Key Looe Resort – Florida Keys – Review

Last year, in early June of 2014, my son (12 at the time) and I took a birding expedition to Florida.  We started in Jacksonville, and worked our way all the way down to the Dry Tortugas over a period of 13 days.  One lodging location stood out, beneath all the rest.

After over a year of submitting my initial review to Expedia, I received the notification from them that it was finally published.  I went to the site to see it, but it wasn’t there.  Here is my unabashed, honest review of possibly the shittiest roadside roadhouse roach motel at which I’ve ever been misfortunate enough to be tricked into staying.

In short: Filter flies, ants, a frog and a bar outside my door

I will spare you the narrative and just make a list of all the problems of this “resort.” Make no mistake – this is a motel. It is not a resort by any stretch of the imagination. These items are listed in no particular order:
1. Filter flies in the bathroom
2. We actually woke up one morning to a giant tree frog in the toilet
3. No 24 hr reception
4. ants in the room (the real little ones)
5. bare bulb fixtures
6. Weak security (mechanical key, doorknob based with door swinging outward (hinges on the outside and an easy-pry latch)
7. The “tikki” bar is less than 100 feet from the rooms at the one end of the motel, and it is LOUD.
8. 80 – 99 Db noise from bar until 11:15 PM on the weekends, 10 pM weeknights.
9. If you come in at the wrong time, parking is non-existent because this is a local bar hangout. So you have sit and wait for someone to leave. The only other option is to park illegally on the highway.
10. The bathroom sink had a very, very slow drain,
11. The shower floor had not been cleaned prior to our use of the room. It was slippery, and had a nice big wad of hair in the drain.

The Food:

We didn’t try the food. That seemed like a bad idea.

The overall hotel ambiance:

This hotel is disgusting. It is a pit, and it is NOT a place for children. The band plays music with “F* you” in the lyrics and they play it loud, and repeatedly, and long. Here is the really frightening part: These guys have a SCUBA shop attached to their motel, and offer “resort” dives. If this is how they take care of their rooms, how well do you think they are taking care of their dive equipment?

The room looked nice on the Internet. The Internet is a liar.

The Solution:

The problems I found here could easily be repaired by a few big yellow bulldozers, new ownership and management, and a new building.

Key West is not too far away. The Yankee ferry ride out to the Dry Tortugas was great, and yielded the most awesome snorkeling you could want.

Eulogy for Marilyn Swieck (How to Make Fudge and be a Good Person)

Greetings, and good afternoon.  My name is Scott. I am most honored to be here today, to talk to you about my Aunt Marilyn.

These next few stories are slices from my life, my life with Marilyn and my family’s life with her. I don’t have much time to deliver this message, my cousins have threatened me with an undisclosed punishment should I take too long. So, some of my transitions will seem abrupt, and through it all, I’m going to interject bits and pieces of Aunt Marilyn’s fudge recipe, so please pay attention and keep your pens at ready. This will hopefully not be as all over the place as I am, but it probably will be. I’ll make liberal use of strategic pauses.

A few years ago, Marilyn and I made fudge together, and I captured it in a series of videos.  The first step, she told me, was:

*Get yourself a big, wooden spoon.  Preferably one that says “chocolate only”

I don’t remember a world without my Aunt Marilyn.  She was a familiar motif for me, in my never ending tangled up state, in my rush to understand everything.  Her home always offered a calm, stable place.

*butter just the sides of a heavy, 3 quart saucepan.


Marilyn meant so much to me and my family, that not mentioning the impact on my life that she had would be unfair, so forgive me if I seem to digress – everything here relates to Marilyn, and where and how I saw her in our lives.

*add 4 cups granulated sugar.

For the past few weeks,  I’ve had this song going through my head, and it has this motif, this concept of home, of the moon being in my side, of angels not arriving, and being able to hear the choir. So there’s that, this concept of home that Marilyn understood, and that I learned from her.  I remember her playing Blue Moon.

*Add one 14.5 ounce can of evaporated milk

I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  But every year, at Christmas time and at my birthday, I would receive books.  Books on astronomy, on nature, works of fiction, and then of course there was the penguin mug.  I still have most of these gifts.  That was the thing about Marilyn, she gave thoughtful, helpful gifts, and education was important to her – as a result, it became important to me, and to my children as well.

*Mix it up before you put the margarine in.


My wife’s mother passed away 9 months before we got married, and this created a deep void in our lives. Aunt Marilyn was there for us during the very difficult grieving that followed, and I don’t think I ever thanked her enough

*add 1 cup land-o-lakes. because grandpa didn’t think there was anything else.  Cut it up, 6 or 7 times per bar so that it melts


When my son Ethan was born, Marilyn came and stayed with us for a week. She helped around the house, did laundry, cooked, and taught me that how you fold your towels depends entirely on the shape of the cabinet where you store them. We had just been folding them randomly and stuffing them in. She referred to our dog as her favorite area rug. He was half Great Dane.

*Turn on the stove, setting it to just below medium.  It really shouldn’t take you more than 45 minutes to make the fudge.



*now just let it melt.  Don’t stir it.

It was maybe ten years ago or so, I used my engineering and carpentry skills to install a handrail for Marilyn at her house – she had a short flight of stairs that had no rail. I told her I would take care of it. She gave me no requirements- she didn’t have to. It was Marilyn, and so it would be strong, beautiful, and it would last.  That something could be made better, stronger, and made to last, by these hands, became a standard in my life on that day.

*As the concoction on your stove warms, it boils up.  Let it.  Some recipes say to not stir it, but you can stir it every now and then.

I remember forgetting to return the library books I borrowed from Oak Park library, and my absolute terror that she would find out.Well, she was the head of circulation so I’m thinking she might have known. I don’t even remember if I returned them – if there is anyone here from the Oak Park library, please see me after the service for a donation…

*cook over medium heat to soft ball stage (236 degrees) or maybe a little below medium.  It cooks longer, but you won’t get it [to come out right] as..as much.


When Ethan was 11 months old, we (my wife and I), drove to Ohio with Marilyn. She rode in the back with Ethan the entire way. At this time, he was all “gibahbah*pbbbbbt” he had no words yet

*In the video, Marilyn changes her mind and says, “Ok, stir it more than you have to…and don’t worry if you scorch it a little.  Dark pieces might come up, but they’ll blend in with the chocolate.  Nobody will know.”

On the way back from Ohio, I think my wife was driving, and I looked at Ethan,  point at Marilyn and say “Aunt Marilyn” and he looks right at her, then at me, and he says, as clear as a bell , “no, Nana!” It was his first word, and the name stuck. “Nana.”

*To perform a softball test, take a little bit of the batter into your spoon and pour it into really cold water.  Dump the water out, and see how the fudge is.  Is it fudgy? Does it have substance?

Now, I’m sitting in an Italian Restaurant a couple of nights ago – all the most important events of my life have taken place in Italian Restaurants – and I’m writing this, and trying not to cry into my lasagna, and I’m thinking of my daughter, who left her sweater here, the sweater that she wore the last times she went to see her Nana.

I think it was last Tuesday or Wednesday, not this past one, the one before, that Elaine took Addie to see Marilyn that last time, wearing that wonderful sweater, with all her colors and her twirling, flouncing, bounce, Marilyn awakened, and in a strong voice, says “Oh my goodness gracious, look at you,” and she held out her hand to her. Those would be her last words.


*1 heaping, rounded serving spoon of marshmallow fluff. So that was the secret, a heaping, flouncing, bouncing serving spoon of marshmallow fluff. 

Recently, I was taking a class and the instructor asked me how I felt about being there, and I said, “I’m excited to be here!”  I think a big part of life involves always being excited to see people, and one thing is certain, is Marilyn was always excited to see people. 

*add one 12 ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces and a couple of small Hershey bars.
*1 teaspoon vanilla

For the past few weeks, while this song was going through my head, this entire time, we: Marilyn, my cousins and my children and my wife, and all of us, waited for the angels to come, to carry her Home.

I am thankful for the definition of home that she taught all of us, and I know we will carry it for the rest of our lives in our hearts, and in our minds.

*Once the pour has fully settled, score while warm, let cool, and call for someone to come, and carry it home.