The Keys…


We stayed overnight in Jupiter, FL on the way here in a La Quinta Inn. Exceptionally nice room and staff. Unfortunately, at 5:30AM we were awakened by the fire alarm. After getting my jacket, shoes, and purse, we left and went out through the lobby – which was deserted.

It was obvious that there was NO FIRE, so we went back inside and waited with everyone else for the fire department to arrive. About 15 minutes later, they rolled up, two firemen in full gear came inside and checked the building. Yep, no fire anywhere, so they turned off the alarm and we went back to bed…

When we checked out, I headed back a few miles to Hobe Sound to a Greek Festival that I hoped would be good. When I got there, Max was not allowed into the festival. The woman parking attendant told me that it’s against the law to leave a dog in a parked car in Florida, but “if you crack the windows, you can go ahead in and quickly scope it out.”

It was cool, and I knew he’d be OK while I went and got some food – and he was. There wasn’t much happening inside the food tent – granted it was only 11:30AM on the first day – but I bought hot spanakopita, a plate of feta, olives, and dolmas, and baklava, and headed back out to the car.

I ate the spanakopita right away – SUPERB! Next, stopped at a Starbucks for latté to go with the baklava. WOW! Saved the plate of dolmas, etc for dinner. also WOW!

Persistence can pay off: the night before, I found a small motel in the Keys – with an efficiency kitchen! So, we trucked on down Florida’s Turnpike to the Overseas Highway (Rte 1) in the Keys, arriving in Islamorada about 4PM. Stopped at a Winn-Dixie for groceries, and we were all settled in by 5.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Early morning walk to the bridge about 1/2 mile away and back. Felt like our early morning routine at home, except it was 58 degrees. After breakfast and a little discussion – mostly with myself – we decided to head for Key West for the day.

I’ve been there once before, but the whole experience felt like a new one. I didn’t remember half the little keys and towns along the way, nor did I remember the actual approach into Key West. OK, it’s not early onset Alzheimer’s either. It’s been at least 10 years, and many trips to other places in between.

Key West is supposed to be a dog friendly town, so I was looking forward to it. We stopped and got a map of town and I asked if there was a dog park. There was, and it was easy to find. Down by Higgs Beach in a park complex that included the dog park, a children’s fenced playground, tennis, walking paths, and the beach. There was also a commemorative plaque indicating the area was the site of an African cemetery from 1860. Over 1250 Africans had been rescued from slave ships, but 296 died from disease and were buried here.

The dog park was great! fenced, lots of shade, lots of water, and the key ingredient, lots of happy dogs to play with! Max was off and running even before we got to the gate! Somehow, I dropped his leash and he was away in a heartbeat, running along the fence, wanting to play, scaring the bejesus out of me! He came back pretty quickly to the gate and we got inside, where I unclipped his leash and let him go.

We spent at least 45 minutes there, until I could see that he had burned up enough energy to be a pleasant walking companion as we meandered through the quiet neighborhoods to Duval Street.

I didn’t realize or remember Key West as big as it is, so it was a longer walk there than I expected. Those little visitor maps never give you the real deal on distance, do they? However, it was a pleasant day, warm but breezy from the northeast (so COOL breezes).

When we got to Duval St, I started looking for a place to eat where I could sit outside with Max. Not so easy: It seems the city has passed a new ordinance that doesn’t allow dogs into restaurants, even outside. When I asked at one outdoor spot, she said they weren’t allowed.

“Where can I take him?” I asked, and she pointed across the side street to Salsa Loco. Turned out to be a good choice too! Max was more than welcome. While I had a decent margarita, tamale, guacamole, chips and salsa, he got lots of attention, treats, and admirers. Dessert was some of the best sopapillas I’ve ever had.

We walked to the end (or is it the beginning?) of Duval Street to Mallory Square, which was barricaded off. I asked if I could go in and was told NO. There’s a seafood festival today (wish I had known before I went yesterday!) which is why they weren’t letting anybody in.

We walked ALL THE WAY BACK to the dog park and the car about 4:30 and headed back north. Oh, did I tell you? Islamorada to Key West is about 85 miles one way and takes almost 2 hours! So, long, sometimes slow, drive back and we arrived just about 6:30.

Our little home on the beach is pretty good. Kitchen is adequate – whatever is missing, I have in the kitchen box in the car (translate that to can opener and corkscrew for starters!). I can make my own stove top espresso, cook – even bake, which I did last night. Among the groceries at Winn-Dixie, I bought the makings for Key Lime pie, and made it last night. YUM!!

So, here we are in Paradise, and I’m thinking about moving on. I keep watching the weather and feeling discouraged. Everywhere we want to head is COLD. Not arctic cold, but cold for where it is. Florida Panhandle in the 40s? Austin, Texas – same deal. Santa Fe – 20s at night, 40s daytime.

Part of me feels like I should turn around and go home. Another part says, “Keep going. It’s January, what did you expect? Just keep going!” It’s bound to get better, right? Certainly, it’s warmer than home right now.

And then, there’s another part that says, “Stay where you are. I’s warmer than where you want to go…” And I feel guilty about Max, who is limited by his leash. We’re too close to the road for me to be able to let him loose. Becky, the motel owner, tells me she thinks Anna Beach allows dogs, so we’re going there today. Maybe then, I’ll feel a little less guilty about my ever-so-patient, and ever-so-loyal canine friend.

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About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Coffee, Eating out on a road trip, Musings, On the Road, Puppy antics, Random thoughts, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Keys…

  1. Good, interesting post today, Mom. Maybe you should stay in FL, SOUTHERLY, for a week or so and just see how it goes, weatherwise, everywhere else you want to go? I wouldn’t feel badly about Max. . . He’s happy wherever he goes! love, cin

    • Maureen Farr says:

      yeah, I know. one thing I find hard is to be somewhere basically doing nothing!! couple that with having to keep him tied and the guilt comes in! Katy called me up after reading this post to make sure I was OK.

  2. Michael Daugherty says:

    Fun to check in and see where you’re traveling. At Long Key State Park, there’s a walk-in “primitive” site for $14. I think it’s first-come, first-served, and I think dogs are OK. At the other state parks, if you arrive mid-day and ask if they’ve had cancellations, you might get lucky. Bahia Honda has nice beaches. And Everglades National Park will have plenty of campsites in Flamingo.

  3. I can imagine! But remember how f’ing cold it is here in Maine and everywhere else, and realize that you’re doing him a Mitzvah and not freezing his butt off! (Not that HE’D care, huh?)

  4. Joni says:

    And I agree….Stay where it is warm for a few. Enjoy your ability to cook and Max will say thanks…I bet he could find another dog park! Love your ramblins’…Thank you for sharing….Almost feels like I am there….

  5. Diana Richardson says:

    Lovely story of life on the road with a dog……….in Florida. Imagine: Mozelle and Max in ze French countryside. Dogs allowed everywhere, merci beaucoup.
    I ate rice n beans yesterday at Sisters of the Road in Portland: Dogs under every table!!

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