The work day finally arrived. Thanks to some advice from locals and a couple of members of a boat crew, I had my spot staked for the best viewing of the power boat races. If you decide to go and want a great spot, Fort Zachery Taylor has vendors, bathrooms, and the most important thing, shade! You also can't bring alcohol in the park so the crowd is pretty chill. You can buy beer in the parking lot but you can't bring it over into the park. It's not well marked and I saw two people get tickets from the ever vigilant Key West police. The first race is at 10 AM but it's best to arrive when the park opens at 8 AM. You can stake a claim on a picnic table or a bench. If you wait any later you will be sitting on rocks in the sun unless you happened to pack a chair in your suitcase. Do pack a collapsible cooler for a picnic and, for heavens sake, keep your alcohol under wraps!
I spent a little time getting to know my neighbors.
Watched a warm up.
Then they were off!
I was rooting for this boat.
They were balls to the wall! FYI: the person on the throttles is a girl, Maddie Janssen!!
After the first race, the second race doesn't start for another 2 hours so you have time to relax. The next race was the best of the day with bigger and louder boats. With that came the bigger crowds.
This dude waltzed in and took my shooting spot.
You don't need to mess with a women who has been sitting on a wooden bench for the better part of a day with nothing to consume except two bottles of water.
My neighbors thought they were going to get to see some extra action.
But I resisted the urge to clean his clock and I and my panama hat plopped right in front of him for the next race. He was a professional; he could deal with it.
I met a couple of the crew of the Lucas Oil boat and they were super nice so I was rooting for them.
You may notice a catamaran with some race watchers in the above picture. That is an up close and personal way to see the races, but I have to warn you. Once you get out there, you don't come back in for 7 hours! When I inquired about it, some locals said that when the boat finally makes it back in after the races the people scurry off likes rats.
With the second race done, I needed to tend to my blood sugar so I headed into town to meet Mr. Ville for lunch and check out the other end of the race course. Since the hotel, Casa Marina, was out of the way, I took a cab in. Unfortunately, there were no cabs to get me out. I hoofed it the mile into town in the heat with all my camera equipment. I felt a bit like a refugee. Even with GPS I managed to get lost because not all of the streets in Key West are marked. The good thing, Key West isn't very big so you can't go out of the way too far. When I finally made it to the water front, I could have cared less about seeing another race.
From my table at the Bistro 245 at the Westin Hotel I could hear the boats and that was good enough for me. Mojitos and Cuban sandwiches were just what the doctor ordered.
The racing was over for the day, but not the fun. It was time for The Key West Pub Crawl!
Led by Beau (who also moonlights as a pirate reenactor), we and the other crawlers went to five different venues, had a drink at each, and were treated to a little history and humor.
When it was time to move on to the next venue, Beau would blow the conch and off we'd go!
And as always, the boats!
Pub Crawling is a ton of fun but works up an appetite. After saying our goodbyes to Beau and friends we hit up Fogerty's, which is adjacent to The Flying Monkey for a bite to eat and a night cap.
The best conch fritters I had all trip!
Pretty basic but good shrimp wrap.
And grilled catch of the day.
Crowned the #2 for the best Key Lime Pie!
The next day I needed some fresh air so I hit up three of the top tourist spots in Key West.
Where Hemingway wrote.
Where he slept.
And where I'm sure he watched people cook.
One of the many six-toed cats.
Harry Truman's Little White House.
Harry Truman's shirt which is remarkably tiny.
Sloppy Joe's where Hemingway spent a lot of time drinking club soda and reading scripture. I, on the other hand, went there to have one or three of the best margaritas I've ever had.
And a real live Sloppy Joe that didn't taste at all like the ones I had to eat in school.
Even though we were relegated to the annex and not the main bar, it was still pretty colorful.
We skipped dessert at Sloppy's and walked through town to what we were told was the pie by which all Key Lime Pies are judged.
We finally made it to Kermit's.
I present the best Key Lime Pie in Key West! Kermit's Key Lime Pie frozen on a stick and dipped in chocolate.
We closed out our stay with a late dinner at the upscale, Louie's Back Yard. I recommend reservations.
The conch starter special.
Watercress and Boston Bib Salad.
Filet of Beef with a Crabmeat Crust.
Sweet Soy-Glazed Tuna with Grilled Bamboo Rice.
Key Lime Pie.
Key West was a fun place with a definite party atmosphere. We had some run-ins with aggressive drunk locals (at noon!) and one morning there was a guest passed out in the hall of our hotel. I guess you could say it's like Spring Break in New Orleans without all the strip clubs. If you want a relaxing beach getaway, this is not the place, but it's funky and has sun.