Saturday, October 18, 2014

September 18, 2014 (8th Day) Key West, FL - Our 22nd Wedding Anniversary

Bahia Honda Key, FL - Key West, FL - Bahia Honda Key, FL

It is our 22nd wedding annivesary.  The weather looked gloomy, but as long as it is not raining we will be fine and happy.   

We drove through National Wildlife Refuge to look for Key Deer, saw one on the side of the road. We took a short hike to see the Blue Hole. It is a "secret" that is tucked in the Big Pine Key wildlife refuge.  We were told that we might see alligators there, but they were not there.  All we saw was one land crab and two turtles.  The Blue Hole is 515 feet deep with 5 ft of freshwater on top of it.

Pine Key Deer
Blue Hole
Land Crab

After the Blue Hole we continued driving on Key Deer Drive for several miles until the dead end.  We spotted 4 deer and we did not see birds at all.

On US 1 going to Key West, past Sugarloaf KOA we remembered the good times during lobster season with our good friends back in early 2000's.

We were surprised to see a big change upon entering Key West.  More and more hotels are being built.  The romantic Bed and Breakfast place where we spent a few days back in 2002 had been razed and the whole area is bare and awaiting more development! :-(   The roads have been widened.  More fast food joints, too.  More metered parking.  :-(

We had to park few blocks away from Duval Street (the heart of Key West) where there were no metered parking.  It was like 2 blocks from the Key West Lighthouse.  

We went up Key West Lighthouse even though the weather was not favorable. 

Hey, who is up there?
The Living Room inside the Keeper's Quarters
Inside the lighthouse tower
View of Key West from top of the lighthouse

We were going to visit Hemmingway's house, but there were too many people and we were already starting to feel sweaty and cranky plus the admission fees seemed overpriced at $13.50 PP, too much in our opinion!  There were cats walking among all the trees and people.

We walked up to Duval Street, the most famous street in Key West. It is the focal point for shops, dining, attractions, etc. To our surprise it has become much more commercialized than years ago and there were several store closures.  Of course, there seems to be more T- shirt shops than eating places. The streets were literally taken over by motorcyclists.  We were going to ride our bicycles to the town after parking the van.  So glad we did not because the traffic was uncontrollable and we would be forever checking for oncoming vehicles than looking around while riding.  The motorcyclists were cruising around and around and the noise coming from their bikes were LOUD. 

Yes, there were chickens all over the place!
The most famous bar in Key West built in 1933
Ernest Hemmingway frequented this bar.
Now registered on National Register of Historic Places

CVS right in the heart of Duval Street

We could not decide where to go for lunch.  Asked locals for recommendations. One suggested Sloppy Joe's (no thanks, we ate there before and the foods were sub-par) and two recommended Caroline's.  Ok, Caroline's it is and off we go.  We asked to be seated inside instead of outdoors because we wanted A.C. to cool us off.  They have water misters for outdoor dining, but we felt it would not be enough to cool us off.

See the misters?
Erwin's dish
Edith's dish

We walked to the end of Duval Street, turned left to Mallory Square, the most famous plaza in the town for sunset celebration.  Arts and crafts exhibits, street performers and food carts are there every night.  It starts two hours before sunset.  The cruise port is a stone's throw from the plaza.  We were there around 1:30 p.m. and agreed that we would be back to join in the celebration around 6 pm.  We continued trekking to the northern part of Key West.  As the day dragged on it got hotter and hotter and we were starting to get crankly from the sweats and the heat.  

Edith needed a lens cap for one of her lens and went in a camera store on Duval Street.  While talking to the guy about this and that it rained hard. We did not bring an umbrella or ponchos, but luckily, it stopped just when we stepped out of the store. 

This is what we saw as we came out of
the camera store
Erwin has a strong sweet tooth and has to have ice cream or something sweet. 

 He got peppermint ice cream. No sharing!  Very clever 'cause
he knew Edith does not care for mints :-)

It was around 3:30 pm when we decided we had enough of the "Key West' flavor, walked back to the van, went eastward to where the Southernmost Point landmark is at.  Another famous icon of Key West - the pot-bellied buoy indicating it is the southernmost point in U.S. and is only 90 miles to Cuba.  There was a line of people waiting to get their pictures taken.  

Our van was parked behind this car 

Since it is our anniversary today we were supposed to go to a fancy restaurant in Key West, but, like we said earlier, we were tired, hot and sweaty.  We left Key West, plan to eat somewhere along the way.  It was 10 years ago that we ate at Mangrove Mama's at Mile Marker 20 and the foods were great. The atmosphere was interesting. There were lots of tropical plants around.  We decided we were going to eat there for our anniversary.  When we pulled into the parking lot in the back things looked different.  Where are the tropical plants?! Not much left.  Several hurricanes had passed through in the 10 years since we were there, which explained a lot of missing trees! Here used to be trees in front of the restaurant and all you could see was the sign and could see maybe a couple of places on the building.  Edith did not feel like ordering dinner, got a bowl of chef's salad. Erwin had snapper with shrimps. For drinks - Edith got a Pina colada and Erwin ordered a lemonade. 

Here's to the next 22 years, may it be as good!
Cherries, Cherries, Cherries, Yum, Yum!
Erwin's seafood dish
The sun was starting to set when we were on way back to the campground. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, we pulled over at a bridge to snap a few pictures and watch it go down.

G'night, y'all

In spite of the heat and humidity we enjoyed our day and wished we had done more to explore, but there is always another time to come back and visit Key West.  We don't need to see everything otherwise next time we will be too bored when we come back.  Key West is a romantic place when the temperature is perfect.  We'll be back, when is the question!

On the way back to the campground, Erwin wanted to drive along the Key Deer Drive to see if we could see some more deer.  Yes, we saw 7 more deer and one was a buck with a good set of antlers!  It was the first time we had seen the deer there, all the many times we went there, we never saw any except one that had been run over.  It made our night, and we high fived!

Miles Driven: 99

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