Some years after God built Lost Key, the Spanish finally found a pass through it to what they dubbed Lost Bay after finally finding it, all while looking for a huge body of water west of the Caribbean. They built a fort and declared these lands theirs. For 400 years they fought the French, the Indians, mosquitoes, alligators, black snakes, hurricanes and the British for control. In the end, the Europeans were no match for the newly minted Americans and gave the whole thing up as a lost cause. Before the end of the Korean Conflict, the Army Corps of Engineers built a bridge to the key. Then the FloraBama opened and God hasn’t shut either down for long. Lost Key is essentially a break-water to the mainland. John D wrote about it years ago, as have myriad others. It’s a tourist spot in season. The rest of the year, it’s just home to a motley crew of people like Hannah and me. At the official end of tourist season the ‘bama hosts The Mullet Toss, and, as the title implies, involves tossing dead mullets across the state line. And every Sunday, I come for Sermon on the Beach.
The FloraBama is a road house of sorts, one of those been-there-forever places that are much written about, talked about, lied about. It’s been thru hurricanes, zoning commissions, eminent domains, and condominium buyouts, this visqueen covered shack has grown into the most famous spot east or west of Gilleys. Everybody who makes vacation on the hillbilly Riviera stops by to slurp Bushwackers and embellish their name in Sharpie along its exposed beams. Don’t forget to buy a T-shirt on the way out so you can prove you’ve been there. Order from their website if you don’t see what you want.
After the last stupidly named hurricane cleared the key and shuttered the ‘bama, among other casualties, it also wiped out the last best supper club on the planet earth underneath the Perdido Pass bridge. That bridge linked the key to Alabama. A concrete helipad remained marooned down beach on the Florida side for two years until some hotel finally paid to have it hauled away. The wind and waves left Baar Bridge battered, the Oyster Bar on the Florida end dented but still standing. The solid parts of the ‘bama flew away and the gulf made a home in the foundation. For several months the key was back to being an island, but the locals supplied food, water, shelter to the rescue teams and then the rebuilding crews, and finally the tourists. All the while, digging and bailing, nailing and running electrical from the untouched package store across the road.