Key West versus Coastal Maine

Hi. Barb here. Or rather there.

For the last two years, Bill and I have been lucky enough to spend part of the year in Key West, Florida and part of it in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

I’ve enjoyed exploring the similiarities and differences.

To wit:

Clothes don’t make the man

Similarities: In either Key West or coastal Maine, it’s a grave miscalculation to make assumptions about someone’s education, genealogy or net worth based on how they dress.


Key West formalwear: Clean t-shirt

Maine Coast formalwear: Clean flannel shirt.

Exceptions to sartorially casual approach:

Key West: Drag queens (while working)

Maine Coast: Martha Stewart (all the time).

Tourists driving

Similarities: In either location, natives can spot a tourist driving and take an alternative route if one is available.


Maine Coast: Can spot an out-of-state license from 100 yards away.

Key West: Can spot a Florida rental car license from 100 yards away. (Also, strangely leave the M off “Masshole!”)


Similarities: The lobster catch is headline news and both areas had tough lobster seasons.


Key West 2013: Lobsters scarce, prices high.

Maine Coast 2012: Lobsters plentiful, prices low.

Possible culprits:

Key West: BP oil spill

Maine Coast: 2012 non-winter


Key West: con leche

Maine: brandy

2013 Tourist Season:

Similarities: Can’t wait ’til they come. Can’t wait ’til they leave.


Key West: 2013 has been the best tourist season in years. I keep asking people why. Answers are evenly divided between, “The economy is actually better,” and “The economy is no better, but people have said, ‘screw it, we haven’t had a vacation in five years, we’re going.'”

Maine Coast: Anxiously waiting.

photo credits: my talented daughter Kate.

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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8 Responses to Key West versus Coastal Maine

  1. John Clark says:

    Wicked accurate…and funny.

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize I get to have brandy in my coffee in Maine. Heading north now!

    Great post, Barb. I just got back from a few days a bit further north in Venice, Florida. Next time we go visit those friends, we’ve already planned to hop the ferry from Fort Myers and spend a couple of nights in Key West!

  3. Judy D says:

    Gorgeous paintings in the last photo. If I could paint, I’d head to Florida at some non-threatening weather time. Haven’t been to Maine yet either but you all make it sound very inviting.

  4. Reine says:

    Anthropop, at its best, Barb… and a wicked good laugh!

  5. Hey, Barb. Great post. My kids swear by Key West. I swear by Maine. We’ve been four times so far and are heading up again in Otober, actually to Booth Bay Harbor area. No kids, just DH and me. We’ll try to coffee with brandy. Have missed that so far. The rest of the family plan to go to Hawaii some Christmas. I’ve told them fine, but I’ll be in Woodstock, VT. LOL Even my youngest grand, not two yet, is in love with the ocean. After a recent trip to Galveston. She kept repeating, “Ocean, more ocean.” I’ve had enough hot here in Texas to last me a liftime. How great for you to be able to split the seasons. Fun post.

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