by Peggy DePersia, Guest blogger
They call it Keys’ Disease. Symptoms include desire to move slow, breathe deep, and savor the experiences of the senses. On one level the disease invites you to quiet yourself. Like many diseases it compels you to lay low with a good book, leisurely enjoy an afternoon nap or linger over a soothing beverage, not necessarily ginger ale.
The ‘Keys’, a unique crescent of islands off the southern tip of Florida from Key Largo, made famous in the movie, Blue Lagoon, to Key West, made famous by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Harry Truman, offers a campy atmosphere of ‘conch shacks’, bait and tackle shops and margarita emporiums.
The ‘Keys’ tempo seems to relax the further south you go with Key West serving as a kind of exclamation point with it’s array of restaurants, bars, specialty shops, unique points of interest and, of course, the carnival of activities that wrap up each day and culminate in the setting of the sun, consistently an exuberant explosion of color by any standard and a phenomenon of nature that never fails to capture the imagination of young and old alike.
There are many opportunities for excursions to sites of historical relevance, literary interest or natural wonder through-out the ‘Keys’ yet some of my favorite are in and around Key West. I love riding through town on the canopied ‘trains’ that are used to highlight the unique architectural features of island ‘colonial’ style structures. It is a tour that is well worth the time and a relaxing, open air way to see many of the historic parts of the city in just a few hours; good if you are a day tripper.
Fans of the work and or life of Ernest Hemingway will be captivated by a visit and tour of one of Hemingway’s homes, both writing studio and kick off point for fishing adventures in the heart of Key West. Harry Truman used a home in Key West, a strategic site in terms of our national defense, as a get away destination. Though he conducted official business while vacationing in this little piece of paradise, he enjoyed hosting his famous ‘card parties’….poker anyone?….for his professional confidantes and buddies. a way to unwind from the rigors of presidential duties.
Once you are in the ‘old town’ of Key West, restaurants, bars, museums, and novelty shops (best spa style sponges, if you’re a fan, anywhere) are steps away in any direction and the ‘island’ music with its distinctive sounds of steel drums lures you along.
A ‘must see and experience’ is the carnival of activity that occurs at sunset point; the juggler we saw was FANTASTIC! It is a feature of the street life of a place like few others, a place to relax and unwind while marveling at the wonders of a unique history of place, a special experience of time and space, a confluence of cultural influences and an experience of natural wonder.
Jerry DePersia is an architect in Grand Rapids, MI and a lover of wood crafts. He took the photos for this blog post.
Peggy recently retired as a high school art teacher and now devotes her time to teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design and living creatively.
They both enjoy travel and time with their darling grand son, Oliver.