Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Taking the HighRoad From Florida City to Key Largo

Driving to Key West is always a bit of an adventure. It's easy to forget you are still in the good old US of A, rather than a Caribbean Island.

I am in the Keys at the behest of AAA of the Carolinas for a travel piece. I am one of five journalists in the care of a PR liaison for the Keys.

We typically think of getting from Florida City to Key West as just one straight road -- and it is -- but there is an alternate route from Florida City to Key Largo, the first of the Keys. It's Card Sound Road, a toll road. It costs all of one buck. Be sure and get a receipt!

What makes the toll well worth the money is a detour into Alabama Jack's. A biker bar, it's a craphole of the first order. However, the conch fritters are excellent and the snapper fingers fresh and succulent.

Because this is one of those very rare occasions when I'm not at the helm, I washed all this fresh seafood down with an ice-cold Corona. Ah…the Keys….

I must admit there isn't much to look at on Card Sound Rd. You know the Gulf of Mexico is to your right and the Atlantic to your left, but that's only because you catch brief glimpses of one or the other through the dense Everglade-like foliage that surrounds you on either side of the two-lane road.

Breaking out into Key Largo, we were rewarded with views of the obligatory gas stations, T-shirt shops and fast-food restaurants that dominate the commerce of the Keys.

We put in a cameo at Key Largo Chocolates. This is a freshly minted small business specializing in homemade candies. The key lime white chocolate is a treat. Donning hair nets, we toured the making process, sipped on some wine and wolfed down some candy. The owners wholesaled candy to businesses in the Keys for years before launching this retail store just two months ago. It's worth the stop.

I thought my ship had come in when we arrived at the chocolate joint and the promotional RV for Pusser's Rum was parked in front of it. Introducing myself to the driver, I had visions of a case of Pusser's, or at least a bottle, dancing in my head. Alas, I wound up with an airplane bottle of it instead, but who am I to complain?

We caught the sunset at the Kona Kai Resort and Gallery. This 11-room resort is cozy and picturesque. Offering an ideal view of the sunset no matter the time of year, Kona Kai is also a botanical garden. Tours are offered by a certified ethnobotonist. Apparently ethnobotony is some sort of new discipline defining the relationship between humans and plants. Don't ask me; I just heard of it on Monday.

Then it was dinner at the Islamorada Fish Company after checking into the Pines & Palms Resort. Yes, I can see the Atlantic from the lounge chair on my unit's front porch.

I'm off on another day of sightseeing and eating.

Work, work, work….  

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