Visiting Key West (part one)
The vast majority of people living in Key West, started out as vacationers. Those born here are called “Conchs” (pronounced: Conks). Those who are not from here, but have lived here seven years are called “Fresh Water Conchs”. For those who are not born here, be it Fresh Water Conchs or those here less than seven years, we started out visiting these islands, here in the Keys.
I came up with a couple of terms that fit the two basic types of people that come here for vacation.
1) Visitors – People who want to live here, but cannot for various reasons. When they come they will search out the places locals go and get a big thrill when they fit right in. They want to be a part of Key West.
2) Tourists. Tourists love to come to Key West, revel in all the bachanalia and fun things to do, but have no desire to live here. They’ll go to all the tourists spots, then go home and look forward to coming back.
If you come to Key West, are you a visitor or a tourist? Mind you, one is not better than the other, they’re just different.
Myself, I first came and found the town quite similar to Provencetown, which is at the tip of Cape Cod. I had spent many summers on Cape Cod growing up and often hitch hiked from where I stayed (Chatham) up to Provencetown (a.k.a. “P-Town”) with my pal Fudd.
The first time I came here to key West I discribed it as a “Tropical P-Town”. A lot of the architecture here is from New England. Sea captains from New England back in the 1800’s would build second homes here.
Myself, I’ve always been a visitor. Forever I wanted to move here, however the stars didn’t line up until six years ago. Consequently, I’ll be a fresh water conch next May. Yey!
But before I moved here, I was the type that searched out the off the beaten path holes in the wall. In 1980 I would come down and hang out at Captain Tony’s and Sloppy Joe’s. Back then, Sloppy’s was a real bar, not the corporate BS that we have today. Later, I quickly found The Green Parrot on Whiteheard St. and that was forever my home bar when I was in Key West.
In a previous blog, I rated The Green Parrot as the number one bar in the Florida Keys, followed as close as a NASCAR draft by the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. The ‘Parrot was closed for three or four days last week having a new floor installed. C;osed? The Green Parrot? Sacrilege! HA HA
Personally, I find it disappointing, although I haven’t seen the new floor as of yet.
One of the coolest things about the ‘Parrot for me is the history of the place. It’s the type of place that makes you think “If the walls could talk!”. The floor is no different! It weaves and buckles here and there. After all, the place, in various guises, has been around since 1890. As I mentioned, the floor was uneven in places, but I thought that only added to the character of the place. The jury is out on the new floor until I see it, but regardless, it’s still the Green Parrot and it’s not as though some company in Dallas bought it and is turning it into a fern bar, or anything. In this day and age, they may just be having to protect themselves in the event with the old floor some drunk falls and sues their ass.
Getting back to visiting Key West, often when people are vacationing here, their minds shift into some odd mode and they do things that they wouldn’t do at home.
Here’s a funny thing to keep in mind. Traffic lights carry the same meaning in Key West as they do in the rest of the world. Red means stop, yellow means prepair to stop, and green means go. Silly as that may seem, I can’t begin to count how many time a day I see pedestrians not even look crossing a street and they are walking against a red light.
Then again, there are the drunks. Drunks in Key West? Key West consumes more alcohol per capita than any other city in the United States.
Last night I was driving down Duval St. (the main street in Key West) and there was an individual walking down the middle of the street with ear phones on, texting, completely oblivious to my 5000LB (11,000KG) Dodge van! I was tempted to give him a good, loud blast of my horn, but a loud horn just doesn’t belong in Key West. Loud horns are for the mainland. So, I just motored around him nice and slow. He never even knew I was there.
The bottom line is use the same caution you would back where you live. The Lower Keys Medical Center ( the local hospital) actually opens up an entire wing, all three floors, in tourist season.
The maximum speed limit in Key West is thirty miles an hour(48 Kph) and that’s only on North Roosevelt and South Roosevelt Boulevards. Everywhere else is 20. Because of this, I’ve put the purchase of the 16 cylinder, 1000 horsepower, 258mph (418Kph) Bugatti Vayron on hold.
I’ve always said, if you are visiting here, once you get to where you’re staying, don’t get back into your car until your suite cases are back in the trunk! Key West is best seen on foot! After that, by bicycle. Scooters are convenient, but aside from filling up the hospital, you don’t get to see the subtle things that make this town so unique and especially currious. Exploring is an activity of the visitor. Walking by a small, one way lane and you can only say to yourself “Hummm… what’s down there?” and go investigate.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the follow up blog to this “Visiting Key West (part two)” I’ll have it up quickly!
Thank you for reading the blog!!!
Key West Chris
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