Saturday, April 29, 2017

Backcountry Art

A collection of random pictures taken on assorted Lower Keys walks.

 Rainy  season is starting to flood the trails. I wear Crocs, Rusty doesn't mind. 

  Alone on Middle Torch Key:

 Summer sun and clouds:
 People love their fires:

Taken the first night of Passover:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Slow Summer

I rode in to work two nights ago for a late shift starting at one in the morning, and I was cold. Granted it was 71 degrees American (26 Canadian) and for many people that might be considered comfortably warm, but around here if it's not 80 degrees it's noticeably cool. And all this nearly in the month of May. Very nice, as summer will inevitably be long and hot; no need to rush into it.
Above we see a hand written notice my colleague Chelsea photographed when she went to get coffee for our night shift.  New management made the decision to close the 24-hour coffee shop after midnight but apparently they have been told we need them in the early hours. I took the picture below on Tuesday in the early evening at Higgs Beach. There were a few people on the beach just outside the frame, but the image actually shows the spacious empty feeling of the waterfront after the winter people have gone home.
Yet traffic on Highway One remains heavy and unrelentingly slow. The city's vague promises to consider affordable housing have predictably led nowhere except into a world where working people can't afford to live in the city. I'm finding the scooter a great way to commute as it keeps up easily with the cars but doesn't tempt me to pass (too often). Sometimes it encourages the socially insecure to speed ahead of "the moped" and prove they can't be passed. That leaves me on a stretch of open road to enjoy unencumbered by car drivers and their telephones.
I brought Vespa S150 home in time for the Ides of March and in the six weeks since I've put 1800 miles on the scooter. It maybe a 2009 but (so far) it runs like new and i am enjoying it very much.
A young gay couple were strolling past the gym hand in hand Tuesday evening as I pulled up on Truman Avenue. "Cute ride!" one of them said to the old graybeard (me). Er thanks I mumbled long after they had lost interest in my orange Vespa. I'm looking forward to a long hot summer. I just wish traffic could pick up the pace a bit.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Beach Walk

Continuing the tedious theme of overcast skies earlier this week I got a bit spectacular with the orange:
And kept the bilious shade photographing the runway at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station:

 Rough waters but the pelicans kept busy diving for breakfast.

Brisk overcast and delightful: a morning at the beach.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mallory Square Morning

Every time I  cross paths with Mallory Square I am forced by my peculiarly wired brain to think about the name. Stephen Mallory? The Secretary of the Confederate Navy? What a strange choice of historical figure to commemorate even if his mother was a much respected widow, described as the first woman settler in Key West in 1823.
Ellen Russell emigrated from Ireland and met Mallory in Trinidad and had two sons. Her husband died from consumption in Key West and their elder son also died shortly thereafter of causes not recorded. Stephen Mallory grew up in his mother's boarding house, the only such place in Key West before the Civil War and she sent him Up North to get an education and become a lawyer. She died in 1855 and din't get to see him join the losing side. Still he gets the square named for him.
Mallory Square in those days was called Tift's Wharf after Asa Tift who was a merchant and wrecker of fearsome repute in Key West. He still has an approach road to Mallory Square named for him, Tift's Alley. As usual there are only so many wealthy and influential people to go round so their names tend to pop up more than once.
The Pez Garden is where the history of KeyWest is on display, behind the fence. The wall is where homeless people hang out and pass the day. 
 It's an odd mixture of people, eager tourists, lots of attractions, and then there are the hopeless, the crazy, the destitute, all mixed in. The city offers services of all kinds, food and communal shelter, but there are those who simply want or need to live on the streets. 
 And the other early morning denizens are the ones getting the attractions ready, the not so glamorous  work of clean up:
I enjoy the early  morning sunlight in the streets of Key West and the shadows it casts as well as the way it illuminates the buildings and trees. Walking Telegraph Lane the street sweeper left straight lines that caught my eye. Rusty seemed indifferent: 

 Flowers and a dog. Good enough for one day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Silly of me I suppose but I was quite surprised or even shocked to see the free city boat ramp at Simonton Beach in use.  And they were launching a sailboat to boot, not just another center console fishing platform.
I saw evidence of more radical boating at Blimp Road near my home on Cudjoe Key. Two Hobie beach catamarans getting loaded up on trailers at the free county launch ramp:
There are lots of ramps available for anyone to use, one of those little remarked features of life in Monroe County. Roadside ramps with no fees or rules or hours or anything. Show up, launch, park your trailer and go sailing. Cool. 
Bigger boats don't have that option but standing on shore I enjoy taking pictures with my Panasonic telephoto lense. 
This one below was anchored beyond Sunset Key, well to the west of Key West:
These guys were off for a sail, looking good on their South African built Leopard catamaran. My wife and I sailed on a smaller catamaran than this from San Francisco to Key West and you'd think looking at them I'd feel some kind of yearning to be out there again. There isn't.
I'm not sure what happened. I think at heart I am a traveler not just a sailor. The prospect of sailing away from key West as we last arrived  makes me think of a trip spent sailing not sight seeing. Sailboats suck up tons of energy in both time and money. They also limit your ability to get away from them and explore on land. Besides all that Rusty wouldn't like it. He shows no facility with weird stuff like boats.
I saw this flag of convenience across the marina at what was the Westin Hotel and is now known as the Margaritaville Resort (not to be confused especially when sending an ambulance, with the Margaritaville Cafe on Duval Street). I peered at the flag through the camera and realized it was an unusual one on a part of the world that flied flags of convenience from Panama and the Bahamas and Bermuda, among others. Flags of convenience are nautical hold overs that allow ship owners to register their vessels in countries that maybe charge low taxes or require no minimum crew payments or have lower safety inspection standards. There's no requirement to actually visit these countries or belong there and these things make sense to people who own expensive yachts as well as cruise and cargo ships. This yacht was flying the flag of Cyprus. Mind you it was opposite the welcome sign to the "Conch Republic" so in effect one fiction was greeting the other.
Certainly they can look luxurious at the dock but out on the water pounding into the winds they are as uncomfortable as anything. That's also why owners have crew to do the hard work while they themselves jet off to some other destination.
Key West is done for the year, time to find some other fashionable destination.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Strong Winds And Rough Seas

What a difference a couple of weeks make. In winter this place would be teeming with people. This weekend there was no one out photographing the sun failing to rise. Well, technically it was rising all right it's just there was so much cloud there was no sign of any kind of sun up there. I fiddled with camera to get a low light picture of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. Rusty rooted around in the grass.
The wind was howling out of   the east pushing the Straits of Florida into the seawall which lines the ancient ramp Flagler's engineers built to get the railroad up to the height of the bridge. Looking down at the water is one of my pleasures at this rare spot, raising high above sea level. I was glad not to be on a boat out in that mess.
So, apparently were these anglers happy to be on land. They were the only other people in the area except for a camper truck buttoned up tight which apparently spent the night. 
I did actually see some signs of daylight coloring the sky but it all got swallowed up by weather that promised rain all weekend, and delivered.
Rusty and I made the circuit, walking along the seawall where I could and stumbling through the brush to avoid gettingwet or swept out to sea.

The parking lot which sees lots of traffic in winter was empty except for wrappers which appeared to have attracted raccoons to a trash can in the night. the winds spread them far and wide. 
My best bud. Two hours of rooting around and we were ready to go home and get out of a chill wind.