Conch Republic Independence Celebration Days in Key West – April 20 – 27, 2019

Great Battle of the Conch Republic, Mallory Square April 26th, 2019

This was going to mark our 21st time coming to Key West. Yes 21 times since 2006. My husband and I started going just once a year which became twice a year to now three times a year. I guess you can see we really love this place. This time we were going down to Key West during the 37th Anniversary of the Conch Republic Independence Day’s Celebration. Having no idea that it was going on, I was beyond excited to have had our trip scheduled during the same time.

Saturday April 20th – Arrival Day

Over night there were bad storms that blew through our area, but luckily our flight was scheduled to leave on time (or so we thought). The car service picked us up on time and we were on our way to Newark Airport. Along the way the rains started to pick up again and it was a bit nerve wrecking but thankfully we got there on time. 

We got through security pretty quickly due to TSA pre. We had time before we had to board, so we went to the United Club Lounge for some coffee. I saw that our Gate was at 115 so I wanted to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to get to the Gate since the Lounge was near 90 in another section. While we were waiting I got an alert that our Gate changed to 87. Perfect! Once we finished our coffee we walked down to Gate 87 which is actually on a lower level and is very small. I looked at the status and it said our flight was having mechanical issues. Instead of leaving at 8:55am it showed 9:15am. I wasn’t too concerned at that point but 9:15am then turned into 9:40am. Eventually an announcement was made that they changed our plane to Gate 105 and we would have to go there. We gathered our things and walked to the other Gate. Once we got there, we saw other people on our flight make their way. The United Agent at the counter then made another announcement that we were at the right Gate but had to wait for the flight crew.

After about an additional 25 minutes or so the flight crew finally showed up and everyone applauded once they arrived at the Gate. By the time we boarded the plane and took off, we were close to 2 hours behind. I was a bit disappointed but knowing we were still going to get to Key West brought a smile to my face. Since the storms were moving out of the tri-state area, the take off was quite bumpy. The captain didn’t even turn off the seat belt sign until we were about an hour and a half into the flight. 

On our way to Key West, the flight attendant mentioned how there was a later flight at 10am that wound up leaving before us and was going to beat us into the airport which resulted us having to circle Key West several minutes in order to allow the other flight to land and disembark. Eventually we landed but then had to wait on the plane before the other United flight was boarded with passengers and make its way to the runway. I was trying not to be impatient, but when I saw that it was after 2 o’clock and we were supposed to land by 12:30 I was getting very frustrated. I also wanted to see my good friend Zack Seemiller, whom I still do design work for, play at Rick’s but I knew he was only there until 4. 

Finally they gave us the go ahead to exit the plane. We got all of our luggage and made it down the tarmac and into the airport. We quickly raced to the taxi line and didn’t have too wait long to find one. We got into the cab and soon we were on our way to the Gardens Hotel. I always love staying there and it is so beautiful every time I see it. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d227346-r670773279-The_Gardens_Hotel-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

Once we were dropped off, we checked in pretty fast. The staff knows us by now so it is always a quick process. They welcomed us back and told us our room was ready. We walked up to our favorite Garden View room and unpacked all our things. By the time we were ready to go into town it was after 3 o’clock. I knew Zack wouldn’t be there much longer at Rick’s by the time we got there. I also saw on Facebook that he was also playing the Salty Angler later with his son Kai, I thought perfect. I figured that we would decompress at the Gardens Hotel Bar before going to the Angler.

We saw that Adam was bartending and we have enjoyed his company in the past and sat down. I thought to myself we have finally made it back “home”! While we were chatting with Adam he told us about how on Tuesday night the Gardens Hotel hosts the CIA Military Muster of the Conch Republic as part of the Conch Republic Independence Day’s Celebration. As a side note: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 marked the 37th anniversary of the Conch Republic Secession. It definitely sounded like something different for us to check out. 

After our drinks we walked down towards the Salty Angler. This was the first time we wound up walking down Angela Street and making a left instead of a right on to Duval.

It was a beautiful evening with low humidity. It was so nice to just get back and walk along Duval St. We made it to the Salty Angler where we saw Zack and Kai playing. They welcomed us back and it was great to see them. 

We were pretty hungry at that point so we ordered some food. My husband ordered their infamous thunder chicken thighs with a side of mac and cheese and I ordered a couple of grilled mahi mahi tacos. We didn’t wait too long for our food which was nice. Everything was tasty and hit the spot. 

Then Zack’s’ good friend Tim showed up (who we have met before) and his girlfriend. It was nice to him and meet his girlfriend. We wound up staying until they were down with their show. Once they were done we talked for a bit before walking down towards the Smokin Tuna to see Carl play. We told them we would see them around town and walked back to the Gardens to quickly get a long sleeve shirt since it was getting cooler.

Then we walked back onto Duval and made our favorite right hand turn. As we were walking by Willie T’s we saw John LaMere playing. We wanted to stop by to see him. We walked in and it was really crowded so it was standing room only. We didn’t stay that long because we couldn’t find a seat, but long enough to say hello.

Then we headed down Duval towards the Tuna. This was the first time to see how on the weekends they close off sections of Duval where you can walk down the street. It was pretty cool to see some restaurants had outside dining available along the road. It is only certain sections of Duval, but I think it is a great idea. 

As we got closer to the Tuna we noticed how packed the streets were. I forgot how crowded Duval gets on Saturday nights. We walked in and found a couple seats at the bar. I was hoping to see Carl’s wife Erin bartending, but she was home not feeling well.

Soon it was 9pm and Caffeine Carl, Joey Marchiano and George Chapman began to play. We probably stayed out a little bit longer then we initially intended, but it was fun to be back there and listen to the live music. 

Eventually it was time to make our way back to the Gardens and had reservations at Latitudes for Easter brunch the following morning.

Sunday, April 21st – Easter

I always love while we are away and when you wake up for the first time in the morning and think you are home at first, but then realize you are in one of the most beautiful places. I woke up and it was a beautiful day. The skies were blue and the humidity was still low. We freshened up and headed to Cuban Coffee Queen to grab some coffee and see our friend Joe. 

We walked in and sure enough he was there sitting in his usual spot. We talked to him for a little bit before walking down towards the Margaritaville Resort to catch the ferry to Sunset Key. It was nice to see he was doing well and told him we would catch up with either later or the following day.

Our reservation was for 9:45am and it was getting closer to that time. We walked down to where the ferry was and wound having a few minutes to kill. I forget how close everything is and it doesn’t take a lot of time to get from one place to the other in Key West. So we had time to walk around and saw this door. I remember hearing from locals about this place. 

Then we made it down to the dock to wait for the ferry. A few minutes passed by and then I could see the ferry on its way from Sunset Key to the Margaritaville resort. Once it was docked we watched all the guests get off the ferry. 

Then my husband and I noticed that there was a familiar looking tall guy walking off the ferry with his wife. We both did a double take and realized it was the coach for the NY Giants Pat Shurmur. Being that we are both NY Giants Fans we couldn’t believe it. We joked saying he is getting some r&r before the draft that was happening later in the week. By the time we realized it was really him he was long gone. Unfortunately no photo opportunity but it was still funny to see.

Then it was time for us to load up onto the ferry. Whenever I get on the ferry it reminds me when we used to take the Caneel Bay Resort ferry over from St. Thomas to St. John. 

It was a nice quick ride and walked up to Latitudes. The hostess seated us at a table right near the water. It was a perfect spot to have our Easter brunch. We ordered a couple of cocktails and their regular style breakfast of 2 eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes. It wasn’t anything special, but the views made it feel that way. We both enjoyed our meals before walking back to catch the ferry back to the Margaritaville Resort. 

Once we got back I remembered that our friend Dave was working over at the Galleon Sunset Tiki Bar that day. We walked down Front St. towards the Galleon and along the pier.

Once we got to the Sunset Tiki Bar we grabbed a couple seats. Dave recognized us right away. We sat and chatted for a bit. We also saw the owner of the Tiki Bar Phil as well who is always so friendly. We didn’t want to stay too long because we were also going to see friends that were in town the same time as us. We thanked Dave and told him we would catch him again at some point.

The day before we found out that good friends of ours were also in town and were actually on that other United Flight that beat us in. It turned out our friend Will Hoppey was playing with the Hippie Band for earth day and booked a trip down with his wife Lynda. They were the ones that initially talked us into going down to Key West back in 2006, when they used to come down for the winter season.

We walked into Rick’s and saw Will up on the stage. We also saw our friend Miguel bartending as well. Initially we were going to sit at the bar, but then saw Will’s wife Lynda sitting with some friends. We walked on our and sat down. We spent afternoon catching up. It was nice to see them both back in Key West at the same time as us. Ironically while we were there, a fellow TripAdvisor Forumite came up to me. It was KeyWestSteps. It turned out she is also very good friends with Will and Lynda. It was nice to finally put a face with the name.  We were having a good time and even Kai showed up for a few minutes. 

However, we were both getting quite hungry so we said our goodbyes. I didn’t have any dinner reservations planned, but I suggested that we would check out the Half Shell Raw bar for happy your since it was about that time. First we wanted to go back to the Gardens to freshen up but decided to just head towards the Bight. Once we got to the Half Shell, the place was hopping but we were able to find a couple of seats at the bar. 

We each ordered our own 12 dozen oysters and they were delicious. Since we were still hungry we decided to order the peel and eat shrimp as well. Everything tasted so fresh. It really hit the spot for both of us. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d447772-r670892072-Half_Shell_Raw_Bar-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

After our meal we wound up walking around and finally got our picture in front of the Cuban Coffee Queen’s famous mural Greetings From Key West. 

Our next stop was First Flight for a cold beverage. 

By the time we got back onto Duval and near Rick’s we saw that Big Ed was bartending. So we stopped by to talk to him for a little bit. 

 I remembered that Joal Rush was playing at the former Lazy Gecko and now called I.C. Double’s. Once we finished our drinks at Rick’s we walked across the street to I.C. Double’s. Immediately you notice all the hard wood and decor has changed. 

They did a great job after how the Duval Central remodeled it. I noticed that there are two bars along the front side and they moved the entertainment more in the center of the place. We saw where Joal Rush was playing and sat down at the bar. 

I decided to try one of their craft cocktails. The only drink of the list that sounded appealing to me was a blend of vodka, orange juice and vanilla. It actually tasted pretty good. While we were there Zack stopped by to tell us he was going with his friends and Kai to the new place the Dirty Pig. 

I wanted to check out the place but we weren’t really hungry and getting tired. We told him we would try if not we would see him tomorrow at Hogsbreath. Then after another cocktail that was it, I was too tired to make it to the Dirty Pig. It was a long day and it was that time to walk back to the Gardens.

Monday – April 22nd – Earth Day

We woke up to another picture perfect day. The skies were once again blue and the humidity was low. Typically our first breakfast in Key West is Blue Heaven, however being it was Easter the day before we had to delay our tradition one day. We slept in a little later then we wanted to but I thought that since it was a Monday, Blue Heaven wouldn’t be too crowded. We first had to make our way to Cuban Coffee Queen. 

We walked in and saw Joe again. We didn’t have too much time to chat but we mentioned to him that perhaps the next day we could get together. While we were leaving I noticed someone calling my name. It turned out it was one of Zack’s friends Natalie who I have met a couple times before in Key West. Her sister was with her and her kids. It was nice to see her and meet her sister. I thought maybe we would have run into her during our trip but never did again.

It was after 9am by the time we got to Blue Heaven. We noticed a few people standing but it was just a party of four. We only had to wait a couple minutes before being seated. We got a nice sizable table along the wall and out of the way which I prefer. I always feel uncomfortable being seated right out in the open and in the center.

We still had our coffees with us so we ordered some water. We each had the rooster special. I choose the bacon for my side while my husband went with the sausage. While we were waiting for our breakfast we noticed more and more people coming in and the line was getting longer and longer. I realized we came just in time.

We had to wait a little, but once we got our breakfast everything was delicious and hot. Since we were later too, we noticed that they had entertainment as well which was a nice little surprise.

Once we were done with our breakfast we went back to the Gardens to regroup for a little bit and relax. We walked back down Duval and into Rick’s. Miguel was working again so my husband wanted to stop by. We found our two favorite seats at the perch and talked to Miguel for a bit. While we were there Miguel’s cousin and his friend stopped in. They were hilarious. We wound up staying longer then we anticipated but we enjoyed talking to them.

On our last trip back in January we never got to see another friend of ours Gabriel Wright play. I remembered he usually plays at Captain Tony’s on Mondays. I saw on his facebook page it was his last show before he was leaving the island. I figured that we should make sure we see him before he leaves. We said goodbye to Miguel and walked down to Captain Tony’s and Gabriel was playing.

It is always fun to see him when we go down to Key West, because he always remembers our song requests and plays them. We sat for a bit and his wife and parents walked in. It was great to see them as well this time. It turned out that Gabriel and his wife Kim were leaving for Paris for vacation. We hung our for a bit and wished them safe travels before making our way to Hogsbreath. 

We walked into Hogsbreath and luckily found a couple seats at the bar. We said hello to Zack and watched him play the second half of his show. During the show I recognized another good friend of Zack’s Lynn. We wound up chatting for a bit and she was showing us the bumble bee she was building out of recycled materials for the Kinetic Sculpture Parade that was happening soon – really cool. She even took a picture of us!

I had made dinner reservations at Little Pearl and wanted to make sure we had enough time to freshen up and make our 6:00pm reservation. We said goodbye to everyone, and told Zack and Kai we would see them later that night at the Smokin’ Tuna.

We walked back to the Gardens and freshened up. Once we were all set we walked to Little Pearl.

The place is small but we still enjoy sitting at their little bar. 

We sat down and ordered some appetizers. I had oysters on the half shell again, which was some sort of special, and my husband had shrimp cocktail. For dinner I ordered the snapper and my husband had the shrimp and grits. Everything was spot on and delicious. When we got the bill, we noticed it seemed a bit higher then normal. We looked closer and realized my oyster special was $48. I couldn’t believe it! I know they were delicious, but had I have known they were that much I probably would have passed.https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d12231430-r670780235-Little_Pearl-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

When we were done with dinner, it was about the time to head on over to the Tuna. I wanted to make sure we had good seats at the bar. We walked and our usual favorite seats were taken at the end of the bar. Plus they added a service station on that side of the bar as well which limits seating there. Then a couple people left and two seats opened up. Joal Rush was still finishing his set so it was nice to catch part of it.

As we were about to sit down we realized Zack’s friend Tim and his girlfriend Christine sitting right there. We laughed and wound up sitting right next to them. We chatted a bit before Zack went on. I also got the opportunity to get a picture with Zack and Carl.

In the back of my mind I wanted to stay for the entire show since I knew Zack wasn’t playing at the Tuna again that week. We sat back and enjoyed the show. Even Kai played a couple of songs.

When they went on break we were able to chat with Joey and Zack. Once they came back on we decided to stay longer. With a little persuasion, I was able to convince my husband to stay until the very end, and we did. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but I was getting tired.

We had made plans to have breakfast with Zack and his friends so we told him we would see him the next morning. We wound up getting a cab since it was so late and we were both exhausted. I think it was after 1am by the time we got to the Gardens.

Tuesday, April 23rd – Conch Celebration at the Gardens Hotel

It was another beautiful morning in Key West. Due to the fact that we were out late the night before we decided to sleep in a bit. Once we freshened up we walked down to the Cuban Coffee Queen for much needed coffee. We saw Joe again and talked to him for a bit. He told us that he was going to Lucy’s later that afternoon for Happy Hour. We told him we would meet up with him later.

We walked down to the Breakfast Club Too. We grabbed a table and waited for Zack and his friends. They did make it over and we all ordered something to eat. It was fun just having a nice breakfast with great people. Zack’s friend Tim and his girlfriend Christine were leaving that morning so after breakfast we wished them safe travels. We told Zack we would see him later at Willie T’s.

We walked around for a while before making it to the Sunset Pier to see Al. It was great to stop in and see him for a little bit. We only stayed for one and told Al we would stop in again to see him, but unfortunately we never got a chance to see him again. 

 After our drinks we wound up going back to Rick’s. Miguel was working again and our seats were open, so yes that’s what we did next. We sat down for a little while before meeting Joe at Lucy’s. Once we got to Lucy’s we saw Joe sitting at the outside bar on the side. We sat down and I looked around the bar and it reminded me of this place in St. John called the Longboard Restaurant. It had a very familiar vibe. 

We had a couple of beers and talked for a while before making our next move. We decided to back to see Miguel for one before going to see Zack at Willie T’s. 

We eventually made it to Willie T’s and got a table right in the front center, similar to the last time we were there with Joe.

Then we noticed Marcy (also from NJ) who used to work at Willie T’s was there working again for a few weeks. It was great to see her back at Willie T’s. We grabbed a table front and center and watched Zack’s show.

It was fun to listened to Zack and hang out with Joe for the afternoon. After his show we went back to the Garden’s to get ready for our dinner reservations at Cafe Sole or so I thought.

When we walked in to the Gardens we noticed there were a few ladies sitting at a table and we had to walk around through the building. Then when we walked into the courtyard area where we saw all these people standing around wearing military apparel. When we got to the bar I saw Jim the general manager of the Gardens and Nancy who also works the front desk. 

We wound up grabbing a couple of drinks at the bar and Jim starting explaining to us what was going on and how the ladies wearing C.I.A. were called “Cuties In Action”. Every year the Gardens Hotel invites its guests and locals to celebrate the Anniversary of the Conch Republic Secession. We didn’t realize we had tickets in our room for us but Jim knows us so we didn’t need them. It was so interesting to see all branches of the Conch Republic Military Forces walking around. My husband and I looked at each other and said that we should stay and watch the celebration so I called Cafe Sole and cancelled our reservations.

It was a fun evening and eventually had to grab some dinner. I wanted to check out the Moondog Cafe, but then when we were walking down Petronia we saw the restaurant Bliss was open. We walked in and it was pretty quiet. We were first seated at a table under this fan that was blowing so strong. We asked to move to another table which they did accommodate us.

For appetizers we each ordered the cartagena, which was shrimp and calamari sautéed in tomato, fresh basil, white wine and garlic broth. It was delicious. For dinner I had the pan seared yellowtail snapper filet and my husband had the fettuccine with homemade roasted red pepper – tomato – basil sauce. From what I can remember everything tasty quite good. We really enjoyed the food after the long day. We were stuffed and tired, so we just walked back to the Gardens for much needed sleep. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d6560511-r670776303-Bliss_Restaurant_Key_West-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

Wednesday, April 24th – Day out on the water with Billy

We woke up to another beautiful morning which made me so excited since we were going out on the water with a good friend of ours Billy who actually used to bartend at the Gardens. Since he was going to pick us up at the Gardens, we wound up having breakfast there after picking up our coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen. The Gardens has a very nice breakfast. They off both hot and cold food that usually includes an egg scramble of some sort. That morning the egg had potatoes and cheese in it.

After breakfast Billy showed up and took us to the Garrison Bight Marina where his boat was docked. It was so nice to see Billy again. Our last trip in January wound up happening during a cold spell in Key West so we never made it out on the water.

Soon we were on our way out of the marina. Since we enjoyed going to Snipes last time we decided to do it again.

Along the way we stopped a few times to see dolphins swim in the water. We weren’t expecting it and it was fun to watch them.

We made it to Snipes and there were already a few boats that beat us there. It was a beautiful day. I was debating about going into the water, but as we were looking around we saw a shark swim by the boat and that made my decision. 

We spent the day relaxing and catching up with Billy. It was so nice to see him again and doing well. 

Eventually it was time for us to head back to the marina. Billy dropped us back off at the Gardens and told him that if we didn’t see him before we left we would see him again soon.

Even though we didn’t go in the water we wanted to freshen up because of the salt air that sticks to you. After feeling invigorated with showers we walked back down Duval to Rick’s. We wanted to be sure to see our friends Will and Lynda before they were leaving the following day. Unfortunately it was nearing the end of Will’s set so didn’t see them for too long. We told them we would see them this summer back up north in NJ and wished them a safe trip back home.

We still had time to catch the end of Zack’s show so we walked back down to Willie T’s.

As we were sitting there I noticed that I got pretty sunburned from the boat. We wore sunscreen but that sun was strong that day. Next time I am going to reapply while out on the water.

After Zack’s show we decided to try the new Off the Hook location. We used to always go to Deuce’s on our first night in Key West since it was located right behind the Gardens Hotel. We made our way down Caroline Street to  Off the Hook. We walked in and the place was huge. It was pretty empty and told the hostess we preferred to sit at the bar. We opted for the back bar since they had sports on the TV. I was hoping to order their ceviche special but unfortunately it was conch. I learned the hard way in the past that for some reason the only seafood / crustacean that I am allergic to for some reason is conch so I couldn’t have their ceviche. Instead I had their tuna poke as an appetizer and their grilled mahi mahi fish tacos. My husband ordered their shrimp deviled eggs and gnocchi. Their food was just as I remembered – very very good. We both really enjoyed their meals but kind of missed the intimacy of their old place. I am sure it will do well regardless. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d5565929-r670775595-Off_the_Hook_Grill_Key_West-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

Once we were done with dinner we were both pretty full and wanted to walk around. We wound up walking by Rick’s again and saw Big Ed. We also saw our seats were open so sat down and said hello. While we were talking to Ed we heard a familiar voice behind us. It was Carl! We said hello and asked him how his wife was doing. He said she was feeling better but probably wouldn’t be back to work until after we left. Then he mentioned he was playing with George in a few so we decided to stick around to watch him for a few songs.

While we were waiting we also saw another familiar face driving down Duval.

Soon George and Carl took the stage and began to play. Then the place started to fill up. Eventually we started to feel the long day and we couldn’t stay any longer. We tried to rally but it wasn’t happening. We said goodbye and took a cab back to the Gardens. 

Thursday, April 25th – NFL Draft

Once again we woke up to another beautiful day. I did notice that it seemed warmer and the humidity was starting to return. It was still a gorgeous morning. I wanted to try the new restaurant, the Moondog Cafe. So we walked down Whitehead St. to the Moondog Cafe. 

They had both indoor and outdoor seating. The outside area was packed. We walked in and noticed that the counter/bar area was available and not crowded at all. We sat down and noticed that they served Cuban Coffee Queen coffee there. I thought perfect since we didn’t stop there that morning. We ordered a couple cups of coffee and just ordered the standard two egg breakfast. 

The food came out fairly quickly. The eggs were cooked perfectly too. Once we were done with breakfast we walked outside and realized that we were right next to the Hemingway House and that the place used to be the Six Toed Cat. 

We walked back to the Gardens to relax for a few before making it back out. We decided to walk up towards the bight near Dante’s.

I was so glad we did because along the way we noticed two girls with a water hose near one of the docked boats and there were two manatees drinking the water! It was a mother and her calf. 

This was the first time I have ever seen a manatee in Key West. I was super excited and couldn’t believe it. It was amazing to see them and how gentle creatures they are. After taking about 20 photos we decided to walk down to the Galleon Sunset Tiki Bar. When we walked in we heard this loud sound and the smell wasn’t too pleasant. 

We sat down and talked to the bartender Grubby. He told us that the Hilton next door was dredging out their sewer system. While we were sitting there we saw Dave again. We chatted with him for a few. We wanted to stay longer but couldn’t take the smell.

While we were walking down Front St. my husband remembered Adam (the bartender from the Gardens) mentioning this new craft brew place called Glitch which is located next to the dive shop on Simonton St. So we decided to check it out. When we walked in we were both overwhelmed with the funky and eclectic decor. We started chatting with the bartender and one of the owners, who used to work at the Porch. It was a cute little place and even the bathroom had a toilet that lights up. 

It was pretty crazy and fun. We told him that we both enjoyed the place and hope that it does well.

We finished our beers and made our way back out on to the street. We realized one of the places we hadn’t hit yet was El Pepe De Meson. We walked over and sat at a couple seats that were open at the bar. We chatted with the bartender Thomas for a bit. He was a very friendly fellow all the way from Brazil. 

We only stayed for one drink before making our way to another place we had not visited yet and that place was the Green Parrot. Ironically the Green Parrot to me doesn’t seem that inviting during the day, but for some reason whenever we go in there we find people that we wind up talking to for a bit. I guess it is just one of those places. We actually wound up staying for a couple of beers before our next stop. I realized too that it was around 3pm and I wanted to check out Zack and his son Kai playing at Willie T’s. 

Along the way my husband wanted a bite of food so we stopped at Frita’s for a burger. I wasn’t really hungry so I just had some water while my husband waited for his burger. And waited…. and waited… it seemed like an eternity and it wasn’t that crowded, but finally they brought out the burger for my husband. I joked with him and said it better be the best burger he has ever tasted after that wait. He said it was pretty good but not worth the wait.

Eventually we walked back onto Duval towards Willie T’s but then my husband noticed his favorite side street musician playing. My husband is a huge Jethro Tull fan so he always requests a few songs. I was getting antsy about missing most of Zack’s show so I told him I would meet him there since he wanted to hear a few songs. 

I walked in and waited for a table. Finally a table opened up and I quickly jumped on it. It was right in the sun but stuck it out. My husband then arrived shortly after. It was towards the end of the show so missed most of it which I was a bit disappointed. However I was still able to get a picture.

Then we saw John LaMere come on to the stage and decided to stay for a bit. It was fun to see him again. It was getting close to the time that we planned on going to Jack Flat’s to get seats at the bar to watch the NFL draft. So we said goodbye to John and walked down to Jack Flats. 

We found a couple of seats at the bar and my husband was able to get one of their boxes so we could hear the broadcast of the draft. We were both pretty excited to see who the Giants were going to pick and were hoping for this guy Rashan Gary from Michigan. While we were waiting we ordered some food. The draft started and it seemed to drag between each pick. I then realized the Conch Republic Celebration parade was happening on Duval. So I walked outside and I was able to watch it before the Giant’s selection. It was so much fun to see. 

By the time I walked back into Jack Flat’s the Giants were about to make their selection. Once the NFL commissioner made the announcement we couldn’t believe they took a QB at the sixth selection. We were terribly disappointed. You could even see the reaction on the TV screen.

We didn’t stay much longer after that and called it a night.

Friday, April 26th – Last Full Day Already

I woke up and the feeling of sadness was starting to set in. Tomorrow we were leaving and this was our last full day in such a beautiful place. Once we freshened up we walked to Cuban Coffee Queen for our usual coffee. 

We didn’t really have any plans on where to eat for breakfast. After saying hello to Joe so we walked down Duval.

I was thinking that maybe we can go to Bagatelle’s for breakfast since we hadn’t been there yet. However, when we got there it was pretty crowded. Then I thought about going to the Key West Key Lime Shoppe for breakfast, but as we were passing Island Dogs it was quiet and remembered they have breakfast. We usually don’t stop in there but figured why not.

Surprisingly the food was good and the service was friendly. Once we were done with our breakfast we walked around again for a bit of some “window” shopping.

Eventually we walked down to the Tiki House. My husband wanted to check it out plus it was getting hot out. We walked in and we were the only ones in there. We decided to order a couple of mojitos. It was getting to be that point of the trip where every drink you try doesn’t really appeal anymore. However, the mojitos were quite tasty. It took us a while to get them down but we eventually did.

I knew that Zack was playing at Rick’s too that afternoon so I wanted to be sure to catch him since it was our last day. We walked on over and it wasn’t too crowded yet. Our seats were open so we sat down and listened to Zack for the afternoon. Once he was done he mentioned to us that his son Kai was playing sunset at Mallory Square which worked out perfectly because we heard about how that evening was the Great Battle of the Conch Republic down there as well.

We said our goodbyes and made it back to the Gardens to regroup for a bit. We made it back onto Duval and my husband suggested stopping at Mangoes for something to drink before we head to Mallory Square. It was more or less a stop out of curiosity since we hadn’t been there in quite sometime even since they redid the place. We walked in and the place was nice and spacious. I had a glass of wine and we sat and relaxed for a bit.

We were both pretty hungry so we walked back to First Flight. We grabbed a seat near the bar and ordered some food. 

After feeling a bit revived from getting something to eat we made it down to Mallory Square where we saw Kai registering for sunset. We walked around waiting for the Battle start. We even grabbed some coconut water and I joked about how when I first tried it I wasn’t a fan. Ironically now I do like it and buy it for home.

Soon the Battle began and it was a blast to see. I never saw anything like it before. Planes would fly overhead and drop toilet paper to simulate bombs. It was so much fun!

We even got to witness a beautiful sunset.

Once the battle ended we walked on over to listen to Kai play a few songs and even Zack showed up for a little bit. We told them we would meet for breakfast in the morning before we left.

Knowing it was our last night I wanted to see Carl play at the Tuna, plus it was on our way back to the Gardens. We walked on in and it was packed. We had to wait for a couple of seats, but eventually two opened up – ironically at the end of the bar which are our favorite seats.

We ordered a couple of drinks and even Kai stopped in. I wanted to stay longer but I was getting really tired and couldn’t drink anymore – I hit my wall. So we said our goodbyes to Carl and told Kai we would see him in the morning.

Saturday, April 27th – Going Home

Our flight wasn’t until 1pm so we had time to have breakfast with Zack and Kai. It has actually become somewhat of a tradition to have breakfast with them before we leave. We were up pretty early to get everything in order so we had time to stop at Cuban Coffee Queen. We stopped in and saw Joe again for one last time. 

Then we walked down the street to Sarabeth’s. We were a little later so it was crowded. They were able to accommodate us inside. It was a very odd room (where the service station was) but it was roomy enough. We all ordered and just talked for a while. It was a nice way to end our trip with such great friends.

It became that dreaded time to say our goodbyes. We wished them well and hope to see them again real soon.

We walked back to the Gardens and grabbed all our things. The cab picked us up on time and we were on our way back to the airport.

Our plane already arrived so there weren’t any delays this time. Before I knew it, it was 5:30pm and we were back home. 

I know people say why do you keep going back to Key West and yet so many times a year? I just tell them the same thing – it’s a beautiful place like no other, filled with many memories and great friends. And I hope to continue to make more.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog…. until next time!!

3 thoughts on “Conch Republic Independence Celebration Days in Key West – April 20 – 27, 2019

  1. sandi

    i love your blog and your pictures are gorgeous. When i was in Key West, I went to a lot of places that you mentioned…… Loved Ricks and saw Zack there…

  2. Stacy

    Love your blog! We are heading to Key West tomorrow. It will be my 4th trip and my daughter’s first. I can’t wait to see if she loves it as much as I. I am sending her the blog to read before we leave.

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