By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/26/2021
Occurred: 4/24/2016
Topics/Keywords: #Places #65thBirthdayTrip #KeyWest #Florida Page Views: 300
All about the sixteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

The Florida Keys got their name this way: The early Spanish explorers called small islands, cayos. When the British took over, they heard the Spanish word cayo and thought it was "key", which in the accent of sailors (think pirates) was pronounced similarly. Key West followed a similar pattern: The indigenous people used Key West as a place to place the bodies of their dead, where they could decompose in peace. The Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso, or "island of bones." But the pronunciation of hueso is similar to "west", and since Key West is the westernmost Key with a reliable source of fresh water, the name stuck. Interestingly, Spanish-speaking locals still use the original name when referring to their island.

Travel Day 16
Point of Interest Key West

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When we drove to Marathon for our new air mattress, Keith and I also picked up some souvenir T-shirts (4 for $10!).

In the Keys, everything is located by mile marker. Big Pine Fishing Lodge is located at Mile Marker 33. Key West, at the end of the highway, is at Mile Marker 0. Thus, we drove for 33 miles to get to our destination.

I took Keith to the Southernmost Point in the Continental USA. I wanted to get a photo of him in front of it, but so did everyone else. In fact, the line went down the block far enough to make me wonder if the new Star Wars movie was being shown there. So we gave up on that, and headed to Duval Street, Key West's tourist area.

Where do you want to go? Key West is close to everything!

I've never seen so many T-shirt shops in my life. Not even St. Augustine has so many. And the funny thing? They all sell the same selection of shirts, at the same prices.

This is the original Sloppy Joe's, beloved of Ernest Hemingway when he lived here and creator of the only dish my mom could actually cook.

So of course we had to have lunch there, and of course we had sloppy joes. Here's Keith waiting for his to be served while modeling his new hat, purchased from a vendor on the street a block or two away.

After lunch (excellent, as I knew it would be), we drove to Key West's cemetery. Because the water table is so high, graves have to be built on top of the ground instead of in it.

Before leaving Key West, which we were told in Big Pine Key is refferred to as "downtown", we decided to shop for dinner fixings. It was here that Keith spotted his first wild chickens, which have free run of the island (despite a large number of cats which also run free). Given their proximity to the grocery store, Keith suggested they were going to be sold as "free range chickens".

I pointed out the hurricane doors that can be rolled down in case of, well, hurricane. In 1935, the sea level rose to the second floor of houses lucky enough to have two floors. So the Key Westers take hurricane preparedness seriously.

Continuing our circumnavigation of the island, Keith and I stopped at the beach and strolled out on a little peninsula there.

Having seen all there was to see and done all we wanted to do (except hang around Mallory Square at sunset), we drove the 33 miles back to Big Pine Key and dinner. The little Key Deer were still there, and would run over to my skillet if I left it unattended, but were otherwise not a nuisance.

After dinner I went for a quick swim in the lodge's pool while Keith did some reading.

Tomorrow was our last planned day in the Keys, and I suggested we just kind of relax and not do a lot of anything. After all, we had some major driving ahead of us and a rest would be a good idea. But, secretly, neither Keith nor I wanted to leave at all. And, in fact, what we decided to do the next day was sea kayacking.