Friday, December 19, 2008

Bad Christmas Joke

I feel sorry for my wife as she has to hold my hand for the next week as we venture North to stay with her sister's family in the mountains of western North Carolina. I was looking at the weather forecast and things looked okay with highs in the mid 60s and of course moisture but about the time we are scheduled to show up in our car in Asheville Sunday evening a trumpet blast of cold air is set to hit the state with a night time low of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. I haven't been that cold since we went to Fargo, North Dakota to announce our winter engagement to her sister (who has rather poor taste as far as places to live are concerned). At that time I nearly suffocated taking the dog for a walk on a frozen river so deep in snow I couldn't see the dog. Temperatures then were something bizarre like twenty below zero Fahrenheit, so this is something of an improvement. I had to wear socks all night when we went to celebrate a nephew's marriage in Asheville in May, and all the wedding guests were remarking on the delightful summery weather. This is going to be very tiresome I can just tell. Especially for my long suffering wife.

Blue Hole Revisited

This is my first return visit to the Blue Hole on Big Pine Key,since I was there earlier this year, a time when there was an alligator lurking in the water. Since then the animal which was either seven feet long and had lived there nine years or was nine feet long and had lived there seven years has expired thanks to ingesting a child's toy dropped in the water. Apparently the animal, named Bacardi for some obscure reason, was unable to digest the toy and got terminal stomach ache. Thus no alligator pictures this time except for this:The last time I was here there were signs of construction and things getting torn up and now the parking area is all spiffed up with cement and bike racks and everything, even some slight shade. Shade is the definition of a good parking spot in Florida, and in winter you just seek out shade from force of habit:They've cleaned up the paths and the area is entirely accessible now:With the requisite warnings of course. Signage is everywhere:The Blue Hole is a disused quarry filled with freshwater and thus ideal alligator habitat, which makes it a shame there is no alligator anymore but people kept showing up to have a look. I met one guy at the viewing area and I remarked on the missing Bacardi (I can't get over what a silly name that is for a dinosaur but none of my acquaintances agreed when I ran it by them) and he sounded rather like a Blue Hole volunteer or something when he expounded that "they" had found 75 freshwater holes on Big Pine and No Name Keys which were likely habitats for alligators. That gave me, the back country explorer self styled, pause. Then I wondered if they might import a couple back to the Blue Hole and he sucked air through his teeth in disapproval.Apparently it is no longer the done thing to mess around the wildlife and they are simply going to hope that perhaps an alligator might migrate back to the hole on its own, like a lost hitch hiker or something:I saw this dude strolling up Key Deer Boulevard from"downtown" Big Pine Key and I wondered where he was headed as there are only a few scattered housing subdivisions out in these parts. Then I saw him taking a pause that refreshes at the Blue Hole.Perhaps he was hoping for an alligator to liven up his day. It's hard to be disappointed when you are in a pretty little spot like this:
I think they've done a nice job of cleaning the place up. clearing the trails, painting the post-and-rails and putting up all the usual verbiage, without making the experience too suburban. It's worth a visit and to get here take the left hand street from the light at Highway One in Big Pine. The left-hand street is Key Deer Boulevard,straight as an arrow:

The back roads around the Blue Hole are pretty much straight too:

So it is eighty degrees but the roads are straight. Take your pick if your motorcycle is weatherised for winter. Puerto Rico has interesting roads but you need Spanish to make it there, and road trips are perforce short as the island is a hundred miles long. The Florida Keys are an excellent compromise.