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Monday, July 16, 2012

KEY WEST -- THE FINALE

Butterfly
My pilgrimage to Hemingway’s Home in Key West, Florida would have made our trip worthwhile, but our day offers more wonderful sights, sounds, and adventures. It is barely afternoon!  Butterfly World is our next stop.

Tucked away in what appears an unpretentious house is Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.  It seems as if butterfly habitats are increasingly popular these days, and Rob and I have visited them in places as diverse as Las Vegas and Costa Rica.  It really is walking into a different world.  Key West’s is a total joy. 
Butterfly

Moseying along the path through the tropical foliage, we see butterflies at every turn.  Feeding stations filled with a variety of ripe fruit are there to delight them.  The broad tropical leaves offer platforms on which the butterflies rest but also offer smiling observers a site to closely observe the distinctive patterns of the butterflies' wings and their beautiful hues so harmonious with the natural surroundings.  We walk past fish ponds where the koi’s gold colors sparkle. It’s a joyful experience getting up close and personal with these marvelously fascinating little creatures. 
Butterfly

A butterfly’s gentle reputation precedes it, and this gorgeous insect doesn’t make even the most indoorsy person squirm.   If anything, when they light on me to hitch a ride, I am flattered!  When we leave the conservatory, we are peacefully happy and amazingly refreshed.  There is something so soothing about the quiet beauty within.
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Butterfly
Butterfly

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After Butterfly World we return to South Beach and Southernmost Point.  (http://thirdagetraveler.blogspot.com/2012/05/key-west-daytripping-imagining-part-i.html)  Not only did we grab our photo op but also dawdled on South Beach, this beach truly aptly named.  You cannot go any farther south in the continental United States.  It’s a neat beach with very interesting rules.  It’s almost de rigueur that you at least dip your toe in the water, but it’s so hot in Key West, you might want to spend some time at the beach and cool off!
South Beach, Key West
I also liked this mosaic overlooking the ocean near Southernmost Point.  It’s always good for us to be reminded.
Key West



We had to walk across Key West to reach our next destination, and we had enough time before enjoying the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square.  We wanted
 
Drinksto stop in the Hog’s Breath Saloon where the motto is “Hog’s breath is better than no breath at all,” and which sponsors such exciting events as the Hair of the Hog contest and the Homemade Bikini Contest.  We’ve enough time to energize ourselves with a Hog’s Breath Beer for Rob and a memorable margarita for me.  Of course we accompany them with some conch fritters and chili.  Hmmm    Good and fun in a really neat environment.

And then on to Mallory Square for a daily event famous worldwide.  Each evening brings the Sunset Celebration.  Another day has ended; we’ve gotten through; and we can celebrate the beauty of life and nature and of being together in one of the most interesting spots in our country as we share one of Nature’s glorious moments.  Day is done; gone the sun.

What is a celebration without music and joy?  Mallory Square offers all of it.  The visit to Key West could not end on a better note.  The air is filled with a palpable excitement as tourists (probably primarily) enjoy the spectacles of the artists: talented dogs, one-man bands, fortune tellers, acrobats, fire-eaters, and a host of other entertaining, or at least interesting performers, each in his own inimitable fashion providing the denoument to our day's story.
Sunset Celebration

Sunset Celebration Music

Key West Sunset Celebration
Key West Sunset Celebrtion Fortune Teller
Fire Eater in Key West
By the time the sun has set and we are reunited with our bus-mates for the ride back to Ft. Lauderdale, we, too, are spent.  It was a long, hot, glorious day! No matter how each of us spent our time, we’ve all had a memorable experience. 

The ride back is far quieter than the ride down.  The lights are off in the bus, and yes, we hear an occasional snore.  Once again we are happy we came this way because the night is a thick black curtain through which there is nothing to see but the illumination on the highway.  After the full and wonderful day we’ve had, driving back would have been a terrible idea. 

Once more we’ve explored a little piece of the United States that stands apart from all the others.  It makes me appreciate the symbolism of the jigsaw puzzles of the United States we played with as children.  More than the differences between states, we are bits and pieces that come together in our separate ways to make a whole.  Maybe that’s why the mosaic at Southernmost Point hit home.

(for the other posts on Key West, enter "Key West" in the search block at the top of the page and press "enter")
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