Cruising Day 14 – Key West, FL

7 March 2015

We had been to Key West the first week in Jauary with Dave and Mike. We had done the whirl-wind tour. We missed some of the sites so we’ll try to pick them back up.

It’s a short day, we dock at 8, need to deal with US Customs to get off the boat, so I expect that it won’t be a fun morning. Need to be back on the boat by 4:30, so that makes it a short day ashore.

Once we get into cell range it will be time to use our hotspot. Internet on the boat is $0.79 a minute rounded up to the next nearest clock minute. So start at 11:52:55 and go to 11:54:10 seconds and that is 3 minutes. Super expensive, so waiting for the hotspot to start working makes sense.

After clearing a backlog of mail away we are all set for the day.

It was a surprise getting through US Customs, they just glanced at our passports, all in all about a 2 minute wait.

First stop was to get onto the Conch train for a ride through Key West. It is an off and on tour, but the time to the first stop is about 45 mins an you end up about two blocks away from where you started. But we did get a good tour and were able to figure out where we wanted to go.

It was a good move that we got pictures at the southern most point of the US when we were here with Mike and Dave. Today it’s blocked off for some event.

Town is pretty empty today, since there is only one ship in town. So that makes moving around a lot easier.

We took the Conch Train back down Duvall street to the Hemingway house. It was a pretty interesting tour. The cats (55) on the property all have an extra toe, it makes for fat little paws. We posed First Mate Pig with one. The cat turned and sniffed Pig and he must of said something because the cat smacked him in the head. I rescued him and we continued on.

Back on the Train and up to a marina and the Keys Train Museum. A pretty good exhibit on how the east coast of Florida got started back in the 1880′s. A rail line was built from Atlanta along the coast and ton of hotels were built. That’s how Palm Beach became the place where the rich would go for the summer.

In 1900 a line was built to go the entire length of the keys and brought tourists to Key West. It was the fastest and cheapest way to get from the north to Key West until 1935 when a 24 mile section was wiped out at Islamorada. The railway served as the basis for Rt 1 to be built across the next few years.

Lunch was at the Turtle Kraals. We had conch fritters, they were pretty good.

From lunch we visited the Turtle Museum that showed what was the huge turtle meat industry back in the late 1890′s to 1920′s. In that time period they were pretty much able to destroy the turtle population within 150 miles of Key West. (70 500 (sq miles) is
45,120,000 acres) a lot of turtles.

Next door is the Dry Tortugas Visitors Center. Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. There is a fort on the island that held prisoners during the US civil war. It’s an all day tour to get out there. Maybe someday, but it’s not on my current bucket list.

We then wandered around the tourist area checking out Sloppy Joe’s bar (full of spring break kids), World of Beer (two great shirts and two six packs of beer) a shell place where Susan got an Alto Conch Shell to play.

Susan headed back to the boat to get to her movie while I checked out some more of the stores. I came across an adult gift store that had an entire “50 Shades” section. Next door was The Rum Bar, a bar started by Pat Croce of Philadelphia fame. The place is loaded with Philly sports stuff. It was almost time to get back on the boat so I didn’t have time to get a cheesesteak.

(It turns out that we had drinks or ate at a number of places he owns:Turtle Kraal, Green Parrot, Island Dogs and The Rum Bar.)

I got on the boat in time. A big daily event in Key West is the Sunset Celebration on the square the boat is docked at. So I guess the boat would block the view.

Dinner was at the pop up italian place on the Lido deck. We had the zuppa di pesci, eggplant caponata, sea bass, rigatoni with sausage and gelato. Another great meal, it was a nice way to end the trip.

We passed on the shows and just went back to the room to pack so we could get off the boat.

Tonights towel animal was a small gorilla and I got to help make it.

Sunday we are back on the Quo Vadimus!