Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Your LG Report Guide to Key West, Part I - The Scenery

Coming tomorrow: Part II - Key West's Restaurants and Bars

Readers have e-mailed to say that they're contemplating a vacation to Key West, Florida and that they'd like The LG Report's insider view.  Good move.  The LG Report has been to Key West many times and considers itself somewhat of an expert. 

You're probably wondering, "How many times an individual can refer to himself as an entity, such as The LG Report?"  Many times, I assure you.  In fact, an annoyingly large number of times.  Just watch.

Before we start our review of Key West and all that it has to offer, allow me to say: Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Kate Gosselin, Oprah Winfrey, Octo-Mom, Balloon Boy, Pants Down Song, Susan Boyle, Avatar and Tiger Woods.

Sorry, I'm just increasing my odds of getting random hits from people using popular Google search terms.  Hits are king.

I know you're busy, so I'll just feed you a few of the basics on Key West before we go to the photos.  Both a city and an island, Key West is the  southernmost point in the continental United States, something which you'll see at every turn of the head when there.  There's the Southernmost Motel, the Southernmost Hotel, the Southernmost House,  The Southernmost Ice Cream Store, the Southernmost Manhole Cover, the Southernmost Crushed Soda Cup in the Street, etc.)

Lore has it that Key West got its name from an Americanized pronunciation of the Spanish phrase "Cayo Heuso," which means "Bone Island."  It was so named because the land was believed to be a burial ground, or possibly a battlefield, containing the remains of Native Americans. 

Some locals still call it "Bone Island" because of the frequent sexual liaisons among visitors.  Actually, I just made up that last sentence.  The rest was true.

I could go into a l-o-n-g, detailed and boring recitation of all that Key West has to offer, but, instead, I'll provide a short and boring recitation of all that Key West has to offer. 

One good description of Key West: A permanent Spring Break for Adults.  There are very few non-tourist-focused activities on the island.  There are a couple of courthouses and a post office, and just about everything else caters to tourists.  Although, I guess the courthouses adjudicate the rowdy wrongdoings of tourists, and the post office sends their postcards home, so scratch my previous statement.  It's all about tourists.

The photos used in today's and tomorrow's posts were all taken by my good friend Stan, who is an excellent photographer.  He's also a top-notch woodworker/carpenter, computer technician, photo framer, etc.  I could go on and on about his talents, but will save my boring rhetoric for the rest of this posting.

Key West is not very big, just over seven square miles. One of the island's most popular activities is to gather at Mallory Square to watch the sunset, usually with a cocktail in hand.  The area is packed with bars, restaurants and other viewing spots.  You'll see pictures and descriptions of some of those tomorrow.  Today we're focusing on the non-bar/restaurant scenery. Off we go....

This is the monument at the Southernmost Point on the island.  Tourists generally stand in line to get their photo taken next to it (no charge) so that they can e-mail it back to Aunt Ida in Topeka. There's really not much to it, but like seeing the Alamo when in San Antonio, you have to do it.  Tourist traps are tourist traps, no matter where they're located.  But at least this one is free. 

The monument is not technically on Key West's Southernmost Point, but that's on a Naval base and not accessible to tourists, so the city went with this site.  This simulated buoy was erected in 1984 because the signs that previously marked the site were repeatedly stolen.  Nobody's going to steal this massive concrete mofo.  And that claim about "90 miles to Cuba" painted on the monument is false; it's actually 94 miles from there.

Tip: If you stand next to the monument for a photo, try to cover the graffiti to the right of the word "Point."  Big-butted people will be especially successful at this, so hold off on joining Jenny Craig until you get back.

This large house is typical of the style of architecture that you'll find in the Florida Keys. I believe the technical term for it is "pink," but I'm not an architect.  I was going to rent this place last time I visited, but it was too small for my needs.  I require a lot of room when I spread out to blog.

Those people in the foreground are not pictured in actual size.

Depicted here is the Key West Waterfront on the western side of the island, near Mallory Square. As you can see, Key Westers take their cable TV seriously and do not want anyone anchoring their boats near the lines that bring in ESPN.  Anderson Cooper wanted to anchor his CNN show from this dock once, but he was told that anchoring wasn't allowed here.  You knew I had to squeeze another bad pun out of that sign.

This is the famous Key West Lighthouse, built in 1847.  I tried to lift it, it's not really that light. The red flowers in the foreground are a rare form of rose found only on Key West.  The botanical term for them is "Bloggeris bullshittingu."  Ok, scratch the last two sentences.  They're just bougainvilleas, I guess. I'm not a botanist.

This is the "Conch Train," a popular option for Key West sightseeing.  You can look down on everyone riding the Conch Train because they are tourists.  You, on the other hand, using The LG Report's inside information, are practically a local. Feel free to snort at these clueless scumbags when they roll by. Geo's friend Bob Sloan once drove his rental car into this train (true story.)  I hope Bob Googles himself a lot; just like the Conch Train, I'll get a hit from him!

This is a Key West beach.  You won't see many of these because you'll be in the bars late each night and waking up well into the afternoon, so soak up the details now.  Buy some postcards with beach scenes to send home, but avoid questions about what the beach was like.

"It had a lot of sand," is usually a good response if pressed.

This guy is one of Key West's most famous buskers.  He speaks in a weird French accent, probably learned from public television.  People call him "The Catman" because his highly entertaining act involves trained cats.  The star of the show is "Os-car, Os-car!"  He yells it so much that you'll hear the name in your sleep. His catch phrase is "Hurry up, hurry up! Take your time."  It's much funnier when spoken than it is in print.  I think that's Os-car! Os-car! in front of the Catman.  Notice the cords hanging down from the bottom of his pants?  Don't ask...    

This is, in my opinion, one of Stan's coolest photos.  Taken just after sunset at Mallory Square, it wasn't, as you might expect, shot using a red filter.  Rather, Stan's eyes were still bloodshot from the night before and the hi-tech lens picked that up.

Remember folks, Key West Part II is coming tomorrow, stay tuned....

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