I pledge allegiance to the Conch Republic


My husband and I just spent a long weekend in Margaritaville.  Yippee.  He was a Key West virgin – this was his first visit.  This was my third visit, but I don’t think the first two really counts.

I was 16 and traveling with my parents on my first visit back in the late 60’s.  Do I have to explain any more?  A visit to any place even remotely fun is automatically negated when you travel with your parental units.  Especially mine.  Especially in the late 60’s.

My dad & step-mother were 41 years older than me.  So it was worse than traveling with your parents.  It was like traveling with your grandparents.  And grandparents were way different in the 1960’s than they are now.

Lots of grandparents are cool now.  I’m a grandma and I’m cool.  It’s a Baby Boomer thing…  We’re terrified of getting old so we act cool.  Goldie Hawn is 69 and the grandmother of five.  Her grandkids call her Glamma.  I bet she’s loads of fun to travel with!

Not so grandparents in the 1960’s.  Or grandparent-aged people.  Or maybe it was just my parents.

First of all, we drove from Pittsburgh down to Key West.  All the way…  Just my parents and I with the car radio on grandparent-type music.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, my dad wore mid-calf high socks with his sandals.  Everyday.   Bedtime was 10 PM and we ALL had to go to bed.  Then we ALL got back up at dawn.  And after breakfast every morning, we’d go back to the motel room and just sit for 30 minutes doing nothing so my dad could spend his daily time in the “library”.   To a 16 year old, it was sheer misery.

I know that Key West was very different back in the late 60’s but the trauma of the trip has pretty well erased my memory.  But  I do remember a very quaint town, small 1 1/2 lane roads and walking in the sand beside the road.  No sidewalks.  I’m sure there were fun things to do there back then, but that would have been way too self-indulgent for us.  Our house was where fun came to die so why should it be any different on vacation?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the first visit doesn’t count.

My second visit was for about five hours six years ago.  I was on a cruise with a friend and Key West was one of the stops.  It was fun and we did as much as we could do in five hours.  Then we sailed away.  So the second visit really didn’t count either.

Which brings us up to this past weekend…  We had a great time watching the sunsets, visiting the Hemingway House & lighthouse, eating seafood & key lime pie, and indulging in some adult beverages.  Probably more adult beverages than we should have.

And surprise, surprise – we found out that Key West seceded from the U.S.  For ten minutes.  In 1982.  The Conch Republic.   Too long to explain but you can read about the bravery of the Key West “troops” here.  Crazy, fun stuff.  I like that spirit.

Fast forward to 2015.  Yeah – we had fun in Key West, but it wasn’t the most amazing time ever.  Not even close.  I think things have changed a lot since Jimmy Buffet lived there.  Since Key West seceded.  Accommodations were incredibly expensive with little value for the $$.  At least where we stayed.  There was concrete everywhere.  And bikes and scooters and little electric cars with bad drivers.  Drinks were cheap if you did happy hour, but everything else was pricey.  Very pricey.

Maybe we waited a bit too late in our lives to go.  Getting so drunk every night that you puke has kind of lost much of it’s wonder & charm for us.  We liked watching the sunset in the state park where it was quiet, sandy and green rather than on all concrete Mallory Square.  ADHD sunset there with crowds of tourists, loud musicians competing with each other, and tired street performers all vying for tips.

Maybe we’ve become “where fun comes to die” people.  Nah – we’re too cool for that…

But I’m glad I finally got to really visit Key West.  I’m sure it was amazing in the 70’s and 80’s.  It’s just become a victim of it’s own success as happens so often with charming, quirky places.  They’ve lost much of their authenticity.  But you could see tiny glimpses of what Key West used to be like, and that was at once wonderful and sad.

Long live the spirit of the Conch Republic wherever you are!

21 thoughts on “I pledge allegiance to the Conch Republic

    • Thanks for your comment and kind words Joyful! And that was the honest truth… My dad was a no nonsense German and there was no smiling or laughing or joking at our house. Mr. Fun would come to the front door and if he was lucky, they wouldn’t answer it and he’d just move on to more welcoming home. If he was unlucky, they’d let him in and 2 hours later, we’d be calling the morgue! 🙂 Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful if you know where to go for sure, but I think it’s probably a lot more difficult to ferret out than it used to be! Like I said, the state park was a great place to watch the sunset and is probably a lot like it used to be in Key West proper back in the day!

      It seemed like some of the Keys going down (we drove down from Miami) were probably still pretty quaint & charming. But again, you need to be in the know about where to go!

      Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with me in virtual Margaritaville!


  1. Oh, but there was key lime pie. I had to laugh at your dad’s library time. It’s a tradition in my husband’s family..only for the men. It drives us all crazy. I still have fantasies about the Keys..never have been there. Now..I’m always too hot, so…maybe Canada is looking better these days. ☺ Van

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Van – it WAS hot! And then there is all that alcohol making you even hotter… And the AC in our room was just marginal and it didn’t reach into the bathroom. Ugh. BUT, the key lime pie was fabulous as was the conch fritter and key west pink shrimp. But I honestly wish I had the $$ back we spent on the trip. Only meh… Oh well – you live and learn.

      My husband has his library time too, but I just go ahead and do my thing and don’t wait for him. I’ve paid my “library time” waiting dues! I don’t get it… My life is too busy to not just get to it and be done with it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve had to adapt. My walk-in closet is on the other side of our master bathroom, with no hall access…never again !! I had my doubts when we saw the plans for this home, which we had built. I agreed to the details, but held my breath about the bath/closet situation !! Live and learn. ☺


  2. You are so right about neat places becoming less and less neat as their popularity increases. Why can’t everyone else stay home and let just us cool people enjoy the quaintness? I have no fond memories of family vacations. Ours, like yours, were not designed for kids to have fun. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? The uncool people just need to stay home and let us enjoy the quaint stuff! Popularity has ruined so many really great places… I just love it when some travel writer does an article about a wonderful “undiscovered” place. A death sentence for any charm it may have had!

      I’m always a bit jealous of people who had wonderful vacations (no matter how humble) with their parents. We tried to have fun vacations with our kids. One of these days I get up enough nerve to ask them if they thought they were fun…

      Thanks for the compliment and your insightful comment! 🙂


  3. I have once the same promblem my parents go to France i go with them, but what you write i rember me how it was me and my parents in France. A year later i went to Portugal my father was not verry happy that i go alone, with view ather persons. My mother don’t worry about it but my father just a lot of. When i get to Tunesia my father does’t worry about it, but my mother a lot think that you not be taken because that is normaly oferthere. Parents so long they live make them worry about theire childeren. But you are writing funny very funny, i like you story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Boy, are you right about grandparents being different in the 60’s. I grew up in SoCal and went to Disneyland every year since it first opened. Once or twice our entire GAA group (Girls Athletic Association) from our junior high went there and they just…turned us loose! We had the run of the place, unchaperoned, for the whole day. We were all maybe thirteen years old, fourteen tops. It was glorious.

    Then, I was invited to go to Disneyland with the daughter of friends of my parents…along with her grandparents. They wanted to sit and “rest” a lot, and the rides were kind of doled out to us in dribs and drabs. Frustrated, I brightly told my friend’s grandmother, “When I go with my parents, they let us go wherever we want and then meet back up with them later!” My friend’s grandmother kind of smiled a pinched smile, looked at my friend and said, “She doesn’t know us very well, does she?” I can honestly say that was the worst time I’d ever had at The Happiest Place on Earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Outstanding post. You made me laugh. “Where the fun comes to die”. Ouch, was it that bad? lol. I do remember my grandparents were just the same. Old granddad was always in a suit and I never saw him smile or laugh.
    Thank you so very much.

    Liked by 1 person

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