coldcat's wit

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Road Trip, day ten
Mar 15, 2012



Road Trip, day three

I had this vague notion of celebrating Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway had a cabin near Petoskey, where my mom lives, but also spent some time in Key West, so I figured I could hit up some Hemingway esque haunts, maybe visit his home. I even brought “The Sun Also Rises” so I can plop down at his favorite bar and read from it.
But the guy at the desk of the hotel tells me the Hemingway stuff is boring.
Undaunted I head over to his house anyway.
Key West is only about four miles across and two miles wide so you can walk or ride a bike pretty much everywhere, which I do. My mom would be so proud.
The street the hotel is on turns into Truman after a ways and there is a Truman Adult Video Store which results in me spending the rest of the walk to Old Town thinking of X-rated Truman references they can use as their slogan.

The *uck stops here

Dropping the atomic bomb on boredom

Not even Dewey can defeat our selection

This process is made more difficult by the fact that Truman is one of our more boring presidents. He’s basically the 20th century’s James K. Polk. I find out from the tourist information building that he had a summer home here. I pick up a brochure but am reasonably certain I won’t be visiting.
I turn down Duval and head south. Like all other cities in Florida, Key West has streets named Duval, Atlantic and Flagler. But since Duval is also the name of the county I used to live in, I also feel like I’m repping my old home town just by being here. I think about yelling “DUUUUVAAAAALLLL!!!” Just to see if anyone answers.
In this neighborhood everything is named “Southernmost” the same way everything in the UP is named “Superior.” I head past the Southernmost Hotel to Southernmost Beach and am surprised that there is no red buoey thing. It turns out that is one block further west. I head over there and find a line of people waiting to take pictures. I’m not waiting.
I head up the street to Papa’s house and get there about ten minutes before a tour starts. I had been warned by the hotel guy that the famed six-toed cats “will rip your face off” if you bother them, but while milling about waiting for the tour to begin I see one person after another coo at the cats lounging on the furnature with no negative results. One woman even pulls out a camera and sticks it about three inches from a cat’s face. He looks like he wants to rip her face off but he restrains himself.
Visit Hemingway’s house near Petoskey and you will get your cell phone smashed if you take any pictures, but here everyone is snapping away gleefully and I even take a few pictures of his writing studio, one of the few parts of the tour where his writting was even mentioned, much of the tour dedicated to his love life and funny annecdotes about drinking.
And the cats.
They are everywhere. They all have six toes, a fact that impressed most of the people on the tour more than the fact that most of his great novels were written here.
After the tour I head to one of his favorite bars, at the time called Sloppy Joes but now called Captain Tony’s. Sloppy Joes moved down the road and is more associated with Hemingway but Captain Tony’s is where the man sat and drank. It’s the third place associated with the man where I have eaten or had a drink, the others being Deux Magots in Paris and City Parke in Petoskey.
Captain Tony’s today is a dive bar for Jimmy Buffett fans, though to be fair most of the island seems to be strictly for Jimmy Buffet fans. Much like the famed Wooden Nickel in Marquette, there are dollar bills and bras decorating the place and the beer selection is limited but I find they have their own Special Tony’s Ale on tap and I order that and it’s good. Even better it was free since the bartender was so busy he forgot that he never took my money after telling me how much it was and handing it to me. I tip generously anyway.
From there I head to a place called Caroline’s which has an open air bar and serves seafood. I get the mahi mahi, which was excellent, and a beer called Key West Sunset Ale which was also excellent. I then switch to a more tropical seeming mango margarita which I learn is the house special. I’m not sure what they put in it but I’m guessing crack because it is addictive.
Duval St. in Key West is an interesting place. At times it seems trashy with all the t-shirt places and low-rent bars. At times it just seems like a rampant ongoing party. And the thing about this party is that it is frequented by aging Jimmy Buffett wannabees in neon orange shirts and white goatees and sorority chicks with bikinis on under their Spring Break ’12 shirts.
I walk back to the hotel, my feet aching the whole way.
Tomorrow is the trip back up the coast to Jacksonville.

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