My favorite Thanksgiving as a girl was spent with my family in a fishing cabin at Horseshoe Beach, Florida, with family friends, listening to the Zorba the Greek soundtrack over and over and having hamburgers for Thanksgiving dinner because we hadn’t caught any fish yet. (Not that I would eat fish back then — the next day I gave the flounder I caught to the adults and had another hamburger.)
This Thanksgiving was spent in Miami and Key West and it was fabulous, too.
Despite being born and raised in Florida, I’d never once been to either of those places. My parents were willing to drive from Tampa to Canada and from Tampa to St. Louis and we also headed up to North Carolina pretty regularly, but they considered the road to Miami way too boring. (Also, my mother — who attended high school in Key West while her dad was stationed there — hates bridges. If you drive to Key West, there are A LOT of bridges.)
But for this Thanksgiving my friend Nandini invited me to meet up with her and her kids and her friend Michelle in North Miami Beach. I hadn’t yet had an official invitation from anyone in the family, so I was thrilled to say yes. (Last Thanksgiving, in the midst of pandemic precautions, I spent waiting for my son to wake up after a grueling night shift at FedEx, but he slept through the whole day.)
It was lovely to get away from the grayness of late November in upstate New York to enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes and smells of a bustling tropical city. On my first full day (their second), we went to the science museum/planetarium/aquarium and later walked from there over to the Bayside Marketplace (a sort of Faneuil Hall, for those familiar with Boston).
On the second day we went to Wynwood Walls to see the street art both in and out of the official facility, and Michelle and I went to the free Miami botanical garden and (eventually) figured out how to take the free trolley back to our North Miami neighborhood. Then we all drove back south together to eat elotes (ears of corn grilled and coated in mayonnaise and cotija cheese and chili pepper) and tacos at HuaHua’s, a wonderful taqueria. (Since I’m still doing the low carb thing, I ate the delicious fillings of my tacos and left the tortillas behind.)
Day three the kids wanted to see the botanical garden, too, so we happily did that again before heading for South Beach, where we enjoyed the architecture and the kids romped in the officially hazardous but not yet red flag surf at the really beautiful beach. Then we went and repeated HuaHua’s, because it was that good. We finished the night with the classic movie The Birdcage, set in South Beach.
Day four was Thanksgiving. We got up pre-dawn and drove Route 1 to quaint Key West. We toured Hemingway’s house with its many cats and their extra toes (and a beautiful garden), spent some time on a tiny beach, visited the cemetery, and had a couple of good meals that were in no way traditional. Then came a fairly grueling trip back in the dark with no coffee anywhere for poor Nandini the driver, since everything had closed by then.
Day five was travel home day. After watching the sunrise at the beach, which we did every day (okay, I skipped one in favor of a shower), it was on to the airport. We landed in the first snow of the season. (Ouch.)
Anyway, my favorite things about Miami, besides being with friends: Excellent coffee (find a Cuban bakery). The beach. The weather. (Mind you, a couple of days were a bit chilly.) Interesting architecture. The tropical plants! Good eating. And having lots to do.
Least favorite things about Miami: Parking. Driving is also tense. And most servers got some things wrong (except at HuaHua’s and on Key West), enough that we began to wonder if it was how they got even with the tourists.
Anyway, it was a great break and I returned with my batteries recharged. I also actually remembered to take everything I wanted and bring back everything I wanted, which feels like a major life accomplishment.
That’s good, because this is the week Sheer Hubris Press finally goes wide again, beginning with Kobo, and if Amazon price matches, I will soon be able to point you to either store for a free download for that prequel A LESS THAN FRESH START, which has a Christmas theme going.
Here’s hoping you had a good Thanksgiving, and will have an excellent Christmas. I highly recommend breaking out of tradition once in a while for an adventure.
If you’d like, tell us about one of your nontraditional holidays. (Don’t panic if your comment doesn’t show up right away — they all have to be moderated.)