First Annual Over-Sea Cycle 100

This Saturday, January 21, 2012 is the First Annual Over-Sea Cycle 100.  This ride, from Mile Marker 100 in Key Largo to Mile Marker Zero in Key West, will commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first arrival of Flagler’s Over-Sea Railroad.  The entire Florida Keys is celebrating this weekend, what was once considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.  We will stop by many of the roadside attractions for plenty of photo ops and the occasional historic presentation.

Wounded Warrior Project – Red, White and Blue Ride

For information and advance registration for the Wounded Warrior Project Ride in Key West, Fl on Saturday, January 14, 2011 visit www.soldierride.org.  Be sure to click on the ride links.  The ride in Key West is titled – Red, White & Blue and will depart the Truman Waterfront in Key West, Fl at 1:00pm.  To view the route click on this link.  Please come out in support of our Wounded Warriors.

Vacation ~ Cycling the Florida Keys

Several weeks ago I met Ken Poindexter and Wendy Broughman in Mallory Square while they posed for a picture in front of the “Mary” (replica 1850’s wrecking vessel).  What caught my attention was their recumbent bikes.  We started talking about some of the differences between the recumbent and traditional bikes.  This conversation was most interesting to me as I have considered riding a recumbent myself and do hope to add one to my collection in the future. 

Ken and Wendy in Mallory Square.

As our conversation continued they told me they were visiting from North Carolina for 9 days and had been cycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and All American Road!  Everyday they rode between 40 and 50 mile sections enjoying scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Only in the Florida Keys can you see both bodies of water at the same time.  We are so very lucky!  One of the highlights of their trip was the 7 Mile Bridge.  They even rode it twice.  Ken and Wendy used the trail as much as possible and particularly enjoyed riding on the old bridges.  The bridges, of course are the original ones built for Henry Flager’s Overseas Railroad in the early 19oo’s. 

It was a  pleasure to meet Ken and Wendy.  I am glad they enjoyed themselves and who knows, maybe next time I’ll be able to join them on their next cycling trip in the Conch Republic.

Conch Shell Blowing Contest part 2

Over 200 spectators showed up to the 48th Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest sponsored by the Old Island Restoration Foundation.   Over thirty Contestants, some as young as 6 years old, took the stage to demonstrate their conch shell playing abilities.  Everyone of them a winner in my book!

As for myself, Clinton Curry aka Conch Republic Cyclist, I entered the male 18 and over category.  The contest featured many first timers and visitors to the island.  Some as far away as Wisconsin.  Can’t say that I blame them, wanting to escape the grasp of Old Man Winter!  I would end up winning the category, finishing with a brief section from the Sabre Dance.  

Clinton Curry playing 2 Conch shells at once

As for next year, I hope more locals and visitors alike will make it to the event thus helping to preserve the cultural heritage of Key West.  In case you did not know conch shells, which can be fashioned into horns, have been used for centuries by Key’s inhabitants and mariners as a signaling device.   

Check out the attached local news story for video from the event.  If you would like, next time you are in Key West contact me and I will be more than happy to teach you how to play a conch shell.

Key West Chamber of Commerce

After nearly 25 years with an office in Mallory Square, the Key West Chamber of Commerce moved last week to a new location at Old City Hall on Greene and Ann Streets.  I am sorry to see them leave, as the Mallory Square location is a hub for the tourist district.  Interestingly enough, the building that once housed the chamber at Mallory Square was once a Ships Chandlery for Key West Wrecker Merchant Asa Tift in the 1850’s.  Today, it sits empty waiting for new tenants. 

Old Chamber of Commerce location

Many locals and visitors alike have obtained information of all sorts from the chambers knowledgable staff.  One of the best of that staff is Ms. Gladys.  I met Gladys over 20 years ago, while working at the Island Juice Bar in Mallory Square.  Everyday she ordered one scoop of Key Lime Sherbet ice cream.  I always made sure that it was a healthy scoop!  Over the years I have always made it a point to stop and see Ms. Gladys and on occasion bring a scoop of Key Lime Sherbet.  This was the case on Thursday, January 28, 2010.  Her last day at this location.

Last day in Mallory Square

Today, you can still find Ms. Gladys at the new location for the Key West Chamber of Commerce.  Give her a moment with directions though, as she and everyone else in the office will have to re-train that section of the brain.  As anyone in this field can tell you, a change of location will certainly change to answer for how to get there!

New Chamber of Commerce offices

The first City Hall, which was dedicated for the Nation’s Centennial on July 4, 1876 ultimately burned down in the Great Fire of 1886.  This fire devastated the local economy, burning large sections of the residential district and an even larger section of the business district.  The fire, fed by winds from the South, burned itself out after reaching the waterfront.  A fire that lasted less than 12 hours would have a lasting effect, on what was at the time, the largest city in the State of Florida.  The population was estimated at 18,000 people.  Although the city would recover, it would never reclaim its economic status. 

Old City Hall marker

The Old City Hall Building, where the Key West Chamber of Commerce is now located was completed in 1892.  The city fire department with their horse-drawn fire trucks occupied the lower level, while city offices occupied the upper level.  While a new, modern City Hall was constructed in the 1960’s, I am proud to say that the city government still uses the building for commission meetings and that the clock at the top…works!