Monday, October 23, 2017

Zombie Bike Ride

It started on a whim and has grown to become one of the most enjoyed aspects of Fantasy Fest week, surpassing I dare say the Locals Parade which has been taken over by non-locals.
The bike ride attracts thousands, so many its original start point on Stock Island at Recycle Bicycles got too messy with traffic. Nowadays it starts around 2 pm at the East Martello Tower and sets off down South Roosevelt at six pm (when I am safely at work).
 The Zombie Bike Ride is about bicycles and costumes and fun and noy nudity and not even much drunkenness anymore.
 Joking aside, for lots of people this is a family affair:



And you can dress up as much or as little as you want.
 Everyone is out to be seen:
 And not necessarily as a zombie...






And modern zombies that do show up are equipped with all mod cons, modern conveniences like cell phones:
Gather with friends...
 ...strut your stuff...
 ....however you feel the need...
 And if being a zombie brings on hunger pangs Amigo's had a tent serving Mexican food:
 There are subtle reminders of Irma everywhere, churned up ground, producing mud ina  town that by and large is all cleaned up:
 Quite by chance I caught a flying windsurfer rising up behind the crowd:
And then on to the bicycles as I rode my Vespa to work:










 Law enforcement on hand to lead the parade:





Sunday, October 22, 2017

Goombay 2017

The street party on Petronia Street off Duval lasts a couple of days and I enjoy going down for a visit.
This year Fantasy Fest is under new management after the last management team retired so before the Catastrophe there had been quite a bit of speculation as to how the new fantasy fest might play out. Some residents hoped for a little less nudity and a little more fantasy...me among them, but now with the effects of Hurricane Irma Fantasy Fest becomes a bit less urgent. Making floats when you have to rebuild your home...its no contest really. Then there's Goombay.
This year Goombay has been officially aligned with Fantasy Fest as the opening event of the week long party:
I like Goombay as it is the first street fair of the winter season and I get my fill of the street food that reappears as the winter season winds along. Technically its supposed to celebrate the common heritage of Bahama Village, the African American community in Key West and their roots in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. I have had goat curry at Goombay offered by Blue heaven restaurant but mostly the food looks Colombian to me with the abundance of sweet cheese filled corn cakes called arepas:
My attendance this year got completely gummed up as my plans for a visit on Friday, my night off were killed by a major wreck on Highway One which closed the road for hours. I had come in to Key West for my exercise class and riding home I got snarled in traffic. So I got off the Vespa and pushed the 240 pound wheelbarrow on the bike path for more than a mile to get around the overturned tanker. That little walk after an hour of hard gym exercise got me all sweaty all over again:
Then my wife, coming home from Marathon, a 45 minute commute, ended up spending five and a half hours getting home...Not only was Goombay out but we didn't even have dinner together. Boo hiss. So I swung by Goombay before work last night, before the rain too:
It didn't seem terribly crowded to me but no doubt more people will come as they discover the trash in Key West has been cleared and the city mostly looks pretty normal. 
And here endeth the family friendly portion of Fantasy Fest, music food and good cheer. Now we move on to the odd parties and people wandering around Duval Street in various stages of undress. Sigh.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fort Zachary Taylor

Key West has had a habit of naming certain monuments after the strangest people. Mallory Square is named for the Confederate Secretary of the Navy who abandoned his Senator's allegiance to the Federal Government to join the rebels. Fort Zachary Taylor is named for the 12th US President a man who survived 17 months in office and was elected on the strength of his popularity as a wartime general. I found this very readable discussion about the President and the manner of his death: LINK 
Nowadays local people who make contributions tend to get named even before they are dead, but Fort Zach is a popular and worthwhile place to visit.
The fort itself is closed to dogs so I came earlier this week when I was in town without Rusty. It's $4:50 for one person in a  car or on a  scooter but walking or cycling will save you a couple of bucks.
I wandered around trying to close my ears to the sounds made by the only other people in the fort with a very loud child which set me to wondering why my very quiet well mannered dog (and his eveready plastic bag) is kept away... 
The views from the battlements are tremendous and it's odd to imagine how far out in the water the fort was located originally. It was an island approached by a wooden causeway but slowly the dredged materials from the harbor were thrown up around it and now it is set inland surrounded by a moat.  
 Captain James Brannan in charge of an artillery company in Key West in 1860 is held responsible for keeping Key West in the Union by stealthily marching to the fort in the night and securing it for the government. Thus despite huge pro-Confederacy sentiment among city leaders Key West stayed in the Union and was a very useful blockading harbor for the Federal Navy. There is a great description of those perilous times here: LINK  
In the end the fort never fired a shot in anger just like the larger but similar Fort Jefferson 70 miles to the west in the Dry Tortugas which became better known as a Federal military prison filled with yellow fever.
Fort Zachary was dug out of obscurity in the mid 20th century by a Navy employee and native of Key West called Howard England after whom the approach road is named. The path to and from the fort itself got a bit of a haircut but the trees are still there:
More suitable I suppose than the controversial president who got the bigger prize of the fort being named for him! 
 It's well worth a walk especially if you feel like laying around with your camera. 
 I wanted something more interesting to pop out of my lense but this is what I got, pretty much what you might expect from this location.



I tootled out to the beach area and found half the pine grove is open to visitors while the other half isn't:
The new plantings survived nicely and I look forward to the native plant forest throwing shade everywhere:

Hurricane recovery takes time and patience.