Key West, Florida - February, 2011

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Introduction

With another cold winter ahead we were eager to return to Florida so had enrolled in a RoadScholar seminar in Key West, Fl last August. We Left Ithaca, NY, in a snowstorm. Three flights and too many hours later we landed at the comfortably warm Key West, AKA The Conch Republic airport. Hailing a cab we headed for our hotel in Old Town.


What We Do Best

Ed & Joyce Enjoying Key West

What We Do Best

In the photo upper left; We enjoy lunch with a couple from Wyoming at a restaurant on Mallory Square. Upper right; Eating, again ... why not? Breakfast crepes at a French Bistro on Duval St, life is good. Lower right; We enjoyed a Wine Tasting Sunset Sail our last night in Key West. Bottom center; Joyce add a special touch, an "Ithaca is Gorges" cap to a full size statue of Earnest Hemmingway at the Key West Museum of Art & History at the Customs House. Wearing the cap Joyce could count on someone with a Cornell University, located in Ithaca, NY, connection to approach her during the trip. Lower left; A two-fisted drinker on Mallory square. I could develop a taste for rum drinks! but was disappointed they didn't come with little umbrellas.


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Duval Street

Sights along Duval Street

Duval Street

We arrived at our hotel, The La Concha, late on a Saturday night. Duval St was jammed with 20 somethings many with beer in hand. I could've been in Las Vegas! Duval runs about a mile from Mallory Square on the Gulf of Mexico through the heart of Old Town ending on the Atlantic Ocean. We walked its' length at least twice a day. The street is about commerce. Food, booze, tattoos, Cuban cigars, artwork, enough T-shirts to clothe a small village in South America, from the tacky to the exquisite. You can find anything you want and many things you didn't know you wanted on Duval.

Photo above, upper left; Duval Street where anything and everything has a green light. Second from the left upper right; second in entertainment fame only to Sloppy Joe's Bar, though not nearly as old, is Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.. Second from the left, upper left; Standing out among the street musicians and hawkers is The Dirty Joke Guy. Joyce gave him a dollar to take this picture but she passed on the joke. Upper right; Having seen better days the Strand Theater now hosts a Walgreens. Center left, middle; We ate sweet French breakfast crepes at Le Bistro our first full day in Key West. Enjoying ourselves so much we went back for our last before returning home. The restaurant's collocated with Croissants de France, bottom left, on Duval St. Bottom center; A one-time 1930's haunt of Earnest Hemmingway Sloppy Joe's Bar is the most famous bar on Duval. Lower right; Fail to pay this pirate a dollar for taking his picture and he's likely to run you through … or as a minimum will yell at you.


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The Southern Most …

The Southern Most This, That and Other Things in the U.S.

The Southern Most …

Key West is the southern most city in the continental United States and only 90 miles from Cuba. In 1980 the city was the transit point for the Marial boatlift to and from Cuba. Here are links to some of the sites in the photo above.


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Key West Fauna

Key West Fauna

Key West Fauna

The upstate New York winter colorscape is bland. Key West's critters brought a welcome relief. In the photo above, top left; A female Brown Anole lizard looks for her next meal. Top center clockwise to bottom right; A Poseidon, Heliconia Erato and Royal Blue butterflies. We've never been to a zoo or nature preserve anything like The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Within the conservatory we were surrounded by dozens of breeds and thousands of colorful butterflies. Feeling a little breeze on my arm I looked down to find it came from the flapping wings of a passing butterfly. Bottom center; As we enjoyed a sunset cruise Portuguese Men Of War began floating by. By the next morning hundreds had been blown onto the Atlantic shore making water sports dangerous. Bottom, second from the right; A pair of Pelicans sun on the wharf at Mallory Square. Bottom left; Feral chickens have run free on Key West for over 50 years. Roosters, hens and chicks wander through yards, along street and sidewalks. Residents have a love / hate relationship with them. Some admire the beauty others hate the mess. Either way they're protected. Don't run over one! Left, center; Two parrots squawked and fussed while we shared an afternoon snack at a local restaurant. Their wings were clipped to keep them from flying off. I did wonder though why they just didn't walk off.


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Key West Flora

Key West Flora

Key West Flora

In the photo above, upper left; Appropriately, a Banyan tree, also known as the Strangler Fig, frames this view of the Banyan Resort on Whitehead St. in Old Town. Somewhere underneath all the growth are the remains of the tree the Banyan has grown over and suffocated. Photo, lower left; An orchid in the lush garden of the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens. photo bottom center; Multiple colors of Bougainvillea, pink, orange, yellow, red and, white, from bush to tree size grow everywhere on Key West. Photo bottom right; A flowering Euphorbia, not a cactus as I'd first thought, on Whitehead street. Photo, upper right; Gaillardia on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.


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U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Ingham & Mohawk

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Ingham & Mohawk

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Ingham & Mohawk

The Coast Guard cutters Mohawk and Ingham were launched in 1934 and 1936 respectively. Both served escorting convoys in the North Atlantic in WWII with the Ingham also serving in Pacific Theater. The Mohawk was returned to Treasury Department control in 1946 before decommissioning in 1948. The Ingham continued to serve participating in the 1980 Mariel Boatlift before decommissioning in 1988. The USS MOHAWK CGC Memorial Museum and USCGC INGHAM Maritime Museum are moored on the Truman Waterfront in Key West. The Ingham's kept in running order and, given fuel oil and the dockmaster's permission, could go underway.

I'd never been inside a warship before. First impressions … steel, lots of steel. A wartime compliment of 16 officers, 5 warrants, and 202 enlisted men lived, worked and fought in a space 327 feet long and, at maximum, 41 feet wide.

Photo upper left; My favorite stop, the radio room equipped with circa mid 1980's equipment. Top center; Joyce descends from the bridge to the main deck. Interior ladders were even steeper. A crewman could descend quickly grasping a rail in each hand sliding down to the deck without his feet touching the treads. I'm well past that point having to watch my feet both ascending and descending. Top, upper right; Signal flags stand ready to communicate with other ships. Second from the top, far right; A bow shot of the Ingham from the Mohawk. Third from the top, far right; Enlisted men's mess. Compare it to the officers' mess bottom, far right. Center; The Mohawk from dockside. Bottom center; The internal communication station on the bridge of the Mohawk. Bottom left; Also on the Bridge of the Mohawk. Note the voice tube with its' brass funnel providing internal communication if all else fails.


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The Art of Mario Sanchez

Woodcuts by Mario Sanchez of Key West

The Art of Mario Sanchez

Mario Sanchez, 1908 - 2005, a Key West native, began his career as an American folk artist in the 1930's. His art depicts every day scenes of Key West culture, history and people. Each figure depicted is modeled on a real person. In the photo above, lower left: A street scene featuring shops along Duval St. with a police officer chasing down a miscreant. photo, lower right: Cigar rollers listen to a reader, selected by the workers, who is standing on the platform to the left. Sanchez's father was a reader. Photo, center right: Passengers of an early cruise ship are met at the Mallory docks by a train of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway. Photo, upper right: The Mallory docks, circa early 1900's, as remembered from his youth.


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Mallory Square

Mallory Square

Mallory Square

Mallory Square at the Gulf terminus of Duval St. is the place to participate in the evening's sunset celebration, watch the cruise ships come and go, eat really good food and watch the people walk by.

In the photo above upper left; Sunset from Mallory Square. The evening's celebration features buskers hustling for tips. Tightrope walkers, jugglers, Tarot card readers, musicians and more provide entertainment. Photo upper right; Private and commercial sailing ships dock at the Mallory Square marina. Above, lower right; Vacationers walk along the waterfront at Mallory Square. I last visited the Old Town section of Key West in the early 80's remembering it as pleasantly seedy. For its' part The waterfront is no longer seedy having replaced the old with high-end hotels, restaurants and shops. Photo lower left; Cruise ships dock in the early afternoon disembark waves of people that flows down Duval St. They must leave the harbor before sunset so as not to spoil the view.


Bits and Pieces

Flying over the former Philadelphia Navy yard I saw the decommissioned U.S.S. John F. Kennedy and U.S.S. Forestall tied up next to each other. Once teaming with crewman and aircraft it was sad to see them quiet and desolate. Soon they'll be on their way to a breaker's yard or deliberate sinking. I'd like to think the ships would prefer the sinking.

Other activities on this trip included a tour of President Truman's Little White House. I could live there, a very comfortable hide-a-way. Unfortunately photography's prohibited. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park was built at the same time as Fort Clinch we toured on Amelia Island last year. They're very similar which is fortunate, as there are no docents at Fort Zachary Taylor as there were at Fort Clinch. Earnest Hemmingway lived in Key West in the 1930's an 1940's. The Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum is open for tours. The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is well worth the visit. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, just off Mallory Square, exhibits booty, gold doubloons and silver bars, cannons, personal crew items and how they got to the bottom of the ocean and how they were retrieved. Our Road Scholar group received a tour of the conservation lab. The Audubon House and Museum showcases the avian art of its namesake, John James Audubon.


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Updated: November 18, 2014