The Florida Keys are pretty amazing. Honestly, the temperature and weather is perfect. I would get sick of that after a little while (what’s the fun in perfect weather?), but for now it’s amazing. And I can sum up the attitude of the citizenry with one simple phrase “Yeah sure.” We stayed at my uncle’s place in Big Pine Key (about 30 miles from Key West and nicknamed “Big Time Key” by the locals), which is home to Key Deer (yes, there are deer in the Florida Keys). There are also about a thousand signs on the roads through the key that say something to the extent of “Slow down because if you hit a deer we will hunt you down and kill your family.”
So we drove very carefully off the island, and towards Key West.
You can tell that Key West happiness is already kicking in.
So we got there and drove around, checking out the usual things. The Southernmost Point, Mile 0, that kind of stuff.
We contemplated renting mopeds, just so we could blast some Michael McDonald and relive the Key West scene from Running Scared (that is a really obscure reference, by the way), but they required all the money on you and about a pint of blood for a deposit. So instead we found a place to park, dumped a jug of quarters in the meter and hit Duval Street (ie the “French District” of Key West).
We hit up a few shops (random fact: Key West has more T-shirt stores per square mile than any city in the world), read countless vulgar T-shirts, and stood outside of Sloppy Joe’s on our cell phone to tell people back in Michigan to check us out on the Sloppy Joe Street webcam (we later noticed other groups of dumb old tourists doing this same thing). Coolest shop we went to, by the way, is called Pepper’s, where you get to sample all kinds of hot sauce and other things, and it’s just a lot of fun. Think of it as the Ed Debevic’s of spice shops.
Oh and I forgot to mention that since it was my sister’s birthday, we pretty much did whatever she wanted. So eventually we went to eat lunch at Conch Republic.
Mmmm seafood. My lunch of shrimp stuffed with crab wrapped in bacon. I’m pretty sure this is the least kosher thing ever. Also, the people in the keys are big on their mango salsa I’ve noticed. That and booze.
After lunch we had another Key West original: Key lime pie on a stick, dipped in chocolate. It is as good as it sounds. Eventually we made it down to Mallory Square (which is strangely similar to the Inner Harbor in Victoria, BC). We saw a handful of magician/comedians (including a kind of scary french guy with cats, I really don’t know how to describe it more than that), and spent a decent amount of time staring out into the ocean.
So as most of you may know, Key West is mostly known for its night life, and as much as it tried to hide from us, we started to see the true Key West, and in particular the true Duval Street creeping out.
Eventually we ended up at a bar called Irish Kevin’s. It was hard not to notice it, as it could be heard from about a mile away. If you can imagine the crude hip tourist version of drunken sailors singing at a bar, that’s what this place was. Everyone was singing at the top of their lungs, and the guy playing guitar was egging everyone on (as well as using every vulgar word you can think of). Each song, while being well known pop standards, eventually somehow became incredibly offensive. And it was hard not to have a good time.
The highlight (or lowlight, depending on how you look at it) of the night, for a couple obvious reasons, was when the guitar player/singer got two people on stage, one from either side of the room to compete for either side of the room (which had been designated teams moments before). For the other side of the room was a drunk middle aged man who kept changing the lyrics of songs to something sexual, and obviously thought himself quite clever. For our side of the room was an attractive early twenties female. Well eventually the guitarist couldn’t decide who had “won” between the two, so he asked if the girl would flash the room to be deemed the true winner. With very little hesitation, her breasts were out for all the world to see. I felt like I was finally part of a Girls Gone Wild video. Unfortunately I was not fast enough with my camera phone, and I would like to think this is still a somewhat kid friendly site.
Had we the energy and the continued moral drought, I’m sure we could have partaken of much more drunken debauchery, but we figured that was enough for one night, so we headed back to Big Time Key, feeling like our Key West initiation was truly complete.