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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Key West is a place movies and dreams are made of.  Since early days when men searched for booty to make them rich in the sunken vessels smashed against the Key’s treacherous reefs or when writers like Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway sought its inspiration or when filmmakers like Cecil DeMille created Hollywood sets to bring Key West alive in films like Reap the Wild Wind, Key West has had a palpable mystique and attraction.

Southernmost point in the U.S.A
OK  So we are touristy
Everyone feels it.  One of the most often photographed spots in the continental U.S.A. is the marker of the Southernmost Point where visitors stand patiently in line, as we did, requesting the people behind to take a photograph, as we did, and then returning the favor to some stranger.  Here we stand, only 90 miles from Cuba but about 126 miles from Homestead, Florida.

The Keys—On April 23, 1982, the Key West Mayor successfully seceded from the U.S. in a plan hatched at the Last Chance Saloon at the Florida entrance to Hwy 1, the only road to the Keys.  He made his stand because of a Federal roadblock checking the citizenship of everyone leaving the Keys heading northbound, thereby creating long lines of traffic that hurt the tourist-dependent Keys’ economy.

The Mayor surrendered to the Commander of the Naval Base but not before the Conch Republic was established.  Passports were issued under that name.  His terms of surrender was for the Federal government to aid in rebuilding the Key’s infrastructure.  He won; the Federal government aided in rebuilding.

Key WestEven today, Conch Republic flags fly outside homes, sticker motorcycles, and, according to our guide, Mindy, Conch Republic passports are actually accepted in some of the Caribbean islands.  I don’t know about that one, but it’s a nice story at the very least. The Conch Republic even has a Facebook page.

Rob and I decided on a bus tour from the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort where we were staying because we didn’t want the long one-day drive or an overnight stay.  Key West is about 3.5 hours from Ft. Lauderdale, and this was the right choice for us. 
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