I took a short vacation with my husband, and we ended up in Florida just in the nick of time. New Mexico had some cold rain and snow last week while we were visiting the Sunshine State. Pretty good timing, leaving when we did.
There isn’t much about Florida that will remind someone of New Mexico, but I did find something totally by surprise. It wasn’t the language. Although there were many people speaking Spanish, it wasn’t the sing-song New Mexico Spanish I am accustomed to. The sunsets are pretty like sunsets in New Mexico, but that’s not it either. It was something else New Mexican that caught my eye and made me smile.
Upon landing we picked up a car and headed straight for the Keys. We spent the first night in peaceful Big Pine Key at a quiet inn called the Barnacle B&B, perched on a beach of the south facing side of the island. The stars are amazing at night in this location because of no light pollution, much like New Mexico, (but this wasn’t it.) The Key Deer are everywhere and are like pesky dogs begging for a handout at breakfast. We did not accommodate them. The deer in New Mexico don’t beg.
We headed down to Key West the next morning, found a place to stay and then headed to the Mel Fisher Museum. I love history and my husband loves boats, ships and treasure stories, so this was a joy for both of us and we spent several hours there. After touring the museum exhibits we made our way to the Fisher Family Store, where you may buy an actual coin or jewels found among the treasure from the 1622 wreck of the Spanish Galleon Atocha, if you have a load of cash. Items I saw ranged from $2500 to over $1,000,000. I opted to purchase an affordable replica of a “piece of eight” coin that was made from silver that was headed from the Americas to Spain on board this ship. Old silver, old money. The Spanish heritage is a lot like New Mexico’s, but this wasn’t it either.
Across the street was a very old looking red brick building. I told my husband it looked like a customs house, and low and behold – it was. Inside was another museum, The Key West Museum of Art & History in the Custom House, run by the Key West Art & Historical Society. We tackled it the next day.
This museum offered a lot of the history of Key West, which in 1889 had more millionaires than anywhere else in America. There was also more info about Key West’s most famous citizen than ever I needed to know. I don’t like Ernest Hemingway very much. My husband said the same thing.
Now – the NM connection on this trip. On the first floor of this museum there was an art exhibit, “Portraits of American Poets”, by Jack Smith. The portraits were exceptional. My non-art critic perception is that they were a cross between realistic and impressionist representations of these people and they were colorful and interesting. They were all done on a small scale, in my memory about 10 inch square. I was really enjoying this exhibit and when I came to the end there was a large full figure painting unlike all the rest. I read the description and it said:
Doan at the Adobe Bar and Grill
Smith [the artist] lives in Taos, New Mexico and has painted many portraits of the diverse community. The subject of this painting is a chef at the historic Taos Inn’s Adobe Bar.
Taos, NM. And there he was in Key West. Maybe he is a poet?
I love the contrast of chef hat and well worn western boots. It’s so New Mexico.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!