South on US 1

Life in the Keys

Recently I hopped a flight from EWR (Newark, NJ) to FLL (Fort Lauderdale), rented a car with one of my four favorite sisters, and, giddy with excitement, no sleep, and buoyed by Starbucks, drove south on US 1, down the Florida Keys.

The master of the Keys, Mr. Jimmy Buffett, has a song titled Conky Tonkin’ (with clear apologies to Mr. Hank Williams), and it was a bit like that:  Drivin’ south just because, stopping for lunch at a lil’ fish place in Key Largo (Snapper’s), and doing, well, enough imbibing in Key West to warrant this status update Saturday night, from the iPhone:

Wally Marzano-Lesnevich is clearly a wee bit innebriated.

No where left to go!

Thoughts on the drive:  It’s long.  Even fueled by caffeine and a Key West ale at lunch, it’s long.  Even with the addition of Buffett tunes spun by Radio Margaritaville on satellite (rather oddly coming out of the Margaritaville Cafe in Orlando), it’s long.  (They need to add a few lanes, but there’s literally not room.)  But it’s also undeniably charming:  ’70’s Florida kitsch, with neon and statues of lobsters, manatees and gators; soaring ocean views where you feel like you’re driving on water (minus the, you know, drowning sensation).  And the opportunity to see the world-famous Keys, including, perhaps my favorite Key, No-Name Key.  (On the drive I became mildly obsessed with A) a series of pulpy 1970’s detective novels, in which the hero retires from NYC to No-Name Key, and B) a motion picture based solely on a state sign:  Monkey Jungle.

Cue up Mr. Buffett

Thoughts on Key West:  It’s spring break for baby boomers!  Duval St. = Bourbon St., plus a wee bit of sun.  Like perhaps all of Florida (I’m looking at you, Mouseketeers!), it’s a mixture of the true beauty (gorgeous blue-green water, white beaches, palm trees…  ah, yes), Barnum-like architecture (um, is that a ginormous statue of Rhett & Scarlett?), and honest-to-God culture (a high point of the trip:  Visited the Hemingway house, saw his writing studio.  Will now write in terse sentences.).  Across the way from the bay where we stayed (sorry), there was also a beautiful little island with private cottages, and a restaurant only accessible by boat.  Let me say the trek there was well worth it.

Where Ernest Hemingway wrote his blog.

Also well worth it:  The guy with the hat and guitar at Irish Kevin’s.  The guy with the hat and guitar at The Lazy Gecko.  The guy with the hat and the guitar at The Green Parrot.  (It seems that all bar bands in Key West involve a guy with a hat and a guitar.)  The incredible outdoor dining at Louie’s.  And the wonderful art-deco, art-house movie theater The Tropic.

Kinda worth it:  Um, hang-over, anyone?  Hang-overs that remind you you’re, uh, about a decade removed from college?!

Definitely worth it:  Burning the hell out of your tongue, trying different hot sauces at Peppers, nursing taken-in Coronas with your dad.

We don't need no stinking snow.

Driving south on US 1 is something everyone should do at least once in their life; driving north on US 1 is not.  I’ll leave it there, but let suggest either you toss Jimmy Buffett’s Conky Tonkin‘ on the iTunes to get a little of Key life, or say, We had snow, go to hell, Wally, and put on Josh Rouse’s Winter in the Hamptons.

[Some photos and lines courtesy of Mr. Michael R. Mildner, Esq.  Thank you.]


3 Responses to “South on US 1”

  1. patricia harrington schreiber Says:

    i like this. it is well done. You could probably turn it into a travel piece with a bit of work. Cape Air might put it in their mag. I could talk to their PR person if you put it together.
    have you read much hemingway? he is among my favorite writers (but I have several) and I have read everything he has written plus several biographies. Interesting stuff, but a real nutter.

  2. Fool’s Day « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Here’s what’s not an April Fool’s joke:  Where the hell did March go, people?  This is the fourth third post in a continuing series in which we look at the year, and the unending march of time.  (Yea!)  The prior posts: January, February and March.  (We here at This Way to the Egress missed March because we were drunk in Key West.) […]

  3. Let The Cat Die « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] I go to award dinners, I go on auditions, I watch flicks, I go out drinking and swapping stories.  I look for trouble and try to visit interesting places and seek a varied life, cause hey, to quote Ernest Hemingway […]

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