I haven't mentioned up until now the problems Barry has had with his bikes. The cottage comes with a choice of several cruiser style bikes and one tandem. Since this is a harsh marine environment, the bikes are all in various states of rust and disrepair. I managed to find one that fits me fine (except for the saddle being rusted in a too-low position) the very first day, and it has held up very well mechanically. Poor Barry, though. Bike #1, which he tried our first morning here, had the front brakes stuck on, so he moved to a Bike #2, which fit and was working well for him until one of the pedals fell off at the end of our first day's ride! He was able to get it back on, but he felt that his repair wouldn't last for long, so hasn't ridden that one since. Bike #3 had a chain that was way too long, so every time he hit a bump (and sometimes when he didn't), the chain fell off. He was always able to get it back on, but it made for a less than ideal ride for both of us as we had to stop many times. Captain Tom had said he'd have Mark work on it, but when Barry checked it again this morning, in addition to a still-slack chain, it had a flat tire to boot, probably due to the fishing hook he ran over yesterday on the Long Key bridge! So, he tried bike #4 today, which was quite a bit too small for him, and the saddle way too low. When we finished our morning's ride, I suggested to him that he disengage the front brake from Bike #1, and a quick test looked good, so perhaps this bike will be "the one" -- at least for tomorrow!
Today we drove down to Key West and spent the day. We had our first rain of the trip on the way there and for awhile after we first got there. We ducked into a few shops until it stopped, then spent awhile walking around and seeing some of the unique sights. A trip to Key West is never dull, with a fair share of local "Keys characters" sprinkled among the cruise-ship tourists. Mistaking one for the other is never difficult!
On the road to Key West - lovely green water, but looking stormy...
One of the many interesting sights in Key West
Chickens are welcome in Key West and roam freely
This place wanted to make sure we North Carolinians felt right at home!
Maybe this bike would work for Barry?!
Definitely a Keys Character!
Fortunately, the day was overcast for the most part, making it cooler for walking block after block. We had fun seeing and remembering all the places we'd visited or eaten at on our trip here in 2001. We found the bed and breakfast right off Duval Street where we'd stayed, though it had changed names and paint colors, and we did a little souvenir and Christmas shopping. We had a good lunch at the Island Dogs Bar, followed by an amazing chocolate-dipped frozen key lime pie on a stick that we shared. We also had to pay a visit to Fat Tuesdays (after all, it was Tuesday!) for the traditional Key West frozen daiquiri.
We spent quite a bit of time down at the marina looking at boats and watching the dinghies maneuver in and out of a very-crowded dinghy dock, to see how they did it. We saw some big fish in the waters at the marina, including a 3'-4' tarpon and several large, colorful rainbow parrotfish.
Green Heron fishing
Just one of many "Keys Characters" (i.e., Barry)!
A very tame Ruddy Turnstone in winter plumage
Mural at Key West Aquarium -- look closely and you'll see the shark coming right for me!
On our way back, we stopped at the Seven Mile Bridge once again and walked the entire length of the old bridge (two miles until the cut, where we turned around, for a total of four miles). We figure with the Key West walking, we probably put about 8 miles on the running shoes today. Unfortunately a low deck of dark clouds rolled in, obscuring most of the sunset, but it was nice and breezy from the cold front that came through, and a perfect walking temperature.
We had dinner at Don Pedro's, a Cuban place. We hadn't ever had Cuban food until we stayed at the Key Lime Sailing Club in Key Largo last year at this time. There was a family-run Cuban restaurant within walking distance that we enjoyed for two dinners, so we thought we'd try this place, and it was also very good. We had a half-carafe of sangria to split, a big dinner with meat, rice, black beans, and plantains, and we split a delicious coconut flan for dessert. Mmmmmm....good thing we got all that walking in, but I suspect we may both have a few pounds to shed after this vacation. It will be worth it, though.