Day two of our attempt to make it to Key West, and, spoiler alert, we are successful.
Today starts off the same as yesterday. Wakey wakey, take dog for a run while Jan showers, back to wake up AJ and take him to shore so we can both get a shower, then back to the boat, then back to shore (lots of dinghy riding this morning) and finally we are off.1 We walk 20 minutes to the bus stop arriving at 0955 for the scheduled 1010 departure. And the bus is running about 20 minutes late. Fortunately for Jan, and unfortunately for my wallet, there is a gift shop right next to the bus stop and she and AJ duck in to peruse the wares. The nice lady behind the counter is from Michigan, she and her husband have been coming here for decades and they decided to retire/quit, move down here permanently and open the shop. She understood that we were off to Key West and didn’t want to carry any bags there an back so she said she was more than willing to be at her store the day after Christmas so Jan and AJ could come back and shop. Crap.
Bus arrives and we get on with another resident of the boot key mooring field. And let’s spend a minute talking about the bus and why, for today at least, it is our favorite form of transportation. First off, the ride on a normal day would cost all three of us $10 each way. $20 total. But today and tomorrow, the ride is FREE! And daddy likes the word free. No cost thanks to the holidays. Second, is the bus is only about half full of characters and the ride is only about 20 minutes longer than taking a car. So we can sit and play electronics (AJ), read our book (moi) and watch the people (Jan). And lastly, it gives AJ another glimpse into the ‘adult’ world. Or at least the world that isn’t on our boat or in our cul de sac. Like the nice lady that had her head in a bucket on the way back home. Can’t pass up those experiences! And best of all? It doesn’t break down leaving us stranded in the middle of a random key!!!
The trip is filled with the sights of the keys and a lot of the recovery that is happening from Hurricane Irma. We pass a naval air station and again I am struck by the sweet locations the Navy has for its bases. Key West. San Diego. Even Norfolk/Portsmouth. What does the Army have? Fort Irwin, middle of a desert. Fort Polk, middle of a swamp. Fort Bliss, middle of nowhere (sorry El Paso). I picked the wrong service. Well….other than the whole ‘riding on a ship’ thing.
Key West is much different than Marathon. Like night and day. Shocking, I know. There are trees. And houses. And shopping centers, chain stores, chain restaurants–all the wonderful features of modern society. And there is the area between Mallory Square and the southern most point in the US which is fantastic. It reminds us a bit of New Orleans. Not Bourbon street necessarily, but the area around there with the old homes and neighborhoods. It is gorgeous. And crowded! Turns out we decided to visit in the really, really, really busy time. Because who wants to be up north in the cold for the holidays where you can be slinging down fruity rum drinks in 80 degree weather!
We are off the bus and feeling hungry and head to a little taco place just off Duval street called Amigos. It was recommended by a bunch of people and it lived up to its good reviews. Fortified, we headed off to Hemingway’s house (here after referred to as HH).
HH was my idea. I have loved Hemingway’s writing, his books and admire a person who fills his/her life with extraordinary experiences meeting interesting people and then writes about those experiences/people. So I was fired up to see where he lived for a couple of years. But AJ and Jan? Maybe not so much. I bribed them with key lime pie (AJ) and wine (Jan) if they could make it through the museum without whining too loudly, and they agreed.
We paid our money at the gate (turns out it was not free #sadface) and walked right into a guided tour of the house/grounds. Our tour guide was excellent and I’m not saying that just because he had some seriously good facial hair. He had a dry sense of humor and presented the intestine parts of Hemingway’s life, both on the island and afterward. We got the half hour tour of the house and the grounds. Got too see where Hemingway wrote. And the cats. Turns out, all of us had a good time. Even Jan and AJ.
Museum done, it was off to Kermit’s for some key lime pie. AJ had his traditional style (a piece of pie), I had mine on a stick covered in chocolate. We both agreed that the pie was good, not great and the stick pie covered in chocolate may have seemed like a good idea, but it was not. Good. Then off to the southern most point in the United States for a quick picture.
At this point, there are some indications from the crowd that the excitement of being in Key West is beginning to get tempered by the accumulation of the heat, humidity and the walking. Some of the group voice the opinion (loudly) that they want to sit down and take a break. So we walk back up Duval street and find an overpriced waterfront dining establishment and relax for an hour. The food was terrible but the view was great–we were on the docks where tour and charter boats came and went and got to watch captains put huge boats in very small/narrow areas.
Then we are off to Mallory Square. We arrive about 90 minutes before sunset and spend the time looking at the different people/acts that go on in the square. There was a magician/comedian, couple of dudes that did strange things with fire, jugglers, acrobats, musicians and a very strange man who had a show with cats. The Catman. AJ got to participate in that show with three other kids. We stayed for three hours watching the sights, eating very overpriced food and contributing to the college/medical funds of the performers.
Then we moved off to the bus stop to catch the 1930 bus which was ON TIME! Ride back was a repeat of the ride there, except a lot darker. We got back to our boat at just past 2200, got the dog to shore and then to bed. A good day in Key West.
1Before we started this trip, we spent very little time thinking about our dinghy other than we knew we needed one, it should be big enough for all of us (three humans, two furry things) plus our groceries, and it should have an engine. We went to the Annapolis boat show, kicked the tires on a couple and got us a 9’ dinghy with a hard bottom because I like to run into things. Engine is a 9.9hp Tohatsu which I thought (at the time) was way too large. Fast forward eight months and we spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time in our dinghy. In mooring fields we go slow, but out in open water we open her up and head out on plane. It is not unusual, especially when we are in a mooring field or at anchorage, to spend hours puttering around back and forth to shore and around the bay. Or to a restaurant. Or to the grocery store. It is our little taxi. And our hood ornament is Lucky, whose favorite position is up front with paws hanging over the bow, tongue out. Ears up.