Last week we went back to Florida for the umpteenth time, but this trip was different because we added Key West to the mix. From Ft. Myers, Cheryl and I took the Key West Express, a three hour boat ride with 300 of our closest friends across the Gulf of Mexico. You can make a day trip out of it, but we thought that would be rushing it a bit so we decided to spend the night and go back to Ft. Myers the next afternoon. It turned out to be a very good decision.
After Key West we spent three nights at the Marriott on Marco Island, which has been re-branded a J. W. Marriott since our last visit, which means it’s much more expensive than it used to be, or so it seemed. I’m sorry J. W., whoever you are, but $14 for a mojito is indefensible, and so is $7.50 for a can of beer.
This sunset picture of the beach at our hotel on Marco Island is the only one I took on our trip that I would call a photograph. The rest are just snap shots.
Here’s a shot of the beach on Marco Island. One of the drawbacks of taking pictures with an iPhone is you can’t see the display screen in bright sunlight, so you get crappy photos most of the time. This is one of a small number that wasn’t completely terrible.
This is the view from the terrace of our three bedroom, three bath hotel suite in Key West. (Thanks for the free upgrade Marriott) We loved it. Too bad we only had it for one night.
These are just a few of the yachts in the Key West harbor near where the ferry from Ft. Myers docks. Apparently there are some wealthy people here. Ya think?
I heard a noise coming from a palm tree outside our hotel room and this fellow crawled down from the fronds and took a nonchalant stroll across the seawall. Turns out iguanas are quite common in Key West, as are chickens which roam about wherever they damn well please. Hugo the trolley driver pointed out two more iguanas on our sight-seeing ride around the island, which we enjoyed and found very informative. And Hugo was a trip.
This place is typical of many on Duval Street. Open air, right on the street for optimal people watching. Plus it shares my daughter’s name so that was a bonus. Cold beer and peel & eat shrimp for an afternoon snack. Enough said.
On Tuesday afternoon we had some time to kill before re-boarding the Key West Express, so we killed it at the Schooner Wharf Bar. This fellow on stage is Gary Hempsey and he has been playing in Key West bars for many years. He plays songs by John Prine, Dylan, Neil Young and others, as well as the obligatory Jimmy Buffet tunes, and between songs, or sometimes right in the middle of one, he tells stories about his life that are politically incorrect and very funny. The oysters were fresh and the beer was cold and I could picture myself doing something like this on a regular basis if I was a Key West local, which sounds like a worthy goal to me. I could waste away in this place with ease, blown-out flip flops and lost shakers of salt not withstanding.
I went to Key West expecting to find a major tourist trap with some famously over-rated bars, Hemingway t-shirts everywhere and no natural beaches (no waves because of the coral reefs, therefore no sand deposited on the shores.) The part about the beaches is true and I just threw it in here because I thought it was interesting. But I digress. Instead I came away completely enamored with the laid back feel of the place. Key West is a state of mind, a place where, in Buffet’s words, “the days drift by, they don’t have names and none of the streets here look the same.” Even as a tourist mecca, it has managed to maintain its originality, much like New Orleans, and that is unusual these days. We loved the friendly people and the history of the place, especially the old homes with their metal roofs and tropical style and banyan trees in the yards, and we agreed we now have a new plan for how to spend our lottery winnings, when we get them, which we will, someday.