Drag Queens on Duval and Other Memories of Key West

It looks like Ernesto is not going to rain on our parade beach vacation. We’re heading to Navarre Beach, in the Florida Panhandle, next week to stay at my dad’s vacation condo. It’s the first time we’ve been down since July 2004. At that time Amelia was a mere twinkle in our eyes and I just KNEW I was pregnant but was still getting a big fat negative on all the home pregnancy tests I was taking. The condo, particularly the pool area, just got the finishing touches from repairs necessitated by the devastation left in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Dennis. Thankfully Ernesto lost steam when he blew through Key West yesterday.

The last time the hubby and I were in Key West was our honeymoon in May 1997. We stayed at this incredibly romantic inn and enjoyed a wonderful poolside breakfast every morning before heading out for the day. We hit all the popular spots…Sloppy Joe’s bar, the Conch Tour Train, the Ernest Hemingway house with its famous six-toed kitty residents, sunset on Mallory Square, and a day trip to Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, as well as lesser-known hot spots like the incredible Blue Heaven, where we ate an incredible meal while chickens pecked around the courtyard. My sister and her husband even treated us to a surprise gift certificate to Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill, owned by actress Kelly McGillis.

One of our funniest honeymoon memories happened one night when we were walking down Duval Street. We walked by one bar where a few boisterous drag queens were trying to lure tourists inside with their hilarious cat calls. They immediately zoned in on the hubby and his all American good looks. “Oh honey, come on in we’ll treat you right!” We laughed and told them we were on our honeymoon but we had a good time joking with them. Besides I didn’t want to make these drag queens mad, seeing as they all towered over me and could whip my wimpy straight girl self. I think this was also the night, unfortunately, that I had one too many cocktails. The hubby had a “What planet are you from and what did you do with my wife?” moment when I did my best Nightmare New Bride impersonation at one bar. (Some women get amorous when they drink too much, but unfortunately my husband got the short end of the horny stick with me because I can also either get extremely bitchy or fall asleep.) I gladly stuck with plain wine or beer the remainder of our honeymoon. Who knows…maybe someone put something crazy in my drink that night? Yeah, that’s it.

One of the coolest things we did on our honeymoon was rent a convertible after our flight from Nashville landed in Ft. Lauderdale. We drove down through the Keys, top down, surrounded by beautiful blue water and blue sky. Not that we drove much once we arrived. Key West is very pedestrian friendly (try finding a decent parking space.) Besides, you’ll miss the drag queens if you’re not on foot.


  1. Colleen says:

    You’ve got wonderful memories of Key West! My husband and I took a trip there in June 2002 (started in Palm Beach and drove down to the Keys and back). It was magical. Thanks for sharing. You just took me back down there with you.

    Have a great time on your trip!

  2. Pattie says:

    I have always wanted to catch the sunset in Key West while drinking a margarita and lustening to the steel drums….ahhhhh..
    Your drag queen story is so funny! We actually went to a restaurant one time in Greenwich Village (NYC) …my husbands tongue was falling out looking at the gorgeous waitresses….until we realized a half hour into the meal, they were all men. I never saw my hubby turn white like that. It was quite entertaining!
    Anyway, I am glad the weather is not going to affect your vacation. It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time!
    PS Did you get the portable DVD player for the ride?

  3. Blonde Mom says:


    That’s hilarious! 🙂

    Yes, we got a portable DVD player. I also have lots of fun little trinkets (like a Wooly Willy magnetic board…remember those?) for the car ride as well as snacks! It’s a good 8-hour drive. Wish us luck!


  4. Renee says:

    WOW, a beach vacation sounds like just what I need right about now. Mark and I have been dying to go to Key West; he’s been, I haven’t. One day . . .

  5. molly says:

    I’ve never been to the Keys either, maybe one day… but my husband and I rented a two-seater convertible for a long romantic week-end trip we took to Maine. We didn’t even mind sitting in traffic in that car. What a great trip that was, even though the mosquitos in Maine are as big as horses and bite twice as hard!

  6. Charla says:

    Oh, I hope you have a FANTASTIC time at the beach! I wish I could pack up and go with you. Also, you should be a Key West tourism commercial writer. Seriously.

  7. Amanda says:

    Hey Girl,

    I was 10 when I went to Key West. I remember all those spots. I had a great time. My parents took us everywhere. It’s a great memory.

    Have a great trip!!!

  8. Bluegrass Mama says:

    I went to Key West about 10 years ago and did pretty much all those things. I was with a girlfriend, and my funniest memory is when some guy was trying to talk us into coming to view a timeshare presentation. Till he saw my wedding ring and figured out that we weren’t a “couple.”

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