We thoroughly enjoyed Key West today. Second best day so far (still rank Day 2 in Savannah as the best).
Sunny, beautiful blue sky, and 82 degrees. We have enjoyed fabulous weather! In eight days, we saw only two or three raindrops late one afternoon in Miami. The sky was SO BLUE today that I took a photo of it just to be able to remember.
We walked through town this morning looking at the shops, bars, and restaurants. We stopped at the Key West Candy Company where we had breakfast of a chocolate-covered, frozen Key Lime Pie-on-a-Stick. Yummy! We also bought a half pound cookie at a cookie kitchen. The lesson of the day certainly won’t be about nutrition.
Our destination was the Ernest Hemingway Home – the most anticipated sight on Bozzie Jane’s list, because of the Hemingway cats. Hemingway was introduced to cats by one of his sons. Gregory Hemingway had a cat named Snowball, and Snowball had extra toes. The Hemingway cat herd grew over the years, with all of the cats descendants of Snowball. There are now 61 Hemingway cats living at the home, and half have at least one extra toe. We toured the home, with Carl the guide. It was interesting to see his home and hear great stories about Hemingway, but the cats were the stars of the show for us. The cats have the names of famous people for the most part, and there is a cat cemetery on the property where the cats are buried when they go to cat heaven. There are a number of great stories that we want to relate, so I will try to write more about this later.
After the cats, it was roosters. Several people recommended Blue Heaven Restaurant to us, and we found it on a side street. It was like walking into someone’s back yard out in the country. There were roosters and other critters wandering around, and the tables sit out in the dirt. By now you know that we like “quirky” stuff, and Blue Heaven had quirky with a capital Q. My Shrimp Quesadilla was fabulous. Our waiter, Robby McClung, recommended the Banana Heaven for dessert, so Boz and I split one. It was absolutely amazing. From what we could tell, the chef starts with bananas, butter, rum, and perhaps brown sugar, and the bananas are sautéed in that concoction. The hot bananas and syrup mixture is then poured over a delicious banana bread, and if that isn’t enough, homemade vanilla ice cream is scooped onto the side. It was OUT of this world, and so rich that we barely made a dent in it. Best dessert by far!
We saw the Key West Lighthouse Museum and the Harry Truman Little White House.
We spent a lot of time just walking and looking at the over 300 bars as well as restaurants and shops. We went in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and I was blown away with the variety of items, the quality of the items, and the graphics. Jimmy Buffett is one sharp cookie!
The Strand Theatre is closed down, but what an amazing-looking building. Then we just about croaked when we saw a sign that says a Walgreen’s Drug Store will be moving into that spot. This would be criminal. Someone needs to stop this from happening. Key West is overly commercialized for the tourists, but at least most of the tourist area has maintained the great old buildings and proper look and feel.
One of the highlights of the day was stopping at the Key West Gift Shop. We were drawn in by a fabulous pink flamingo display in the window. Inside, we met Stan the Pink Flamingo Man. We have thoroughly enjoyed Key West, but it isn’t what we expected. Stan summed it up for us. He said: “Key West is a fantasy of a place and time that has long since died.” Stan has decided to leave Key West. Guess where he has decided to move? Savannah. (See Day 2, and you’ll know why.)
Walking through a residential area was also a treat as we saw some lovely old homes.
Sloppy Joe’s was Hemingway’s favorite bar, so we stopped in for a tall cool one. The singer/piano player was excellent. He looked just like Jerry Springer and played and sang like Randy Newman. The next thing we knew, a young 13-year-old boy was up on stage playing ragtime piano like crazy. It was quite a show. Little Boy Flowers was his name, and he recorded his first CD at age 9. One of those great surprises that make a trip special.
We saw a few other interesting surprises today – a jalapeno pepper-shaped car and a big seashell at a Texaco station. The car was cool, and we decided e shell surely must be the world’s largest sea shell at a Texaco station.
After walking around and seeing the sights all day, we made our way to the waterfront for the Sunset Celebration. Every day, Key West celebrates the sunset. A massive cruise ship docked late in the day, and the wharf was packed with thousands of people. We met some nice folks, including Ray and Shirley from Massachusetts, Karen and her mother from Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Robin and Tom from Lucky, Ohio. I was tickled with several of the sunset photos that I took.
Once the sun set, we joined a huge street crowd to watch Dexter the juggler entertain. I have never seen such a big crowd for a street entertainer anywhere. Young Dexter is a sharp cookie, and he really knew how to work the crowd. He racked in a bundle in tips.
We were still full from Banana Heaven and various and sundry other things, so we just grabbed a few slices of pizza at Billie’s Bar & Restaurant. It was quite good. We popped across the street for dessert at Key Lime Pie Heaven. We had a Key Lime Cookie and a Key Lime Slushie. Different.
We did a little shopping and called it a day. I am now the proud owner of a Belly Bag and eyeglass straps that will enable me to suspend my sunglasses and glasses from my neck when I remove them to take photos.
The most important lesson that we learned today is that when things are really good, it makes a lot of sense to just relax and enjoy it. Take the Hemingway Cats for example. They could leave; there is no way to stop them. One of our fellow tourists asked Carl the guide about this, and he said why in the world would any of them want to leave when they have such a great life there. A never-ending bowl of food, plenty of water, unrestricted access to a fabulous home and grounds, constant rubbing, weekly housecalls from the vet, etc. Life is good, so why mess with the status quo. Bozzie Jane said if she was a cat, she would want to be a Hemingway Cat.
We have been getting great emails from people we know and people we don’t know who have heard about the trip somehow. Today, we enjoyed email from strangers Bob and Linda Cambell, and they gave us several places to see as we head back to mainland Florida. We are still laughing about the email from our dear friend Berlinda Shanklin who suggests that we will have an even greater need for the new wide angle lens for the camera if we keep eating so much dessert.
On the political front, I am shocked and appalled by this joker Jacques Cherac of France. Perhaps our troops should head to Paris next. Seriously, I hope our government ends any and all discussions with France about anything. France is no longer an ally of the US, and they should be so treated.
I did get an email from the nice folks at French’s Mustard. “We at the French’s Company wish to put an end to statements that our product is manufactured in France. There is no relationship, nor has there ever been a relationship, between our mustard and the country of France. Indeed, our mustard is manufactured in Rochester, NY. The only thing we have in common is that we are both yellow.” So don’t boycott French’s Mustard – just all of the French companies and products. And let’s ship this bozo John Kerry to France. What an idiot this would-be President is.