Duval and all

May 22, 2008 by John - 2 Comments

As I noted in a previous post, I recently married the most fantastic woman on the planet. We just got back from a belated honeymoon of sorts in Key West, the spot of our first vacation together. (No, this post isn’t fishing related, but it’s my damn blog, so work with me). We flew across Florida Bay on a big jet boat (shaving hours off of what is normally a long drive) and arrived in town not long after noon. Infamous Duval Street — and Key West in general — slows down in May due to a dwindling stream of tourists likely cowed by the specter of hurricane season and the intense summer heat. Temps hovered in the 90s during our entire stay, though it didn’t rain a single time. The downtown crowd tends to be populated by more Floridians in summer, as well, which makes for a more laid-back atmosphere: less new-to-booze drunks, no long lines into bars and restaurants, more local flavor, etc. I’ve been to Key West many times, and the shotgun shacks, old-school bars, brick-lined streets and free-spirited culture seem to fade into the background more with each passing year, replaced by restaurant and bar chains and cheesy tourist traps. It’s a genuine pity. To compound matters, some hysterically queer men go out of their way to impose their sexuality on passers-by. (OK, so dancing to Streisand in short-shorts, pink thong and body glitter means you’re gay. We get it). But enough of the good stuff remains to lure long-timers like me back, including gems like the Green Parrot Bar, El Siboney Restaurant, Louie’s Backyard, etc. And despite my disdain for the new and the contrived, my hypocrisy only goes so far: the Banana Banshees and frozen Margaritas served up without fanfare at Fat Tuesdays will make your eyes roll, and the Hog’s Breath Saloon has great drinks and even better live music. We enjoyed three relaxing days in one of the country’s truly great little towns, eating seafood, downing cool drinks, watching the sun fall and setting land-speed records on a souped-up moped. We’re back home now — tan, hung over and a little bit distant.