Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Revisiting America

What a fun weekend.  Bettye Jean Henson, Mary Ann Wilson, Mary Ann's daughter and grandson, Sundi and Will West, arrived about noon on Friday.  We had lunch here to give them a little time to regroup, then went into town.  Toured Hemingway House.  We got to see the six-toed cats, the whole house, and his writing room (on the 2nd floor of a small separate building).  There used to be a suspended walkway between his bedroom and his writing room.  I loved his writing room/study.  He started writing every morning at 6:00; wrote until about noon; went fishing; then went to Sloppy Joe's (his favorite bar in Key West) until whenever.  Then at it again at 6:00 am.  It was very interesting to see and hear about the way he lived while in the Keys.  After all, the man won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Next, we wandered over to Mallory Square to watch the sunset.  There is lots of entertainment while waiting - jugglers, tightrope walkers, bagpipe players, fire-eaters, and contortionists as well as artists, food vendors, and lots of people for people-watching.  While sitting on the dock with our legs hanging over above the water, all kinds of boats were passing.  Some on their way in; some on their way out.  Catamatans, sailing ships, and motor boats of every size and description.  Then came the sunset at 6:23.  A hush falls over the crowd, then when it disappears, everybody sighs and goes about their business.
Nature is awesome, isn't it?
Dinner (you know I'd get to that, didn't you?) was eaten at the Conch Republic Seafood Company, and it was delicious.  Conch fritters with horseradish sauce for an appetizer.  Snapper Wellington - snapper stuffed with crabmeat, then baked in pastry just like beef wellington.  Oh! so good.  Everyone was so full that we shared a piece of key lime pie for dessert.  Back home to play cards for awhile, then bed. Saturday, we started with a Conch Tour Train ride, then went to Blue Heaven for lunch.  Lou and I had eaten there before and were anxious to introduce our friends to the key lime pie.  We even took pictures of it - a whole pie, and a slice.  Needless to say, it was a hit.  This time there was no sharing - each person had his own piece and practically licked the plate.  It's that good!  The roosters were still there and acting as if they were in charge.  They are pretty well behaved, though.  They don't bother you in the least, except for crowing occasionally.
Next stop was the Butterfly Conservatory.  Well worth visiting.  The butterflies live in their own little hot, humid, man-made habitat, along with some fish in a pond and some quails wandering about.  They are fed on stands with mosaic platters holding pieces of fruit.  They tend to light on the flowers that match their coloring - protective coloration just like we were taught in biology class.  You feel a little bit like an intruder but they are very gracious about it, sometimes landing on you for a moment.
Afterward, we went to the Mel Fisher Treasure museum to view the treasures that he pulled from the shipwreck, Atocha.  The Atocha was a Spanish galleon that sank off the Marquesas Keys, Florida, in 1622, and Mel Fisher found the motherlode of the ship, worth approximately $400 million.  Since then, his finds have increased enormously, and his wealth along with it.  The museum is filled with examples of his findings of gold, silver, emeralds, and other precious artifacts.  It's also filled with archaelogical treasures resulting from examination of the ship and its clues to how life was lived aboard.  The Gift Shop was unbelievable. 
Our visitors also visited quite a few shops along Duval Street - the main shopping street in town.  It has bars, restaurants, trinket shops, art galleries, dress and shoe shops - you name it.  It's all there is you can afford it.
Dinner was a bust.  We had gotten recommendations for a place, but it turned out that it was a restaurant in name only - the main focus was the bar.  We waited a very long time at a table on the front patio by the water.  We were talking and didn't realize how long we had waited or we would have left.  Then, when we started to order, we were told that they were out of the three most popular dishes on the menu.  Again, we should have taken the clue to leave.  We found other things to order, but were disappointed.  For the price, the food should have been good instead of indifferent.  After seeing key lime pie, the same as at Blue Heaven (the two are connected in some way, but so very, very different), and trying to order it, we were told that they were out of key lime pie.  The final blow.  We laughed all the way home about how bad the whole experience was and the fact that we were so naive as to stay.
Sunday morning, our friends left about 10:00.  We found out later that, before starting the long drive, they went back to Blue Heaven for another piece of key lime pie.  It's that good!
Lou and I were lazy after they left.  Didn't do anything until yesterday after lunch, then went to town and toured the Little White House.  Excellent tour.  You definitely get a taste of history and a sense of how President Truman enjoyed his vacations there.  Other presidents have visited - Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton.
Time to say goodbye.  It's fun writing the blog because it makes us think about the experiences we've had and we can enjoy them all over again.

1 comment:

  1. Very busy week here, so I didn't post a comment. However, I do not want you guys to think people aren't reading and enjoying your posts!
    I was wondering when you'd get to the kitchy conch-republic activities. And of course, how many slices of Key lime pie you could find a way to enjoy. Very glad some friends were able to visit there & get the feel of the place.
    Is the Navy base still there? Don't know its exact location, but Russ was born there :))))
    love you!! jo anne