You could spend several lifetimes hunting through the Keys for adventure and the likes of mouthwatering yellowtail snapper; some of the Keys' more karmically inclined residents believe they have. But I've only a week to indulge in unapologetically aimless meandering.

Fortunately, I'm traveling with Chris McLaughlin, who knows the Keys intimately, having frequented the area for years, including a five-year stint of residence.

Slowly, in appropriate tropical absorption, Chris has come to know the Keys and its residents.

"It's a great place for people who can't fit into big-city life," he explains as we drive across one of the Keys' 42 bridges, and I gaze out the window at sun-spackled water - the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic - stretching to both horizons. "Kind of a place for misfits to recast themselves."

Many Keys folk don't want to be found, a yearning that even extends to some of their eateries.

One afternoon, crossing on to Big Pine Key, Chris says simply, "Turn here."

We turn right, fork right, and then make, I think, a left, coupled with a few more turns. I start to form a question, but Chris just raises his hand.

"Directions don't work," he says. "By the time people finish describing how to get to this place, you won't go."

I will say now that the No Name Pub is worth asking for. The place has a sense of humor (the sign outside aptly states "No Name Pub/You Found It"), and the Cuban sandwich is mouthwatering. Plus, when we step inside, it has the true stamp of quality - the place is stuffed with locals at the bar and boisterous families at the tables, their happy noise stifled only somewhat by the papering of dollar bills that covers nearly every inch of wall.