We enjoyed such a beautiful drive down the Overseas Highway that our mood was one of contentment and peace. And then …. there was a slight Y in the road. It was at this point all hell broke loose and we were jolted back into reality.
We were on the outskirts of downtown Key West and were looking for Mile Marker 3 where the Navy’s Sigsbee FamCamp is located. For some reason, Bob took the road to the left instead of staying to the right on Route 1 South. One block into this new road I saw the road sigh for A1A. I spoke up and said, “Bob, we’re not on One South anymore.” It was at this point that our calm, serene trip went to hell in a hand basket.
Now for those you who have been to Key West, you’ll know what I’m talking about it. For those of you who haven’t yet visited this town, I’ll help you paint a picture in your mind’s eye.
Now picture this. An island, 2 miles wide, 4 miles long, the outskirts of downtown is much like any suburban area except there just isn’t much of it because we’re only talkin’ a total area of 5.27 square miles. This is where the shopkeepers, the hotel workers, the restaurant staffs, the school teachers, the construction workers, the people who call Key West home live. There is a four lane road going into Key West and a four lane road going out. Usually. The roads are now under construction,,,,of course,,,, so now there are two lanes and traffic is congested. Are you with me here?
So we’re frantically looking for US 1 South and because of detours due to road construction we’re getting closer and closer to downtown which is known as Old Town in these parts. Of course we don’t know this and just keep following the flow of traffic.
Ok, now here is where I really need you to use your imaginations. Work with me here people, I really need you to see this so that you can appreciate what we went through. Old Town is approximately fourteen city blocks long and ten city blocks wide with a few side streets and alley ways thrown in for good measure. (At least that’s what shows up on Key West maps of Old Town) The picture below is also showing a good portion of the suburban area I told you about but for all intents and purposes, this is an aerial view of Key West.
Here we go. Let’s start with tree lined streets, both sides. Not skinny little palm trees, big trees with limbs overhanging the roads. Ahh, the roads, wide enough for cars to park along each side and one lane of traffic in each direction, barely. Now let’s add people. Thousands of people. Oh yes, thousands because now there is not only the regular tourists who have driven and flown into Key West but there is, not one, but two cruise ships that have docked and all of those people are wandering the streets of Old Town. Now let’s add in bicycles, electric cars,(think four seater golf carts) scooters and those annoying people who come out of nowhere on their skateboards. Delivery trucks. UPS, FedEx, trucks delivering food to restaurants, trucks delivering the free guide books, maps and what have you to every street corner vending box and just for the heck of let’s throw in a U-haul for the person who is moving today.
We’re not done yet, stick with me. Those thousands of people, they have to cross the street at some point. So pick a corner, any corner will do and put, oh, let’s say, thirty people there. Some will be on a mission and will cross the street in a flash, others will meander across not paying attention to the world around them and then you will have the ones who will qualify for the slowest people on earth category. Wait for it, there’s one more category here. One of those who qualify for the slowest people on earth,,, yeah, one of those, will have a camera. Not only will they decide to take a picture from the middle of an intersection, they will ever so slowly reach into their pocket and pull out a light meter.
So what do we have so far? Somewhat narrow, tree lined streets, teeming with trucks, cars, golf carts,scooters, hoards of people walking the sidewalks and crossing the streets, some at the corners and then there are those daredevils, the jaywalkers. Got this in your minds eye now? Good.
Now add in the.....THE BEAST!
Add to the beast thirty eight feet of fifth wheel.
Combine the two and you’ve got fifty eight feet of truck and home that have to maneuver narrow, congested streets by a driver who doesn’t have a clue where he is, where he’s going and at this point where he’s been because we were on some streets several times. In the passenger seat? The one who is just waiting to be blamed for the original wrong turn.
Not only did we have to find our way out of Old Town and worry about making wide turns onto narrow streets but we had to worry about low hanging branches and our air conditioners on top of the 5th wheel. We heard the branches but no damage was done.
Now as if this isn’t bad enough let’s add the people who are so shocked to see us on these congested streets that they actually take pictures of us. Oh yes they did! We had still shots taken, movies taken with camcorders and cell phones and more than one person is going to have bruised ribs this evening because their companion jabbed them with their elbow to get their attention when we came into view. People stopped walking and just stood there on the sidewalk and watched us drive by. Thank heavens Bob didn’t take notice of this and why I ever thought it was necessary to tell him is beyond me! That was just plain dumb on my part. Let’s just say as warm as it was I felt it necessary to roll up my window and we’ll leave it at that.
What seemed like days, but in actuality was only 30 minutes or so later, we got onto a road that led us to the outskirts of town. We finally got our bearings once again and found the Naval Station and we were given directions to the FamCamp. Now the story doesn’t end here. Ohhh nooo!
We get to the base and the fellow at the gate gave us directions for the FamCamp office. We found that just fine. However, the FamCamp office moved. While I was in this empty building yelling, “Hello, hello, anybody here?” this fellow riding a bike stopped to talk to Bob and told him that he too was an RV’er and told him where the office moved to. Well, Bob told him what we just went through and the guy nearly fell off his bike. He told Bob that if that had happened to him he would have just gotten out and sat on the curb because there is no way he could have driven through Old Town with an RV. He also said something about having brass ones but I wasn’t paying that much attention to catch the whole thing.
So we get checked in, get set up and we’re here for the next nine days. After all this, this is our view, we’re not waterfront this time but one row back, we’ll take it!
Oh yeah, distance to Sigsbee FamCamp from the where the wrong turn was made? Less than a mile.