Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Smathers Beach

I could take pictures like this most evenings when the sun is cooperating, around 5:30 when I am driving to work from the apartment where I am currently living at Salt Ponds. I avoid North Roosevelt as much as I can and it's easy when all it takes is a left turn out of the complex and there is a mile of unobstructed water views. Park and shoot (with the telephoto on the big camera)!
These I took from the Bridle Path, that stretch of grass sand and palms that runs alongside South Roosevelt Boulevard and got it's name form the horses they used to exercise there. 
I have to confess these are cheap shots as I can take them from the driver's  seat without having to commit one more act of daily struggle, getting out, assembling the walker and plodding around at the end of a long day of stumping around.  So I sit in the car like a tool and shoot duck in a barrel. 
The effect is pleasing and the camera does the work. Lucky me.





It's actually so embarrassingly easy to get these pictures I remembered I'd taken some a couple of weeks ago:



I'd need to leave the house a good bit earlier to stump across South Roosevelt and stand at the seawall. Perhaps I need to do that to complete the collection of alternative sunset pictures. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bien Sandwiches

Once a week my wife the adult educator works at the adult education office in Key West and these days as I live in Key West I am able to have lunch with her without much effort. I reduced my effort even further by walking across Eaton Street to pick up a couple of sandwiches. One would have been sufficient for both of us.
Bien came to Key West seven years ago and I wrote a review of the place in October 2011 however Google was switching blogger format around then and misplaced all my pictures. I have a huge picture gap from those years. Annoying but a first world problem. Anyway Paseo became Bien in 2015 when my picture stream had been restored:
A Seattle-based family that owned two sandwich shops in Washington State then opened a third in Key West, on the grounds presumably they could go no further. Then came the dispute not specified that broke up the little chain of shops called Paseo in Seattle and neighboring Fremont while in  distant Key West they renamed themselves Bien. In a town bulging with sandwich shops Bien has made a space for itself with particular sandwiches and rice bowls. 
Seating is limited with a bench inside and a couple of tables outside and their sandwiches are not the sort that can be eaten very easily on the move. They bulge with ingredients ready to spill down your shirt and leave stains everywhere. Delicious.
 While the seating is limited it is quite pleasant on a cool winter day illuminated by bright sunshine.
 The outside area is cooled  with fans useful in summer when the hardiest of patrons will be sweating. 
Or like me you can bundle your loot into a bag and haul it to someplace offering flat surfaces and lots of napkins. I bought too much food of course, I always do, a fish and a steak sandwich so we could try a sort of surf and turf lunch.
We both agreed the steak was perfect but the fish by comparison seemed to have less flavor. Odd, considering how rich these sandwiches look but next time, and there will be a next time we'll share one steak sandwich. Oozing with melted mozzarella:
I suggested to my wife that the food was so rich one every rare once in a while would be fine and she looked at me as though I had blasphemed. I didn't mean there was anything wrong with the food, far from it but it is in the words of the poet bulging with ooey gooey grease. It's a lot to tackle.
 They are famous for their slices of onion and you can see why:
Worth a visit and I'm not sure why I have left it so long since last time. I don't think my liver could handle one of these every week but every few months a pause to wrestle with long thick slices of sweet grilled onion could be on the cards. Should be on the cards.
It's a good spot to people watch too if you decide to sit and eat right here. Oh and there's a fine bakery across the street if the massive sandwich left room for pastry. I can't believe I said that. "...room for pastry..." Probably not.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Old Bahia Honda

In my continuing effort to hit all our old favorite haunts, the ones I can reach by rolling walker I made a point to haul Rusty to the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. 
Which it turns out is about 45 minutes from my current home in Key West. It takes a certain commitment to drive this far for Rusty, especially as Layne has brought him here on her way to work. 
 It was a good morning for it, as the clouds were dramatic and I had hopes for a sunrise. I got lucky enough.
The bridge is continuing to crumble and It's a shame. Inevitable but it would make a superb bike path right into the state park at the other end. 
There is a filter setting I'm coming to terms with on my big camera called "Old Days" and I like the effect:
 So I played with it for a bit.
 There was dew on the grass; it must be winter.

 The new bridge isn't picturesque but it does the job.
 Rusty trotted out and back but I could only get so far on the gravel. We called it a day.
And stopped at a launch ramp on the way back. It's another of those free access to the water ramps scattered up and down the Keys. 
In the distance I could barely make out the No Name Key bridge as the sun had disappeared and rain was closing in again.
 It was beautiful. I love these spots.
 Rusty was having fun in his own way.
It was a good morning and worth the drive. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mallory Square Sunset

I took Rusty  downtown for a walk and I decided to incorporate the sunset celebration as part of our stroll. The crowds were thinning by the time we got there but there were still several acts swallowing swords and juggling fire. 
I wanted a knick knack for my wife  and I like the fact that stuff sold here is advertised as being made by real people not imported from those places that specialize in far east mass production. The acts and the vendors are part of a cooperative that pays to rent the square for the evening gathering and supporting them helps that along as well. 
 Rusty meanwhile was making friends as only he knows how. 
There was some preacher from the Upper Keys explaining the Bible but I didn't overhear any particular revelations I've not heard before. He was very enthusiastic though and he bellowed away  through the cold north breeze.
A cruise ship at the middle pier, the one in front of Margaritaville Resort rose up over the proceedings though there were no passengers left at Mallory Square, easily identifiable by their sticky badges issued when they go ashore. A short while later I saw the ship pull away and spin around in the harbor when Rusty and I were walking more peacefully at Truman Waterfront.
 It looked quite lovely actually, a huge wedding cake of lights in the darkness...
Back at Mallory Square the sunset was proving worthy of it's reputation. This whole bizarre business of toasting the sun's final performance of the day was started by Tennessee Williams as I am sure you are tired of hearing from tourist sources. 
The thing is it has become a commercial enterprise with  vendors and performers paying rent for their spaces and the non profit that rents the square from the city is managed in some manner by a  collection of these people. This formality gives the sunset celebration a certain quality, rare in Key West of reliable longevity. It's been going for years and there are no signs it's going away. As long as there isn't a  cruise ship at the Mallory Square dock blocking the horizon the celebration goes on. And the Mallory Square dock is too small for most modern cruise ships and the sunset limitations make it pretty undesirable as a place to stay over night for the big ships.
I found I still like this event. I'm going to come back without Rusty but with my wife and a handful of dollar bills to pay tips to performers, take photographs and enjoy the show.You can buy food, jewelry, artwork and have your fortune read. What more could you possibly want at a happy street fair in a town where everything costs money and far too much of it. This is a place to wander, and kick back.
Home many times have you wanted to talk to a psychic under an umbrella on the waterfront in the coolest little beach town you've ever heard of? Don't listen to the tired voices that bitch about the old days and the cookie lady- may her memory never grow less- what you have here may not be 1970  but it is still a little funky and easy going. 
The performers will drag out a two minute act to 15 by virtue of their patter, participation by audience members and the old Key West standby of asking everyone where they are from. I am terrible at audience participation events so I stick to the back and avoid eye contact at all costs. Everyone around  you is having fun so you don't have to be put on the spot if you don't want to be. And these performers make a good living doing these off beat jobs. 
This guy was wailing his saw on our way out of the square. Bob from Knoxville Tennessee had decided to come to Key West for a couple of weeks and try his luck and I felt lucky to have run across him and his musical saw. Musical saws are a big deal, on the level of sub-culture in Santa Cruz where I lived for twenty years and Bob was surprised I even knew what a musical saw was. I hope he comes back next winter.
Then some anonymous arse let off a loud thunderclap, a firework or cracker of some sort most likely, and the evening went really bad for Rusty who had been holding his own in the crowds. He looked frantic and started tugging and looking around like he was back in the fields of Homestead being hunted by angry farmers who hated the strays dumped in the Redlands. I grabbed him and failed to reassure him but that's PTSD. We waited till he was ready to move on and then I took him to run for a bit at the waterfront far, as the poet put it, from the madding crowds.   All better.