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Saturday, August 20, 2011

What I did Today: Museum Edition

I walked all over Key West today hauling kids who were alternately happy and murderous... walk with me will you?

Our first stop, the fully air conditioned and utterly delightful Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center which since it is located in a sort of janky end of town made me worried it would also be janky. But it was very well done and a great example of as our guide said, "our tax dollars at work" should you be in Key West I'd recommend it!

Then we walked to the awesome and inspiring Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum, where I learned the fascinating fact that the lighthouse was tended three times in it's history by female lighthouse keepers, all of whom inherited the job from their husbands. The lighthouse is located directly across from the Hemingway House, which I found out later was built and lived in by the Tift family, who made their fortune in ship wreck salvage.

Then we decided to get some lunch at a delightful little bistro called Six Toed Cat, after the famous polydactyl cats that inhabit the Hemingway garden. I had a turkey bacon panini to share with the baby, my oldest had a garden salad, Lee got a burger and we all shared the shoe string french fries which were hot, crispy and had just the right amount of salt. There was fresh squeezed limeade on the menu (delicious!!) so I got a glass of that, but then hit the ice water pretty hard because it was HOT out there today and we had been sweating buckets. The kids were sucking down waters as well. The tables are shaped like 6-toed paws and it was inside in the a/c so very pleasant.

Then we marched down to The Key West Shipwreck Museum and climbed the 65 foot tall tower overlooking Key West and the reef and my oldest got to hold a 65 pound bar of Spanish silver that was lost at sea hundreds of years ago before being recovered in the late 80's.

Then we were off to The Museum of Art and History at the Custom House and saw some really cool interactive pieces of sculpture where an artist had created life sized 3-D renderings of some famous paintings and you were encouraged to climb into them and interact with them and even take pictures of yourself posing in them. Meanwhile cameras are trained on you and the images are displayed on video screens that are placed in picture frames along the staircase. Pretty neat! The 2nd floor was devoted to Keys history with a neat exhibit about Flagler's trains down to here. I didn't realize that the project cost 700 lives, millions of dollars, opened in 1935 and then was blown away in the Labor Day hurricane of 1935! Some of our existing car bridges are built on the very bones of Flagler's lost dream.

The kids were pretty hot and tired at this point so we made a quick stop at Mattheessen's Ice Cream for a little pick me up. I had strawberry, the kids got something called "Papa Smurf" which was blue and had tiny marshmallows in it. I am not sure they got the implications of EATING PAPA SMURF and that it puts them squarely into Gargamel territory, but it was like 112 degrees out there and I guess he was a smurfing good way to bring down their core temperatures.

And then our last stop of the day was Truman's Little White House and it was so freaking cool. The house is done with original furnishings from Truman's days there, if you have Florida relatives of a certain age you will KNOW what type of furnishings they had. Rattan furniture in tropical print fabric, geometric pottery style ash trays, mahogany wet bar, jalousie windows, the whole business. It was everyone's Miami grandma's condo from 1954 in there, I loved it! The one drawback was keeping a very tired toddler from trying to climb into Bess Truman's bed to take a nap. The BEST PART was the tour guide talking about all the bills and laws that Truman signed at his small living room desk there, and she said, "He was working in health care back then. He was trying to create Medicare and it was very unpopular, people were calling him a socialist and all kinds of things, he left office with a 22% approval rating, worse than Nixon! And yet I know that is a program that a lot of us here depend on TO THIS DAY!" I wanted to go up and hug that woman, I really did. Apparently when Johnson signed Medicare into law he signed it at the Truman library to honor the work Truman had done.

Then we went home. I meant to make a key lime pie for dessert but all I had energy for was to get the kids to pick the limes off our tree and then make them some scrambled eggs for dinner. Key Lime Pie with recipe TOMORROW!

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