Swing Set

Mar 6, 201301:47 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

More "Life on the Ball"

(page 2 of 2)

After having no breakfast, Rosie and I were hungry as we entered The Stuffed Pig, a small diner near the marina, at 85th street thereabouts. We had a combination of breakfast and lunch, which meant a big breakfast, and then walked back to the City Marina. We rested and read our books for a while and then decided to take Holly for a dinghy ride and go to happy hour at Salty's, a place we had heard and read about, that was dog friendly.

We took on some fuel in the dinghy at Burdine's, a marina on the way, which set us back over $17 for 3.5 gallons of regular, and then took the dinghy out of the channel out of Boot Key and then under the Seven Mile Bridge to the "bay side" of Marathon, where we found Salty's back in some mangroves but within a stone's throw of the Overseas Highway.

We had forethought to bring along a RiverBill's sticker, and I pasted it on the wall there behind Rosie for a picture. When we think of it, we put "Swing Set" on the sticker with a Sharpie, along with the month and year. If anyone sees one in their travels, let us know. There may be prizes.

Salty's isn't a bad place, but the happy hour menu doesn't offer much in the way of promoting happiness. Yes, the beers are reasonable at $1.86 (including tax) but chicken wings at $5 for six isn't exactly a deal. Other places advertise .25 cent wings, or three for a buck, during happy hour.

We watched the charter fishing boats come in and learned that the fishing was pretty slim this season. One boat came in with four clients on board, and they had one fish. The next boat came speeding in and couldn't dump off their clients fast enough, and began to hurriedly wash down the boat. Not only did the clients get a little wet as they exited the boat, we nearly got some over-spray at our table several feet away from the dock. We learned they had gotten "skunked," meaning not one fish was caught during their outing.

While we watched road dust blow over the harbor from the nearby highway, we were contemplating whether or not to order appetizers when our waitress showed up and said her shift was over and could we "settle up?" I hate it when a business has a shift change during happy hour, the busiest time of the day usually, and then the customer is passed from one server to another. The waitress was nice, and she was expressing her desire to "get over to the good side of the bar," so we didn't want to ruin her day. We gave her our card, and she brought our new "server" over for us to meet. The new girl looked to be all of 14 and promised to return when the beers we had were in need of replacement.

Fifteen minutes later she returned, noticed our previous check and credit card on the table and asked if the first waitress had taken our check. In her hurry to get to the bar, she had "forgotten" to take it, so had to come back to take care of it. Understandable if the place was hopping, but we were her only table.

Against our better judgement, we ordered two Bud Lights and two orders of chicken wings from our young server. Two beers, two chicken wings. Simple. "I better write this down," is what our new server wisely decided.

Our beers and chicken wings came and we dug in. They were cooked as ordered, well done, but then our math skills came into play and we counted only five wings on each plate. Rosie tracked down the server who happened to be standing next to the owner and explained that the menu said six wings per order, but we got five. "You got an old menu" was the only response Rosie got back from the owner. This is not a sign of a good business acumen.

We decided to leave Salty's and check out Castaways, as it was on the way back to the boat. Castaways sits at the end of a canal past a long row of shrimp boats, right next to a building with a sign advertising "Fishmonger." We were able to get a seat out on the patio where we could have Holly join us and were also able to get a food order in right before happy hour stopped at 6 p.m. The happy hour menu offered "three beef, or three chicken tacos" for seven bucks. A lot more than Taco Bell, but we had hopes they would be better than Taco Bell...not a big accomplishment.

A new waiter eventually came over and informed us that our server had to leave due to an emergency phone call, and that he would be helping us. He asked what we had ordered and I answered that we had ordered "three chicken tacos and three beef tacos." A short time later he came back and began to place six baskets of tacos upon our table, a total of 18 tacos for two people. Ah, no.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. We only ordered three of each, a total of two baskets."

"I thought this was too many baskets of tacos," the server said.

I agreed and he took the extra tacos away and promised to take them off of our bill. Thank you very much.

It was dark by the time we got back to Swing Set, and happy to be there. Now, we don't like to be too critical of businesses, but we get inundated by brochures and ads about local restaurants that have no basis in fact in regard to happy hour times or specials. We realize that we are in "tourist country" and should take these ads with a grain of salt, but typically we travel several miles in the dinghy to visit some of these places, sometimes in less than pleasant conditions, and disappointment is magnified when our efforts usually exceed just the normal "pull up in a car and walk into the bar" variety.

It's also typical that the servers are new to the job, and we try not to be demanding, but the owners of these tourist traps don't care if the service is below par or the ads and menu aren't accurate. They just want you to come and drop off your money.

Now, part of the fun of traveling is going to new places of business, and finding out where the goods ones are. But if a place turns out to be a bad experience for us, we'll tell you about it and let you decide. Just because we are in "paradise" doesn't mean that we don't still have "issues" with businesses like everyone else.

Wednesday promises to be a good day. We'll do some cleaning on the boat, and then there is a seminar planned over at the City Park for those who are planning a trip to the Bahamas. We hope we learn some valuable information at the seminar, with the hopes of an April crossing still being possible in order to let us enjoy that part of the world before hurricane season settles in.

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