Day 15 – 10 March – Catching up with the Keys

We’ve stayed at Parmer’s Place, now called Parmer’s Resort, since we first visited the Keys. It used to be a sort of fishing camp, with huts and a water frontage that was used by guys coming down for the weekend to do some serious fishing. We’d see them in the evening, barbequing fish and drinking beer and then we’d hear them leave in the morning. Their being gone all day meant that the place was left more or less to us; unaffected, unpretentious and unfussy – a perfect getaway from busy days in London. The accommodation was a bit flaky but it was clean and we were glad to share it with the geckos and racoons that tipped over the trash cans each night. A complimentary breakfast was included in the room rate – usual American coffee, fruit, bread and doughnuts – and old Mr and Mrs Parmer would sit in the breakfast room while their guests ate, smoking and watching ABC news. They sold it about ten years ago and the new owner has ‘improved’ it, which means it’s cleaner and more sterile. He also styled it ‘Resort’ although it has no additional feature in justification of the upmarket appellation. But it does tend to attract a different type of quest and we see less and less fishermen each time we visit. There aren’t any geckos any more either and we suspect there are no racoons. We like the place; it’s handy for shops, good restaurants and Key West, so we keep coming back but we’re not convinced that it’s worth the money now as the cost has gone up with the ‘improvements’. Maybe this will be our last stay here.

Being in the Keys is about relaxing – ‘change latitude change attitude’. So we spent today not doing very much and just having a Keys day. The weather wasn’t bad but windy and a bit cloudy. Warmer, though, than in Sanibel. I went to look at a freshwater pond on Summerland Key and we later went out to The Blue Hole, some more fresh water, on Big Pine Key. Fresh water floats over salt water so if you get a sufficient accumulation a ‘lens’ forms and you have a blob of fresh water supported by the salt water below. I don’t know the origin of the pond on Summerland but the Blue Hole was originally a quarry, used for rock during construction of the railway that ran from Miami to Key West. Both are attractive to birds so are favourite haunts of mine although this time the wildlife was a bit thin on the ground. Iguanas but no alligators; turtles but no Kingbirds. We did see several Swallow-tailed Kites, which are exotic and spectacular, as well as Bald Eagles.

Big Pine looks about the same. A couple of new buildings, the Cracked Egg [renown for the largest helpings of pancakes and the biggest arses in the Keys] now has a liquor licence and more real estate signs than you can shake a stick at. We were told there are 1200 houses or plots up for sale locally. There was a time when we thought about getting a place here but that’s passed. Prices are still high but I suspect it is bargain time for carpetbaggers. Was that blond woman we saw looking at a plot Russian?

Simple dinner at Parmer’s on the deck.


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