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A brief taste of island life

Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011, at 9:16 AM

This vine, known as bouganvillia, runs riot all year long in the Florida keys. Couple it with those wonderful fairytale palms, and you have Paradise! Sorry, boss, I don't want to come back!! Can I work from down here???
What's a poor Midwestern country girl to do, when she gets a glimpse of the island life down in the southern climes? In a week or so, these sights will seem like a dream... The morning news is already talking about a monster winter storm coming to the upper Midwest tomorrow. Nooooo!!!!

In case you had not picked up on it, I have been to the state of Florida only twice before in my life, and that was when I had a group of high school seniors in tow. That is not exactly a carefree kind of vacation...

This morning's "On the Road" adventure takes us to,,,Are you ready for this?...Key West! Oh, oh, oh!!! I never in my life dreamed I would ever get to see such a place! It might as well have been on the other side of the moon.

How do I choose which photo to post, out of the 140 I took?? I can eliminate the ones that have our new friend Jim's arm in them. Snapping like crazy from the "train," an island shuttle, I was able to get pretty good shots from the right side of the train.

Now I wish I'd let the Southeast Missourian Webmaster, James Baughn, show me how to use the multiple-photo posting system he told Bobby Greer about.

A trip to Key West requires a 4-hour ferry ride with 499 of your best friends, sitting comfortably in cushioned seats or at booths along the windows. That's where we met a lovely couple from Iowa, when they invited us to sit at their table. Like us, they were winter-weary from two months of ice and snow. Unlike us, they were spending the night on the island, so I'm sure Jim's camera clocked about 300+ pictures!

The island is famous for its free-wheeling life style and eclectic collection of shops, but the thing I enjoyed the most was the riot of flowers on every fence and in every corner. The homes are spaced fairly close together, seeming to sit in a jungle of palm trees, saw grass, and bougainvillia. Porches are cluttered with comfy chairs and plants of every variety. Most of the houses I saw were at least two-story with Bermuda shutters for protection from hurricanes. One interesting architectural feature was the "eyebrow house," which had a roofline that came partway down over the second-floor windows. If I can find a photo that has both the red bougainvillia and the eyebrow feature, I'll post it.

An unexpectedly popular attraction was a tiny family of banty chickens, which consisted of a colorful rooster, a hen, and about a dozen little balls of fluff with legs. Tourists stopped to snap photos, as the hen scratched on the ground around the shops, and her chicks rushed to find interesting tidbits 0f food.

We ate at an open-air cafe, where three pigeons looked for crumbs under the tables. Needless to say, the seafood was fantastic!

All in all, it was a perfect way to spend my 69th birthday!

From the sunny south, a thousand miles from the hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your REALLY roving reporter, Madeline, thanking God and her Best Friend Forever for a wonderful change in her life.

Special message to Ken Steinhoff: Ken, I'm accessing my email remotely, so I don't have your email address. I can't remember where you live in Florida, but email me! We'll be in Ft. Myers another week. Your alligator story in my last blog was hilarious!

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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