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  • Lisa Parsons

Sands Through the Hour Glass

So are the days of Key West

Ernest Hemingway's favorite bar still lives

“In the air tonight” by Phil Collins, an 80s hit played in the bar as we passed by. Further on Foreigner's “Cold as Ice” crooned out of the doorway of another bar. Everywhere we went a mix of 70s and 80s rock and pop hits floated through the air inviting us into their establishments for the time of our lives or maybe just a vacation-induced hangover.

My husband visited Key West in 1978. He commented that the place is the same as it was then. A time capsule of the hard partying lost decades when fast cars, cocaine, and the pursuit of pleasure was the quest of the sex, drugs, and rock n roll generation..

However, during our walk through downtown we mostly saw middle-age adults towing their aging parents and kids in from the cruise ship, parked at the port, for a day in a well oiled tourist town. You could buy conch shells, sand dollars, gator bottle openers, saltwater taffy, and Key West tee-shirts. You could catch a train trolley for a tour of the town. Or visit a waterside restaurant for a fresh seafood dinner or you could walk up to a food shack for fish and chips. You could even buy a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks.

A floating city on the ocean. Thousands of occupants disembark and engulf the Key West port.

We walked by Hemingway’s house, the Maritime museum, the old Shipwreck museum, and the red bricked Museum of Art building. David exclaimed that Sloppy Joes bar was still there. Known for the fact that it was Ernest Hemmingway’s favorite bar back in the day. Down the street was the past president Truman's house, the white house of the south. Now replaced by Mar-a-largo. Now I know where #45 got the idea for a southern White House.

Key West is a tourist town. Tours, beaches, water, food, and fun are the attraction. Beaches to lounge on and work on your tan. There’s fishing boats, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, kayaking, paddle boarding, and you can even book a quick trip out the glades for a jet boat ride.

A couple of the bright beach cruisers for rent around town.

Bright lights glowing in the water after sunset along the water

We perused the shops and museums from the outside. We window shopped by the bars and restaurants. Then headed out to Mallory Square waterfront to watch the sunset over the Gulf Coast to the west. As the sun set the lights came on in town casting the colorful evening party glow that invited us in to dance to rock-n-roll, cast away our cares, and strike up conversations with other tourists just getting away from it all.

This is a place lost in another era. The one we all sobered up from a long time ago.

Fort Zachary State Park at Sunset

At the southern most point of the United States

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