Key West – Day 2

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Relevant assumptions made about Key West confronted on Day 2:

1) The best of Key West is found on the water.

2) Every day is a perfect day.

3) It would be swarming with bikers, gays, drunks, homeless and possibly ghosts.

Regarding the water, it is beautiful.  Or, at least what we could see while driving over bridges.  Key West’s reputation for water, though, isn’t for beachcombers looking at water; it’s for people on or in the water.  We’re not experienced boaters, we have yet to try deep sea fishing, and we cannot as yetMy wife, Nancy Scuba dive.  Those remain on The Great To-Do List.  Poor us.

After a continental breakfast at the motel, we went to Mile Marker 4 to Hurricane Hole Marina, home of Lazy Dog Adventures.   It would not be a lazy morning.  We went on a 2 hour kayaking tour with eco-tour leader Jan and five others, across generally shallow waters, Jan persuading a conch snail to show himself.around and through small coves and mangroves.  Jan would periodically stop, point towards a tree or pick something out of the water (anenomes, starfish, sponges, etc.) and explain the local ecosystem.

This was actually great fun, despite evidence that not every day in the Keys is a perfect day.  The temperatures from our stay varied from 59 oF to 65 oF.

Not bad, but while kayaking, it was even cooler, with overcast skies, a constant breeze and periodic sprinkles.  Jan seemed to have no problem rowing to the next intended talking point, but rowing against the wind isn’t without effort.  However, navigating a narrow cut through the mangroves is really, really cool.  One required pulling on the limbs to pass through as there wasn’t room to paddle.  And there was one snake seen in the water just to keep things interesting.

After a shower and change into dry clothes, we went Hog's Breath Saloonlooking for a mid-afternoon lunch.  We tried the Hog’s Breath Saloon, so it at least can be said that we ate at a legitimate local fixture.  So did a lot of others.  Most interesting was the mix of customers – kids, teens, college kids, old, very old, midlife… Key West appeals to all.  The same for bikers, gays, and drunks.  There was some of each and all, in peaceful coexistence.  Now, back to the Saloon… Take a little exercise, add a fine burger, and mix in two Sailor Jerry spiced rums and what to do you get?

After a very fine nap, we wandered around town a bit before our 9:00 departure for “The Original (Key West) Ghost Tour.”  We happen to like ghost tours, and the campier the better.  You can tell what you’re going to get as soon as you meet your tour guide.

Hello, “Captain Heather,” who would soon shout in the hotel lobby “Follow me, children of Light, into the Darkness!”  Oh yeah, we scored a good one.  She also works as a substitute teacher and is a very good entertainer.  Lucky kids.

And, with no surprise, we find that Key West not only has hints of ghosts but has also had some really strange residents.  Such as, you ask?  Well, such as a doctor who untombed his wife’s bones, rebuilt her likeness with wax, and remarried her.  Or the child of a family who was gifted with a “spirited” doll, who would as an adult lower a ceiling in his house to create a proportionate room for his doll.  Ask anyone, “Robert did it.”

As it happens, Robert the Doll resided in a very attractive Victorian house, known as “Artist House",” that we had walked by several times and admired.  Go figure.

The ghost tour took 90 minutes, walking not so far, staring at occupied or abandoned buildings, listening to stories, looking at 8” x 10” glossies of HARD EVIDENCE, and occasionally shouting as a group “You’re Doomed!” to Salsa Loca, Key West passerby’s who had the nerve to mock us.

Finally, we were ready for a late night bite to eat.  We happened upon Salsa Loca, a very casual, low key Mexican bar/restaurant/patio just off Duval St.  The owner is from North Carolina (we could tell her accent was from the South, but not South Florida), who treated us like guests in her home.  A few scrumptious tacos, chips and salsa, a Dos Equis… perfect!  And, in fact, this was closest to my vision of what a Key West restaurant would be like, relaxed and unhurried.  Sure, the late hour contributed, but it was definitely my favorite restaurant of the trip.

Day 3, coming tomorrow!

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