The Road to Key West
by Lou Ann Granger
The transformation begins as we travel to Key West from the mainland. We may fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, and still be in touch with the familiar, but then it is time to slowly loosen the bonds as we head southward, to the islands, crossing bridges, continuing on a narrow road, to the very edge.
We take Highway 1 to Key Largo, (no sign of Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall, though), and things still look familiar and safe, and we have barely left the mainland, and there is plenty of time to turn back.
But slowly, as we continue onward, we see the sea more and more. To our right, toward the west, there are lots of little islands, and plenty of room to imagine hidden alcoves and landings. Lots of room to hide pirate treasure. Certainly there are enough islands to think of having one all to yourself some day. Just a little hut, nothing fancy, and plenty of fruits and perhaps fish, and just leave the cares of the world behind.
But, not for today, we need to press onward, heeding the call to the edge.
There are many bridges to cross and islands to reach. There are long stretches of causeways (up to 7 miles long in one case), and leftover bridges from the days when trains ran all the way to Key West.
The causeways may remind us of the movie True Lies with Arnold Schwartzenegger, probably other movies with chase scenes have been filmed here as well. No sign of spies and assassins or even moviemakers today, so we press ahead.
Finally, almost the end of the line, and we approach Key West.
A huge dose of the familiar world. On the outskirts there is a big airport (perhaps some of us will fly directly into Key West, although the drive is special and should be considered). There are shopping centers, and Home Depot, and Ross, and Borders, and all of that. It's almost a disappointment in a way, and we think that Key West may be really just like other places after all.
Then, suddenly, surprisingly, we are in the Historic District, and here is the Key West we always dreamed of. Old houses with gables and verandas, ornate gates and fences, lush palm trees and flowers, art galleries and bars and restaurants.
In the heart of the Historic District, we take a left turn on Duval Street, and drive past a few pedestrian-filled blocks, until suddenly we can go no further.
To our right, we see we have arrived at Southernmost House.
The end of the line. We can go no further. We are at the edge.
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