Tag Archives: florida keys

Solares Hill, Key West’s Highest Elevation

Key West and the Florida Keys are known for many different things like the Southernmost Buoy, Duval Street & Sloppy Joe’s Bar, but its elevation above sea-level isn’t one of them!

Located in the smack-dab middle of Old Town is Solares Hill, a tiny bump in the road for unsuspecting tourist and the name of the highest point of land on the island of Key West in the lower Florida Keys in Monroe County, Florida for locals and historians. To most locations around the world this would be known as the ‘Lowlands’, the peak elevation of the hill is a mere 18 feet or 5.5 meters above the ocean sea top and is the main reason that Key West has endured so many floods during hurricanes over its entire history.

This peak is also a small footnote in the Civil War that is left out of 99.9% of all history books unless you’re from Key West… the reason why this spot was in the Civil War will be answered in a future blog (yes, that’s called a tease). 🙂 The crest of Solares hill is next to the historic Key West Cemetery in the section of the island called Old Town. Solares Hill has also been the name of a weekly newspaper published on the island and released on Sundays. I’m pictured in the photo with arms stretched out (I’m that tiny speck) upon Key West’s elevation-sensation as if I’ve conquered Mt. Everest or the summit of K2.

You can find Solares Hill at the corner of Angela Street & Windsor Lane and then looking to see which direction is the highest… you might need to bring a carpenter’s level to be sure! 🙂


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World Famous Cuban Sandwich

Here’s a blog close to my heart and even closer to my stomach! 🙂 I was raised on these having lived in Key West, Miami & Orlando, all of which have a strong Cuban presence, traditions & Cuban home cooked restaurants.

A Cuban sandwich (also known as a Cuban Mix & Cuban Pressed) is a variation of a ham and cheese originally created in cafes catering to Cuban workers in Cuba and by Cuban immigrant communities of Florida. At that time, travel between Cuba and Florida was easy, and Cubans frequently sailed back and forth for employment, pleasure, and family visits. Because of this constant and largely undocumented movement of people their culture and ideas thrived & flourished.

While there’s some debate as to the contents of a “true” Cuban sandwich, most are generally agreed upon. The traditional Cuban sandwich starts with Cuban bread. The loaf is sliced into lengths of 8-12 inches (20–30 cm), lightly buttered, or brushed with olive oil on the crust, and cut in half horizontally. A coat of yellow mustard is spread on the bread. Then roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced dill pickles are added in layers. Now, don’t confuse the traditional Cuban Sandwich with its red-headed step-cousin the one served on a sweeter bread called ‘pan de Media Noche’ and simply known as a Midnight Sandwich.

You can find this Cuban traditional sandwich at any Cuban restaurant along the entire Keys but I’ll guide you to two of them in particular. The first is Five Brothers with locations on Big Pine Key & Key West and then Sandy’s Cafe on White Street in Key West as pictured below claiming to be the home of the ‘Original Cuban Sandwich’ which is widely disputed… but I’ll leave that to you legal types to fight it out in court! Bon Appetit!


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Higgs Beach Pier

Higgs Beach Pier isn’t the longest pier in Key West any more… but it was! The Atlantic Ocean was once accessible by this longest pier in Key West before being blown away in one of its many past hurricanes.

The view is spectacular seeing the remaining pier post protruding upward out of the water along the path once used by board-after-board as it walked its way further into the oceans depths. The former pier posts make for a great photo when pelicans and other seafaring birds perch upon them as waves crash against the wooden supports. As the photo shows below, it too is the subject of picture perfect artwork for those artistically inclined… or those who just want to duplicate an AWESOME portrait. 🙂

I’ve seen and shown you numerous  photos that were neither centered nor frontal poses proving to be some of the best photos ever taken. (ie… Babe Ruth’s farewell speech taken from behind showing his #3 upon Yankee pinstripes) Don’t fall into that trap of always centering a photo or someones face in it!

Enjoy the incredible view along with a photo to remember your trip by, I assure you that both are worth the FREE venture to the south of paradise. FYI – The pier is closed from time to time for repairs so I wish you GOOD LUCK in your timing! 🙂

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Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Everyone’s heard of the book, but have you ever seen the name sake street name signs side-by-side? I have! But first, here’s the poop on the mega selling book: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (published in May 1992) is a book by John Gray offering suggestions for improving heterosexual couples’ relationships. The book is based on the idea that members of the two genders have diametrically different communication styles, emotional needs and personal values to each other and that heterosexual couples can use this model to improve their relationship.

As indicated by the title, the book asserts the notion that women and men are as different as beings from different planets. Gray adopts this metaphor as the central theme of all his books and seminars, likening men and women to the classical Roman god Mars and goddess Venus as ideal types. I guess this is their disclaimer that reads and I quote: “Gray says that his “Martians” and “Venusians” are only generalizations and cannot be applied blindly to individuals.” 🙂

You can find the Mars & Venus signs exactly side-by-side each other at Mile Marker 10.7 oceanside on US-1. Turn onto Boca Chica Road and drive down about 2.5 miles and you’ll see them on both sides of the road. You know, some folks might find humor in the fact that both lead to DEAD ENDS! 🙂

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US-1’s U-Shaped Tree

8630513936_dd048a06d2_bThis U-shaped tree has been begging me to stop and photograph it on every trip down here for years now… well, todays that day!

This is one of those WOW’s that stick out like a sore thumb as you pass by at 45 MPH yet never take time to stop for. On this day we finally did for some fun-type photos seen below. U-can’t miss this awesome U-shaped tree sitting only 10′ from the roads edge, all you have to do is STOP!

U-can find this oddity of nature U-shaped tree tempting your vacation’s fun senses at Mile Marker 105.0 at the corner of Marlin Avenue & US-1’s southbound lane before the Pet Hotel.

8629408085_13c639a76a_b     8630519350_5f857540a3_b

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Birthplace Of International Flight

This historic photo shows Key West as the “Birthplace of INTERNATIONAL FLYING”. It credits the Aero Marine Airways being the first to fly from Key West, USA to Havana, Cuba in 1919. The first passenger flight however is credited to Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) in 1927 also from Key West, USA to Havana, Cuba.

The sign pictured reads: “Birthplace of International Flying. Aero Marine Airways started here in 1919 with three small flying boats, Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. Flying between Key West and Havana. Radios of those days being large and cumbersome were discarded in favor of carrier pigeons.” Hmm, “Yes co-pilot, turn off our navigational system, I’ve already released the carrier pigeons!” 🙂

While little is known about Aero Marine Airways, Pan Am on the other hand was the principal US international air carrier from the late 1920’s until its collapse on December 4, 1991. Founded in 1927 as a scheduled air mail (contract with the U.S.Postal Service) and passenger service operating between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba (Flight#1 on Oct. 28, 1927) the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry, including the widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized reservation systems. Identified by its blue globe logo and the use of the word “Clipper” in aircraft name, the airline was a cultural icon of the 20th century!

You can find this spectacular photographic history of the United States “First International Flight” on display inside the Conch Flyer Bar located at Key West International Airport’s departure terminal.

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What’s a Figurehead?

IMG_1760What in the world is a figurehead? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know what one was either. To me, they’ve always been those naked women statues on the front of old wooden ships! 🙂

From ancient times through the 20th century, many ships mounted a statue of carved wood called figureheads onto the stem or bowsprit. They often depicted a female deity, religious personage, queen or the captain’s wife or daughter. The reasons vary but most tie to sailor superstitions that being on the front of the ship that they could guide their way safely through the water. Sometimes the female depicted represented the ship’s allegiance, origin and loyalty to their home country. They actually served a practical purpose allowing other sailors and those on land to identify a specific ship as it approached. There, now we both know more than we’ll ever need to know about ‘Figureheads’! 🙂

This is the ONLY house I’ve found with two figureheads, the one on the front above the attic vent is a mermaid while the one on the side is wearing a gown.

You can find this house with two ship front figureheads at the corner of Amelia Street & Whitehead Street in Key West.

IMG_1761     IMG_1759


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