Beautiful Backgrounds Abound

Welcome to a topic rather than a place… BACKGROUNDS! All 10 of these beautiful photos were NOT taken throughout Key West, but rather in one concentrated spot!

These photos were taken by me in a matter of 45 minutes just by walking around the grounds and simply noticing its beautiful background potential. As you can see, there’s not a single person in any of them… which is not required for a great photo. You can take hours walking around this brick & mortar paradise garden atmosphere loving every minute of it. The photo possibilities are endless as each can be taken from a number of different angles and at different times of the day creating uniquely different photos of the same subject. Enjoy and take some fabulous photos!

You can find this BACKGROUND WONDERLAND at the FREE West Martello Tower located on the eastern less traveled part of the island beside Higgs Beach. A future blog will feature its historical significance so stay tuned because it’s fantastic!




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Eat Well, Laugh Often, Live Long

IMG_0943‘Eat Well, Laugh Often, Live Long’ is not just a slogan on this Florida Keys rooftop diner… it’s what we truly wish for ourselves! Though the calories in the ‘Eat Well’ portion of the slogan tastes great going down, the exercise required to take them off really sucks! “I’ll have a salad with NO dressing please!” I lied! Give me an extra-large cheese filled crust pepperoni pizza, side order of greasy bacon and keep the ice-cold beer coming… honey, do you want anything?:-)

You can find this airplane towed banner painted on the roof of Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen at Mile Marker 99.0 in the middle of US-1’s north & southbound lanes.

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“Today’s The Day!”

IMG_0836Where in Key West can you find the engraved stone with its owners famous daily saying “Today’s the Day”? Though the stone is missing the ‘!’, he in deed said it with one!:-) (as seen below)

Mel Fisher was a dreamer, a visionary, a legend and most importantly, the World’s Greatest Treasure Hunter! Mel Fisher did what many have not – he realized his dream during his lifetime. Everyday for 16 years he insisted “Today’s the Day!” that he would find the mother lode for the sunken treasure ship known as the Atocha, the Spanish galleon that sank during a hurricane on September 6, 1622, near Key West.

Oh yeah, by the way… “Today’s The Day!” came true on July 20, 1985 when he found the “Atocha Mother Lode” treasure cache worth a staggering $450 million dollars. NICE!!!!

You can find the inspirational Mel Fisher stone “Today’s the Day” sitting on the right hand side of his treasure museum’s front door at 200 Greene Street.

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Under The Boardwalk

IMG_0893Unlike The Drifters’ 1964 smash hit ‘Under The Boardwalk’, this blog has absolutely nothing to do with music unless you count the buzzing of mosquitos in your ears!:-)

As advertised, there’s one portion where you can actually be under the boardwalk. There’s a boardwalk observatory platform along the path that you can walk under or climb up to see what’s now an obstructed view. I’m sure when built there was a great view of the ocean and the surrounding tidal pool… that was probably years ago before the jungle-like treetops took over. Either way, the boardwalk & observatory provides some awesome quiet time away from the crowds. The boardwalk ends with picnic areas on both sides but don’t bring your swim trunks, save them for the swimming area on the other side of the park.

You can find this relaxing boardwalk inside the Long Key State Park at Mile Marker 67.7 oceanside. There’s a fee schedule per car load to enter the park, $4.5o for one and $6 for two people.

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Historic Gato Cigar Factory

Welcome to the historic Gato Cigar Factory. Located a few blocks east of Duval Street in Key West’s Old Town.

This majestic building housed such an incredible city-changing past. A portion of the historical marker outside the factory reads as follows: “The Gato cigar factory was constructed by Eduardo H. Gato in 1916. This Neo-classical revival, poured concrete structure with a large central courtyard was constructed after an earlier wood framed factory on this site had burned. It was also one of the earliest American integrated workplaces where Cubans, Africans and Bahamian-Americans, and whites worked side by side. Small cottages were built near the factory to house workers, and became an area known as Gatoville. The cigar industry was critical to Key West’s economy just before the 20th century but declined in the early 1900’s.”

I found an awesome historic photo (shown below) of Gatoville’s small cottages, how cool is that! Since its closing, it has been an army barracks, mess hall & Navy commissary. Upon the Navy’s departure it was purchased by Monroe County who still occupies it today and contains a small Cigar museum that will be on my “To Do List” upon my next visit. Shown below is also a plaque that’s mounted beside one of the front doors stating its historic relevance by then Governor Jeb Bush.

There’s no doubt that this man, factory & industry transformed this island community forever. There are street names, parks and other establishments that take advantage of their staying name power. Come by and enjoy this majestic landmark for FREE as it stood in its glory days.


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Florida’s ONLY Buoy Tree

IMG_3033OK, you’re probably saying about now “What the heck is a Buoy tree?” In this case it’s rather simple, a tree native to the Florida Keys decorated with dozens of strands of fishing buoys… and it wasn’t even Christmas! This year-round decor doesn’t look half bad and seamlessly fits its surroundings. OK, so maybe it’s not Florida’s only buoy tree… but it is the ONLY Buoy Tree here!:-)

We found this oddity of a tree while dining outside in the beautiful Florida sunshine for about 4 minutes till we began sweating profusely in the shade. We then admired it from the confines of our air-conditioned table while enjoying a cold beer and stuffed olive appetizers.

You can find this uniquely decorated ‘Buoy Tree’ and many other tourist photo-ops including feeding live wild tarpon located in the Sundowner Complex at Mile Marker 104 in Key Largo bayside.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream!” Speech

IMG_1679Look what I’ve found in Key West! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous “I Have A Dream!” speech.

King lived from Jan. 15th, 1929 to April 4th, 1968 when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. He gave his famous speech on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. The most famous portion was this: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

That memorable portion of his speech I found painted on a hallway wall as we made our way to an upstairs public swimming pool. Also on the same wall is this: Dr. King led the mass civil rights movement until his death by assassination. He rose to national prominence through the organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference promoting non-violence.

You can find this famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. swimming complex at the corner of Thomas Street & Catherine Street next to the Willie Ward Park. While in Key West don’t ever be squeamish about going a few blocks out of your comfort zone, you too might find a hidden gem as we did.

PS – If you look real close in the bottom right hand corner of commissioners you’ll find my families name! (You’ll have to guess at which one is mine!):-)

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