Scenes Around Key West



We had a lot of fun lazily strolling around the streets of Key West. I fell in love with all the old houses, the lush greenery, and the offbeat street scenes, of course. (Hello, a trash can for coconuts only!)



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Hemingway’s casa is right there in the middle of the historic district of downtown Key West, and around the corner from our hotel. This house was so enchanting… big wrap around verandah, large open windows to let the ocean breeze through, and unique mementos from his travels around the world.

I would absolutely love to live at this estate and have my own personal writing room (pictured above). That’s where the magic happened, folks.

Hemingway was so focused on his writing that he built this work area in a separate adjacent building to his house. So that he absolutely could not be disturbed by anyone, he had a wire suspension bridge built between his bedroom and the workroom, which was the only way in.

In its day, this estate was considered so luxurious and expensive… I especially enjoyed the custom gold and black decorative tile in the bathroom.

I was actually somewhat surprised that the Hemingway house was so charming. I didn’t expect to love it, as I’ve read tons of Hemingway in my life and formed all these negative opinions about him and his relationship with women. I also read The Paris Wife a while back and really hated him after that. Of course, I know that has nothing to do with his home, but I sort of thought his home would be like a man cave or bachelor pad, but it was a lovely oasis. (he only lived there for 13 years while he was married to his second wife) Once he left, he never returned, which is a real shame.


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The next post is all about food… I’m still thinking about that frozen key lime pie on a stick!


Weekend in Key West


Last weekend, we escaped the snow and cold in DC and headed to sunny tropical Key West.

I was looking forward to this trip like no other… the sun, the warm ocean breeze, the frozen key lime pie on a stick.

It was all so heavenly and this short vacation came at the perfect time, as we had just gotten 7 inches of snow.

When I lived in San Diego for so many years, I actually forgot that weather was cold in other places and I got desensitized to the beautiful weather there. So, one thing I appreciate about living in the DC area with its changing seasons is that I get so excited about nice weather when we endure a long cold winter.




Pictured above is one of the cats living at Hemingway’s residence and the sign at Fort Zachary Beach.

One morning, we walked over to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. This park has an old stone fort which served the US during the Civil War, World War I and World War II and there’s an area right on the beach. Incidentally, Sean’s family has some very very distant 8 person removed relation to Zachary Taylor and the family even has a silver punch bowl ladle which belonged to the President himself…

We got caught in a cozy morning rain shower on the beach, but after that, it was breezy and sunny.

I guess I was a little too enthusiastic about chattering on about being in Key West on the beach because Sean finally shushed me (“Can you give me a break for a few minutes?!!!”) and then promptly took a nap. Below is a picture of him after that dramatic moment. I finally did doze a little while listening to the ocean, and of course I had to take the obligatory toes in the ocean picture.

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Our hotel during this trip was the Orchid Key Inn, which had sort of a 60s Mad Men vibe. The pool area was especially lovely, lined with palm trees each adorned with colorful orchids.  I found it to be a bit more expensive than we normally spend on hotel, but being spring and all, it was hard to avoid paying higher prices. In any case, I do think this hotel was worth it, being perfectly located off Duval Street and offering nice small touches like breakfast and a free happy hour.


collage6There’s so much more to say about this trip. Next up will be pictures of food and sights around town… Stay tuned!


Flashback Friday: Miyajima Island




Wild deer in front of the famous floating Torii Gate

This post is a flashback to when Sean and I went from Okinawa to Iwakuni on mainland Japan. Sean had to attend a meeting up there and I tagged along to get a little taste of maple leaves, cold weather, good eating, and deer… so perfect to put us in the holiday spirit.



We took a short excursion one day to Miyajima Island, aka the Shrine Island, a convenient 10 minute ferry ride from the mainland. There we saw plenty of wild deer roving the streets, shrines and temples, and beautiful views of changing foliage.

In addition to these scenic buildings and spots, Miyajima also has charming narrow winding streets and a downtown square area with lots of food vendors and shops selling local specialties. There’s lots more to say about this trip to Iwakuni and Miyajima, including some pictures of wonderful local food we ate while we were there.



Flashback Friday








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A few years ago, we spent the night on Zamami Island, off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.

This tiny island was so low key with only few sunbathers on the beach. In fact, it’s the perfect kind of island that shuts down once the sun goes down.

I still remember how quiet and peaceful it was there, and how beautiful and clear the water was!

I did forget this one funny detail, though… we stopped at a small cafe and had a drink after dinner.

There we found the funniest magazines that featured cat centerfolds! Only in Japan, folks…

You can read another post about a special experience we had on Zamami Island here.


Flashback Friday













The other day I was browsing over old photos and came across some pictures we took one day when we lived in Okinawa, Japan.

It’s so interesting how our minds forget some details, but when we look at a few pictures, suddenly we can remember so many things we hadn’t thought about in years.

Anyway, these photos brought a smile to my face.

On this particular day, we drove north to pick mikans (tangerines) since it was mikan picking season there.

We picked as many tangerines as we thought we could reasonably eat and then we stumbled on a beautiful old Japanese tea house.

After that, we headed back to our house but saw a sign on the road advertising a “Snake vs. Mongoose” showdown.

Apparently, they don’t do those shows anymore as they are somewhat inhumane, but instead they presented a series of snakes to curious onlookers.

A Japanese snake handler demonstrated all kinds of trick with the snakes and asked for volunteers from the audience.

There was no way I was letting a snake breathe down my neck, but Sean posed for a picture.

I can’t believe Sean let that snake so close to his face!

Technicolor Island Culture

One of the things I love about Okinawa is that there is cultural festival almost monthly. I previously wrote posts about the 10,000 Eisa Parade and the World’s Largest Tug of War.

Those are certainly larger events drawing crowd, but a week ago, I attended a smaller event too, with no less pomp and pageantry. It was a procession of 1,500 locals donned in ancient island costumes, a tradition going back hundreds of years. Take a look at the gorgeous colors and textures of this parade… Read More