Key West’s Bight Ferry Terminal

It wasn’t too many years ago when ferries ruled the island chain of Keys and was the ONLY mode of transportation between them!

Remember, the first train arrived in Key West on January 22nd, 1912 and lasted through the 1935 Labor Day weekend hurricane that wiped it completely off the map crippling island travel for nearly 3 years. The first roadway all the way from Miami was completed in 1938 as they hurriedly connected the Keys back together again. During those three years without trains or roads, the ferry service fleet was once again pressed into service providing a vital lifeline between the island chain bringing lifesaving food, water & building supplies to this cut-off portion of Florida’s southernmost city.

To find this essential part of prior Key West history go to the area of town called Harbor Walk and stroll to its eastern end. You’ll see this ferry ramp that is still used today behind the Bight (pronounced ‘Bite’) Ferry Terminal at Flagler Station.

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Hitchhiking The Florida Keys

IMG_1374Millions of tourists flock to Key West every year arriving in planes, automobiles, boats and even a small minority by foot power!

Thinking about sticking a thumb out hitchhiking your way down the scenic Florida Keys through Monroe County? You may want to think again!

I’ve found an old faded sign half way into the woods that locals have probably NEVER read! I’ve driven by this a 1,000 times NEVER seeing it once! I’d bet a dime to a Dunkin’ Donut that 90% of the Police force has no clue that it’s there either! Now, whether or not it’s ever enforced I couldn’t tell you. Is it worth the $500 fine or 60 days in jail… NOT TO ME, that’s why I drive! 🙂

You can find this little seen ‘Hitchhiking’ sign at Mile Marker 91.7 on US-1 in the southbound lane of the divided highway in Monroe County.

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His & Her Life-Size Pirates

Awe yes, photo-ops with a resident Wench & Captain Morgan look-a-likes! I personally would choose the Wench on my next visit down to complete my Key West picture album as my better half would then pose with the manly Captain.

No vacation is complete without the silly pictures needed to show all your friends that you indeed had a fun time in the Florida Keys. This my friends fits the bill! Stop on by and be the next one to engage in a little ‘Tom Foolery’ with these two life-size Pirates of the Caribbean.

You can find these his & her pirates on the right side of the road at Mile Marker 47.1 on US-1 South as you head down to fun-filled Key West. You will first pass Porky’s BBQ Restaurant on the right, the former Jimmy Hoffa hang out previously blogged. Take time and see both within feet of each other.

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Marine Research Laboratory

When was the last time you went to an actively functioning Marine Research Laboratory? It’s now available for commoners like you and I along with certified divers.

Although the original underwater laboratory is now a hotel it actually began its existence as La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater habitat used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. The authenticity of the underwater habitat is what really sets it apart from other similar attractions. The mangrove lagoon in which its located is a natural nursery area for many reef fish. Tropical angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers are frequent visitors to the habitat, while anemones, sponges, oysters and feather duster worms seem to cover every inch of this underwater world. You can explore the marine facility environment with scuba gear provided with an unlimited supply of tanks… for a fee of course. It’s not only the home of the WORLD’S FIRST underwater hotel, but is also the first underwater research lab to have ever been made accessible to the average person.

As you can see from the collection of photos, this has plenty of photo-ops for you and your family. The facility comes complete with a marine submersible, air chambers and a functioning command station that monitors its former laboratory on a 24-hour basis. No matter your choice of taking part in diving or not, this is well worth the FREE admission to walk around.

You can find this actively functioning Marine Research Laboratory on the grounds of Jules’ Undersea Lodge. Start at Mile Marker 103.3 oceanside turning onto Transylvania Ave to its right hand dead-end side. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind facility on your next trip down the Florida Keys.

         

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Baby’s “Death By Coffee”

Do you crave coffee or its eye-opening aroma? Either way, I’ve got the coffee bean supreme pleasure palace for you! I personally love both by trying creative combos and couldn’t imagine getting my morning started without savoring the flavor of every tantalizing drop.

Baby’s Coffee Key West is an icon and God-given birthright to all residents of the Florida Keys. The aromatic aroma alone as you walk through the door is reason enough to pull into the parking lot! This is NOT a Starbucks with wireless internet and their own CD rack of piano & violin concertos… although there are a few tables to sit as you sip some morning joe or lathered latte grande.

Do your nose a favor (I did) and browse through row-after-row of bagged beans letting your nostrils take in each and every potent filled packet. Just as amusing are the names given to each of the aromatic packets of your morning must-haves. The most ingenious by far is the lethal combo called “Death By Coffee” as seen below being sniffed by my own ‘Queen of the Bean’ coffee Contessa.

So when that morning mocha madness hits you, remember, I’ve got your cure. You can find this java juggernaut of the Florida Keys at Mile Marker 14.9 on US-1 oceanside. I promise your nose will thank you!

    

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A Lost Beach Cemetery

Happy New Year’s Day 2020!

Officially called Pioneer Cemetery, this oceanside burial site has seen its share of hurricanes, tides & water upon its plots over the years. As you can see in the photos, it sits only 30′-40′ from the oceans waves on a good day… you can imagine the waterline during a Florida hurricane.

This cemetery memorializes the determination of 50 of this towns former pioneers & homesteaders with 3 families headstones present today. Oh yeah, the land was deeded to one of the families by President Chester A. Arthur! How’s that for a historical tidbit. 🙂

I first heard of this site but couldn’t find it. My next attempt found the site but was refused entrance by a new employee at the resorts main entrance. My third time was a charm walking right in with a visitor pass directly to the sacred sand procuring these photos.

I saw no one else remotely interested in the cemetery as people walked on the beach just feet away passing the sign with so much history information about the settlers to this area and their families lives. What a shame! I on the other hand loved doing this for you and happy to report that you too can come see Florida’s “Lost Cemetery By The Sea”!

You can find the forgotten little-seen cemetery on the grounds of the Cheeca Lodge at Mile Marker 82 oceanside of US-1. Stop at the main gate and simply ask for a visitor pass to see the Pioneer Beach Cemetery. It’s FREE to both park & visit the hallowed ground.

              

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Sundowner’s “Happy Tails To You”

Wow, another year has come and gone so fast I can hardly believe it! I can say beyond a shadow of doubt that this has been the busiest year of my life without question!

I hope that each one of you have either learned something new about the Keys, found something you’d like to see or do in the Keys, or just enjoyed reading about my hometown throughout the last 365 days. It’s my wish that you’ll return next year (tomorrow) 🙂 and continue having your daily dose of Florida Keys and Key West for the next 365 days.

In saying goodbye for this 2019 year I bring you the last blog of the year bidding you all “Happy Trails To You”… I’m sorry, this is the Keys and they’re allowed to put their own spin on things being “Happy Tails To You” (until we meet again)! 🙂

You can find this “Happy Tails” sign and many other tourist photo-ops located in the Sundowner Complex at Mile Marker 104.0 in Key Largo bayside.

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