Saturday, November 6, 2010

Key West Trip - October 10-12, Leaving paradise

 One last shot of our hotel.  It was like living in paradise for three days.

 We're back on the mainland now, having taken a side-trip north of Key Largo, through the swamps and bayous to the only building for 20 miles around, Alabama Jack's.  A television station in Key West did a story on the five best places to get conch, and this was the second one we tried -- the first was Louie's Backyard.  Alabama Jack's is a haven for bikers, and it's a must-stop on the back road from Homestead to Key Largo.

 OK, now Barry LOVES conch!  We had the fritters here, which are a lot like Maine clam cakes, maybe 6" in diameter, and so sweet and flavorful.  Nothing else needed on them.  It's too bad that Kroger's doesn't carry conch, or we'd be eating them here at home.  

All in all, we tried mahi-mahi, grouper, yellow snapper, and conch.  So now I have three new kinds of fish I like -- and CAN GET!  Down here in Kentucky, catfish is what most people call "seafood."

By the way, in Cancun in 2005, Barry was offered $10 for the Corona hat by a gal on the ferry to Isla Mujeres!

 A true roadside "dive" with fantastic food.  Where's Guy Fieri when you REALLY need him?  Goes to show that the best food isn't always in the fanciest or most expensive restaurants.

 In our quest to drive as much of US-1 as we could, we took the route through downtown Miami.  Hardly any traffic, but of course, it was Saturday afternoon by this time.

 But we also had our sights set on Miami Beach.  There it is, over the causeway, with its hotels lining the Atlantic Ocean.  The Port of Miami is on the right, and below...

 Ah, yes, the ubiquitous cruise ships...

 One of the art deco hotels in Miami Beach.  The area prospered in the 1920s, when this style of building was brand new.  Rounded corners, pastel colors, round port-hole windows, all are typical of art deco.  The area was badly blighted by the 1970s, but a restoration effort has renewed the city.
Kelly's Landing, Fort Lauderdale.  This was my birthday dinner -- Ipswich Fried Clams.  By the time this photo was taken, they were mostly gone though!

 On Friday, we explored the Fort Lauderdale area.  One of our goals was the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Hollywood.  We had visited the Hard Rock in Key West, and since we drove right by this one, we stopped.  Good thing we bought the tee-shirts BEFORE we lost all our money in the casino!

 The Seminole Nation has bought all the Hard Rock franchises, apparently world-wide!

 Homes along a canal in Highland Beach, some of the many beautiful, and obviously expensive, residences in this city north of Fort Lauderdale.  Because they're all water-side, one could take the boat about anywhere in the city, all the way down to Miami, probably.

 Sea turtles nest on the beach from March through October, so the street lights are either turned off, dimmed, or hooded so the light doesn't shine on the beach.  This is sort of Florida's answer to Maine's "Moose Crossing" signs.

 The water was nice, not as warm as Cancun, but definitely comfortable.  I could have stayed in for hours.

 Our last day, and wouldn't you know, the rain and clouds had held off all week.  You can see here the hoods on the sea side of the street lights to cut down the light for the nesting turtles.
 Pompano Beach and north, from the air (we're flying right over I-95 here).  The marshland along the coast has been dredged, the land filled, and canals made everywhere.

Couldn't believe we were so close to Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral, maybe 200 miles north of Fort Lauderdale.  I could almost see the place where we go to get our oranges and grapefruit...

Key West Trip - October 8, Doing the tourist thing in the Conch Republic

 Breakfast at our hotel.  It was about 9 a.m., and the temperature was already in the low 80s.  Our room is just over Barry's head in the background.

 White tablecloths, a cream pitcher, and a wonderful breakfast await me.

 The pool.  Cool and refreshing on a day when temps would get into the mid-80s with high humidity.

 Southernmost.  The most common word in Key West -- well except for "Conch".  This is the southernmost house in the US.

 The southernmost point in the US -- actually the navy base off to the right really is, but this is the southernmost point that can be ACCESSED.  Cuba is 90 miles from here.

 South Beach.  Tennessee Williams wrote here, saying "I work everywhere, but I work best here."  We did go swimming, and it was only a short walk from our hotel.

 South Beach.

 The view from the end of the pier at South Beach.  Cuba is out there somewhere.

 After going back to the hotel and showering the salt water off, we walked around Key West.  Must have done 10 miles.  Our first stop was Louie's Backyard, where we tried the conch fritters.  We'd had some bad ones a few years ago in Melbourne, so I really wanted to try them again.  Barry pronounced them delicious!

 Mosquito Board?

 Bougainvillea shrubs (nearly trees) are everywhere, and they were still in full bloom.

 The highlight of the day -- and probably one of the highlights of the whole trip. 
Ernest Hemingway lived here from 1929 to 1939.

 Hemingway's bedroom, with Archibald MacLeish in his usual place of repose.  All the cats here are named, and well-cared for.  Most are descendants of Hemingway's original "polydactyl" cats.

 Wish I could remember this one's name.  He has 6 toes on the front and 5 on the back; most cats have 5 and 4.  Count them on your cat(s) -- if you can get them still enough.

 Hemingway's studio.  It's in a separate building, originally a carriage house, and was once connected to the main house by a skywalk.  One wonders exactly what Hemingway wrote on that typewriter.

 OK, the urinal story.  Hemingway brought one home from Sloppy Joe's and put it in the garden for the cat's drinking fountain.  His second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, was NOT going to have a bar urinal in her garden, so she camouflaged it with a huge Greek olive jar and had the water run out of that into the urinal.  The cats often will drink the water running down the side of the jar instead.  We purchased a print of Archibald MacLeish drinking from the side of the jar.

 Pauline had a salt-water swimming pool installed, the first pool on the island.  Even though she paid for it with her own money (much more than Hemingway had), he said she was spending his last penny on it.  He threw a penny up in the air, and Pauline had it encased on the ground just where it landed.

 Hemingway's studio.  The ground floor is now a gift shop.  The pool is seen to the left.

 Just a reminder how close everything in Key West is to the ocean, this is the view of the Key West lighthouse from the balcony outside Hemingway's bedroom.

 One of the more famous photos of the author.

 The front entrance.  Every window is floor-length, and was opened to catch the ever-present breeze.

Nothing to do with the Hemingway house here.  Roosters, chickens and chicks wander freely around Key West.

Key West Trip - October 7, We head for Key West

The second in the series -- Heading for Key West.
We left Ft. Lauderdale and headed south on I-95.  And just south of Miami, we reached the southern end.Our next goal was to get to the southern end of US-1.

 Seven-Mile Bridge.  Over open (but not very deep) water.  The original railroad bridge (1912) is seen on the right.  When a hurricane destroyed the railroad in 1937, it was rebuilt as a highway, but has now been replaced by the one we're on here.

Key West city limits!  We made it!

 Here's where US-1 goes west then south; Fl-A1A (which runs along the ocean through much of Florida, heads east and south.

 Duval Street -- where all the night life is in Key West -- crossing US-1.

 Mile marker "0", the southern end of US-1.  I've always wanted to drive US-1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, FL.  Well at least, I HAVE driven it to Key West.

 The pool area at our hotel.  It was like being in a lush tropical garden -- probably because it WAS a lush tropical garden.
 One of our first stops, Margaritaville.  This was the first place where I tried mahi-mahi, which is also known as Florida dolphin, a VERY ugly fish; of course no one would EAT a dolphin (love ya, Flipper), so calling it mahi-mahi assuages the guilt, apparently.
 The original Sloppy Joe's Bar.  Ernest Hemingway practically lived here from about 1929 to 1939.  Story goes that when the rent was raised about 1937, Joe ripped out all the urinals and threw them into the street.  Hemingway told Joe he had spent enough on beer there to have bought one of the urinals, so he took one and brought it home.  We'll see where it is now in one of the future posts.

 The "new" Sloppy Joe's Bar.  After the urinal incident, Joe moved here, to the next block.  So did Hemingway.

 Mallory Square.  We'll watch the sunset here along with a huge crowd of merry-makers, in a carnival atmosphere.  It's a daily occurrence and has been for 19 years.  Watching the sunset, of course, not actually the sunset -- that's been going on for longer than 19 years.

 Luxury yacht, tied up at Mallory Square.  This is so big, it has another boat INSIDE the stern that most people would die to own!

 Stopped in here for a beer.  What a laid-back atmosphere, an such a cool name.

 Schooner near sunset, Key West.

 Almost down, split by a bank of clouds.

 Gone, but the afterglow is still there.  Like a good piece of Key Lime Pie.
From here it was off to dinner, and looking forward to really doing the tourist thing tomorrow.