Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Waterfront

I had written in a previous essay, last April 17, about that part of the Bight that the city leases to businesses and I had thought it time, now the weather is cooler to take a look at the other half of the waterfront. It was a pleasant walk on a sunny afternoon to mingle with all the foreign tourists ambling along the boardwalk:It was cold by local standards with a fresh north wind bringing the temperature well below 70 degrees (21C), as part of the week long series of cold fronts sweeping across Florida. Yet there seemed to be at least some visitors that were keen to take trips out on the water:It was still cool and crisp enough for people to forgo what I call the Key West uniform of t-shirt and tan cargo shorts in favor of Arctic wear. I wonder where he found this bulky coat?Schooner Wharf had wind protection up on the side of the bar facing the water and the north wind:Conch Republic seafood did the same thing, with solid window panes.The last time my wife and I ate here it was raining cats and dogs before Hurricane Ike passed by and they half closed the windows then:It was an absolutely glorious day to be out and about and near the water. I'm not that keen on eating cold winds actually non the water these days, I did too much of that in my past life. But this sort of view does me no harm at all:The Key West Citizen ran a story a couple of Sundays ago about the lack of boats in berths up and down the Keys. Apparently the changing fortunes of our economy have reversed a trend that looked to be making a rich man's bauble out of boat slips in the islands. Nowadays it seems marina managers are worrying about how to fill the space available. Slips were available, the newspaper reported, even during Fantasy Fest, traditionally the week of no availability nowhere on the waterfront. I noticed a few empty spaces at the Galleon Resort docks:The Galleon itself was looking splendid in the sunlight, towering over the harbor as a living reminder of why finally the city enacted a height ordinance:And across the harbor one could see on the horizon the bulk of the Steam Plant condos, the former electrical generating plant now developed into three million dollar condos.And even though it was cold, life has to go on for those that work on the water. I have many more unhappy memories of freezing in winter (so to speak) than boiling in summer when I used to work as a boat captain. Fiber glassing is probably as good a job as any in the cool of winter:

The city of Key West has decided, according to the Citizen newspaper, to promote the waterfront around Key West Bight as a tourist destination. The paper says the current hodge podge of signage is to be smartened up and unified into one theme:One has to expect that Lazy Way Lane, a one way street to the surprise of tourist pedestrians not expecting to meet a Triumph Bonneville along it's length, is worth preserving and promoting:

I was surprised to see the monument free of bums, though perhaps its early in the winter season for the onslaught of professional outdoor residents:

I never really thought of this area as the ideal place to walk dogs but I am not one to argue:

Conch Republic seafood, which I know a bit and like a bit:

And The Commodore which I have never been to though I have a hankering to check it out. It's a place with some history though my interest is much more geographic; I'd like to check out the views:

I miss Martha's, an old fashioned steak house on South Roosevelt, and The Commodore reminds me of that sort of place, a grown up restaurant where our parents might have gone for a night out. I'm afraid if I do go to check it, with all its wooden facade and waterfront windows, I shall be disappointed, so I walk by and fantasize. Or I could check out Alonzo and Berlin's Marina and restaurants:

My wife loves to eat at Alonzo's where there are excellent deals on seafood appetizers for happy hour and when I'm not driving I like their Mojitos (rum, soda water, sugar and mint leaves), and as we are becoming creatures of habit this is where we go when we are at the Bight... Alonzo's and Berlin's are two restaurants and they sorted out the first marina in the bight after World War Two according to a wall plaque down there. In any event they've been around forever and they dominate the end of Front Street. I expect one day we'll find our way upstairs and I shall finally get a waterfront seat at a restaurant at the mythical Berlin's. Photos to follow I hope! This is also one of those places to come if one wants to charter a fishing boat, a clean fishing boat!Handling a cold water hose in that weather needs dedication, in my opinion. By the time I walked back to the Bonneville at Schooner Wharf the sun was warming things up a bit and the bar was open to the landward side, away from the breeze:Warm enough for some to wear t-shirts. This is sweatshirt weather for me, despite the sun.I was lucky there was sun as I have but two sweat shirts in my closet and I need them both on a cloudy winter day.