Day 4: Key West

Scooters! What else to do in Key West? We headed to Moped Hospital down the street from our Inn, and each rented a scooter for the day. For $40 each, you get to wheel around town helmet-less at 30 mph… quite a lot of fun, even with our little Korean models. Every once in a while, a real motorbike will zoom past us and put us in our place, but it feels liberating to be able to zip around without wearing your feet out. 30-mph feels like pretty fast when you’re flying by bicyclists.

We first headed to the graveyard, which is an odd place. The water table is so high, and the coral rock so hard, that everyone is buried above ground in little cement boxes. There are funny epitaphs, crumbling and new markers… and we noticed, quite a lot of Masonic imagery. There were many of those little compass symbols, 5-petal roses, pentacles (5-pointed stars) — everywhere. This added a little creepy element to the walk through.

Next, we hopped onto the scooters and headed up to Southard St. and Grinnell St., for a Cuban Sandwich and Cafe con Leche at the 5 Brothers. Presley ate a Fritas Cubanas, which was something like a sloppy joe with potato sticks and onion. Both were pretty tasty.

Then, on to the Southermost Point, which is the southernmost point in the Continental United States, if you don’t count the Navy yard gated off to the west. It’s only 90 miles to Havana– much closer than Miami.

Back on the scooters, and we zip back up to Whitehead St. and Truman St. to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home. This is a totally commercialized operation that takes your $10, and herds you into the house for a guided tour. Our guide was Dave, who, though completely taken with his own corny puns and jokes, was utterly inept at dealing softly with inquisitive tourists. A middle-aged woman asked what year the house was purchased by Hemingway, to which Dave theatrically closed his eyes, sighed loudly, and snapped “1931…. Now, does anyone know where I left off?” Then he explained that you may take all the photos and video that you like, but not during his tour. Upstairs, Presley took out her SLR camera to catch two six-toed cats lounging on Papa’s bed, to which Dave reminded her that we are not to take photographs during his tour, all but assuring that he would not be receiving any tip from our wallets.

Still, obnoxiousness aside, it was interesting strolling around the grounds, watching the big cats with their big paws. The cats give the estate a magical quality, prompting Presley to muse, “The Paul Revere House could use some cats…”

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