I can understand why a Key West vacationer would feel compelled to depart their established life with its demands, duties, and drudgeries to move to the Florida island without expectations nor a job awaiting them. Having just returned from a week on the six square mile key that defines itself by wood cottages painted in bright pastel hues, lush foliage and flowering trees, mesmerizing sunsets, and turquoise waters, I’m overcome with a sense of longing to call myself a resident of the aptly named Conch Republic.
The Florida Keys are deceptive, having the appearance of being just a handful of small islands. The most recognizable being Key Largo, at the north end, and Key West, the farthest south. The Keys are joined together by a stretch of Hwy 1 and several bridges, one of the most famous being the Seven Mile Bridge which connects Knight’s Key (considered to be part of the Middle Keys) with Little Duck Key, the first of the Lower Keys. In truth, there are well over a thousand keys, with names as bland as Sand Key and Grassy Key to those with unusual names such as Lignumvitea Key and Bahai Honda Key. There is even a No Name Key, suitable for those in a witness protection program.
Should one opt for the hundred plus mile drive down to Key West along the at times exasperatingly slow-moving and often single lane highway, one can look forward to unmatched views of tropical island life, grassy marshes, and breathtaking seascapes, as well as outdated, awry towns , containing rickety shops with make-shift signs, road-side eateries with screened-in picnic tables and hanging fly traps, and tourist attractions with a sort of thespian, old world quality.