Saturday, October 5, 2013
Getting To Key West, MOTM Events, A1A Revisited
^Listen to Misty Loggins sing my song “Island Blue” While you read the blog!^
As far as any trip goes to Key West, the first thing you have to do is get there! There are three ways to get to Key West, one is by boat. This is the finest way, no doubt, particularly if you’re on a private boat! There is also the Key West Express, which travels from Fort Meyers and I believe it’s a three hour trip. Personally, I prefer sailing into the Keys. There’s nothing as peaceful as coming in under sail, with only the wind and the boat cutting through the tropical waters, making any sounds of movement. It's completely natural. Sailing in the Keys is a beautiful experience indeed! If anyone comes by any other way, I strongly suggest going out for a sunset sail while you're here! There are an assortment of sailboats that head out every evening. If you would like to look into it, touch base with my friend Bruce Nielsen who books them!
Here's his FB page: https://www.facebook.com/bruce.nielsen?fref=ts
Having said that, most don’t have the opportunity to take a boat and the other two ways are to either fly, or drive. Flying is kind of generic for the most part, with one exception, Silver Airways. Silver Airways recently started flying to Key West, taking up where American Eagle left off, using turbo props! What a joy to hear propellers in the air! Let’s face it, flying in a jet is about as exciting as white bread. However, think of the romance of flying into Key West on a prop plane! Now that’s an adventure!!! The romance of flying into Key West on a prop plane is really hard to beat! Silver flies into Key West from Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral, and Tampa.
Of course the other way of getting here is by car. Many people fly into either Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale, rent a car and drive here. This is a fabulous way to arrive! You enter the Conch Republic on the mainland, driving on US 1 when you pass The Last Chance Saloon, which is the last building in Florida City before you hit the 18 mile stretch, then drive through the Everglades before you hit Key Largo. The Last Chance Saloon is the border of the Conch Republic and the U.S. ;-) The drive through the Keys is always rated as one of the top ten most scenic drives in the United States and one not to be missed!!!!
Here is where so many make a grave, regretful error!
The vast majority drive straight through to Key West.
The smart traveler will take a day or two to get to there. Granted, from the first point of civilization one hits after “the stretch”, Gilberts Resort, to Mile Zero in Key West, is only 108 miles. The Keys are without doubt, the most laid back places I’ve been in my life. I am not including Key West in that statement, mind you. Key West is a lot of fun and I love it, but it certainly isn't laid back at all. Its balls to the wall, pedal to the metal right up to 4am in the morning. Staying a couple of nights on the way down, you can really get a feel for what the Keys laid back atmosphere is all about.
The absolute best thing to do is stop around Key Largo for the day/evening. It’s also cheaper than Key West as well. I mentioned Gilbert’s Resort earlier. I’m familiar with it because I used to play there with my band, The Rabble Rousers before I moved to Key West. Gilbert’s sits right on Jewfish Creek at the base of the bridge to Key Largo. Since they built the new bridge, there is an exit specifically for Gilbert’s. Whether you stay there or just stop for a refresher, Gilbert's has to be the absolute king as far as Tiki Bars in all of the Keys. The main bar is a HUGE Tiki Bar, easily the largest Tiki Bar in the Keys! Jim the bar tender, is one of the best in the business. Once he knows you, when he sees you come in the next time, your drink is on the bar before you get there!
They also have a smaller Tiki Bar, about 1/3 the size of the large one. Additionally, there are all sorts of little tiki tables scattered all over, if you want to be slightly away from the bar.
Like many other great places in the Keys, this is old time Keys, not the new, glamour we’re seeing encroaching on Key West.
Check this out! Gilbert’s has a few panoramic views available on this page:
I also just checked, rooms there for Monday October 28th are $69 and $79 for double occupancy. Be it here or anywhere else in the Keys, take a day or two to unwind, because trust me, coming to MOTM what you’re going to do is get all wound up. Gilbert's, like many other places in the Keys archipelago, is old time Keys. 5 star? Hardly. But what it is, is the real deal. There are all kinds of places like this throughout the Keys. I mention Gilbert's because I know it.
The Keys are one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to. Don’t do yourself the disservice of just driving through. Stop for a night or two. It’s hard to beat.
Some pictures of the Keys
Robbie’s Marina, Islamorada
Blackwater Sound, Key Largo
Caribbean Club, Key Largo
Key Largo - Sharkey's Pub and Galley. This bar sits right on a cannal and is hidden away in Key Largo.
THE DRIVE DOWN #1
As I said, the drive down is consistently rated as one of the most scenic in the U.S. You are island hopping with the Atlantic on your left and the Gulf of Mexico on your right. Every day the water is different as well!
The road down to Key West once you hit Key Largo, is only one road and that is U.S. 1. That’s it. It’s also called Overseas Highway. This is NOT A1A.
U.S. 1 runs from Key West to Fort Kent, Maine. It starts in Key West and runs 2,369 miles. Key West the sign reads “Mile 0” on Whitehead Street. It turns on Truman and up just before White Street, is Mile Marker 1.
A1A is an alternate route in Florida. The name means “Atlantic 1 Alternate”. There is virtually no place in the Keys where an alternate could possibly be placed, other than a small section of road, two miles, in Key West where there is a section of A1A. This runs from Bertha Street to the Cow Key Bridge, where it ends. This is also known as South Roosevelt Blvd. When Jimmy Buffett wrote the song that says “Strolling down the avenue that’s known as A1A”, he was talking about strolling down South Roosevelt Blvd. most likely past Smathers Beach. (his first video, Come Monday,was largely filmed on S.Roosevelt/A1A.
A1A also has its own Mile Markers. It doesn’t have a Mile 0 sign, but one mile up from Bertha St. is Mile Marker 1. A1A’s MM 1, is about three miles from US1’s MM 0. A1A ends is at the Cow Key Bridge. At that point you merge with US 1, just past it’s Mile Marker 4.
So, in the Keys, A1A is two miles long and located in Key West. The road that takes you through the Keys, across all of the bridges Key Largo to Key West, is U.S.1, not A1A. A1A picks up again on the mainland up in Miami/Dade.
I made this video last year, so you can see all of A1A in the Keys on the quick drive.
The Drive Down is: To be continued in the next blog!!!
This year I’ll be hosting three events! Anything you see labeled “Conch Rock Productions”, is us! Look for my logo!
Last year we had the Tropical Songwriters in Paradise event and it was such a success, we’re doing it again! This year however, it is moving to Durty Harry/Rick’s at 202 Duval St. right in the thick of everything. I’m really excited about that too! This year, we’re doing in the same formula as the largest songwriter’s festival in the nation, the Key West Songwriter’s Festival, does. Frankly, I haven’t a clue why I didn’t do it this way before. Or for that matter, why no one else has ever done it this way at MOTM?
What we’ll be doing is an In-The-Round formula. In other words we’ll have three or four songwriters on the stage at the same time. One will talk a bit about their song then play it. The next artist then does the same when they are done and it just rotates. The great thing about this for the audience is that they get to see three or four different artists on stage at the same time!
Additionally, I just heard from Rick’s manager and he is also going to have it set up as a tail gate party with a B.B.Q. going! This event will be Thursday, noon to 8pm.
Here’s a good example of how an in-the-round works, with Jon Roniger at the 2011 Key West Song Writer Festival. You’ll notice there are four songwriters on stage with him. Ours will be the same format!
The evening of the night before, Wednesday, October 30th from 6:30 – whenever, I’ll be hosting MOTM OPEN MIC AT McCONNELL’S!!!
Last year I had so many artists wanting to play the songwriter’s event, but I just couldn’t fit everyone in. The open mic is a perfect solution for that! The format is simple. There’s a list, one signs when they get there. When they’re called, they play. Easy! We can go as long as we need too. I’m initially scheduling it to end at midnight, but if there are patrons and players in the bar, we can go as long as 4am. We’ll play that by ear. McConnell’s has a full bar and a great menu as well! The kitchen closes around 10:30. I looking forward to a great crowd!
McConnell’s is at 900 Duval on the corner of Olivia and Duval, noe block north of Truman Ave.
The other event I’ll be hosting is the “Sunday Afternoon Chill, Dockside at Sunset Tiki. This event will be at Sunset Tiki, which is on the water, behind the Galleon Resort at 617 Front St. This will be Sunday, November 3rd noon to 5pm. I mean, it’s tough to beat live music at a dockside bar, isn’t it? Seriously!!!
NOTE!!! This event has been changed! With the passing of DJ Jeff, the event has been changed to "Trop Rockin' For Jeff - Dedicated to a Brother DJ Jeff Allen". Any musicians playing in MOTM are welcome to stop by and Trop Rock for Jeff in his memory.
Same time, same place, just that the event has changed..
View from Sunset Tiki:
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