Gypsy Chickens of Key West

We drove down to Key West, just for the day. Driving the overseas highway is fun – it seems like a regular road, with businesses and houses, trees and landscaping, then suddenly it opens up and you realise that you’re on a bridge, driving between islands!

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The view enlarges, there are other small islands and keys out in the bay, ospreys swoop down to catch unwary fish, and there’s nothing much between you and the Atlantic Ocean, what a rush!

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In normal traffic it takes about two and a half hours to drive from Key Largo in the north to Key West in the south. Many of the keys are named and occupied, some are not. I like No Name Key myself 😉 There’s Deer Key, and yes there are small deer who live here and swim between some of the keys http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_deer   It’s believed that they migrated over a land bridge during a time of glaciation. We didn’t see any today.

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pic of Key Deer from wiki

The road started as a railroad, opening in 1912. It was partially destroyed by a hurricane in 1935 and then the government took it over and began to build a road, which was completed in 1938.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Highway

There are several choices for day trippers to Key West: the narrated Conch Train, and a couple of hop on-hop off narrated trolleys. We decided on the diy route. Chris had researched that one can park all day for $13, and use the ticket stub for unlimited use of the local buses – what a deal! In the end, we parked, walked to the tourist information centre for a map, and decided that it would do us good to walk around. So that’s what we did. Key West is not that big, the “old town” is the most interesting part, and it’s pretty easy to walk around in a few hours.

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Lunch was a no-brainer, find the first decent looking place that had stone crab claws, I was determined to try them! Success! Martin’s Restaurant was where we ended up. A plateful of large claws arrived, with lemon and a dipping sauce, and I set to.

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Eating crab claws is labour-intensive, and it wasn’t long before Chris had finished his lunch, and was eyeing up mine! I tossed him a knuckle and carried on cracking! The rumours are true, they are delicious! The meat is white, firm and sweet, almost like a scallop. Some parts are more flakey, more like traditional crab meat. Then there are pockets of succulent yellow goodness, especially deep in the pointed part of the claws. I’m still not sure why these parts were different. They were more yellow in colour, with a texture more like a fine chicken liver pate, and a taste somewhat reminiscent of a fatty, buttery pate too. Completely scrummy, worth digging into with the little fork, to get every good morsel out!

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After lunch we headed for the ice cream stand we had spotted on our way to the restaurant – memories of the Whale City Bakery in Davenport CA!

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??????????????We hit the high spots of Key West, although since neither of us is much of a Hemingway fan, we declined to pay the entrance fee just to look round his old house. We enjoyed strolling the streets, people-watching, and spotting interesting architecture, signs and street art.

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SpongeBob?

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And then there are the chickens….

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Well we’ve been to Kauai, we’d seen all the feral chickens there, but had no idea that they existed in Key West too. They call them the Gypsy Chickens of Key West. Some say they’ve been here for 175 years, but mostly the population exploded during the 1950’s, with the large growth of Cuban immigrants, following the Revolution. The Cubans brought the chickens for meat, eggs, and for cock-fighting. Of course, some escaped, or were released, and now they breed prolifically. There is apparently intra-island controversy over whether the Gypsy Chickens are a good thing or not. They are certainly beautiful, and great fun to watch. I found this online about the chickens: click to read more, and to adopt a gypsy chicken! https://suite.io/sarah-goodwin-nguyen/1h052mp

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Key West was a fun day out 🙂

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