The southern most city in the continental U.S. is the legendary port city of Key West. A bit like San Francisco in spirit and origin, Key West was founded by adventurers working as legal scavengers rescuing sailors whose ships floundered on the shallow reefs that surround the Keys. They recovered what items of value they could from the wrecked ships. Needless to say, Key West developed a reputation as a rollicking, care-free kind of place, something it has never shaken. A small island whose core city is built out in a quaint Victorian style, it is also reminiscent of San Francisco. For the last few years I have been writing and photographing travel stories for my good pals at Gentry Destinations Magazine in Silicon Valley. One of the island's prime resorts, Ocean Key Resort & Spa, invited us down to spend a long weekend and do a story about the charms of this almost off the grid American city.
Except for the occasional hurricane, the weather is always nice, the bars close at 4AM and everyone just seems to run in first gear in this most laidback of towns. Maybe this is why K.W. was a port in the storm for so many great 20th Century American writers like Hemingway and Williams. Hemingway's home and artifacts are still here. The indoor/outdoor lifestyle flourishes, with most bars and restaurants looking more like someone's patio or backyard than a formal eatery. White washed "Stick Gothic" houses line old-town's narrow streets giving it an almost Disney like scale. In three days in Key West, we never turned on the T.V., checked our email, or paid much attention to the outside world. We just sat on the balcony and watched the sailboats silently pass by.