Thursday, December 19, 2013

Go Key West, Young Man

Once I had thoroughly worn out my welcome with my Florida family, I decided I should take a little road trip and see a few sights before Lydia arrived. My guide book said the Keys would be good times, so why not? The drive from Naples to Key West is about five hours. It surprised me at the time that even once I got to the first Key I still had about 2 hours left in the trip. Part of this was about the long distance, but the other was the traffic situation on the Keys. It's mostly a two lane highway and it's pretty slow going. I suppose that fits in with the laid-back beach people vibe though, so whatever.

The drive was so tiring that once I arrived I didn't have the energy to find a cheap hostel as I had been planning. I slept in my car like a boss. Or a hobo. A hobo's boss at the very least.

The main drag was all pay parking, and Johnny don't play that. I ended up parking in front of someone's house on the south side of the island and walking to the north side. Luckily it's a pretty small island.

There were two historical locations on the island that sounded interesting: Hemingway's Home and Truman's Little White House. I'd had a presidential overdose just a couple weeks prior, so I opted for Ernest.

So apparently Hemingway was like the man's version of an old cat lady. Many of the cats that currently roam the property are descendants of the original residents. A large percentage of the cats are mutants. Polydactyl cats have extra toes, and you can see a little extra appendage on the front left paw of the cat pictured above. Freaky!

The tour was pretty cool. I would say it was more about Hemingway than about the house, which I think is a more interesting way to conduct a tour.

Our tour-guide was a card. He was nice to everyone, asking where we are from and so forth. He was not afraid to deal justice though. He scolded several people for being rude, such as blocking people's view of things by standing right in front of them. I was on my best tourist behavior.

He frequently fed the cats treats so that they could grow more toes.

Best. Linoleum. Ever.

There was a funny little anecdote about this fountain/basin thing. The basin filled with water is actually a urinal laid on its back. A favorite bar haunt of Hemingway's was closing and he supposedly said something like "So much of my money has gone down this drain that I might as well own it." Pretty amusing, but true? I do not know.

Cats had discovered the gift shop as well.

After the cool dose of culture I headed to the part of town where culture is largely absent: Duval Street. There was plenty of good people watching to be done though.

This is probably my favorite Walgreens ever. It looks like it's in an old awesome movie theater. I would really like to own an old awesome movie theater some day.

After I passed about the 12th t-shirt store I began to ponder the nature of the tourist location. Is there a point at which a place is special, but then becomes so touristy that one forgets why it was a tourist attraction in the first place?

I didn't see any real food that struck my fancy, but we all know I had to have a slice of key lime pie before I left. Kermit's definitely had its bidness in order. I saw ads for it everywhere, and there were even some being piped in through speakers in the store. Some were even in Japanese, which was kind of cool.

Boom. I did sort of regret not buying the chocolate dipped slice of pie, but it seemed like overkill at the time. The pie was a little tart and very good times.

Chickens roam Key West seemingly at will. The cats probably have too many thumbs to catch up with them.

The Southernmost Point in the Continental US...

... had a big ol' line.

I did my best to make history and summon what at that moment could very well have been the Southernmost Burp in the United States.

Whereas on the way down to Key West I was focused on my destination and would stop for no man, I was much more open to detours on the way back north. I stopped at a place called Robbie's located in Islamorada, which I believe literally means "village of islands". Robbie's is well known for the giant tarpon that show up by the docks, hungry for tourist's fish.

Also hungry for the fish were the pelicans. It's still amazing to me that these awkward creatures have the gift of flight. Their heads are gigantic and their walk is punctuated by the flopping of the big SCUBA flippers they have for feet. I found them to be much more interesting than the fish we were supposedly there to see.

Caution: there is some pooping in this video.

There were several signs posted warning us about those dangerous pelicans. I think they should be called sky-sharks. What do you think?

The pelicans were apparently such a threat that the guy behind me's job was to whip that stick at any of the birds that got too close to the visitors.

Feeding the fish was amusing as well. The little monsters would jump up out of the water to snatch the fish dangling from the tourist's mitts.

I read a bit about them on Wikipedia, and tarpon are really kind of strange fish. For example they come up for air a lot, and if they were unable to reach the water's surface they would die. They are known for jumping up out of the water when hooked, and give fisherman a good fight. They can reach 280 pounds, which probably helps in the fighting department.

I stopped and had a beer and a shrimp sandwich at this funky restaurant that was suspended over the length of a dock. The bar had a pretty killer view.

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