Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Key West - Fish is gone, gone

I may tire everybody else out with all these flower photos - but I love the colors

 The flowers of Key West are coming out in force. The colors are stunning and they are abundantly available along our afternoon walks. I take photos whenever I can. 

They come in yellow too!

Along the way, I passed the bathtub fish tank but for the last several days, I didn’t see any sign of the lone goldfish. They used to put a screen over the top of the tank to prevent “harvesting” by the local fauna. In this edition of the tank, there was no screen in place and we’re probably seeing the result of its lack, too bad. 

Oh no, the goldfish is missing in action!

Venus and Jupiter are as close as they’re going to get tonight so I documented the event with a photo by Schooner Wharf. It’s a warm night, again, and the crowds are out - very pleasant here. 

The two dots to the left are Venus and Jupiter

On Wednesday, we’re going to Firefly for dinner, a gift from our daughter, Carrie. The free Duval Loop bus goes right by the place so it’s easy to get to. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Key West - Beaches and Butterflies


The butterfly gardens with Flamingo petting at 4:30 pm

One of popular attractions nearby is the butterfly gardens in Key West near the Southernmost Hotel. In addition to hosting the butterflies, they also have a flamingo petting zoo at 4:30 every day but only by appointment. 

This beach is at the south end of Duval Street. Sandy but not much wave action.

Key West is surrounded by beaches but they are not ocean beaches with waves coming in. Most are behind shallow areas farther out so it is calm. The only exception is at the Ft Zachary Taylor beach which does get wave action. It’s also fun to explore the fort too and they often have Civil War reenactments during our stay. 

Getting around Key West using the free Duval Loop bus is getting harder. They have the buses but not the drivers. There used to be three buses operating at the same time, spaced out. Now, they’re lucky to have one bus. If they could get more drivers, there would be more buses. As you might expect, there’s not a business in town that doesn’t need more workers, signs are everywhere. Anyone need a little extra income?

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Key West - A stroll up Duval Street


A sleek looking schooner!

Sunday mornings has turned into a new tradition of having breakfast at Schooner Wharf with a table by the boardwalk. They have a great breakfast menu (available all day long) at a less price than anywhere around and the scenery can’t be beaten. I had the western omelette again with a never empty coffee order (refilled as needed, no additional cost). 

Interesting crossoing decoration

After breakfast, we stopped to talk to the crew at America 2.0. It’s built like a traditional schooner but with modern materials. The point of origin was Albany, New York. It looks like it has wooden masts but they are actually made of carbon fiber overlaid with a wood exterior. Sounds like an interesting boat for a trip. 

Now, for the totally unique Key West experience - stop by at night

Walkiong along on Duval Street going north, you will come across an intersection with multicolored strips, I wonder what that’s for… A little farther along, you pass La De Da, a unique bar in Key West with unique entertainment. 

Another interesting place

Even father along, you come to the VIP Gentlemen’s Club, more mystery… Oh well, after that I caught the Duval Loop bus back north. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Key West - Old Island Days Art Festival

Much artwork to admire

 Once a year at the end of February, Key West holds the Old Island Days Art Festival. Artists are invited to set up stalls to display and sell their wares. There are paintings on display as well as sculptures and glass objects. There must have been about 50 stalls and it was fun to just stroll by and see all that was on display. 

Every year, Ann buys jewelry from Paradise Pendants - great designs!

In the couse of passing by, Ann took advanteage of talking to the artists about their works - she never misses a chance to do that. The artists come from all over but mostly from Florida, it’s not just Key West. There was a lot of photos that were enlarged and printed on metal giving a very bright look to the print. 

The afternoon was spent in the cockpit of Fleetwing, watching the world go by - a pastime I highly recommend. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Key West - Pallet knife painting and Key West Pink Shrimp


Crashing waves - the original gives a great feeling for the wave action, the photo, not so much

After talking to Peter Vey, Ann was inspired to buy a set of palette knives to try her hand at using Peter’s technique. Her first painting is pictured. The palette technique uses more paint than a brush and allows the artist to add some 3D texture to the flow of paint. It actually has a third dimension that is not apparent in the flat photograph. The colors are much more muted in the photo. Ann will experiment more over the next few days.

Key West shrimp are natually pink before cooking

Key West has a variety of shrimp that is pink in color (before being cooked). We had shrimp tacos tonight and they were outstanding. It’s much more economical than at a restaurant - plus it tastes better too with Ann’s cooking. 

We buy local produce at Fausto’s Market, a few blocks from our dock. The prices are okay as long as you buy local produce. Once you shop for something requiring a truck to bring to the store, it’s much more costly, like $10.50 for a jar of Hellman’s WiracleWhip mayo, ouch. However, a dozen jumbo eggs are only $3.79.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Key West - Schooner Wharf for dinner


Myles, the musician from Arlington, never showed up. This guy was not nearly as good.
Note the very large tip bucket. I think he was expecting lots of tips?

We’ve become even more of a fan of Schooner Wharf. It is not air conditioned and it has no roof. The sides are open to the sights and sounds of Key West but the real attraction is the reasonably priced food. Some places only serve sandwiches during lunch hours. I guess at $20/sandwich, they can’t make enough money but Schooner Wharf doesn’t see it that way. They serve sandwiches all day long - breakfast all day long too! You can get a good meal anytime without breaking the bank. Of course, the food has to be good or all’s for nought - and it is very good. 

The Boat House Restaurant to the left and Breezin’ to the right

At various times during the day, you may see a chicken or two wondering through too. It is also dog friendly with a gravel floor. It’s the quintessential Key West restaurant. We will continue our Sunday morning breakfast tradition there that we started last week.  

In the night scene, you can see Dennis’ Breezin’ sailboat where he takes people out for day sails. He’s been there ever since we started coming to Key West. To the left in the photo is what used to be Turtle Kraals but was replaced with the Boat House Restaurant. 

Things keep changing but at least Schooner Wharf is still there (as is BO’s Seafood and the Cuban Coffee Queen)!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Key West - Sunrise and the Bloody Pirate


The march of clouds over the Gulf Stream in the early morning hours

We got up early to be the first ones at Advance Medical Care so I didn’t have two wait in line for service. I had the stitches removed form my chin and I continue on the mend. Once again we used Uber and I have nothing but good vibes for their service. The wait was less than 5 minutes and you don’t handle a credit card or cash, it’s all part of the Uber app you use to call the car. I can see why it’s so popular. 

The Bloody Pirate out for an adventure from Key Largo with a cargo of 20 kids
Such an adventure. 

On the way to the Uber car, we had a great view of clouds marching along over the Gulf Stream highlighted by the rising run. I really like this type of dull weather - every day the high is 80 and the low is 70, what’s not to like?

The moon has move up right next to Jupiter - a stunning sight in Key West. Venus is the lower planet

Later that afternoon we had the schooner “Bloody Pirate” dock right behind us. They had a crew of 20 kids on board out for an adventure in sailing from Key Largo. They will spend a couple of days in Key West before heading back home.It must be quite the adventure for teenagers. 

Meanwhile, the southern sky continues to be spectacular with a close conjunction between Jupiter and the Moon with Venus right beneath. Astronomy was my hobby in my early years so I’m always fascinated with the sky. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Key West - What does an artist do in Key West?


Caught in a moment of explanation

Ann paints everyday in the cockpit in the afternoons. With temperatures in the high 70s and with gentle breezes, good scenery - it’s like heaven on Earth. We have a calendar where we list all the days that the cruise ships are not in town. Those at the days to explore the downtown area by the wharf.

An intermission, looking at seashells

There are a number of shops in the area that interest Ann, namely the shops with local paintings which are often manned by the artist. We visited three such galleries this afternoon and I looked around while Ann “talked shop” with the proprietor. Without the cruise ship crowds, it was fun and I even had time to buy her a new tee-shirt.

Back to talking shop with another artist

We are getting much more exercise than we ever would at home in New York during the winter. I’ve dropped 5 lbs and Ann’s going in the same direction.  Even so, we’re eating out more too. Our favorite so far was the Sunday breakfast at Schooner Wharf while watching the crowds go by. I’m sure it will be some a regular event. 

Wednesday is the day I get my stitches removed from my chin. We’ll get there first thing when they open so there’s little waiting. Uber is great in Key West, never a wait of more than 5 minutes for a pickup and for us, it’s a $13 ride to the Advance Urgent Care center. One more step in recovery.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Key West - The Cruise Ships are in town


The cruise ships are just ridiculously large - much too crowded for my tastes

Every morning we go out for our exercise: Ann for walking and I for a 30 minute run. Well I found out that I’m not quite ready for that yet. The ribs are not yet fully recovered - but walking was okay. 

In the afternoon, I took Hoolie down to Mallory Square where all the cruise ships dock and the crowd gathers there for the famous Mallory Square sunset festivities. We were there at 3:00 pm so there was none of that but two huge cruise ships were present and had disgorged their passengers to the street of Key West. 

That’s America 2.0 coming back to harbor

We’ve used the cruise ship schedule to plan ahead for shopping near Mallory Square, going in that area only when there are no cruise ships scheduled to dock. Tuesday is such a day. Ann wanted to visit the shell shops there and an art shop that we like in the area. If we feel in the mood, we’ll even stop by Sloppy Joe’s for lunch - something you never want to do when there’s a cruise ship in town. 

All the charter boats here usually go out three or four times a day, two hours at a time.The last trip is always the sunset cruise and you can see in the last photo, one of the larger ships returning in the darkness. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Key West - What were the odds of meeting someone from the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club?


One wonders how would you compute the probability of such an encounter?

Instead of donuts this morning from the Old Town Bakery, we thought of having breakfast at Schooner Wharf. We wouldn’t go anywhere else for breakfast. The prices are the best around and you have a view of the harbor.

I have the three eggs western omelet with bacon and Ann had the same but in a wrap. It was great. We had a table right by the harborwalk and she wondered what were the chances of somebody walking by that we knew? I thought that was pretty slim but who knows. 

Venus near the horizon and Jupiter higher up

About halfway through our meal, Mike and Jackie Capra walked by - we recognized each other right away. He will be the next Commodore of the club and they were down for a week or so. They just happened to walk by our table on a Sunday morning, strange coincidence. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but in the night sky just after sunset, there are two bright stars visible. They are planets, not stars and the lower one is Venus with the higher one being Jupiter. It’s a beautiful sight that will last for several months.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Key West - Ann meets Peter Vey


I have no idea what it is but it’s stunning

On our usual afternoon walk, I took photos of newly opened Key West flowers. I don’t know their names but they look pretty. 

Peter Vey in his gallery - talking shop with Ann

At 5:00 pm, we took a short walk to the Gallery one Greene Street where Peter Vey was hosting a showing of his paintings. As I’ve said in the past, he does not use a paint brush but rather a pallet knife. It gives his paintings a 3D texture effect that is very stunning. The technique also does not allow for mistakes. Once the paint is applied, it’s there. 

One of Peter Vey’s recent painting - the colors are vibrant in person

Ann found him coming from the back of the room and they recognized each other. Ann has been coming to his gallery since the early 2000s. The two of them started talking painting stuff, so I wondered off to look at the rest of the paintings. I think they went at it for almost 1/2 hour - “talking shop”.

This is another example where the photos of the paintings bear no resemblance to the real thing. In the photos, the colors are muted and there’s no 3D effect from the heavy layers of oils applied by a pallet knife. It’s a unique medium he’s chosen. 

In honor of the style, Ann just received her order of a set of pallet knives, she’s going to experiment over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, her test paintings will not be in oils so there won’t be a 3D effect but we’ll see how it turns out. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

Key West - Ann’s passion


Ann’s inspired by all the local flowers

I like to write and Ann loves to paint. She started out in watercolors but then moved to pastels. She had a painting setup on Fleetwing in the cockpit and spends many afternoons here in Key West painting.

Typical Key West cottage

The photos of her works do not do justice to the pastels. There is such a difference in seeing original art (not a reproduction) in person as opposed to seeing it over the internet or a print. She enjoys the act of painting for the sheer joy of doing it with little thought of selling her work.  

Ann liked the butterfly perched in the flowers

Ann has a traveling kit and the cockpit is hers in the afternoon while I’m down below writing, which is what I like to do. It’s get fun for the both of us and the back of a boat in Key West is hard to beat when you’re still in the thick of things - boats going by, dinghies coming in from the anchorage, and people occasionally stopping by to chat. 

The ocean is nearby

On Saturday, we’ll attend Peter Vey’s reception at the Gallery on Greene Street. He’s our favorite artist in Key West. His painting are so full of life. He doesn’t even use a brush but rather a pallet knife. Ann just bought a set to experiment. 

There are many local ponds to explore

I’m still in recovery mode and I’m finding the longest part is letting my jaw heal. It’s hard to eat with tender jaw muscles, very tender. However, there’s nothing to do other than let nature take its course and heal. 

And brilliant sunsets

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Key West - Cuban Chugs


Note floatation tubes on each side - to prevent tipping too far. 

Key West is only 90 miles from Havana and is the destination of many in boats seking refuge. There used to be a “dry foot, wet foot” rule where if you landed and touched dry land, you could claim asylum. I believe Obama ended that rule. They crossed over in what are called “chugs” which were made-up boats out of odds and ends. The Key West Botanical gardens has the biggest collection of such vessels in the US and they are on display to remind us of how desperate people were to escape Cuba 

They were not much better when new

We walked through the collection when in the garden and it’s amazing what people would risk in order to come to America. The chugs are hardly seaworthy and many died making the trip. On many you can see a floatation tube along each side to prevent the boat from tipping over because if it did, there were plenty of sharks in waiting. 

My adventure continued this morning with three stitches to close the cut on my chin from the concrete I talked about yesterday. It reinforces you to open your eyes and pay attention to everything around you. Mostly, you feel really dumb when something like this happens, it would have been so easily avoided. However, now is the time for recovery and Key West is not a bad place for that. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Key West - We explore the Key West Botanical Gardens


The day started out nicely with a surprise for Ann!

The first step was to pick up a rental car from Enterprise. They run some specials in February that they do not offer in March. I had reserved the cheapest one available but when I got there, they said I could upgrade to  a Mustang convertible for an extra $14.00. I quickly said okay to that offer and I drove off with a 2023 red Mustang convertible with less than 400 miles on it. 

Great gardens! The pond was full of turtles - dozens and dozens 

I parked it and went for Ann. I led her to another car off to one side, an ordinary looking car, the usual rental type and acted confused when the key fob didn’t work. Then she saw the rear lights blinking on the Mustang parked across the way. She gave me one look and ha! She was surprised to say the least. 

Hogfish Bar and Grill - typical Key West eatery. Ann’s over by the first door

We headed first to Winn Dixie for $450 of groceries (we hadn’t shopped for a while) and after off loading that bounty - we headed east to Stock Island. The first stop was the Key West Botanical Gardens which have lovely walking paths, we enjoyed it.

The famous Hogfish sandwich - delicious 

The next stops was at Hogfish Bar and Grill, a must stop if you’re anywhere near Stock Island sometime for lunch or dinner. Their sandwiches are huge and good with plenty of fish - generous portions, highly recommended. 

Unfortunately, in my visit to Perry Hotel, I came afoul of a curb that ran across a walking path. The physics of what happened is clear, no forward support (stopped by the curb) resulted in me continuing forward minus my feet. The result, I think, you can picture yourself. I was a mess (minus part of one tooth, strained chest muscles trying to cushion my fall, scraped knees, etc.). The urgent care centers were full this afternoon but I’ll be first in line Thursday morning (tetanus shot anyone? Oh joy.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Key West - Dull things


A profusion of color

Many consider us on “vacation” but we still have to do the routine tasks of living on a boat. In addition to regular pump outs, refueling, taking on water - one also has to do laundry. It’s like having a house except that you have to do all the tasks that at home, you might have someone else do. Well, it’s possible to have someone else do this stuff but at $100/hour, it adds up in a hurry!

Do not ask me what it is but it grows on trees here

So today it was laundry once again but to make it more of a challenge, four of the five dryers didn’t work - but you didn’t know which ones were impostors unless you knew from previous experience. They all use a common manifold for exhaust which has to be periodically emptied - but, oh well - that’s such a chore for local maintenance so it seldom gets done unless you complain - such is life on a boat. 

A close up view

The great accomplishment on the boat today was finding and stopping the nagging aft leak which wound up in the bilge. The swim locker empties into the ocean but in order for that to happen, the water has to transverse the gap from the swim locker to the ocean, a gap of a couple of inches - bridged by a long through hull. It could be leaking at the ocean to through hull point or at the attachment to the bottom of the swim locker. Out of desperation, I put a cork in the port emptying the locker and that fixed the leak! Evidently, the leak was between the seal to the swim locker and the through hull and not at the through hull to boat’s hull point. When I haul Fleetwing in May, I’ll look into getting a more permanent fix. 

Well, now you have more insight in, “What do they do all day on a boat?” It’s not all a vacation, it’s a floating house with a motor and sails that requires a lot of attention - and some skills to be learned (to avoid that $100/hour going rate on help). 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Key West - A working harbor


Got to get the foresail tied down

There are many day trip boats that go our of Key West and they need maintenance. The winds are stiff this time of the year and things wear out. The repairs are not without risk. One year, a two person team, a boy and his girlfriend were working together to fix something on the top of the mast. The boy, at the top, yelled something and the girl thought it was to release the line around the wrench. Unfortunately, that’s not what he meant and he fell to his death with his girlfriend watching helplessly as the line slipped through her fingers. It was a terrible thing. 

One of the many tour boats that go out for a sail - for a price, America 2.0 in this case

Today, they were working on a much safer part of the vessel, the fore part of the boat. I think they must have been there over an hour trying to the tie it down right. I walked into town again but it was hopeless since two cruise ships were docked. I can’t think that Key West is much of an attraction to cruise ships. They don’t get to see anything of what makes Key West special. All their meals are on board and they leave before 5:00 so they can’t see any of the night life or music. All they see are the $5 tee shirt shops and souvenirs for sale - and lots of crowds! We time our outings when the cruise ships are not in - Thursday is such a day. 

Somewhat of a sunset

The winds are starting to back off now and we’re back to normal on winds and temperatures. Tuesday has turned into laundry day but Wednesday we’ll party with our rented car and freedom to roam!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Key West - Old Town Bakery


Customers lined up outside of Old Town Bakery

It was a Sunday morning and our tradition of donuts in the morning beckoned. There is a famous bakery nearby, the Old Town Bakery, that offers on-site pastries they bake in their own ovens. Everything is fresh as can be and people line up outside for the opportunity to enjoy fresh pastries on a Sunday morning. 

They also provide coffee and a short order breakfast - but the pastries are the attraction

Took took Hoolie out for his walk while getting our Sunday morning breakfast and found the line. Hoolie made friends but when he found out they had no food to offer, he lost interest. Eventually, we made it into the store and got our fix for the day. We’ve been going to that store for the last 13 years, they know how to keep fresh pastries stocked. Even with the crowds, they had plenty to sell. 

Our cold weather and high winds have arrived. The high Monday is only 70 but then the warming trends starts anew. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Key West - Myles Mancuso Band at Schooner Wharf


Myles Mancuso from Arlington High School in New York - close to our home town

We went to Schooner Wharf tonight to hear a graduate of Arlington high school play the evening set. Like  everyone in Key West except ancients like Barry Cuda he played songs we didn’t recognize. He played well, just music we were familiar with. Ann and I tried out another slice of Key Lime Pie, a speciality of the area- very good as usual.

Calm night, with planets visible on the horizon

On the way way, we saw planets lined up about the setting sun, a pretty sight. Lots of people out tonight but it’s quiet on Fleetwing. We’ll have donuts on Sunday and not do too much before continuing our exercise regime on Monday. The high for the first day of the week only 69! That will bring out the sweaters and hooded sweatshirts for sure on the local residents!