Wednesday, September 04, 2013

end of the road

If it's Tuesday, Steve and Roy are on a road trip.  To Key West.

More accurately, we road buddies drove to Key West on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we are driving back.

I have now been to Key West twice.  The first time was in the mid-1990s.  As part of my Air Force JAG job, I came to Homestead Air Force Base to visit a unit associated with our Portland para-rescue wing. 

That was back in the days when the military was playing its part in deterring drug runs through the Caribbean.  An operation successful enough that it moved most of the drug transportation routes to Mexico.  A "success" that is still offering dividends -- for the drug lords.  And, yes, your are all welcome.

On that trip, we boarded a blacked-out van at Homestead and drove the causeway to a naval base on Key West.  I know more about that drive from watching True Lies -- which I would enjoy under any circumstances -- than I do from my own experience.

Roy and I put all that right yesterday.  It is a 4-hour drive to Key West from Fort Lauderdale.  And a scenic drive it is. 

There is something a bit exotic about driving along a chain of islands as if we were driving from Eugene to Seattle.  Most of the time with the Gulf of Mexico on our right and the Florida Straits on our left.

But Key West is a destination in itself.  Literally.  (And I am not using that in a silly Biden sense.)  After Key West, there are no more roads.

What the Conch Republic has are restaurants.  Good restaurants.  Including Kelly McGinnis's (you remember her -- the only credible element in Top Gun) restaurant.  Not surprisingly, named Kelly's Bar and Grill.

And the chef knows how to put conch to a good use.  In a chowder spicy enough to remind us we  were not in Boston, but not quite in Mérida.

The food is great, but that is not why most people come to Key West.  There are the wild chickens, for example.

Or the big attraction.  The quest to see the green flash from the seaboard of Mallory Square.

Not on Tuesday.  The rainstorms were heavy enough to fill the streets.  And the clouds lingered through the afternoon.

That did not stop Steve, the fire-eating juggler.

Or the singer of old folk tunes, assisted by his boxer-clad golden retriever who would retrieve (what else?) tips from patrons and drop them in the tip bucket.

They are all just part of the ever-changing acts that keep people entertained while they try to add that elusive green flash to their bucket list.

And the green flash?  It was a no show.  Probably somewhere just past the second star to the right.

No comments: