I reached Florida City in the early evening just before sunset, its one of those times when you book something thousands of miles away based on what mileage you think you can do, where things look on a map and the things you want to do morning/evening around it. I could have driven on another couple of hours but the accommodation (at least the reviews online) got a little sparser. Besides which I went to see the film ‘True Lies’ in 3 different countries and wanted to reach the car park on US Highway 1, the overseas highway, specifically built for the film (according to the internet which we all know is true), during daylight hours.
As I pulled into the hotel there was just one of those photo ops that you have to stop the car for and risk prosecution…
Cop car outside a donut shop
Another sad night was spent by the hotel pool then re-arranging different bags for the different activities for the next couple of days. I think some explanation is required here which goes above and beyond my ordinary OCD. Id been warned about some of the places I was visiting, not to show too much equipment at once, not to be carrying large bags to and from the car every day and in the likes of Key West, having to find a parking place well away from the hotel. I had compartmentalised (yeah I realise the word mental is in there) most of my luggage so in certain places I could lift out a large prepacked section split into numbers of days, so the key west stuff was taken out of my checked luggage bag and put in my small wheeled bag so all I had to do was lift this bag and my camera bag out and away I went. It was working so far and later in the trip I’d spend more than one or two nights in the one place so wouldn’t have to go through this hassle. Its probably overkill but when you are travelling for your livelihood and a camera going missing and waiting to get a replacement and dealing with insurance when you get home would mean lost photos and with a lot of this stuff pre-booked, its just throwing money away.
florida keys speed limit on overseas highway
raising the stars and stripes in the morning
A couple of the things I wanted to try were Conch fritters and of course Key Lime Pie. Id gotten a few names of places from tripadvisor but it was low season now and some of the places were closed and besides which the locals are always the people to ask where the best places to go are. They gave me a few names and a few suggestions for things to do and I was on my way again.
Headed this time to the World Wide Sportsman fishing store on Islamorada. This place really was famous and as Id been fishing since I was about 16, one of those semi religious experiences that we all have to encounter. The store was big enough to have a boat sitting in the middle.
World Wide Sportsman Islamorada
heavy rain in key west
Having driven through the storm without stopping I’d missed some of the places for lunch so headed out with a recommendation for my conch fritters and key lime pie. Now I was still only away from home a few days at this stage so everything I was being served either tasted of oil or tasted of sugar. The desserts that didn’t taste of sugar tasted of cinnamon. As Ive said before the USA must have a cinnamon mountain as it is used to hide/mask the taste of virtually everything. The restaurant had a great tripadvisor rating but service was poor by american standards but that suited me down to the ground. Not asking if you are ok every time you have just put a bite of something in your mouth and not the china thing of handing your bill and telling you to go as soon as the last bite starts to make its way down your throat.
Conch fritters in Key West
I called at the harbour and asked a few boat captains if they had any charters for the next couple of days as one of my bucket list items is marlin fishing. I didn’t let the mere facts it wasn’t the season and that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico coupled with a recession has virtually killed the charter boat fishing get in the way of a good story but Id like to give it a go. I went out to the airport to see if I could get on a floatplane flight out to the Dry Tortugas, something that Id been recommended both in Key Largo and in the B+B. They recommended that I take the seaplane if I had the cash and was short on time and I took it as a second option for a big trip as Key West itself is quite small and unless you are on a complete binge there’s very little to do during their own holiday off season. I hit a bit of luck as the seaplane the next morning had one seat available so I booked it and got measured up for my flippers…
Being a Monday/Tuesday trip it was also quiet light on visitors so that afternoon I had the B+B to myself for coffee, so I went out for a wander around the town, down to the start of highway 1 and down to the famous sunset celebrations in Mallory Square. Each night the sun is given a send off by the tourists, street performers, vendors, drunks, happy people and those who wonder why the rest of the town is empty for the hour before and after sunset.
One of the street performers is a guy called Will Soto on his high wire and he puts on a good show, well it should be good he has been doing it for 20 years, so go down, get a spot early and then give him a few quid
Will Soto performing at the Sunset Celebration mallory square key west
Of course this isn’t just as simple of rocking up to a bar and ordering a drink (shame on me I had cocktails instead of beer or whiskey!) as there is the original site of sloppy joes which is Captain Tony’s saloon where Hemmingway actually drank and then the new site of Sloppy Joes Bar which follows the line of ownership to the present day. Well have a drink in both seemed to be the best option!
Captain Tonys Saloon, Hemmingways original bar
Sloppy Joes Saloon Bar Key West
In my defence of the cocktail thing, they did include a lot of ice and some fruit juices and it was very hot and very humid but it still took me a long time to get back to the B+B. Suffice to say all the ‘art’ photos I took on the way back have never really seen the light of day. Im sure the humidity affected the focussing on the camera!
When I got back to the B+B there was a wee note on the door to say they had managed to get me a charter boat trip on the Tuesday morning, only problem being it started at 6am, I had to pay for 2 places myself, Id miss breakfast and that it was 2 hours more than Id hoped and would make the return trip up the keys a mad dash to get to my hotel that night.
That would be a yes then! So no making a poor imitation of Hemmingway tomorrow night then!
more key west photos here
more florida photographs here
more usa photos and stock photography here
more travel and transport stock photography here
more daily life stock pics here
more conceptual stock photographs here