Monday, February 9, 2009

Vignettes XVII

This is apparently the most photographed spot at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, according to the Navy's Public Information Officer, Jim Brooks. NCIS was made famous by the TV show, and this sign is available for photography thanks to its location at the main gate, away from the sensitive parts on the base:
Jim took me on a fabulous tour of Boca Chica which is the largest military facility in the Lower Keys. They train huge numbers of fighter pilots there with the most up to date facilities and it was a tremendous privilege to get to ride the Bonneville around the base. Things being the way they are photos aren't allowed, but I retain fond memories of Bombfarm Road, Old Highway One running through the middle of the base, the much lusted after bowling alley (the only one in the Keys!) and of course the astonishing main runway, a place whose size makes Key West "International" look very rural indeed. Thanks to Jim and his very flash V-Star for an excellent ride.

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The City of Key West has decided it is going to cut down some palm trees in the cemetery. This is a situation reminiscent of the debate over the Australian pines, the casuarina trees at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. In this case the city public works department first started out by saying the trees get in the way of service trucks maintaining the cemetery. That didn't go over so well. I'm not sure which trees exactly are slated for destruction, perhaps all of the non natives, because the debate about their worthyness has returned to that intractable desire to maintain forests wherever they may be of native plantings only. And despite every tourist's ardent desire, coconut palms, among others, are not natives. Just as at Fort Zachary where casuarinas were the issue, supporters of palm trees argue their beauty outweighs their non native status:Unlike Fort Zachary's pines which were spared after years of arduous debate, it looks as though the palms are going to be cut down. Perhaps it's their fate, but there is to be a discussion about this on Wednesday in the city commission and perhaps they will reveal which trees exactly are slated for destruction :As I made clear in my essay on the cemetery, I like the palms, but these days what do I know?
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It's a long way from hurricane season yet (June 30th to November 30th in the South Atlantic Basin) but one can't help but look forward to that time of year when the meteorological uncertainties will join with all the economic problems we face this year...Perhaps I was thinking about storm season as we just got done renegotiating our hurricane insurance, $1100 this year over $2400 last year thanks to a different insurance agent. The State of Florida faced a revolt by the citizenry when insurance companies sent rates skyrocketing after the disastrous years of 2004 and 2005 and in an effort to keep rates bearable created a state run agency which says its not taking in enough in premiums to cover major losses, but oh well, its a political decision, not actuarial...There is a house in the Lower Keys built after Hurricane Wilma flooded the islands, that developed a personal response to hurricane threats. It seems like a nice idea but horribly expensive.It's a bit hard to photograph as the greenery is abundant and the front gate not very welcoming, and I am not one to go trespassing for the sake of a picture. The owner of this newly built home decided the vehicle was worth saving in the event there might be another flood. So the garage was built up in the air on the same level as the house:I've pondered this idea a bit and though it isn't practical for me, lacking as I do the lot size or the money to build it, I wonder who exactly it is practical for. After all for a regular vehicle, even a Bonneville (gasp!) it makes more economic sense to replace the wheels than to pay to build an elevated garage with all the costs involved.Parking one's car 15 feet above ground level (4.5meters) may have more to do with sentiment than hard headed economic sense. Me? I try to rent a ground level storage locker when a hurricane threatens for a modest $200 a month and put my machines there for good or ill...Good, so far.
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Riding through Summerland Key one afternoon recently I spotted a stand of fish floats:
There is a canal alongside Highway One in this neighborhood that accommodates more of the commercial type boats and less of the recreational:I'm not sure if this fisherman is tired of the lifestyle or unable to make a decent living but he has turned to selling the tools of his trade as ornaments:It struck me as sad.
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Further up the street I saw another sign of home grown cottage industry:

However I believe the lemonade stand has probably sold it's last glass as the house behind the sign is for sale. Across the street a rather striking design in Dade pine is also for sale:But across the Overseas Highway, chicken done right is still going gangbusters:I read a comment a while back that someone actually tried my recommendation and liked the fried chicken. I was quite surprised. This one is at Mile Marker 25, at the Mobil gas station ($2.11 for a gallon of regular).
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Further south on the Highway Cudjoe Key seems to be going through some changes of it's own. The Yamaha outboard dealer came and went, all signs now taken down:So much for getting my zincs and spark plugs here... Hurricane season is also a reminder that pretty soon the waters will be warm enough for swimming so I want my skiff ready to launch in a couple of months. Boyz N Their Toyz was all boarded up, boats on trailers for sale, everything despondent and abandoned:Well I guess they hadn't been open that long and in this economic climate it's the longer established businesses that tend to hold on (sez I rationalising magnificently). However this company has been around for a while:I'd like to think it's just the land up for sale but it doesn't look that way. And the space between those two businesses is also available:Come on down the weather's lovely!
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Whatever else is going on the dog needs to be walked:The good life, at least for the dog.