Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sunrise in Key West

Today's sunrise in Key West was exceptional. A few strategically placed clouds and no wind made the sea a mirror. Here are the pictures - taken at sunrise, 7.30am this morning taken on S Roosevelt Blvd on my way to the airport.

I've blogged before on the obsession with Key West's sunset (the "Sunset Celebration") so I'm pleased to see a sun rise today just as good, if not better.

Sunrise in Key West

Sunrise with no wind - the ocean is a mirror 
Here comes the sun. Key West sunrise in full red drama

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coming soon on Key West Lookout

I'm currently on vacation in Key West and so the blog is going to take a vacation too! I will be back in a few weeks with the following posts. Check back soon.

Coming soon on this Key West Lookout blog:
  • Key West's best budget, great value guest houses and hotels - brand new post
  • Updates to Key West's best restaurants, best cocktail places, and Key West vegetarian, Key West things to do
  • Tomorrow we are flying to Fort Jefferson national park on a sea plane and so there will be a post on that
  • My annual "changes, good and bad, that I've noticed in Key West" post 
  • MOTM Parrothead convention
  • Halloween in Key West
  • My pictures of the week. A small selection of the thousands of images I've taken this week, like this one below

I like bringing readers both useful and practical posts like the ones listed above. But I also like to post about the totally useless but fun in Key West. On this theme, coming soon, is a photo post of two of the girls at Aqua night club. All of the performers are super-stars in my book but 2 stand out for me - Inga and Jessica - and I have photo posts on both. Like their outfits and performances, it'll be a fun post.

Jessica as Adele

All of this in the next few weeks and months on Key West Lookout.

Top 10 posts on Key West Lookout

Here are the top 10 most read articles on this blog since I started Key West Lookout in 2009. Key West Lookout is written by me and only me. I am a regular Key West visitor, and have been taking vacations in Key West since 1998. My aim is to provide the best, most comprehensive and most up-to-date Key West vacation guide on the planet. See you in Key West!

#1: Best time of year to visit Key West

#2: Key West hotels

#3: Top things to do in Key West

#4: What to do in Key West when it rains

#5: Key West restaurants

#6: Gay Key West

#7: Best cocktails and martinis in Key West

#8: Key West guesthouses

#9: Planing a Key West vacation

#10: Key West pictures




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting out of Key West for a day

If you have the time it's great to get away from the small island which is Key West and take a day on the Lower Keys where there's lots of interesting stuff to do - and that's exactly what we did today. The requirement was getting away from Highway 1, not too much time in the car, seeing some nature and getting wet.

We've also done a fair number of things up and down the Keys already. So we didn't want to do the Turtle Hospital again, or Theatre of the Sea - even though both are excellent.

Here's what we did today. First stop Publix in Key West for picnic provisions. Then out on Highway 1 to Sugarloaf Key, coming off the main road onto Sugarloaf Blvd. and drove for a few miles amongst the mangroves. I wanted to take Old State Road 4a north to do the loop and rejoin Highway 1 but it was closed. So we took the Old State Road 4a south for a little while, to where it crosses Sugarloaf Creek, turned back and came back the same way we came.

The view from the bridge over Sugarloaf Creek
You can just see Highway 1 in the distance 
Looking north from Sugarloaf Creek before Old State Road 4a turns into dirt track

I like stoping randomly along Highway 1 to take a few pictures. This time I chose Park Key.

Back on the road and the next major destination, this one chosen deliberately, not random, was No Name Key. It's a road to nowhere. But we did see one Key deer (highly endangered) on the way (on Watson Blvd) there and one on the way back (on Wilder Road). Which was a real bonus.

Welcome to No Name Key

No Name Key is a long road with this at the end
Behind this the path (walking only, obviously) goes on a tiny way and you get a great view of the open ocean.

Time to depart No Name and head to our main destination: Bahia Honda State Park and awesome beach, at MM36.

We've been here several times in the past, including one memorable visit when I was trying to get back to Miami in a rush (to catch a plane home) when I had a flat in the park.

I love this place and today was no disappointment.

Main items on the agenda was the short walk at the end of the park (northern end): the Silver Palm Nature trail. Which was really excellent and I totally recommend it. Very easy but fun and educational.

Silver Palm trail information. Not very strenuous! It's actually downhill by 34 feet

This is one of the Silver Palms which give the Silver Palm Nature Trail its name. The palm is endangered

And finally a real dose of nature on the nature trail... a surprise waiting for me just above head height...It was HUGE!!

More pics and video of this Nature trail in a few weeks.

And second major agenda item was a swim in the ocean, when we were buzzed by a pelican at very close range which was fantastic.

So we were 36 miles from Key West and time to head back. One final stop off, at a place I had wanted to visit for many years - the Bat Tower at Sugarloaf.

Nesting at the top of the bat tower in Sugarloaf - can anyone identify this bird?

The bat tower at Sugarloaf Key in the Florida Keys

Bat tower close up
I will post a video of the bat tower in the coming weeks.

What a day! Only 36 miles there and back but so much nature, weather, skies, animals, ocean, and fascinating things to see.

Now back home to Key West.

Visiting Key West in October and November

This vacation we are arriving in Key West on 23 October and leaving on 1 November - what a fantastic time to visit Key West as you get five events during just these few days. These tend to happen on the same dates every year so this is always a great time to visit Key West. The dates below are from 2014 so you'll need to double check the dates for 2015.

FIRST: you get the two best events in Fantasy Fest, the adult themed mardi gras of Key West. That's the Masquarade March on Friday 24 and the main parade on Saturday 25 October.
The Masquerade March through the streets of Old Town Key West
Fantasy Fest parade along Duval Street in Key West is watched by 60,000 people
SECOND: you get the block party street festival which is the Parrot Head's Key West hook up, called MOTM or Meeting of the Minds. There are many events most of them for members only. The big public event though is this coming Friday afternoon. They close a few blocks of Duval Street off and have a live music stage which is great fun. The rumor this year is that Jimmy Buffett himself will play the stage (but then again that's the rumor every year!).

Pictures coming later in the week. Check back later.

THIRD: you get Halloween.

More pictures of Key West's spookily decorated houses and the parties coming soon.

FOURTH: you get all the usual stuff associated with Key West - both the crazy [check out my pictures of crazy Key West] and the sedate and relaxing. There's lots to do in Key West.

FIFTH: Starting just after we depart, you get the powerboat race in Key West.

More coming so check back soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fantasy Fest 2014 live

Thursday after Fantasy Fest 2014. Some images I had taken but not posted.

First, cynical money making scheme from CVS. Why would anyone buy beads for Fantasy Fest when thousands are given out / thrown to you for free?

The Price of Fantasy Fest 1.

Parking before Fantasy Fest $10 per day
Parking during Fantasy Fest $20 per day
The Price of Fantasy Fest 2. Buy this year's t-shirt from Walgreens for $10....

...or last year's still on sale today at half the price!

Some businesses had made a great effort to dress the exterior of their buildings.
Sloppy Joe's on theme Fantasy Fest design for 2014
801's theme for Fantasy Fest 2014
Monday after Fantasy Fest 2014. 27 October. 5.15pm. It's over. Only 12 months to wait until next year. Let's hope they pick an easier, less obscure and more pronounceable theme for Fantasy Fest 2015. Most of the 60,000 of those watching the parade on Saturday night are long gone and Key West feels a bit more normal today, and actually quite quiet. (It's really nice).

Here's some pics from today, post-Fantasy Fest, Key West.

Sunday evening. 4pm. It's the last event of the Fantasy Fest 2014 year - the "It's not over until the fat lady sings" tea dance at La Ti Da. It was super busy and super fun. More pictures in separate post here.

Sunday morning. The morning after, as the Citizen puts it. A shame, I think, that the Fantasy Fest section with today's paper was not in color throughout the whole section. 

10pm. Here are the pictures from the parade which has just finished tonight. Well done to everyone - months of work went into  these.

To see hundreds more pictures including of Friday's Masquarade March and the crazy costumes, click the link below and see the whole of this article.