2018 Escape The Winter Trip – Day 4

We started the morning with leftover birthday cupcakes because it’s vacation!  After the cupcakes, we packed up camp and left Jonathan Dickinson State Camp for the last time this trip.  If we’re ever back in the area, we’d definitely stay here again. It’s worth noting that this was the first time that we had gone camping together.  What a plan – buy brand new camping gear and go camping together for the first time, a thousand miles away from home! Luckily, everything went really smoothly and, I am happy to report, there were no camping “meltdowns” on either of our behalves.  A pretty good thing, I think!

The plan for the day was pretty loose, but, we knew that we wanted to make it to Key West since we were so close.  Close is a relative term, I guess, as Google said it would be a 5 hour drive.

About 7 hours later, we found ourselves driving down Duvall Street in Key West!  The amount of people milling about was pretty crazy and we decided pretty quickly that navigating the truck through the narrow, people-filled streets wasn’t going to work.  Parking was a bit a suspicious adventure. Google Maps showed a few “parking lots,” which ended up being guys running hustles, taking advantage of tourists. Or at least, that’s my take on it.  The first “parking lot” we tried was a few parking spots, nestled tightly between buildings. The “attendant” walked up to the window and said, “$40.” My head nearly exploded. I made sure he was asking us for $40 to park our truck for a few hours and he reminded me that “it’s a busy day” but that he was willing to cut us a deal of parking for 2 hours for only $20.  Uhh…thanks but no thanks? We weren’t sure what the story with parking was, but, $40 when we weren’t even sure there was a space big enough for the truck seemed outrageous. A few minutes later, we found a public parking garage that was $4 per hour. SOLD!

Our first stop was the Hog’s Breath Saloon, where we had a drink to calm our nerves from our parking debacle.  Hog’s Breath was a really relaxed place, with a guy and a guitar, singing some good classic rock songs, and a variety of bumper stickers and license plates covering the walls a ceilings.  A round of drinks was $12.50, so, we didn’t stay long, but we definitely enjoyed our first drink in Key West!

After leaving Hog’s Breath, we took a stroll down Duvall Street and took in everything there was to see.  Street vendors selling hand painted coconuts, a guy with some type of fancy bird, offering to take my picture with the bird for a few bucks and an assortment of other shops, stores and vendors adorned Duvall Street, making it a busy location.  People were walking around the streets with beers and cocktails in their hands and roosters were running the yards of the businesses. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. The best way to describe Duvall Street for us was it’s kind of like Nashville, except warm.  But, that’s not really a good way to describe it either.

At the end of Duvall Street, we set foot on the southernmost beach in the continental US and took a look at the southernmost house in the US.  (Put cool facts about southernmost house here) Just around the corner was the popular southernmost buoy marker, with a long line of people waiting to have their pictures taken at the site.  We decided we had too much to check out to stand in a line to have our picture taken, and took some pictures from the sidelines of other random people in front of the marker. Hope their vacations were as good as ours has been so far!

After leaving the southernmost buoy, we headed to find Mile Marker 0.  On the way, we saw our first coconut trees that actually had coconuts in them!  We’re still trying to find out what the difference between all the types of palm trees is, but, we saw coconuts, so we’re counting that as a win!  I thought it was super cool that there was a rooster, roaming wild and free, in the yard of the courthouse. We found Mile Marker 0 without a problem, snapped a picture and took a moment to reflect on really being at the “end of the road” in the United States.

We had worked up quite the appetite and decided it was time to find some food (and water, and a bathroom!)  We settled on dinner at Sloppy Joe’s and it was a great choice! We’re pretty happy to say that we had sloppy joe’s at Sloppy Joe’s!  And they were pretty good, too! Sloppy Joe’s was a really cool hangout that offered a self-seating, open air atmosphere with live music.  After a little rest, we checked the time and realized that sunset was in only about a half hour.

We had heard about the daily sunset celebration in Mallory Square and knew it was something we wanted to experience.  It was pretty unbelievable! There were so many people flocking to Mallory Square that it was pretty easy to figure out where we needed to be.  There were tarot card readers, one-man-bands, food cart vendors and a variety of other street performers gathered in the square, entertaining the crowds as we awaited the sunset.  The steps down to the ocean were lined with people and the crowd filled in behind them, everyone vying for the “perfect spot” to watch the sunset. We were treated to a picture perfect sunset in Mallory Square and were really happy to have made the trek to Key West to experience our first sunset in the islands together.  We can’t help but be excited thinking about our future plans and the sunsets we’ll be able to enjoy on a regular basis.

On our way to Key West in the morning, we decided to try to get a hotel room for the night in Key West so that we could spend as much as time as possible exploring and adventuring.  When we realized that we wouldn’t be getting a hotel room for under $500 in Key West, we abandoned that plan and opted for a more reasonably price option about an hour north, in Marathon, FL.  More reasonably priced is kind of relative, as we had spent $35 a night the two previous nights, camping in the State Park. The hotel we secured for Wednesday evening was a bit more…fancy. We definitely don’t stay at places like the Banana Bay Resort and Marina on a regular basis, but, it was beautiful and they gave vouchers for complimentary cocktails, so, all is well and sleep came easy Wednesday night.

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