Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nature Preserve

Atlantic Avenue in Key West runs east and west along the south side of the island, but, unlike South Roosevelt, Atlantic isn't in sight of the water along most of it's length. Part of the way is covered by tall apartment buildings at 1500 and 1800 Atlantic and the area in between is filled with a lot of mangroves. It is actually, though not obviously a nature preserve:The entrance to the preserve is easy to miss as it is an inconspicuous little gazebo next to the 1800 Atlantic Boulevard parking lot.
You'd think that people choosing to walk the little quarter mile trail to the beach were taking on an undertaking worthy of an expedition to the Himalayas, judging by the severity of the signage, all manner of warnings about the rough trail littered with obstacles:"Walk at your own risk," "Many obstacles," and God forbid you ride a bicycle else you might run down and injure more modestly equipped trekkers in this natural wonderland. If the trail were that rugged you'd think pansy Florida cyclists simply wouldn't bother. But where's the fun of a city park without warning signs? And then there is the sign proclaiming no access to wheelchairs- if you're in one you have to go to Rest Beach up the street to check out the ocean front:Which I found a little odd but there it is. The other odd thing, and decidedly unnatural is the proximity of 1800 Atlantic's utility apparatus. However in Key West there isn't a lot of room so these things happen quite frequently. You can, for instance find yourself in the bucolic serenity of the Tropical Botanical Garden on Stock Island and see the Aqueduct Pumping Station looming above the trees. The trail itself doesn't seem that tough to negotiate, though there is a pile of sand up next to the water which would be tough to get a wheelchair through.A pity really because the view is the usual delight, south across the Straits of Florida:Off to the east the Smathers Beach seawall, with people frolicking on the Nature Preserve Beach in the foreground:And in the other direction, towards the White Street Pier, there is another expanse of sand:There were a few people on the beach when I was standing around there, but it wasn't nearly as crowded as perhaps it should have been. By Florida standards even this beach is fairly modest, but compared to much of the waterfront up and down the rocky Keys this is expansive indeed:And up above there was all manner of traffic:The biplane is to be seen (and heard LOUDLY!) buzzing the beaches towing a banner offering rides, a good long ride for a couple of hundred bucks for two I believe. I still want to do that, and check out the islands from above. Like a pelican, as it were.Meanwhile back on Earth we see humans doing what humans do, calling their friends on their cell phones and (LOUDLY!) wish them a happy new year, in between puffs on their big fat cigars. Quite the 1800 Atlantic.In the last rays of the sun this enormous block of apartments has some pretensions to beauty. Or something:Passing by the condos on the way out, the way I came in, I took a quick stop at the mangrove lookout platform, built out over the water alongside the trail. In the right circumstances it might look a tad bit more spectacular I suppose:
And the mangroves themselves looked a bit beaten up, possibly still suffering the effects of Hurricane Wilma which blew ocean waters through here with a vengeance. The wicker chair up ended in the water is the result of human intervention I expect:And so I found myself heading out to get to work on time, but for others this time of day, close to sunset is the time when recreation replaces obligation and this woman found a spot to perch and draw.

Pretty amazing isn't it, to be in such a grassy sylvan spot in the city of Key West.