Promptly at 7:30 am yesterday my wife and I climbed aboard a 45-foot long tour bus.
Destination – Key West
We were greeted by Tour Guide Felipe and driver Ivy. We took our assigned seats in Row 3 and headed south. 4+ hours later we climbed off the bus after having been given thorough instructions on things to do and the importance of returning to the bus no later than 7 pm. I marked our location on Google maps – 813 Caroline St.
As we were getting our bearings, we were startled by a nearby rooster crowing. Throughout the day, we shared the sidewalk with chickens, tourists & Key West residents of every size, shape & description. According to the FloridaRambler.com, like Key West residents themselves, the chickens are “historic, colorful, sort of wild, a little noisy and occasionally annoying.”
First stop – Pepe’s Cafe. The oldest of nearly 500 restaurants, Pepe’s opened in 1909. A sign out front advertised “NOW OPEN UNDER OLD MANAGEMENT”. The service was a little grumpy.
Me: Could you repeat the specials?
Waitress: All of them???!!!
Me: How much is the scallop salad?
Waitress: I don’t know. Probably about $14 (Note: On our bill it was $16.50)
On the bright side, the food was great. And if I have to choose between good service or good food, I’ll take good food every time.
After lunch we walked Duval Street, advertised as the “longest street in the world.” At 1.25 miles in length, it is not actually the longest street in the world, but it is the only street in the world that allows you to walk from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
Located in Key West’s historic “Old Town”, Duval Street has lots of ways to take your money. My wife found a Key West Pandora charm for her bracelet at a nice store named Artisans. The charm had Key West and a picture of a rooster on it. Allysa, the lady that helped us was extremely nice. My wife likes to buy a charm to add to her bracelet each time we travel. Going on 47 years of marriage, the bracelet is getting heavy enough that her left arm that sports the bracelet is approximately twice the size of her right. Note: If she gets mad at you, watch out for her left hook!
Upon reaching the Atlantic Ocean, we stopped at the marker for the “Southernmost Point in the United States.” At that point you are closer to Cuba than you are to a Walmart.
Circling back toward the Gulf of Mexico on Whitehead St., we passed the haunts of former Famous Key West celebrities Harry Truman and Ernest Hemmingway on our walk to Sunset Pier.
As we arrived at the pier and took a seat, a great band was playing the old Johnny Cash hit “One Piece at a Time.”
Though the day had been mostly overcast, when we arrived at Sunset Pier the sun was visible on the western horizon, framed by the sails of those who prefer to watch the sunset from the water.
After the sun disappeared, I clicked on my iPhone GPS and we headed to where we were to board our bus back to Fort Lauderdale.
After a great day in Key West, tour guide Felipe did a headcount to make sure everyone in our group had made it back. He then darkened the interior lights and our driver Ivy began our 4 1/2 hour trip north.
Key West residents sometimes refer to their home as “the smart end of Highway 1”. With wintry blasts hitting the northeast and the temperature a balmy 75 degrees in Key West, I tend to agree.
Except when unwelcome visitors like Hurricane Irma come to town.