Monday, August 9, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

Alabama Jack's, destination bar for bikers.

Royal Enfield motorcycles carry you back in time, and that is one of the chief things that appeal to me about them. There's no time like the past. So I was enthusiastic when my wife planned an "Old Florida" weekend in the Keys.

We'd travel slow, take in the sights and tiki bars, eat fish sandwiches and snorkel. She'd work on her new blog,

I wouldn't work at all.

It turns out that visiting the Florida Keys in August is like visiting the Nebraska Plains in December. Your calendar has severely malfunctioned.

Gateway to the Keys; watch for reptiles.

There's no escaping the heat and oppressive humidity of the Keys in summer. August Ocean water temperature in the Keys can be hotter than the air temperature.

You feel yourself melting not just into a pool of sweat, but back into the primordial swamp from which ancient ancestors evolved.

Twenty minutes of snorkeling in 90-degree water renews the sensation that you have gills.

It's a feeling typical of the Keys in summer. You do feel as though you are traveling back in time, and not just to the Precambrian.

You revisit a time when motels gave you one bar of soap and no hot water. (Maybe there was hot water; it was impossible to tell, since, if so, it was no hotter than the 90-degree "cold" water on tap.)

Take a turn and drive two blocks off U.S. 1 and you travel a good 50 years back. Here are people in chairs sharing beers with their neighbors: in the street.

Here are "mobile homes" that haven't moved since the Kennedy administration.

Here are houseboats that combine the hull of a yacht with the superstructure of a chicken coop.

The first night out I tentatively asked for a Key West Sunset Ale to see what it was like. I didn't care for it.

The second night I bought a whole six pack of Key West Southernmost Wheat beer, in error. By the third day I was ordering the Sunset Ale deliberately.

I had also ceased shaving and was considering giving up bathing with the lone bar of soap.

I wore my bathing suit and my "Save the Manatees" t-shirt exclusively, and instead of cruising the Internet I watched the sunset two nights in a row.

The Old Road is still there.

We never made it to Key West. Reaching the end of the Keys would have seemed too much like accomplishing a goal. Just breathing and eating seemed enough of a goal. Sweating happened on its own.

Money went faster than we'd expected: "It's still High Season," one motel owner explained, helpfully. What constitutes Low Season in the Keys? Actual hurricanes, but only if the Eye hits the motel you've booked?

We had to head home.

Luckily, there's still some Key West Southernmost Wheat left in the cooler.


  1. How taunting is that photo of the Old Road?? Glad you enjoyed your adventure together.

  2. Rode to Key West from Rhode Island two years ago. March, that's a good month for it.


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