Saturday 15 Jan, cruising day 49, Key West: Cycling in town, shopping, and visiting the Fort Zachary Taylor state park
Today will be the last day of light winds before we plan to depart on Tuesday. So we make the most of it, going ashore with our bikes for one last cycle through the wonderful streets. The temperature just about as perfect as you can get it. 23degC in the shade and easily bearable in the sun.
After having a generator run to recharge batteries and make water, we are ashore by midday. First stop is West Marine where Oana peruses the clothing end while I happily wander the marine hardware end. We leave with nothing, but we did kill at least an hour enjoying ourselves in there. Next is ACE hardware. Of all the general hardware stores, like Home Depot, we find ACE always seems to have different things and somehow more interesting. I want to buy a small tray to go under our day fridge door, to catch the condensation. But while in there I find all sorts to buy.
Same as in West Marine, we leave empty handed because we don’t want to trapse stuff around with us all day. We will return on Monday when we visit CBP to check out of USA.
Next, we cycle down the main street (Duval Street), which is always entertaining, and settle in a coffee shop for coffee and snacks. We are served by a lady from Kazakhstan. She and her husband have only been in the USA for 4 months, but now have to go back to their children. Because of the recent troubles there, they are rather concerned. And we wonder how they would have got here, with work permits, yet left their children with the grandparents on the other side of the world. And, Key West of all places? Actually, now that we think of it, here in Key West we have heard numerous eastern European accents from bar and restaurant staff. We wonder why Key West has managed to attract so many.
Following coffee, we move on to visit the Fort Zachery Taylor State National Park, situated on the southwest point of Key West. The park is based around a large fort that was built in 1845, just before the civil war, to defend Key West. But never a shot fired in anger during its long history. Long, because it had the longest military occupation of any fort in USA. Following the civil war, it was used in the US-Spanish war, then WW1 and WW2, and even acted as a radar station during the Cuban missile crisis in the early 1960s. It was finally opened to the public in the 1984 following a restoration. It is simple but nicely presented and we enjoy walking around it. It will be interesting to compare it to the fort on the Dry Tortugas – if we ever get there!
The park also contains a very nice wooded area with picnic benches next to a beach. Lots of families there enjoying their weekend. Also enjoying the weekend are crowds of rock music fans. Starting tonight, there is to be a 3-day rock festival held at the amphitheater, next to the state park. There are already queues of people lining up for tickets, and inside the noise of the bands tuning-up is already rocking the air!
Back in town we have a happy hour drink in Conch Republic restaurant, but we are not that taken with it. In fact, we even decline our second “2 for 1” drink, and head off back to the boat. We had thought about spending another evening in town, but we are starting to feel like: “been there, done that” and none of the other venues really attracts us. So we instead have a quite evening on board.
Well, not so quiet, the wind is increasing, ready for yet another cold front coming through tomorrow morning. Wind is forecast over 30kts in this one. Bad, but nothing like what it will be when the same front goes through the Chesapeake. Over 50kts forecast there, and only -7 degC! Brrrr, poor Ray. Glad we came south!