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Day 9 - Key West, FL

Where & When

sunny 80 °F

Back to Key West we go. Instead of docking up to the Naval pier, we're actually at the regular pier. It's another beautiful day of , with partly cloudy skies.

The U.S. government acquired Key West from Spain int he early 1800s. During those days, because the island was only accessible by boat, most of the islanders made their living as wreckers and pirates. By mid-century, the economy turned to shrimping, fishing, sponging and cigar-making. However by the early 1930s the majority of businesses had moved north and Key West became recognized as a resort town.

Today, the number one business is tourism and visitors of all ages enjoy a laid back party atmosphere. With its balmy weather and crystal blue skies, the island is famous for its diving, fishing, watersports and shopping. Points of interests include the Southernmost Point, the Truman Annex, the Hemingway House and of course the heartbeat of it all, Duval Street, full of bars, restaurants, museums, and unique shopping experience. Only in Key West does the sun shine the brightest when it sets. The cruise ships set sail so visitors can celebrate the sinking sun at the colorful daily Sunset celebration on the Mallory Dock. Visitors discover that modern Key West is a warmhearted place where all are welcome.

Since I didn't get off on the last Key West stop, I decided to venture out and see what this quaint little town has to offer. As soon as you get past the shops, there is the Key West Museum of Art & History at the Custom House, which is next door to the U.S. Coast Guard building. As I was walking, I past the Audubon House.

Captain John H. Geiger, skilled pilot and mast wrecker, built this house in 1830. It is typical of the era when, in 1832, the famed naturalist John James Audubon, visited Key West to study and sketch the birds of the Florida Keys. On March 18, 1960, Mitchell Wolfson, native son of Key West, and Mrs. Wolfson, also a native Floridian, dedicated the house as a public museum to be named 'Audubon House', commemorating the artist's visit to Key West. Furnished with antiques of the period, the museum proudly exhibits numerous original Audubon engravings. This restoration sparked the preservation and restoration movement of Key West.

As I was continuing my walk, I was pleasantly surprised to run into the Birthplace of Pan American World Airways. The building was it's first office, on October 28, 1927, Pan American Flight Number 1 taxied down a runway in Key West Bound for Havana. This was the first United States International Air Service in scheduled operation. (It's now a restaurant with great artifacts)

I walked past Ernest Hemingways home, which would have been fun to visit, but being on a tight budget, I just didn't want to spend. I then walked around the Naval Air Station Truman Annex, where the first Marines arrived in Key West with Commodore David-Hunting Fleet in 1822, and the Lighthouse & Keepers Quarters. In 1823, the U.S. Navy established a base in Key West and the need for a lighthouse became evident. Erecting a warning beacon was essential to reduce shipwrecks on the treacherous shoals surrounding the island. By the mid-1800s there was an average of a wreck per week. The first lighthouse was constructed in 1825 and was washed out to sea by the 1846 Hurricane. Shortly after in 1848, another lighthouse was erected a half a mile inland with the Keeper's Quarters.

On my way to the Southern Most point, I came across 'The Cable Hut' which the concrete structure was built on the mainland and transported by Flagler's railroad to its current location in 1917. It's purpose was to protect the connection between the land line and the 125 mile long underwater telegraph cable lines linking Key West and Havana, Cuba. The first International phone call was made through similar cables in Key West on Christmas Day, 1900. John W. Atkins called Cuba and after a long silence, Cuba answered quite simply "I don't understand you."

The most iconic site is "The Conch Republic" witch shows you are at the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A., being only 90 miles to Cuba. There is also the Harry S. Truman Little White House...otherwise known as the Truman Annex.

I did have a quick bite to eat at Pan American's restaurant, however, I didn't want to spoil my dinner in the evening at the Pinnacle Grill. It was sad that I wasn't able to enjoy the dining experience with anyone (since I was alone) however, with a Wine Package I had gotten (another story), I was able to enjoy a Mouton Cadet Bordeaux, a little amuse bouche, fried scallops, shrimp and grilled white fish, along with a decadent chocolate dessert.

Until Next Time,
Sluggo

Posted by Sluggoaafa 14:18 Archived in USA Tagged vacation west america holland rotterdam key carribean hal Comments (0)

Day 2 - Key West, FL

When & Where

sunny 72 °F

Day two has a stop in Key West, Florida, arriving around 11am, with a temperature of 74 °F, and partly cloudy. Our port was actually on an active Military base, so transportation was limited via shuttles. I chose to remain on board, as I knew we would be coming back to Key West the following week. I was able to venture around the outside the ship a bit more, and watch as our ship came to dock at the Naval Station.

Key West is almost 130 miles southwest of Miami. Known for its popularity with cruisers, the area also has an important naval station and vacation destination for thousands of visitors every year. The island's tropical Savannah type climate offers pleasant conditions, with year-round temperatures hovering around 80 °F with frequent thunderstorms.

Ernest Hemingway called Key West his home in the early 20th century. Now, visitors can take a look at where the famous writers kicked up his shoes with a trip to 1301 Whitehead Street. Another famous writer, Tennessee Williams, made Key West his hoe around the same time period, but unfortunately the home is privately owned and cannot be viewed by the public.

A trip to Old Town offers plenty of sites and activities. One can tour the shops and visit museums at Mallory Square, wander the famous commercial district on Duval Street, and take a trip back in time with a stroll through the neighborhood in the Truman Annex.

From there, you then make your way to the corner of Whitehead and South streets to what was thought to be the southernmost point in the contiguous 48 states. For an environmental experience, one can stop at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, or take a relaxing drive to take in the picturesque surroundings on the Overseas Highway. If you're stuck on the ship, and there is another in port, be sure to watch them turn as it's very fascinating!

Some things to see: Southernmost Point, Key West Aquarium, Shipwreck Museum, Key West Lighthouse, Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Ernest Hemingway House, Harry S. Truman Little White House, Audubon House and Tropical Garden, Key West Museum of Art & History, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, and Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Until next time,
Sluggo

Posted by Sluggoaafa 11:44 Archived in USA Tagged vacation west america holland rotterdam key carribean hal Comments (0)

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