Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hollywood History

Not too long ago The Colonel watched the movie, The African Queen. He had seen it years ago but wanted to see it again. After he watched the movie it got him wondering where the actual boat was currently. He had seen it many years ago in a Key West parking lot looking very weathered and dilapidated.

His Internet investigations lead him to the fact that The African Queen is now located in Key Largo, Florida around mile marker 100. It has been lovingly brought back to life by Captain Lance Holmquist and his wife Suzanne just in time for the boat's 100th anniversary (the boat was built in England in 1912).

Captain Lance has made the boat available for rides. He has daily cruises and dinner cruises.

The Colonel said he would take me to Key Largo and book one of the daily cruises but I would have to do a little homework first...I would have to watch the 1951 Bogart and Hepburn movie.

I watched the movie, paying particular attention to the boat. I am not a big fan of Bogart or Hepburn but I found Bogart rather funny as Mr. Allnut and Hepburn did play the unattractive spinster, Rosie, very well. Bogart got an Oscar for his performance as Mr. Allnut.

After watching the movie I was excited and eager to see and take a ride in the African Queen. It is a little bit of a drive to Key Largo from my house but definitely day trip doable.

As we were making our way to Key Largo on Alligator Alley the skies looked ominous. I kept praying for the rain, rain, to stay away, come again another day. The closer we got to Key Largo the better the sky became. By the time we had our very delicious lunch at Hobo's  restaurant in Key Largo, the skies were clear and sunny.

The African Queen is docked near the Holiday Inn.

I was excited and giddy just looking at The African Queen from dockside. I could not wait to go aboard this great piece of Hollywood history. There were three other passengers who would be joining us on our 90-minute ride; another couple and an elderly man who had been watching what was happening to the boat for many years and was finally going to get a ride in her.

I was the first passenger to board the boat and I made my way towards the front. When all of us were seated, Capt. Lance and his crew member began to get the boiler and engine ready for the trip. The boiler was all new but the stack on top is the original one.

Our ride began at the Marina Del Mar and traveled along the Port Largo Canals to the Atlantic Ocean. We passed many big, beautiful homes on our way to the ocean (and a cute, little houseboat).

Before we could make it all the way to the ocean, we had to get more fuel. Captain Lance pulled The African Queen alongside a boat next to his huge house and had a large, red container handed down to us. The Colonel jumped up to help bring the heavy container on board. He then helped to refuel The African Queen. He  was officially a working hand on The African cool was that? 


During the ride The Colonel pointed out a tree that was growing on a house.

The Colonel and I got to handle the tiller. All I could think of was that Katherine Hepburn sat where I was sitting and worked the tiller too.

Captain Lance would toot the steam whistle every time we passed another boat and when our ride was over he let me toot it too. I tooted it twice; once for each of my children. 

I had an excellent time aboard The African Queen (I think I was smiling the whole time). I would recommend a cruise to everyone and I would recommend they watch the movie first to really appreciate the experience.

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