Monday, March 16, 2009

Key West Approaches

There has been a ton of traffic on Highway One day after day, as the young hordes roll into town and very annoying it is too. They crawl along enjoying the view form the seat of their parents' mini vans and as soon as the Bonneville starts to zip by they pile on the speed because, God knows, they aren't going to stand for a worker bee trying to get to work on time....Grr I sez to myself, six more weeks and then at last all these intruders (and their money) will be gone and the Overseas highway will become magically uncluttered. Which is a terrible attitude so I thought taking some pictures might help. here is the Bonneville heading into town at 1:30a.m. for a late shift on Wednesday:
Highway One looking east towards Boca Chica is mostly empty at that hour which is why I enjoy working short shifts occasionally. It's a trip flying down the empty road, a cool breeze and only the light of the headlamp to break up the darkness. The full moon made it even more spectacular last week. The last couple of miles into Stock Island the highway is illuminated which spoils the effect a bit. This is the easternmost turn onto College Road with the big Tennessee Williams Theater illuminated billboard:This spot is where the city of Key West actually has it's outer limits. North Stock Island was annexed by the city to make way for a golf course and related gated housing development and the northernmost lane of Highway One is in the city of Key West (as is College Road). The other three lanes and the median strip are in Monroe County. Which means that if this runner were to get heat stroke he would be attended by a city ambulance. If he were across the street (where there is no bike path) it would be a county ambulance. Very confusing and completely uninteresting I'm sure. Just one of those oddities that strike the mind of a dispatcher. The Burger King is in the county, as is the big empty lot next to it. The lot was to have been developed by the indefatigable Spottswoods who felt the community needed yet another strip mall hereabouts. The damaged economy saved us the excrescence, the lot is for sale happily:So what could that bright white light be that beckons from across the street?Is probably not the liquor store, the place where you come for alcohol if you are desperate of a Sunday morning before lunch (!?) and can't wait for the city liquor counters to open up, when the Blue Laws relent at noon and permit such reckless behavior:No, the bright white light is in fact our favorite chicken place, available on Stock Island of course:And if you need gas 24 hours you can check out the Chevron at Mile Marker 5 more or less, awkward to get into if you are headed into Key West (where the other Chevron at White Street is also open all night as is the Citgo). This is the Chevron at the intersection of MacDonald Avenue: The approach to the Cow Key Bridge, the only bridge into the city proper, is a series of light industrial businesses, mechanics and the like, lining the southern side of the highway. It's not pretty but it is useful:Not forgetting the all important Harley Davidson rental shop at Hurricane Hole Marina:And with your rented Harley you too could join the hordes of lookalike cruisers parading up and down the Overseas Highway: I am forced to concede that cruisers make sense, for those with extra tough tailbones, in a state noted for it's flatness and straightness but I sure would like to see a little more variety on the streets of key West... And then, back on the road, we come to the bridge itself at Mile Marker Four, the place where the city really starts:The last four miles of the Overseas Highway down to Fleming and Whitehead Streets are in the city and this is the formal notice of the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning if you are going the other way...With an important reminder from your friends at Key West PD:Should you choose to ignore the advice there is free board and lodging available at the Stock Island Hilton where they throw in a free body cavity search with registration. On the other hand should you find yourself needing to settle down in delightful Key West there us at least one bank with money to spare:I was rather surprised to see the banner looking so cheerful on the way out of town, but there it is. Some banks apparently aren't in distress; we should all be so lucky.