Nothing screams Christmas like Southern Florida… just kidding! But this year, Key West hosted the Second Annual Haseman Family Christmas Celebration. Whit and I met up with her parents in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. On Friday, we drove through Miami and along the 1A1 hopping ever more south along the Florida Keys. We stopped in Homestead, Florida for a quick snack before heading onward. Homestead is known for Robert Is Here, a traditional farmers market fruit stand that is quite notorious, frequently called the “Disneyland of Fruit Stands.” It began in 1959 when Robert was a 7 year old boy selling cucumbers on the corner, and quickly grew to the bountiful stand today. They sell various tropical fruits like jackfruit, mangoes, bananas, guava, and enormous avocado. They even sell sugar cane in giant stalks and large aloe vera leaves. We bought fruit milkshakes and admired the painted eucalyptus tree out back. I was SO excited to find that tree given we missed the painted eucalyptus forest in Maui on our last trip.
Later that day, we stopped for lunch at an ocean side seafood restaurant in Key Largo.
On Saturday, we had a slow morning at the condo and then headed to Ernest Hemingway’s home from 1931 to 1939. The estate is the largest on the island and is home to the first swimming pool in Key West. Hemingway used the loft of the smaller house by the pool for writing. The small water fixture near the pool has a curious backstory. The porcelain fountain was originally a Sloppy Joe’s urinal that was snatched during the bar’s renovation. Hemingway was best friends with Sloppy Joe and spent many a night drinking there. The home is also well known for the polydactyl cats. The 56 six-toed cats are all descendants of Snow White, a six-toed cat given to Hemingway by a sailor for his children.
After lunch, we went to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park to lounge at the beach. We also visited Smathers Beach later that day, which I preferred because of the smoother sand and plentiful palm trees.
On Sunday, we rode on the Old Town Trolley Tour all around Key West. We learned about famous prior inhabitants of Key West, the Truman Little White House, more about Ernest Hemingway and Sloppy Joe, and about the famous Curry family that ran the tobacco industry in Florida. We frequented Duval Street, Mallory Square, and the Southernmost Point in the United States.
On Monday, we visited Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery, named after Hemingway’s famous boat, the Pilar. We learned about the rum making process and sampled some of their locally made spirits. We then hit up Sloppy Joe’s Bar for the local eats: conch fritters and the original Sloppy Joe sandwich. The original Sloppy Joe’s Bar is now Captain Tony’s Saloon, which seemed like a rough and tumble joint these days. We also snagged a “real deal” Key Lime Pie at Kermit’s.
This year’s Haseman Family Christmas Celebration was a success. Although it was incredibly beautiful and sunny, I think I’ll trade the palm trees for some snow covered pines as the holiday season marches on.