Chickens and Sunsets

b day  012We’d planned to celebrate our friend Dave’s birthday in Key West so Dave and Sharon drove down from Dunedin.  It’s nice that people of his advanced age still want to celebrate their birthdays!  Another friend, Bob, drove down from Miami to join the celebration.blue heaven  002

blue heaven  008blue heaven  003blue heaven  007blue heaven  022We kicked off birthday day by going to an old haunt, Blue Heaven, for brunch (older people need to sleep in).  I don’t often name restaurants in this blog, but I’ll make an exception for this one.  It’s a funky open-air restaurant with absolutely fabulous food.  The setting is the (large) yard of a house; there’s a stage for live music, an area for artists to show their art, and a bar as well as the dining area.  The “Key West Gypsy Chickens” walk around the floor of the restaurant.  This is one of those places that always has a long wait, but it is absolutely worth it.

Where did the chickens come from?  It’s thought that they have been in Key West for over 175 years, but their numbers grew in the 1950s when thousands of Cubans fled the revolution and came to Key West to support a booming cigar industry.  Some brought their chickens with them for meat and eggs, but the roosters were prized for their beauty and prowess for cockfighting.  Over time, many escaped or were released by their owners.

blue heaven  023They are self-sufficient and are protected by the city.  However, Key West’s residents are split between chicken lovers and chicken haters.  The chicken haters complain that the chickens scratch their yards, poop on their cars and crow loudly at all hours and the chicken lovers believe that the chickens are a part of Key West’s history and character.   Either way, there sure are some handsome roosters wandering around Key West!blue heaven  021

blue heaven  005

Baby Chicks … Cute!!!

blue heaven  004blue heaven  009blue heaven  001We started with some Bloody Marys at the bar and moved on to Lobster Eggs Benedict and other goodies.  One of the best brunches ever, with fresh air, good company and roosters, hens and little chicks running about.

western  001western  003western  010western  012western  046Later that afternoon, we continued the celebration by taking a sunset cruise.  This group all love sailboats and sailing, and there’s something about sunsets and Key West.  We chose the Schooner Western Union for our cruise; it is the official flagship of Key West and, as of 2012, also the official flagship of the State of Florida.

The Schooner Western Union was built in 1939 and served for 35 years as a cable vessel for the Western Union Telegraph Company, repairing and maintaining undersea telegraph cable throughout Key West, Cuba and the Caribbean.  She was involved in a standoff with Cuban gunboats, participated in the Mariel Boat Lift and also served as a training vessel for troubled youths for the “Vision Quest Group”.  She is now back in Key West and is the last remaining working coastal sailing vessel from Florida’s great maritime history and one of the oldest working wooden schooners in the U.S.

western  014western  015western  045western  016western  017sunset  028half shell  009It was a clear, though slightly chilly evening.   The cruise was lovely, with an open bar and some good old Key West conch chowder.  The crew invites the passengers to help raise the sails, and, at a point along the way, there is a mock “battle” with another sailboat during which they exchange cannon fire (thankfully no actual cannonballs are launched).   Another beautiful sunset over Key West.   And we sailed back into the harbor under a clear starlit evening.  Must be a good omen for many more birthdays to come.

We continued the celebration that evening by hitting a couple of the restaurants and bars in the city.  A fun time with good friends and good cheer.half shell  007half shell  010half shell  008half shell  011western  006

mallory  011mallory  001The sunset tradition is strong in Key West.  Every evening people gather at Mallory Square, which is in the center of Key West’s historic waterfront, to celebrate the sunset.

mallory  048 mallory  049sunset  026sunset  027There are lots of arts and crafts exhibitors and street performers to keep everyone entertained and the crowd includes people from all over the world who come to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration.

half shell  031So, when Hector’s mom and brother visited us briefly here in Key West, we took them to Mallory Square to partake in this great ritual.  What a great idea to create a space for celebrating the sunset each and every day.

mon and gus  029mallory  047sunset  024sunset  026flipper  035We had another opportunity to go on another sunset cruise with some newfound friends from our campground on their boat.   Our host Flipper took us on a cruise to “danger reef” which sounded ominous until we got the joke.  The reef is named after the buoy that marks it which is clearly labeled “Danger … Reef”.  Hah!

flipper  034flipper  032flipper  036flipper  037flipper  039flipper  040flipper  041flipper  042geiger  044chicken  018chicken  019And we saw many other beautiful sunsets during our stay here (and many more chickens).

~ Brenda

3 thoughts on “Chickens and Sunsets

  1. I only knew David for a short and wonderful time, but many memories are vivid, including his one liners. After all these years I still know his birthday is “March 4th, the only date that is a command! ”

    I shared this posting with John who is home on spring break. I quote. “Wow ! Looks like they’re having fun. Great camera”.

  2. Great post, super time, wonderful pictures, fabulous friends and a terrific birthday! With cake and candles at sunset on a sailboat! Don’t get many chances to do that!!! Thanks for helping with a GREAT birthday!!!
    Now, about that “advanced age thing…”

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