This one is going to be a long one so you might want to get comfortable…
This week my travels have taken me down the Floridan coast to Key West. I am so excited to be here because it has been talked up to me for months now and for a while it felt like this day would never come…and here it is!
Driving into Key West is either the most beautiful or the most boring thing you can do. It is 127 miles of single lane highway, one way in and one way out! So if you are stuck behind someone who is doing 5-10 miles under the speed limit for 35 miles you basically want to run that person off the road so you don’t have to be stuck behind them anymore. However when you have the open road and you are able to just drive? That was an incredible experience for me! So beautiful going over the bridges from island to island!
The first night I was there I had to partake in the “Duval Crawl”, which means you have to start your night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar who hosts local bands to play live music every night and the night that we were there, there was a band play who was a band of brother who have been playing at that bar since they were all about 15 years old.
And they were amazing! Next we moved to Captain Tony’s Saloon, here it is tradition to toss a quarter from the street curb backwards into the fish’s mouth…and trust me this is no easy task! I finally made it but it took a lot of persistence in order to accomplish this for me. Next we moved to Hog’s Breath Saloon which is one of the older saloons on the strip. From there you can move in either direction on the strip you can either go to the “gay side” of the strip or you can say on the “straight side” of Duval street.
I was forwarded about Duval street and Key West in general, it is apparently a very liberal and expressive island, which means that they gay community is very proud of their side of the street, displaying flags of gay pride and they even have gay pride painted crosswalks! That was the most unique thing I have ever seen!
Key West is amazing! I loved being able to just have the time, in the daylight hours, to walk around and explore the interesting history that this island contributes to American history. This island was mostly used as an import/export city for the rest of the country but before there was bridges built to connect the islands they used ferries and barges to connect the islands to the mainland to transport the sea-fairing materials to the interior of the country.
What I love most about this area is that it is mostly untouched by the change throughout history. So many of the shops and streets are the same as they were a hundred years ago with cobble streets and historic buildings. The culture of Key West….You know you are in an island mindset area when the first thing you see once you arrive on the island is three businesses, a hammock company, carter fishing company and a diving museum/rental shop. You can’t get more island mindset then that can you?
And other thing, every night in Mallory Square they celebrate the setting of the sun! Local acts, artists, vendors and street performers come out as the sun begins to set and entertains the crowds who all come out to enjoy the sun setting ion the western side of the island and this happens every single night year round! That is something I have never heard of or seen before in my life!
This is the Southernmost home in the continental United States! Look at the way the house is designed!
Walking around I couldn’t help but feel like Key West was a combination of Tortuga and the Bahamas…or at least what I would imagine the combination would look like, complete with roosters and chickens walking through the streets like stray cats and pirates digging and claiming their treasure. To say the least, the Key West community is a unique community in every aspect I can think of, personally.
What I loved was the freedom, this was one of the first times that I have been on this trip and I got to fully participate, I wasn’t just riding behind in the case car I got to ride in on the bikes with everyone and truly be part of the group…and for me that is a truly wonderful feeling. I know that I miss riding every single day however what I also miss is being a participant and not just watching from the sidelines, which is what I feel like most of the time when following in the chase vehicle.
I found it to be very interesting to be in a place that someone in the group had been before, then it wasn’t me just wondering around hoping that whatever location I googled would be a good find, now I had someone to tell me where I could go find the cool spots.
I think that if I could ever see myself settling down in an island atmosphere this would be a location I would seriously consider because of the atmosphere and the community. But needless to say that spending time here has been one of the best days of my time on the road, because like I said I wasn’t just watching from the sidelines I got to truly be part of the group with simple, easy, laid back fun!
This is why I believe I am truly blessed, because of this adventure I am able to travel around the country doing what I love to do while at the same time feeling like I am apart of something bigger.
Traveling Photographer Out!