I love this line of people waiting to take their photos with the “Southernmost Point” marker. (Click photo to enlarge.) But more than that, I love the story of this thing. This point in Key West was originally marked with a sign, but the sign kept getting stolen. The city eventually erected this concrete buoy, but it’s not really a buoy. It’s an old sewer junction that was dug up and was too big and too heavy to move, so they painted it up to look like a buoy. Also, it’s not really the southernmost point.
Florida’s official southernmost point is Ballast Key, a privately owned island just south and west of Key West. Signs on the island strictly prohibit unauthorized visitors.
(We flew over this island yesterday on our way to the Dry Tortugas.)
The buoy is not even the southernmost point on the island of Key West. Land on the Truman Annex property just west-southwest of the buoy is the true southernmost point on the island, but it has no marker since it is U.S. Navy land and cannot be entered by civilian tourists. Also, the private yards directly to the southeast of the buoy and the beach areas of Truman Annex and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park all lie farther south than the buoy.
Furthermore, if sand bars are included in the equation, then during low tides there are several sand bars farther south than Ballast Key exposed: the southernmost one of which is Sand Key.
The claim on the buoy stating “90 miles to Cuba” is a rounded number, since Cuba, at its closest point is 94 statute (81 nautical) miles due south.
So basically, it’s kinda sorta close to the most southern point in the Continental U.S.
Tomorrow morning we’re starting north. (It’s really the only option at this point. Our rough plan is to go up the Atlantic coast and then turn left at Charleston, South Carolina.)
We spent this morning doing a bit of work and then went out for some lunch and to run a few errands. We grabbed some lunch at the Geiger Key Marina & Smokehouse (which also has an RV park). Even though we made our own fish tacos last night with some fresh snapper we picked up, we both really love fish tacos so we had more for lunch. One order of hogfish tacos and one order of shrimp tacos, and some conch salad. The place is under a big tiki hut and the food was all very good and the service ROCKED (and the next table over was having a doozy of a conversation to entertain us):
Three guys and two gals all came in on a boat together and sat at the big table next to us. They ordered beer (the waitress suggested they looked like they were going to want a pitcher and they’d ordered two by the time we left…she was totally right). They were all really tan and the men in particular looked pretty rough and weathered. They were all Southern, but they were having a little bit of a friendly argument/discussion about who was the MOST Southern. Both women were youngish and attractive and talking about their costumes for Fantasy Fest and everyone seemed to be getting to know each other. The young gal with the Yves St. Laurent bathing suit top and shorts, and the quite a bit older man with shorts and no shirt on our side of the table seemed to be together, but they were not exactly “together” together…we wondered if maybe she was an escort or something…but more than this just once because she used the phrase “since I’ve been hanging out with this guy” while referring to picking up a bit of his accent (which I guess was a different kind of Southern than hers was). The other gal was inviting the “not exactly together” couple to come party with them during the festival, saying “We do most of our partying on the boat. We’re pretty much naked the minute we get out there.”
Oh and today we were going to take Kyle’s advice and do the Conch Train tour around Key West (touristy, but informative), but it’s closed one day of the year and that day is today. It’s closed because of Fantasy Fest…which we’re also missing. Nice timing.