots of chocolate gets sold for Halloween.
Speaking of scary things, this was the Formal Dining Night. There were rules about how dressed up you had to be, but the rules were rarely (if ever) enforced. (Honestly, this more than anything adds dread to a trip like this. I'm on an extremely casual vacation, but am forced to pack nice slacks, shirt, tie, and shoes - I refused to wear formal underwear - that are only worn this one evening, and only until dinner is over. This is almost as mysterious as Subway not selling french fries.)
In any case, Ydnas and Llessur are laughing here because they were given a special desert with a candle in it due to this being their honeymoon.
Eibbed and Tap are laughing here because they really have no idea why they got a special dessert with a candle in it. Miller our waiter somehow worked out that it was their third anniversary, which was news to them. (The special dessert did not go to waste, however.)
This is a picture of the picture that was taken of Mrs Notthat and I, who did not get a special dessert.
After dinner we bolted for our room to change. This was the view outside our window.
And this was our window.
Most of us headed to a musical review show thing that involved lots of dancing and singing and was universally loved (except in my little corner of the universe, where it was universally tolerated, but could have been better if we had been much closer and better able to see the show girls, ummm, talents).
When we came back to the room later, this was on our bed.
Carnival is famous for their towel art (they sell a book about it and had a class about doing it). Every night we had a different thing on the bed. One of the best though was on Tap and Eibbed's bed the first night.
The sunglasses were a nice touch.
And that's about it for the second day. Wednesday is our Cozumel day.
That's it - move along...