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Bike Tour Offers Off-the-Beaten-Path Insights on Key West and Island Life
by Carol Shaughnessy
Lloyd Mager holds up a fluted, pink-lined conch shell. "It's my shell phone," he announces. "I can call long distances with it."
Raising it to his lips, he blows the introductory notes of a complex classical melody before replacing the shell in his bike basket, where it rests next to a coconut and a well-worn machete. Hopping on his fat-tired cycle, he gestures for his audience to mount their rental bikes and Lloyd's Tropical Bike Tour of Key West begins.
For 17 years, Mager has offered two-wheel tours of the island city, introducing participants to the winding lanes, historic Conch architecture, tropical fruits and flowers, hidden gardens and pocket parks most visitors never see.
"There's a huge history behind my tours, and a love of Key West that runs deep," said Mager.
Tours last approximately two hours and encompass four to five miles of easy pedaling along flat island byways. The pace is meandering, comfortable enough for kids or sedentary adults.
During the ride, participants inhale the fragrance of blossoms Mager picks for them, taste exotic fruits like Barbados cherry from a tiny park next to the picturesque Key West Cemetery, visit Nancy's Secret Garden a miniature rainforest inhabited by tropical birds and discover the meditative private Medicine Garden.
Along the way, Mager produces the coconut and cleaves it in half with his machete, encouraging cyclists to try the sweet coconut water and meat. Their unique flavor is a perfect match for the flavor of the tour itself.
Cost is $35 per person including bike rental. For more information, visit www.LloydsTropicalBikeTour.com. For tour times and reservations, call (305) 294-1882.
Islamorada Festival to Include Keys Cuisine and Olympic-Style Games
Two days of fun and games, great food, arts and crafts, and entertainment are to fill Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside, during the 16th annual Florida Keys Island Festival, Taste of Islamorada and newly created Islamorada Games. The festivities are slated for Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20.
Recording star Janie Fricke, who has been named the Country Music Association's female vocalist of the year and Academy of Country Music female vocalist of the year, is to headline two days of live music.
Victor Leong is to build an enormous sand castle on the beach, while his assistant gives lessons to aspiring sand sculptors. The festival also features an expanded and juried arts and crafts area.
A doggie fun zone, featuring an amusement park fit for canines, is to operate in the dog park.
Local chefs are to prepare their signature dishes as they compete for awards for best entrée, dessert, appetizer and other delights during Sunday's Taste of Islamorada.
The games are to be held in parallel (Olympic style) over the two days of Island Fest. Competitors can sign up for softball, soccer, tennis, skateboarding, distance and sprint runs, relays, kayaking, beach volleyball, tug of war and ultimate Frisbee.
The climactic "closing ceremony" of the games is to be the Rubber Ducky Race, set for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on the beach at Founders Park.
For more information on the Florida Keys Island Festival and Taste of Islamorada, contact the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce at (305) 664-4503 or (800) 322-5397. For details on the Islamorada Games, call (305) 852-3588.
Yellow Air Taxi Debuts Key West Routes
Travelers can now fly between Naples, Fla., and Key West; and Fort Lauderdale and Key West, aboard Yellow Air Taxi nine-passenger Cessna 402c aircraft. Like popular taxicabs, the planes' exterior is yellow with black and white checkered trim.
Yellow Air Taxi offers three round-trip flights per day Thursdays through Mondays between Naples Municipal Airport and Key West International Airport. Between Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Key West, two round-trip flights per day are scheduled Thursdays through Mondays.
Flight time on both routes is approximately 45 minutes each way.
One-way fares to each destination start at $99, plus taxes and fees.
For schedules and reservation information, call 1-888-YELLOW-4 (1-888-935-5694) or visit www.flyyellowairtaxi.com.
Key West Symposium to Explore Truman's Environmental Legacy
During Harry S. Truman's 1945-1953 presidency, he spent 175 days at the Key West residence that became known worldwide as his "Little White House." Friday and Saturday, June 8-9, the Little White House is to be the headquarters of the fifth annual Truman Legacy Symposium recognizing the enduring contributions of America's 33rd president.
The 2007 symposium is to focus on Truman's environmental legacy including his 1947 dedication of Everglades National Park, recognized as a national treasure.
Keynote speakers are to be former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman; and columnist Michael Grunwald of "The Washington Post," author of "The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise."
Truman grandson Clifton Truman Daniel, other Truman family members, former presidential staff members and Truman scholars are to appear as well.
For more information, visit www.trumansymposium.com or call (305) 294-9911.
For more travel information on the Florida Keys:
Florida Keys Tourist Development Council
1201 White Street, Key West FL 33040
newsletter by the recipient on fla-keys.com.
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