WHAT TO DO WHEN IT’S SNOTTY
Like clockwork, the winter cold fronts appear almost weekly, and occasionally, there will be a day or two where you get blown out. These land-based activities are a sure way to keep your crew engaged.
THE UPPER KEYS
Probably the most famous place in northern Monroe County is the hurricane-defiant Alabama Jack’s. Located in “downtown” Card Sound, AJ’s has been a Keys landmark since 1953, when Jack Stratham bought the lease from a Miami plumber. Sitting on the waterway south of the road and accessible by car or boat, Alabama Jack’s is an open-air gathering place and a favorite watering hole for those looking for good conch fritters and a cold beer or three.
THE MIDDLE KEYS
Your friends will thank you when you take them down the timeworn docks of Robbie’s Marina at mile marker 77.5. Some 18 years ago, Robbie and his wife, Mona, started feeding a tarpon they named Scarface, which Robbie rescued on a nearby flat, its right jaw severely injured. The tarpon was put in an oxygen-enriched tank and force-fed until it was well enough to be set free six months later. Soon, Scarface was bringing its friends around the docks at feeding time. Today, hundreds of tarpon filter in and out to take advantage of the tourists who hand-feed them daily at Robbie’s. Just don’t take your eyes off your bait bucket — the local pelicans are well-trained too.
THE LOWER KEYS
From 1931 to 1940, Ernest Hemingway resided and wrote in Key West. Originally built in 1851, Hemingway’s home was constructed from limestone that was dug from beneath the house. It was purchased in 1928 by Hemingway’s wife’s wealthy uncle, Gus, as a gift to the family. Today, it remains the single largest residential property on the island. The estate is a National Historic and Literary Landmark, containing the very furnishings Hemingway and his family used at the time. A stroll through this estate and its all-indigenous tree and flower garden takes you back in time to surely one of the most idyllic settings that existed in the Keys during the Great Depression.