Sunday, June 13, 2004

Home Again

No matter what time of year you go to Key West, you can always count on at least one thing – finding a pleasant surprise of some sort when you get there.

Key West is not exactly a tourist destination in June. The cruise ships still come in and the tour trolleys and trains continue to run, but there’s an air of quiet relaxation as the town recovers from the high season – December through April – and everyone gets ready for the next one. It’s easy to get a table in a good restaurant (like Mangia Mangia), and tourist sites, like the Hemingway Home are easy to get in and stroll through the gardens. By the way, for all you cat bloggers, there’s a link on the site with pictures of some of the more than sixty cats that live on the property. And yes, many of them have six toes.

I was there to visit with friends who were participating in the biennial Hemingway Conference. On Friday we took a sunset cruise out into the Straits of Florida, then Saturday did the complete tourist bit and rode one of the open-air trolleys through the streets of Key West. Even though this was not my first visit to The Conch Republic, I always find something new and meet new people. The Hemingway conference brought together some very interesting people with a variety of interests in Hemingway’s work and life. Also participating was Laurence Luckinbill who does a smash job of a one-man show as Hemingway. Mr. Luckinbill is a well-known stage and film actor as well as the husband of Lucie Arnaz.

It also turns out – coincidentally – that this weekend was PrideFest in Key West. There was a street fair with booths selling arts and crafts plus petitions for equality of marriage laws and voter registration, and lots of other fun things, like a show by Paula Poundstone. Last night it concluded with a parade down Duvall Street. Like I said, you’re always going to find a pleasant surprise in Key West.

I was up before the dawn to drive back home, crossing the Seven Mile Bridge as the sun came up over the ocean and islands. Now it’s back to some of the more normal weekend activities – like laundry and shopping and the New York Times crossword puzzle.