Sky Turns 16 in Key Largo

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Would you believe me if I told you that I live in Florida, and I had never actually been all the way to Key Largo? I know, right? Part of that is because I am not the worlds biggest fan of the “beach”. Don’t get me wrong – I think the beach is a peaceful place to take a night time stroll with my shoes off when it’s cooler out and there’s a view of the moon. It’s beautiful to look at from a boardwalk, balcony or beach house porch, but during the day it’s sticky, crowded and hot. And let’s face it. I’m a pale Irish girl. The sun and I are not friends.

Sky, however is a diver. While I have a fear of the ocean that I’m slowly chipping away at, Sky loves the ocean and everything in it. Cory and I decided to combine their birthdays into one trip down to Key Largo. We rented a dry docked houseboat. It was tiny and full of Kay Largo character with a cute spiral staircase, a lovely little porch that it was to hot to sit on and an eccentric little back yard (filled with mosquitoes).

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We visited the Hemingway House, ate key lime pie and wandered around a bit. I scheduled a wreck dive for Sky, and since her grandfather wasn’t able to to come along, we had a diving instructor (a totally cool, totally rad, totally 80s rocker dude) partnered up with her in order for her to be able to dive that deep. They went down twice that day while Cory and I were along for the ride. She did fantastically. She loved every single second of it while I was both impressed and worried. While she was so far down below, I dipped into the ocean to see about some snorkeling. I immediately felt the weight of the fact that all I could see was blue and deep. Nope. It took less than 10 minutes for me to climb back in the boat. Not that day ocean – not that day.

Sky convinced me to try my hand at snorkeling with her on the reef the next day, which I apprehensively agreed to. As we stood in line she was delighted that we were going to do this thing that I’ve never done before. Meanwhile the people chartering the boat ride warned us that because there were 3 foot swells, only experienced snorkelers should go out. I looked at her dumbfounded. She said, “It will be fine, don’t worry – you’re a good swimmer.” Uh-huh. Sure.

She schooled me on snorkeling on the beach while we waited for the boat to be ready, and then off we went. Once we reached the reef, I took the 15 minute instruction they gave – the one thing I took from it was not to swim away from the boat until I was able to be calm and regulate my breathing. I climbed down the latter and looked for Sky, but she was already off on her own. I stayed hanging on to the ladder for a good while as the three foot swells that seemed so much higher to me rushed past me over and over again. I was legitimately terrified. I finally set myself free, calmed my breathing and…I snorkeled! I saw puffer fish, and clown fish and holy-crap-a-barracuda. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. No regrets. I’ll do it again.

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