Before we return to our exciting adventure, let me pause to catch you up on our friends. 20BUCK$, as far as we know, is still sitting at Marina Jack’s in Sarasota. They paid for the month of January and Ken is bound to to get his money’s worth. Wayne and Francine on My Way were last heard from in Apalachicola waiting on a weather window to cross to Clearwater. That might have happened today. Joe and Tara, got a late start from the Tennessee on Seabatical and have been stranded in Demopolis due to heavy flooding on the Tenn-Tom. Those tornadoes do more than just tear things up. Trees and othe large debris have forced the closing of certain areas. But we have found Beth and Dean and Ziggy on Kismet and Pam and Bill on Seabiscuit. They were waiting on us at Plantation Marina on Islamorada when we got there today. All were glad to see us and even Ziggy could be heard whistling to us across the marina. So part of the gang is together again.
Now to finish our exciting story of Key West and the return to Marathon on the last bus out.
Above is the place where Pan American Airlines got started and a Kapok tree. Kapok was used in WWII to stuff life vests. This tree has a beautiful fanned root.
More chickens everywhere. I wonder if the Chicken Boat has been here before us? They would certainly feel right at home.
Next we went to tour the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. It is a grand estate originally built by the king of salvaging in this area. Well worth the cost.
Hemingway lived here with his first wife and did his most prolific writing here. He wrote in his study which was accessable only by a catwalk which went from the main house second floor bedroom out to the elevated study. This way no-one could interrupt him. When he divorced his wife got the house and he went to Cuba. But when she suddenly died the house reverted back to him though he never returned to it. He gave it to his sons. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the tour was all the six toed cats on the grounds. They were believed to bring luck and Hemingway kept several. The polydactyl feature is inherited and these cats either truly have nine lives or are direct decendants of Heminway’s cats. We found Frances in the bedroom.
Everwhere you walked there were cats, big fat cats.
And after a tour of Papa’s house what is more appropriate than a drink at his favorite watering hole? There we met the Hitchcocks who have friends that have done the loop on “Right Combo”.
But we were only getting started! And we are a long way from the bus ride. I am getting tired again just writing about it and remember we are riding bikes everywhere.
We arrived at the pier just in time to here this gentleman sing “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and to see this lady obviously moved by the performance.
On to Mallory Square to see the pre-sunset entertaimment where the acts work for tips.
Unicyclists juggling knives and flaming torches.
A living bronze statue, Capt. Jack Sparrow(notice Jan does not mind having her picture taken with this pirate) and a dog that collects tips for its master while he sings and plays the banjo. And finally, a perrenial favorite the acrobat. This guy has got to be 50!
We close the evening with a dinner at our favorite Cuban restaurant, El Siboney, another photo op at the Southernmost Point and authentic Key Lime Pie for dessert at Blue Heaven and then we have a bus to catch.
Well time to fold up the old bikes and board the Last Bus to Marathon for a two hour journey into the Twilight Zone of the Keys.
Let me introduce our traveling companions going right to left and front to back. The melancholy young boy cutting his eyes could not be more than 13. What he was doing out on a bus at this time of night must remain a mystery. He showed very little expression all night and I felt sorry for him. The woman with the chubby baby girl was of good humor and doted on the child which was well behaved and soon fell asleep. The two girls with two boys behind them were perhaps 8th or 9th graders out too late. The girls got on first and were so excited when later the boys got on with their skateboards. They apparently went to the same school and danced the dance of young fumbling romance the entire ride. The couple behind the boy had talked to us at the bus stop. They are traveling the country by RV and he would love to do the loop. I think they were overwhelmed by this busload. The couple behind them were the strangest perhaps of this assembly. The man in the ballcap is an old drunk who got on and immediately fell asleep. Later the black woman got on and sat beside him. She had no teeth and wore a wild red, white and blue outfit. She fell asleep and soon was snuggled against the drunk’s neck. As the ride progressed she got more comfortable and lay her head down in his lap! They stayed like this for an hour and when he woke up he seemed pleasantly surprised as if his prayers had been answered. Later I overheard her say if he would like her number she could show him a lot of things. I’ll bet.
Behind them were two young girls who were curious. The one in pink and white stripes was skinny as a rail and the knit dress was so short that if she had reached up to stretch we would have all seen the light. I think perhaps she was a working girl. Beside her was a young woman who had been overserved and fell asleep. When she awoke we were 10 miles past her stop with no return bus. The working girl seemed to have a heart and allowed the girl to use her business phone to call home but Mom did not answer. She decided to get off and try to go back. I was very concerned and spoke to her in an attempt to dissuade her. She promised she would be careful and I would have gotten off and walked her home if the driver had not put her out in a safe place and made her promise to wait on her mother. Later when Mom called the pink striped lady told Mom the daughter would be waiting at that stop.
Across from the girls was a Seminole Indian. Very broad facial features. A noble people but this one was ruined by firewater. Now the ones you cannot see are standing in the front. These guys got on with a twelve pack apiece. The rules are much relaxed on the Last Bus to Marathon. One of them was fasinating. A thin dirty sailor with a skull and crossbones doo rag over his blonde dreadlocks. Lives on a sailboat and had a twelve pack of Bud Light. He was feeling no pain and was very chatty. We exchange much information about the ways of the sea. Jan thought he had fleas because he was constantly scratching.
Needles to say we all made the trip safely and we departed the bus on the far side of Seven Mile Bridge and mounted our bikes and rode through the night back to the calm and comfort of another world aboard Cbay.
Now if this has worn you out reading it then you should have lived it. All part of another day on the Loop.