Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Key West, Part 1

Houses #1The day after Lauren and Jon's wedding my sister, Connie, and I headed south to Key West. I had never been there before and Connie only for an hour or so.

When you think of Key West, you think of sunshine, Jimmy Buffett and hurricane evacuations. Or at least, that's what I think of. And one more thing — photographic opportunities — or so I was told — and they were not exaggerating.

The opportunities started the moment we arrived at the Key West Bed & Breakfast AKA The Popular House. The building was originally the William Russell House built around 1898 and is listed in the National Historic Register. The house is delightful and the rooms are comfortable — and fortunately, air conditioned.

Houses #2 The back is nicely landscaped and provides a lovely spot for relaxation, conversation or even for a dip in the Jacuzzi (heat turned off in summer). Some folks even found a spot out here to enjoy their breakfast.

Houses #3 The side yard also offers a comfortable retreat — and I saw guests sitting out here at various times of the day — not just at breakfast time. A number of the guests were repeat visitors. One guy we met had been vacationing here every year since they opened — something like 20 years!

Houses #5 My spot for enjoying breakfast was in the kitchen — I figured that you don't want to get too far from the food — and with good reason — it was excellent. It started with squeeze-it-yourself orange juice (well, I guess you could have coffee but why?). The first morning, they offered bundt cake plus the usual breads and bagels — but the wonderful platter of fresh fruit was unsurpassed — including one of my favorites, strawberry papaya.

That evening, Connie and I returned from our touring to the smell of just-baked mango bread. We were sorely tempted to sneak a piece — but we were good — otherwise there might not have been any left come morning.

Oh, and the photo at the left shows the view from my favored breakfast spot in the kitchen. I do believe I was in heaven.

Houses #4 Connie's room was on the second floor and included her own private balcony. My room was on the third floor with a wonderful view but no balcony. However, it was easy to descend one flight of stairs to the front shared balcony — equipped with chairs, a swing and a hammock — a great spot to read or just relax and watch the world go by.

Houses #6 As I mentioned, this house is listed in the National Historic Register but they also have recognition from a local preservation group. Some years ago, they noticed an alarming trend — older, historic homes were being torn down and replaced with modern structures. Besides the loss of an historic nature, the modern building materials and methods were not really the match of those used in the older homes. It seems that most of those homes were build by ship's carpenters. Since everything on a ship must be well sealed and they tended to use the same techniques in building homes — the houses were really well constructed.

Further, many of the homes (including the William Russell House) used Dade County pine. This species has evolved in the harsh climate of southern Florida and repulses termites — additionally, it cures to be so hard that you cannot pound a nail into it. To encourage restoration of these historic homes rather than replacement, they recognize the restoration effort with these star plaques.

Houses #7 Houses #8 So just begin walking and enjoying the sights. These historic homes are everywhere. The one at the left is next door to the B&B where we stayed — and is itself a B&B.

Houses #9 And notice the colors. Lots of pastels with almost shocking contrasts in the accents and accessories. You may also note the tin roof as seen in the photo on the right. This came about as the result of a big fire that the town experienced many years ago — when they noticed that the homes with tin roofs had survived the fire. If it worked, let's make it mandatory.

Houses #10 Houses #11 Many interesting architectural features jump out at you. Where have you ever seen such an ornate side door for a home? Lovely!

And so many examples of the wonderful use of landscaping to frame your home.

Houses #12 You certainly do not see the ticky-tacky tract homes that most of live in or among. Ever see a home like this?

To be continued...

 Life is good.

 B. David