Monday, December 15, 2014
Papio started his salvage and welding business at mile marker 101 along Highway U.S. 1 in Key Largo in 1949. He collected junk, including discarded metal appliances and cars. At the time, his property was relatively isolated, but soon nosy neighbors arrived. They took issue with having an "eyesore" in the neighborhood. Papio’s first major work, the 8-foot-tall Two-Faced Woman, was created from metal fence scrolls and tin scraps as a parody of a neighbor who was nice to his face but reported him to the county. He was ultimately arrested six times for violating zoning codes.
Art aficionados and tour buses soon started stopping by to visit his “gallery.” Admission: a quarter. His pieces were exhibited throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, but he refused to sell his sculptures. Instead he hoped to donate the entire collection to a museum. He got his wish after his death in 1982 when the Key West Art & Historical Society put the sculptures on permanent display at Fort East Martello. While it may be a little off the beaten path, Papio's collection is a must-see and captures the spirit of a true Keys character.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Who's ready for stone crab season to open on October 15? About 40 percent of Florida’s stone crabs (nearly 3 million pounds) comes from Florida Keys' waters. The local fish houses like Keys Fisheries in Marathon have mounds of the sweet, succulent crustacean steamed, cracked and ready for purchase by the claw or by the pound. If you’re not in the Keys, don’t worry. They deliver. Grab your mallet and pair the crab meat with their signature spicy mustard sauce.
Friday, July 18, 2014
The Florida Keys live up to their quirky reputation.
The signs are all there.
|You're on Keys Time at Marker 88 in Islamorada.|
|Over 100 years and still going strong--Pepe's Cafe in Key West.|
|In the Florida Keys, it's always 5 o'clock somewhere! |
At the Pilot House in Key Largo.
|Follow this sign to complete bliss at the Casa Marina Spa, Key West.|
|Zombies exiting the "Freakin' Gate" at Blue Heaven in Key West.|
|Follow this sign to the drag show at 801 Bourbon Bar in Key West.|
|Key West Island Books--80,000 books...|
|An unfortunate place for the Shark Week crew to leave their prop|
at Breezy Palms Resort in Islamorada. Photo by Penry Archer.
|The official flag of the Northernmost Territories of the Conch Republic |
at Bayside Grill in Key Largo.
|Caffeine-lovers, this is your Mother Ship--outside of Key West.|
|Yes, this sign is serious--in the Everglades.|
|Apparently there are some people who don't know--|
don't pet the alligators in the Everglades.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
|Photo by Claudia Miller|
Drifting into a shaded mangrove tunnel, Little used her underwater flashlight to spotlight the vibrant sponges, worms and algae living among the mangrove roots. Juvenile snapper and barracuda darted in and out of the shadows. On the other side of the tunnel, she dipped a blue net into the seagrass bed and gently pulled out two Cassiopea jellyfish that live upside down on the ocean floor. Perfectly camouflaged to match the silt-covered bottom, they pulsed gently, looking like a sea anemone with dark yellow plumes waving. I wondered what else was lurking below. As if reading my thoughts, Little pointed down and said, “That’s not just muck; it’s home.”
Originally published on floridatravellife.com
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
"Floating nowhere, feeling fine
No destination on my mind
Where I'm at is where I'll be
All I need is idle speed."
© Scott Youngberg 2011
Click on the album cover below, and listen to the song. You'll wish you were out on the water!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
|Photo: Nick Doll / BMI|
Presented by international performing rights organization BMI, the lineup is stronger than ever this year. Big names like Sara Evans, Anders Osborne, Kacey Musgraves, Robert Earl Keen, Kree Harrison, Matraca Berg, Tony Joe White, Dean Dillon and many more round out a packed schedule. Shows run May 7-11 this year. Bonus: Most of them are free. Read More...
Friday, April 11, 2014
I'm co-hosting #FriFotos--a weekly photo forum centered around a theme--today on Twitter. Today's theme is technology. At first I was stumped. People visit the Florida Keys to enjoy the stunning waterfront vistas and abundant wildlife in an effort to escape technology. But after searching through my photos, I realized that the Florida Keys were pretty high-tech back in the day.
Key West has a strong maritime history as the "Gibraltar of the West," and the technology used in wrecking made it the largest and richest city in Florida by 1860. Henry Flagler even went so far as to develop new technologies while building his Overseas Railroad, which was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Here are some of my favorite photos featuring technology in the Keys past and present.
|Today sun-worshipers enjoy the beach underneath the Bahia Honda Bridge,|
once part of Flagler's Overseas Railroad.
|The first Key West lighthouse is a 65-foot tower that was completed in 1825. |
It had 15 lamps in 15-inch reflectors.
|Hemingway used this old-school technology to write |
some of his finest works in Key West.
|In a nod to Key West's wild rum running era during Prohibition: |
copper still at Key West Legal Rum Distillery
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Packing for a Key West vacation can be a bit of a challenge. If you've never been to the Southernmost City, you may be scratching your head and staring at your empty suitcase. In the Florida Keys, the year-round sizzling temps and the laissez-faire attitude call for loose comfy clothes with a touch of tropical panache. Luckily, the island is packed with expertly curated boutiques, which focus on natural fabrics and figure-flattering, flowy styles. Colorful accessories inspire ideas for layering with chunky necklaces and graceful scarves. Read more for the 10 best clothing stores in Key West.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
It won’t take foodies long to fall in love with Key West with its multi-cultural blend of vibrant flavors from Cuba, the Bahamas and other far-flung locales. Award-winning chef Norman Van Aken credits his years of living and working in Key West as the foundation for developing his revolutionary New World Cuisine. Recently he and his son Justin wrote My Key West Kitchen, a cookbook that features recipes inspired by some of their favorite people and eateries on the island. Follow this itinerary to discover some of the dishes that inspired this notable chef. ...Read more.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Longtime resident and Keys historian, Irving Eyster, passed away earlier this month at the age of 95. A few years ago I was able to spend an afternoon with Eyster and his lovely wife Jeanne, and he regaled me with tales from his past in the Florida Keys. One of my favorite stories was his harrowing tale of trying to get back to Islamorada after Hurricane Donna in 1960 despite the washed out bridges. It was published in Keys Sunday, and I'd like to share it again.
Irving Eyster recalls the trip back home
At about 2 a.m. on Sept. 10, 1960, the Keys were hit by Hurricane Donna, which had a force comparable to that of Hurricane Andrew. It made landfall in the Marathon area, centered on Key Vaca as a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It had estimated maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts of up to 180 mph with a storm surge of 13 feet.
Longtime resident and Keys historian, Irving Eyster, moved to the Keys with his family in 1947, and he vividly remembers the aftermath of Donna as he tried to make his way home to Lower Matecumbe once the hurricane had passed.
Before the hurricane, Eyster evacuated to Vero Beach with his family. That night, they didn’t sleep. Instead, they stayed up listening to the radio.
“They were giving reports from the lighthouse out at Alligator Reef,” he said. “They were moving up to the top of the tower with their equipment because of the waves. The winds got on up to 165, and the next advisory said that the winds were 60… and they went off the air. They lost their equipment, so we never knew what the top was.”
The next morning, Eyster headed back to his home, anxious to see how his property had fared in the storm. The police had stopped all traffic at Florida City because no one knew the extent of the damage to the highway and the bridges.
“We waited, pleaded with the guys to let us through,” Eyster said. “I told them if we come to a place where the bridges are washed out, a friend of mine right here has got a boat. They let us go ahead.”
The water was about a foot to 18 inches deep across the first few miles south of Florida City, but he and his friend Buck Sloane made their way down to Key Largo moving pieces of cars, houses and other debris out of the road. They finally came to a dead stop when they came across an entire house sitting in the middle of the road.
“We were debating what to do about that, and then there was a whole convoy of trucks coming. It was the National Guard and all the utility trucks that were coming to see what damage was done. I told them to go ahead because I didn’t want to have to break ground for them.”
Driving all the way down to Harry Harris’ restaurant in Tavernier, where the new electric building is now, they finally had to put the boat in the water. They went down the bayside and promptly ripped off the prop of the boat hitting a house. After floating about a quarter of a mile, they ended up in Snake Creek.
“It was just like a big suction tube, and we were barreling through. We were wondering where we were going, and I said, well, we would probably be found quicker out on the ocean than we would here on the bay. And Buck agreed there wasn’t anything we could do.”
When they reached Snake Creek Bridge, the boat landed in a net of fallen telephone wires. They tied up the boat about 100 feet from the bridge, walked across and sat down on Windley Key.
“Almost everything on Windley Key was out on the highway except for this bait shack owned by Bill Clyde down where Smuggler’s Cove is now. Everybody talked for years about that shack. That it would blow down the first wind we had. It was still standing, and all those other buildings were gone. I said I’ve got to clean my glasses and my flashlight.
There was so much water. It was just beginning to get dark. Buck asked, 'Who’s your friend?' About six feet away from me was a rattlesnake curled up. He wasn’t bothering me, and I wasn’t going to bother him. I was just glad to see something alive.”
When they reached Theater of the Sea and Holiday Isle, both were washed out, and there were some large planks on the road. At Whale Harbor, they saw that a portion of the bridge was gone, but that there were some big stones out in the water. They got to the other side by putting the planks across the stones.
By this time it was midnight, and a police officer stopped and gave them a ride down to the coast guard building, which is the Islamorada Library today. They walked further down to Fowler’s Restaurant, now Papa Joe’s. Tea Table Relief Bridge had been taken out by the water.
There were boats and motors from a local boat distributorship owned by George Weed piled across the highway and into the woods. Eyster’s friend decided to see if he could find a boat they could use.
“I was tired, so I lay down on the first hunk of bridge that was left and went to sleep,” Eyster said. “A little while later I was awoken by someone saying, hey there’s a body. I woke up real quick and said, but I’m still using it.”
They eventually got together a boat and a motor. As they got in to cross, a man came out from behind Fowler’s Restaurant carrying a gun.
“He told us that we weren’t going anyplace. I asked him what was his interest in the thing. I know this isn’t your boat, and I’m going to return it as soon as I can. He said, 'I was told that the bank in Marathon was blown wide open, and I intend to get my part of it.' I told him to come and go with us. He said, 'I’m not that drunk.'”
After being forced to relinquish the boat, they went up to the Fish House where Islamorada Fish Company is today next to World Wide Sportsman, and after some serious negotiations talked the man in charge into to taking them in his boat to Lower Matecumbe for $100. They hit several things along the way and had to stop numerous times to take wires out of the props. They got to Lower Matecumbe just as it was beginning to get light.
The road there was down to the bedrock. When they went to his friend’s house, it was gone. They walked down three more blocks to see if Eyster’s house was still there. It was still standing, but it was completely gutted. Eyster also owned eight hotel units, and the end two were partially knocked down where a wave had hit them.
“We left Florida City one morning and got to Lower Matecumbe noon the next day,” Eyster said. “We made good time.”
Related story: Irving Eyster: Preserving Indian Key
Related story: Irving Eyster: Preserving Indian Key
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Just minutes from Duval Street, this six bedroom, eight bath estate on Caroline Street has traditional conch style Key West architecture with spacious porches that overlook the manicured grounds, swimming pool and two guest houses. The second floor features a master bedroom suite including a coal burning fireplace, separate dressing room, morning kitchen with refrigerator, stunning white marble bathroom with a luxurious glass shower enclosure for two. A private balcony runs the width of the house, accessible only from the master bedroom. Also on the second floor is a guest suite, sitting room and bathroom with steam enclosure and a private balcony. There's even a custom designed wine cellar that can house up to 1,500 bottles. Outside an array of outdoor living spaces surround a large pool with several seating areas spaced around rear yard.
Take a virtual tour of Kenny Chesney's former Key West home and dream of winning the lottery.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Dreaming about a cool minty mojito in the Florida Keys while you're at work? Fight the urge to yell, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere!" and run out the door. Instead, indulge virtually with this desktop wallpaper. Simply download onto your computer for that "ahhh" moment to get you through until your next tropical escape.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Don’t have your tickets yet for the upcoming Key West Food & Wine Festival January 22-26? Well, I have a treat for you—a discount code for 10% off Duval UNCORKED or the VIP Pass. If you know me well, you won't be surprised that I managed to find a “coupon” for the festival, and I have permission to share it with you!
The signature event on Saturday night, Duval Uncorked, will be a gastronomical experience like no other. An upscale twist on the popular pub-hopping Duval Crawl, Uncorked is a mile-long food and wine tasting down the main drag in Old Town. Hundreds of participants stroll past the historic Keys’ architecture and through chic boutiques, eclectic art galleries and hidden inns.
Each of the 40-plus stops on the route holds a surprise from conch chowder to cabernet sorbet to shots with the local drag queens. On-hand to answer questions will be visiting winemakers like Hugh Chapelle from Quivira Vineyards and owners such as Norm Yost from Flying Goat Cellars, Teri Kight from Quivira and Chuck Easley from T-Vine Cellars. It’s one big adventure, and I’m counting down the days.
The VIP Pass is the golden ticket to the long sun-soaked weekend of festivities. It includes the Kick Off Your Flip Flops Barefoot Beach Party, the Save the Turtles Grand Tasting, Coconut Bowling at Blue Heaven, Pop Up Wine Tastings (VIP only), Seminars (VIP only) and Duval UNCORKED. New this year, the Pop Up Wine Tastings offer VIPs a chance to sample limited-production wines from Santa Barbara County California paired with local cuisine. Central Coast Wine & Food is collaborating with several Key West restaurants to bring you these enticing treats.
VIPs will also be able to choose from one of these exclusive seminars: How to Prepare Peruvian Ceviche, Key West “Legal Rum,” History of the Original Key Lime Pie or A Taste of Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Mike Cohen, a Certified Sommelier from Charleston, will be overseeing these fun educational opportunities. Reserved strictly for VIPs, these seminars will not be open to the public.
Now, how do you save 10% off UNCORKED and the VIP Pass? Just enter the code KWFWF in the promotion code box once you select how many tickets you would like. Buy them now before they're gone! See you in Key West on the 22nd!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Are you ready for the 2014 Key West Food & Wine Festival? Here's a sneak peek of what's in store this year! The three main events are back this year: Kick Off Your Flip Flops Beach Party, Grand Tasting and Duval "Uncorked." These popular soirees have sold out in the past, so make sure you've got your fingers ready to click "buy now" on your faves as soon as they're up for grabs.
This year, the 5th Annual Grand Tasting will be held on the pier of the Fort Jefferson Museum between Turtle Kraals and Half Shell Raw Bar. Located on the Historic Key West Bight, this deep-water harbor was once the heart of the working waterfront.
Here in the turtle kraals (watery corrals) green sea turtles were kept near the Thompson turtle cannery before being exported as delicacy around the world. While the booming turtle industry helped build Key West, the rate of harvest wasn't sustainable. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 made it illegal to remove a green turtle of any size from U.S. waters.
Honoring the island's rich and complex history, the festival has partnered with the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy for this year's Grand Tasting. They'll be sampling the recently-released Sea Turtle Reserve Red and Sea Turtle Reserve White wines, a special-edition series by the Weibel Family Vineyards of Lodi, California.
The winery worked in conjunction with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to raise awareness and support for the protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles. Part of the proceeds from the Sea Turtle Selections will be dedicated to the conservancy. The festival also be donating a portion of the proceeds from the Grand Tasting to this worthy non-profit.
If you want to get all the insider info on the festival, sign up for their Juiced Newsletter.