Monday, May 14, 2012

Notes on Key West: Part One

Though it has been almost five months since I posted anything here, that does not mean I have given up on this blog. It only means that life is busy and over the winter most of my writing energy was expended on my blog about hikes in the Tampa Bay area.

But now I am “back in the game” and yesterday I returned from a three-day whirlwind in Key West. So what better place is there to write about than that tropical island which sits closer to Cuba than it does to Miami?

In Key West the word “southernmost” is used frequently -- and loosely. Throngs of tourists flock to the intersection of South and Whitehead Streets to get their pictures taken near a concrete buoy that is billed as the southernmost point in the continental United States. Erika and I were among them when we visited in 2005:

However, it is not even the southernmost point on Key West. Standing at the buoy and looking out at the water, you can clearly see the island jutting further south into the ocean, although that part is owned by the U.S. Navy and not open to the public.

One block away, vacationers shell out big bucks to stay in an inn that was originally the home of Dr. Jeptha Harris. Built in 1896, it is internationally renowned as The Southernmost House, even though there are homes further south on the very same same street! But oh well…one of the island’s charming eccentricities is the way untruths are looked upon more as stories than as lies, and there is no doubt that The Southernmost House is a beautiful building in a beautiful setting:

You will not be disappointed if you come here hoping to catch a laid back, Jimmy Buffet kind of vibe. Shorts and flip flops are standard attire even in the priciest restaurants. And Saturday afternoon, when some customers on the second floor balcony of the Bull and Whistle Pub decided to shoot baskets by tossing Cheerios toward the cups of people on the sidewalk, the only reaction they got from below was from someone who laughingly said: “Hey, when you’re in Key West you’re supposed to throw Froot Loops!”

You will also not be disappointed if you imagine this island as the kind of place where the faucets seem to pour forth tequila and rum instead of water. Creative beverages are everywhere, mid-morning drinks are not frowned upon, and it is okay to drink on the streets. If you tell your bartender you want one to go, he will simply make sure to give it to you in a plastic cup.

Anyway, those are just a very few, very basic things. I will be writing more about Key West in the coming days and weeks, but for now, just be assured that it is a place where you can not help but relax. Just ask my sister-in-law Leslie:

(And -- shameless plug alert! -- be sure to visit her blog if you like to cook.)


  1. We haven't been to the Keys in years. Maybe its time to return an enjoy some 'Jimmy Buffet' tunes.
    stay cool!

  2. I used to camp on Big Pine Key and visit Key West regularly back 'in the day' before big RV's became the norm and commercialization ruled. A lovely place. I often think that when God made me, he intended me to live there!!

  3. I'd love a vacation in Key West, sipping Margueritas, Jimmy Buffet style. Looks like a lot of fun.