Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 78, low 68)
We suddenly went from winter to summer. When we left Tampa we were wearing our heavy winter coats, and sleeping with an electric blanket. We had two days of “cold” temperatures here in the Keys and it actually got down to 49 degrees. The record cold temperature in Key West was 41 degrees back in 1981. Now, it’s shorts and t-shirt weather.
The Keys are having record numbers of tourists this year. The hotels are all booked and it is much too crowded for our taste. The good news is that February is typically the most crowded month, and it starts to thin out a little in March. By April, most of the snowbirds start heading out.
We made two failed attempts to visit Key West, but quickly gave up after trying unsuccessfully to find a parking space. Once you get parked, the crowds aren’t really a problem, but parking is definitely an issue.
We decided we need to take advantage of the wonderful Keys bus service, if only we could figure out all the schedules.
Yesterday, was Al’s first physical therapy appointment in Key West. His appointment was in upper Key West, away from the craziness of Mallory Square and Duval Street, so parking was no problem. We were a little concerned the new therapist wouldn’t be as good as the one in Tampa, or that she would overwork or injure Al’s shoulder It turned out fine and we are both comfortable with her. He has pt three days a week for the next month, then they will decide if he needs to continue. It’s really going to cramp our style.
After therapy, we decided to leave the truck in the parking lot near the therapy office and catch the shuttle into downtown Key West. The bus is cheap and runs often, so it’s much nicer than fighting for a parking place. With our senior discount, it cost us $.50 each for a one way trip. We can also take the bus from near the campground into town for $1.50. You can’t really beat it.
We heard great things about a little food truck called Greta’s. It has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and is highly rated on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, after walking quite a distance, we found them to be closed.
We walked down towards Duval Street looking for a place to have drinks and dinner. We found a Mexican restaurant called Amigos. The waitress had a bit of an attitude and screwed up my drink order, but once I got the frozen margarita I ordered, it was delicious. So delicious in fact, that Al decided to order one. (big mistake). Al ordered fish tacos, which were mediocre, as were the enchiladas I had. But….oh how good that frozen margarita was. So, good in fact that I ordered another one to go. After all, we were in Key West! (another big mistake)
When we got the bill we were shocked at our $72.24 bill. Most places have happy hour specials, but apparently not this one. It turns out the beer and margaritas were 22 oz and $7.25 for the beer and $9.99 for the margaritas. Whew…..a tad pricey for happy hour. Lesson learned.
Amigos is an open air restaurant and a nice place to people watch. While we were there a 40 foot motorhome came driving up the street. Remember, these streets are narrow and crowded with cars, bicycles, people, golf carts and scooters. I don’t know if he was lost or was an idiot but it is not a place for a larger motorhome.
A few minutes later another interesting vehicle came by. It was a truck pulling a utility type trailer with sides and a red canvas roof on the top. Inside the trailer were three big furry black dogs, which were darn near as big as the black bears we see in Georgia. I think they were Newfoundlands. I didn’t get up in time to get a picture, but I understand they frequent Key West quite often, so I’m hoping to see them again.
Can you imagine 3 of these guys, in a trailer behind a car in Key West?
After dinner, we strolled along Duval Street for a while listening to the many different musicians, window shopping and people watching. After a little while, we walked over to the bus stop.
There was a nice looking young man sitting at the stop. We got to talking to him and enjoyed getting to know him a little bit. He moved to Key West from Las Vegas about a year ago. He was from an Army family, so we compared notes about growing up as a military “brat.” Nice to meet you Kevin Jones!
While on the bus another guy got on. We got to talking to him and discovered he was one of the Mallory Square street performers. His job was sword swallower, and as it turned out, we’ve seen his performance before. You just never know who you will meet in Key West, or what you will see. He had a story about finding “square grouper” many years ago. Apparently he traded in a square grouper for a bundle of money and bought a boat! There are lots of those stories here in the Keys.
Years ago, drug trafficking was pretty prevalent down here. There were a lot of boats that ran drugs. When they would get intercepted by the police, they would throw all their bales of marijuana and cocaine overboard. Those bales were known as square grouper.
We had the best night in Key West and are anxious to go back tomorrow. Key West takes a little getting used to. At first, all you notice is the crowds. After a while you start to notice the people, and that is where the fun is. Mostly it’s the locals that are the typical Key West characters. Key West has a flavor all it’s own.
The boat club here at the resort had “fun day” today at the marina. They had burgers and hotdogs and free beer. They had a few games like anchor toss, water balloon toss, kayak races and a few others. We went up for a burger, but stayed away from the games.
We’re sitting outside on our patio now, enjoying the rustling palm trees and cool breeze. The pelicans and frigate birds put on quite a show for awhile. It was another wonderful day in paradise.