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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Key West's Best Kept Secret, Key West Magic, Key West Sunsets, Tourist Question of the Day

Key West’s Best Kept Secret! Key West Magic, Key West Sunsets, Tourist Question of the Day



Listen to “Raise My Glass to the Upper 48 while you read the blog!

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Key West’s Best Kept Secret!

What is Key West’s best kept secret? HA HA! That secret is called “Summer”!!! Many feel that summer is the best time to come to Key West! For one our temperatures are less that of New York City, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. In addition, sitting out in the middle of the Gulf Stream, there’s always the trade winds meandering through. Plus, the hotel rates are 1/3 that of the winter season! So plan your trip to Key West this summer, even if it’s for a long weekend!


Key West Magic

In the last Blog I was talking about how Key West has been fading since Hemingway’s time. He left, yet thirty years after that, Buffett arrived. He lasted longer that Hemingway, but also left as he felt,if it’s going to be like the mainland and lose its individuality, why not just move to the mainland? And with that attitude, he did.
The other side of it remains that this island DOES maintain its magic energy. No matter what man does to attempt to change that, they can’t. Is it a still funky little fishing village with a drinking problem? Regretfully No, not so much anymore. If it were, Buffett would still live here. The fishing fleet, which is what it was: A fishing fleet of who knows how many shrimp boats used to be docked in Key West Bight.
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Photo: Dale McDonald

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Photo: Dale McDonald

The five or six shrimp boats which are left, have been banished to Stock Island, one key north of Key West. Regarding Stock Island, to quote Key West historian Richard Van Der Mude “Stock Island is NOT Key West”. As a matter of fact, Key West used to have a blessing of the shrimp boat fleet, as they paraded by Mallory Square on their way out of Key West Bight at the beginning of the season.. As the fleet is no longer in Key West Bight and has been reduced in overall size, that’s a tradition that seems to have sadly faded away. Somehow, personally I just have a hard time visualizing the local Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, sending over a priest, some altar boys, and a few nuns from their convent, to bless departing 50’ – 160’ yachts as they disembark for exotic ports of call.



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Photo: Dale McDonald

So, while Key West has lost a great deal of its funky character over the years, at a cost of many of the aforementioned characters, the town still has a wonderful vibe to it, which drew them originally.

Calling aces, aces, as much as I’d love to have things return to something closer to what it was, the reality is, that’s not going to happen. Recently the vacant lot behind Schooner Wharf, which years ago was a trailer park, then was sold to a developer that went bust, went up for grabs again. It ended up going to Mr. Singh, who developed the Truman Annex, who is now developing the site into a hotel. What would I have preferred? Laugh as much as you like, but I’d want it to be zoned only for a… you guessed it, a trailer park!

In anything like this however, no matter where it may be, once something is started, it’s history. So, the bottom line is the area is going to be a fancy, new hotel and the trailer park isn’t coming back. On the flip side, it’s this blogger’s viewpoint that future endeavors such as this, need to be curtailed, for the sake of the rich historical aspect of the town. Replacing something like a closed trailer park with an expensive hotel, should deserve a second look.

As I say however, there is still that magic, creative energy here on the islands of the Florida Keys. Key West, being the capital and nucleus of the Conch Republic, is the most concentrated. But you’ll find that creative inspirational energy from the Dry Tortugas, some seventy miles west of Key West, through the Marquesas Keys, and through the archipelago from Key West to Key Biscayne, which consist of over1900 islands, which comprise the Florida Keys. It’s a very fascinating area indeed!

Here’s a fun short anecdote I often share with people when talking specifically about Key West:

“Here we are, on an exotic, tropical island, one hundred miles from the mainland, out in the ocean, yet you can drive here and even though you are in a foreign country, you’re still in the United States.”

My friend Howard Livingston made a fun video of one of his songs, “Magic In Key West” Here it is!



TOURIST QUESTION OF THE DAY

Here’s a new feature I’m doing in the blog! I have several friends who are in the service industry here in Key West and when dealing with tourists, they find the tourist will ask the most remarkable questions. So, I’ve decided, just for a laugh, to feature today’s tourist question of the day!

Of course one of the popular activities here is watching the incredible sunsets! Here’s a great one my friend Cindi Hogan got:

“Does the sun set every night here in Key West?”

:-D

SPEAKING Of SUNSETS!!!

The sunsets in Key West are outstanding!!! One of the classic places to see a Key West Sunset is on roof top bar of the La Concha Hotel. It’s a quirky spot in that it is only open for sunset, yet it has a marvelous panoramic view of the entire town from its highest building. Bare in mind, this activity of watching the sunset from the top of La Concha has been going on since the 1920’s!

Because of the absolutely stellar view of the whole town, it always confused me as to why they were only open for sunset? Having said that, the sunset view from there is incredible!



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This week it came to light that the owners of the hotel want to turn the rooftop into a spa for hotel guests only! This is naturally being met with criticism from all over the world. My personal feeling is, as I mentioned, they should open the bar full time. It wouldn’t cost them a dime, unlike their proposed spa renovation, which clearly would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bar is already there and the opportunity for a full time bar at zero cost is there to be had on a silver platter!

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Anyone who’d like to help preserve this Key West classic, please sign the petition in the link. This will be sent to the City Planner and the City Commission. Key West being a tourist driven town, you certainly don’t need to be a local to fill it out. As a matter of fact if you’re outside the Keys, it just might carry a bigger punch! We can’t do anything about the previously mentioned hotel being constructed, but we do have a shot at saving this historical Key West venue! Thanks!






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Thank you everyone!!!

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Chris. I just can't imagine a hotel on Caroline, behind Schooner. It's such a quaint area with all the B&B's. A hotel will be out-of-place. Progress? I don't think so! Just another big building. It makes me feel very sad.

    As far as the La Concha....I was kind of shocked to have read about the proposed spa the other day. I'm worried about Key West becoming so commercialized that the original "flavor", that funky feel, will be totally gone. I'm signing the petition and will post it on my FB page so others can too.

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