Our two weeks at Naval Air Station Key West and the Florida Keys was nothing short of fabulous! We used the campground at Sigsbee (the Naval Air Station is a series of small bases) as our home while we visited various areas along the 125 miles of keys. The Florida Key begin around Key Largo and the road ends in Key West although the Keys go out another 70 miles and end at the Dry Tortugas. When traveling all directions are given by mile marker and the business addresses along Highway 1 start with the mile marker where they are located.
While here we revisited some areas we had been to 4 years ago and tried some new things. No trip, for us, would be complete without enjoying the beautiful waters of the Keys. We went to Smathers and Higgs beaches (about the only ones in Key West with sandy beaches); we swam, snorkeled and kayaked the turquoise waters around our campground and a variety of beaches. We ate at Schooner Wharf Bar and Grill three times and listened to local musicians to include our favorite, Michael McCloud. Most of the places here in the Keys allow dogs to join you but they are especially pet friendly at Schooners, they even brought Tiki and Bandit their own bowls of water and real bacon!
We really enjoyed touring the Truman Little White House; it is still considered a Presidential retreat and is under the auspices of the Secret Service. It has, over the years, served as a functioning White House and retreat for 6 Presidents, heads of state and recently for a summit between Hillary Clinton and various European officials. Almost all the furniture and décor is original to Harry and Bess Truman’s era and is in fabulous condition.
We biked and walked all over Key West visiting the Lighthouse that is no longer in use but a wonderful example of the Florida Lighthouse System/Lightkeepers homes. The Customs House, which is home to an interesting & comprehensive history of the Keys to include the Overseas Railroad, Cuban cigars, Wreckers (pulling items off of wrecked ships) and they history of hurricanes. We loved East Martello, which was designed after the nearly impregnable coastal Martello watchtowers in Italy. We climbed to the top of the citadel of this Civil War era fort, which afforded us spectacular views of Key West proper and the Atlantic and Gulf Coast oceans. The Memorial Sculpture Garden off of Mallory Square was a collection of all the important figures in Key West history. We spent a couple hours at Fort Zachary Taylor; Key West was unusual because although it was under Union control during the Civil War most residents refused to give up their allegiance to the Confederacy. The citizens would often taunt the Union soldiers housed at Fort Zachary by flying Confederate flags from their “widow walks”.
We spent one day driving from Key West up to Islamorada (Mile Marker 82, Key West is Mile Marker 0). We stopped along the way and had lunch at Robbie’s Tarpon Springs where you can feed the very large tarpon who gather in the harbor waiting for a free meal. We had a marvelous lunch there, meandered around the shops and then drove a few miles to visit a shop that specializes in lobster trap art.
We have met new friends during our time here that will be lifelong friends; we took advantage of the base privileges (shopping and groceries), ate a lot of local seafood and just RELAXED!