Miami and Key West, Florida

It was our year to “host” Thanksgiving.  We had thought about trading our time share and head to the Cayman Islands, but with a possibility of 9 people, the air was a bit much for this time of year.  We settled on a Marriott resort just outside of Miami.  Our Iowans decided to drive down, while 3 of us flew, and 2 had to stay home for work.

We have visited all the National Parks in Florida except one, Dry Tortugas, which is 80 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico.  So with a suburban, big enough for 7 of us, we made plans to include Key West and Dry Tortugas in our holiday schedule. To start the trip we spent a few days enjoying Miami Beach, where Jade got to fly a drone to track a lemon shark. We also had a sting ray swim around us as we played in the water.

We ate Guava pastries from Little Havana and Gelato at the beach.

Went to the pool at the nearby Trump Resort (our resort pool was being repaired). Poolside food service and helpers to cover your chair with a towel. We could get used to this!!

We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, since we wouldn’t be with our Iowans in December.

And enjoyed the William Penn “Toilet Paper” game over the internet.  After the first basket, the crowd throws toilet paper onto the court, we threw it all over our condo 🙂

So with the first of the week activities behind us, we headed for Key West on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Depending on traffic, it is about a 4 hour drive on the Overseas Highway.  It is formally know as Highway 1 and extends approximately 113 miles. It is built partially on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad, which was completed in 1912.  The railroad was in use until 1935, when it was destroyed by a hurricane.  The railway company was unable to make the repairs, so the rail bed and remaining bridges were sold to the state of Florida for $640,000.  Under the direction of Cleary Brother Construction Co. the full highway was completed and opened for traffic on March 29, 1938. The highway consists of numerous bridges connecting the keys(islands) to Key West.  Here are a few pictures of the original Seven Mile Bridge.

There was not a lot of traffic, so we made good time.  Our first stop was the monument at Southernmost Point of the Continental United States.  Next to the monument is a statue of Albert Kee.  With an influx of tourism in the 1950s, conch-shell blowing became a big attraction.  Albert was a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy and he thought Key West needed a “good will ambassador.  Until his death in 2003, Bishop Keys, could be found at the Southernmost Point monument, blowing his conch shell and yelling “Welcome to the Island” to the tourists.

The Southernmost Point is the furthest south that a civilian can venture in Key West.  The nearby naval base holds the distinction as the true southern point.  The monument is an anchored concrete buoy.  The point was originally marked with a small sign, but the buoy replaced the sign in 1983 and is the most photographed spot in Key West.

The country of Cuba is roughly 90 miles to the south of this point.20191127_12015620191127_121647

Our next stop was the end or the beginning (depends on how you look at it) of Highway One.

Our advnture continued as we stopped to experience one of Key West’s famous foods…Key Lime Pie!!

Since there were 7 of us, we ordered a whole pie.  The clerk sliced it for us and topped it with whip cream.

Yummy, yummy, yummy!!!

After our fill of pie, we headed to the Truman Little White House.  It is located at the original naval station established in 1823.

The house was originally built in 1890 to house naval officers. In 1911 it was converted to a single-family dwelling for the base commander and his family.  The first president to visit was William Howard Taft in 1912.  He arrived in Key West via the Oversee Railroad and then set sail for Panama to inspect the construction of the canal.  Thomas Edison resided in the house for 6 months during World War I as he designed underwater weapons for the Navy.  In November 1946, President Harry S. Truman had finished his first 19 months in office and was physically exhausted.  His doctor ordered him take a vacation to a warm location, he chose Key West.  It would be one of 11 visits over 175 days during his presidency.  Truman realized that wherever the president was, the White House was, hence the name Little White House.  Documents issued while he was there, read, The White House, US Naval Station, Key West, Florida.

There are tours of the inside of the building, however, we weren’t sure how interested the kids would be in an hour long tour.  So we opted for the free exhibits inside the gift shop.

It was a hot day, so we took advantage of the chairs and shade outside the Little White House for a nice rest.

Being late in the afternoon, we started our walk toward Mallory Square and the Sunset Celebration, but on the way we encountered a few of the “residents” of Key West.

Each evening Mallory Square hosts the Key West Sunset Celebration.  It is a plaza on the waterfront facing the Gulf of Mexico.

It begins 2 hours before sunset, with food vendors…

Arts and crafts and of course a variety of street performers.

Whitney and Wyatt were quite enthralled with all the performances…

With the Sunset Celebration ending, our attention turned to food.  We settled on Fogarty’s.  What a great way to spend Thanksgiving Eve… great food, weather, sights, and company.

After dinner we headed to bed.  We had to be up early for our boat ride to Dry Tortugas National Park!!!