Friday March 21, 2014
Let’s see, what have we been up to the past few days? Trying to show Chris and Jack as many sides of Florida as we could, we went on the long drive down to Key West and back. It was a fun day, but I think we were all a little disappointed in the drive. I’m sure through movies we were all led to believe that the whole drive would be one long bridge with water views the entire way. Instead it was only the last 30 miles of the 130 trip (each way), but we still had a good time wandering around and eating Key Lime Pie there, so no complaints.
This morning we all took it easy, sleeping in, and getting a late start to the day. Chris and Jack came to pick us up from the Hyatt and we showed them a little tour of the area that we find our way to about every other day for shore and internet access. Not having a good way to show them Lake Sylvia and Serendipity since it’s tucked in behind gated communities and McMansions, we took them up a few flights of the tower that is Hyatt Regency for a better view. Stepping in front of the elevators there was a buffet of guests with their luggage and it looked like we’d have to wait 20 minutes just for our ride up. To the stairs it was! Most of our crew stayed down on the 6th floor where you could just start to see out to the lake, while I hiked up to floor 13. My legs are going to be killing me tomorrow, but the view was totally worth it.
View of the ICW from the 17th St. Causeway.
View of the Pier 66 Marina where we land the dinghy.
The pools at the hotel, which Matt apparently has such a hard time lounging by.
The cute little lake/pond where we’re anchored.
Then it was time for the real entertainment for the night. We were headed to the race tracks to watch the dogs run. If you’ve been following us from the beginning, you’ll know that we used to have a greyhound ourselves. She was the perfect dog and we loved her terribly, she even used to spend many weekends on Serendipity with us. Then one spring day, and completely out of nowhere, we found out she was intensely sick and full of cancer. We had only five days from the time she first starting showing any kind of symptoms until we had to let her go. It was very hard and very sad for us, she was my first dog and for a time I thought I would never be able to own a pet again to have to go through that kind of pain. Let’s hope Georgie is around for a good long while then.
Anyway, having adopted our dog, we wanted to know more about her racing past. We got her at a young age, just two and a half, after she was kicked out of the racing circuit after having broken one of her toes at the beginning of a race, and still running the whole thing. Afterward, the toe had to come off and she was no longer fit to race. The things we knew about her and her previous life was that her racing name was Goodbye Shea, and that she had never won a race, but did come in second and third a lot. As far as everything else that went on at a race track though, we had no idea. We’d always been intrigued but had never found a track near us before. Now that there was one just a few miles south of where we were staying, we needed to find out what kind of secret life our dog led before she came into our lives.
None of us had any idea of what to expect, and after being pointed in the direction of the track once we entered the casino it was attached to, we found seats up front and prepared for the next race to start. We had scored two pamphlets that showed each race for the evening and what dogs were running. Deciding that none of us actually wanted to put any money down, we each just picked a name before each race to have something to cheer for. When the race was getting ready to start, the dogs were led out on to the track by handlers, and paraded around while being announced before trotting over to the starting cages.
All it took was one look at these dogs to make my heart break. Not because I was worried about what they were being forced to do, but because in that second, every memory of my beloved Mazzii came rushing back to me. Tears began to well up in my eyes as I tried to restrain myself from running out on the track and grabbing each dog to come back and start a new life on the boat with us.
Through the night though, my sadness turned into excitement as we all became really engaged in the races. We lost count of the hours at it passed from 5:00 to 6:00 and then 7:00, and none of us were ready to leave. Watching these hounds as they sprinted laps became all consuming, and soon we were hooting and hollering and jumping out of our seats at the end of every race. Without any cemented plans for the next few days, we all agreed that should nothing else come up, we could easily find ourselves back here. Hell, Matt and I might even get bus passes down after Chris and Jack, and their car, leave in a few days. It was addicting!
Finally at 8:30 our stomachs betrayed us and sent us out in search of food. Yes there were hot dogs at the tracks, but we finally agreed that we had enough of a racing fix to force ourselves away for the evening. I’m so glad that we took a chance to come out and actually see what it was all about. My Maserati may have just been a distant memory in my mind until now, but going out to discover her roots, and even just see her fellow furry racers, put her right back at the top of my heart. Don’t be surprised if you ever see a greyhound sailing on Serendipity again, I think the want and the need has just turned itself back on.