Friday, October 8, 2010

The Duval Crawl: Redefined

So, being here in southwest Florida for a few days, I got a whim and decided to hop over to Key West for a quick visit...having never been there before - ever - it was a "must" that I drink a margarita in Key West so I could cross another item off of my Life List.

The Key West Express is the way to go - it's a fast ferry boat that whisks you over to the island in about four hours - woot! - leaving you several hours to explore the streets, shops, and - ahem - bars - of the Conch Republic. However, if I'd known I'd have to be boarding at 7:00 a.m. - I may have rethought that.

I DID manage to drag myself out of bed at an ungodly hour, and got to the ferry on time to leave. The Express has three levels of seating, with a bar, snack shop, tables, and television - and I chose to perch on the very top, so that I could do some wing-spreading and feather-warming in the sun on my way over.

Take note, however - it gets a tad windy - so your hair will look like a rat's nest gone through a blender by the time you arrive.

Isn't she lovely?

I arrived in KW around 12:30, and walked along the Harbor Walk for about 15 minutes until I hit Mallory Square...which is where any good tourist should begin their exploring while visiting. No cruise ships were in port, so Mallory Square was a pretty dead place. The only "life" I found was this creature, who can only be dubbed "Sponge Man."

I kinda' thought he looked like Chewbacca from Star Wars - but that's just me.

I discovered a little cart that served up conch fritters, which are THE delicacy to sample while visiting here...

That mustard sauce? To die for...the guy makes it up by hand, and it was very tasty...I got to the point where I was just sticking my fingers in and licking them. Ew. I know. But it was THAT good!

I had a ticket for the Old Town Trolley Tour, which allows you to "hop-on, hop-off" at has twelve stops, and I hopped off on Stop #3, as here were two of my must-do's: have some Key Lime pie, and drink that margarita.

I had the frozen key lime pie on a stick, dipped in chocolate, at Kermit' was cool, refreshing, and much, much too small. For my appetite for key lime pie, anyway.

After getting a little food in the tummy (if you can count frozen key lime pie as food?!), I walked a few paces down the block to the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar...and it was ALSO cool and well as the margarita!

The atmosphere here was great - the people were friendly, the live-music was awesome, and the drink was...ahem...strong.

I spent a little while here, talking to the gentleman next to me in the bar - who had adopted children from Guatemala, so we had much to talk about! It always amazes me the people that God puts in my path - I've really met some pretty fantastic people on my life journey.....

After stumblingwalking out of Sloppy Joe's, I walked back to Stop #3 of the Trolley Tour, and hopped on the next trolley that came by...where I proceeded to ride it on down to Stop #5, the Hemingway House - so time to hop off.

My goal here was to spot and shoot (with my camera!!!) some of the famous Hemingway 6-toed cats that roam the grounds...and they were pretty easy to spy. They were EVERYWHERE! Do NOT go here if you're allergic to cats - you'd be dead - as there are about 50 or so cats...all different flavors and was a feline delight!

This guy had the right attitude in Key West - but a little on the "unkept" side for my petting for him!

I left the Hemingway House, and after waiting a bit for the trolley, decided to just walk the short distance down the street to the Southernmost Point of the Continental United States. I could see the buoy off in the distance, and it was about 3:00 pm, so a short little stroll would do me some good. Right? Walk off some of that key lime pie?

Bad idea. This walk took me through a, uh, rather "dicy" part of town - shady characters hanging out on the curb, obvious drug deals going on, and several police cars and sirens whizzing by. And I'm a woman, obviously by myself, and even more obvious - a tourist - carrying bags, camera, and money. Dumb.

My instincts were on full-alert as I walked, hurridly, down the few blocks until I reached the safety of the very famous, and very ugly, Southernmost Point buoy.

I will have to say - I gotta' give Hawaii the "win" on the prettiest Southernmost point - Florida can do better.

And if I thought I was in trouble before, here's where the REAL trouble began. After snapping the photo, I looked for the next trolley stop. To no avail. Couldn't find it anywhere. Studied my map - walked in circles for a few blocks - and could never find that darned stop. It was NOT there, I swear!

Losing valuable time, I began walking down Duval Street - as it has lots of tourists and feels safe, and I knew the trolley would stop somewhere along here. I walked...and walked...and walked....block, after block, after block. No trolley stops. That I could see. Argh!

I had heard of the infamous "Duval Crawl" - which normally refers to the drunks stumbling out of the bars along Duval Street.... Well, I was doing a new version of the Duval Crawl - practically crawling down the street, in the hot sun, panting, out of breath, in uncomfortable sandals, lugging shopping bags, desperately trying to find a trolley. I probably made quite the picture.

I finally found a Trolley Stop sign - Stop #12 - which meant I had MISSED Stops #6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11!!! No WONDER I was crawling!!!! I asked a lady there if the trolley would be by soon, and she said, " just missed it."

Of course I did.

I plopped down in a bench, and after a 30-minute wait, another trolley came rolling by - I hopped on - and made it back to the Key West Express JUST in time to board to go home. In fact, I was the last one down the pier - which is something you really never like to be when catching a boat.

I had a delightful trip back - talking with some ladies from Alaska, and a gentleman, Kevin, from Florida. I'm going to give a shout-out to Kevin and his wife here, who run a coupon blog (right up my alley!). You can visit her site here. It's a great site to visit to save some moolah! Woot!

The ferry docked at about 9:45 pm, and I crawled to my car, drove the short distance home, crawled into my bed, and crashed.

Sun, margaritas, and chasing a trolley up and down the streets of Key West will do that to you!



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