Thursday, November 10, 2011

Florida Keys {Days 4: The Storm, and 5: Key West}

{Note: I've had to break Day 5 into two posts, because of the huge amount of photos.}

On Wednesday, we woke up to a crazy storm. It was pouring down rain and lightning so much that it was like someone was standing outside our room with a flash camera snapping pictures. But the thunder was just a discontented murmuring in the background (except for one loud crash that rattled the windows). It was so weird and different from storms here at home- we're all thunder and just a little lightning.

We were stuck inside all morning and came close to driving each other crazy.

I did a lot of this.

{No, I don't usually read with my nose literally stuck in a book. Dad was taking random photos and I was trying to hide my pink face. And yes, I am giving him the evil eye around the corner of my book.}

We finally escaped after lunch when the rain stopped. We went to a Salvation Army thrift store and a local little bookshop. By the end of the trip, we talked about the bookstore owner like we knew him. You could always tell if he had a customer or not. If he didn't, he sat on a stool outside the front door of his shop and read. If he had a customer, he was inside and there was another vehicle there besides his truck with BOOKS printed in huge letters on the side.

We got in the ocean that afternoon. It was cold at first from all the rain, but felt fine once you got used to it. At NC and SC beaches, the water is so murky and the waves are so high that I never went out much further than my waist. But the ocean at the Keys seems safer somehow, and there are no sudden drop-offs. So I surprised myself by going out until the water was up to my shoulders.

Thursday morning we woke up to...

Oh my goodness. Sunshine! We could hardly believe it. The first sunny day of our entire trip. 

It was a gorgeous day- perfect for a trip to Key West. We drove down and circled around a bit trying to find somewhere to park. Dad finally found a free parking spot that was close to one of our trolley's stops. We rode on the City View Trolley Tours, which was really nice. There were eight stops all over the town, and you could get on and off as much as you wanted. Plus it was like $10 cheaper than all of the other tours!

If you go to Key West, you really do need to do a trolley tour, the first day at least. Last time we went, we sort of wandered confused through the city and didn't get to see hardly anything because we didn't know what we were doing!

Key West is really a neat, historical town, even though it has some bad associations tied to it. It has lots of art and museums and music. And lots of traffic (bikes, scooters, carts, cars- anything you can rent to get around).

This is the southernmost house in the continental United States. It's very pretty, and it's an inn now. It was built in 1896.

Our first real stop in Key West was the Hemingway Home & Museum, which was the residence of author Ernest Hemingway from 1931 through 1940 (one of his wives lived there for years afterwards).

The house was built in 1851 and is really beautiful and unusual looking. I loved the huge door/windows, which gave the house a really open and airy feel, and the golden shutters. :)

The kitchen was really light and sunny, so I'm not sure why this picture turned out so dark.

I'll mention the cats later...this one was stalking a bird in the yard. :)

Above, the living room. Below, as our guide said, a photo of Hemingway surrounded by his "collection of wives." :) He was married four times.

The main bedroom:

Okay- the cats. There are over 40 cats living in the house and on the property. These cats are six-toed cats and descendants of Hemingway's original cat, Snowball. They wander all over the place and most are really friendly. One of these guys was following our group through the house.

Can a bathroom be pretty? Because this one was. It was yellow and sunny.

I love that the house has a porch all the way around the main floor, and a balcony all around the second floor.

And the house is surrounded by a brick wall and tons of trees and shrubbery. So even though you're in the middle of a busy town, it's sort of like being in your own little world.

This was my favorite room- his writing studio. It's not actually in the house, but it's the second floor in a separate building outside the house. The guide said that Hemingway considered his work day successful if he wrote between 600 and 800 words a day.

There are several unique things about the house. First, it's made out of limestone and the walls are like 18 inches thick, so it's never been damaged by hurricanes. It has a basement, which is very rare for homes in the Keys. The house is also built on the second-highest point of Key West, at a whopping 16 feet above sea level. :) And it has a pool. This was the first swimming pool in Key West.

Hemingway's wife had the pool built for him as a surprise when he was away. It cost $20,000 (the house itself only cost $8,000 when they purchased it). When he found that out, he took a penny out of his pocket and gave it to his wife, and said, "You might as well take my last cent." She pressed it into the wet cement near the pool.

A little cat house modeled after the real house. :)

Hemingway had a tradition of naming his cats after famous people (apparently not Snowball, though), so they still do that with the cats at the house now. We met the cat Cary Grant, and the guide told us about their oldest cat, Ida Lupino, who lived to be over twenty years old.

They have a cat cemetery there, and I couldn't resist getting a picture of this:

The house is hidden behind the wall and those trees.


Coming up: the rest of day five in Key West.

Previous posts: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow that is so neat! Great tour =)
    I love all the tile and pretty shutters!


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