Saturday, December 29, 2007
Then we landed in another world and started driving as usual, and we were in the very Third World of dirt mountain roads, bumping my wife´s wounded arm, passing little stick houses and horses and pigs and pot holes and we reached the only beach in the Dominican Republic that isn´t really a beach, just brown frothing water a very brisk sea breeze and strange fried rissoles for lunch- pictures to follow.
Back over the mountains dodging potholes and into the lobby of our five star world, soothing music, 11 dollar (US) rum punches and all services in three languages.
Very confusing, very stimulating. All in wonderful summery 85 degrees and perpetual sunshine. Sometimes Key West just isn´t warm enough.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
For somewhere south of five grand you get an ultra low maintenance 500cc single cylinder (half a Harley Davidson engine) motorcycle that has a top speed around 80 mph, shakes like jello and gets 70miles per very expensive gallon. It uses a final drive belt, the engine valves need no adjusting and the fuel and oil are carried low in the frame. Its an easy bike to ride with no chrome to polish and a modest size that makes it easy for smaller riders. The streets of our country should be flooded with these bikes. Too bad Buell doesn't offer decent luggage and a nice windshield to create the ultimate inexpensive commuter for a new century. Don't get me wrong, I love my Bonneville, but the Blast could well live up to its name for lots of riders.
On the other hand, T.E. Lawrence and Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) are writers of a different and much more interesting caliber, so they, and the Ducati keep me going between chiffon waves of Woolf and Joyce and their drawing room dramas. I am having a blast with this story; everybody should.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Well, even the most devoted nurse needs to take a little time off, so a quick run to the video store to return 92 In The Shade, say, can lead to something more... like a ride straight up Key Deer Boulevard, just before sunset in a crisp 70 degree evening. Perfect. A motorcyclist looking for twisties will have a hard time in the Keys, as will a commuter expecting alternative routes to work, but for a middle aged man with years of riding alternative roads stacked in his memory, all it takes to have a nice ride is a thundering putt through the pines of Big Pine Key. On a dead straight road, even. Key Deer Boulevard is the left-hand road heading north form the traffic light on Highway One and it runs dead straight to a dead end about five miles into the pine forest. Along the way it passes three churches, the Blue Hole and a Trail Head, part of the wilderness area that is most of the pine forest. The wilderness area tends to butt up a bit against homeowners. Co-existence can be a bit tricky where people resent wildlife, and they choose to live in the would-be-hinterlands of BPK, the island home of those in the Lower Keys that want to be Left Alone. These are not people that want National Wildlife in their backyards.I mean really, who do they think they are kidding with "unauthorized entry?" Key Deer wander at will and local gardeners are always in a tizz about deer ravaged plants. Personally I'd love a few endangered Key Deer on my Key, as they make development extra complicated and restricted but those that have them, tend to hate the deer. I might start hating them if I actually hit one. They are small, but not that small and could easily wreck a 30mph motorcycle. I saw a couple on my expedition but they stood on the roadside and made no false moves.
So the anti-tree-huggers trying to get away from it all live alongside the canals of Port Pine Heights, a place that I rate as less than scenic in many respects, not that inexpensive, as even these depressed days you'll be facing an asking price of at least $600,000 for a 1500 square foot run down stilt house on a canal. And the canal may not be so scenic, but it gives a boater easy access to Bogie Channel, where, rumor has it, is to be found excellent fishing, with easy access to the Content Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. The best part of this back country for a two wheeled rider with a yen to explore is the number of odd streets, most unpaved that wind mysteriously into the mangroves, pine trees and scrub. I make a mental note as I rumble by, and I shall return with my camera and stout walking shoes. I've checked quite a few back roads around here (on the Vespa) but there are always more. The trick is to check for a) Street Names and b) a mailbox. A dirt road with a mailbox and no street name is probably a driveway, and boy! Won't they be surprised to see a stranger on a Bonneville show up in their yard uninvited. The biggest handicap I've noted on the Bonneville is the Ducati-style, minuscule steering angle. Its fine on the open road but turning at walking speed is a protracted and tiresome business as the steering lock is tiny. Not the best feature for a high speed u-turn and getaway from an irate homeowner in his narrow driveway.
while carefully avoiding the angry No Trespassing and Trespassers will be Shot signs hemming in the view. I must be a simpleton, I had a great ride, mostly at 30mph or less because the Sheriff's Deputies positively love to lurk in the 30mph zone on the dead straight road. I got no tickets, I got fresh air and my wife was happily zoned out on pain pills and Netflix when I got home.My Bonneville: my panacea. And there's another of those bloody "Unauthorized Entry" signs in the background. I feel an upswelling of rebellion, one day I will just force my way into the scrub thorns and palmettos to prove a point. Bloody but unbowed, that will be me.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Thus, home we variously went to our own unhappinesses and joys, certain that today was a great day to be alive and saddened by the reason that pulled us all together. The greatest tribute of all was also the most modest, made a day earlier away from the all the uniforms and dignitaries. It came from a local homeless man who donated his five dollars to Toys for Tots in Deputy Tanner's name. Because, he told her Lieutenant, she always showed me kindness and respect. No greater tribute can a deputy have than this, from the least among us.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The longer I live in the Keys the less capable I am of functioning in mainstream America. I dislike not making eye contact, I dislike walking among people who are hunched and afraid ( with reason as my little confrontation proves), I dislike the thoughtless nastiness of modern urban life. Its a pretty short sliver of land I live on, the rest of the continent (with all its marvelous medical facilities!) weighs heavily on my island and on my mind.
Normal cheerful programming will be resumed when I get over all this ridiculous surgery stress. She seems less stressed than I am. I need my Bonneville.
The back end of the old Atlantic Shores was a place my wife and I still talk about. City Commissioner Rossi owned The Sands beach club, a place that offered decent food and outdoor casual seating on an actual sand beach. It really was a cool spot, and we enjoyed it. Our peripatetic yellow Lab Emma used to be able to sit alongside us in the sand and that was a bonus. The Sands is gone and a white construction fence is there instead. Across the street the old Reach Resort has been rebuilt and looks just as massive and solid as it did before Wilma trashed it in October 2005. The Santa Maria resort, a cute 1950's art deco motel has been transformed into minuscule condos selling for over a million bucks for each 400 square feet. I don't suppose the new occupants of the rabbit hutches will miss the ability to fling off their clothes around a public pool. They get tiny balconies to watch traffic whizzing by on South Street though.
I can't really say what I think about all this. Lots of people spend a great deal of time bitching about change and threaten to leave the Keys for a better, more expansive life Up North. What they don't investigate is that Up North is convulsing with change also, and for the price of a small residential condo in a converted Key West Victorian they can buy a tract house, twice as large with garage and a clean, bum-less street outside. But what makes the keys worth living in and struggling in isn't on offer in suburbia, at any price. Change is inevitable and it isn't usually a real improvement, but at least in Key West it is still a subject of debate and we all try to hang on and remember what's gone on ahead.
The 1990's was a decade of great wealth everywhere, in the Conch Republic as much as Up North and development was set in motion, but there was lots of good stuff that cheered people up in that decade. Much of it is gone or going as money dries up and people spend less. PT's a second rate restaurant where people liked to hang out is an actual parking lot. Dennis Pharmacy a cheesy but cheerful diner whose success was predicated on nostalgia is now a bland bank and so forth.
I wonder if one day we will wax nostalgic about the good old Santa Maria. Personally I never stayed at the old one and I sure as hell won't at the new one. As for my role in the poolside shenanigans at the Atlantic Shores? Why on earth would I miss them...?