Florida Keys to Key West

Trip Start Jan 08, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Got an early start for drive down to Key West...left the house behind and took the car on a nice, long, top-down drive. Neither of us had ever been anywhere near the Keys, and we were really looking forward to exploring this ultimate series of beach communities, strung like pearls south and west of the mainland. And...because inquiring minds might want to know (and we questioned how/why they were called the "Keys") - here's the scoop: "keys, cays 1. A small low island or reef formed of sand, coral, rock or mud, especially one off the coast of Florida. Etymology: 17c: from Spanish cayo.")
When we say a nice, long drive, we aren't kidding! It turned out to be almost three hours down to Key West, driving across numerous little isles and pieces of land surrounded by Everglades, with a few actual views of open water, (See Picture #1, and got the the following link to read about the Overseas Railroad that once linked the mainland to Key West: http://overseasrailroad.railfan.net/about.htm)but it was a wonderfully warm, sunny drive - a great opportunity to work on our tans and to appreciate that it's still winter in many parts of the country.
When we got down to Key West, (Picture #2)we headed right for the middle of "Old Key West", where we had another old friend to look up. Sam is the uncle of our friend Patricia (whose beach patio at Playa del Rey we were married on). Patricia and her Mom lived with Sam, across the street from Rose as she grew up in Detroit, so he was more than just a passing acquaintance or visiting relative. Sam has lived in Key West for many years, and it had been almost 40 years since Rose had seen him. He owns "Sam's Treasure Chest" (Picture #3)in downtown Old Key West, an antique and collectibles shop that is chock full of all kinds of things. The sign out front (I should have taken a picture) declares what many people feel about antiques and such: "WE BUY JUNK - WE SELL ANTIQUES" We hung out for a while, having lunch at a trendy outdoor cafe and visiting with Sam, (Picture #4) who sent us home with a darling giraffe pin for Rose's Mom (who collects giraffe "stuff").
We started back up through the Keys with the intention of eating at one of the restaurants boasting a beautiful sunset, complete with sunset celebration (something they do at many of the restaurants around there). We ended up having a wonderful dinner, but much like the day almost five years ago when we got married on the beach at sunset, the colorful sunset eluded us - instead there were clouds and marine layer. (Picture #5)Turns out the clouds were just a tiny warning of what was to come right near the end of our drive back to Homestead. We saw quite a bit of heat/sheet lightning in the sky, but didn't want to put the top up until I suddenly could smell the rain, before even feeling it! We got the top up just in time, as a huge storm blew in with torrential rain and hail. It lasted all of 10 or 15 minutes, but certainly was impressive, for the first rain we'd seen since sometime last year in California!
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