DECEMBER 18, 2013 (Wednesday)
Woke up to more beautiful sunshine! Gonna be a great day – I can just feel it.
We were all up, had breakfast and out the door by 10:00 AM. First stop, Cracker Barrel in Pembroke Pines to get a book on tape to listen to on the drive to Key West. The drive is approximately 4 hours (180 miles). It takes so long because while you travel down the narrow road to Key West, you go through little towns and have to slow down from 55 to sometimes 35, for quite awhile. It was a lovely drive. Lots of bridges. It’s very flat going down to the Keys. The highest points most of the time were on the bridges.
Just heard from a friend regarding this picture. He writes: ” This island has quite a history. It served as a main base camp for workers who created the overseas railway upon which Highway 1 was later created. The island was sleeping barracks and dining headquarters for workers. Later, it served as the living quarters for the maintenance crew responsible for maintaining the seven-mile bridge. More recently, it serves as a base camp for marine biology students for 4-6 week educational camps. Most of the buildings on the island survive from the railway camp era and one of the buildings houses a museum documenting the history of the railway workers’ camp and the building of the railway and seven-mile bridge itself. There is a huge wooden ramp which connected the island to the original highway, which is in itself an engineering marvel. We walked up the ramp and for an expanse on the original highway. The concrete walls on the new bridge side of the island are the reminents of an old tidal swimming pool which had one wall blown away at sometime in the past.” Thanks Rodney!
Almost immediately on getting to Key West, we headed towards the water. I was driving and Michael asked me to turn around. He had seen some bird he wanted to get a picture of. (We were looking for the Southernmost buoy in the continental United States.) I was turning into a driveway in order to make the turn and had to quickly stop because there was a huge iguana going across the road. He was in no hurry and knew he had the right of way. That was when it felt like we were on a tropical island. Was fun watching him slowly go across the road and look at us. Once we got to the buoy, we saw another one, but this one wasn’t as large.
We parked on Duval Street (pay parking but watch out for yellow curbs) and walked. We walked down to the buoy (of course) to get a photo op. Had to wait in line but it moved quickly. While waiting in line we saw the second iguana on the roof of a little building near the buoy. After the buoy we walked around and there was a little street vendor. Michael bought me a coconut drink there. It was the actual coconut and the man used a drill to make the hole for the straw. Was good but way too much to drink. We saw the many chickens and roosters that famously roam the streets of Key West. We also saw so many bicyclists and little scooters. Such a fun, lively place and you really get a sense of being in an exotic tropical place.
We were very hungry and went in search of a place to eat. By this time it was around 3:00 PM. We walked and walked but every place we went into was either closed or closing (closing at 3:00 PM). We laughed and wondered what it was about Ernest Hemingway and the 3:00 PM closing thing with food. We had the same problem in Ketchum, Idaho (where Hemingway died). We decided to get in the car and drive to a place we had seen on the beach that looked nice.
We walked back to the car and discovered the little battery was dead. Not sure how or why but it was dead. Nothing was working. Michael called AAA and they were there within half an hour. The first man wasn’t sure about starting a hybrid so he called another guy, which took another fifteen minutes or so. The other guy had it started in two seconds and we were off. We drove to the restaurant, called Salute. It was right on the water, had live music, and there were lots of cars around (usually a good sign). We also thought it would be a nice place to watch the sunset in Key West.
Once we were seated our wonderful server, Wendy, got us drinks and we got to talk to her a little. She was originally from the Ohio but lived in Montana for many years. She decided a few years ago to move to Key West and loves it. She said she spent many vacations in Key West and wanted to get away from the snow. We asked her for food recommendations and she shared what she thought was best. Boy was she right. Michael ordered the fish salad special, which had a mango salsa and about a pound of fish; Lexi ordered the shrimp salad; and I ordered the shrimp pasta. My pasta had so many huge shrimp on it that I could not believe. Everything was really, really good. Then, to top it off, Michael and I split a slice of Key Lime pie. Best we’ve ever had. Highly recommend this place. A little expensive but so good.
We finished eating up around 5:15 PM. Wendy told us we were more than welcome to sit and stay and enjoy the sunset but we saw they were setting up for dinner so we left. We walked down the beach, past the (very serious) volleyball players, the lady with the two beautiful parrots (think she wanted money for pictures with them), and lots of people just enjoying the beach. We ended up walking down a long pier out to the ocean. At the end was a bench. Michael and I just sat or stood near the bench to wait for the sunset. So glad we waited. It was beautiful to see the sun set into the ocean. Glorious. Would have loved to see the sunrise over the ocean too, but that will have to wait until our next trip here.
Once the sunset was over, it was all about the long drive home. It worked out perfectly, however, as we finished up our book on tape right as we got to our “home.” We were safely home by 10:00 PM. Such a lovely day. Hope your day was great!