Abby and I headed back down to the Keys this past week with the kiddos, taking a much-needed break from work while sneaking in a final getaway before the end of what has been a wonderful summer. Our destination was Marathon, Florida, one of the “middle Keys” in the state’s famous chain of tropical islands. My aunt and uncle introduced me to Marathon many years back, inviting me along on their annual offshore fishing trips. I owe them for that, since it’s a wonderland. Though I don’t own a large boat capable of deep water pursuits, Marathon abounds with opportunity for the shallow-water angler.
Our goal was simple: to fish and snorkel away each day between long naps and good meals. Though we were beset by a series of problems with my little skiff, we nonetheless snuck out to Sombrero Reef (a fantastic dive spot that materializes out of deep water along the continental shelf), explored both Key West and Big Pine Key one afternoon, and – despite windy weather and grumpy seas – also managed to populate the cooler with enough chunky mangrove, lane, schoolmaster and yellowtail snapper for several delicious meals. All in all, it was a classic tropical getaway. A handful of memories stand out: the sight of a shiny permit gliding across a stark white flat, a burly barracuda slicing the largest of our catches into writhing halves before clearing the water by eight feet, a water spout that never quite reached the churning Atlantic, smiling faces lit by glorious sunsets. Now that’s a vacation. Alas, it’s back to the grind, golden sunsets and azure waters in mind.