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Key West, May 2011 (Part 3b)

Walking in the Sun

sunny 90 °F

Normally, I get a kick out of orchestrating our travels, making a pretty detailed itinerary with built-in options to please the variety of tastes in my family. It's not that spontaneity scares me. As a matter of fact, I find it refreshing. It's just that when I'm faced with the time constraints of a vacation and a family to please, lack of knowledge and democracy of choice usually lead to arguments and disappointment. In planning for Key West, Jay and I chose a few things we really wanted to do (like the kayak trip) and purposely left the rest of the schedule to whim. The purpose of the trip, after all, was escape and relaxation. Neither one of us struggled at all with the concept. Instead, the longer we stayed in the Keys, the harder it was to find motivation to do anything but chill.

After the kayaking tour, we needed a break from the sun. The air-coniditioned darkness of our room was a welcome relief. The rest was brief, however, because we realized we hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was almost 4pm. After an quick discussion, we decided to head into Old Town for a very late lunch and then spend the evening at Fort Zachary Taylor state park and watch the sunset. I understand from numerous sources that finding parking in Old town is a hassle. This was not our experience at all. We easily found street parking every time we entered Old Town - even on Duval near the Southernmost Beach Cafe. Because we did Old Town in small doses, parking on the street made the most sense for us. I guess I should mention that we were not trying to find parking during prime dining and bar hopping hours. The parking situation could be much different during those times.


The Southernmost Beach Cafe is found at the east end of Duval street (the quiet end). We basically chose it because it's right on the beach and the lunch reviews are consistently good. I personally recommend it for a number of reasons. It has a casual atmosphere with a great view of the ocean. The people watching was spectacular - the restaurant overlooks a public beach. Our waiter, Phil, was smiley and accomodating. The food was delectable. Even though the menu was just standard Key West lunch fare, everything we had was a treat to eat. I personally could have eaten 3 Coconut Shrimp appetizers myself. It took every ounce of civility to share those divine shrimp with the man I love most in this world.


Because we worked so hard rowing our boat, we felt it was time to reward ourselves with our adult beverage of the day. Mojitos were the drink of choice. Incredibly refreshing on a hot afternoon.


Our second Key Lime pie tasting took place right here at the Southernmost Beach Cafe. It had the same texture and consistency as the Morada Bay pie. The lime flavor was much more intense, increasing the tartness. The crust was comprised of crushed oreo cookies. The pie itself had a lime glaze drizzled on it which wasn't tart, just limey. A raspberry glaze was served with it as well. Our consensus - excellent. Jay liked the tartness. I liked the oreo crust. We struggled to choose the better pie. I couldn't do it. I thought they were equally excellent.


After lunch, we wandered around The Southernmost area for a bit.


Of course, we had to take the mandatory Key West tourist photos. The funny thing is that this isn't really the southernmost point of the island. I believe the real southernmost point isn't accessible to the general public. (I could be wrong about this.)


The sun was relentless. It wasn't a hard decision to end our touring session and head to the beach. Fort Zachery is a state park on the southwest side of the island with a small entrance fee. There is a fort that can be toured during the day but we arrived late so we headed directly to the beach. I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. I'd read and heard that the beaches in the Keys aren't that great. The natural beaches are few and generally covered with seagrass debris. The man-made beaches are small and have sand shipped in from the Bahamas. We've been to many beaches - East coast, West coast, Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, and St. John, USVI. I can honestly say that I was not the least bit disappointed with Fort Zachary. It was a quiet, intimate place to relax after a long day. The sand is somewhat gritty and getting into the water can be uncomfortable on bare feet because of the rocky shoreline. But, it was still the beach and that was good enough for me. And there were trees that offered welcome shade - I rarely experience that at most of the beaches I go to. No seagrass was floating in the water and the seagrass on the beach was very managable. The water was heaven - warm but refreshing and clear blue. We swam for a long time.


While we were there preparations were underway for a sunset wedding and beach reception. How romantic! Almost the entire time we were on the beach, the band warmed up. We were serenaded by the sounds of soft jazz floating on a gentle breeze as we lounged on the beach in Key West. Moments like these are never planned and yet become the defining memories of a trip.


To watch the sunset, we left the beach and went to the west side of the park. This spot ended up being my favorite for watching the sunset. There were not many people and the area had plenty of space to spread out. We saw lots of couples which gave it a romantic atmosphere. It was a serene, meditative experience. We found a few rocks down by the water and enjoyed the show.

Wouldn't it be fun to drive around the Keys in this old Ferrari?DSC_0719.jpg

And now, on with the show...

And on that lovely note, we end our day in Key West.

Posted by sjyoder 16:46 Archived in USA Tagged beaches food sunsets key_west

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