Our Last Days In Key West

Our last days in Key West were spent provisioning and watching weather, while we prepared to head toward Mexico. We rented a car and headed to Miami, for some serious provisioning.  After stopping at Total Wine liquor store, Target, Walmart, Petsmart, Whole Foods and Dicks Sporting Goods, the car was stuffed full. By the end of the day, we were lowering the back side windows to load things in. I regretted not upgrading to a larger car, as we drove home without being able to see out of the back side or rear windows!

The drive to Miami is 3.5 hours, and we spent the hole day shopping. By the time we arrived back in Key West and unloaded, it was almost midnight, and we were spent. The next day, I headed to the grocery store on Key West, and again filled the car. The boat is now filled to the brim with food and provisions.

We’ve made great use of the storage under our couch. It was originally a sleeper sofa, and Scott removed the “innards,” giving us a ton of space for all kinds of things!

With an evening left before returning the car, we decided to drive out to the theater on the other end of the island and catch the new Star Wars movie…woohoo!! We thought it was great, and it was a treat to take in a movie before leaving the country.

A big, BIG, treat for me, was receiving a cake from home!! I worked for Sugarbakers Cakes, in Catonsville, MD. They make the best cakes that you’ve ever put in your mouth! Since we left, I’ve been eating cake wherever I can, with no luck. So I asked the girls to make some of my favorites and freeze them. My friend Ted then stepped in to ship them overnight to me. Unfortunately, the size of the boxes made them pretty costly, so I chose to only have one sent (peanut butter truffle..yum!) and he kept the other (red velvet fudge..addictive!!).

The cake arrive in perfect condition, still cold and firm! I cut it into slices, shared only a few with friends at the marina, and froze the rest. I’m hoping to make them last as long as I can, as I fear an overnight to Central America will break the bank!

So we were stocked with provisions and cake, and the weather looked good to head as far as the Dry Tortugas. The only thing left to do was to head out for a farewell evening in town. We headed to some of our favorite spots, as well as some new locations. At a new happy hour spot, we met some retired firefighters from Baltimore County, Md…our neck of the woods! They are now living in Key West, and enjoying warmer winters. We learned that we have several friends in common! I have many good friends who are firefighters and paramedics, and started coming to Key West with a group of them 20 years ago, for the Conch Republic Celebration Week.

Here are some photos of our last days here. I have loved our time in Key West, as this island holds a special place in my heart. There are many, many good memories of time spent here with friends over the years. Every time I return, it warms me to wander the streets and visit familiar spots. As I find more great things to see and do, it makes me want to stay even longer the next time we visit! Thank you Key West, for another great time spent…long live the Conch Republic!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

The Conch Republic

A brief history of the Conch Republic, for those who don’t know it..

In April of 1982, the US Border Patrol set up a blockade on US 1, just north of the Florida Keys; the only way in and out. Vehicles coming north out of the keys were searched for narcotics and illegal immigrants. The citizens of the keys were outraged that they had to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland! The Key West City Council complained repeatedly about the blockade,claiming that the the government had established a new US border. It was an inconvenience for those traveling to and from the keys, and was also hurting the tourism industry in the area.

When the city council’s complaints went unanswered, Key West mayor Dennis Wardlow, with a few other “key” Conchs, went to Federal court in Miami to seek an injunction to stop the blockade; they had no luck. On the Federal courthouse steps, Mayor Wardlow announced, to the many tv cameras assembled, that the Florida Keys would secede from the union. In the eyes of the Key West Council, the federal government had set up the equivalent of a border station, as if the keys were a foreign nation. So it was decided that they may as well become one.

At noon on the day of the secession, Mayor Wardlow proclaimed that the Conch Republic was an independent nation, separate from the United States. Mayor Wardlow was named Prime Minister of the Conch Republic, and he then broke a loaf of Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a Navy uniform, beginning the Conch Republic’s Civil Rebellion. After one minute of rebellion, Prime Minister Wardlow surrendered to the Union Forces( the Admiral of the Navy base at Key West). He then declared one billion dollars in foreign aide and war relief, to rebuild their nation after the long siege!

This mock secession gained much publicity for the plight of the Keys, and the road block and inspection station were removed soon afterward. By act of Congress, the citizens of the Keys are both Conchs and Americans, and are proud of it. They celebrate their independence every year, with a week long celebration in April. I’ve attended “Conch Week” many, many times. It’s a week full of crazy activities…bed races, parades, “drag” (queen)races, dinners, and a food fight among boats in the harbor, the likes of which you’ve never seen!

Their “mission statement”:

“DEDICATED TO THE FUNDAMENTALLY AMERICAN SPIRIT OF A PEOPLE UNAFRAID TO STAND UP TO ‘GOVERNMENT GONE MAD WITH POWER’ THAT EMBODIED THE FOUNDING OF THE CONCH REPUBLIC IN 1982. AS THE WORLD’S FIRST FIFTH WORLD NATION, A SOVEREIGN STATE OF MIND SEEKING ONLY TO BRING MORE HUMOR, WARMTH, AND RESPECT TO A WORLD IN SORE NEED OF ALL THREE, THE CONCH REPUBLIC REMAINS THE COUNTRY WHO SECEDED WHERE OTHERS FAILED.”

LONG LIVE THE CONCH REPUBLIC!!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”