More from Key West, then to the North…

November 12, 2009

P1210497Something about Key West left us puzzled, Jane and I. What other place is anything like it? It seems to have a character all its own. Atmosphere, thought I, reminds me a bit of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Architecture? Lots of clapboard, gingerbread, certainly tin roofs everywhere. We took the Tram tour of Key West and on the tour snapped off lots of shots of different residences, stores, inns, restaurants, etc., and you can see a bunch of these shots in the first 24 images in our latest gallery; they’re un-captioned in that group, as the tram driver was rattling off so many factoids there was no time to retain them all. But see for yourself if you can taste the flavor of this magical place?

While we were at it, I just want to put in a word for a great treat I enjoyed while sitting on my Tram seat. Is there anyone who doesn’t like Key Lime Pie? How about chocolate? What would a combination of these two magical ingredients be like? Well, that there photo shows me about to consume a piece of Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate, on a stick! Almost a critical mass of scrumptuous flavors, if you ask me. It didn’t last anywhere near long enough! πŸ˜‰

P1210491One very interesting story vis-a-vis the Florida Keys is the one about the Florida East Coast Railway, brainchild and nearly-successful project of Henry Morrison Flagler. The railroad spanned the Florida Keys over their entire length, from the mainland to Key West, 100+ miles or so. Though pundits and other detractors scoffed at Flagler’s idea, though the project was performed from 1905-1912, paralleling the development of the Panama Canal, 1906-1914, and beset by many of the same drawbacks faced by that ambitious project, in fact it was successfully completed in 1912. Flagler’s money and personal drive and ambition made this railroad fly, so to speak. An amazing story. Actually, the FECRC operated up and down the Keys until 1935, when a hurricane destroyed some of the bridges. (Oil mogul Flagler was long-g0ne by then, having died in 1913). But here’s my problem: The FECRC was one link of a commerce route from NYC to Havana; boats would take passengers and cargo from Key West to Havana and return. The photo on the left is the schedule for the FECRC. I can’t figure it out, but the “stationmaster” gave me a clue that it took 30 hours to get from NYC to Havana. Can you interpret this cryptic slate?

P1210571Key West also has a monument termed Truman’s “Little White House.” We took a tour of that, quite an impressive place. Though attributed to Truman, it started life in 1890; Thomas Edison invented 41 new weapons there during WWI; President William Howard Taft visited here in 1912. After Truman used it, Eisenhower recovered from a heart attack here, Kennedy met here with Macmillan in ’61. The Carters used it, Colin Powell opened peace talks between Armenia and Azerbijan. Even former prez Bill and Hillary Clinton have used this place as a weekend retreat. But one very interesting factoid from the visit? If you look closely at the inset photo, you’ll see that an eminent large panel of historians have rated Harry Truman as our fifth greatest president! You can see more of the Truman White House and other Key West stuff in our gallery, of course, and maybe even blow up that inset large enough to read it? πŸ˜‰

We finally tore ourselves away from Key West and headed for the Mainland on Monday afternoon (that’s Monday the 9th, the Veteran’s Day holiday, remember?). En route, we had one of those cool incidents that sometimes occur: We stopped at a restaurant in Key Largo, where we’d eaten before on our way down. The door opened, and out walked Bill and Diane Chow from Los Altos! (You may know them as the ones who’ve walked two giant English Shepherd dogs around town for years?) Small world it is.

P1210627

Raccoon looking for morsels at Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring

P1210596

A Female Anhinga at Highlands Hammock

With our penchant for staying off the beaten path, we drove up the middle of Florida on Rte 27, which goes right through the citrus belt of Florida. In fact, we visited the factory of Florida’s Natural, where I get all my grapefruit juice. And, we visited the site of Florida’s first State Park, called Highlands Hammock, just out of Sebring. As you’ll see in the gallery, we saw some cool swamp scenes from the boardwalk there. They also have a very interesting museum on the history of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), and how it operated throughout Florida during the 30s.

Well friends, Florida is a helluva large state. Later in the evening after Highlands Hammock, we drove through a very heavy rainstorm to Ocala, barely halfway up the state. Weather picked up a bit the next day, when we managed to get through Tallahassee, and finally wound up at Panama City Beach for the night. But all that stuff will emerge later on, blog-wise, know what I mean? Goodnight from Foley, Alabama!

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One Response to “More from Key West, then to the North…”

  1. Gerry said

    Thank you so much for your faithfulness. We enjoy the pictures very much. Key lime with chocolate on a stick sounds yummy. I would love that. Thanks bro Sis

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