WHAT TO DO WHEN IT’S SNOTTY

Marlin - - BEFORE THE STRIKE -

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.

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