Back from Key West

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    Mar 02, 2011 2:44 AM GMT
    Got back this afternoon (reluctantly), bringing the SMART Ride bike with us. Here are a few pics as mch requested, more to follow.

    The main purpose of our KW trip was to attend an auction Saturday to raise money for the artists of The Studios of Key West (TSKW). A different artist had been commissioned to paint each of 43 bicycles in an original theme, to be either sold over several months, or else auctioned or raffled at the fundraiser we attended. Only 15 bikes remained unsold for auction.

    I had bought one in November, a bike commemorating the SMART Ride for HIV/AIDS that we had just completed in Key West. TSKW asked me if they could keep it for display purposes until this auction, and I agreed. It was shown with some of the other bikes at the TSKW exhibit hall where the auction was held.

    I believe it fetched the highest price of any bike, the deal being that half the money would go to TSKW, and half to any organization I designated. I specified a division among the HIV/AIDS agencies that my partner & I support.

    The bike will continue to be used as a fundraising device, as I had intended, already scheduled to appear at several of our local HIV events in the months ahead. And an HIV/AIDS agency in Orlando has asked me to borrow the bike for a fundraiser they're having in July, which I plan to do.

    Some of the bikes hanging from the ceiling for the auction, a band performing:

    TSKW4.jpg

    The bike I bought, hanging to the left. The art work isn't visible from this distance, especially on the fenders, but it's HIV-related:

    TSKW5.jpg

    A portion of the display describing the bikes that had been created:

    TSKW2.jpg

    A close-up of the display showing my bike, at the time I presented the check for it in November in KW. That's a panel from the National AIDS Quilt behind us. The guy on the far left in the striped shirt is the owner of Graffiti menswear where this was taken, the one who actually commissioned this bike to be painted with a SMART Ride - HIV/AIDS theme:

    TSKW1.jpg
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    Mar 02, 2011 3:48 AM GMT
    More KW pics --

    The front veranda of the guest house where we stayed:

    KW2.jpg

    Cypress House where we roomed, in a web site pic. Passing in front is a Conch Train (pronounced "konk") that tourists ride. Funny to be sitting on the veranda and overhear the tram PA system telling the riders about the history of the place where we were:

    kwspot.jpg

    A curious little house on Simonton Street, a short distance from where we stayed:

    KW1.jpg
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    Mar 02, 2011 4:15 AM GMT
    Crazy Key West architecture --

    The back of Cypress House, where we were. This fire escape-looking construction connects an adjoining house to the right, where we actually roomed. KW guest houses are often built-up affairs of several old houses. Or they may include a non-connected annex, as is also the case with Cypress House, which has another detached place 2 doors down the street:

    KW3.jpg

    The view from a sun deck above our room. That's a little sitting alcove we had, right off the pool. Gave us some nice privacy, and that ornate white table is from where I wrote my RJ posts on the MacBook. This is what I mean about Key West's "ramshackle" ambiance. It's weatherbeaten, it's not modern, and it's not pretty in a conventional sense. It's simply Key West. BTW, those are plumbing drain pipes you see outside the walls. Older houses originally had no indoor plumbing, and later acquired none that would meet modern code & the demands of hotels when they were converted from private homes. Since it never freezes in KW, they just run the pipes outside, which saves ripping up the walls:

    KW4.jpg
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    Mar 02, 2011 4:51 AM GMT
    Thanks, looks wonderful!
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    Mar 02, 2011 5:51 AM GMT
    antelope saidThanks, looks wonderful!

    And thank you! If you're planning to visit Key West and need some advice please let me know. We have a small network of friends and connections down there.

    We know the husband & wife owners of what we consider the finest restaurant in Key West (Michael's), the wife having ridden in the SMART Ride. We personally know numerous merchants to recommend, and gay guest houses where we can give you a name to call for special consideration.

    Just for an example, as we were loading our car at the curb at the Cypress House this morning, a passing car stopped to get our attention. "Bob! How soon are you coming back down?" I walked over and we talked for a few minutes.

    It was my favorite bartender from Sloppy Joe's bar! That Ernest Hemingway tourist hangout that I usually avoid, but I still renew acquaintances there when in KW. And so it is all over Old Town Key West for us. Not that we know everyone, obviously, we don't live there, but it's a kind of second home for us.

    So that when we're visiting KW, most of our meals are with local friends we have. I simply can't imagine going where we're not known, surrounded by strangers we don't know, a totally impersonal experience.

    So you or anyone else here, ask me about Key West and I'll try to help out. Not a resident myself, but I'll do my best.
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    Mar 02, 2011 6:41 AM GMT
    Here's an interesting way we deal with outdoor heat in south Florida, including here in Fort Lauderdale & Wilton Manors -- water misters.

    These you see pictured here in Key West put out a fine aerosol mist, from a network of small water tubes that are strung all around. The idea is that it cools your skin. This is not steam, but cool water being atomized through very tiny nozzles.

    KW5.jpg

    KW7.jpg