Paul? In Flip-Flops? … and other Observations on Key West.

flipflopsDespite having lived in California for 12 years, there are a few things about myself that are characteristically UN-Californian. For example, I don’t own a pair of flip-flops … until today.

I decided to hit the beach this afternoon, but recalled what had happened yesterday to my nice pair of shoes when I visited the sands of Miami Beach. So I asked a lady who runs a makeshift hat shop where to buy flip-flops, and she said “stay off Duval Street … they’ll rip you off.” She told me to walk a few blocks, and I got a decent pair at a fair price. On my way out of the store, I laughed at how I’ve never owned flip-flops — so I asked some tourists to take this photo of me. What next? Am I gonna start wearing shorts before the end of this trip?

Just got back from the beach, where the water was gorgeous. I’m now sitting on the front porch of my B&B, listening to the neighborhood roosters have a “crow-off.” Roosters and chickens roaming around Key West is one of the most charming and endearing things I’ve experienced here. It’s what woke me up this morning …

On my 28-state road trip in July 2000, I took U.S. 1 from northern Maine to Key West.

On my road trip in 2000, I took U.S. 1 from northern Maine to Key West.

It is now 5:00 p.m., and the sun will set in about an hour. As I said yesterday, Floridians have a real cultural bond about sunsets — and I’m heading to Mallory Square to watch it tonight. You never know what to expect in Key West. Just last week, Jimmy Buffet did a surprise concert at Margaritaville, the bar he made famous with his song. And I think one of the gay bars has karaoke on Sundays.

Speaking of the gays, Key West is a prominent gay resort town — like Provincetown, Massachusetts. Both are also rugged places at the “edge of the world” — you have to drive down the Overseas Highway to reach Key West, and Provincetown is at the edge of Cape Cod. But a crucial difference is that Provincetown is exclusively gay, to the point that straight people feel left out. Key West, on the other hand, has something for everybody. Lots of bars abound in the city with live musical performances that are not gay-centric at all. Even the straightest of frat boys would love Key West — as Jimmy Buffet is practically revered as a God here.

Finally, I should mention that last night (as I exited the bars onto Duvall Street), there was this really awesome fog that engulfed the area. As a San Franciscan, I take that for granted all the time and figured it was normal. But every local I have spoken to has been truly mystified (no pun intended) about it. Nobody’s ever seen fog like this here before …

Okay, off to Mallory Square to watch the sunset.

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3 Responses to “Paul? In Flip-Flops? … and other Observations on Key West.”

  1. Marcy Says:

    Well, I have to say that I never felt “left out” in Provincetown, and I have very fond memories of the place! Although, I have to say that I was very bummed not to find a sign at that end of Highway 6 that said “Bishop, CA 3,105 miles” to match the one in Bishop at the other end of Highway 6. So, I’m excited that you found a sign at the end of Route 1 in Key West!

    Also … are those really flip flops? 😉

    Have a great trip!

  2. nafiss griffis Says:

    What a memorable experience to hear or be awakened by the crowing of a rooster. Sounds like that of the sea, rooster, a hen, or a coconut tree add to our psychological well-being.
    Nafiss

  3. Leanne Edwards Says:

    Awesome, Paul!I love how you have set up your blog and as always, I enjoy your writing and living vicariously through your adventures, now personal and political! Thank you for your generosity and I am grateful to you as always. Meet any new people? Make any new friends?

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