Okay, before I get started with a look at Saturday, Feb 17th, I need to go back to yesterday.
3 Things…what do they have in common?
1 – Earl’s Dead
2 – Cadillac for Sale
3 – Tamiami Trail
Well, if you are a Parrot Head, you will know, but if not, click the link below to reveal the true meaning of yesterday’s blog title!
We now return to our regularly scheduled program….
As I said before, Key West.
We left the Hotel in Florida City after a brief breakfast of cold cereal and a banana, in what turned out to be a crazy breakfast area. No offense, but when did everybody become so self centered, expecting to be waited on, and totally non observant of what’s going on around them?? Holiday Weekend, remember? I don’t know who’s worse…the Americans who decide that one person on the phone can take up a table for six, or the foreigners who knock you over or just stand in the way of everyone? And please folks, when you’re done, put your dirty dishes and garbage in the area provided! Needless to say, we had a quick breakfast and were out of there!
After a couple of showers, we left, filled the Sonata up with gas, and proceeded south on US-1. As we were in Florida City, it didn’t take long for us to run out of civilization. We don’t know if it was because of it being the Saturday of Presidents’ Weekend, or a normal Saturday occurrence, but traffic was sporadically heavy. We’d go along at a nice clip for a number of miles, and then grind to a halt for a mile or two, then open up and move again. Hard to tell why, but as usual, there was no shortage of the jerks who have a need to get there a few minutes before you, and make everybody’s life miserable. Saw a couple of near accidents for that exact reason. Please, life’s too short!
So anyway, we were on the Overseas Highway, which is a 123 mile highway carrying US-1 through the Florida Keys. Much of it is built on the former right of way of the Overseas Railroad, the Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Another one of Henry Flagler’s Florida rail projects. The railroad was heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1935, and the roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the state of Florida. Over the years, improvements were made, and during the Second World War, the Navy wanted better access to the Keys, and further improvements were made to the route and roads and bridges. In the early 80s, more modern bridges were completed, and today there are only a few of the original structures remaining. Several have been turned into fishing piers, but others just sit next to the current roadway, as a reminder to the past. One such bridge, is the original Seven Mile Bridge, which you may remember being featured in the movie True Lies.
As you continue south of Key Largo, you come to Islamorada, Florida, which describes itself as a, “village of islands’. The village was not incorporated till 1997, and for us, this is when the road turns into what we really expected the Overseas Highway to look like. As it was about 12;30, both of us had our eyes out for the perfect kind of spot to have lunch. You know, a grass shack, kind of place, where we’d eat fresh fish, listen to the perfect kind of music, and look out on some of the best views Nature has to offer. Guess what? It exists, and we were lucky enough to spot it in a place that was easy to turn around and go back!
The Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant was the place. A fresh fish store, fronting US-1, and exactly the kind of place and the kind of food we wanted out back. The sky was blue, the water was green, the temperature was perfect with a nice breeze, the music was right, and the company was the best! Take a look at these pictures, and tell me you don’t agree with us!
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at this video, and then tell me what you think!
You probably remember that back on September 10th, Hurricane Irma ravaged the Keys, and for several days, the entire area was cut off from communication with the rest of Florida. The overseas Highway didn’t reopen till October 1st to regular traffic, and when we were planning this trip, we wondered if a visit to Key West was really going to be in the cards. We were lucky enough to have several Facebook friends who were either vacationing down here or reporting on the aftermath of Irma, and they all said that there was damage, but that the people of the Keys needed visitors. It is, after all, a $1.6 billion a year industry that employs about half the Key’s work force. So plans went ahead.
Did we see damage? Well, the good thing is that the Overseas Highway, and all it’s bridges are fine, but yes, we did see damage. We saw houses that were being rebuilt, destroyed house trailers sitting on the side of the road, buildings with no roofs or with half walls, lots filled with tangled plants and other debris, and sections of the highway that were surrounded by walls and fences that were lying on their side. So yes, there is damage, but as we commented, it’s almost like you have to look for it. To us, it looks like one of their biggest issues is getting rid of the remains of the damage. For the most part, we had great views and the usual Florida Keys Creatures.
We are staying in the Best Western Hibiscus on Simonston Street. We’re a block off Duval, and about 3 blocks from the Southern Most Point Marker. A little quieter area than down by Sloppy Joes Bar, but still with lots around. Old Key West, rather than one of the new chain hotels that look like you could be in Atlanta!
Realizing that tonight was going to be the Saturday of President’s weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to have a dinner reservation. Thanks to Open Table, finding a great restaurant in a strange town is an easy task. Tonight we dined at La Te Da Restaurant, which was just a few blocks away from our hotel. We ate outdoors (what three wonderful words to say in February) and had a great meal. We started with a nice bottle of Rose, then 2 delectable shrimp cocktails, then we split a burrata cheese caprese salad, and believe it or not, for our entrees we both had meat loaf! We figured that when a restaurant this elegant has meat loaf on the menu, you gotta try it! It was good…not as good as Susie’s meat loaf, but for restaurant meat loaf, pretty good. This from someone who never eats meat loaf out, because I know it wont compare with my wife’s! Here are some pictures. I didn’t include any food pics, because they love blue lights in this restaurant, and blue food doesn’t look too appetizing, but trust us….it was!
Then we decided to walk a bit down Duval, and see what we could find. There were a couple of bars we passed, but nothing caught our fancy till we came to Grand Vin Wine Bar. We sat basically on the street, and each had a couple of glasses of wine. Reminded us both of the Tini Martini Bar in St. Augustine, that we loved many moons ago. We watched people walking by, watched people in the place, and I even had a brief dance with the bar tender! A good time was had by all!
Then we walked the 5 blocks back to our hotel, changed clothes, poured a couple of vodkas, and here I am writing away to keep you up to date, while Susie texts with Krissi and Mike who are at a wedding on Long Island in the snow! I think we’ve got the better situation.
Tomorrow we plan some Key West exploration, some bar visits, and having fun in the warm weather! Tomorrow’s forecast…high of 79! Have a good night………