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A week away in Key West

POSTED April 23, 2013
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


                                               A week away in Key West



           A week away. Kind of like I never left. Kind of like I was gone a thousand years.

            I spent last week in Key West. The land of 85 degrees, crystal blue water, snorkeling, the seven-mile bridge, a lot of pastels, flowered shirts and shorts (I have mine) and hollowed out coconuts filled with declicious libation.

            Relaxation at its best. But, you never get away from the sports world. With Facebook you never have to wait to get a local score or hear about a breaking event and the national news follows you.

            We were all over Northwestern and Thomaston’s sterling baseball battle won by the Highlanders in eight innings, 3-0. And Sydney Matzko’s strikeout totals found their way to the southernmost tip of the U.S. as did the continuing success of the Red Raiders’ softball team.

            We even took in some high school softball Key West style. My wife Caroline, son Jonathan and I were located within a mile or so of Key West High School and saw that the Lady Conchs (no misprint) were playing in the District IV finals against Gulliver Prep.

Both teams had already qualified for the next step up, the Florida Regionals in Miami, but we figured not a bad way to spend an hour and a half on a balmy night. So we ambled over to Key West’s Back Yard Field.

The game offered little drama as Gulliver Prep hits big time and banged four home runs in routing the Lady Conchs, 10-1. The quality looked similar to around here, the venue however had some differences. 

Key West High is located about a mile from the airport and frequent fly overs were the norm. Most small engine planes about 500 feet up, many with pontoons. None tried to land on us, good thing. Although there was enough field space to land a 747.

We were so pumped, the next day we went and bought some Key West Conch tee-shirts. We wear them proudly now.

Most of the week was spent like most of the rest of the country – being saddened, angered and mesmerized by what was happening in Boston. Every morning we spent time in front of the TV as events unfolded.

Mo McMahon, sister-in-law to Thomaston High girls basketball and baseball coach Bob McMahon, was one of many area locals running in the Boston Marathon and we immediately called when all heck broke loose to check up on here. Fortunately, she was one of the lucky ones and had finished the race and was already back at her hotel when the bombs exploded.

Boston and the Litchfield Hills Road Race have a strong connection with Joe Concannon, Litchfield born and Boston Globe bred being one of the co-founders of the LHRR with Bill Neller. Concannon wanted to establish a connection between his Boston and Litchfield friends which history will tell you he did in style.

Bill Rodgers, Randy Hodge, so many that have run and won Boston have come to Litchfield, cementing the connection. All of which made it all hit even closer to home.  We followed the almost surreal events through the week from bombing to the virtual shut down of Boston and eventual death and capture of the perpetrators.

Even the blue waters, warm temperatures, lively atmosphere and shimmering palm trees couldn’t overshadow all that transpired. But, it did produce one of the best moments of the trip.

We found a real live Red Sox bar, `The Lazy Gecco’  established by a Boston transplant right in the middle of Duval Street, the focal point of the tourist center. Walking along Duval Saturday, we stopped in and caught the Red Sox pre-game ceremony.

More than 1,500 miles away from home we joined with fans in Red Sox shirts to sing the National Anthem. We saw more than few tears shed and a lot of smiles when Big Papi F-bombed national TV. As one sportswriter said, “Maybe the most appropriate F-bomb’ in history.

Hey we snorkeled, kayaked, ate, snorkeled, kayaked, ate and then ate some more. We basked in the glow of the warmth. We took a day trip out to the Dry Tortugas. Quite an amazing trip. My son got to pilot the boat back in. Pretty cool.

We watched sunsets that have to be seen. We saw street performers, bathing suits that shouldn’t be seen (but mine was nice.) We had a great vacation. We will go back.

But you never escape from the sports world. It was a wild week that made you glad you were alive in so many respects. And also made you realize once again that sad is part of glad.

Certainly a wild week in Key West.    

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