Maybe I’m not in a good frame of mind to write this post. But, sorry to say, I’m going to do it anyway.
The concrete buoy is actually an old sewer junction that was dug up in the area and found too heavy and large to move, so it was painted up to look like a buoy.
The marker is not even the southernmost point of Key West Island. The private yard directly to the southeast of the buoy is obviously farther south. Land on the Truman Annex property just west-southwest of the buoy is the true southernmost point on the island, (approximately 900 feet (270 m) farther south), but it has no marker since it is U.S. Navy property and cannot be entered by civilian tourists. The southernmost part of Key West Island accessible to civilians is the beach area of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park…(is) approximately 500 feet farther south than the marker.
This, friends, is a pretty good metaphor for my feelings about Key West. Take something that used to carry sewage, paint it up, call it something it’s not, and we all trek to it like lemmings to take our picture with it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had no grand notions of Key West. We went because we felt like we had to. You know…a conversation comes up about visiting the Keys and you’re bound to get asked “So did you visit Key West?” I hate saying no to those questions - because we’ve done that before. We’ve been really close to something many people visit and skipped it, then have to go through all the hoops explaining why when we talk about it.
So yesterday we daytripped down from Marathon, FL to Key West, FL. We walked the historic boardwalk, visited the Southernmost point buoy, find Mile 0 of Highway 1, found the Little White House, and had fish tacos for lunch. I took the smattering of photos you see below because honestly…most times if I squinted my eyes (and blocked out the free-range chickens around town) I could just about believe I was in one of a few touristy towns. Add a bit of live jazz in the street and I could have been in New Orleans. Add a Texan twang and I could have been on 5th street in Austin. Swing that way and man…feels like Portland. T-shirt shops, tattoo parlors, tiki bars, an occasional art gallery and lots of overripe sunburned people walking around. Or biking around. Or electric-car-ing around. Or trolley-touring around. Or Jeep-masquerading-as-train-locomotiving-around. Or public-transiting around. Key West is evidently not for the sedentary - it felt like one big confused island version of the Amazing Race.
We went prepared for a long day and by just after lunch had all had enough. Having purchased our requisite magnet and sticker we piled our own overripe slightly sunburned bodies back into the truck for the 45 mile, hour and a half drive back up to Marathon.
Lest you think I’m all Cynical Sam - we have actually enjoyed our time in the Keys. See - I really expected all of the Keys to be like Key West. That’s been our experience in just about any beach-front vacation destination (Outer Banks, Panama City Beach, Galveston, etc). But the middle and upper Keys are less…that. They are still touristy, but not so densely so that you can’t see the natural beauty that was the draw to begin with. I’d gladly come back down for some more time in some of the State Parks that we weren’t able to get into.