Saturday, March 25, 2023

Key West - Are there panhandlers in Key West?


Our lone oldster - he’ll accept money but never ask for it

In the two months I’ve been in Key West, I’ve never seen anyone asking for a handout. There are no cardboard signs that I’ve seen being held at intersections with a plea for money. The area by Key West Bight is especially looked after.

One more time - a visit to Schooner Wharf in the afternoon

That’s not to say you can’t contribute if you want. In the area around our boat, there are two oldsters that will sit or stand near the area but not occupy a bench (they are for tourists!) They’ve been there ever since we’ve been coming to Key West over 13 years ago. In my experience, they never ask for money, they are just present. The locals support them with small donations. In the first few years we came, there were more - again, never asking for money (discouraged by the police?) but present if you wanted to donate.

No clouds but good color in the sky

Key West likes to make their town a welcoming experience to tourists. It’s one of the few places we can sit out at night and never see an insect. They have excellent mosquito control. I know the local officials can enter any yard at will and inspect for standing water which are breeding grounds for insects. For example, I’ve never seen a bird bath in Key West. Of course, it helps that we usually come during the dry season but nevertheless, yards are actively monitored. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Key West - End of the dry season?


Storm clouds! That’s Dennis’ boat on which he take riders out for a sail

We’ve had two month of almost no rain, not even enough to wet the streets. It’s also been much warmer than we remember from past years. So this morning, we were surprised to get soaked during our morning walk. It wasn’t just a shower but rather a downpour. 

I haven’t seen a wet street scene for the last two months - no wonder there are no bugs in Key West

We took shelter along with two others under a palm tree, which we found out, directs water away from the central trunk given the way the fronds hang (who says you don’t learn something reading these blogs!) You never realize the amount of trivia you accumulate over the years until you do a New York Times crossword puzzle. Ann and I finish one each day. 

The rest of the day was dry as usual and it warmed again into the high 70s. We are looking for a Tuesday departure date given the changing weather outlook. So far, they all agree that Tuesday is a good day with winds of 10 kts or less but then when has a weather forecast ever changed?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Key West - The electric revolution has reached Key West


A typical electric bike - they are not cheap! (But the fuel is)

The biggest change I saw this year in Key West was the ubiquity of electric driven bikes and scooters. There were always electric golf carts for rent for tourists but the transportation used by the workers has always been bikes or manual scooters. That has changed. 

There are levels of sophistication - this one is upscale

When I’m out running in the morning, there’s a steady stream of people whizzing by on electric bikes, often going as fast as the local traffic. Mixed in with the bike traffic are the scooters, also electric. Both can go at least 30 mph. Nobody wears any protective gear when using the electric driven vehicles. Strangely enough, there are the traditional bike riders too and they are all decked out with helmets and pads - but not the newly minted electric riders. I hate to think what would happen to a person on an electric scooter going 30 mph if they hit a bump and fell off. Disaster!

In the other hand, you can get a scooter and whiz along

For a minimalist approach, there are those that electric skateboards - going just as fast and sometimes on the sidewalks instead of the street (look out, coming though - at 20 mph!). As they say, experience is the only teacher, provided they live through the experience. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Key West - Flowers out in force with spring weather


I love these flowers - they are all over

The cool weather followed by a renewed period of warm weather seems to have invigorated blooming flowers of Key West. On our afternoon walks, we are seeing more and more flowers come out. 

These flower sprout on bare trees, lovely

Particularly pretty one are on what appears to be trees. The plants have no leaves, only the yellow flowers. I’m sure someone can comment on what they are but I just like the beauty. 

I have no idea what these are - but such a red color!

Ann and I had a night out at the Waterfront Brewery. They have reasonable prices compared to the rest of Key West and the food is good. We got a walkway window and watched the crowds go by. The appetizers of buffalo wings was especially good.

It’s that time of the season when we’re starting to look for a weather window. We thought that Saturday would be a good days to head east but the weather changed and now it’s not so good. We’re looking for a calm ride to Marathon so we will just wait until the weather suits us - maybe Tuesday as it looks now. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Key West - Feeding Time


Pelican feeding time

Everyday around 4:00 is feeding time for pelicans. The fishing boats return from their daily runs and clean the fish they caught. Any scraps are pitched to the eagerly waiting pelicans - and the occasional tarpon lurking under water. Usually a crowd gathers to watch the thrashing for scraps. The pelicans get plenty to eat.

You can see the top of the cruise ship peeking over the far building. It’s big, Key West is small.

On the way downtown, you look over the tops of the buildings to see if a cruise ship is in town. They are so tall that they dwarf any building in Key West. Unfortunately, today was one of those days. I had wanted to get a $5 sweatshirt without a crowd milling around but it was not to be. I did get my sweatshirt (in preparation for cooler weather on the way home) but not without a wait. 

Smallest Bar in Key West

There are many iconic shops in Key West and one is advertised as the Smallest Bar in Key West, it’s locally famous. Likewise for many other places to imbibe, plenty of those around. We prefer our wine in the cockpit of Fleetwing, better view and much less expensive. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Key West - Roosters


Everybody likes to feed the chickens - and the chickens know it!

As you may already know, chickens run loose in Key West. They command the traffic - which stops when they want to cross the road. They seem to thrive here. They don’t lack for food. The tourists feed them as well as the local folks.

The colors really pop out when the rosters are in the sun

The roosters are spectacular when shown in full sun. Their feathers have a shine to them. The hens are much more subdued but don’t threaten their chicks! Ann was taking Hoolie for a walk one morning when he was confronted with a lone chick on the sidewalk. Out rushed the mother hen and put herself between Hoolie and her baby. He didn’t know what to do with himself, he only wanted to play but he was not going to mess with the mother hen who fluffed her feathers out and made herself large and aggressive. 

We are into our last week in Key West. One more night out for dinner and on the final day, breakfast at Schooner Wharf. Hopefully, the weather is good for a trip east along the Keys. It’s not the usual direction for winds but we’re hoping for a window. It will still take us about two months to reach Deltaville, Virginia - our destination for Fleetwing for the summer. Then we hope to do everything over again in the fall. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Key West - Jazz at the Green Parrot and an Irish dinner


Once again the Cantina Band was playing - great musicians

Our favorite jazz band was at the Green Parrot Sunday afternoon so we took advantage of that for an afternoon listening to their music. There is no cover charge but everyone buys drinks, we had a beer. 

It seems that there’s a group of fans that return every Sunday to listen to the band so we met them again today. It turns out they are from Bar Harbor, Maine so Ann had a lot in common to talk about since she attended the University of Maine for four years. 

A great once a year Irish dinner

It was time to cook our traditional Irish meal, our once a year venture into Irish culinary country. Naturally, it was corned beef with potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. This year, Ann used the Instant Pot and it only took 85 minutes for a tender meal. I think we’ll have enough leftovers for the next few days, it was a large cut of corned beeF. 

Our crew made it back to Connecticut in the early morning hours (3 am!) after numerous delays along the way. With that , all is well up north. Everyone had a wonderful time - great to get together with family when you can, especially in warm weather like Key West!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Key West - The Go Fast boats arrive


Never enough horsepower!

Every year about this time, the Go Fast boats arrive at Key West. They typically have anywhere from three to five huge outboard motors in the 450 range. They are painted bright colors and they have races during the week. 

Interesting that most have twin hulls

Most of the ones here have outboards but there are a few with all inboard engines. They look even more streamlined but perhaps it’s a difference class of racer. They all look like they are speeding even when docked. Like Harley motorcycles, they have a deep base type of motor noise. I’m sure they could put an adequate muffler on the output but the deep throated noise is part of the scene, I guess. 

A side view, lots of power!

All our crew left today so we are alone once again on Fleetwing. They are catching  a flight Saturday night at Ft Lauderdale. We have another week in Key West before leaving for points north on a slow return to Deltaville where we’ll store Fleetwing for the summer. 

I’m sure the cockpit has all the bells and whistles

Friday, March 17, 2023

Key West - Cuban Restaurant and a sunset at Mallory Square


Irish singers are in short supply in Key West on St Patrick’s Day.
This guy dressed the part but didn’t play (or know) any Irish songs

The Waterfront Brewery always hosts a party atop their roof deck on St Patrick’s Day with beer, entertainment, and free tee-shirts. Naturally, we had to stop by. I don’t know why they don’t use it more often, it’s a great venue with a view of the harbor. We had a beer to celebrate and returned to Fleetwing. 

Chickens roamed above at the restaurant, hence the covers above 

The kids spent the day at Ft Zachary Taylor at the beach there since it was sunny all day and warm. I think it’s the best beach in Key West. Some of the others are protected more by reefs which is fine but there’s no surf. The fort is always fun to explore too and in some years they have Revolutionary war re-enactments. 

Not many clouds but a good view of the sun

Next on our busy agenda was dinner at El Meson De Pepe’s Restaurant. I would also highly recommend a night out there too. One thing you never have to worry about are crowds from cruise ships that may dock at Key West. The passengers are all on a meal plan and seldom eat out. Besides, most of the ships leave around 5:30 or so anyway. The restaurant is located in Mallory Square so it’s a one minute walk to see the sunset. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Key West - We sail on the America 2.0


Sarah spent time at the wheel, quite the experience

America 2.0 is a replica of the boat that won the first America’s Cut, a schooner. She’s a beautiful boat and fast! It was built up the Hudson River and she spends the winters in Key West and the summers in New York City. She sails at 1:00 and again at sunset. 

All hoisting of the sails was handled by two girls

The crew is composed of three girls: the captain (with a 100 ton Captain’s license) and two girl deckhands. They handle the raising and lowering of the sails manually. There are four sails to put up and they don’t go up easily. They swing on the lines, using their weight to pull the sails up. They have more energy than I do!

Of course, Ann and I both took our turns at the wheel

The winds piped up to above 20 kts and we hit over 11 kts at full speed. We didn’t quite put the rail in the  water but it was close! We were cutting through the 3 to 4 ft waves, spraying some on deck - it was quite a ride, highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Key West - Butterfly Day

Very colorful

 Key West has a butterfly conservatory so the event of the day was to visit the colorful area. It’s in a building right at the southern end of Duval Street and it’s convenient to the free Duval Loop bus stop. Today was rather cool (mid 70s) so there weren’t a lot of people going out on boats - the conservatory was crowded and with a line to get in.


One additional attraction are the two flamingos in resident. They have a special session at 4:30 where you can mingle with the birds. We just studied them from a far.

With the temps in the low 70s and a 15 kt wind, the hooded sweatshirts were out in abundance. Once you’re used to 80 degree weather in full sun, anything less feels cool  unless you just flew in from New York but then you’re a tourist.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Key West - Fresh produce in Key West?


The place to go in town

There’s only a few paces that sell fresh produce in town. There’s the two major chains: Publix and Winn Dixie but they require a bus ride or Uber. The only one in easy walking distance from Key West Bight is Fausto’s Food Palace. Their prices are sky high for meats but their prices on produce and other goods are reasonable.

A nice selection

We shop once every couple of weeks from Winn Dixie but once every few days at Fausto’s. The selection is pretty good

If you want a lunch snack, stop by Kolache Kitchen for a taco and enjoy the meal over at Mallory Park, two blocks away. The price can’t be beat at $5 to $6 for lunch and each taco is prepared fresh with a short wait. It’s on Duval Street in the same block as Sloppy Joes but on the other side of the street.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Key West - the kids explore

View from the top of the Shipwreck Tower.

 For their first full day our, the kids explored along Duval Street. They toured the Aquarium which is much better than you might expect. It doesn’t look so hot from the outside but it impresses once inside,

Same tower but in the opposite direction

From there it was to the 65 foot Shipwreck tower. It’s a hike to the top but it offer a 360 degree view of Key West where with some interesting history along the way.

Manatees in love?

We also had a visit from the local manatees in the harbor. They are not beautiful creatures, they have a face only a mother could love.

The rest of the week us up in the air. They won’t seem to be ones that plan ahead, take it as it comes, I guess.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Key West - Our Spring Break Crew Arrives!


At the Waterside Brewery, quite good. 

Of course their flight was delayed, initially three hours but then it turned out to be “only” an hour. They had a hard time finding a slot for arrival into Ft Lauderdale - it was very busy. And, the car they reserved was not there, another delay - but eventually they got on their way but it was too late to make it all the way to Key West so they stopped for the night at Homestead. 

We had our customary Sunday morning breakfast at Schooner Wharf and retired to Fleetwing to await arrival of our crew for the rest of the week. Finally, they made it around 1:00 or so and I think the boat sunk another few inches with the load that came aboard. Where do you put nine people on a 42 foot boat? 

Sarah wanted to sleep in the dinghy - but no… 

We have our forward cabin, Philip and Monique in the aft cabin, Matthew and Rachel have the main cabin, and that leaves Sarah and Natalie in the cockpit. I think Sarah wanted to sleep in the dinghy but we thought that was not a good idea. 

The crew has all sorts of plans tomorrow, we’re spectators for the show, we’ll see. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Key West - The kids are delayed


The Wyland mural is doing just fine. He renewed it last year to keep the colors from fading

You can never count on planes being on time, especially during spring break week. The kids left Hartford on time but Ft Lauderdale was jammed and they arrived an hour late. The drive there to Key West was too far to attempt with a 4 year old in tow so they decided to get a motel at Homestead. 

Ann is welcoming all that come, Fleetwing is ready (where did all the stuff in the aft cabin go??)

I guess we’ll see them sometime Sunday but in the meantime, we’ll do our usual Sunday morning breakfast at Schooner Wharf, the best deal in town. Our Fleetwing will be a populous host with at total of 9 people on board and only two cabins. I think the main cabin and the cockpit will see full use. Nevertheless, it’s always good to get everyone together.

It will be interesting to see all the activities they have planned. How do you crowd a year of expectation into one week? I also noticed a definite increase in the crowd level today from all the additional spring breakers - so it will be interesting to see what happens. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Key West - The signs of Key West

How far away?

Every area has its own type of signs. One of the most common one is a sign post with directional arrows pointing in various directions giving distances to remote places. Key West has that sign, of course. It’s been added to over the years, mostly at random. There’s no control I know of that limits what’s posted.

You see this a lot in Key West

But there are other signs, some of which are unique to Key West. One of the more common ones is No shoes, no shirt, no problem!” Or another one “No shoes, no shirts, no service - unless you’re a female in which case you get free beer”. 

The top floor of the Bull Bar

Down Duval Street, there’s  The Bull bar. It’s three stories tall and on the top floor you have this sign. We’ve never been there but you’re free to try it out. 

BO’s Fishwagon welcomes hippies but they have to use the backdoor.

The Green Parrot

Some apologize for being open, like The Green Parrot. 

My favorite Key West sign. I haven’t seen it anywhere else!

However, my all time favorite sign which I’ve only found in Key West! 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Key West - Art Gallery and helpful people


What do artists talk about?

The day was to be cloudy most of the time so it was a good day to go exploring - without the sun beating down. We hopped aboard the Duval Loop bus and headed to the south end of Duval Street. Ann wanted to see the Alan Maltz gallery. He works with photos mounted on metal that gives them a vivid look. 

As in all art galleries, Ann had to spend time with the curator comparing notes. Ann thought the photos were of high quality but the composition could be improved. The artist tended to have his photo centered on the main subject which Ann found distracting, especially when the horizon in the photo splits it exactly in half. Oh well, it’s what concerns artists.

There’s a brick step right by her left leg. It caught her leg as she turned to her left. 

On the way out, Ann posed in front of the gallery, and just after I snapped the photo, she turned to her left and the top of the step caught her leg and cut open her newly healed injury of last month. It bled a lot and many people nearby came to the rescue. It was heartwarming to see all the help offered, complete with bandages and advice from a nurse there. Ann stopped the bleeding and we were going to walk to the nearest bus stop but a good samaritan offered to give us a ride back to Fleetwing. We were grateful for the offer and we accepted. Back on Fleetwing, Ann dressed the wound and all is calm now. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Key West - Green Heron and $5 tee-shirts


A Green Heron

Normally we see the Great Blue Heron in Florida, especially in Titusville. However, today we saw the Green Heron for the first time, at least for us. He’s just a little fellow but he posed for his photograph like a pro. I was waiting for him to dive for a fish but he just sat there, probably waiting for us to leave so he could fish for his dinner.

Why pay more?

This was a rare day when there were no cruise ships in town so I walked into town for tee-shirts. The first place I always look is the store that has everything for $5. That makes shopping easy, everything is the same price, including the sweatshirts. I needed one for the trip north in case it cooled off headed that way. After all, why pay more for a tee-shirt if a $5 one will do as well? They are certainly durable enough since the ones I have from three years ago have worn just fine. 

Without a cruise ship in town, it’s not crowded at all in the stores.