No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Masquerade March

October 28, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingGil, Kathy & Marilyn

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Jim

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The Friday night festivities of Fantasy Fest are highlighted by the Masquerade March. A costumed march in which participants dress up and choose one of two paths starting from the Key West Cemetery and winding through Old Town stopping along the way at various guest houses and hotels each of which are serving free drinks for those in costume. It begins at about 5 and meanders through downtown at a leisurely pace for a couple of hours before merging into the gathered throngs on Duval Street where the Fantasy Fest street fair is going strong.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Graf & Eileen

This year had to be the largest crowd of revelers actually marching. We joined the throng along the Southern route, dressed in our Plutonian Garb. We found a few other Plutonians, but most of our group was busy putting the finishing touches on our space craft for the parade, or more likely, frantically trying to finish in time. The fun thing about this event is the large amount of local participation. Not that the parade doesn’t have more locals, this is just more manageable, with a crowd closer to 5,000 than 50,000, making it somewhat easier to locate friends. Many people call this their favorite Fantasy Fest event. We still prefer the parade, but the masquerade march is tons of fun.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingKathy & Lori

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, with a nice breeze, low humidity and the temperature in the upper 70s. The walk was great and we encountered tons of friends along the way. If I thought the parade itself was crowded, the masses along Duval Street were incredible. The street fair featured a variety of vendors and food, beer and mixed drinks, much of it served by local non-profits which take advantage of the event to fill their coffers. The school where Kathy teaches was selling delicious chicken & rice and we headed there for a quick meal before blending back into the throng.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The PreSchool Coop Crew

Tonight is the big event and there is rain in the forecast which hopefully will hold off, though the festivities will go on regardless. We are ready, with only minor repairs to our costumes after two nights of use. The float will no doubt be ready as well, thanks to the hard working crew over at Dana’s, Rick, Steve, Dave & Hutch deserve special recognition for getting it together. Now for the exciting news, this year- we will have a live web cam attached to the float and viewers will be able to watch the fun from the vantage point of the float. Click the link below to check it out. The parade starts at 7 PM EST.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingKathy & Nadene

Watch Fantasy Fest Float Cam

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pretenders in Paradise

October 27, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Plutonians

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The largest and most extravagant of the many costume competitions held in conjunction with Fantasy Fest is the Pretenders in Paradise competition held each year for the past 28 years on the beach at the Pier House Resort. Each year costume creators from around the country enter to compete for over $17,000 in cash prizes. This year all those amazingly creative entrants were joined by a group of ragtag Plutonian refugees who captured neither the hearts nor minds (let alone prize money) of the judges, but who had an excellent evening indoctrinating the earthlings in the audience in the Plutonian way.

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We had to sort of rush to get down to the Pier House, the rushing included basically creating my costume, since unlike Kathy…I was ill prepared to participate and ended up basically throwing a costume together in the short time between work and arrival at the Pier House. It actually came together fairly well and we made it with time to spare. There were a fairly large number of Plutonian participants, though far less than will be in the parade on Saturday. We had plenty of time to hang back stage which allowed us at once to watch the competitors as well as get loosened up with the strange earth beverages known as beer. There were many incredible entries, but I really felt we should have taken a prize in the amateur group category, we were clearly better than at least one of the award winners, oh well…it was still a great time.

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The crowd downtown and traffic around the island seem to be increasing in a way that portends one of the busiest and biggest Fantasy Fests ever. After all the stress and postponement last year due to Hurricane Wilma…it will be nice to celebrate a return to abnormal. This evening, we are back at it, planning to march in the annual masquerade march and head downtown for the street fair and all the lunacy that entails.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fantasy Fest

October 26, 2006

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Kathy checks the float progress.

The annual Key West bash known as Fantasy Fest has kicked into high gear and we have been busy, busy trying to complete our costumes and the float while still attempting to find time to attend as many of the myriad of parties and events as possible. Each evening this week brings any number of choices ranging from the merely fun to the truly outrageous.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Richard & Bethany

Some parties have become so popular that the sheer size and scope has overwhelmed whatever charm they may have held, leading us to opt out of participating in events such as Kelly’s Kinky Carnival, Fogarty’s Red Party and Sloppy Joe’s toga bash. That still leaves a bunch of stuff to do and we have been squeezing as much as possible into our crowded schedule.

Monday we spent working on our costumes and the float, at least Kathy did…her costume is almost complete and looks awesome, while mine is developing at a much slower rate. The float is coming along nicely it seems and should be ready for a couple of events this week, including an appearance in the Pretenders in Paradise costume contest this evening and of course the big parade on Saturday night.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Kelsey

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There are very few Fantasy Fest events that are actually suitable for children, most tending to be on the risqué side, but the annual Pet Masquerade is one that families can enjoy. After being held for years on the beach at the Casa Marina Hotel, for some reason the location was switched this year to the Westin resort next to Mallory Square where the massive crowds were crammed into the limited space. We snuck back stage to hang with the contestants who included our friend Lisa Morris and her daughter Kelsey who captured a trophy for her “Rubber Duckie” costume complete with real ducks. Pets and their owners donned all sorts of crazy costumes for the fun family event.

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Less family friendly, the Hogs Breath’s Fantasy Fest beach party includes the annual home made bikini contest, in which contestants use whatever they happen to have around the house to create bikinis. And finally the night was topped off with a visit to the Green Parrot bar where the Siberian Rock band- The Red Elvises were rocking the place. Check out the link below to hear their raucous music.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Red Elvises

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Elena's home made bikini

Red Elvises Web Site

Monday, October 23, 2006

Goombay Baby!

October 23, 2006

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Another packed weekend as Fantasy Fest events kicked off and we kept busy between attending Goombay, working on our Fantasy Fest costumes and float and trying to keep up with all the normal activities weekends bring about….laundry and grass cutting and such. It makes for a tired Monday at work that’s for sure. It’s a well earned exhaustion as we had an awesome time.

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Friday night, we headed out to see the author reading event at the FIU writers seminar then headed down to Bahama Village to enjoy meat on a stick and the chance to see all the people in town, because almost everyone comes to Goombay. It is a wonderful example of all that is still good in Key West. The diversity of people, entertainment, food and fun makes the festival the favorite event of many locals. As usual, our hangout was the intersection of Thomas and Petronia Streets, in front of Blue Heaven Restaurant. This happened to be the exact area where a mysterious alien spacecraft had crash landed, stranding a scouting party of Plutonian refugees who were seeking to enlist willing souls to their cause.

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Goombay featured a ton of great Caribbean music, great food, and vendors selling all sorts of eclectic merchandise, everything from bootleg live concert CDs to African handicrafts to a variety of fine jewelry. We were out late and had a lot to eat and drink...though not so much as Howard.

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Saturday, Kathy had to attend a training seminar for work, leaving me free to attend a picnic at Ft. Zack for volunteers at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It was a perfect chamber of commerce day. Sunny and 80, no humidity with a light ocean breeze, great for a picnic. On the way home, I went back through Goombay, which seems a totally different place in the daylight.

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Saturday night was more of the same, first attending a book signing at Kelly’s Caribbean for the release of a new anthology featuring 17 writers, each doing a piece set in Miami called appropriately enough, “Miami Noir”. My friend Tom Corcoran is one of the included writers and most of them were present for the book signing. Afterwards, it was back to the Pier House for more readings, including John Dufresne & Dennis Lehane and the wrap-up party for the writer’s conference.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Michael & Dan Wakefield

The night concluded back at Goombay where it must have been a full moon, because it seemed much crazier. Thankfully my friend Nadene was there to stand in for Kathy (who opted for home and sleep) and protect me from the freaky people who seemed somehow drawn to me.

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Sunday was a day of rest, if you count yard work, laundry, costume creating and watching football as rest. Well, the football part perhaps. Go Colts!