Have You Seen The Sun Rise In Key West?

It’s the most beautiful sight!  Last August, I woke early – before the sun did! 🙂  Sat on my patio for awhile taking in the silence.  I couldn’t believe how quiet, peaceful and calm is was.  So I decided to venture down to Duval Street.

Key West Before Sunrise

Having never seen Duval Street in the morning hours just before sunrise, I was in for quite a treat.  Deserted!  Totally deserted!  There was me and 2 birds on the street.  Actually, in the middle of the street.  I was standing in the middle of the intersection of Duval and Caroline – not a car….or person….in sight.

I was taking pictures in the middle of that intersection, when a police car drove very slowly by.  He smiled and gave me a wave – probably not use to seeing people up and about …. and sober …. at that hour!

Sky Lightening Before Sunrise

Little by little, I started seeing light in the sky.  First some blue.  Then pink streaks.  I noticed the lights on the buildings weren’t quite as bright anymore.  Finally the sun peeked above the horizon.

Me and 2 Birds Just Before Sunrise

What an breathtaking, awe-inspiring sight!  Almost a humbling, spiritual experience!  Just me and the 2 birds were witness to this most beautiful moment.

But moments like these slip away quickly.  Within minutes, me and the birds were no longer alone.  There was the man on the bike, and a couple with coffee strolling along, and then the street cleaners and sanitation men.  Finally, the first car.


Key West was waking up.  Soon there would be the hustle and bustle we’ve all been witness to.

But for a moment, just for a moment, Key West was all mine!

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Day 6 in Paradise

This is it…our final day.  A very sad, quiet day…we’re very unhappy to be leaving.

Started today with Breakfast, as usual, at the Curry Mansion.  Yes, we should have gone out more for breakfast but we like it here. And today we’re rushing to finish packing and spending just a little more time here.

Key West Palm Trees Swaying in the Breeze

We had to check out by 11AM so we decided to use our patio one last time.  Opened a couple of bottles of beer and sat at our table, under the umbrella, and reflected on our time in Key West.  We were definitely on the go; saw so much; did some new things and tried some new places; frequented our old, favorite haunts; saw our friends; celebrated good times; and are very unhappy to be leaving.  Yes, we’ll be back in August but August is still a long time away!

After we got thrown out of our room (just kidding – but we did leave begrudgingly), we stopped at the Conch Republic Store on Duval for last minute souvenirs.  I especially like the inexpensive t-shirts to wear around the house.

Then on to Peppers of Key West to say good-bye to Angie and Pete.  Unfortunately, neither were there at the time but I’m sure our mental telepathy was working. 🙂

We had extra beer left over, so we dropped by the Casa Marina to give the rest to Jesse (no way we could get it through security and on the plane).  Jesse works the water sports rental so if you’re looking to go out on jet skis, go see Jesse!

A quick stop at UPS to ship home all the things we bought; we filled up a rather large box – actually we stuffed it.  Believe it or not, we got everything to fit in.  Used an entire large roll of bubble wrap.  Doubt that anything is going to break!

A side note: nothing broke.  It arrived totally intact!

The drive out of Key West was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop!  Guess we were wrapped up in our own memories….and wishing we had just one more day.  But we did have more to look forward to.  Our plane didn’t leave until 9:35 PM so we still had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves.

No Name Pub

Our 1st stop was No Name Pub on Big Pine Key.  We always stop here.  Sometimes on our way down, or a drive out during our stay, but mostly for lunch on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale.  It was a warm day and a cold one sounded really good!  We opted for the pizza and were not disappointed.  Delicious!  We finished every bite and were totally stuffed for now.  I love this place – the ambiance, the people, the visitors, the money hanging from every square inch of the interior.  It’s a comfortable, right-at-home feeling.

View from Rumrunners

Our next stop was Rumrunners at Holiday Isle in Islamorada.  We arrived just after 4PM – we were hoping to catch Trapper working but he leaves before 4PM.  For those that don’t know, Trapper won the Hemingway look-alike contest in 1994.  We ordered rumrunners and went upstairs to one of the decks overlooking the ocean and enjoyed the view…and the rumrunners!

Alabama Jack's

Believe it or not, we started feeling hungry and our next stop was just what the doctor ordered!  Alabama Jack’s!  At this point, I finally opted for something non-alcoholic.  I was driving the rest of the way and figured I’d better be sober!  I couldn’t resist the Conch Fitters, though.  I love these here – they’re the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere! Sat at a table by the water – no bugs of any kind, Thank God!  After all, it was around 6PM, so we got lucky!  We tried to take our time but we had a plane to catch and they were getting ready to close, so we moseyed on out to the car, drove up Card Sound Road to US1 and out of the Keys. 😦

Next stop….Airport.  Yep, we made it in time and actually got through security and to our gate just as the plane was boarding.  No time to commiserate until after we took off.  Too late then!

I have to admit on the plane flight home, I was already planning our August trip!  Our times in Key West keep increasing, now it’s 3-4 times every year.  Maybe we need to live in the Keys part-time….say 6 months every year?

For now, I’m Living on Key West Time!

See you in August!

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Day 5 in Paradise

Monday 4/26/10

Back to our old routine….

Breakfast at the Curry Mansion…..it’s good and we only have to stumble downstairs!  Never feel rushed – we can take as long as we like – talk to those sitting around us – read the paper – or just enjoy our surroundings.

On to K-Mart – we bought so much stuff that there’s no way we can carry it on the plane.  We bought shipping supplies so we can UPS it home tomorrow.

Green Parrot Bar

It’s around Noon and we decided to stop in the Green Parrot Bar for a Bloody Mary or two.  It’s not made from a mix so each one is a little bit different.  Our 2nd was much spicier than the 1st, and believe me, the 1st was plenty spicy!!! Couldn’t have asked for better Bloody Mary’s!!!  Love the atmosphere here!  Tourists were mixing with the locals – so cool!  We finally left around 3:30PM because our friends had never been to the Hemingway House so we said our good-byes to the Green Parrot.

Hemingway's Office

We played total tourist here.  Took the tour.  Lots of interesting facts about Hemingway and his life.  Couldn’t help but laugh when our guide said that Hemingway’s wife took out the ceiling fans because she thought they looked tacky and replaced them with some of the tackiest ceilings lights I’ve ever seen!!!  Loved seeing his office over the garage – wish I had something like that myself!  The grounds are beautiful and the cats are so laid-back, obviously so use to people that we don’t faze them anymore.

Louie's Backyard

Our next stop was Louie’s Backyard……what a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful setting on the deck with the Atlantic Ocean lapping  gently below.

We also stopped next door to see one

JB's House from Way Back When

of Jimmy Buffett’s haunts from way back when.  He actually lived for a time next door to Louie’s Backyard (hence the reference in one of his songs).

Higgs Beach

We continued  to Higgs Beach to watch Jesse play bouce with his team.  This is a pretty big sport in Key West.  I remember this well from my childhood.  There was actually a league here way back when – although no more.  Nice to see it coming back again.

We stopped by the Wyland Gallery and ended up buying a painting.  It’s soooo beautiful – called “Restrictions”.  We saw it originally back in August, 2009 and could get it out of our heads.  Can’t wait for it to arrive!

Me and Trish

Had to hear all about the Buffett concert in Tampa, so we headed over to Margaritaville to see Trish.  She took a million pictures and got me all excited – now I can’t wait for August when Jimmy’s in concert here at the Susquehanna Bank Center! Oh….and had the prerequisite Pina Colada…or two.  No one makes ’em better than Trish!   Hated saying good-bye….we’ll meet on Facebook….and again in August when we’re in Key West!

Now we’re starving and really looking forward to a steak and pork chops from Pepe’s.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.  They just closed their grill.  I was surprised as it was only 9:30PM.

Finnegan's Wake

But our sadness turned into a very surprised gladness when we went to Finnegan’s Wake.  Everything was great here!  The food, the service and our waitress Robin.  I had the Chicken Pot Pie.  OMG…..Awesome!  It was so creamy and filled with chicken – lots of chicken and veggies.  Can’t say enough good things here.  Robin was extremely professional, prompt service and super friendly.  All I can say is……find Finnegan’s and hang awhile.  You’ll love it!

It’s our last night in Key West for this trip…..so even though we were tired, we walked down to Rick’s and listened for a short while.  Uncle Bob wasn’t playing so we moved on.

Stopped by Hog’s Breath – we thought Gary was playing but he had already finished.  We wanted to say good-bye.  It was super crowded and we just weren’t in the mood to fight our way to the bar. Besides the band wasn’t playing, so we left.

Jungle Cafe Bar

Found the Jungle Cafe Bar and stopped in for a cold one.  Was quiet tonight…..really nice setting……I think we were feeling sorry for ourselves as we nursed our beer.

Strolled down Duval slowly – taking it all in – knowing we won’t be seeing the nightlife again for 3 months.

It’s around 1:30AM…..fell into bed for the last time in Key West!

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Day 4 in Paradise

Sunday 4/25/10

We changed things up today……..

Went to the conch store on the corner of Duval and Front because we needed a few things for the beach later.  I love this store.  Prices are reasonable and they have everything I’ve ever needed, including souvenirs.

Kenny Chesney's House

I wanted to see Kenny Chesney’s house so that was next on the agenda.  Big and beautiful but right in the middle of the Duval Street hustle and bustle.  Surprised he bought a house here rather than in a quieter neighborhood.

Finally….breakfast out!  Went to Blue Heaven and had the Lobster

Blue Heaven

Omelet….YUMMY!  I’ve never been disappointed here. Service was excellent – very attentive. Of course, it’s a Sunday morning so no alcoholic drinks before Noon.  But that’s okay.  We really wanted coffee….good coffee!

Santiago's Bodega

Walked by Santiago’s Bodega to get to our car.  We got lucky and found a spot only 2 blocks away from Blue Heaven.  I really wanted to eat at Santiago’s this trip but it just wasn’t in the cards.  Ran out of time.  We did poked our heads in and said hi.

Ft. Zachery Taylor was our next destination.  The beach is so tranquil with the palm trees swaying.  Although we put on sunscreen several times, some of us (ok – all of us) got burned.  Thankfully the burn was minor so it didn’t interfere with our good time!  The water

Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach

was warm but the current was strong.  And those rocks!  We are very accustomed to the Key West beaches so we brought our water shoes.  What would I do without them?  Unfortunately we saw many folks “trying” to go into the water without them.  I felt bad for them because I know they were getting their soles cut up mercilessly.

Back to the Curry Mansion for a dip in the pool.  It’s a small pool

Pool at Curry Mansion

but it comfortably accommodated 6 of us.  It’s a round pool where the cistern use to be.  It’s perfect for lounging – too small to swim.

Back to our room to freshen up then out the door again!

A quick stop at Peppers of Key West to see Angie.  It’s been a long and busy day for her so far, and she’s looking forward to an evening with Bob and a big juicy steak!

A must stop for us is the Half Shell Raw Bar.  They have the


freshest, just caught oysters and clams, and we made it for Happy Hour!  But the most important part of stopping by is to see Greg!  He’s not only a fantastic bartender but a great person as well.  Please stop by and see him when you’re in Key West! We had an order each of oysters (we never order oysters anywhere else in the world – only here) and we split an order of steamed clams.  And cold beers to wash it all down!  Refreshing!

Once again, back to our room to change – then off to El Meson de Pepe.  We love the salsa band (only one in Key West) and the

El Meson de Pepe Salsa Band

Mojitos.  Talking to the bartender, who has been in Key West 20 years, we discovered the secret to their really good mojitos.  It’s the mint….lots and lots of freshly crushed mint.  He explained that they make so many mojitos that the mint is always fresh.  Places that don’t make as many use mint that has lost its flavor (mint loses it’s fresh flavor quickly – it has a short shelf time).  So we danced the night away – until the music stopped at 10PM.  We finished our drinks and decided to take a stoll along a near deserted Mallory Square.

Mallory Square at night is so beautiful.  It’s so alive during the day and so tranquil and peaceful at night.  We enjoyed a leisurely,

Mallory Square at night

romantic stroll, watched a few people night-fishing before we headed back to the Curry Mansion to…..you guessed it….fall into bed!  Woke up to the early morning sounds of  the city coming alive.

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Day 3 in Paradise

Saturday 04/24/10

Once again we started our day with breakfast at the Curry Mansion.  I know we should be eating out, there are so many excellent choices, but the breakfast here is good (with the exception of the coffee) and we enjoy leisurely relaxing by the pool.

We figured we better get some shopping out of the way early so we headed to the Margaritaville Gift Shop.  I won’t tell you what we spent but we got 5 free Salt and Pepper Shaker Sets.  Just trying to keep Jimmy in the lifestyle he’s accustomed to!!!

Gary at Sloppy Joe's

Then on to Sloppy Joe’s to see Gary Hempsey perform.  I love watching Gary interact with the audience!  He has the most amusing stories….and some really great songs that he wrote.  Had a Pina Colada or two while we waited for Gary to take a much needed break.  Got to spend some break-time with him.  Was disappointed to find out that he’s on vacation when we go back to Key West in August, but we will get to see him in June at A Taste of Key West in Philadelphia (Gary’s old stomping grounds).  Want to hear Gary?  Go to http://www.garyhempseykeywest.com.

Now we’re off  to the Bed Races!
Edith was in the lead vehicle.  And she looked so beautiful dressed all in red!


Beds on wheels with folks pushing, racing against each others’ time – sirens blaring from the police motorcycles as they escort the racers down Duval.  They costumes are outrageous!  What fun!

Jager .... Put Em Up


I’m standing with 2 others, Erin (a local) and Diana (visiting Erin), when Diana notices a man standing on the roof, naked, swinging an unmentionable part of his anatomy.  The roof is the Garden of Eden and he must be standing on a chair because the railing comes up higher than the part we were seeing!  I turned to look and he waves at me.  So what’s a nice girl to do???  I waved back!!!

The Garden of Eden - a rooftop bar

We were standing on the corner of Duval and Caroline watching the races, when thirst and hunger took over.  Since we were right in front of Fogerty’s, and we promised to meet Jesse there, we took a table and sat down.  Oh!  That first beer was sooooo good!  We ordered the “monster” fish sandwich…..was too much for even two of us….but oh so good!


Then we headed back to the Rum Barrel.  Yes, I know we’re in Key West, but it’s nice to go somewhere where almost everyone is from somewhere close to your own neck of the woods.  Croce is from Philadelphia so the Rum Barrel has loads of folks from the Phila – South Jersey area.  Had a beer or two here before we moseyed out to the pier to board “Commotion on the Ocean” for our Sunset Cruise.

The weather was beautiful for an evening cruise!  Water was  calm and oh-so-blue.  Slight breeze and warm.  Couldn’t ask for a better evening.  Music was good – appetizers were adequate – beer was plentiful.  Watching the sun set was breathtaking!


On to Captain Tony’s ….. and a much awaited Pirate Punch.  I LOVE these.  I try making them at home and, although they’re good, they always taste better here!    Gary’s performing (Yes, we saw him twice today – he’s well worth it!).  So I’m feeling pretty good!

Gary at Captain Tony's

My stomach is saying “Feed Me” so we stop at Angelina’s for pizza.  With so many great places to eat, why pizza?  Because it’s on the way to Pepe’s where we’re going to meet Jesse’s girlfriend Shannon, who bartends the outdoor bar.

We couldn’t stay long because it’s already after 10PM and they close around 11PM tonight.  We had a really nice time with Shannon, Jesse and a priest from New Hampshire.  Yes, you read correctly….a priest.  Now being the good Catholic girl that I am, I was a little taken aback seeing as I’m drinking a wee bit and am in Key West, after all!  No need though, as he was enjoying himself and we ended up having a great time.

One more stop tonight…..back to Rick’s for Uncle Bob’s last hour.


We walked in to find Uncle Bob on stage with his shorts down around his ankles….singing away!  The crowd was rowdy and the fun was contagious!  After the show, we ended up doing Jager shots with Bob to top off the night.

It’s time to stagger down Duval (less than 1 block), climb those god-awful steps to my room, fall face-first into bed, and slip into blissful oblivion til morning.

God!  I’m having such a great time!!!

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Day 1 in Paradise

Thursday 4/22/10

Landed in Ft. Lauderdale at 9:35 AM – carry-on only – no need to wait for baggage.  Got our rental car at National … and off we go!

Key West Bound

1st stop is The Stuffed Pig in Marathon.  Raced (at a snail’s pace due to construction and heavy traffic) to get here by 1 PM so we could have breakfast.  They have the most delicious Seafood Omelet.  Decided to celebrate being in the Keys with Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s.

The Stuffed Pig

Next we hit Sombrero Beach, also in Marathon.  Beautiful beach, palm trees swaying, clean restrooms.  Dipped our toes in the warm water and felt total stress relief.  Ahhhhhh!!!

Sombrero Beach

After hitting Daffy Doug Dollar Store for some necessities, on to Big Pine to see the Key Deer.  We just drove up and down the streets, admiring the homes on the water (not the canals), and the deer were everywhere.  So cute and small, but not afraid of cars or people.  No wonder why they’re protected – they’re so use to people that it’d be too easy to hurt them.

Key Deer

We also stopped at the Blue Hole on Big Pine.  We got lucky!  Sunning himself (or herself) was a nice size alligator just below the viewing deck.  Was so still that it didn’t even look real.  I’d estimate 16 feet long.  Very willing to pose for pictures!

Alligator Sunning Himself


Next on the agenda was a stop at Parrotdise and a glass of Big Pecker Wine.  Found out from Walter “Keb” Leeman, whose son makes Big Pecker Wine, that they’re now distributing, and just 2 weeks ago, started selling in my hometown!  Yippee!!!  Good conversation, some pictures, and, of course, the wine!

Me with Big Pecker Wine Cases

Finally ….. KEY WEST!!!!!

We've Arrived!

Curry Mansion Inn

Checked in at the Curry Mansion Inn just in time for Happy Hour. Lucked out again!  What made our stay extra  special was that Edith was in town.


Chris and Trish

Since Trish and Chris won a contest and were leaving for a Buffett concert in Tampa on Friday, we headed to Margaritaville.  No way we’re going to miss seeing them!  Mmmmmmm – Pina Colada’s!  I love spending time with them and hated to leave. Trish introduced me to Megan, the Assistant General Manager there, and had a good time talking with her.  I highly recommend a visit to Margaritaville to meet these wonderful folks.

Trish and Megan

Angie and Bob

To top off our evening, we headed to Rick’s to see our good friends, Bob and Angie. Uncle Bob was performing and was at the top of his game.  Great show!  Got there just in time to see his entire show.  We never miss his performances.  Although we may, on occasion, miss the first hour or two, we NEVER miss the last hour.  If you haven’t  seen Uncle Bob in action, you’re in for a treat!

Uncle Bob

Thank Goodness the Curry Mansion Inn is almost on the corner of Duval and Caroline. We got up at 2:30 AM this morning – It’s been a long day and night –  We were so tired that we  just about made it.  We were on the 2nd floor but those stairs seemed to be a mile high!!!  Literally fell into bed and before I knew it, it was morning.

Stay tuned for Day 2!

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Day 2 in Paradise

Friday 4/23/10

Friday is a long day….and night.  Did so much that I can’t believe it myself!

The Curry Mansion

Started with breakfast at the Curry Mansion.  An omelet, bacon, sausage, potatoes, OJ, tea (coffee was terrible), fresh fruit.  From there, went to K-Mart for some things we forgot and a craft store (long story – will share another time!).


Since we were full from breakfast, we decided to visit with Pete and Angie at Peppers of Key West. Of course, we came bearing presents (beer – and lots of it – for Angie and us)!  Although all of the employees are really good, we have a soft spot in our hearts for Angie.


The taste-testing was a hugh success once again.   We stopped just before the insane hot sauces although we did watch a group of 5 go for the whole enchilada .  It was hysterical when they all turned beet red at the same time and chugged the beer!  I love this place…It’s so much fun!  If you haven’t tried this, you gotta go!!!!

Peppers of Key West

Next came Rum Barrel.  We made arrangements to meet Jesse, a friend from home who now lives in Key West, who we always look forward to seeing and have such a great time with, and Angie met us there after she finished work – with really fantastic news …. She was promoted to Assistant Manager!  It couldn’t happen to a nicer person!  Of course, we had to celebrate!  So we tried the Rum Sampler – Yum – and split orders of a Cheesesteak and a Pulled Pork Sandwich (Double Yum).   Oh! Did I forget to mention the beer?


Conch Republic Battle

Since it was Conch Republic Days, it was a necessity to watch the Conch Battle Reenactment.  Of course, once again the Coast Guard defeated the Conch’s.  Loved the blasting of rolls of toilet paper – watching it stream into the water –  and tossing of stale bread.


While waiting for the Battle to begin,we were entertained by Will and his high wire act.


And, of course, the sunset!  Can’t forget the sunset!

On to Schooner Wharf Bar.  Met Bob and Angie.  Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 were suppose to perform but Howard’s Mom is not well, so he flew to be with her.  Only MM 24 was there … we listened for a very short time … just not the same without Howard and his songs.  Howard had never canceled a show before but anyone with a Mom who has been ill knows exactly where he belonged – and it wasn’t at SWB!

So we left there and went to The Bull.  Saw Pete and Bo performing.  What a blast! They called Uncle Bob up to play a song and, as always, he was great!

Uncle Bob and Pete

Some guy from a bachelor party got Angie up dancing…all in good fun!  But he wanted to make sure Bob understood he meant no harm so he kept explaining and apologizing…….What a hoot!

Angie Dancing at The Bull

From there we went upstairs to the Garden of Eden.  There’s a million steps to get there, so you know you want to be there if you intentionally climb that many steps!  The music was blaring; everyone was dancing.  It’s impossible not to have a good time here.  On a side note, very few people were disrobed.  A few topless (Rich and John are trying – unsuccessfully to avert their eyes – or are they?  Why would they want to???) and only 2 or 3 totally naked.  Believe it or not, after the first few minutes, you get with the program and it’s no longer a big deal.  We were told that as the evening wears on, and folks become more inebriated, more take advantage of the clothing optional choice. Guess we didn’t stay late enough!

Of course, the evening is still in full swing, so we left the GOE for Cowboy Bill’s.  I’d never been in this one, only the smaller one next to Captain Tony’s.  It’s hugh….didn’t expect just how big!  There’s the bull riding room (seems they go easier on the gals – faster for the guys), the pool table room where  Angie challenged John to a game, several bars and big screen TV’s everywhere!  Spent quite a few hours…and many, many beers…here.

It’s now tomorrow morning….and I’m hungry!  So we said good night to Bob and Angie (John and Diane decided to stay a while longer), decided to have a slice of pizza (Angelina’s?) and ate it as we headed back to the Curry Mansion.

Fell into bed once again and woke to street noises around 7AM.  I’m beginning to see a trend here. Fall face-first into bed, always up early (cause I don’t want to miss anything) and drink lots of beer!!!  Ahhh…PARADISE!

Day 3 to come….

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