Eric Van De Vens Blog

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The 50th Birthday Weekend in Key West

For my 50th birthday, my wife decided to take me to Key West. Anyone that knows us knows that the Keys are our favorite place. If it were up to us, we would move there in a heartbeat!
On to the trip………………………….

As I needed a new set of shorts, we stopped at the Bass Pro shops in Islamorada, and, for lunch at the “Islamorada Fish Company”. Many people have said that this would be a good place to eat. Other reviews I read said to stay away from dinner. We decided to have a light lunch. Some conch chowder, steamed clams, and clam chowder and a few Margaritas, and we were off!
The food was average and Tealas crab cakes were almost all bread. I’d probably skip this place next time.

Anytime we visit the Keys, we always try to make a point to stop by our friend Pauls house. A cute two-story cottage that has had quite a bit of work done. New paint, roof, a/c system and plenty of decorative touches.

The Tiki hut pictured below was built by Paul, Steve Z, John C, and me. I assure you, it will never come down!

Now we are on our way. First stop, the marina at Key West. There are plenty of things to do here and places to eat.
Now, time to feed the fish. It was hard to get the picture, but there are tarpon everywhere just waiting for free food.

Here are a few more pictures of the marina.

Time for ice cream!

Mallory Square….the back entrance!

Eric ready for a dive.

Some tourist spots..Captain Tonys and Sloppy Joes.

The “Bull” home of the t-shirt “The liver is evil and must be punished”!

This is a sad picture. Two years ago when we were here, this was the Pirate museum. Unfortunately, it is now closed. Not in the picture is Crabby Bills, also closed. 😦

After walking around a bit, it was time for dinner. The “Half Shell Raw Bar” was our first choice. We always stop here! Dinner was delicious, Oysters Rockefeller, steamed clams, chicken wings and some ice cold beers! A very good place to eat!

Now that we are reloaded, off to the nightlife!
As it was too crowded, we didn’t take any pictures. We went into a few bars, listened to a couple of bands and had a nightcap at Margaretville. Speaking of which, beware of the $9.00 Margaritas which taste like bad kool-aid!

Day two arrives and the first thing that had to be done was to procure some tools to repair our hotel shower. We stopped at Walgreens and got a pair of vice grips and a screwdriver.
After lunch, I’ll correct the shower issue…no water pressure at all!

We got a little bit of a late start, so we went downtown for about an hour and it was time for lunch.
Lunch was at a place called “Alonzos”. As you can see, the spread was great. Crab legs, beer steamed shrimp, and another version of Oysters Rockefeller.
Alonzos is a very good place to eat. The food was very good and, it was nice and cool inside!
Several Margaritas later, we head back to Mallory Square.

Here are a few pictures of the Art museum, a sculpture out back, the Key West Aquarium, and Mel Fishers museum.

After that, it is on to one of our favorite stops, “Fat Tuesdays”. Fat Tuesdays is a frozen drink bar. I think that is all they serve as we have never seen a menu. After several Banana Berries..with the Rum “floaters” on top, it was time to retreat to the room!

Back at the room, it was time to address the poor water pressure in our shower. I removed the head and the screen was clogged. Also, the rubber ring inside the restrictor had swollen. Unfortunately, the screen was damaged so I couldn’t put that back. 😉

Now, we had a proper shower!

After a nap, we headed back to town. First stop was the “Conch Republic” for dinner. Oysters Rockefeller, fried Calamari, Steamed Clams, Conch chowder, and cracked conch.
This place was great. Everything was fantastic and the service was top notch.

Here is Teala enjoying “another” Mojito!

After dinner, time to go watch the sunset celebration at Mallory Square. For those that have never been, this is a nightly ritual. Every night at sunset, hundreds of people gather to watch the sunset. There are also several “side shows” and entertainment.

Here we have, the crazy banjo player, the silver man, and Spiderman in his retirement years.

Teala with Spiderman!

The hire wire act:

And, some pictures of the sunset.

We pack and start the ride home.
First stop, and this is just for my friend Mike, the Sugarloaf Lodge, and a certain bridge! 28 years ago, some of us were seen jumping off of that bridge!

Next, the Bahia Honda Bridge. You can have it for free, if you agree to remove it!

The Seven Mile Bridge and a few pictures from the bridge.

The Whistle Stop. Those that have been there know the significance of this photo!

Another sad picture, the old Coral Grill. This used to be the best buffet in the Keys. All you can eat for $15.00! Teala and I would drive down just for dinner!

The giant lobster that used to be across the street at a gift shop. Now, that is a school. Fortunately, they kept the lobster in the Keys. Now it resides at the “Rain Barrel” and as my uncle Marv says “Holy shit in a Rain Barrel”!

For the last leg of the trip, we were going to have lunch at Marker 88, a fantastic restaurant. However, I decided it would be better to visit the place that we got married, the Marriott at Key Largo.

Here is the view of the spot where we got married , the bridge where we finally got to kiss, and the restaurant where we ate lunch, Gus’s grill.

“The Card sound Road bridge”

“Alabama Jacks”

Now for the saddest part……the return home.

All and all, a very relaxing and fun weekend. I have said it many times before, if you can’t enjoy yourself in the Keys, you might as well just end it all.

Some afterthoughts:
The best place we ate was the Conch Republic, followed closely by Alonzos. There is a reason I ate Oysters Rockefeller every day. Turtle Kraals, which we didn’t eat at this time, had the best Oysters Rockefeller I have ever had. Unfortunately, without notifying me, they removed them from the menu!
The Conch Republics oysters were good, but not the same.

The Route:
We took the standard road (US 1) down to the Keys. After Islamorada, there was construction all the way down to Key West. And, plenty of traffic to go along with it.
On the return trip, and I highly suggest everyone do this, we took Card Sound road which bypasses the usual bottlenecks on US 1.

The Hotel:
We stayed at the Marriott Key West. Using our Marriott points, the stay was free! Of course, there was the sizable liquor bill!


August 17, 2010 - Posted by | Family and Friends | ,


  1. Great stuff Eric!! It’s awesome to learn about you and your family & friends! Happy b-lated Birthday! Thanks for sharing your trip

    Comment by Rachele Mikkelson | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] in Islamirada that I inspected. He lets us stay there whenever we want. Here is one of our trips Erics 50th Bday Eric Van De Ven State of Florida License # HI591 InterNACHI Member NACHI10100101 Website: […]

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