Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Final Visit to Key West - 6 Toed Cats

Wednesday December 23, 2015                                    Most Recent Posts:
Long Key State Park                                                     Winter Solstice 2015 – What a Wonderful Day!
Layton, Florida                                                             Solstice Eve



This morning the skies are gorgeous and the wind, as usual, is whipping.  I don’t think we have had one day without winds in excess of 20 mph during our stay here in Long Key.

At dawn the sky is pink and the flag is whipping around.





The clouds mute into more orange  but the dark gray still lines the horizon.  Every sunrise is so different. 



I don’t actually see the sun rise since it has to get through those horizon clouds first but as it does the color drains right down into the sun and it comes bursting through above the horizon clouds.  I am really going to miss these sunrises and sunsets in the Keys.





Today is David’s last clinic visit in the Keys so we are headed to Key West.  While we are having breakfast Carrie looks out the window and a Great Egret has flown in and is walking around on top the bushes in our side yard.







He provides wonderful breakfast entertainment before he flies off to the beach near our flag and we must get on the road.





Carrie has chosen to visit Hemingway’s House in Key West.  Not being a big Hemingway fan, I have not been there for many many years.  Not sure Carrie is a big Hemingway fan either although she’s read a number of his books.  But she is a big cat fan, owning two of her own, and she wants to see the famed 6 toed cats.

His house is located just down the street from the Key West Lighthouse on an acre of land making it the largest private house and land parcel in the city.  It is for me the quintessenial Key West House having a “veranda” with ceiling fans and huge windows looking out onto his tropical jungle yard.




Admission is $13 and includes a tour which you are not compelled to take if you do not wish to.  You are allowed to wander through the house and gardens at will and stay as long as you like.

We walk around the gardens before taking the tour.  They are lush, beautiful and so cool.  Perfect for this southern most city.




In short order we notice what turns out to be my favorite  6 toed cat lying under one of the benches. 





After looking around outside we go inside for the tour.  I’ve forgotten the guide’s name but she is excellent.

The house isn’t actually as large as it looks.  Inside is a a living room with beautiful furniture.  Each sofa has a throw for the use of the cats which have the run of the house and property.

Hemingway’s wife at the time, he had 4 wives, was Pauline Pfeiffer who had expensive tastes and luckily a rich uncle with no children for whom she was a favorite.  There are chandeliers in every room including the bathroom.

The tall circular topped doors all around the room must have made it delightful in the summer with the fans on the porches and the breezes wafting in.  A really beautiful room


Visitors may not sit on the furniture but cats are welcome.








In the far end of the room is a display of the works Hemingway wrote in Key West and his numerous portable typewriters.  The house was sold in 1961 after his death with all its contents.  The woman who bought it was so bothered by Hemingway fans who just wanted to “look inside” that in 1964 she turned it into a museum and the family still owns it.




Our guide knows tons of Hemingway stories of his escapades in Key West.  We move into the dining room where another of the cats claims Carrie’s attention.  There our guide tells us about Hemingway’s 4 wives.  A picture of him above the buffet is surrounded by the women.




Upstairs the bedroom too has the tall door/windows opening out onto the veranda which on one side has a view of the lighthouse, another overlooks the street where Hemingway was said to call down to friends walking by while sitting on the camode which was right by a window.   A third view is of the verdent yard.




As we leave the bedroom, we look down on the pool which Pauline built in place of Ernest’s boxing ring during one of his absences.  He was none too pleased and the story is one of tit for tat between two strong willed people as he had a urinal from the Sloppy Joe’s bar moved in next to her pool and she tiled the urinal and turned it into a fountain.




During Hemingway’s time here, there was a wrought iron cat walk (appropriate term) between his second floor bedroom balcony and his writer’s studio.  That has been removed and we must go down stairs and outside to visit the studio where he spent mornings writing during one of the most prolific periods of his artistic life.   Afternoons he spent fishing and nights at Sloppy Joes.







Outside again, we wander the lovely grounds and meet up with more of the six toed cats.  There are 50 some living here all possibly descended from the cat given to Hemingway by his friend Captain Harold Dexter who was a shipwreck and salvage captain.  Salvage was a highly lucrative business in Key West due to the number of shipwrecks on the coral reefs.  Hemingway’s boys, Patrick and Gregory, named the cat Snowball.  Hemingway named subsequent cats after his friends.










The cats definitely have a good time.




I wonder who had to clean the cement off the paws which did this sidewalk decorating next to the house.



We visit the cat cemetery where notables such as Hairy Truman, Marilyn Monroe, and Humphrey Toegart are buried.


Thanks to Carrie for wanting to come back to this lovely home.  The grounds are lovely as is the house.



And…….there are cats everywhere if you are a cat lover.




It’s time for a late lunch now and we are meeting David at Garbo’s which is about an 8 block walk.  You just never know what you are going to see walking in Key West.


A lovely tourist mother-to-be with a perfect hat for the day and place.


I guess it’s a swamp mobile although that’s a shark on the back.



She hasn’t driven all the way from Maine on Rt 1 but she’s at Mile 0.


The rooster crow music of Key West




The Banyon is decorated for the holidays and sporting its Conch Republic Sign.   Its name sake tree is amazing.







David is waiting when we arrive in front of Grubb’s bar.  He’s managed to snag a table during what we thought would be a slow time after the normal lunch from 12 to 2.  We wait at least 30 minutes for our food but with some drinks we are happy enough.



Carrie and David have to examine the Grubb’s beer menu carefully to determine what he will have.  She’s on a no alcohol diet for now.




She accompanies her dad inside where he gets a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.






David has the Korean BBQ which is marinated beef short rib, nappa cabbage, scallions, carrots, diakon, cilantro, citrus soy dressing and sriracha sauce.  He passes on the hot sauce.  The choice is BBQ tacos or burrito.  He picks burrito.  He says it was very good but being partial to southern U.S. BBQ he probably wouldn’t have it again.  


Carrie and I choose the fish tacos which are always made from fresh fish.  Today we actually have to wait for the mahi mahi to come from the boat.  The tacos have red cabbage, mango, jalapeno, cilantro, onion and their house carribean sauce which is hot for us and probably medium for most others.



Of course we need something to cool our spicy tongues so we head back over to Haagen Dazs with yet another two for one coupon.



As we walk back to the car parked this time not on Elliot but on Fletcher, David wants me to make sure I take a picture of this racy little number.



On our way back from Key West to Long Key, we drive down the main road of the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.  Since it is late in the afternoon, we think we might spot some of the little deer for Carrie to see and we do.  They are right along the road but people seem to be very careful of them.  They are about the size of a golden retriever and Oh so Cute!










The sun sets as we leave Key West behind us on our last weekly visit after two months in the Keys.  We’ve learned a lot about the city and have really grown to like it.  While the weather has been mostly not so hot for the entire 8 weeks we’ve been in the Keys, we have never had a bad day in Key West.  Wish they had an affordable RV Park there since they seem to have charmed weather.






  1. We, too, enjoyed visiting Hemmingway's house, but then we're partial to cats!

  2. Love the sunrise shots and of course the 6-toed cats! What a great place for them.

  3. Thanks for the Hemingway tour & trip down memory lane. Ernest was a scoundrel for sure, but I am fond of his connection with nature as in the Nick Adams stories. We've ridden our bikes a few times through the Petoskey, MI area which is where he spent his summers as a young boy and man and some of the stories are set in the area. If you've not already moved too far north I might recommend the Hogfish Bar and Grill at 6810 Front St, Stock Island. Great Hogfish sandwich, great sunsets over the marina. Lots of free parking. Enjoy, I continue to be grateful to live vicariously through you. Jude

  4. Many decades ago, on trips to Key West from Miami, we would just wander around the grounds, which was free at the time. We took the tour once - very interesting - but photographing the lovely grounds was just as pleasurable.

    Virtual hugs,


  5. I wouldn't have missed the Hemingway house tour, I loved the house, the stories, and the cats. Went back and tried to read some Hemingway again, but yeah, got bored actually. But some of it is fascinating. So glad you found the good parts of Key West, although two months is a fairly long time I would say. Looking forward to seeing where you head next.

  6. OK, I am just trying to catch up on you and everyone else. I love your tour. Is that a baby bump I see? How is David doing? Where do you go next????? I am so far behind that I cannot find my tail.

  7. We didn't visit Hemingway's house when we were down there. I love cats and Hemingway so I probably should have gone. Thanks for taking me along with you and Carrie:) Love those toes!

    Now that is a fresh fish taco!!! It was huge and looked very good:)

    How nice that Carrie could join you on David's last visit to Key West:) She looks so cute in the hat:)

  8. THAT is one beautiful "Cat House!" :)

  9. Hmmm....growing up we had a white, 6 toed cat named Snowball. It was the size of a dog;o))

    Looks like a nice final visit to Key West. We never really got to know the city. Maybe next time??

    That fish taco looks amazing...Mahi Mahi right from the boat...Oh My!!!

  10. Thanks for the nice picture of the fish tacos at Garbo's. We had heard they were delicious but never made it there when they were open. My favorite fish are hogfish, yellowtail and mahi, in that order. Nothing quite like fresh fish.

    I don't remember them letting the cats in the house when we were at the Hemingway house. I remember a cage area outside where they slept. I hate to see all those kittens, but I guess they need to keep the bloodline going. I'm just not a fan of kitten breeding...although that first kitten was so cute, I might have been tempted to steal it.

    I guess you've probably left the Keys by now. I hope you get better weather for the rest of your winter travels.

  11. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is one of my favorite crafts... we never toured the house but am glad you shared it with us

  12. Such fun to see Carrie enjoying the Christmas holiday with the two of you. I loved the Hemingway House... and enjoyed the cats (Like Carrie I am a kitty lover). Great photo of one of the six-toed cats. They are unique. Your photos make me want to return to Key West once again. Beautiful photos of sunsets. I will never tire of the sunsets and sunrises, although I am rarely up to see a sunrise, they remind me that I have another day to look forward to.

  13. I love the stories about events and people so a good tour guide is necessary.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. I love the fact that the cats have the run of the place! Looks like you've had a wonderful holiday visit with Carrie!

  15. Hemingway's house looks beautiful. I was in Key West about 15 years ago and saw the outside but didn' venture in, now I am sorry that I didn't. I would have spent all my time with the cats! ;-)

    So glad that you have had such a good time in the Keys. One day Kevin and I will visit the Keys, just don't know when that will be.


  16. The Hemingway house is one place I would love to visit, not only for the writer but for those cats. What sweeties. The first time I heard about those cats was in Michael Palin's travel book following the life and times of Hemingway.

  17. With all those cats running around, I'm surprised you didn't get a free one to take home as a souvenir! I'm sure Pooh and friends would welcome another windshield watcher. ;c)

  18. What a wonderful tour you gave us of Hemingway's home and gardens and cats! I haven't been there in probably 20 years, so next time we're in the Keys, it will definitely be on our list. Glad you had such a fun day in Key West with Carrie and good weather for your visit. A couple of weeks ago we were enjoying those delicious fish tacos at Garbos Grill…yum! Your sunrise photo is absolutely spectacular. :-)

  19. I've always preferred Steinbeck, but have enjoyed a bit of Hemmingway as well. Not being a cat lover I would probably skip the tour. I hope David's clinic visit went well.

  20. From sunrise to set, yet another glorious day. The tour seems a good choice to combine with walking in the lush gardens. Have seen only one 6-toed cat, but like them all.

  21. Although I am no Hemingway fan, I must say his cat-house tour looks more interesting than my clinic visit. I won't complain though as they were very fast at the clinic and the treatment continues to keep me stable without serious side effects. The food options in Key West were definitely fun for me too.

  22. Those skies just keep on gifting you with such wonder. What a wonderful garden and house tour - also not a H fan, but love the cats and the tit-for-tat around the pool :-)) I agree your first kitty is the cutest. Such a sweet face! You and Carrie are adorable with your ice creams. Your lunch sounds very yummy too.

  23. Looks lovely. My sister and brother-in-law were in Key West last winter and they loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  24. I've always heard about the 6 toed cats, didn't know they still existed. What a cool place to wander around :)

  25. Hemmingway House was a good choice,especially since the weather was grand and our tour guide was very good and entertaining. I loved the cats of course. It was a great lunch spot and always nice to finish up with a sweet treat!


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