Friday, March 9, 2012

A SLOW DRIVE TO KEY WEST AND WHAT I DISCOVERED ...

Only 180 miles south Miami, a slow drive down US1 brings the adventurer to an exotic local: Key West. Many have heard of this tropical paradise 90 miles away from Cuba. But how many have you visited there?

(Pic of Fort Lauderdale Beach... I had to put it in...)

I know of a few bloggers that had jumped from key to key crossed inlets and seas to reach Key West. I did twice in the past few weeks. The true beauty of the ride is when one gets past south Miami, Homestead, and Florida City.

The turquoise and white extension bridge carries you to the first key... Key Largo. The 70's song played in my head for miles "We had it all .... Just like Boggie and Bacall ... playing in our own Late Late show... sailing away to Key Largo ..."

How the lyrics haunted me during the drive through the first and largest key. As the traffic thins arriving to the next key, the crystal, sea foam green water streaked with vibrant violet, greets the weary driver with almost a shocking display. It torments and teases you, knowing you can't stop to admire its beauty, but the glimpses out of the corners of your eyes is enough to feast upon.

Each key is a jewel. Many are nothing more that a few stunning homes caressed by the emerald green seas. It takes some time to finally make it to Isla Mirada: a group of keys, which are more commercialized with many hotels, restaurants, shops, and even a Starbucks...

In the lower keys the shades of blues, greens, and violets blend together seamlessly with the periwinkle blue skies dotted with a streak of white cotton. Could an image be any more perfect? Perhaps, but the drive is not over yet.

Another hour or so, the Marathon chain of keys pops into view. By this point the driver longs to reach their destination. Too much of the same isn't a good thing, but the prize awaits and the driver is patient.

As one approaches the seven mile bridge, the excitement returns and once again the seas captivate and seduce the senses more than anyone could imagine.

Key West is close now. As the driver approaches more commercialize properties litter the landscape. Fifties architecture dominates mixed with new construction. Is this Hemingway's Key West?

No, not at all, but it's the Key West that the driver sees until he arrives into Old Town... Ah, now that's worth the wait.

Thankfully it takes only a moment to arrive in Old Town. Charming historic homes, many turned into guest houses, are painted in pastel colors with white gingerbread trim. If one travels to Key West this is the area to reside in. Thankfully my final destination was smack in the center of Old Town.

At this point the driver should LEAVE the car and continue on foot. Weaving through the quaint narrow streets, the visitor feels like you entered a different era. Most homes for the 1800's are lovingly preserved. Guests sitting on front porches wave to new friends strolling by. A light a carefree time awaits all who cross over into this tropical paradise ...

As a writer I thought it was important to paint the scene with words, now for those of you who are screaming for pics, here they are ... enjoy .... Make that frozen cocktail and dream about sitting under the swaying palms this weekend and have a wonderful time.


Hemingway's House represents Key West at its finest


The lush gardens ...


One of the six-toed descendent's from Hemingway's original cats


The lighthouse just steps away in Old Town


A lovely white-washed church ... there are several of these scattered throughout Old Town


Another GORGEOUS sunset ending another perfect day in paradise



Morning coffee on the front porch ... I know had to "strike that pose"... I am a former model after all ... blushes now.







31 comments:

  1. Cool you got to visit Hemingway's house. I've never been to the Keys, but I imagine the long drive over the water is quite surreal.

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  2. Wow to Hemingway's house. What a great journey with you, Michael.

    x

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  3. Fifty years ago I visited Key West, knew nothing of Hemingway then. Now, I would love to return to Key West and visit his home.

    Very good travel article and heads up for the wonder tropical Key West.

    Thank you, for sharing.

    Happy weekend.

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  4. Simply marvelous!

    I lived in Florida for two years and never made it down. In the Caribbean now BUT still want to make that drive one day. Thanks for the encouragement. Great travelogue, great pics and great pose.

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  5. I'd love to go to the keys *sigh*

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  6. I envy you the ride! Yes, I know I drive a lot but beautiful scenery always gets to me! And you got to visit Hemingway's house! Love the picture of the six-toed descendent of his furry loved ones. Have a great time in Florida! That's an order! LOL. Roland

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  7. What a hot spot for inspiration. Soak it all up and put some of it in an envelope, then send it to me :) Have fun this week-end!

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  8. By the way, your descriptions are wonderful, worth a piece in a travel magazine.Ever consider that? Wouldn't that be a great job? Travel, write about it and get paid!!!

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  9. Thanks for taking us along for the ride, Michael! :)

    And here I thought Ohio was having a heat wave when it reached 51° today... *grins*

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  10. Ooh, you strike a pose, Mr Vogue indeed! ;-) Wonderful pictures and post - I would love to visit Hemingway's house... I might not leave.

    Hope you are well Michael, sorry I've been on a bit of a blogging break lately, life in the parallel universe is a little crazy. Have a wonderful weekend! x

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  11. Oh how beautiful, not like real life at all!

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  12. We got about a foot of snow a few days ago... *sigh*

    Sounds like an incredibly beautiful place - thanks for sharing your words and pics! :)

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  13. Wow, thanks for taking us along your Florida journey, and Hemingway's home, too! What a great opportunity. The pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. I'll tell you what I " discovered"...DISNEY has a COMPANY in SC!
    Is it called ENDISCO?
    Is it called LYPPON?
    Is it called TCCARE ?
    RTCO?
    Maybe USTECO?
    Maybe OSIRIS?
    What I heard,it's with " DELL".
    And they take it to AEGEAN for " KNEE COCKS"?
    And they have a lot of GESSIS and SINSUPP with ANNESUP .

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  15. Thank you for this trip through the Keys. I've never been but I'd love to go someday. Great pictures, and I love 'the pose'!

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  16. Wow, that really does look like paradise - including how relaxed you look in that rocking chair!
    I'd love to visit Hemingway's house someday, and pet those cats :-)

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  17. In between getting books published Michael, I recommend travel writing. You have the tone here. I so want to be there! Mainly to see Hemingway's house and do that drive over the water/s. Hmm. Now have fun you!

    Denise

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  18. Yay! Pictures! That sunset one is really gorgeous. Thanks for the virtual holiday :-)

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  19. I spent a summer during college in Key West. Best summer I ever had. I wonder how different it is now from when I lived there--almost 15 years ago. Someday I hope to get back.

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  20. I have only been to Florida once for a few days but I do have two paintings hanging at Little Palm Island resort in the Keys, an island once owned by former Pres. Truman and wife Bess. I was commissioned to do two portraits of them for the Great Room, wearing period style clothes from the late World War I era, and lots of lush palms, sea grape and one of those little island deer in the picture. Almost life size. I am not big on tropical stuff though being a Northern girl through and through. I'll take a brisk breeze over the harsh meadows and cliffs near an ocean any day:-) I wrote you an answer to your comment and thank you so much for the complimentary things you said about my work! Would love to paint you sometime. Come up for a visit. We can take you hiking and kayaking and meet some bears and elk...maybe a cougar or a bald eagle!

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  21. Michael, I love Key West and have made that long drive down from Miami several times. The photo ops, as you demonstrate, are amazing! Have you seen some of the Johnson sculpture from paintings of the Masters in the museum there? Thanks for sharing!

    Monti
    Mary Montague Sikes

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  22. I've never been, but wow--both the description and those pictures make me want to take that drive! And Michael, please come by my blog tomorrow (Monday). You won't be disappointed!

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  23. Thanks for the fantastic journey. Beautiful pictures and write ups.

    I have a 6-toed cat. Her front paws look so huge. She should be able to open the door and let her own self out and pop the lid her own food cans. We keep trying to train her :)

    .....dhole

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  24. Wow! Those photos are gorgeous! And you got to see Hemingway's house. Too cool.

    Your pose looks rather nice and relaxed on that porch. lol

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  25. Oh, what beautiful photos, Michael! The last one, too! :) You look so happy and relaxed.

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  26. I live in Jacksonville, but I've never been to Key West. The one time I went, as we stopped in the Everglades National Park, a hurricane developed headed toward south Florida, so we turned around and headed home without making it to Key West. I'll try again someday.

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  27. Michael, thank you SO MUCH for this Key West travelogue. I've always been fascinated by the idea of Key West, but am one of those who's never made it there. (Miami's the closest I ever got.) How beautiful, and such excellent advice of where to stay. That six-toed feline is wonderful, too.
    p.s. Congrats on winning for your caption on Sarah Fine's photo! It is excellent!!

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  28. You have no idea how much this post is making me beach-sick. I miss it. I have got to visit the Florida coast sometime before the bucket is kicked. :)

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  29. I love the Keys. While it has been a warm-ish winter and early spring here (in NJ), these picture make me long for palm trees and sand and 6-toed kitties. *dreamy sigh*
    Thanks for sharing your pictures. :)

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