Visiting Key West (part 2)
What exactly is Key West? Well to begin with, it’s the capitol of the Conch Republic. What’s the Conch Republic? The Conch Republic are a string of islands that run from the the atoll of Dry Tortugas, through the atoll of the Marquesas Keys, past the Mule keys, through the archipelago of keys that run from Key West all the way up to some say Stiltsville, others say Key Biscayne, but definitely including Old Rhoads Key, Eliot Key, Boca Chita, and Sands Key, all of which sit north of Key Largo. In addition, all of the Keys in the Florida bay (approximately 2,900+), Including, Dildo Key, of course!
Key West itself sits 106 miles (172Km) from the mainland. The Gulf Stream begins right here.
Key West has the Gulf of Mexico on it’s northern coast and the Atlantic ocean on it’s southern coast. Whitehead, Duval, and Simonton Streets run coast to coast.
When visiting Key West, if by car, the absolute best way is to stop for a night or two in the archipelago of Keys that lead over forty something bridges to Key West. Anyone who has traveled directly to Key West without stopping, in the past, then one time decides to stop over for a night or two on the way, all say the exact same thing “What was I thinking? Why didn’t I do this before?”
The biggest reason is that they didn’t do it before is elementary: Their brains are still in the mainland mentality of “GO! GO! GO!!!!”, so they have to rush to Key West. Some people think Key West is laid back. In the eyes of any Conch Republic citizen, Key West is just the opposite, at least as far as Keys living goes. For all of us, Key West is the big city, as far as island living goes. If you want laid back island living, stop at some mom and pop run hotel on the way to Key West. It’s the perfect way to release the mainland mentality and switch over to an island lifestyle. I’ve actually known people who did this on their way to Key West… and never made it!!! “We just decided we’ll hit Key West next year.”
I can’t stress enough, stop and smell the roses. There’s a lot to be seen and injoyed through out the Keys and anyone passing up on the opportunities is doing themselves a sever disservice. I know it’s not easy, but do your best to leave the mainland mentality back on the mainland.
Regarding traveling the Keys, I can’t tell you how many people tell me:
“When we’re driving, as soon as we hit the Keys, we put your album on the car sterio and listen throughout our drive through the Keys!”
I’m of course flattered and at the same time I also realize that I achieved one of the things I set out to achieve. After all, “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” is a compilation of songs that are all about the Keys. On this CD there is not one song that is about anything other than the Keys! This is a Keys album first and foremost. Plus, every song is in a different genre, so nothing sounds like anything else on the album. Shelly Liebowitz, L.A. producer of Miles Davis (!!!!), Ela Fitzgerald (!!!!) Dr. John(!!!) Maria Muldauer (!!) said “Chris I LOVE your CD! I feel like I’m back in the Keys!”
In addition, as I live in the Keys, it’s written from a first hand perspective. It’s not written by someone who came and spent two to seven days here, then went back home to Iowa, New York, Michigan, or California. This is music from the Keys. Spawned from the coral Islands, with it’s roots firmly entrenched in all the cracks in that coral. Like a line in “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48″ off the album goes “Roots have grown to this old rock, locked me firm and strong”
So if you’d like to get an actual Keys sound in your ears, it’s available for downloads at all the usual places, just search “Key West Chris”
available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris
Or write me at: email@example.com
and I can mail you a hard copy.
I’ll often get messages from people asking “Where should I stay in Key West?” That’s kind of a tough question, in a way. It’s not as though I stay in local BBs or hotels. I live here in a little house. Really, the best source I have for hotels is the feedback I get from others who come and stay in them. Quite honestly, I’ve never heard anyone complain about their accommodations here. Also, a lot has to do with what someone wants to pay. This can be a dodgy question as well. “We want something inexpensive” Okay, so I recommend hotel XYZ. Then it turns out they wanted something a bit more upscale.
Rates change with the seasons. As we speak, right now the rates are as low as you’ll see them. Once in season, rates will virtually tripple in many places. Additionally, the small places are being bought out by large corporations and being torn down, only to be replaced by, very expensive grandiose hotels. For those who enjoyed the Blue Marlin and the Spindrift, wave good by. They’re now closed and soon to be razed. Likewise, two small hotels on the southern coast are likewise being razed shortly, in favor of some wild corporate concrete hotel. Key West style? Hardly.
Why does Key West allow this to happen? Your guess is as good as mine. The city approves it and HARK, the historic preservation commitee, offers no objectios either. Go figure.
New Things To Do!
Dani and I had heard about the Coast Guard museum ship, USCG Ingham, now being available for sunsets! Now, keep in mind that the Ingham was built in the 1930’s and is permanently docked at the Mole Pier, so it’s not going out to sea, as the sail boats do for sunset. However, having stated that, the ship is docked and the view of sunset is as good as any in Key West, if not better!
We regretfully lost La Concha’s upper deck, which was used as a sunset vista since it was built in the 1920’s. City Hall approved it to be turned into a spa exclusively for hotel patrons instead of the riff raff that would go up there to view the sunset. Oh, did I mention? You and I are the riff raff. Why did City Hall approve this? Again, your guess is as good as mine. It strikes me as being a bit odd that a town like Key West, a town steeped in history and with history being a main attraction for the city, they would raze historic hotels and ruin traditions such as La Concha’s sunset deck. It’s really quite beyond me.
City Hall seems Hell-Bent on shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time.
On the other hand, the Ingham is actually a shot in the arm! What a breath of fresh air! It’s privately owned and is sitting on the dock that the United States Navy owns. I didn’t ask, but it’s my guess that they lease out the dock from the Navy? The grounds up to the dock are owned by the City of Key West, so it’s not in a restricted area.
The ship has been here for a few years, however only in the very recent past has it been used for a sunset venue. The very recent past. It’s a great deal too! The cost to board for sunset is only $5, however that also covers your first wine or beer, so it’s actually free when it all comes down to it.
What a sunset too! On the deck of the stern you’re about twelve to fifteen feet above the water. Perfect for a panoramic view. and as I say, there’s beer and wine available. I was quite impressed with the beer. Considering they have beer and wine for sunset only, I was amazed to find both Cigar City and Magic Hat beers offered on draft, in addition to the standard American brews.
The crew was fantastic as well! Fun folks who know how to have a great time and setting a jovial, but not obtrusive atmosphere.
We had the pleasure of going there with our friends Dave and Leslie Bevins, of the Cork and Stogie (1218 Duval St), who were celebrating their wedding anniversary!
While we lost La Concha, we gained the Ingham! I strongly recommend this as a sunset venue. To say we had a great time would be an understatement. Here we were aboard ths historic ship, with good friends, having a few beers (or wines) and enjoying the Key West sunset. It goes without saying that they are also open during the day as a museum, so don’t cut yourself short
A Funny, Yet Typical Key West Tale!
I have this friend, lets just call him Hans. That of course is not his name and I really don’t know anyone named Hans, here in Key West at least. well Hans is someone who lives payday to pay day and frankly, he sometimes gets a little behind on things. In this case here, he got behind on his phone and they turned him off.
As rent was due, he felt it most important to keep a roof over his head, so the phone stayed off for a bit.
A few days later he gets up in the morning and finds a homeless vagabond sleeping on his front porch! We’ll call him Sleeping Beauty. Hans actually was remotely acquainted with the guy.The landlord comes out and sees this, calls the police and Sleeping Beauty gets hauled off to jail for 28 days for vagrancy and trespassing.
After he’s gone, Hans notices that the vagrant left behind a cell phone. Hans picked it up and, low and behold! It works! Until Sleeping Beauty gets out of jail, Hans now has a phone! :-O
“The guy is homeless and actually has a nicer phone than I do!”
Thank you for reading the blog!!!
Key West Chris
To obtain my music:
My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris
Thank you everyone!!