High tides and good vibes in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are one of Florida’s main tourist destinations, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to them, and the last time was probably 10 years ago. I guess distance really does make the heart grow fonder, and since I’ve moved to Wisconsin, I’ve wanted to visit more of the Florida attractions like Kennedy Space Center and the Keys while I’m home for the summer.

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Grandma and I enjoying some frozen, chocolate dipped key lime pie and fresh key limeade at the Blond Giraffe

My grandparents bought a caravan last summer and decided to make a quick trip to Key Largo for some “glamping,” so we decided to tag along. We stayed at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and explored Key Largo. I had to make a trip to the Blond Giraffe for some chocolate dipped, frozen key lime pie on a stick and some fresh squeezed limeade. I also stocked up on key lime juice and cookies to bring back to Wisconsin with me this fall, so I don’t go through withdrawal. We also went to the famous The Pilot House Marina, Restaurant & Glass Bottom Bar for dinner so my Mom, Grandma, and Grandad could get their fix of seafood. I had just seen it featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives the week before, so of course we had to give it a try. The glass bottom bar was so cool, but we only got to enjoy it for few minutes before the torrential rain forced us inside.

My favorite part of the trip was our day excursion to Key West. While Tropical Storm Colin was drenching northern Florida, we were enjoying the sun in the southernmost point of the United States.

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Lily, Mom, me, and Izzy in front of Ernest Hemingway’s House 

The best part of Key West was visiting the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum. For $13 (they only take cash), you can tour the house, property, and get a glimpse into Hemingway’s writer’s studio. Many people associate Key West with Hemingway, and even though he only lived there for about nine years, he wrote 70 percent of his works there. He used to get to his writer’s studio by the catwalk connected to the house. The catwalk was destroyed in a hurricane years ago and was never reconstructed, but you can still see where it once was. We learned that Hemingway would write 500-700 words from 6 a.m. to noon every day in his studio. I wish I could motivate myself to be that productive!

There are also 52 cats roaming the property that you’re encouraged to give lots of love and to pet. They have free reign of the whole house and grounds, and they take advantage of that. There was even a cat lounging on Hemingway’s original writing desk in his writer’s studio. Nearly half of the descendants of Hemingway’s cats are polydactyl cats, or cats that are born with unusual number of toes. This gene was introduced into the large family of Hemingway cats after he was given a six-toed kitten from a local ship captain. It was all I could do not to hide one in my bag and take one home with me.

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One of the many six-toed cats at the Ernest Hemingway House

It was so much fun getting to spend a few relaxing days exploring the Keys with my family. Check out the rest of my photos from our week in the Keys at the bottom of the post. Now I’m in Ocean Isle Beach with my Dad’s side of the family enjoying the North Carolina surf and sun. Stay tuned for more of my southern summer adventures!

Cheers, Josie

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