Summer’s Last Last Gasp

I’m posting this on New Years Eve. Most of the USA is in a deep freeze. Here in the frozen tundra it has been down into the teens every night for the last several nights. It seems no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep it summer forever. I did make it to Key West, but I only stayed there a few days. I suppose if I could have stayed in the Keys, it wouldn’t still be summer any way. As I write this, tonight’s low in Key West will be near 70 degrees. The ocean water temp is down to 75 degrees. Now for some of you that might seem like it’s still summer, but I consider it to be winter. Any time the air temperature drops to 70 or the water temperature drops below 80, it’s winter for me. I know… I know… I’m a wimp.

So… even though winter has fully set in… except in Key West… I hope you enjoy my thoughts about summer’s last, last gasp.

I wanted to write stuff about my days in Key West but I wasn’t sure what to write. I’ve written a lot about the place in two of my books, Searching for Kokomo… and Cruisers Guide to Key West. I’m not sure what I should add without writing another complete book. There’s so much to see and do, but this trip I did some of the stuff I always do. I’ve written about everything I did this trip (and a lot more) in those books so I don’t want to repeat myself too much here. With that said, I’ll give you the overview and some pics.

I rented a bicycle and pedaled my butt all over town. As usual, I went to the Schooner Wharf Bar to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on and listen to some live music. I went to Margaritaville for a Cheeseburger in Paradise, a frozen concoction to help me hang on and to listen to some live music. I went to the “Conch Farm” for a Mahi Mahi fish sandwich along with a frozen concoction to help me hang on and listened to some live music. By the way… the “Conch Farm” is the nickname locals have given the Conch Republic Seafood Company.

One of the best watering holes for a frozen concoction to help you hang on and some live entertainment. This is "old time" Key West at it's best.

One of the best watering holes for a frozen concoction to help you hang on and some live entertainment. This is “old time” Key West at it’s best.

So you get the idea. That’s Key West for ya… a lot of frozen concoctions to help you hang on.

I also went to the sunset at Mallory Square. This is one of the things you just can’t do on a cruise. I went there many times when I lived in Key West, but just the same, I keep going. There was nothing new this time… it’s the same “carnie” atmosphere. I love it. There’s no place else in the world you can see a sword sallower, fire eaters, tight-rope walkers, singing minstrels, a magnificent sunset and have a frozen concoction to help you hang on… all at the same time.

Fire Eaters hailing in sunset.

Fire Eaters hailing in sunset.

Juggling and walking the tightrope as the sun sets.
Juggling and walking the tightrope as the sun sets.
A minstrel at Mallory Square for the sunset "celebration"
A minstrel at Mallory Square for the sunset “celebration”
Sunset view from Mallory Square... now you know why I keep going back.
Sunset view from Mallory Square… now you know why I keep going back.

Night time on Duval Street is a lot different than it is during the day. For one thing, it’s transformed into an adult bevy of activity. Very few kids are there and the party begins when the sun goes down. Another of the things you’ll never see while on a cruise is the guy that rides his “tricycle” down Duval street. He is an icon of Key West. He goes the length of Duval every night… his boom-box playing music, his lights whirring and flashing. Even though the picture is worth a thousand words, this is a sight you have to see for yourself.

Every night this icon of Key West pedals his way down Duval. He is part of the Key West character at night.

Every night this icon of Key West pedals his way down Duval. He is part of the Key West character at night.

There’s live entertainment everywhere you go in town. One of my favorites is “Black & Skabuddah” (that’s Laura Black and Russ… ummmmm, Skabuddah). They play all over town and quite often at the La Te Da. The La Te Da is a neat place with quite a history. I lived walking… errrrrr… stumbling distance from there, so it was one of my favorite places for liquid refreshment. But, not a frozen concoction. They have their own version of a Cosmopolitan… a La Te Da Cosmo.  It’s mmmmm-mmmmm good. But be careful because they go down easy and before you know it, you’ll be crawling home.

Needless to say, I spent an evening at the La Te Da. Although I like their Cosmos (their frozen concoctions are good too), the main reason I went there was to see Black & Skabuddah. I really like their music and style. Russ is an exceptional guitarist; Laura sings, plays guitar, and they’re both very engaging with the audience. I should also add that Laura is quite an artist. Besides her music, she is a member of “Island Arts” (across the street from the La Te Da) where her work is on display. I think her work is quite good. Although I don’t know Black & Skabuddah well, I consider them friends.

Black and Skabuddah at the La Te Da (Photo curtsey of Black and Skabuddah)

Black and Skabuddah at the La Te Da (Photo curtsey of Black and Skabuddah)

By the way… the La Te Da is also a piano bar a number of nights of the week. So another of my favorites is Dave Bootle at the piano, but he wasn’t there this trip. It’s a good thing or I would have stayed another day.

I stayed in Key West as long as I could. Perhaps I should just move there again. But for this year, it was a bonsai run back to the Northernmost Caribbean to stay there for another month. It was a good month as far as the weather and beach were concerned. It was kinda weird with the beaches so deserted and free from the summer tourist crunch.

Now there are only a few footprints left in the sand.

Now there are only a few footprints left in the sand.

Still… there was a bit more to go before the last, last gasp…before my trek to Fin City. I spent as much time at the beach as I could. The water and the air were still warm. There were some magical times… a dolphin swimming by twenty-five yards off shore… while I was ankle deep in the water and a school of manta rays swam by…. and a pelican hunted for its dinner just off shore.

I was in less than knee deep water and these guys "flew" right by. Note my shadow cast in the water.

I was in less than knee deep water and these guys “flew” right by. Note my shadow cast in the water.

Another shot of the Manta Rays as they swam by me

Another shot of the Manta Rays as they swam by me

A [pelican hunts for his meal

A pelican hunts for his meal

A pod of dolphins swam by just off shore... maybe some of Flipper's children

A pod of dolphins swam by just off shore… maybe some of Flipper’s children

But in the end, I couldn’t hold off the inevitable… winter was coming… the sun was setting on summer. I was bound for the frozen tundra. OK… so it’s not the frozen tundra. Just the same, to me it’s cold so it might as well be the frozen tundra.

Sunset on summer in the Northernmost Caribbean. I'll be back next spring.

Sunset on summer in the Northernmost Caribbean. I’ll be back next spring.