Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter Night Watch

All these pictures were taken between 2:30 am and three am yesterday, in the early stages of a vicious winter cold front, at great personal risk. Temperatures were hovering around 59 degrees Fahrenheit (14C) and the wind was howling out of the north causing the skin to tingle and the eyes to water. I started out on the more or less northwest side of the island Trumbo Point known in the bad old days as the Toxic Triangle. It got that nickname thanks to the power plant outflow from the Steam plant which is now struggling to become luxury three million dollar condos. The fresh clean waters of the toxic triangle were fairly calm in the 35 mile per hour gusts of wind out of the north:
Trumbo is where the school district has it's headquarters, valuable waterfront land the district had considered selling to raise capital, at a time when land sales had actual value. For now, the schools are led from this place behind a barricade of buses (and a Bonneville). Budget cuts are the order of the day so I doubt it is a center of great happiness at the moment:Heading towards Duval on streets swept clear of humans by the freezing winds I spotted one of Paula's preferred lunch spots, B.O.'s. She agrees with me its an expensive place to get a sandwich but she is not deterred from her occasional treat. I used to work across the street and the smell of grilling and frying fish from Buddy Owen's open air restaurant used to give me pangs. Not so in the dead of night when all is cold and quiet:Simonton Beach is a favorite hang out in the middle of the night, when I want a quick fix of fresh salt air. The beach closes at 11 pm but a quick stop in the early morning hours allows one to enjoy the sand and the pier without the incessant horde of residentially challenged that cluster on the beach in daylight hours. With north winds blowing through the harbor there was some modest wave action:The wind was howling round the corner of the Pier House causing my motorcycle to shiver,which was inconvenient as I was using it to prop up my gorilla pod and camera. It took six different exposures to get one that was somewhat focused:The cold front whistled across the Keys Friday morning, bringing a mass of rolling black clouds with it. When I got up at noon Friday it was a warm day, sunny and humid with the promise of the front to come. West winds gave way to northwest winds and a sudden surge of raindrops splattered my house and the temperature dropped from 79 degrees (27C) to less than 70 (21C) in the space of twenty minutes. Then the rain stopped, but only after I rode into Key West all bundled up in waterproofs and grinning madly at the wind blown adventure. For those without shelter the cold is a fact of life that has to be endured:At the Conch Train Depot on Front Street I found a party tray left out by an absent minded entertainer.It was cold enough the cheese and carrots did not appear to be decomposing:A while back, January 14th, Doug C in Ohio (see my Web list) ran a picture of a car in a blizzard with a Mile Marker Zero bumper sticker showing through the snow:
Which put me in mind of this:

The Mile marker Zero sign comes on every kind of gee-gaw you can conceive, including these ashtrays and neighboring tooth pick cups and piggy banks alllined up for sale at the Conch Train Depot. The other week I noticed some dork had once again stolen the actual marker at Whitehead and Fleming which happens from time to time. Perhaps the state should get some stimulus funds to pay to replace it. On the subject of Whitehead Street this is what it looks like at 2:50 am looking south from Clinton Square:It was nearing the end of my lunch break so I took Fleming Street east out of downtown. The bars were closing early many of them, as Key West drinkers tend to be wussies when it comes to cold weather, and the sidewalks tend to get rolled up early. So I put the gorilla pod in the middle of Fleming Street, as one does, and avoiding cars turning off Duval took a quick exposure:Then a quick turn onto Simonton Street with another turn outbound on Olivia and I passed a couple of proper Conch cottages before I realised I had to stop and photograph at least one. This one was all buttoned up against the cold:And so, back to work.