Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10/24 Key West & Hemingway Home (and cats)

I had a rental car today, so took off to spend a day in Key West. I had been here last week, but on my bike and not for long, so I decided I wanted to see the Hemingway House and take a tour tram.  I even found street parking, which is nice since parking of any kind is challenging in Key West. 

Key West is almost always filled with crazy crowds of people--from usual tourists to cruise ship passengers, to the young people who are attracted to and live in the town. It is an interesting place, to say the least. 

This is Willie T's bar, where the custom is to take a dollar bill, write something on it, and staple or tape it to whatever surface you can find.

A lot of interesting buildings, even without dollar bills.
My first serious stop was the Hemingway House.  It was said that he built this brick wall to prevent tourists from looking at his home after he became famous.  However, since it is only about four feet tall, I think he must not have been very serious about being seen. Even I could see over it.

Some pictures of the inside.

These are supposed to be his private books.  I could not help but check out some of the titles.

Poise?  I remember him being said to being rather grumpy and unfriendly, so I assume this must have been a gift.

This fireplace was interesting because it was made of wood, but painted to look like marble.

Like a lot of the houses in Key West, there was a balcony around nearly all of the house.

The Hemingway family was known for its six-toed cats.  There were at least a dozen or so cats lounging around, some with five and some with six or more toes. Can you count this cat's toes?  These are supposed to be the descendants of the original cats.


They had some kittens locked up in cages during the day, but check out the toes on this one.

Apparently, this was the most expensive pool every constructed because it had to be hand-picked through the limestone by hand as power tools could not be used. It cost more than twice as much as the rest of the house and property.

Had to move a cat to buy a t-shirt.
This cat was hiding his or her toes.

Hemingway's office and studio was on the top floor of another building.  The furniture is supposed to be original, as are the books.

I took the train tour around town and got off at the marina. 

Some day I would like to take the ferry to the Dry Tortugas National Park, but it requires a ferry ride and an all-day excursion.  Cost is $165, and you have to be at the dock at 7:00 am and don't get back until 5:30 p.m.  This would mean renting a car for the day, getting up and leaving campsite at 5:00 a.m., driving to Key West in the dark, finding a place to park, and then not getting back to motorhome until 7:30 p.m., which also would be in the dark.  I would not want to do it during the heat of the summer, so late fall or winter is only choice.  Maybe in a couple of years.  Here is web site with more info:

Went inside this building and found a hen and her chicks.  Chickens are also running wild in Key West, and you can constantly hear roosters crowing.  Supposedly they were released by sailors in the 19th Century. 




Saturday, October 22, 2016

10/21 Curry Hammock State Park

I moved to here a couple of days ago and think I like it better than Bahia Honda.  For one thing, the road is quite a ways away so it is a lot quieter.  Also, the sites have a nicer gravel base, so there is none of the fine gravel to track in.  It's only about 3 miles south of Marathon, where Bahia Honda was 15 miles north of Marathon.  Still have the same selection of stores and facilities, but much closer.  And it was close enough that I was able to rent a car from Enterprise, and they picked me up.

Before I show you more of the state park, however, I need to show you the results of my shopping trip yesterday.  Can you guess that I am being eaten alive by mosquito bites?  The worst part is that over the past five years, I end up getting huge red welts and sometimes infections from mosquito bites. I found out some of the Benadryl tablets I have been taking, so I tossed them out and got a fresh supply.  The good news is that the package says I can take two at a time, so maybe that will stop my itching.  The spray bottle on the right has benzocaine in it and was recommended by the pharmacist, but it turned out to be in an oily base, so I went back to today and bought two other creams--one with lidocaine and another one with an antihistamine. 

The camping spots are nice and big, but unfortunately, I was planning on an ocean view and since they posted pictures on the reservations website, the greenery has grown up so I can't see over it! 
 The good thing is that my site is right next to the beach access path, so it is very handy.
 This may not look like much of a beach, but sandy beaches are very rare in the Keys, so this is a pretty good one. 
A turkey vulture circling.  The raptors are migrating south, so this might have been a visitor instead of a permanent resident.  There were some naturalists on the balcony of the restroom facility all day today using binoculars to count raptors headed south. One reason I like Florida, in spite of the mosquitos, is all the birds who winter here.
 These guys are ruddy turnstones.

This is a snowy egret.  It took quite a while for me to get a good photo of this bird in the right light.
 There are a lot of iguanas in the Keys. They are not native, and it is assumed they got blown here during hurricanes from Cuba about 10-15 years ago, possibly floating on rafts of vegetation. Anyway, this one has an amazingly long tail.  
Very hard to get a close-up, but I got this one after he crossed the sidewalk.  My neighbors said all I really had to do was eat a sandwich outside, and a bunch would come running!
Tomorrow I am going to take my rental car and drive to the National Key Deer Sanctuary on Big Pine Key, about 20 miles north of here.