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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #250  (Vol. 6, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 3--9, 2005.

Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Three
 by William Moriaty
"Beyond The Sea"
 by Mike Smith
Romper Room Memories, 1973....Will Eisner Is Gone...."Sellevision"....While They Suffer, Let's At Least Make Sure We Feel Good
 by Andy Lalino
One Angry Young Man
 by Joshua Montgomery
2004 To Me
 by Clayton Smith
Hell Didn't Freeze, Well, Maybe Not Yet....Some Comments Regarding The Year's End
 by Brandon Jones
Happy New Year....I Am The Champion....Winter Fest
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Congrats....25 More....Passing On
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Three

I spent the majority of my first full day in Key West walking solo.

Golden Bamboo graces the garden of the Tift-Hemmingway House in tropical Key West.
Conversely, the Brittle Thatch Palm, a native of the Florida Keys, is seen in its natural habitat growing at the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key.
After having downed my bagel and crème cheese with coffee and fresh squoze Florida orange juice on the front verandah of Marrero's Guest Mansion, I ventured out into the crystal-blue sunny skies of Key West on the beginning of my walking tour of America's southernmost city.

My initial destination would be the "Sonny" McCoy Indigenous Park. Located at the corner of White and Atlantic streets, this city-owned facility features an incredible array of plants indigenous to the Florida Keys. It would be about a two-mile one-way walk.

The morning of Wednesday November 24, 2004 in Key West was breathtakingly beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky with temperatures in the high seventies. As the remainder of the plants of most of the United States had begun their slumber into winter dormancy, Key West was alive with the orange, purple, red, pink and white blooms of Bougainvilleas that highlighted and contrasted the blue skies even deeper. Each street corner I turned on my walk to the Indigenous Park challenged me with a tropical plant that I had yet to identify - - it was great to play the role of student and feel the magic of discovery again!

White Street pretty much delineates the old Key West from the newer Key West. Many of the houses built west of the street are the old classic houses, while many of the houses east of White Street are more modern, having been built after the Second World War. Strangely, many of the houses east of White Street reminded me of the houses of South Tampa that typically are cinder block, ranch style, and built in the fifties or early sixties, the only differences being the more tropical foliage in the yards.

Back to the cultivated and urban setting, the streets of Key West were ablaze with the riotous colors of Bougainvillea vines.
After making my way southward toward the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic Boulevard, I reset my course about five blocks west and first visited Rest Beach/C.B. Harvey Park, which is across the street from the Indigenous Park. In addition to a beach for swimming, Rest Beach/C.B. Harvey Park also has a public pier and is beautifully landscaped with Sea Lavenders, Sea Oats and Bay Cedars along the dune line. The Atlantic Ocean was its typical glowing turquoise with a cacophony of parasail, powerboat, sailboat, shrimp boat, seaplane and cruise line activities occurring on it and above it.

Several photo shots afterward, I crossed the street and entered the Indigenous Park which is home to some stunning specimens of native South Florida and Caribbean plants such as Gumbo Limbo, Jamaica Dogwood, Holywood Lignumvitae, Paradise Tree and a host of others.

After surveying the "Sonny" McCoy Indigenous Park in wide eyed wonder, my watch and my stomach told me it was time to wander back to Marrero's Guest Mansion where my wife Karen would be waiting after a morning of browsing and buying at Key West Island Books. Upon my arrival some twenty blocks later, we both rested on the second story verandah outside our room which looks over Fleming Street with the historic Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha Inn to the east and the cruise ship docks to the north.

Sheer tropical elegance is the only way to describe the Tift-Hemmingway House and its grounds.
On this glorious sunny day we then walked up Whitehead Street to Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery. Of particular interest to me was the history this establishment's building had. It was the original home of Aeromarine Airways (which is featured in La Floridiana, PCR #197) and Pan American Airways!

Once Karen and I were done with our salads and blackened chicken wings, we continued along Whitehead Street to the famed Geiger-Audubon House. The house actually belonged not to noted ornithologist John James Audubon, but to John Geiger, a Key West harbormaster and wrecker who invited Audubon to stay at his home during his 1832 visit to the Florida Keys.

The house is totally luxuriant with period piece furniture, paintings and amenities, as well as tropical gardens in the back yard complete with herbs and edible fruits and vegetables that would have been grown by the Geiger family all those years ago. A beautiful tree with stunning orange flowers which is common to the Florida Keys is called the Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestina) which was presumably brought over from the Bahamas to Key West by Audubon and named in the harbormaster's honor. The tours are self-guided and are totally worth the time and admission price.

In last year's trip, Karen and I took a ghost tour of the Island of Bones on our last night there. This year, we had a similar tour by a different company on our first night and all to ourselves. The guide was a Cracker girl from the Fernandina Beach area of Florida, who was an avid anthropologist. Needless to say, we hit it off great! In addition to the usual fare of Key West ghost stories, this gracious lady gave insights and additions to these stories, even telling us of some things she personally experienced, leaving me with a bad case of chill bumps!

This is the very pool that author Ernest Hemmingway cooled off in while a resident at the Tift-Hemmingway House.
On the morning of Thursday November 25, 2004, the sky grew grayer and grayer.

My hopes of taking a solo car trip to Big Pine Key in Phooka that morning were appearing more remote as a cold front was bringing squalls into the Keys. By 10:00 A.M. the cruise ship several blocks north of our Guest Mansion began to disappear in a torrent of rain.

Karen and I had a Thanksgiving Day dinner to attend on the other side of the island that afternoon so Big Pine Key would have to wait until tomorrow...

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 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 ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.