Friday, February 15, 2008

Why We Cruise: Day Four; Part One

Keyed Up

Thursday morning of our trip found us docked at Key West. We hit the shore after breakfast. Both of us were a little crispy from exposure to the sun the past couple days, so the first thing we did was buy hats. Big hats. We were big hat people for the day.

Knights of Old.

Knights of New? Nnnnn-no.

The Key West Art & Historical Museum is the first major building you run into as you come off the dock. We were greeted by these ladies in the back of the building. No, it has nothing to do with high school theater, thankfully.

Interestingly the front of the building had a tribute to a different (almost opposing, morally) peice of artwork:

Near there is the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. I saw something on tv about this guy, who had not too long ago found sunken Spanish treasure in the Caribbean.

There's train ride tours of the Key available, but we decided to huff it.

This little house was the original world headquarters of the now defunct Pan-Am airline. First flight was to Cuba from Key West.

No lavish lawns down here, most houses have gardens and lush vegetation in front.

Some have added homemade artwork.

Pretty much everywhere you look, something is covered in artwork or color.

Most of the houses are colorfully painted, as seems to be the norm, at least in the touristy areas of the tropics. The ones that aren't colorful, are at least architectually different.

One attractive house had a little poke at the gawking tourists:

We walked through down the main streets, and detoured into the seedier sections of town. To get a 'cross-section' of local life, as Doctor Willie would say.

Downtown Key west is relatively small, and you can cover a lot of ground on foot. It wasn't long before we were near the end of the line. Or rather, the beginning of the line. The beginning of Route 1, which stretches all the way up the eastern seaboard of the USA, up into Maine.

The Southernmost Point is a huge picture spot. There was a small crowd waiting their turn to take their picture here.

These must be the southernmost bizarre barbie on a spike collection.

The Southernmost aspiring artist.

In fact the whole area takes advantage of being "Southernmost". There was the Southernmost House, where many Presidents have stayed, and supposedly one of the finest examples of victorian archetecture in the U.S. Across the intersection is the Southernmost Hotel, ect.

No where to go from here but North. We moved on. There are several beaches along the coast here.

Who Let The Hens Out?

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because all the chickens are doin' it.

One thing you notice about Key West right away, is the sound of roosters and chickens. That's right. They're everywhere. The Key West version of squirrels, as Kelly pointed out. They roam the streets, in the back yards, down the alleyways.

No one owns them, no one eats them. They're as free as, well, birds. Heavy fines are imposed for even harassing the animals. Ironically the chickens in this park have more freedom than the two fellows doing community service in the background of this picture.

I heard they're descendants of the cock-fighting era (the chickens, not the convicts). They're now protected by law. (both chickens and convicts).

It was getting HOT and humid. We grabbed ice-coffees at the first cafe we came across. I don't know if it's the way they're supposed to be made, but they were basically expressos on ice. I called my sister up, and ruthlessly jiggled the ice in the cup over the phone. She said it had been cold and raining for like two days up in Massachusetts. I laughed gleefully and took another swig under the shade of a palm tree. Suckas.

We continued on, to check out the beach areas.

One of the beaches we came to, turned out to be a mecca for the Key West homeless. Showers and picnic pavilions originally dedicated to beach-goers now served as bath and shelter.

We overheard this conversation among two guys nearby:

Guy one: "Dude, where can I sleep in a car around here without getting hassled?"
Guy two: "Any side street. What kind of car?"
Guy one: "It's a van"
Guy two: (scoffing) "Aw dude, then you're allll set!"

Guy two honing his frisbee marksmanship skills:

I suppose if I ever have the misfortune to wind up homeless, I sure hope it's someplace like here.
We headed back into town.

This post is getting long, and I'm out of time for now, I'll continue with the rest of Key West, (booze and butterflies), on another post...


O'Reilly said...

What a beautiful travelogue you posted here and with many interesting photographs.

It's a little surprising you don't find life in Northampton as fruitful for blogging as Amherst. You could blog about the Smith students who went to a costume party in black face and ask the question: Were they being provocative or were they clueless that others might take offense? In that context, was it predictable black face would be perceived as insensitive or worse, a deliberate bigoted act?

Life is more than controversy. The Amherst community has a particular way of viewing issues through a moral lens, whether the nature of the problem is a moral question or not, and taking a principled albeit self-righteous stance and arguing it to the death, while simultaneously maintaining that they are shocked by the moral turpitude of the other side. It's gets tired fast.

Tony said...

Thanks for the comments O'Reilly. I actually live in Ludlow. I can see how you'd think I was from Northampton, as most of my posting and outdoor activity centers around the Noho-Hadley-Amherst axis. That area is really the heart of the valley, the center of it's beauty, as far as I'm concerned. And my blog is mainly about sharing the Valley's beauty, (as difficult as that can be, mid-winter.)

I do have some strong personal political views and opinions, but I'm going to try to keep my blog apolitical, and my own views personal, as often as possible. There are plenty of citizen journalist blogs in the valley doing a great job. I don't think I'd have the ability or resources to present news and views reliably, consistantly and informatively enough to do my readers justice as a news blog. However, if I happen to come across something political or newsworthy in my travels I will definitely post about it. If blogging were a newspaper, I think I'd be in the 'Living' section, rather than the front pages or editorials.

Like you said, life is more than just controversy.

Mary E.Carey said...

Great Key West experience and very interesting comment on your blog as being a "Living section" type. I've been telling Brian that of the local blogs I read I feel mine is closest to yours. Except you don't constantly run pics of you and Kelly when the flowers aren't in bloom. Do you have a cat per chance?

Tony said...

Hi Mary, I agree the two blogs are of the same vein. We don't torture ourselves with daily outrages!

I used to be a cat person. I had a great orange tiger (named Sugar Magnolia) when I was younger. Great cat. The kind of cat that would respond and communicate, not one of those aloof types. All cats have very distinct personalities, I don't think a lot of cat haters realize that.

Kelly brought the dog with her, it was a package deal. It was a rough start, but I've since grown accustomed to the little yap-o-matic. He doesn't drool or stink like the bigger dogs, so he's got that going for him. He can be a charming little critter, I can now see the appeal of having a dog. I'll put a couple pics of him on the next post...