Monday, January 12, 2009

Vignettes XV

I found my hardly lost youth last week and though it lasted just a few minutes, playing in the mud was very good for me. I was cycling in the Key Deer National Forest in the back of Big Pine Key when I came across one of those delightful trails to nowhere, and it was all hard packed stony ground. Until it wasn't; the thing was that bicycle tire marks kept going and in less time than it takes to tell, I was saying to myself: "If they can go there why not me?" Which led me directly into the mire. The tracks seen below are mine:Suddenly the tire was sinking and it was all I could do to force the pedals round to keep my balance. I found another patch of rock, paused, gave it up for a bad job and rolled back through the mud, watching great clods of clay stick to the pedals, the frame, the wheels, and fall onto the hubs. I stayed upright:I cleaned up as best I could riding hard and using bits of dried grass to wipe the bike down. The next day I was parking the car at the police station prior to unloading the bike for a ride around town when one of the senior detectives came by. She paused and stared at my bicycle perched on the car rack. "Hmm," she murmured, "I recognize this stuff," she picked a piece of dried clay off the side of the tire and tested it between her fingers. I watched her wondering what on earth she was thinking. "Reminds me of when I was a kid," Brenda said smiling at the happy memories. "I used to play in this stuff all the time." And she walked off. Really I need to get used to working around people with guns. I have no skeletons in my closet.
I admit it: this is the time of year I tend to get cranky and it's got nothing to do with hallmark holidays. Its the visitors on the roadways. They are everywhere, crowding out the city of Key West jamming Highway One, dithering at intersections and slowing down on the bridges to admire the views. Getting around is getting impossible, and this happens every year and every year I struggle to maintain my equanimity in the face of driving stupidity. For a start, why do snowbirds and tourists who have no schedule to keep, get on the roads during commute hours and clog everything. This is North Roosevelt Boulevard at 5pm at Salt Run Creek:Looking at this picture one has to wonder why lane splitting isn't allowed in Florida...And while I'm on the subject of lane control check this next sequence out. I took these pictures in the car just after crossing Cow Key Bridge into the City of Key West. The first sign reads, Right Lane Go At All Times, which is a simple enough instruction you'd think. But at the triangle where Highway One joins North and South Roosevelt Boulevards, traffic making a right into the city stalls. This makes me crazy because the right lane merging with North Roosevelt gets its own lane. Barring pedestrians at the crosswalk, there is no need to stop! Just take the corner carefully and stay rigidly in your own lane.Instead just about here visitors lose their nerve and come to a dead stop backing up traffic all over the place... when the mantra should be right lane, Go at all times...Because once through the pedestrian crosswalk the road into the city is wide open, and the lane to the left of the white line is for traffic coming up from South Roosevelt from behind, and that's what unnerves visitors. Your lane is for you alone no matter who is coming up behind:I can fulminate all I want and I know it won't get better so I am desperately trying to bear myself in patience until they all go home again...leaving lots of money behind we hope. However the crowding isn't all bad, and there are lots of new motorcycles on the streets for me to ogle. I saw a maroon Vespa 250 in the meadows and it made my heart go pitter patter as it looked just like mine:
And then I saw this yellow apparition turning heads on Duval:
They call these things "bobbers" and it was based on an elderly 650 parallel twin all done up in Yamaha racing livery:


I was driving in to Key West to pick up some stuff that wouldn't fit on the Bonneville and I saw this motorcycle in front of me,quite the eccentric with a New York tag, fishing poles in rod holders, flip flops on his feet and a helmet that could barely contain his flourishing head of hair:That is one way to go in the Keys, this is another, trim compact and ready to ride fast:But if you want to wander the streets of Key West checking out the contents of the garbage cans a good old fashioned pedal tricycle may be just the thing:I prefer my Bonneville all the same:Which would be the large one to the right, in the picture, not the silver Yamaha scooter.

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Odd signs caught my eye,not necessarily odd but something like that.
I don't molest anything much, certainly not traps. If you do, and you get caught the fine can be $10,000 which in our debased currency is still real money. Plus you lose all your friends and neighbors who previously trusted you will no longer be inclined to do so. This next sign is a simple explanation......of why your animal should have a tag attached to the collar. Much less stress all round. Which brings me to the next one which encourages...what? Ho hum, the little dears must be off their meds.

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I saw little bottles for sale on the shelf at Waterfront market and I was astonished to see they were labelled by the world's greatest living marine artist: I am clearly not a businessman, nor am I an artist, but it seems to me the world would be just fine for a little while if artists stuck to art and businessmen to commerce. "Body wash" (whatever that is) has nothing to do with marine art, that I do know. No matter how prettily it is wrapped.

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I got a gift that intrigued me, and it's called a Backtrack by Bushnell. It uses a GPS in a hockey puck device to tell you, not where you are, but where you are going and where you've been:
In this instance I was nine tenths of a mile from my way point which is in the direction of the pointing arrow. The Backtrack is simplicity itself to use and offers a magnetic compass which points to magnetic north and three way points to enable the user to find their way back to where they came from:
A clever, nerdy, gadget which now lives in a pocket of may backpack. I never know when I might lose my car in a parking lot...

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Apropos nothing in particular a few pictures that I just liked and have nothing to say about them:
And that's all she wrote today.