Key West, Day 4 (Part II)

Prior to going to Mallory Square, I wanted to stop by a shop I went to the last time I was in Key West. I thought they were the bakery that made the bread that they used at Sarabeth’s and several other locations in Key West. It turns out, if they were when I was there last, they are no longer housing that portion. They still have a café and are also a craft beer vendor and chef’s store. They sell items that aren’t found in most home good stores, catering to a more specific taste. Had I the desire to buy more of that stuff, I know local places that sell, and I wouldn’t have to carry the items with me for the rest of the night. I love their products, but they sold nothing unique enough for me to get, except… They had Vikings’ Blod, a high alcohol, very sweet, honey wine, at a decent price. I looked around the store to see if they had anything else I might be interested in because they also had Vikingernes Mjod from Dansk Mjod, the same people that make Vikings’ Blod and it was harder to find. The price was more than $10 less a bottle as well. I picked that up, paid, and put it in my bag. As I paid, the lady behind the counter was mentioning her experiences with Alaska because she was admiring Lily.

We went on our way and headed toward Mallory Square but stopped at the Schooner Wharf Bar and had dinner. I started with a frozen rum runner and then asked for the tuna nachos on the recommendation of Chris from the Jolly Rover II. They sushi-grade, raw tuna topping seaweed salad and fried wontons on top a bed of fried noodles. They were seasoned with a soy ginger drizzle on top and sitting in a plain soy sauce on the bottom. There was also a ponzu dipping sauce. They were great, but the soy on the bottom was a bit too salty. For some reason, that sauce was too much, while all of the other soy-based sauces were fine.

Lily remained the highlight of the servers and patrons. The table next to me was occupied by three ladies, one of whom reminded me that we met at the Southernmost Point the morning before. She was much more pleasant this time, as I wasn’t preventing myself from arguing how Lily wasn’t hot in her fur. The ladies conversed and played with Lily every so often, while other guests visited from all around the restaurant. There were two other dogs in our general vicinity, one of them was small and that usually sets Lily off. This time, she ignored it. She freaked about a pigeon that flew to one of the roof-like areas. It was more a steel umbrella than a roof. On the sides, were spikes so birds could not perch, but that didn’t seem to stop the pigeon from flying up to it and landing just within sight of Lily. I was able to distract her with a treat and she was fine for most of the rest of the meal.

The last part of my meal was their take on conch fritters. As I mentioned last time, there are two types of conch fritters: those filled with conch and hush puppies. These were the latter. The lime mustard sauce that came with it was fine on its own with a stronger lime flavor, but the fritters were not impressive.

I finished the meal in time to head to the other side of the island.

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration is just another excuse for people to have fun and party in Key West. It consists of street performers, that must be permitted, vendors of goods, artists, street food, and, of course, the sunset. There is something to be said about a pink and orange landscape as it blends with the horizon among an impressed and awed crowd.

Lily and I headed toward the festivities and when we got there, the crowds were forming around the performers and vendors. I found an area I planned to stay to watch the setting sun, but a performer had his audience and he was calling them in to get closer, making it hard to see from a distance. I approached the ring, as Lily patiently followed. She was impressively well behaved for the number of people there and the fact that she was not the center of attention. That is to say, not everyone had their eyes on her. A group of college girls approached and one of them said, “There’s Lily.” It was one of the girls from the day before. She and her friends fawned over Lily and paid more attention to her than the performer we were gathered near. I told them not to make a fuss as John, the acrobat/juggler we were watching was really the star of the show. To which, they retorted, “No, Lily is the star.” If my dog could blush, I’m sure she would have been red-faced at that moment. It was fine because I was red enough for the two of us.

As soon as she had said that, the juggler asked for a volunteer, and Michelle, the one that made the comment and the leader of that pack, pushed her hand through the crowd and into the air as if to grab one of the passing seagulls out of the sky. Between her vigorous attempt for attention and her friends pointing her out, the John pulled her into his circle and centered her to his right. He then pulled out a whip and gave instructions for her to hold still and stand a certain way. He produced a rose and asked if anyone wanted to see it explode. He handed her the rose and held her hand out. “Hold still, I’m not sure if this will work,” he said with a feigned smile. He cracked the whip, and nothing happened other than the loud crack of sound. Michelle flinched and covered her face, though. John told her to bring her arm back up where it was. He moved one step closer and popped the whip again. He hit the tip this time and parts of the rose flew, but there was enough remaining that he tried again. He did, and it again fell to pieces. He gave the stem to Michelle and she walked to her friends. She told them she expected it to make more of an explosion. She then pet Lily one last time and the group moved off.

Lily and I moved in closer, but there was still a gap between us and the rest of the crowd. Lily sat calmly and did not move the rest of the performance. John proceeded with the rest of his act, stacking chairs and climbing on them. He called for a child in the audience and had him assist and paid the kid off for helping. As the stack got higher and John topped them, he could no longer reach what the child handed him, so he asked for an adult. A large, muscular man was volunteered by John and he was able to comply. After getting all the chairs to a five-chair tower, on top of a table, John asked the man to light a torch and toss it to him. The volunteer initially sprayed it with lighter fluid missing the torch and hitting a barrel and blanket on the side of the staged-area. He had issues lighting it as well, but John caught the fact that there was a puddle of fluid on his flame-retardant blanket told the man not to light it there. As the torch was lit and finally caught by John, he asked for a sword and then another item. John juggled all three and then tossed them down in a somewhat safe manner to make you think it was a mistake, as I hope it was staged. He then balanced on the top chair and did a handstand. He did other moves that were impressive, and when he finished, he asked to pass the hat.

John’s timing was perfect as he finished just as the sun was setting. I dropped all the cash I had and Lily and I headed behind us to see the sunset. The clouds, out in force, stayed and blocked most of the sun. I wasn’t sure if I was happy or upset because I hate the sun so much, but it really has a magic when it sets. Probably because I am not fond of things going, but in this case, I am.

As we moved closer to the shore, the girls and their male counterparts were there, and all said hi to Lily again and then ran off. There was a couple from some midwestern state that asked about Lily and wanted to pet her. A couple with their two children did as well and I let them, as did she. Then out of nowhere, there was a man who quietly asked if he could take a picture of her. I said he could, she posed, and he was happy and went on his way.

I attempted to take pictures of the sky. Between all the people blocking my view and the clouds, it was a difficult task. I did get a few with only one person in the way. I once read that Sting named his song Lithium Sunset based on something a shaman/chemist told him. He said something to the effect that the sunlight is composed of many elements, lithium being one, and as the sun sets, it goes straight to the brain as the light is not filtered during this period and it makes people happy. I don’t know if I buy it. There is a certain logic to it, as lithium is given to people with depressive disorders, but through sunlight? Anyway, good song on a good album.

So, after the sun had set, Lily and I went to get the last of my souvenirs. I got another sticker for no specific reason and hunted down the last item. I had a coupon book and figured, I was there, might as well use it. I went to the first Mallory Square vendor, as it is a grouping of a few vendors in a small marketplace, as well as the Shipwreckers’ Museum, Shell Warehouse, Sponge Market, and Aquarium. They had the sticker I wanted. The second did not have anything but pointed me to the Shell Warehouse I walked right by and missed. I wanted my own personal conch shell. I have bought many in the past but gave them all away. This time, I wanted my own. Walking in, they had a barrel of them, and they were on sale, today only (pretty sure that was a permanent sign). I looked at them and found one I wanted. Went in, got more comments about Lily, and paid, and popped it in my bag next to the mead.

We headed back up Duval street and to the room to turn in for the night. Although it was early, both Lily and I were done for the day.

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