ODD THINGS TO SEE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
Or how about those whizbang humdingers anyway…
By Theolonius McTavish, a kilted clansman and person of wanderlust in the land of heat stroke, alligator crossings, perishing palm trees, bridges galore and of course, the Conch Republic
I was recently invited by a far-flung fogy of mine to visit her in Florida, (home to some pretty feisty fish not to mention 13 million God-fearing, gun-toting folk).
Not being a frequent flying-carpet sort of chaise-longue person by nature, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Frankly, just getting in and out of the sprawling airport construction zone proved to be an adventure. Methinks it might have helped had I been able to sprout wings to get me out of the mess, but wouldn't make me look too dorky).
As I’m not one for screaming meemies, tasteless fast-food, fake fun resorts or frightfully expensive fantasies, I set out immediately for the Keys. After five hours of navigating turnpikes, tolls and testy thoroughfares, I found a long, thin, well-appointed spit of land just south of all the blessedly hot Miami beaches and cash-friendly casinos (with no charming little pink flamingos incidentally).
A few wellwishers had warned me about frolicking in the Florida Keys as they bid me a fond farewell. Clearly they hoped that I might be lost in a hurricane so they wouldn’t have to make a ‘welcome back’ sign upon my return, host a breathtakingly boring party to view my digital photo album, or smile graciously after accepting a tacky t-shirt or trinket from an inveterate tightwad.
Needless to say, I decided to travel light. Wearing a smashing kilt, a matching tartan tam, not to mention my carry-on luggage comprised of a set of bagpipes, a flask of fire water, and a waterproof sack of oatmeal, I set off to visit my freedom-fifty friend with a large girth, a nose ring, and a personal philosophy called "leading the good life any way I please".
Of course, doffing my hobnailed leather brogues for a bit of fresh air in the middle of the aerodrome probably didn’t endear me to the locals. It seems the gesture drew more than a few unwanted glances from security personnel plus a host of superannuated damsels-in-distress whom I thought I had left behind in what is euphemistically referred to as a “maintenance-free, pet-friendly, independent active lifestyle housing community” (and far too many busybodies for my liking).
To make a long story short, the Florida Keys are shall we say wretechedly hot, horrifyingly humid and full of half-baked humor indeed.
A spirit of serendipity is certainly recommended when visiting any tourist trap, especially a place that bills itself as the homeland of hoopla and hullabaloo -- “The Conch Republic”, (and that’s pronounced “KONK” if you please)!
My first inkling of stepping into the wonderous world of wonk was catching a glimpse of a rather obscure, weather-beaten sign announcing an “alligator crossing”. (Thank God I didn’t run over one of the booglies as it was downright dark and my bleeping bagpipes, my trusty Swiss Army thingamybob, and my easy-to-assemble pup-tent were all in the trunk.)
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the sights and sounds of the Keys. Well, I have to report that it was very hot and humid which is fine if you’re Beelzebub or the devil-in-disguise (which is probably why the state-trooper stopped me for driving in my birthday-suit while admiring one of those fast-moving, flaming red sunsets).
Fortunately for me, oddballs are very welcome in this neck of the mud-flats and mangrove swamp. If truth be told, I seem to fit right in with the pathetic-looking palm trees, dust and colorful guano that cover this looney bird landscape.
Besides visiting a hole-in-the-wall place offering 22 colors of grout (on special), a saucy “Squid Row” venue, a barmy beach less bar known as “Hog Heaven”, and a simply scatty spot called the “Pelican Poop Shoppe” in Key West, I have to say this land of crushed critters, honking big watercraft, and 7-mile-long bridges over shark-infested waters seems to have precious little going for it.
The saving grace of this trip however was a taste of twaddle – the unforgettable lingering aroma of “Hogsbreath” lager complemented by a plate of “chilly willies”, “crispy conchs” and a spicy side order of BBQ “unwing dings”.
By the way, if you’re feeling a bit peeked and out of sorts from all the silly snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and sordid sniveling about the heat…you might try dropping in to chat with some fearless folk who live there all year-round. They hang out in such pleasure-filled places as “Lions Lair Swimwear”, the “Bonefish Dermatology Clinic”, "Fast Buck Freddie's", "The Lazy Gecko" bar, "Crabby Dicks'" restaurant, the "BlOnD GiRaFfE" key lime pie factory and the “Eye Candy Boutique”.
Just convey greetings from the home of ice, snow, and polar bears (plus a few million ex-patriots from 200 nations including one stubborn, sauntering Scot wearing wee kilt with no knickers named Theolonius McTavish)!
The little jaunt to Florida was an eye-opener as can be seen from my photos of the sites: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quippingqueen/16926962/ ; http://www.flickr.com/photos/quippingqueen/16926960/ ;
And for those who can't get enough "Hogsbreath" lager and laughter, you'll have to visit the hogs in person at the saloon in Key West http://hogsbreath.com/beer.htm