Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Florida Keys

I should have mentioned in my first vacation wrap-up this week a little more about the Florida Keys. They're kind of interesting.

So what are the Keys? They are a series of little islands that extend south and west of Florida, starting at the southern tip of Miami, which is on the south-east most side of the state.

That little chain actually goes all the way up the state, but gets much closer and most of the time is connected right to the land except for a small channel.

Like this
And this.

Then you get down to the Keys, which are separated from the land part and are just small islands, barely above sea level. I'd guess that if the water level rose about 3 feet, the Keys would be under water. 

The Keys are famous. The Beach Boys sang about "Key Largo" in their laid back hit, "Kokomo," and Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made a decent movie called Key Largo as well, which also got turned into an OK-ish mellow top 40's song by a one hit wonder named Bertie Higgins.

Anyhoo, they're neat, and they're quite close by. Just an hour from my house or so and you're most of the way to Key Largo. I wish the actual islands themselves that I saw had more character, but it was just a highway and lots of homes and some gift shops and many resorts.

In Key Largo, one of the main draws is a large scuba diving area which was originally going to be a re-creation of Atlantis, fully submerged. When that proved too ambitious, they scaled it down a little, and now it's an underwater cemetery. It also has a famous (locally-known, at least) quite large statue called Christ of the Abyss:

Surreal, huh?

It's very large.

The cemetery
There's also an under water hotel! Hotel is kind of a fancy word for it; it was a submerged research lab, and now they rent it out. The accommodations are not as cool as you'd think, but it is indeed down there in the ocean.

Down in Key West there is a big shopping area called Mallory Square. If we ever get down there, I would want to go the shipwreck museum advertised on the main sign.

Plus, the beaches appear to be stereotypically tropically perfect. I suspect they draw the type of crowds, though, that give Key West its 'party' reputation. And reputation it has. It's apparently pretty trashy at New Year's and Halloween and tries to do a Mardi Gras kind of thing.

But the beaches really are gorgeous.

Also, famed terrible author Ernest Hemminway called Key West his home, and his house is still there for tours and such, if you're into that kind of thing.

"Say, catching this fish has inspired me to write the world's worst novel."
...Not a Hemingway fan, or a Steinbeck fan, if you can't tell. If I wanted to read fiction that caused me to want to blow my brains out, I would read my own stories from my blog.

Anyway, that's the Keys. You can drive to all of them-they're all connected by one big road (one way in either direction). One of these days, we'll see if we can make it to the very end!



Hillary said...

Apparently Ernest Hemingway haunts his house and a bar in Key West.

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