What is not to like about Key West? It has everything that you could possibly want in a vacation get-away. You can jet ski and snorkel in the crystal clear water. You can party on Duvall Street at one of many iconic watering holes. There is a state park with a beautiful beach at one end and a performance square with jugglers and sunsets at the other. Why is it that Key West does not have a stronger appeal to us?
We think it must be the heat. Everything would be so much better if we were not so darn hot all the time. At this tropical latitude, the sun overhead is a monster to be reckoned with and the night time temperatures are only about 3 degrees cooler than those in the day time. Don’t come to Key West between April and September. It is probably fabulous in the winter. I’d give anything for winter.
And in all that heat, the quaint golf carts and scooters get down right annoying. Did you know that a scooter and a gas powered leave blower sound identical? In 4 square miles of narrow and puddled roads, cars, trucks, trolleys, delivery vans, tractor trailers, golf carts, scooters, throttle and go bikes, walkers and the yo basic beach cruiser have little idea where they are and are just trying not to run into each other. There is no rhyme nor reason to which side of the road to use. No wonder the drivers of the cars sit frozen at intersections. Who wants to risk 6 points and an involuntary manslaughter charge?
In search of inspiration, we expended 99% perspiration on the “Free Things to do in Key West” google tour. We’ve come to the conclusion that Key West has reached Disney status. Hemingway is this magic key-dom’s Mickey Mouse. Where it once held mystique, this southernmost point has lost it’s intangible – that feeling that you are somewhere like nowhere else. It’s a town overrun with tourists looking for an insta-memory. We think of it as the kind of place you definitely want to experience, but maybe not repeatedly.
Today we sought inspiration in an abandoned fort turned garden club, at a 1000 foot pier with an AIDS memorial, at an African cemetery, at a wildlife rescue shelter, at a sandal factory and in an historic seaport. Inspiration eluded us although the garden club was shaded which is more than you can say about the pier. The wildlife rescue shelter was closed, in need of some benefactor to rescue it. We had our hearts set on legit handmade sandals, but our feet said no.
Still, the Conch Train is kind of cute. Not in an I-want-to-ride-it cute sort of way but in an it’s-ok-if-YOU-do sort of way. And the band of bachelor party revelers in goofy coordinated shirts on Duval is kind of cute, except for the ones stopping passing bicyclers like us to salute them – whatever that means. It’s all very touristy which wouldn’t be so annoying if it were not for the heat I’m sure.
There must be too many bicycles in Key West because most of law enforcement, and park enforcement, and signage is directed at bicyclists. We pushed our Como’s to a near empty beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park to unload the beach patio set we carry in the saddle bags. Park Rangers reminded us three times during unload that bicycles belong in bike racks only, even when riding them I guess. We assume that winter must really bring the bikes out and LEO is just practicing up for a tough season on the few bike criminals they can find.
Maybe you just get to a point in life when you just don’t want to walk by, let alone walk into any more trinket shops, unless they are air conditioned of course – because the heat is crazy oppressive in September. If you cannot stand trinket shops, pick an art theater for three hours of cool-ish air.
Obviously, this is all wildly unfair to Key West. The place has everything. Get yourself a BnB at one of a score of cottages big or small in and around town. The historic downtown is small enough to be walkable, but you will have more fun and greater hearing loss on a scooter. Send me a postcard. I’ll be looking for Hemingway and cooler temperatures.