Joe LeBlanc, the Conference Chair and founder of the Butch Voices Conference August 20-23, 2009, told me about the conference almost a year ago and I loved the idea. Watching it develop since October has been really incredible. What began as the germ of an idea has become something really big and amazing. If you can road trip or take a last-minute change of plans and go to this conference you absolutely MUST. The Femme Conference changed my life--I can only imagine how incredible Butch Voices will be.
Dara and I spent three days total in Key West. We drove down there from our cabin on Big Pine Key and spent the day after our paddleboard yoga adventure tooling around. I noticed the tourist crowd was pretty mainstream, which surprised both of us because we had the impression that Key West was pretty queer. From all I had heard about Key West I expected a hearty smattering of weirdos and did not find many. (Turns out they come during specific events and take over Key West.)
All of the locals we interacted with were fantastic and super weird. Whether weird in appearance or not, upon interacting with them they were definitely not what I would call “normals” and were lively, fun folks.* It was the tourists who had me on guard. (Unbeknownst to us, it was Spring Break.) Dara would literally count on one hand the amount of visibly lesbian or gay couples we saw during our time there.
That first day we wandered Key West I noticed the tourist crowd, but quickly ignored it to enjoy the beauty of the old wooden houses and taking our wander through the town. It was so lovely.
Before Paddleboard Yoga we took a walk down a random beach street we found and enjoyed how friendly most folks were. I loved peeping into the water for schools of fish. (I only found one.)
We had a great lunch at Pepe’s, suggested by an instagrammer I follow when I asked him about Key West. (He’s a minister and the gay dad of one of my favorite bloggers–if you like spiritual musings and great landscaping, request to follow Poppa143.)
They served iced tea by the pitcher, and a cat was sleeping on the sun roof above us in the outdoor patio! Clearly I was smitten with this place.
I found a spot in the marina that sells fish food and got to feed really huge, beautiful fish! I loved it so much we came back to do it again on our third day in Key West and that time saw a Nurse Shark dive in and grab a fish who was snacking on our fish food. Insert complex feelings about the circle of life.
On our mid-afternoon wander we ended up on the main drag of Duval Street and I started to feel kind of woozy and nauseous. It took me a few minutes to realize I was getting heat sick, needed to sit down and drink a lot of water. I usually only get heat sick when the temp is in the high 90s or above. Even though Key West was only in the 80s the sun was very intense. I noticed a sharp difference once my hair was up, I had cold water and we were walking on the shady side of the street.
After I was heat sick we stopped in at this really cute coffee shop for an hour and played chess under their fans and drank frothy iced coffees. It was inside a converted old wooden house and was really cool to get to experience the inside of a gorgeous house. They also had some porch seats but that was too hot for me, as I was a wilted flower.
I noticed the coffee shop had a real estate office inside of it and I fantasized about being a realtor in a cute coffee shop. One of the little wooden houses-turned-hotels that goes for $400 a night has a “liming hour” from 4-5 where they encourage guests to sit and literally do nothing. (Theirs includes an alcoholic beverage; upon some internet research I think the term “liming hour” might be appropriated from Caribbean culture.) I love the idea of valuing the art of doing nothing, though, and it was definitely needed given how sharp the sun is! I was glad we found a coffee shop to have that moment.
I’ve learned a lesson about sunny adventure vacations and booking in time to just chillax.
After our rest, we ticked off some more tourist bucket list. The Southernmost Point in the Continental US is a must. You have to stand in line to take a photo!
We had a mediocre dinner at a taco place called Amigos that enabled views of the touristy Duval Street. I realized once we got our food that the four stars on Yelp were for the ambiance of being in the “party.” Does anyone else feel annoyed when you eat out and the food isn’t amazing? I’m just always interested in delicious food first and making scrumptious nachos is not difficult.
Our post nachos, dog tired bodies wandered down an adorable street lamp lit alleyway listening to birdsong (at night!) and settled in for the 45 minute drive back to Big Pine Key. That was the night Dara got bit over 100 times by a spider. Her bites are still healing, almost three weeks later.
*Many of them suggested the Green Parrot as the bar and live music venue to check out. We don’t drink so we didn’t end up prioritizing a bar but I wanted to pass on the suggestion to my readers!