Land's End in Florida

Trip Start Jan 22, 2013
Trip End Jan 29, 2013

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Where I stayed
Clinton Hotel

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another fairly early rise, with the goal to get to Key West by early afternoon.  We got packed up and checked out, got into our car and headed down US Highway1.  Several people had told us that we should use the Florida Turnpike.  We, being people who love local flavor, decided not to use the Turnpike, but rather to drive through town to catch the oversea highway.

Big mistake!  I think we must have stopped at 450 stoplights.  Traffic was abominable, and there was nothing to see except strip malls and big box stores.  Naturally, we will be taking the Turnpike when we head back to Miami.

The keys and the oversea highway are gorgeous.  We were looking forward to getting to Key Largo, and stopping for lunch.  Found a place calledl the Fish House and went in.  This was a great, funky place.  It was decorated with Florida themed mini lights, fishing nets, nautical memorabilia, etc.  I ordered conch chowed and a shrimp quesadilla and Dan had clam chowder and clam strips.  Really yummy food and extremely fresh fish.

We made one more stop on Islamorada Key, at the ruins of a resort and marina.  You could see where there had been two boat basins and the foundations of a building.  There was a boat ramp, a sea wall and a big bouy out along a concrete walkway into the water.  Hurricane Andrew did a lot of damage down here, and we were thinking maybe the damage was a result of that.  Really kind of chilling.

We got to Key West at about 3:30.  There is massive road work going on where US Highway 1 comes into Key West.  It took almost half an hour to go a few miles to the  spot where we had to turn off to get to our Motel.  We managed to make it to the El Patio with only one wrong turn.

This place is so cool!  It was built in either the 30s or 40s.  From the outside it looks like a box with windows every few feet.  But you walk into the main entrace and there is a beautiful courtyard.  The courtyard is planted with tropical plants of all colors and sizes.  At opposite corners of the courtyard, there are circular stairwells, leading to the second level.  We were "upgraded" and have a two bedroom "mini-suite."  It's really just two connected rooms with a queen size bed in each room.

The decor is very mix-and-match, but it's design is definity Art Deco-even to the lights and bathroom decor.  This is much better than the high end resort housing around us. 

Dan is disappointed that the Key West area has changed so much since he was here 50 years ago.  The Navy base that was his home for one year is gone, being replaced by hotels and resturants.  We had hoped to find the gate to the base and take his picture, but the best we could do was to find the streets where the gate was. 

Something that's very common around Key West is chickens.  Almost everywhere you got, there are free-range roosters and some hens as well.  The roosters crow all the time.  But all the chickens seem to be used to people and are not spooked if you get too close.

Our motel is a couple of blocks off of Duval Street, the main tourist drag through town.  It's an easy walk, and as soon as we got settled we headed over in that direction.  The marker for the Southernmost spot in the United States, is just a block off Duval, so we went down there to try to take pictures.  Unfortunately, everybody else has the same idea, so we haven't gotten a picture so far.  Will keep trying though...

Duval Street has all sorts of shopping.  It has everything from upscale stores (Coach) to tacky souvenir shops.  And, of course, tons of restaurants and bars.  We stopped for a while in a pub that had windows open to Duval and sat and watched the people go by.  A lot of people who visit Key West will rent scooters, bikes, or electric cars.  I imagine that there must be a high accident rate among tourists who rent transportation.  The people riding the scooters were especially shaky.  And they don't wear helmets.  The bicyclists aren't much better.

We stopped at a restaurant to have a light meal.  Dan ordered conch fritters and I ordered a crab salad.  Pretty good, but the restaurant was deserted.  Very odd.

Walked on down Duval and stopped at Walgreens to buy tatami beach mats.  They're only $1.99 each, so we don't feel bad leaving them in the car.  We started walking back toward our hotel. Stopped one more time at a front porch bar called the Speakeasy for an after dinner drink. Back to the hotel and off to bed.

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