What to watch ‘Iron Eagle’? No, not the 1986 movie with Louis Gossett Jr. about an Air Force pilot downed behind enemy lines. This is a piece of artwork perched high above the street with a birds-eye view of passersby. In fact, it’s much higher than a normal person’s line of sight that I myself have passed it dozens of time before this. Today’s the day that you too get a chance to admire this incredible well detailed birds nest and eagle. OK, I don’t know the EXACT metal is made of, Iron Eagle just sounded so good for a title I could pass it up! 🙂
You can find this spectacular Iron Eagle artwork on US-1 at Mile Marker 92.0 bayside at the corner of Dickie Way. Remember… LOOK UP!
Key West’s AIDS Memorial
The White Street AIDS Memorial was dedicated on World AIDS Day, December 1, 1997. It was built with private funds and then donated to the City of Key West and maintained as a park. At the time of dedication, 730 names were included in random order. In succeeding years, additional names have been added. Key West, with a population of about 25,000 residents, has been especially hard-hit by the AIDS plague. There are now more than 1,000 names engraved on the Memorial.
The Key West AIDS Memorial is a tribute to the people who have died of AIDS, their names are inscribed on flat granite monuments which are embedded in the walkway approaching White Street Pier at the Atlantic Ocean. The real tragedy is the individual saga behind every single name on this list, the suffering to each person, their friends, and their families each had to endure. The White Street memorial has a capacity to commemorate over 1,500 souls. Additional names will be engraved yearly, and dedicated on World AIDS Day, December 1st. I encouraged you to visit the memorial, it’s designed as a quiet peaceful resting area overlooking the splendor of the Atlantic Ocean. Along with the list of names engraved in granite, three poems are also set in stone.
I promise that the blog’s title will begin to get clearer as you read on! 🙂
Out of the corner of my eye while driving 55 mph I saw a ‘black squiggly thing.’ (I came up with that description myself) 🙂 Being the ever curious type I just had to pull over and investigate. Yes, that’s my car on the side of the road… kind of looks like a Porsche from this angle! 🙂 But it’s not. 😦 OK, back to reality! Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a cleverly made bike rack of enormously large boat anchor chain.
You can find this rarely used bike rack made of chain at the beginning of a marked bike path at Mile Marker 55.3 bayside. The bike path itself stretches on for miles and miles… kind of like this long welded loopty loop bike rack chain if you were to straighten it out! 🙂
Need some alone time away from the crowds of tourists while in this southernmost vacation land in America called Key West? Well I’ve got it for you, Pines Park is literally the furthest you can get from the hordes of pedestrians walking up and down Duval Street while as close as you can get to being totally alone in this tourist laden mecca!
Duval Street is on the very southwestern portion of Key West while Pines Park is in the northeast corner of the not-so populated portion of the island. As you can see in the photo, you’ll have a front row seat to the ocean while picnicking on one of their 3 or 4 tables… don’t worry, 4 tables here is enough! Though the tourist shy away from this lesser developed area of Key West, we on the other hand love it for just that… solitude! If you like a beautiful view of the ocean while eating lunch in the privacy of your better half then this is the place for you! (And me!) This easy to find getaway from the rat race can be found next to the East Martello Tower Museum (seen below) and directly in front of the Key West International Airports multi-leveled parking garage. Oh yeah, don’t look for a sign, just go by the landmarks I’ve given you… the sign measures 12″ wide by 18″ tall and it’s nailed to a tree… I kid you not! 🙂
Pines Park is totally FREE to use at all times of the day and rarely will you have too much company to contend with. I love this place, as you can see we rode our bikes here for a welcomed lunch before touring the AWESOME East Martello Tower which was formerly a Civil War fort controlled by the Northern Yankees (Blue Coats) for the entire duration of the war despite being the southernmost city in the Southern Rebel (Gray Coats) Confederacy!
PS – This is where my father took my mother for picnics while they were dating and I too took my then fiancé here… now that’s a family tradition! 🙂
Wow, is this one large Conch Shell! They say if you pick up a conch shell and place it beside your ear that you can hear the ocean waves and surf. Well, I suggest that you don’t even try picking up the sea-side ocean behemoth. This larger-than-life conch shell is made up of welded sheets of thick steel.
As you can see by my partner-in-crime standing next to it that this thing is TALL and it’s better by far that you put your ear to it rather than trying to pick it up. Key West has a rich history in the welding trade and has numerous examples all over town. This man-made statue just like the elementary school Pirate mascot in a former blog are superb specimens of its welding prowess taught in its high schools, tech schools & colleges.
You can find the largest Conch Shell in the Keys located in the parking lot of the local high school on Flagler Ave. in Key West.
Founders Park in Key West is a great place to visit, it’s neither a park to picnic nor a place to spend the entire day. It measures a mere 30′ x 60′ in the middle of the busiest section of town called Mallory Square just 3 blocks southwest of Duval Streets northern end.
Also called Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden, it opened in September 1997 and is located on the original shoreline in front of the Waterfront Playhouse. As you enter through the wrought iron gates, a magnificent 18′ long and 25′ high sculpture entitled “The Wreckers” captures your attention and takes you back to the days when brave men would yell “Wreck Ashore” and risked their lives saving vessels and passengers in distress.
The pioneering spirit of Key West and its island people will dominate your experience as you wander along the shaded brick pathways. The Garden features 36 bronze busts depicting men and women who made Key West such a vibrant and important outpost of American culture and folklore. The entire $700,000 price tag to fund this park was raised by selling individual names engraved on bricks called the Walkway thru History.
I’ve personally looked at all 36 busts trying to find any link to either side of my family tree… no such luck. Though my father was Monroe County’s & Key West’s first Eagle Scout and one time honorary Mayor of Key West (for a day, true)… it wasn’t enough to get a bronze bust. Oh well, our family did however own prosperous businesses that helped spawn the island growth and well-being including restaurants and a number of gas stations. Founders Park or Sculpture Garden is worth a FREE 30-minute visit to check out Key West’s beginnings and prominent people throughout history.
Aqua’s Men… I mean Women!
As you may or may not know, Key West is full of alternative life-styles & choices. The famous Aqua Night Club, Bar & Theatre is no different. This club has been a Duval Street staple for years and shows no signs of slowing down being packed every time I walk or drive by. Shows like “Reality is a DRAG” are performed nightly at 9pm and on weekends twice at 9 & 11pm. Aqua’s men… I mean women can always be found at the front door saying hello to passers-by and some of which stop and pose with them for posterity and a laugh.
They’re located on the northeastern side of the road at 711 Duvall Street smack dab in the middle of this pedestrian friendly roadway.