Saturday, December 26, 2009

Colorful Key West - First Impressions

Colorful, Eclectic, Electric Key West! Camera in hand, I've been wandering around town collecting local color.

Bougainvillea. The colorful part of this thorny popular vine is actually the plant's bract; the flower is the tiny white blossoms in the center.


Blue Sunset

There are numerous green signs all over Key West proclaiming the be Mile Marker 0 for U.S. 1, but the intersection of Whitehead and Fleming is the real deal.

Red Sunset.

Windsor and Poorhouse Lane.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rowing From Cleveland to Key West for Habitat for Humanity

Like the couple who came ashore last week in Key West after paddling a kayak from Maine, another pair of extreme athletes are expected to wrap up a long distance voyage to Key West this week. Tom Kotula, 26, and Jon Hauserman, 22, dubbed the "Habitat Crew," are rowing from Cleveland to the Southernmost City and doing it for a cause. Along the route of more than 2,000 miles, they have been volunteering on Habitat for Humanity construction sites.

The rowboat is not typical; Kotula and Hauserman, who were rowing mates in college, stripped and converted a 19 foot O'Day Mariner. Rechristened the "Not for Sail," the Habitat Crew left Cleveland in early June of 2,009, crossed Lake Erie to Buffalo, rowed the Erie Canal to the Hudson River. Where the Hudson reaches New York City, the crew steered their ‘rowboat’ onto the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and headed south. The ICW is the waterway between the barrier islands of the east coast and the mainland. They expect to reach Key West by the 20th of December.

If you’d like to know more about this worthy voyage, or perhaps make a donation in support to Habitat for Humanity, check out the Habitat Crew blog or their website.

Inspirational note from the crew’s website:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Key West Organic Farmers Market - Help Yourself!

When I last lived in the keys (I’ve been gone two years) finding good, organic food was a challenge. What could be found had often been picked too early to ever properly ripen. As I anticipated coming “home” to Key West for the winter, my mouth began to water for the fresh fish, but the part of me that was spoiled by Asheville’s 17 farmer’s markets worried: where would I find the green?

Imagine my delight to find that an organic farmer’s market is open every Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. in Old Town. Thanks to Annie, the owner of Help Yourself Foods (my new favorite cafĂ©), fresh organic produce is picked in Homestead on Saturday so Key Westers can eat it on Sunday. Today there was also local honey and eggs from Little Torch, as well as a large selection of tropical fruits grown in the Keys. I got a couple of starfruit.

There's also a stand for fresh coconut, and Midge Jolly (and she is!) & Tom Weyant sell local sea salt, solar evaporated and harvested from the waters off the lower Florida Keys and give away straw hats. I got a great new hat! Thank you!

I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten at Help Yourself Foods: I had a creamy, slightly sweet chicken salad wrap; a savoury, hot farmer’s wrap with yummy caramelized onions and ‘cashew cheese,’ and this morning’s breakfast wrap – scrambled eggs with avocado and greens, who knew! I plan to try everything on the menu as soon as possible.

Help Yourself Foods
829 Fleming Street
(corner of Margaret Street)

The restaurant is open:
Mon-Sat | 8am-9pm
Sun | 9am-3pm

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Southernmost Point Welcomes Paddlers From Maine

Like many tourist attractions, the Southernmost Point in the continental United States isn’t quite what it’s billed. There are a few more southerly spots on the island including a few on private property just along the shore to the east of the famous Red Marker and White Street Pier, which juts into the Ocean significantly further south. But the Red Concrete Buoy Replica is good enough for tourist jazz and a great photo opportunity for visitors to the Southernmost City.

It was the landing point chosen by two unusual visitors, yesterday. Dan and Bethany Cox end a year-long-plus kayaking adventure along the east coast. Dan, 23, and Bethany, 25 paddled from Lubec, Maine, to Key West, Florida’s Southernmost Point, hauling their their kayaks out a few minutes after 11 am on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. The North Carolina couple started their trip September 2, 2008, and quickly realized they had started too late. So they holed up in Portland, ME until this past May.

On hand to welcome the couple back to land were close family – including Bethany’s parents, Ann & John Patterson, and a crowd of friends and tourists who stayed past their picture taking to congratulate the couple on their successful journey.

What’s next for the couple, asked one onlooker, besides a shower and lunch? “An apartment and some normalcy,” said Bethany.

More photos of the Key West landing party.

Dan & Bethany's website: East Coast Dreams includes many of the stories they told to reporters along the way.

The Southernmost Point in the 1960s, before the red buoy was added:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Palm Fences Make Good Neighbors

When I found the little cottage on Key West's Catherine Street I was a little leery of renting a place across from Suburban Propane. I wasn't worried it would blow up, as one Realtor thought. Don't worry, she told, me if Suburban Propane goes all of Key West will go."

It was aesthetics. Would I like going out of my house every day to look at a big commercial building and a chain link fence around the outside? Turns out they make great neighbors! They're quiet, and there's always a place to park on weekends and evenings. Yesterday it got even better when they planted a long hedge of mature Areca Palms along the fence. Such nice neighbors!

Another neighbor:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Key West - Headed for Sun & Fun

It's getting just a bit chillier than I like now in Asheville, so I'm headed to Florida. To Key West, actually. Until I fell in love with contra dancing and bought a home in Asheville, I lived on Big Pine Key, 30 miles from the Southernmost City. Key West was "downtown" but always a bit of a drive.

I've been missing the Florida Keys and its warm water, so I decided to rent a place in Old Town Key West and see what it's like to live in the middle of it all. I'll be walking or biking distance to just about everything, and I've been scouring Craigslist for the perfect conch cruiser.

Life will go on much the same .... I will dance a few nights a week, only it won't be contra; it'll be rock and roll. Sloppy Joe's - the watering home Papa Hemingway made famous - has live music every night, and on the weekends, the locals' favorite Green Parrot, has the best blues anywhere for my money. Both bars have web cams (Sloppy's | Green Parrot's) so if any of my Asheville friends miss me too much, they can look for me dancing.

I'm thinking the water will be too cold for swimming or diving, and I am not much for fishing; but I will definitely get out on the water with my friend, Donna, who has a dolphin watch charter boat (check out her home page, it's got an amazing video of dolphin blowing bubbles), and I plan to find time to sit at the water's edge and watch the sunset as often as possible.

I am renting for now, but I am thinking it would be a great time to buy a place in Key West. Apparently the real estate market there is starting to move, and if I like being right in Old Town, I might just ... you never know. Don't worry, I won't give up Asheville!
I will miss all my beloved Asheville friends and dance buddies, but I am no further away than Facebook! And I can't wait to see my Keys friends and clients ... many are both!! See you all soon!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Summer Soiree Festival - Contra Dance Weekend

This summer's holiday will find me at home in Asheville dancing at Summer Soiree. The weekend contra dance festival , held on the beautiful campus of Warren Wilson College just outside Asheville, North Carolina, will celebrate it's 20 anniversary June 19-21, 2009.

Great Bear Trio, one of the most popular contra dance bands in the US, headlines the talent. Asheville's own Beth Molaro is calling. Dance workshops will include swing dancing, waltzing, flat footing and contra flourishes. There will be a special square dance session for aficionados and Barbara Groh will lead a caller's workshop.

More details and festival registration.