Key West, Florida - Part 2
Monday, June 25, 2012 at 8:31PM
Michael A. Uhl in Duvall Street, Jeff "Cutter" Northcutt, Key West

Scurvy Dog smLast week I wrote briefly about the first two days of my ride with Jeff "Cutter" Northcutt to Key West. This week I'd like to share with you some of our experiences in Key West itself the night we arrived.

As I wrote last week, overcast skies stole the beautiful sunset we expected as our reward for crossing the Keys. By the time we arrived on the island of Key West, we were tired and a bit cranky. Riding down Flagler Avenue through the middle of the island revealed very little about the true character of the place. We saw people on scooters and a few pedestrians here and there but it seemed pretty quiet. That seemed logical, given it was a Thursday night around 8:30.

Photo at above left: This street minstrel teamed up with what Cutter named the "Scurvy Dog." Apparently, business was good enough for him to show up later at the Hog's Breath for a drink or two.

 And then...when we turned off Truman Avenue onto Duval Street and it was as if we had arrived at a large outdoor party. Duval street was brightly lit and full of people from one end to the other, all seeming to have a good time. There were young couples holding hands, parents with young children, and every other assortment of people, including sweaty scraggly bikers like us.

Let the Exploration Begin

We rode from Truman Avenue down to the end of Duval (past Hog's Breath) and made a U-turn back to our hotel. Cutter had reserved a room for us at the Crowne Plaza Key West - La Concha hotel. It's a beautiful place with off-street parking in the back. It's certainly more expensive than many of the other hotels on the island, but its location made the extra cost worthwhile. It also helped that we were splitting the room cost. :-)

After we unpacked the bikes and checked into our room, I informed Cutter that I was "good until midnight" and then I wanted to head back to our room for much needed sleep. What I did not know, but should have suspected, was the moment that comment left my lips, Cutter had devoted himself to the mission of keeping me out past midnight.

We wandered around a little on Duval Street and found our way into a T-shirt shop. Cutter had a custom "Mile 0" shirt made and I bought some stickers. We asked the tough-looking Ukranian chick behind the counter where we could get a decent supper and she pointed us across the street to the Mad Rooster. That turned out to be a really good choice. The food was good and the price acceptable. We ate outside and I was able to enjoy an after-dinner cigar (see photo).

Mad Rooster smSloppy Joe's Bar

We made it our goal to get to the Hog's Breath Saloon before it got much later. Cutter also wanted to be sure we stopped in Sloppy Joe's Bar. Sloppy Joe's is on the same side of the street as the Mad Rooster and between there and the Hog's Breath, so we went in on our way down the street. It was packed, loud, and the band sucked. We had a beer, looked around the gift shop, and headed out. It was targeting a younger demographic. (As in, we're too mature for that place.)

Photo above right: I'm enjoying an after-dinner cigar at the Mad Rooster on Duval Street.

Finding the Hog's Breath Saloon

Well, we walked down to the end of Duval and worked our way back up the other side and could find no Hog's Breath Saloon. Cutter broke tradition and asked for directions. It turns out we had walked right past it. Since Cutter was there last, someone built a large building in front of the Hog's Breath, partially obscuring it. Technically, the Hog's Breath is on Front Street and we were looking at the back of the place. But the back is where the patio is located and where the band plays.

Ever the scout, Cutter quickly located us two seats at the bar on the patio and we had beer in front of us in under a minute. We were next to the stage and got a great view of the band as they began their first set of the night. The cool guy on slide trombone told us that the band had a name but no one bothered to remember it; so he told us to call them "the guys up on stage." They were very good and we stayed through the whole set.

The Fun Kind of Leather

When the first set ended we went for a walk up Duval Street and I talked Cutter into exploring an alley. When I suggested we take a look, Cutter the Adventurer said, "Alleys can be fun." Twas down this particular alley that we found The Leather Master. One of my co-workers told me before I left that "Key West has a very active gay community." I believe we found their nexus. We took a few pictures and had a few laughs. It looked like a very interesting place. ;-)

Back out on Duval Street, Cutter found the Smallest Bar particularly amusing. He exclaimed to the patrons, "This is the kind of bar where one is tempted to buy a round for the house!" He stayed for a beer and I snapped a few photos of him.

Smallest Bar smPhoto at left: Cutter outside the Smallest Bar (far left). It was just wide enough to seat three patrons across (or four thin ones).

We went to the Hog's Breath for the second set and dragged our sorry asses out of the place just after 1:00. As we meandered down Duval Street back to our hotel, we were accosted by a sexy lady outside of Teasers. She was inducing us to go upstairs to the "Gentlemen's Club." I love Cutter's attempt at understatement as he told her: "I can't go up there; I'd get into big trouble, big trouble." Yes, Cutter, let's get me and thee to the hotel. :-)

Weather Forecast

One last comment for this week. It tended to rain off and on each day, so I would ask Cutter with some frequency: "Cutter, what's the latest weather forecast?" And he always replied the same: "100% chance of beer!" I'm not sure if I kept asking him because I thought he would actually tell me the forecast or because I liked his answer.

 

Article originally appeared on The Long Rider (http://www.mikeuhl.com/).
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