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June 28, 2004 

Battery Exhausted

Battery exhausted says my camera. I know how it feels. On Friday night I had a mammoth shopping expedition and managed to pick up a 256k memory card in preparation for the rest of the weekend. I also managed to get a CD player ($1 - wow!) and cassette adaptor so I can listen to CDs in the hire car. I'd carefully selected a few to bring over, in anticipation of driving lots, only to discover that the hire car doesn't have a CD player. America, the land of technologial advances, seems to have left this car behind just for me!

All kitted up I set off at 8 on Saturday morning to head down to Key West. The anticipated 3.5 hour drive was about that, broken only by a trip to the worst MacDonalds in the world for breakfast. I ordered two hash browns and an orange juice. Not a complex order, but I had to prompt them to make it up for me after 5 minutes, as they were waiting for the people infront of me's pancakes and mcmuffins to be cooked before putting my hash browns in a bag. I used to be complementary about McDs in the USA (still not food, but at least it's fast...) but I take it back! Anyway, I checked into my motel and was pleasantly surprised. After booking I'd read the reviews, and was pleased to see that they weren't true.

I set straight off on the bus for the Hemingway House, which was a very worthwhile $10 spent. I enjoyed the extremely amusing tour, and it made me want to read more, both of his books and about him. The other interesting thing there is the 6-toed cats, 61 of them, which wander round like they own the place. They're all named after famous people, and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Chaplin, complete with moustache.

After the Hemingway House I walked down to the Southernmost Point (about 90 miles from Cuba, but i couldn't see it!). It was a real pleasure to be somewhere where walking is not only acceptable, it's also one of the only alternatives - cars really don't go into the centre of the old town, only bikes, scooters and strange looking golf carts. I had my photo taken, looked out to sea, saw nothing much, and walked back up to town.

Duval Street is the main shopping area, so it would have been rude not to shop. I managed to get a pair of Tevas (ladies) in my size for only $43, which, believe me, is a bargain. I spent the rest of the day in comfort in the foot area, if not the head. I foolishly managed to give myself sunstroke, despite drinking all the water in the town, so I went into Margaritaville, not for a margarita, but for something to eat. The BBQ chicken and ceasar salad fixed me up enough that I was in Mallory square the requisite hour before sunset, watching all the variety of life.

Mallory square is the place to be around sunset. There are acts from all over the world - jugglers, contortionists, tightrope walkers, bands, and, strangely, a bagpiper. I had a wander round, and then settled down to watch the sun set. I'm going to put up all the photos, but can you please tell me which ones you like best? I can't decide! That's the problem, and the joy, of digital photography.

Which reminds me:

Looks like you've been taking photography lessons from our Da! What camera did you get?
It's the Minolta Dimage Z2, and that was at 10x optical zoom when it was too dark to be taken really. Sorry. You may pass judgement on the ones from the Keys instead. They're a bit better, although the sea still has a tendancy to slope at times.

So now I'm back in Miami, after a wander this morning around Key West (very quiet - the morning after!) and breakfast at the International House of Pancakes, my favourite place in America. I was asked yesterday what I would miss from America when I was in England. So far, my answer remains the same as the one I would have given 13 years ago when I was last here - frozen yoghurt and the IHOP. I'm easily pleased!

One last bit of communications...

Wow, I've only just discovered that you're blogging over there! Fabulous. You've entertained me most splendidly for a good half hour this Saturday morn. That Miami of yours sure sounds weird. Fran x
I'm glad I'm worth reading! Key West was the most normal place I've been, and it's really not normal for America. But it is very chilled, very laid back, very easy going, small enough to walk around, and it doesn't have huge car parks everywhere, terrible shop frontages, and 4 lane highways through town. I really didn't want to leave, and don't be surprised if I end up down there again, finances allowing. If I could live anywhere in the US, I think it would be there.