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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #249  (Vol. 5, No. 53)  This edition is for the week of December 27, 2004--January 2, 2005.

Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Two
 by William Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
Year-End Oddservations....R.E.M. Trumps U2, Tears for Fears, Duran Duran; releases Best Album of the Year
 by Andy Lalino
Happy New Year....Tragedy And Disaster
 by Matt Drinnenberg
I'd Like To Thank....Thoughts And Prayers....Andy's Present....Tampa Related....Passing On....Gone But Not Forgotten....Explain, Please....Worst Thing To Happen This Year....Best And Worst Movies....Phillip Smith's Top 5 Movies....Favorite Film Lines....Happy Birthday....Meet The Beatles, Part 49 (final chapter)
 by Mike Smith
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Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Two

While the remainder of the nation was wearing the drab dreary gray skies of old man winter, Key West was clothed in colorful blooms as demonstrated by this Bougainvillea photographed along Truman Avenue on Wednesday November 24, 2004.
EPICUREAN DELIGHTS AT THE CABBAGE KEY INN As described in last week's column, I was determined to finally have a "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

It has been a well circulated rumor for years that Jimmy Buffet's classic song of the same title was an ode to his having had a cheeseburger at the Cabbage Key Inn after a long day of sailing - - others slants to the rumor are that the cheeseburger incident occurred in the South Pacific - - others yet in the Caribbean.

Regardless, determined was I, but it would have to wait for dinner, for the lunch special that day was Stone Crab, a Florida seafood delicacy. The Inn's Stone Crab and mustard sauce was superb! If you ever visit the Inn during the Stone Crab season, you owe it to yourself to indulge in this Sunshine State epicurean phenomenon.

Sea Oats frame this view of the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean in Key West.
By Monday night on November 22, 2004, most the visitors left the Inn, and Karen and I pretty much had most of the place to ourselves. Come dinnertime, I order the Kid's Menu, which had the famed "Cheeseburger in Paradise". Ah, a wonderful way to cap off the last night of our stay there.

Tuesday morning the 23rd signaled time to leave the island and begin our long drive to Key West. The 23rd of November is also my wife's birthday!

We took the charter boat back to Bokeelia, this time in choppy seas with gray skies because a cold front was moving through. We jumped back in to Karen's 2002 Firehawk "Phooka", and winded our way back out Pine Island, then through the charming and colorful tropical town of Matlacha (pronounced "MAT-LAH-SHAY" in Crackerspeak) and finally onto Interstate 75.

Attached to native coral rock, this plaque graces the grounds of the exquisitely beautiful Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Key West.
As we traveled the large expanse of I-75 known as Alligator Alley through the vast forests of South Florida Slash Pine and Baldcypress that comprise the Big Cypress National Preserve, then through the watery expanse of Sawgrass known as the Everglades, enormous columns of smoke were rising from the northeast of the Interstate. All that I could presume is that the smoke was due either to prescribed burns of the sugar cane fields near Clewiston, or possibly of underbrush by the Miccosukee Indians.

By mid afternoon we had exited the primeval world of the Glades and entered the cosmopolitan urban rush of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. As we sped southward down to the Sawgrass Extension of the Florida Turnpike (a.k.a. the "Sunshine State Parkway" or the "Ronald Reagan Parkway"), I began looking into the skies to do some plane spotting as we approached the Miami International Airport operations area.

Although I had come to write off ever seeing old four or two engine pistons wing their way in or out of MIA, there are still some first generation DC-8s and a few rare Boeing 707s still operating out of this historic airfield.

A view of the beautiful Geiger-Audubon House.
True to form, Miami delivered again, as around 3:30 P.M., a DC-8-61or 63 appeared at 10 o' clock through the T-tops of Phooka. The plane was at about 3,000' AGL heading west from the Atlantic Ocean on its downwind turn to later take Runway 9L for finals into MIA. About ten minutes later the same aircraft was about a mile ahead of us crossing the Turnpike on its final moments before touchdown I suspect the aircraft was one of Arrow Air's as they are one of the few still operating the classic first-generation jets out of Miami.

At 4:00 P.M. we gassed up in Florida at the last gas station on the mainland before beginning our three hour journey down the Overseas Highway to Key West.

We interrupted our journey long enough to visit a former work associate of my wife's in Marathon. Dean Stoddard was a landscape architect for the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department who had relocated with his wife and child down to Key West in order to take a job as a landscape architect for a very upscale private firm in Marathon called the D'sign Source.

We visited with Dean, who we would be guests of come Thanksgiving Day, and his fellow staff members for about half an hour. As we left the building, the setting sun over the Caribbean-like waters of the Atlantic and Gulf were obscured by thunderclouds over Key West, some 50 miles westward.

Framed on the left by a Coconut Palm, and thrusting above a Royal Poinciana tree, is the historic Key West Lighthouse.
As we passed through Big Pine Key, the black silhouettes of South Florida Slash Pines that abundantly populate the island greeted us. I had planned this trip to take a sixty-mile round trip jaunt from Key West to tour the flora and fauna of Big Pine's Key Deer National Refuge. After we passed Big Pine and headed into Sugarloaf Key, nighttime was total. We counted down the mile markers on U.S. 1, as we got ever closer to the magic Southernmost City in the United States.

In my three previous visits to Key West, I had seen drizzly rain and sunshine. This time as we made our nighttime entry into town the streets were practically flooded, evidence of the abundant moisture in the thundercloud we saw about an hour and a half earlier in Marathon. It was great to be back in Key West! The Christmas decorations along Truman Avenue finally put me in Holiday mood after a year of natural and personal disasters. The earthen smell after the rain filled my senses and reminded me of those same scents in the summer rainy season in Tampa or Miami.

Karen pulled Phooka a half block east of Whitehead Street's Mile Marker 0 of US 1 onto Fleming Street. She let me out in front of Marrero's Guest Mansion where the stellar and affable host, John was waiting to check us in. John was beginning to get concerned about our lateness - - he also pointed out that the feline resident of the Mansion, the lovely Cheesetta was a little less bashful due to the heavier influx of meal tickets (a.k.a guests). Typically he locks the front door to this beautiful 1880's house not long after that time.

One of the numerous polydactyl cats that roam the Tift-Hemmingway House in Key West is seen relaxing. Polydactyl cats have six front toes versus the typical five front toes of most domestic house cats. It is alleged that this is a result of the inbreeding of such animals due to the limited territory and feline gene pool of this island city.
After we parked Phooka, and brought our bags to our room, we walked about ten blocks west on Duval Street toward Mallory Square had a delicious dinner at one of my favorite of all restaurants in Key West El Meson de Pepe where I had my usual fare of Picadillo Habanero with Yuca. We then walked back to our room, changed into our bathing suits and enjoyed an incredibly relaxing time in the Mansion's Jacuzzi, followed by lounging under a full moon where tropical breezes that had crossed the Atlantic from Cuba gave us a warm caress and welcome.

It just doesn't get any better than this...

Tomorrow I would conduct my own walking tour of the Indigenous Park and take in a few historic houses, and we will cover that in next week's La Floridiana.

Be sure to have a most Happy New Year!

Index of 2004 "La Floridiana" Columns

Issue #197 January 1- January 5, 2004: "Will and Karen's Excellent Adventure to South Florida- Part Three"
Issue #198 January 5- January 11, 2004: "Will and Karen's Excellent Adventure to South Florida- Part Four"
Issue #199 January 12- January 18, 2004: "The "Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida, 1980-1983, by Christo and Jeanne-Claude"
Issue #200 January 19- January 25, 2004: "A Condensed History of the Native Indigenous Peoples of Tampa Bay (or "La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo") Region"
Issue #201 January 26- February 1, 2004: "T.R.E.E. Inc.'s Florida Arbor Day Weekend 2004"
Issue #202 February 2- February 8, 2004: "Two La Floridiana's, Photographically Revisited"
Issue #203 February 9- February 15, 2004: "Book Review: The Houses of Key West"
Issue #204 February 16- February 22, 2004: "Book Review: Welcome to Paradise"
Issue #205 February 23- February 29, 2004: "Florida Indies Film Review:"Not Another Student Film"
Issue #207 March 8- March 14, 2004: "Florida Indies Film Review:"Untitled DVD Project, Volume One"
Issue #208 March 15- March 21, 2004: "Florida Indies Film Review:"Light of Blood"
Issue #213 April 19- April 25, 2004: "Book Review: Ghosts of the Air"
Issue #214 April 26- May 2, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980’s: Part One"
Issue #215 May 3- May 9, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980's: Part Two – Air Sunshine and Florida Airlines"
Issue #216 May 10- May 16, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980's: Part Three – Executive Airlines, Gull Air, Mackey and Mackey International Airlines, and National Florida Airlines"
Issue #217 May 17- May 13, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980's: Part Four –North American Airlines, Shawnee Airlines, Sun Airlines and Vero-Monmouth Airlines"
Issue #218 May 24- May 30, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980's: Part Five –Atlantic Gulf Airlines, Dolphin Airways, Florida Express and Marco Island Airways"
Issue #219 May 31- June 6, 2004: "Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960's to the 1980's: Part Six - - Air Florida, Charter Airlines, PBA/Naples Airlines, Southeast Airlines"
Issue #220 June 7 – June 13, 2004: "A Fall Preview Look at Dr. Paul Bearer and a Few Other Bay Area Fright Features 1972-1994"
Issue #221 June 14 – June 20, 2004: "Will's Key West Adventure - - Part One"
Issue #222 June 21 – June 27, 2004: "Will's Key West Adventure - - Part Two"
Issue #223 June 28 – July 4, 2004: "Will's Key West Adventure - - Part Three"
Issue #224 July 5 – July 11, 2004: "Book Review: "Totch - - A Life in the Everglades"
Issue #225 July 12 – July 18, 2004: "A Visit to the North Florida Patron Saint of Pop Culture"
Issue #226 July 19- July 25, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties A to B"
Issue #227 July 26 – August 1, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties C to D"
Issue #228 August 2 – August 8, 2004: "Book Review: "Cadillac Beach"
Issue #229 August 9 – August 16, 2004: "Book Review: "Florida's Miracle Strip; From Redneck Riviera to Emerald Coast"
Issue #230 August 17 – August 25, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties E to G "
Issue #231 August 24 – August 30, 2004: "Book Review: Skinny Dip”
Issue #232 August 30 – September 5, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties H to I"
Issue #233 September 6 – September 12, 2004: "Double Book Review - - "Tangled and Dark" and "Florida Curiosities"
Issue #234 September 12 – September 18, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties J to K"
Issue #235 September 19 – September 25, 2004: "Book Review: Seasons of Real Florida"
Issue #237 October 4 – October 10, 2004: "The Return of a Local Television Legend (well, almost)" and "Where the U.F.O.'s in Florida Are: 2004"
Issue #238 October 11 – October 17, 2004: "Book Review: The Florida Night Sky"
Issue #239 October 18 – October 24, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties L to M" and "The Prodigal Son Returns to the Stars"
Issue #240 October 25 – October 31, 2004: The Paranormal in Florida Part 28- "I Married the Dead!" and "A Visit with A Comic Book Hero"
Issue #241 November 1- November 7, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties N to P"
Issue #242 November 8- November 14, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties Q to T"
Issue #243 November 15- November 21, 2004: "What's In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida's Towns and Counties U to Z", Musings on "Miami Vice" the movie, and the new "Dukes of Hazzard" movie
Issue #244 November 22- November 28, 2004: "Will's Miami Madness Part One"
Issue #245 November 29- December 5, 2004: "Will's Miami Madness Part Two"
Issue #248 December 20- December 26, 2004: "Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part One"
Issue #249 December 27- January 2, 2005: "Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Two"

"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.