I can’t believe it’s already been a week since I was in the Keys. I guess time goes fast when you’re having fun. It seems that every time I get ready to write about the rest of the trip, something else pops up. Although I started writing this a week ago Monday, I finally forced myself to finish up.
Key Largo – My time in Key Largo was cut short. Little Bastard Alberto was churning up in the Yucatan. While it wasn’t a complete loss… I did get one afternoon of SCUBA diving in. Little Bastard Alberto made diving any more a bad idea. Sgt Pepper and I did spend an evening at Sharkey’s foot tappin’ (claw tappin’) to a good old-fashioned rock-n-roll band. Then it was on down the road.
One of the things I wanted to see was how much damage remained from last fall’s Big Bitch Irma. Mostly I discovered how fickle she was. Most of the area seems to have been untouched… at least that’s what it looked like. Maybe it has been fixed up. But starting about mile marker 85 there were places that were destroyed.
Most houses or businesses were in great shape. But then it was bizarre. In between the perfect condition places something would be utterly devastated… with no chance of repair. Then drive along for miles with no apparent damage, and then BAM… another place all smashed up. For the most part, there was only a little damage remaining.
With Alberto brewing, it was raining on and off. Sgt Pepper is easily scared by such stuff, so rather than seeing much along the way we only stopped at the Sunset Grille. The Sunset Grille is right at the southern end of Marathon. I think there used to be a man-made beach there, but if there was, it was completely eroded away. Otherwise, everything else there, including the pool and patio, were in great shape.
We only stopped for a bite to eat. I had a Cuban… I’m driving so no booze for me. But Sgt Pepper on the other hand had two Tiki Parrots. Really… that’s a booze drink they serve there. I don’t know what’s in it, but after two, Sgt Pepper needed me to carry him to the car. Then it was on down the road. Next stop… Bone Island
Barrrrrark… Are we there yet?… Barrrrrark
Key West – Thanks to Little Bastard Alberto, it rained almost the whole time on Cayo Hueso. Cayo Hueso is the original Spanish name of Key West. It was a heavy rain most of the time with a little bit of wind. But I wasn’t about to let the rain spoil my fun.
I took a look around to see how Bone Island is doing after last fall’s Big Bitch Irma. As it turns out, there is very little damage remaining that I could see.
All of my favorite places for liquid refreshments were fine. I suspect some may have had new coats of paint. In any case, everything was bright and shiny. I took a couple of pics to show you what I mean:
There was one exception… a t-shirt shop on the corner of Green and Whitehead was almost destroyed. It used to be the “Tropical Corner”. This was the first T-shirt shop most cruise ship passengers would come to as they walked into Key West. The place right next door was where they sold tickets for the “hop on – hop off” bus. It’s gone. The following pic shows the before and the after of the stores.
I’m going to leave out all the debauchery along Duval Street. You’ll just have to buy the book when it comes out. I do want to tell you about one special place. I was making my way to some of my old haunts… with Sgt Pepper on my shoulder. He was suffering a bit of a hangover from the two Tiki Parrots yesterday afternoon and was being kinda quiet.
I was peddling my bicycle on my way along Elisabeth street from Caroline, going to Amelia and then over to Duval. (Actually, I was headed over to visit folks… and a “painkiller” at the Rum Bar.) Suddenly Sgt Pepper went berserk.
“Barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, , barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark.
When I was finally able to calm him down a little bit and asked, “What’s wrong?”
He answered, “Barrrrrark, Nancy Forrester’s barrrrrark”
He flew off my shoulder… he never does that… and landed on a sign at 518 Elisabeth Street. It was a sign for Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden.Now I knew about the “Garden of Eden”… the roof-top place on top of the Bull & Whistle. So I wondered what Sgt. Pepper was getting me into.
Well, I have to tell you… Nancy Forrester’s garden is way better than the one on the top of the Bull & Whistle. Nancy’s garden is in her backyard. It’s a place where she rescues parrots. It’s small and way underfunded, but she is currently caring for 23 unwanted parrots. She relies entirely on donations. (More about donations in a minute.)
I couldn’t believe it…. nobody wanted these parrots. They were beautiful!. Nancy spent a lot of time telling us about what she does there. Of course, I already knew that a parrot is a lifelong friend, partner, and companion. It takes commitment to have a parrot. A parrot can live to be 100 years old. So if you want a parrot, it is indeed a lifelong commitment.
While we were there, Nancy introduced us to two of the parrots she is caring for. First was Mr. Peaches… an astonishing Moluccan Cockatoo. Mr. Peaches would sing and dance, but maybe most amazing is that he would play games on visitors smartphones. Really! He learned to use his tongue on the screen to play games. These Cockatoos are an endangered species, and Nancy wants to do what she can.
Next up was “Batman”… a magnificent McCaw He was a bit of a talker. He and Sgt. Pepper carried on quite a conversation. I have no clue what they were talking about since I don’t speak parrot. But knowing Sgt. Pepper, he was getting information on all the hot chicks in the area.
You can tell Nancy is passionate about what she does. She welcomes visitors to her garden and will spend as much time talking about her passion as you would like. Her garden (and her kindness) are one of those little-known places in Key West everyone should visit.
Don’t be shy. There’s just a little path along the side of her house that leads to her “Garden.” If you weren’t looking for it… or had Sgt. Pepper with you… you almost would miss it. From the front, it looks like many of the houses in Key West. But the path does lead to the garden and Nancy welcomes everyone.
She asks for a 10 dollar per person (or per parrot) donation. It was worth way more than the $10 bucks. As soon as I got home, I sent her some more to help out. You can donate with a credit card or Paypal. With the weather the way it was, she hasn’t been getting many visitors and needs to care for a lot of birds.
It was a great way to spend the late morning. Sgt. Pepper and I sat there sort of playing with all the parrots… feeding them some banana chips… talking with them… and listening to Nancy tell about the parrots. Even Sgt. Pepper learned stuff.
We were there for at least two hours. It was sprinkling on and off most of the time. I would have stayed longer, but it started raining harder, so we left.
I spent the rest of the day doing Key West stuff… visiting old haunts, and having liquid refreshments. But my time at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is one of my best Key West memories ever. Anyone visiting Key West owes it to themselves to visit and spend some time there.
Visit Nancy’s website or her facebook page.
Click here for Nancy’s facebook page
Click here for Nancy’s web site.
The trip to the Keys was way too short, and I spent too much time hunkered down due to all the rain from Little Bastard Alberto. There were no sunsets… no walk-abouts (or crawls) down Duval… and none of the adventures I hoped for.
So… another trip is in order. SOON.
“Barrrrrark, When are we going back… when are we going back? barrrrrark”
Read part 1 – Escape to Key West – Part 1