Thursday, January 8, 2015

Going Dormant: The Christmas Boycott

Sometimes more is just too much. I do not enjoy the chaos of the holidays, the ridiculous expectation of it all, or the spending. I don't pine away for anything holiday related except for cookies, fudge, and my favorite Christmas movies. By December, stress at the Casa hits absolute saturation. While I'm submerged in piles of grading, my husband has spent the last two years working on a second masters degree despite a busy career. By Dec 25 we are too exhausted for much more than a weary Ho Ho Ho.

This year we decided what we needed wasn't more but less. As a matter of fact, we didn't engage in anything Christmas related at all. Instead of giving each other material gifts, we decided to give each other the one present that can't be returned: the gift of time. Instead of celebrating Christmas, we took a family vacation to the Florida Keys.

The canal behind our house

We rented a small house on Duck Key, near Marathon, one of the middle keys. We rented bikes, kayaked, snorkeled, jet skied, and parasailed



Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key


The old Keys Highway has been reinforced and repurposed as a walking path along Bahia Honda Key, which help me capture some wonderful photos.



I wasn't able to ID this beauty. 

We also spent time in Key West and are eager to go back. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy was full of butterflies I'd never seen before. 


 The Owl butterfly is huge!


Roosters run free around the city.


Downtown Key West had live music, street performers, and key lime pie. Rumor has it I ate a lot of pie.


To escape the crowds in Key West, we took a sea plane to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. Built as a military fort in the 19th century, it is now a national park. Next to Alcatraz, Fort Jeff is the best place to ride out a zombie apocalypse.


The flight was incredible and we landed right in the water. During the 40 minute flight, I saw a manatee, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and a ray. I was seated next to the plane door and kept reminding myself not to lean on it. In case the door flew open, I had grand plans to tumble gracefully from the plane and swan dive into the ocean. Should that plan fail, I was hoping to die of a heart attack in mid-air before being devoured by a shark after landing face first in the Atlantic. 


The Atlantic as seen through a battlement window.



As much as I enjoy the beach, I dislike crowded, noisy places and loved the inaccessibility of the Dry Tortugas. The island was free of trash, screaming kids, or people blasting music. Just sand, surf, and birds.



Corrie the turtle was hit by a boat and has paralyzed back flippers. She is a permanent resident.

In Marathon we visited The Turtle Hospital, a sea turtle rescue and 
rehabilitation center. 


If I lived in the Keys I would join the rescue team. I am a huge turtle lover and share my garden with three eastern box turtles.


Even though it sounds like we were busy, there was plenty of time to just do nothing except read, relax, and spend time with each other. It was the best way to spend Christmas.

64 comments:

  1. Yup. We did that a few years back. Maybe next year ...

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    1. I'd like to go back next year, too! :o)

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  2. You know, this is a fabulous idea. I am still recovering from the over celebration. There should be a better, calmer way to celebrate and you found it.

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    1. Calm is exactly what it was and exactly what we needed. I highly recommend it!

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  3. Wonderful! A beautiful way to spend the holiday in a beautiful part of the world. We were in Key West last winter, but away from the crowds and it was glorious. Happy New Year!!

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    1. We really want to go back to Key West and explore it more. Our quiet little key was about 70 miles above Key West and I liked how removed it was but still close enough to Marathon to get groceries and have fun stuff to do. :o)

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  4. We've talked about high-tailing it to Hawaii for the holidays for the past 2 years now. As Sue said, maybe next year. I'm glad you had a great time and an opportunity to decompress - and that you didn't take a header out of that sea plane.

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    1. Do it! I'm pretty happy not to have fallen out of the plane, too. It would have ended badly!

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  5. Great idea! I might have to borrow that one. I loved your description of the plane ride. Tee hee.

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    1. The plane ride was amazing!! It was such a cool experience. I wanna do it again!! :o)

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  6. My kind of trip! Man does this sound just fantastic in every way! And the turtle!!! So beautiful!!! I would so join that rescue crew too! You had me laughing about falling out into the Atlantic wanting to have a heart attack before being eaten by a shark! HA! I would have to vote for the same thing too! I am so glad you all were able to create new memories as a family! Happy weekend to you friend!! Nicole xoxo

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    1. It was so relaxing! I was seriously making plans for what I was going to do if the plane door suddenly flew open. I had my seat belt on and had high hopes the large burly man next to me would grab me since my husband was a few seats over. There is a 100% guarantee I would have face planted into the water regardless of my attempts to do otherwise. Fortunately, I was worrying for nothing. But I always have a back up plan... ;o)

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  7. Your idea of Christmas this year really resonates. So very appealing!,,

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  8. Fantastic pictures Tammy. I've never been to The Keys before, so I loved seeing it. Tortugas! Que bueno! They are so ancient and interesting to watch, munching on algae off of the rocks. I think once they discover you are not a threat, you can just hang out with them. I got such a kick out of the Turtle Rescue Van--bless people that do that work. Which applies to you too, my friend, educating the nation's children is some of the highest service there is IMO. Next Christmas, head for Baja, to the Sea of Cortez. A little further afield, boy wow, what an experience to go when the Humpbacks are migrating down with their young.

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    1. I think we'll be staying here next Christmas, unfortunately. :( But Baja sounds wonderful! I would love to see a whale migration.

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  9. It is the best Christmas get away suggestion I have heard. It sounds as if you had a great time. Once you have joined the turtle rescue team, let me know and I will come and help you. However no more key lime pies if you want to be able to get into that new snazzy garden outfit you featured in your last post.

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    1. All the key lime pie and orders of sweet potato fries came with a one way ticket to Saladtown. But it was worth it!

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  10. Oh man does that ever look great! I love all your pictures and I can almost feel that warm sun and breeze on my skin. What an interesting area, so much to see and do. It's so beautiful!!!That's what I love about blogs you see so much if the world you didn't know much about. Super great idea for a family vacation, time and memories are priceless gifts and you will all remember your trip together always. I am very relieved to hear you didn't have to take a swan dive out if the plane, it would have played havoc with your hair do, and thats just not an option! besides I bet you could wrassle a shark and have him calling uncle in a jiffy( we know how you can wield a shovel) . I am envious of the Key Lime Pie...yumm!!

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    1. My hair has a mind of its own and I've heard that if you punch a shark in the nose, they don't like it. That was my Plan C, assuming I survived the fall. The trip was a dream. I loved it!

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  11. Your Christmas sounds like it was heavenly. I'd love to go somewhere warm and tropical for the holidays, but convincing my husband to get out of his PJs and onto a plane would be an ordeal. Maybe some day I'll just go by myself.

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    1. We'd been talking about going to the Keys for a while, made the decision last May and had everything booked by June. We were all exhausted with work/school and in desperate need of a get away. I highly recommend it!

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  12. A very interesting place to be visited!

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    1. It was warm and tropical, like your beautiful country. :o)

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  13. What a wonderful holiday - so many beautiful things to see and do - definitely a good alternative to Christmas stress.

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    1. Christmas is stressful and we were just tired of it. I wish we could do this every year.

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  14. That sounds like a brilliant holiday - and so different to most people's Christmas. Loved your description of the seaplane ride. I did just the same (sat by the door even) on a ride from Vancouver!

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    1. It was exhilarating! I'd do it again in a hot minute!

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  15. Oh what a fab way to spend the holidays! I am going to bookmark this post as the Florida Keys are high on my travel wishlist. It looks like you had a wonderful time - I will certainly be adding that sea plane onto my to-do list. ( I think I might be compiling the to-do list from heaven). Happy new year!

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    1. If you are serious about going, let me know. I highly recommend the place we stayed. The sea plane ride was fabulous fabulous fabulous! My daughter rode in the seat next to the pilot on the way back and loved it.

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  16. I think some sunshine, beach and relaxation is just what the doctor ordered during Christmas break! Fabulous! We have been toning down the gift giving over the past two years too. Trying to teach the kids that its not all about presents. I think a vacation instead sounds wonderful!

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    1. The warmth and sunshine was so relaxing. We keep our gift giving to a minimum and take the 'less is more' approach. It's about being together not getting stuff.

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  17. Sounds like one of the best Christmases ever!

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  18. What a special (and not in the short bus kind of way) way to spend your break! Sounds very much like Christmas to me - "All is calm, all is bright." It was probably hard to find a virgin though with all of those cocks running free around the city. When planning an Esther Williams sort of final production, do remember to remove your safety belt before your air ballet as it would be much less graceful with the seat still attached. i'm happy for you that you had such a relaxing break! Hope you came back refreshed and ready for another six months of fun at school!

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    1. I laughed so hard at this comment!! I will have to say that since Key West is considered the end of the rainbow, it must explain why I only saw roosters with roosters and hens with hens. I highly doubt my final production will be graceful. If it is, it will be a first!

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  19. Now, that is my idea of a perfect Christmas! I love turtles, too - what a great place to have a turtle hospital! I almost fell off my chair, chortling over your second choice of fate, falling through the sea plane door. I believe I would have chosen the same. I hope you are all relaxed and sun-saturated.

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    1. I was more relaxed than I'd been in a very long time. On our first day I booked a massage for myself at the spa where we were staying and the masseuse commented that was head and neck were full of knots. I think she was trying to tell me I have a head like a box of rocks.

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  20. Isn't it great to just put aside all the holiday crazy and just get out of Dodge? I'm going to show this to Judy - maybe that'll be our destination next year. I thought all of Florida was built up and crowded but I guess not. As for those rumors about pie, I'll deny them as long as you have my back on the tres leches cake.

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    1. Cake? What cake? I highly recommend the Keys and can give you more info about where to stay. It was wonderful! :o)

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  21. What a fabulous vacation, and a sane response to the craziness of the season! Thanks so much for sharing the warmth and beauty with all of us. -Beth

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    1. It was wonderful to escape the crazy. If I had to deal with more stressor, I think I would have exploded. Instead I just relaxed. :o)

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  22. Good on yeah for getting out of the rat race that Christmas has become, I'd do the same but daughter aint having it....yet! What a heavenly place, such beautiful clear blue seas.....sighs....But jet ski's and parasailing???? You go girl!!! Respect!
    I absolutely loved seeing the owl butterfly, how fab is that? and poor Corrie, so glad there is a sea creature rescue to care for her, I would love to work with turtles too.
    Hahahahaha....SO glad their was no freefalling from planes and death by heart attack and shark! Brilliant that!xxx

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    1. Actually, my husband and daughter jet skied and parasailed but I snorkeled, rented a bike, and kayaked. I'm a klutz and would have spent most of the time falling off the jet ski so we decided not to spend the $ just so my family could watch me fall over a lot. They get to do that for free.

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  23. Oh that sounds utter bliss. Note to self: next year...

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  24. Tammy you actually managed to get away to the warmth and tranquility of the Florida Keys....lucky you.
    I was supposed to visit two years ago, but the timing was not quite right.
    I'm glad that you had a chance to relax and recharge your batteries for the upcoming school semester.
    After reading this post and oogling your beautiful photos, I think that postponed trip may be in order soon.

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    1. Go!! It was so fun and I definitely came back relaxed. :o)

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  25. That is awesome! Glad you spent the time together. Happy New Year!

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    1. I think everyone should boycott Christmas with a fab trip at least once. :o)

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  26. What a beautiful place and what a great way to spend the holiday! That is a gorgeous butterfly. I remember my teaching days , especially after some yo yo decided to have semester exams before Christmas, how totally stressed out I was every year. Some peace and quiet and relaxation sounds so much better than all the Christmas hoopla.

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    1. I think all teachers are completely nuts by Christmas. As for hoopla, I'm over it!

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  27. I promise not to leak this document. Should the merchandising world get a whiff of it your life would not be worth a wooden nickle.

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    1. I think the local retailers have already figured out I was a non-contributor and are suspicious. That would explain why the Flowers By Irene truck has been parked across the street from my house for so long. Apparently, not overspending is unpatriotic.

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  28. You are so smart. This sounds perfect.

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  29. Your vacation was wonderful! The sea plane ride sounds exciting. All of your photos are beautiful. Thanks for giving us a peek at your experience.

    I have always loved Christmas, but a few years ago our family did something similar, taking a family vacation instead of a big Christmas spree. It was very special, and the next year we were ready for Christmas again!

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    1. I'm not a Grinch but I'm just not that in to Christmas. If I could afford, I'd do this every year.

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  30. Oh this sounds and looks a really wonderful tonic and a great stress buster for the endless festivities. Glad you and a great holiday and that you are back on the blogosphere. (if thats a word)

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    1. I think vacations should be prescribed instead of medication and billed to our insurance companies. This trip was rejuvenating for all of us. :o)

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  31. Tammy girl ... you made me gasp and giggle through out this post ! How beautiful are these pictures ! .. I am a solid "fear of flying" type of gal, so I understood your analyzing both sides of your situation by the plane door .. haha
    The turtle rescue is wonderful .. I too would love to help them out ... the absence of people, noise, trash etc ... is a gift now a days.
    You and your family had a wonderful vacation away from all the madness of commercialized Christmas ... well done !!
    Joy : )

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    1. I'm not of afraid of flying but I do have issues with falling out of planes! To just stand on that pristine beach in the middle of the ocean was amazing. I'm a social person but only to a degree and really can't stand loud, crowded, dirty places. I wish I could do this every year!

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  32. Great idea - looks like you had a fantastic time. I love key lime pie!

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    1. I loved that pie a little too much! But it was worth every bite. :o)

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