Dream On Down to the Keys
by Bruce Kula and Colin Ward
(St. Petersburg, FL USA)
Making Way Past Key West
I've gotten to the Keys every way but on foot — and I may add that to the list eventually.
Daydreaming my way there is the most cost-effective technique, and the way I get there most often, but the other ways have their special virtues.
Until you drive the length of the Keys — with a casual pace and no schedule in mind — you can't appreciate just how long and varied that string of jewels is.
You need a boat (and best a sail-driven one) to be fully awed by water as clear as you'll find off any American coastline, when you head west from Key West and anchor off Fort Jefferson.
Some of my favorite trips, though, have been by air. Not by monster jet airliner, mind you, but by the nine-seat Pipers of SeaCoast Airlines.
I live near St. Petersburg, so the SeaCoast flight from St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport to Key West is perfect for me.
Here's the process: half an hour before the flight, you show up at the SeaCoast office. A SeaCoast representative offers you a can of beer or a glass of wine. They weigh you and your bags. You finish your beer or your wine, and you get on the plane.
You take off and enjoy some spectacular views of the coastline. After 80 minutes of flight time, you land. The pilot hands you your bags and you're in Key West!
If you read very carefully, you may have noticed that at no time did your travel involve the scrutiny of officers of the DHS, TSA, FDLE, CIA, or FBI. At no time did you take off your belt or your shoes, or empty your pockets. Any pat-downs came from your traveling companion, and, presumably, were welcomed.
It must be the way rich people travel.
Mandalay at Anchor
I wrote a song about going to the Keys (“Dream On Down to the Keys”) that whimsically makes it sound a little tougher to get there than it really is. There are some truths in it. As the song says:
• I wrecked a car once in Key Largo, and it made the left rear wheel comically wobble all the way down to Key West and all the way home again.
• Some friends with little knowledge of sailing managed to charter three sailboats in Holiday and take us out into some frighteningly big seas (if not quite so big as the song says).
• I have been known to buy extravagant dinners with intentions to pay for them sometime in the distant future.
But the truth be told, I think there is one bad way to go to the Keys, and that is: never.
"Dream On Down to the Keys", as well as being the name of a song, is the name of the new CD by Colin Ward and Bruce Kula (also known as the Blue Island Beer Club). It's available from CD Baby
Dream on Down to the Keys CD Cover