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Archive for the ‘Florida Keys’ Category

The Conch Republic

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 9, 2010

July 27, 2010

All Pictures

Big People

West in Spanish is Oeste.

First off, the name Key West has nothing to do with its location. I used to think that since it was the island in the keys that was the furthest west, it was called Key West. But it’s actually a misunderstanding.

The name was Cayo Hueso, or Bone Key. The Native Americans who lived in the area used this island to bury their dead, so the Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso. This could be translated to Key West by any English speaker who flunked 9th grade Spanish.

Mark is looking for a fight.

How the West Was Won

This island has the craziest history stories. No wonder writers come to Key West to become inspired. Of all the tales I heard on this trip, the one I enjoyed the most is the one about the Conch Republic.

It is a well known fact that many Cuban immigrants come into the US by way of the Florida Keys. The United States Border Patrol decided to put a stop to this and illegal drug import. In 1982 they put up a checkpoint on the road out to the keys.

7-mile bridge

If you’ve ever driven down to the keys, you may know that one little car accident or one slow driver can cause a huge back up. There are only 2 roads going into the keys and then eventually only one. Both of the roads had only one lane going in either direction back in 1982.

Oscar the cat and his trainer

The inspections at the checkpoint caused many delays to visitors of the keys. Many tourists didn’t think that the keys were worth the hassle and stopped going further south than Florida City.

delicious street smoothies

The people of Key West were unhappy. They needed tourists with money to come in and spend senselessly. They asked the government to stop. But they were ignored. Then they changed tactics.

They seceded from the union and made themselves a new nation, independent of the USA. They called themselves The Conch Republic and as their first act as a nation, they declared war on the United States.

They threw Cuban bread at some naval soldiers working at the checkpoint then quickly surrendered. Since the war was over and they were on the losing end, the Conch Republic asked the US for foreign aid. Hey, why not?

waiting for sunset

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Key West

How to get there:

  • 24°33’18.4″N 81°46’48.2″W
  • Website directions
  • Take US 1 south and don’t get off.
  •  Key West is at Florida mile marker 0.

Phone:

  • Tourist Information in many languages – 1-800-771-KEYS (5397)

Website

Downloads:

Hours:

Notes:

Parking is hard to find, but whatever you do, do not park illegally. If you do and you just get a ticket, consider yourself lucky. This is not a good place to get your car towed.


The Conch Tour Train

How to get there:

  • 24°33’32.4″N 81°48’24.1″W

Go to the north end of Duval street.

Address:

Phone:

  • 1-888-916-8687 (TOUR)

Website

Download

Cost:

  • Adult – 29.00USD (Buy online for a 3USD discount)
  • 12 and under – Free

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 16:30 daily.
  • Train tours departing at least every 30 minutes.
  • Closed the last Saturday in October (Fantasy Fest)
  • All tours are subject to change. Call to make sure there are no changes.

Notes:

  • This is not a hop-on, hop-off tour. There is one stop at a gift shop where you can eat and use the restroom.

Southernmost Incorporated Place in the Contiguous 48 States

How to get there:

  • 24°32’47.3″N 81°47’50.9″W

It’s on the corner of Whitehead St. and South St.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available.

Notes:

  • It’s free to visit and always open.
  • It’s not really the southernmost part of the US, but it’s pretty close.

Map:

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Beach Hunting

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 13, 2010

June 28, 2010

All Pictures

Just park here.

The Car: The Heart of America

Unlike Europe or Asia, you need a car to be a somebody in the United States. Sure, some cities have buses and subway systems, but for the most part if you have no car you are… well, a loser.

No public transportation system covers any whole city and it’s suburbs. Taking public transportation in most places means that you will have a longer commute. And there is still a lot of walking involved, since most people don’t live or work near a bus stop or subway station.

In most of the world public transportation is liberating. When you have a subway card instead of a car you don’t have to worry about parking, gas, insurance, or car maintenance. In the US, not having a car leaves you isolated and friendless.

If you are lucky, you might have a friend who is kind enough to drive out to where you live to pick you up and take you places. Most friends are not that kind unless they live next door to you and you pay for the gas.

Heading past Key Largo

Where do I park?

Case in point are the Florida Keys. You can take a bus to most of the keys, but there is no getting off the bus, exploring and then taking the next bus. You either go to Key Largo or  some other island and stay there.

To drive down to the Keys, just go to Miami and head south. Pass Homestead and Florida City by taking US1.

the 7-mile bridge

To find a nice beach in the Keys, just drive until you see one. Park your car and swim until you get tired. Then, get back in your car and look for another beach. There are two I’d like to recommend. Anne’s Beach is good, but there are very few parking spots. And there is a nameless beach on the southern side of the 7-mile bridge.

Make sure you find a legal place to park. Having your car towed away while in the Keys is no fun. No one will want to come get you. You won’t be able to find a taxi passing by. And it’s really hot. Besides, parking on some random side of the road is a little very dangerous.

There are many state parks in the Keys and some have nice beaches. It costs about 5USD to enter, so ask about the beach before you pay to go in. I’m not sure if the $5 gives you entrance to all the state parks for that day or if you have to pay another $5 to get into another park.

Remember that it’s Florida. Watch out for the wild life.

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The Florida Keys

How to get there:

  • 24°34’10.9″N 81°47’53.3″W (Key West)

By car –

  • Take US1 south or I95 south.
  • I95 eventually merges into US1 and ends in Key West.

By Bus –

Greyhound goes all the way down to Key West from Kendell and stops at many of the keys in between .

Website:

Notes:

There are many places along the keys to go swimming for free. The problem is, that there is nowhere to legally park. There is no guaranty that paying to enter a National Park with beach access will result in a satisfying place to swim, but you will have legal parking.

Map:

Posted in Florida, Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo, Marathon, United States, The | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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