Tuesday, May 18, 2021


I took some pictures. I post them here. Another lovely day in the Keys. My wife is healing and the pain pills are doing their work. Shoulder surgery is said to be extremely painful which I can now well believe. Checking the mangroves with Rusty is a good end to the day.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Front Street

Masks are on the way out for us in this corner of the world and how lucky we are. For the first time in 14 months I came to work and walked into the police station not wearing a mask, per the city manager's latest email saying vaccinated employees don't have to anymore. India and Brazil are not so lucky of course and when you are too poor to manage a socially distanced life and your government can't buy the vaccine you take your chances.
The old CVS building on the corner of Wall Street at Duval is still in place, dusty abandoned and decorated as it always has been. Only now do I noticed the artistry high on the wall that reminds me of a Mario Sanchez intaglio...The Key West artist created illustrations on wood of slices of daily island life and the picture below puts me in mind of some family drama he may have memorialized. 
I have been watching chickens for years and this rooster was clearly about to leap off... and he did. 
Another thing I've been watching for a long while is the old wooden boat rotting in the public space. There is a sign on it warning not to sit as it oozes wet tar but I think its tarry days are long since washed away.  I think even the intrepid Webb Chiles might have trouble sailing this one around anything much.
Another old survivor,  a Honda motorcycle possibly from my youth in the 1980s. I find it quite odd how old machinery washes up in Key West, far from anywhere automotive.
This part of town is  where cruise ship passengers first come ashore and the consequence of no cruise ships is easy to see: no business. 
The odd thing now is that the state has overturned the restrictions voted into place by Key West residents in an effort to keep cruise ships coming. However the Governor's proclamation that proof of vaccination is not going to be offered by the state in the form of so called vaccine "passports" has produced  an unintended consequence. Cruise ship operators now want to bypass Florida entirely as they are requiring passengers to produce proof of vaccination...The day President Trump politicized the virus was the day we seem to have collectively lost our medical minds. 
It was early in the morning when I came by and most visitors to town were nurturing their hang overs when I took these pictures, but now that summer has settled in the winter crowds are reduced. 
The cry of "five dollars" will never cease ringing out around Front Street as long as tat is for sale in competing stores. 
They came, they saw and they decided it was better here than in Cuba. Mel Fisher Museum has a Cuban chug on display, a fondly named bid for freedom. Since the wet foot dry foot policy was abolished by President Obama the numbers of refugees arriving and thus presumably dying anonymously at sea has plummeted to about zero. Life is full of irony but you have to be alive and somewhat removed to able to see the irony sometimes.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Upper Tampa Bay Park

Walking is one of my pleasures so when I get the opportunity I'll sling my camera nerdily around my neck and haul Rusty off to see the world, on foot. My wife had her nails done while we were in Tampa. I went for a walk in a  place called Upper Tampa Bay Park. It was just a splodge of green on Google satellite view, opposite the RV campground where we were staying. Two dollars to park on the grounds was the entire fee payable by credit card through a machine.

You can't get in after 5:30 pm but they close the exit gate at 6pm. I was reminded of work by a notice that said if you were stuck after hours to call the park manager on a number posted at the gate. In Key West people are constantly over staying their welcome at Fort Zachary and at the city cemetery and they end up calling 911 to be released. It's normal! 

This place is part of the Hillsborough County parks network and it is beautifully maintained. I used to live in St Pete and I never explored the north shore of Tampa Bay, the land north of the bridges and I have found it to be very attractive.

While we pondered the potential for storm surge I noticed kayaks for rent, but I have no great faith I could pour Rusty into one...I might have to try one day and see how he does. I have canoed among alligators and while they don't scare me excessively, being among them with a not very water-capable dog in a  tippy canoe might be too exciting for me.

Shady paved parking. What more does a camper van want?

They have picnic areas and nice broad paths, a children's playground and of course trails. 

I quite enjoyed the sight of tall trees rising up above the palmetto.

I find my fellow humans slightly irritating insofar as I think the instruction to pick up after your dog must be obvious by now. I noticed the trail was completely free of human or animal debris and trash.

I am the nerdy guy who stops and reads the informational signs.

Rusty was for some reason, reluctant to walk. He kept stopping and looking over his shoulder but for once I overrode his fears and pressed on until he got with the program.

Usually I pay attention to his neuroses as he is a half wild thing and has survived life in the Everglades where he was abandoned, but in this civilized setting I could not bring myself to imagine there were dragons down this broad smooth trail, easily walked and I dare say with a  strong enough pusher could even be wheelchair accessible in dry weather.

You may have heard of horsehair mattresses, quality sleeping gear in the 19th century. They were not actually made of horsehair, rather the fillings were cleaned strands of Spanish moss which ends up shiny and black when stripped of its outer coating. Valuable material then, before memory foam and box springs and stuff.

Spanish moss grows in abundance in Central Florida and I should be used to it but I enjoy it when I do get to see it outside my tropical islands.

It was a pleasant place to wander for 40 minutes, all shadows and light and hot air and cool breezes.

He never did quite let his guard down. I know that when we are in truly wild places I will watch him closely as he will be an excellent early warning system in bear country.

This though is not bear country, more like a country park.

And very nice too.

We walked at random, following the trail as it led us and we got back to GANNET2 around 5:15pm trying to make the most of the sun being low in the sky while at the same time being out of the park before closing.

The nails were taking longer than expected, plus Herself had a trip to Lowe's planned to pick up some useful stuff with which to equip our home on wheels. Rusty likes to sit outside while we are stopped and watch the world go by.  Van Life for dogs!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Conch Plaza

Key West has the great good fortune, possibly, to be endowed with fully four shopping centers in the modern suburban style. The smallest and newest anchor store is GFS, the acronym for Gordon Food Service.
I can't remember when this place showed up and hunting around the Internet and on my own page the earliest reference I could find was in 2008 when I said it opened "a few years ago..."  My, time flies! I guess this place has been around for at least 15 years. It's where restaurants ( and the public) go to get bulk supplies.
Like every other open space on the Boulevard you can get scooters and golf carts for rent.
And I find inexpensive clothing here too. Ordering online is as big a deal in the Keys as elsewhere I guess, and because we are connected by road delivery times are as fast here as anywhere else in Florida. This isn't Alaska, Puerto Rico or Hawaii, the great exceptions to overnight delivery options!
Jobs are still going begging in the Keys but the pandemic had the unfortunate effect of putting enough people over the financial edge they simply left the Keys and went elsewhere.
And after your low paid shift at Bealls deliver a few pizzas  to make an exorbitant rent. In dispatch we have 7 open positions out of 15 budgeted by the city.
Not so long ago, though I'm not sure now how long ago that was, Keys West had not a single Starbucks. We recently lost the cruise ship outlet on Front Street but the one on Duval at La Concha is in business and this one offers thoroughly modern drive though coffees.  
I can't resist an abstract pattern...
...or two...
Follow the sign for cheap food!