Key West Jan 11-14 ; Ron/Michelle Kline Visit

Jan 11 – Thu
On Thursday January 11th our next Key West visitors, Ron & Michelle Kline arrived.
I met Ron in the early 1990’s at Chrysler & have known Ron about 28 years.
We have also become very good friends with Michelle in the last 10-15 years  during our many visits every 4th of July to the Spragg’s cottage on Secord Lake. Ron/Michelle also own a very nice cottage on Secord Lake.

As normal, we started their visit with welcome drinks on the M/V-Gettin‘ Looped.

Next stop in the late afternoon was a walk to Duvall street.
Along the walk we saw a prominent statue, and Ron asked who it was ?
I did not know, so we researched the statue to be Henry Flagler.
Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, first based in Ohio. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of St. Augustine, Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.
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On Duvall street, we enjoyed drinks & appetizers at a place called Mangoes. It was a very nice place, so much so, that I decided to leave my Visa Credit Card there overnight (more on that later).

After appetizers at Mangoes, we walked to the south end of Duvall and had the mandatory visits to some of the Southernmost Point guest houses.

Next stop was dinner at Onlywood’s , a small indoor/outdoor 100 seat Italian place. Jonell & I had been here 1 time earlier and loved it. You will probably see this place on the blog again in the future. Ron/Michelle had pizza, Mike had lasagna, and Nellie had Chicken ???

After dinner we went for a nite-time photo of the Southernmost Point Buoy. It is always very crowded during the day, but night-time photos appear to work equally well. The photo is not a big deal but it really is one of the must-do items for most 1st time Key West visitors.

We ended the night with Ice Cream & Cookies, both Ron and I have a significant sweet tooth.

Jan 12 – Fri
Day 2 started beautifully, with sunny skies & 70 degrees at 8am.
We headed off to the beach about 10am.
It was so nice we took advantage of the Mercedes convertible that Ron/Michelle rented.
They had reserved a Buick, but ended up having to settle with the beat up Mercedes.

We arrived at the Fort Zachary beach about 10:30am.
Ron & I went for an 11am guided tour of Fort Zachary, the girls stayed back at the beach.
Just after the tour started, so did the rain – not significant, but enough to make everything wet.
On the Fort Zachary tour, we simply ducked into covered area.
At the beach, the girls had to scramble to keep our towels/cloths dry.
The guided Fort Zachary tour was good, we have previously listed some history on the Fort two blog posts ago. But the most significant topics on the Fort were;  it was built in 1845 along with many other forts built after the war of 1812 to defend our southernmost territories, and it never fired or received enemy fire. It has been a state park and national landmark since the 70’s.

After the tour, when Ron & I returned to the cloudy/dreary beach, we ordered some sandwiches for lunch, then came the Monsoon Rain.
The Beach Day was abandoned.

After returning to the boat and drying off, we regrouped for the afternoon and decided to go on a highly recommended 5-star google rated Key West Firehouse Museum Tour.
The Firehouse Museum, was previously an active working firehouse built in 1907. We were guided thru the tour by retired firemen Alex & Rich. Retired captain Alex Vega above, was one of the founders of the museum. We were the only folks on the tour. Some of the interesting facts included ;
Built in 1907, Fire Station No. 3 is one of the oldest fire stations in the state of Florida. When the station opened, the Key West Fire Department consisted of 12 paid men and 200 volunteers with horse-drawn steamers and hose carriages. Each station had its own outfit name – this station housed Sunnysouth Engine Company and Tiger Hose Company No. 3.
The Fire Department received its first motorized American LaFrance Fire Truck in 1914.
In 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression, the City had no money to pay their employees, so the firemen went on strike – all except the firemen of Station No. 3. The other firemen threatened them, but with the protection of the Sheriff’s department, No. 3 station remained open through the strike and throughout the Depression. While many fire stations around the country were forced to close and board up their windows.
During the WPA years of the mid 1930s, the firemen were paid in script instead of money. The script (like coupons) was used to purchase food, clothing, and necessities. The merchants would only redeem the script for half of its face value.
Many changes took place in the late 1940s. Interior stairs were added and a cement hose trough and wooden hose rack were built in the rear of the station.
From the early 1950s until the early 1960s, more changes took place. The horse stalls at the rear of the station were removed to make room for a new kitchen and bathroom. The sash windows were replaced with jalousie windows and the original red brick engine room floor was covered with a concrete slab.

Hose trough to clean off fire hoses
Piece of the Twin Towers from 911, given to Key West FD from New York FD


Location of original horse-drawn firetruck, then steam truck, original bricks 1907

The station & city had an interesting Firebell System.
When someone rang the fire alarm from one of the red fire boxes, it would initiate a series of bell rings – both at the station & at the town bell. The series of rings had significance to the location of the fire (ie – #12 meant the fire was at Front & Duvall)

Typical Alarm Boxes located throughout the city
Town Bell that would ring alerting volunteer firefighters where to go
Location indicator box in the firehouse
Code Guide for Locations, #12 (Front street & Duvall) is the second from the top on LHS, the bells would ring ” 1-Long Ring then 2-Short Rings = the number 12″

It was a great informative tour, by really interesting retired firemen.
Thinking of you Fireman Joe, should have brought Brenda here !


Next on the tour for Friday was a walk down the waterfront boardwalk, and appetizers at the Sunset Pier. We were able to watch the launch of one of the major cruise ships & a pretty cool sunset.
After drinks, the cruise ship, and the sunset – we were ready to pay and leave.
OOPS, my Visa Credit Card was not in the wallet !
Ok, in all the fun, merriment, drinking – where did we last use it ?
After a few minutes of panic, Jonell remembered that we had used it at Mangoes.
One phone call later, I confirmed they had the card.
We retrieved the card later that night & rewarded the honest waiter & maître d’.

After sunset we went to dinner at the Commodore Waterfront Restaurant, an elegant waterfront place with Old Town Harbor views. Ron & I had some tasty Lobster Tail.
We also finally got a copy of the Maritime Flag Symbols Chart, with each flag representing a different letter of the alphabet. The Commodore uses the flags on their menu cover to spell out the name COMMODORE.

After dinner we went to Sloppy Joes for some music. This was the place where we had heard a great 3 person female band with my sister Brenda. Saturday night was not to be. The first 2-man band was half musicians & half comedy, and their show included a lot of profanity that was really not so entertaining.
The second band was a combination of “rock-rap-dance” music. They were not bad, but prior to their start Sloppy Joes removed the tables in front of us to create a large dance floor. The dance floor was right in front of our table, so the rest of the night turned into a bunch of butts in our face (big butts), and so we called it a night.

Our table location, prior to the Big Butt Dance Floor



Jan 13 – Sat
We started Saturday with coffee from the nearby Cuban Coffee Shop.
Saturday was finally a beautiful day, so we took advantage, and had Beach Day.
Beach Day was held at Smathers Beach on the Atlantic side of the island.
Remember that all beaches in Key West are man-made except Fort Zachary. The sand at Smathers Beach was beautiful from being trucked/shipped in from the Bahamas.

After the wonderful day at Smathers Beach, we went for a walk to Mallory Square to show Ron/Michelle the Key West Street Performers.  We also ran into fellow Loopers Scott & Linda from vessel Ramble On, and made plans to meet them in February on Marathon Island.

After Mallory Square we went to what may have been the highlight of Ron/Michelle’s trip, The Aqua Key West Drag Show !
I must admit that we were a little apprehensive at first, but the show was done in good humor & was quite fun with a lot of audience participation.

After the show, we had dinner at a place that I did not think Mike Murphree would ever be going to on Key West – The Café Vegetarian Restaurant.
The Ron/Michelle/Jonell talked me into it (Ashley would be proud).
I must admit, the food was good. I don’t know what they used to make my “steak” sandwich taste like meat, but it did.

Later that night we came back to the boat and watched Football – Pats / Titans.
The night ended with Magnum Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bars !

Jan 14 – Sun
Sunday was the Klines last day.
We had planned Pool Day, but the early morning temps were cold (55f) & cloudy.
So we started the day with Breakfast & Mimosas at a place called Off-the-Hook.
Off-the-Hook is really known for their dinner menu, but breakfast was very good.

After breakfast the temps had warmed up and the sun came out for about 3-4 hours. It was a very windy day, but the pool is somewhat covered/protected by surrounding buildings/trees, so we attempted to recover Pool Day.
Ron, the Michigan die-hard, was adamant that he was going to enjoy Pool Day.
The girls were less certain.
The music being played by the DJ right behind us was very good, with his own creations like a young Michael Jackson lyrics superimposed onto more current Bruno Mars background music.

After Pool Day, we went for a Pre-Dinner Walk.
We saw;  an outdoor street festival, the sign for The End of Hwy 1 / Mile Marker Zero, and OUR FIRST MANITEE sighting.

The Last Night Dinner was at a place called at The Flaming Buoy Filet Co.
It was a very small 25 seat place that is only open from 6-9pm every night.
They are normally heavily booked, but had a same-day cancellation when Ron called.
The food was wonderful, the Ribs fell off the bone.

The night ended with music at the Crafty Kraken Bar &  several Rockem Sockem Robot battles.

It was another great/short 4 day visit.
We packed in a lot of fun.
Ron & Michelle paid for almost everything (thx again guys).
We also got to know our friends much better in the 4 day period.
I have known Ron for almost 30 years but did not know until this trip that he was, like me, a swimmer in high school (yes, we were swimmers, so what !)
I also learned that, like me, Ron had spent a lot of time in his younger years going to school on the Detroit City Bus System. Always an interesting ride with a lot of strange folks.
It was a great week of turning good friends into even closer/better friends.

Next Up = Pat & Jenny Haggerty with a very short 3 day visit (Jan 17-19).

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