Saturday, May 25, 2019

Beach Scenes

Sometimes you just have to stop and take a breath as you pause in life's daily rush. So I did at the White Street Pier, which is now named for a local developer who died recently.
Looking east toward the airport the colors looked lovely but the "beach" looked typical for these islands, consisting of dead seaweed and rocks.
Looking west  toward the Martello Tower at Higgs beach, the 19th century brick coastal fortification that houses the garden club these days. Actual sand , imported from the Bahamas.


 I can't remember why I turned the camera on myself but I did. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Simonton and Truman

Every time I walk down Simonton Street at Olivia I see this funky old place perfectly illuminated and every time I try to capture it, if my impatient dog gives me time enough.
This place further up the street toward Truman Avenue caught my eye with all those wheelchairs to rent, and it provoked unhappy memories of my time wheeling myself around.
I was not interested in buy the motorcycle for sale but I did wonder how many strong people it took to manhandle it up onto that cement platform:
The St Mary's catholic church complex on Truman Avenue puts me in mind of Christian missionary churches I've seen in Africa, and I'm not sure if I can put my finger on exactly why that comparison springs to my mind.  Perhaps a combination of architecture and plants fertilized by the hot tropical night air.
The county building on Simonton Street is called the Gato building after the cigar making family that had a factory there. They moved to Tampa to reduce costs and the county now makes use of the Gato Building to house some offices.
 Conch cottage:
 Rusty silhouetted by the dawn on Catherine Street:
 A scooter with an ice chest work boots and hard hat ready to go. The ultimate commuter.
On our way out of town Rusty and I on White Street met  a posse of chickens near the pier who answered the age old question about why the chicken crossed the street.
This lot didn't. They just stood there.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Niles Channel Road

An early start one morning and I got to watch the moon set over the wilderness.
 So much of the perception of the Keys is palms, beaches, sunrises and sailboats. 
 I find myself seeking solitude these days, and with winter residents gone the hordes of cyclists and joggers and dog walkers and on and on are all Up North, blessed relief.
 I can be by myself after a night of 911 calls and mayhem on the police radio.
 Not quite alone.
 I love seeing the still waters like a giant mirror. 
 But more often I am looking at the unglamorous end of Rusty as I struggle to keep up.
Fewer photos and more walking is his preference.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My Afternoon

My sister in Italy has found WhatsApp on her telephone and with free communication with me half way round the world. In an instant I found myself trying to update her on my life which is so far out of the range of her experience I was not sure really where to begin. She has lived for half a century in a small picturesque Italian mountain village in Umbria.  Just the fact I live in an endless summer is already a lot to figure for someone used to seasons.
This idea of instant communications is nothing new to most  of us but when I started to reflect on what this means to me I found myself analyzing my daily life and I found to my surprise I am pretty well compartmentalized, a daily round robin of getting home from work and walking the dog, sleep, exercise at the gym, dinner with with wife after second dog walk and then drive to work and round we go again, save for those nights I'm not working.
There really isn't much variation these days. After the surgeon told me I will get 95% of my mobility back in the first year after the accident I have been on a drive to exercise, exercise some more and walk as much as I can. Rusty of course plays a major part in all this. And yet  when I have to tell my sister what I'm up to - because now I can - there isn't that much to say.  
Which is not to say I am pining or upset by this turn of events. It's just part of the recovery and I don't have much inclination to spend a lot of energy traveling or going to movies or staying up late as I much more interested in getting my bones to heal and to rebuild my muscles before the deadline of August 31st. 
 One good thing for me is that all this walking gets me outdoors and I do enjoy the breezes and the hot sunny afternoons.  It's not suffocatingly hot yet as the east wind is still strong and fresh and keeps temperatures bearable, at least to me. By July and into November the heat really piles on.
Hurricane season starts June 1st of course and runs through the end of November. Nothing deterred Mother Nature has already whipped up a named storm which the National Hurricane Center called Andrea. Its supposed to be dumping rain and winds to 40 miles per hour on Bermuda about now. No big deal I suppose except it's a damned sight too early in the year for named cyclonic winds thank you very much.
 I am enjoying this part of my recovery actually though it does make for less than exciting stuff to write about and I fear this page may turn into more of a collection of pictures as I enjoy playing with the camera while Rusty walks. Fair warning.
Aside from hurricane season this is also the time I get envious of my friends Up North where greenery is growing again after being dormant all winter. Temperatures are rising and lovely summer twilight turns day into night so slowly it takes my breath away. This close to the Equator day turns to night almost instantly and dusk is something I miss.  I miss winding roads and summer evenings, mountains and lakes and views that stretch beyond the curvature of the earth. 
Still I shall see what I can do to observe these same scenes in these flat islands from different and perhaps fresh perspectives. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect, without being too trite I hope, on how lucky we all are to e able to see and feel what is around us wherever we are. 
Rusty poses no such problems for himself. He knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he I am sure does not forget the dark days that came before the sunny life he lives now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Venture Out

The neighborhood is the usual stilt homes, gravel yards, coconut palms and boats on trailers. The sort of keys living you can't get in an urban area like Key West. These are the suburbs in the Keys.
Spanish Main is  a  wide street running dead due south from US One at around Mile Marker 23, and it is marked by the vast trailer park  behind the fence alongside Spanish Main. They call the place Venture Out.
All the streets around here are named foe swashbuckling Caribbean adventurers of myth and history. Pirates are memorialized on street names like Long Ben, Hawkins, Teach and Drake. My motorcycle accident last August took place at the intersection of US One and Cutthroat Lane. Go figure. 
In winter they walk up and down Spanish Main do the residents of Venture Out with their dogs, it's a social scene. Luckily for me Rusty isn't sociable so he likes going out and checking smells left behind.
Venture Out has a couple of hundred trailers and some stilt homes as well and offers all the amenities you might expect from a  resort, sports, docks, a marina and a pool. The interesting thing about Venture Out is that it is the only place in Monroe County (outside Key West) which can offer legal short term rentals, which is to say homes for rent for less than 28 days. In an effort to preserve residential neighborhoods Monroe County has banned short term rentals but this piece of private property is not covered by the ban.
Of course because we are talking the Keys here, what might be a resort elsewhere is a permanent residence for many working people who try to live in these expensive islands. That they allow pets is a huge advantage too. 
Trailers and mobile homes are especially vulnerable to hurricanes and their residents are among the first to be asked to evacuate. With good reason. This was Ohio Key RV park after Hurricane Irma:
 Snowbirds live at Venture Out too and their spots are left occupied by mobile homes that don't move:
Hoping for a quiet hurricane season this year on Spanish Main...Not like this, please:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Return To Old Bahia Honda

I wasn't surprised when I got around to taking Rusty back to my favorite, and only hilltop walk in the Lower Keys and I found a feeble representation of a fence closing off the trail to the viewpoint overlooking the crumbling old bridge. 
The fence's intent is perfectly plain and in a society dedicated to safety at al costs I was quite surprised it took this long to show up after Hurricane Irma wrecked the area. I did see some people wandering the other side but I am law abiding enough I didn't cross the line. 
Rusty and I went for an early morning wander with my camera.
Some intrepid souls drove off road to create  a campsite by the water with a dog not much exercised apparently as he woke the occupants of the tent barking while Rusty padded silently by. 
I am no great fan of driving and drinking coffee but I have to admit I am quite fond of Tervis tumblers. My wife is a connoisseur of  drinks containers to go but I am not. So imagine my surprise when I found out one of these insulated plastic cups makes an excellent tea brewing container. Much easier than using a teapot. One tea bag, ht water sweetener milk and the tea neither stews nor chills. Someone threw one of these irreplaceable cups into un-reachable place in the bushes. Unreachable by a man with a titanium pelvis.
And so the old Bahia Honda Bridge, more than 100 years old in fact is still there for now, looking photogenic as the state allows it to crumble. What an excellent bike path that would make. 
Now that I am 61 I get to ride buses for free around Key West and pay reduced fare on the Lower Keys shuttle. Neither of which do much good when I have Rusty as  dogs get to ride tranist only in Europe. 
Not that he minds, he has me to chauffeur him around.
We wandered a while, alone, me with camera and Rusty without. 

Sometimes young Rusty needs to let off steam:

The old scout camp on West Summerland Key wrecked by Hurricane Irma:

People crossing the fence just end up doing what they have always done: take pictures and go fishing.

And after all that who can blame the little bundle of joy for needing a  nap.