Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Or Summer

Our long string of breezy cool nights seems to coming to an end, summer is closing in even as the rest of the country shows excessive gratitude for the appearance of spring. I had a long day so on my way to work I went to Sandy's, three blocks from the police station and ordered a pick-me-up, coffee and cheese bread. And yes it was worth it and delicious and I sat there and read  my Kindle on my phone. It was lovely.
I took Rusty to my wife's schoolroom in Marathon and after I dropped off her new fridge for her office behind the classroom we went for a walk. The thing (one of the things) I like about Rusty ius how adaptable he is. He loves running on wooded trails but he likes variety soa walk on aleash in a city is fine too. I must have food on my mind because this new place, finished at last suddenly looked interesting. I put it on my mental list.
Over by Keys Fisheries I saw this sign next to the charter fishing boats waiting for customers. Long wait I thought to myself admiring the sign's intransigent negativity.
 In August these pots will be dropped all over the coastal waters of the Keys.
 I am amazed any lobster at all live to tell of their survival of a season avoiding all these pots.
And, oh yes it's warming up a bit. Rusty and I don't mind as long as there's something to look at, or to smell or to photograph.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Filling Up The Keys

There has been a growing sense of unease in the Keys that traffic is getting out of hand. There have been loud protests in the newspaper and in conversations about continued efforts to attract yet more visitors to the Keys using assorted tax monies. The argument is that money should be spent on infrastructure especially housing for actual workers. 
 It is expected this winter that you will be severely delayed on the final bridge to enter Key West. Cow Key Bridge is usually the scene of a twenty minute delay as traffic piles up on Stock Island and the lines at the Triangle on Key West move slower and slower.
This newspaper headline is rather pitiful as the "action" taken by Monroe County is yet one more traffic study to consider what might be done. It seems that there is consideration being given to increase public transit including more discussion of a rail line through the Keys. As lovely as that idea may be it seems like a total non starter in a state with no affinity for public works whatsoever.
There are two big sore spots outside of the Triangle in Key West. Islamorada is always jammed up on weekends and they only have themselves to blame as they are constantly holding special events in the "village of islands" as they call their city. The other problem hot spot is the traffic light in Big Pine half way between Marathon and Key West.  This light can back traffic up for five miles and forces people like me to take to the secret back roads where even if I drive slowly in dirt I am not sitting helpless in a  long line of cars. I may not get there faster but it is more fun to make tracks through the neighborhoods.
Of course there is roadwork and  as the highway is the only road maintenance on bridges on the roadway or on utilities can slow traffic down terribly. 
This was Bahia Honda on Wednesday, a long back up to get into the State Par. Air temperature of 83 degrees and water temperature of 75 doesn't add up to swimming conditions for me but I'm fussy. I like 80/80/80 which is 80 air temperature, 80 water temperature and 80 percent humidity. Wait long enough and we'll get it.
On this vexing subject of impacted traffic I don't have much to say other than paying attention and being focused on making progress would be a good thing. From my observation the slow down entering Key West is largely attributable to lamentable driving habits. Drivers don't know how to cope with the green arrow lane, pausing and waiting instead of smoothly entering their dedicated lane. I see cars stalled in the line while drivers madly text and this habit encourages scofflaws to approaching the left lane and take cuts to get to the head of the line. Aside from being bad mannered this habit creates further slowing as traffic nudges to find its way forward. I don't see any room for more lanes and without clearer signage encouraging traffic to move the lines won't go away.
I know it's counter intuitive but in my opinion we should have higher speed limits and more passing zones. It's soporific driving in long lines at 40 miles an hour while "island time" vacationers take in the views. There is a driving culture in this country that hates being passed (especially by a hairy old hobbit on a moped- they see me coming in their mirrors and they flee in terror that my Vespa will emasculate them by passing them),  but on Highway One, too much of the roadway is designed to prevent passing so the slow poke cock blockers slow down secure in the knowledge their bad driving will leave them at the front of the line of slow moving bored drivers. Throw in a few more passing spaces and the boy racers in the Subarus will keep the slow pokes on their toes!
The sad truth is too many workers can't find affordable housing in Key West so the commuting lines are far longer than they have ever been. I enjoy living out of town on Cudjoe Key but for a lot of people a forty five minute drive to work from Big Pine Key is a penance for not being wealthy. Add to their driving times a lot of visitors and winter traffic will be slow. Nothing is going to change. There are more hotels being built, and worker housing is being planned all along Highway One so the number of commuters is bound to increase. They can study all they want, but until greed gives way to common sense and some leader shows up with a livable vision for the Lower Keys, nothing can change.
There are no frost heaves down here but there are lots of very heavy trucks every morning starting before dawn and continuing all day that pound the road and the bridges into submission. It is just money that needs to be spent to maintain this tropical paradise illusion to keep everyone coming. And spend it they will, even if this infrastructure chokes us all.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Old and New

I was reminded today that in the end I am a modern Vespa rider.  I like to ride not wrench on the things.
The older Vespa is faster, better run in and just keeps  going. I took the picture above at the Veterans' Hall on North Roosevelt. The one below of the newer 150cc scooter I took at work. Now that we are on summer time it's still very light when I get to work, which I like. 
My meditation was prompted by a walk I took with Rusty on Stock Island when we passed a newer scooter shop and I saw not one but two Vespa two stroke sidecar combinations. 
I've seen both sidecars around town before so I paused to take a look and wax nostalgic for a minute. I really wanted by old Vespa to work but in this case all I felt was relief that I didn't have to deal with these problems on wheels anymore.
The shop owner wasn't impressed by the fact that IO knew what they were, he isn't a good listener apparently because he started to talk at me like like I wasn't aware of scooters with gears. I remarked they look good but are a bit too slow for me and he said they were both boosted but with sidecars I doubt you can see 50mph on them. Around town no problem I suppose but for travel up the highway not so great.
The ywllow scooter is a 200 he said which makes it seem like a waste to attahc it to a sidecar but what do I know.
The owner of the 177cc black model showed up with his aggressive dog and promptly started a sales pitch on me. I figured I should buy te combination and attach the Cozy sidecar to my Triumph Bonneville but I'm pretty sure Rusty will never get used to riding that close to the engine or the ground. The terrier was fine and very territorial
In a town filled with the most casual of scooter riders a geared two stroke Vespa does stand out though I know of one other guy with a  white sidecar combination as well, for his kid not his dog.
I miss the P200E but not that much. Five years of struggles and failures have soured me on the P series Vespa.
I am glad I have a modern automatic 150cc Vespa to commute with now. It seems not at all inclined to starnd me at a moment's notice. Very reassuring.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Truman Waterfront Desert

I stopped by Truman Waterfront to check the status of all the construction and found a desert of grit and dirt and fences and signs and all that goes with change. Lots of Danger too, though it didn't look dangerous...
There is still access to the floating museum that is the Ingham Coastguard cutter though it's hidden behind construction fencing. The traffic you see in some of these pictures is mostly people going to Fort Zachary Taylor  State Park.
There has been tons of controversy with half the city coming down in favor of a new amphitheater which opponents (the loud half of the city) fear will bring too much traffic, too many concerts with loud music and so on.
Personally  I'd have liked to have  seen a park in the old fashioned sense, grass, gumbo limbo shade trees and benches to sit and contemplate the menaing of life, but that ship has sailed, big time. And check out these roads which look more like freeways to my jaundiced eye...
 I used to walk Rusty in the grass on the north end of the waterfront area which is now fenced off...
 ...and this is  only phase one. There is access to facilities but as far as park stuff goes there is nothing for the time being.
 I  stuck my  iPhone over the fence and recorded what I could not see directly. The old Navy warehouse is still there at least for now which is cool:
This a big project. Whatever you think about it. 33 acres of former Navy base being torn up and rebuilt.
It's been almost fifteen years I think since this was Navy property and the city has been wondering what to do with it.
After the Navy guard houses came down we all knew change was going to happen sooner or later and now the change is on. Cheyenne liked walking this area too so I have some nostalgia:
Out with the old and in with the new. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Boca Chica

Last week it was cold, tide was low and it seemed a good day to see the beach without hordes of accompanying mosquitoes.
 I got a bunch of pictures, the same place a different mood.
 One human family is Key West's motto and the free bumper stickers crop up everywhere. The concept of One Human Family has been stretched all over the place and anytime someone feels excluded, or their parrot or a tree or something the motto crops up angrily. 

The thing about Boca Chica is that it attracts builders. People come and go and leave their mark. What wasn't here this month may be there next month.
I have no idea what point it has if any. I didn't  go too close because given a summer storm it'll be gone to make way for some other creative soul.
 This lot hangs out all winter it seems like on the reef:

 Low low tide, looking toward the Naval Air Station.
 Out to sea:

 Remains of the old State Road 4A pilings with yet more stone construction in the background.


And Rusty couldn't be excluded. He wanted to run:









 All the shoes on the fence have been removed and someone appears to have started a fresh collection. Weird:
I was there last January.