Saturday, February 11, 2012

Worst Foot Forward

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W

It is customary for people and institutions to put their best foot forward, right?  Well that doesn't seem to be the case in the Florida Keys.   Which foot do I refer to?   It is US highway 1, locally called Overseas Highway.

As a tourist drives down US 1, he sees nothing but ugliness, tackiness, run down, ramshackle, retro commercial themes.   It would be fair to call it the world capital of tacky.  However, the beauty in the keys is in the water and at the waterfront homes and businesses.   Because of the geography, the waterfront is necessarily very close to US 1.

A few examples.  The Hurricane Restaurant where we go to SSCA luncheons each week, looks like a broken down business, perhaps a closed business.  Inside it is very nice, and the menu is good.  Behind the restaurant is a garden, then a nice motel, then a nice marina, then the Bay.  None of that is visible from US 1.

Boot Key harbor with all these cruising boat is nowhere visible from US 1.

The Sunset Grill with nice food, and beautiful views is not at all visible from US 1.

Vaca Key where Marathon is located is typical of the Keys.  Above is Florida Bay, below is the Ocean. US1 is the one and only highway.  To the left is the famous Seven Mile Bridge.  The big green areas is Boot Key for which the harbor is named.  There are no roads and no residents on Boot Key.  Short side streets come off US1, many dead-ending at the water.  Also there are many canals cut into the island so that residents can have boats in their back yards.  Typical Florida.  The side streets are numbered, and each has an ocean side and a bay side.   Navigation is very easy.

If you are a bank robber fleeing from the police, or a tourist trying to evacuate in advance of a hurricane, the Florida Keys are not a good place to be.

On the bridges between islands, you do get to see the beautiful waters, but of course you can't stop.

Not until Key West is there beauty you can see from the streets.   There are numerous very quaint and beautiful residential neighborhoods in Key West.

One man told me, "It's good that Marathon looks so ugly from US 1.  That way the tourists won't stop here; they'll keep going to Key West."

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