"In a Naval Base Rental Trailer in Key West 2005" Top 5 Page for this destination Key West Travelogue by grandmaR
Key West Travel Guide: 2,037 reviews and 4,028 photos
Yesterday, we heard on the radio that US 1 (in the stretch that is only one way for construction anyway) a sewage tanker overturned on a car AND on the water main which supplies water to the Keys, and shut down the whole road for the whole day. So everyone was using Card Sound and they lifted the toll for that period of time. They have also been shutting down 7 mile bridge periodically to film a commercial.
Bob says he has a cold, but he will take an anti-congestant for it, so it is harder to tell with him. I refuse to take any more medication than is prescribed.
Bob took me over to the ITT office and dropped me off and he did a load of wash. While he was sitting there, he checked out the cigarette lighter plug and found that in the banging around he had done to try to get the cooler to work (opening and shutting the ash tray violently many times) that it had come completely disconnected. So he fixed that, and now it works fine.
We have been using a laundry bag for white stuff and a different bag for colored wash, but the white wash bag has big holes in the bottom, so stuff falls out. So Bob bought us two new bags at the exchange.
When I put the laundry in the bag for the colored wash, I took a shirt of his that was bundled up on the top of a dresser and stuck it in the bag too. He thought he didn't have enough for a white and a colored wash, so he just did the colored. But he'd bundled up his underwear in the shirt, so there was some white in the colored wash too. He complained that I'd put the wash in the wrong bag, but since his other underwear was in the closet on the floor, I didn't look in the shirt because I thought he'd sorted it.
Anyway, he did a load of wash (and fixed the ashtray and read the paper), and then he went to the commissary - the commissary is closed Sunday and Monday.
Meantime, I was doing email etc - we are supposed to only be on there for 15 minutes if people are waiting, but one man was there from before 10 (he was there when I got there) until about 11:30. Much of that time, there was no one waiting, but sometimes there was.
We lazed around the trailer for the rest of the day and then we went to Bahama Mama's for dinner. This is basically behind the Bahama market. They have several dedicated (free) parking places behind it. Most of the seating is outside although they say there is inside seating also. There was one lady waiting on tables, and I presume someone else doing the cooking.
Bob had the shrimp salad (which was a salad with grilled shrimp in it). I had the jerk chicken for $14.95. This was a small half chicken - tender and spicy, with a small portion of fried plantains, two hush puppies, and two sides. I took shrimp hash cake (which was kind of like hash browns but with shrimp and peppers in it), and crab and rice. I also had a piece of home made key lime pie $4.50 (it was warm) and I drank iced tea. The total bill was under $31 before tip.
We got into conversation with two other couples - one from the Allentown area and one from the eastern shore (of MD) and it was a nice relaxing evening.
Wednesday Feb 2, 2005
About 4:30, we drove down to Mallory Square and found a place in the city run Mallory parking lot ($3/hour). There was a man hanging upside down in a strait jacket, and the cat man was feeding his cats.
First - the aquarium - it was really very good. They had some real living coral in it (not just fiberglass mockups). We were too late for a tour, but saw them feeding the rays. They also had outside tanks.
Next - Mallory Square. I have never before, in all the visits I have made to Key West, been to Mallory Square to watch the sunset. I took 16 digital photos plus some with the film camera.
Afterwards, we saw the statue people who were all covered with silver paint, and various musicians. We went through the sculpture garden which had statues and biographies of such people as Commodore Porter, Asa Tift, Stephen Mallory, Hemingway, Simonton, Whitehead (the latter two with streets in Key West named for them) and Dr. Jeptha Vining Harris (1839-1914) who was born in SC and moved to MS
We ate at El Meson De Pepe, which turned out to be a kind of Cuban restaurant cum museum. There was a cigar store on one side and old pictures on the walls of Key West athletes of Cuban descent, and pictures of old bodegas.
Thursday, Feb 3.
It was supposed to rain today, but it was clear and hot. We drove over to NAS Truman Annex. This is right by Fort Taylor State Park - the beaches are contiguous, but since we can get onto the base, we do not have to pay to go to the beach.
Bob had lunch at the grille which he thought was expensive (it was about $6). Then I tried to figure out the logistics of swimming. There were a number of RVs around and I think they expect that most folks using this beach will change in their RV.
There is a little concrete building near the beach which has an outside shower, and a cubby hole (not labeled men or women or with any door on it) marked for changing. The building next to the patio was completely under construction with workers inside the women's section. So I had to change in the Sunset Grill bathroom. Extremely unsatisfactory.
I walked down to the beach in a bathing suit and cover up and beach shoes, and took some pictures with the film camera. The NCL Majesty was coming in, and there were some folks on jet skis doing the island tour which I think circumnavigates the island (an hour and a half with a price of $101). Also some Seabees were off the beach in Zodiacs doing something or other.
The water was cold, but not as cold as Sombrero last year. It was not hard for me to get in and swim a little bit. Now -- how do I get dressed again?
I walked over to the outside shower and showered. Then I went to the Sunset Grill bathroom. I washed out my water shoes in the sink - getting a lot of sand in there (which I cleaned up). I put one foot up in the sink to get the sand off, but I just stuck the other one in the toilet (after it had been flushed) and swished it around and dried it (I'm not going to be eating with my feet after all). I stuck my head under the sink faucet and washed the sand out of my bathing suit in the sink.
After I got myself clothed and in order, we went to the PO to pick up the mail. I went to the Dutch door and rang the bell, and showed the lady ID. She came back with our forwarded mail package and said - is there a man's name on this? Because it was addressed to Bob and she wasn't going to give it to me unless I knew what name it was for.
Then we went to the Butterfly Conservatory. It was $8.50 plus tax for us ancient people or military - $9.16 when you add the tax in. [and we paid more than that in Costa Rica]
Right away, a butterfly came and sat on Bob's shirt (which was red), and one lighted on his head later. They have a mirrored room on the exit so you can check to see if there are any hitchhiking butterflies. I got almost 20 good close up butterfly pictures- some of the best are in the travelogue.
Then we came home to read our mail, and Bob cooked steak for dinner which was excellent.
Feb. 4 - East Martello Tower Museum - a National Registered Historic Site was our goal today. Construction started in 1862 to protect Fort Taylor during the Civil War and was not finished until after the Civil War. The tickets for seniors are $4. There was a combo ticket for the Customs House, Lighthouse and East Martello Tower which was $16.
Each section of the casements was arranged to reflect some aspect of Keys life and history.
1- Martello history. The (upside-down flower pot) design came from a Mortella Point tower on Corsica in 1793 and the British were so impressed with the way the small contingent of French defended it that they built 194 Martello forts around the world. The Key West Martellos were the last built anywhere.
2 - native Americans including a model of the house on Indian Key before the massacre.
3/4 - early Key West, and a section on the Convent of Mary Immaculate founded by the Sisters of the Holy Name who came from Canada in 1866.
5 - pictures of Key West after various disasters, plus pictures of some of the pioneer settlers like Judge William Marvin, and Captain Geiger (Audubon House) and also Robert the Doll. Robert was a large doll given to a 4 year old Gene Otto in 1903, and Gene blamed Robert for all kinds of mischief. Gene died in 1974, and the doll is now in the museum. It is considered really bad luck to photograph Robert without asking his permission. There is a larger than life size (about 9 feet tall) painting of Robert outside the door of the museum.
6/7 - Spanish American war, the Battleship Maine plus photos of the presidents who vacationed here.
8/9 - wreckers, spongers, the turtle industry - occupations in the late 1800s and transportation with a model of the City of Key West which was a steamship which Flagler purchased (formerly called the City of Richmond) to make the trip three times a week to Cuba and the history of the airport (Meacham Field) which had scheduled flights to Cuba in 1927.
11/12 - artists and actors. An actual raft that Cubans used to reach the US, and then a bit on the Cuban Missile Crisis
At this point, my camera battery died, and I went back to the car to get a replacement and stopped to take some pictures of a cruise ship leaving.
In the courtyard around the central tower a child sized playhouse. When we climbed the very rusty stairs to the top of the tower but mostly what you see from there is the airport.
Bob went into the gift shop section of the museum and to a place where there is an exhibit of paintings and intaglio wooden carvings by Mario Sanchez (who was born in Key West in 1908) which he said were worth seeing, but I thought it was of the 'folk art' that Stanley Papio had made out of old car parts and junk, so I didn't go.
Bob thought we could get the fried fish for $8.95 at the Sunset Grille on Sigsbee for dinner. It was a bit chilly (they had an electric fire), and there was a man with a microphone who kept saying "Test, two, one two". I said someone should teach him the way to count.
There were no visible menus, no one to seat you, and the waitress ignored us and waited on other people. Plus the two-one-two man proved to be a guitar player playing country music. So we left. Bob suggested we go to Martha's.
We were early enough at Martha's to be seated right away (about 6:30), but not early enough for the early bird specials ($5 off any entree before 6). This is a very fancy restaurant with piano music (played at a very fast tempo - Bob suggested they kept it up tempo to make people eat faster). There are four columnar salt water aquaria in the middle.
By the time we finished at about 7:30, there were people waiting. There is NO place to eat for the people in the hotel except this restaurant and the Japanese steak house next door. I would think this unsatisfactory, especially if I were staying here with children.
Saturday Feb. 5th, when I came out to do email, Bob was still in his pajamas. It was cold and quite windy. So I took the car and drove out to look at the mooring field.
We didn't go out again, and Bob roasted a chicken for dinner, and we had a shrimp salad like he had at Bahama Mama's kitchen with it.
Sunday Feb. 6th
I thought we might be able to find a parking place downtown today to go to the Customs House and Audubon House because I didn't think any cruise ships would be in, so we hopped into the car and drove downtown. I was wrong about the parking. Even though I wasn't really dressed for climbing, we went down to the lighthouse which has a parking.
In the first part, were some fresnel lenses including a bulls eye lens, plus engineering drawings of the iron pile lighthouses of Sombrero, Fowley Rocks, American Shoal, Alligator Reef, Sand Key, and Carysfort Reef.
Climbing the lighthouse there are two windows (square) about half way up and 2/3rds of the way up, and there is a platform at the place where the lighthouse formerly ended. Then there's two more short flights, and two round portholes before you get to the top with the outside platform.
This was a very difficult climb for me, and I had to sit down when I got up there. The climb and the recovery from it took me about 10 minutes.
Other people thought the height was scary and the steps ditto. But fortunately I don't have those problems. My objective was to take a picture of Ft. Taylor from the lighthouse, but I could not see where it was. I took more than 20 pictures of the panoramas in all directions and the things below the lighthouse. There were two cruise ships in, and I could see the long mole, and the tower on the top of the Southernmost House. Fort Taylor is in there somewhere.
We toured the lighthouse keeper's cottage before we went back to the trailer. Bob and I had a discussion about where I would have been when I painted my lighthouse picture. There is a square window and a round porthole both in the picture. One of the windows (the lower one) looks out into the branches of a tree. So I don't think it was that one. I think it was the upper window and was on the south side of the lighthouse, which would have meant that I was probably in what is now the parking lot.
We had roast chicken sandwiches for dinner while we watched the super bowl.
Monday, Feb. 7th
This morning I am determined to see Audubon House. First I called to make a reservation for the Dry Tortugas trip, but the first time they can take me is Thursday. It is supposed to rain Thursday, but I will hope that they are wrong about that.
We started out for downtown about 9:15. My thinking was that we might be able to find street parking at a meter if we got there early enough, and we did find a place about 9:45.
Audubon House admission is $10 and it has a recorded cassette guide. Photographs are allowed everywhere. I took over 60 of the house and garden. The furniture is not original but it is of the period. This was the first house that was restored by the Historical Society, and we toured it in January 1961 very shortly after it opened to the public. Bob took a picture of me (at that time in 1961) in the garden about 4 months pregnant.
Next we walked over to the Customs House. This is still a work in progress. The regular admission is $7 which includes the audio tour, and AAA members, seniors and local people pay $6.00.
Mostly this is a place to display art including Mario Sanchez whose work I missed at the East Martello Tower. Bob said the items for sale were cheaper \ at the Martello Tower (although when I investigated later, this proved to be wrong). In addition they had a small section on the restoration of the building, and a very large section on Ernest Hemingway and his life, including the artists who were in Paris in the 30s.
Feb 7th (cont.)
We got back to the car and still had 30 minutes on the meter so I said how about lunch at Kelly's, which was across the street. Kelly (an actress who was in Top Gun) has a restaurant in the old TWA building. So Bob put another quarter in (for another 15 minutes) and we had lunch.
The man at the Audubon House told us where the old commissary was on Caroline and Simonton, so we drove over to look. It's now an office building. I persuaded Bob to drive over to Fleming Key to see what was there (the Key West Waste Water Plant and other official stuff), and then we went out to the CG base.
Bob had a severe reflux episode on the night of the 7th. Also we had done all the attractions for which I had bought tickets. At noon he was still in his pjs. So I got up and went in and did email on the 8th by myself. That's about the first time I've driven on this trip. We ate hamburgers at home for dinner (and we also ate dinner at home on the 7th).
He said he was going to look to see what tax information he still needed, but he didn't do that until the 9th. Our daughter has the final piece (we phoned her) and will send it.
On the 9th, I did the same, but we went out to dinner at Monty's which is right by Garrison Bight. They asked if we wanted to eat outside (they have a deck from which I think you might be able to see the sunset), but knowing how Bob *loves* eating outside (NOT), I said inside. I had asked him and he hadn't said, but when we got inside and got seated, he said that he didn't need to be out there hearing motorcycles roaring up and down Roosevelt, so that was the right choice.
Feb 10th - going to the Dry Tortugas by seaplane.
Because there was a fault in the seaplane, I had to come in on the ferry.
On the way into the port, I spotted the CSY WO Butterfly Dreams in the marina there. I just saw enough of the bow to see the two portholes. I couldn't get outside quick enough to take a picture though.
As we got off, they told me that Bob would be at the ticket office, and actually as soon as I got down to the office I saw that he was in the MB in the parking lot. They refunded the whole $179 charge. So I got to go in the seaplane and come back on the boat and it didn't cost me anything.
(Bob told me that he flies planes with two engines and if he only has one engine it is an emergency, so no way was he going to take off in emergency status with only one engine. He said they didn't even check the oil, and that what happened proved that he was right not to go.)
We drove around to the other side of the marina and parked at a meter, and went in search of Butterfly Dreams. It started to rain - the front had now gotten to Key West.
So we ducked into Alonzo's Raw Bar and Restaurant, and Bob had another hamburger ($6.95) with big thick ruffled chips (our other choice would have been cole slaw) and I had a cup of clam chili (which was $1.50 - half price for happy hour) with white beans, clams, sour cream and blue tortilla chips, and a lobster sandwich with potato salad ($13.95 - not half price because only one page of the menu was half price, and this was on the other page). It was quite spicy - had hot peppers in it and I think I like the one at Keys Fisheries better.
The rain had stopped so we went and looked for Butterfly Dreams and I spotted her a couple of docks over. Bob persuaded me that there would be nobody home, so we went back to the car without actually going right up to the boat.
Today (Feb. 11th), I got up early ready to go out to do email before we started the House and Garden tour which began at 10. I thought it would be less crowded then.
But Bob felt that he wanted to do a laundry while I was doing email, so I waited while he got his breakfast and dressed. He does hot tea in the coffee maker, and bacon in the microwave, and eats a bowl of cereal.
After we'd each finished our respective chores (him two loads of dark colored wash, and me doing email etc) it was approaching noon and I was hungry. I thought we might go somewhere to eat before we did the House and Garden Tour. So we went to KFC.
Originally I had in mind trying to find the house on Eisenhower because that was the furthermost out from Old Town, and I figured parking would be easier - it's a fairly short street. But now, I thought we'd drop off the laundry and the computer, and maybe start the house tour at the one address that I had, which was 809 Eaton Street. Eaton Street is right at the end of Palm Ave, and the Trumbo Annex which we are based at is off Palm.
So we went back to the trailer. I called the Chamber of Commerce and eventually got the lady to give me the addresses. We'd left the door open a bit, and a couple came up the steps and asked if there was anyone here. Lo and behold it was our friends Jack and Mary. They are over on Sigsbee with their RV.
After they left, we started out for the house at 916 Eisenhower first. This is quite close to Truman (which goes down the center of the island). There was a sign saying no photos please. I felt that it wasn't really a problem not to take pictures, because only the outsides were of interest.
This house which has been renovated by the owners Blair Gordon and John Alvarado as a very expensive rental was once the home of Sally Rand. It is across from the Pelican Marina Condo.
For additional pictures and narrative, see the House and Garden Tour Travelogue
I thought it would be easiest to get to the Eaton Street house next (which was #1) and then walk from there to the Fleming St. house. Anticipating that parking would be a problem, I told Bob to park where he saw a space, and he found a place pretty quickly but it was 4 or 5 blocks north of the place we were going.
Bob said he'd go get the car, but the #2 house on the tour was just one back across to 719 Fleming Street, and I felt I could walk that far. We passed the Southernmost Prayer and Faith Center Church. There was a lady with a rottweiler and a little boy about 4 yo with a scooter walking along the street.
#2 was the home of John Ring, a sailor, who has decorated it with sailing pictures and Irish pine antiques. It was built in 1859, and until c 1985 was in the original family that built it. The brochure stated that it had been awarded a certificate of excellence for preservation from the Historic Florida Keys Foundation. There was a bed like a quarter berth upstairs, and there was ladder access to the deck below.
Bob walked back to get the car, and I had a discussion with a couple of people as to how the solar pool heaters would work. Bob thought the pool was probably not used much. Bob picked me up (it was nearly 4 by now) and we went back to the trailer and I downloaded the pictures.
We started to go to dinner and as we were driving, I said why not try the restaurant at the Blue Lagoon right on the corner of the road to Sigsbee. Bob didn't believe they had a restaurant, but their sign advertised and all you can eat Valentines Day dinner for $11.99, and I argued that they couldn't have that unless they had a restaurant. After we drove through the whole motel complex, we found it - it was called Looney's.
Since it was cold, and this was an open air restaurant (no indoor seating) overlooking the water where they rent PWCs, they had big palm tree like propane heaters. Everyone in there looked like a biker - they all had baseball caps and dark jackets. That was probably partly because it was cold, but there were 4 guys at one table who were all there on Harleys. Several people came and left again because it was too cold. I wore my winter coat and Bob wore his new JC Penny's coat, and they put heaters on each side of our table and it was quite comfortable.
Bob had the fish and chips basket for $8.95 (which was what we tried to have at the Sunset Grill last Friday), and I had the half lobster special for $13.99. This was supposed to have 2 sides, and I asked for red potatoes and cole slaw, but instead of cole slaw, I got a crab cake. Go figure. I also had the special dessert, which was chocolate thunder cake for $3.99. Dinner was under $30.
February 12th,- visited our friends with their RV at a dry site on Sigsbee and went out to Stock Island for dinner
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