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Key West

   Our dear friends, Bonnie and Charlie started on a year-long journey on their "boat," a 48 ft. Grand Banks.  This will be their second time to complete the "loop," traveling  on the inland waterway.   They invited Dave and me to join them.  As it worked out, Key West, Florida was the best place to meet and I would celebrate my birthday there. Perfect!

     Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida on the North American continent at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys.  The island is about 4 miles long and 2 miles wide.  The island measures 3,370 acres after many of the large salt ponds were filled in, nearly doubling the original land mass.





     It was a picture perfect day when we arrived in the Conch Republic.  It is called the Conch Republic because in 1982 the US Border Patrol set up a roadblock and inspection point on US 1.  They are the only two roads connecting the Florida Keys with the mainland.  Vehicles were stopped and searched for narcotics and illegal immigrants. The Key West City Council complained about the inconvenience, stating it hurt the Keys' tourism.

     The complaints went unanswered and attempts to end the roadblocks failed.  On April 23, 1982, as a form of protest the City Council declared Key West's Independence from the U.S.  The Council felt as though the federal government had set up the equivalent of a border station as if they were a foreign nation, so they might as well become one.  The local citizens were already referred to as Conches, so the "nation" took the name of the Conch Republic.

     The "new nation" immediately declared war against the U.S. by symbolically breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a naval uniform, then quickly surrendered after one minute, to the man in the uniform and applied for one billion dollars in foreign aid.

     The mock secession and all the "gleeful" events generated a lot of publicity for the Keys' and the roadblock and inspection station were soon removed.



     Mallory Square is the place to be every evening there is a sunset to celebrate.  It is said, on some occasions, when the sun is the brightest just before it goes beyond the horizon, there is a green flash.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see it.   Party mayhem begins once the sun sets with jugglers, mimes, musicians, street artists, fire eaters, on and on.  They appreciate any and all donations.

 The dinners on board the boat were a culinary delight.


     In a conversation with Charlie, I mentioned how this had to be the most relaxing, stress-free living there could be.  The next day, the winds came in at 40 miles an hour and gusted up to 50.

     He spent most of the morning securing everything as we were rocking and rolling on the boat.  I will never say THAT again.

     The dramatic change in weather did give us an opportunity to have our morning coffee and devotion top side and we finished by singing, Nearer my God to Thee.



     We did thank the Lord for the lovely weather that followed and it gave us a chance to rent bikes and see all the sights.



     The homes on the island are charming, all have their unique personalities.  The homes all have tin roofs to help prevent the spread of fire.  They are also surrounded by lush tropical trees, plants and flowers that invites you to pause and enjoy and appreciate their beauty. 

   The famous Southernmost Point, concrete buoy erected in 1983.  Written on the buoy,: "90 miles to Cuba".

     The Key West Light house was built in 1847, a previous one was destroyed by a hurricane along with the light keeper’s family, which sought a safe haven from the storm in the lighthouse but were all swept away by the storm.  The Light Keeper’s Quarters was built in 1887.

     Roosters and chickens roam freely around the island and have been on the island for over 175 years.  When the Cubans fled the Revolution in the 1950s, they brought more chicken over for meat, eggs and cockfighting.  The birds either escaped or were released by their owners and without too many predators around and with a steady diet of native insects and lizards, they seem to be living the good life.



Great Restaurants!


     Ernest Hemingway came to Key West in April, 1928, at that time in his life, he was a struggling writer.  Hemingway had married his second wife and her wealthy uncle bought them, as a wedding gift a new car and the old Civil War era home at 907 Whitehead Street, the first home Hemingway ever owned. Key West was the perfect setting for Hemingway and he wrote several novel while living there. Locals soon realized tha

t they were the characters in some of his novels and became angry. Key West proved to be the most prolific period of this Nobel Prize winner's writing career.


     A tourist guidebook was published in 1935 with a map, which listed Key West tourist attractions. Hemingway's home was on that list, he was angry that he couldn't walk around his hometown without being accosted by tourists. So he hired a local bricklayer to build the red brick wall that surrounds his home to this day.


     Sloppy Joe's was Ernest Hemingway's favorite places to frequent.




     Pan Am airlines was started on October 18, 1927 when it flew 90 miles from Key West to Havana.


     President Harry S. Truman enjoyed his visits to Key West and considered this to be his winter home.  He stayed in the "Harry S. Truman Little White House" for 175 days during his 11 visits.

     Several Presidents have stayed on the base.  The last was President Bill Clinton and his wife, then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2005.



Birthday celebration day!

 Lunch at Margaretville!


Bonnie thought I needed a famous Key Lime Pie to celebrate my birthday.


Thanks Bonnie for the Key Lime Pie!!!!


Dinner at Michaels--Superb!


Dave, Dee Dee and Michael, owner of Michael's



And, of course the last Sunset Celebration



One last lunch out for oysters, of course.


After the wonderful oyster lunch, we boarded the airplane and too quickly we were back to reality.  We thank you Bonnie and Charlie, once again for the wonderful experience.

Copyright © 2008-2015 DeeDee MacDonald

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