Saturday, December 22, 2012

Favorite Christmas decorations in Key West

A couple of nights ago, we took a trolley tour of decorated houses. When the driver turned down a very narrow street, we thought he'd lost his mind. Then we reached the end of the lane and saw this beauty. Best recycling project. Ever.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lighted Boat Parade

Saturday night, Kenn and I found a spot on the pier, dangled our bare feet over the water and settled in to watch the boats line up for the Schooner Wharf's Lighted Boat Parade. It was a warm evening, about 70 degrees with a light breeze from the ocean, and we were glad we'd topped our shorts with light sweatshirts. 

I decided not to lug along my big camera. Partly because I'm lazy and partly because I haven't got a decent low light lens. Hint to my husband: my camera brand is canon. I know he's already shopped for Christmas but my April birthday is right around the corner.

When we figured we'd seen everything there was, we headed over to Duval to people watch.

For Key West locals, the Lighted Boat Parade signals the start of Christmas. What kicks off the holiday for you?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cool motorcycles

I was headed to my car, and an expiring parking pass, when I had to stop to get a shot of this very cool bike. I couldn't see my screen, thanks to the afternoon sun and I'm damn surprised that I got most of the bike in the shot.

A few months later, we found this custom job on Duval Street. The owner should get a break on his insurance.  He sure kicked up his visibility on the street.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Handsome Cock

When you're this beautiful where else would you spend your mornings, but the ladies' restroom at Schooner Wharf Bar?  This guy hangs out on a regular basis and doesn't seem to mind foot traffic to and from the stalls, directly behind him. Some mornings, I can even wash my hands at the sink next to him and he won't move. Nowadays, a chicken at Schooner is a rare sight. The place used to feel like a breeding ground. Hens with chicks wandered through the tables of the open air eatery, and a rooster or two hanging by the entrance. And all looking for a handout. For some reason, the roosters didn't wander through like the moms and babies. The tourists love the sight, but the locals hate them, usually muttering damn chickens, as tourists block the sidewalks or stop their cars in the middle of traffic to take photos.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Hour - Rum Punching up Duval

Mark had a evening off work, so we jumped on the bikes and headed into Key West. The plan was to rum punch our way up Duval Street. Since booze on an empty stomach is never a good idea, we started at Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery for Jerk Wings. These plump meaty wings are sweet yet have enough heat to keep you reaching for your cocktail.

Happy hour runs 4-7 and is always crowded. To get the specials, you have to be at the bar, so get there early. We arrived about 5 and were lucky to find two seats near the door. I ordered a rum punch and Mark immediately abandoned the plan and ordered a mojito.

This is a tricky drink to get right. Bartenders almost always blow it when it comes to the sugar mix. Too much and it's sickly sweet. Too little and all you taste is club soda. This one had a nice mix of lime and mint and leaned just a tad on the sweet side.

My rum punch was nearly perfect. For me, perfection is equal parts of dark rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and a splash of grenadine for color. No one part of the drink should stand out more than any other. Kelly's came pretty close to the mark with just a splash too much pineapple juice. It wasn't enough to knock the other ingredients out of balance though, so if we hadn't been moving on, I would have been quite happy to stay for a few more. Happy hour prices: well drinks 2.50 and one pound of wings, 4 bucks.

Kelly's has two claims to fame. The building is the original site of Pan Am Airlines, and Kelly is none other than Kelly McGillis of Witness and Top Gun fame.  She left Key West after a divorce and the bar is now owned by her ex-husband.  If you go, look for her Top Gun jacket in a small case above the bar. It's not well lit and out of eyesight, so it's easy to miss.

Back on the bikes, we pedaled south on Whitehead, to avoid the crush of tourists on Duval, and made our way to the Rum Bar. This intimate little place, on the ground floor of the Speakeasy Inn, has tables on the wraparound porch and enough seating inside for about a dozen.

Our favorite bartender, Bahama Bob had just gotten off work and we made a mental note to get here before 6 pm next time. Bahama Bob uses a secret recipe, perfected in Cuba, for the best mojito on the island.  The man is worth an entire blog post, so we'll come back to him later.

I grabbed a table for two, by the window, and Mark got the drinks. Still in a mojito mood, he took a chance. I stuck with rum punch.

The sweetness of the mojito was closer to where it should have been, but it suffered from an extra splash of club soda.  My drink must have been nearby when the bartender was mixing because some of that club soda, a non ingredient in rum punch, ended up in mine and it's not a tasty addition. Club soda cuts the flavor of the juice and turns the drink into an odd second cousin of the rum punch. It wasn't a disaster, mind you, I had no problem finishing it. It just wasn't a true rum punch. If there were happy hour price, these two drinks weren't included.

One more stop felt in order, so we continued south up Duval to the Southernmost Beach Cafe.

If you get here before sunset, this is the best place on the island to watch the orange ball drop below the horizon. A long pier stretches into the ocean offering a sensational view. The pier does fill up quickly, with lots of bulky tripods, so you need to be in place well before the sun goes down.

The satellite dish in the far distance is on the Naval station, the true southernmost point in Key West. If you're not military, you'll have to settle for a photo at the buoy, just around the corner from Southernmost Beach Cafe.

me at the buoy back in Jan of 2012

If you're not interested in the view, head straight to the bar. Specialty drinks, during happy hour, are just 3 bucks, so this place fills up fast. There was no room at the bar so we had to sit along the wall with a tiny shelf for a table. Mark stuck with mojitos and I went with a rum runner. (from the happy hour menu) It's basically a rum punch with blackberry and banana liquor. These bad boys are potent, so don't drink 3 and then try to get on your bike to ride home.

At this point, we forgot to take anymore pictures so just imagine one of the glasses from above. If you've seen one rum punch, you've seen them all. It's the taste that sets them apart.