Dreaming of Key West

fantasy-fest

During one of the Fantasy Fest parades in Key West, 2012. I’m laughing at something epic the pink haired girl just said. Or maybe just checking out their body paint. Wish like hell I could remember which it was.

Yesterday, yet another of my facebook friends posted that they were vacationing in Key West. For jealousy inducing proof, they included a beach themed photo with their announcement. That’s my 3rd friend to visit the keys since early December. As winter has moved into Northern Wisconsin, I’ve been treated, via my Facebook newsfeed, to tanned bodies lazin’ on the beach, romantic boat rides at sunset, and happy people getting their drink on.

And it’s killing me. Seriously.

You see, from 2012-2014 Key West was my stomping grounds. Thanks to my husband’s job, we were renting a little house on Raccoon Key (aka Key Haven) just a mile and a half from Duval Street and living life completely in the moment. At least, when he was in town. Though the perks of his job were great, he was out of the country more than he was in. Six weeks gone, 4 weeks home, lather, rinse, repeat. When he wasn’t around, all the lazy bike rides, magical sunsets and getting my drink on didn’t make up for…wait, where was I going with this? Just kidding. Being alone all the time gets old really fast. After two years, we’d had enough. He retired and we headed to Northern Wisconsin to spend some time near family. Yeah, I got a lot of ribbing from folks reminding me that we were heading in the wrong direction.

But despite all the sour grapes I’ve been drinking watching happy friends in my former playground, it’s been nice reconnecting with my not so distant past. If you’re headed that way and looking for things to do, spend a little time on the blog that Mark and I wrote while we lived there, A Twist of Key Lime. (It was easier to blog than to have to repeat the same stories over and over and over and…) The last entry posted in July of 2014, but according to friends still there, not much has changed. If you’re stuck at home or bored at work, check out some of the island’s more eccentric offerings.

NSFW  Fantasy Fest is a week long party where everybody lets down their hair. And most of their clothes. There’s so much nudity, that after a few hours, you don’t even realize you’re surrounded by naked people. In part that’s because everybody is covered in elaborate body paint. The photo at the top of this post is from one of the parades in 2012. I forget what the theme was that year but most people did their own thing. Don’t worry about painting yourself or your best friend. You’ll find stalls up and down Duval Street with artists charging a variety of prices. Check out several for the best deal. For 2016, the week long party is set for Oct 21-30th. And the theme is one I will be sorry to miss: Political Voodoo and Ballot Box Barbarians. With a national election so close to Fantasy Fest, it’s the logical choice. If you plan on going, remember – leave the kids at home. The place gets pretty raunchy as parties let out and the streets fill up with revelers. Though, we’ve seen nakedidity as early as 8 am. And remember, if you take your unclothed self outside of the nudity zone, you will end up in jail.

SFW – If you need to get your drink on, here’s a list of 18 of our favorite bars. Check out the one on the World’s Smallest Bar. We had a friend come all the way down to the keys just so she could have a drink there! (I think they were closed that day. Pretty sad, right? But don’t worry, as I remember, we found some pretty good alternatives)

SFW – Critters. There’s lots to choose from. Feral cats, Iguanas, sea life, chickens. Oh those chickens. Back in the old days, cock fighting was a thing. The story goes that after it was outlawed, everybody just set their birds free. Nowadays, you’ll find the feral fowl strutting their stuff all over the island. Restaurants, (I’ve seen them wandering around inside), outdoor patios (where they rule) and even at the beach. The locals hate them. The goofy things never seem to shut up. Even after they fly up into the trees at night. We’ve been downtown at 3 am and heard roosters still crowing madly away. Oh and for your own safety, don’t pick them up. They have spurs on their legs and they will hurt you. Nothing makes the locals snicker louder than the look of terror on the face of that silly tourist who’s holding a wiggling chicken and wondering, okay, now what do I do?

SFW – Ah, sunsets. They happen almost every night. Thanks to Key West’s tiny size, you can catch one from pretty much anywhere on the island. For craziness, head to Mallory Square. For a zen like experience, you need to be on the pier at Southernmost Beach Cafe.

There’s lots more but I’ll leave the rest of the discoveries up to you.

While Key West is my idea of paradise, I have a friend who thinks that the promised land is frosted with snow. Bless her heart. 

What makes your paradise work for you? Leave a comment and Write On,

Melissa

ps

the girls in the photo at the top were sporting full frontal body paint. You’ll find their photo on the Fantasy Fest page listed above.

pps

No. I didn’t partake in the body painting. It was much more fun wandering with my camera and recording the madness.

About melissabanczak

I'm cold. Always. I'm currently on the Treasure Coast of sunny Florida and I'm still freezing. Happily, I'm driving distance to rollar coasters in the Orlando area, so that makes up for any shivers. When I'm not writing, my husband and I run half marathons. Slowly. My first novel, How to Sex Your Snake, is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes.
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2 Responses to Dreaming of Key West

  1. Cynthia Kester says:

    So, so glad you decided to write about Key West! In exactly 3 months I’ll be soaking up the sun and some drinks in the place I hope to call HOME, someday. Your BAR list includes some I haven’t visited yet.Last year my friend James, a Key West local that you know, told me about La te da but I didn’t have time to get there. Planning to have one of the beautiful cocktails you pictured. Although I’ve been down 6 times I never grow tired of that magical island with it’s fabulous sunsets, food and drinks, and the chickens! Yes I do love the chickens. It amuses me to no end to see people terrified of them. Am I crazy? Maybe! I’m guessing crazy helps when you’re in Key West:)) Can’t wait for the Sexy Snake book!

    Like

    • I can’t wait to hear about your trip. Yes, go to La te da. If you get a key lime pie martini, ask for it with cream. They might make it that way, I’ve forgotten. Some places on the island don’t.

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