Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Laurel Avenue

Laurel Avenue on Stock Island is notable in my life because it happens to be where my motorbike shop is located, so it might come as no surprise that I decided to wander round and take a few pictures while I waited for Jiri to replace my tires on the Bonneville.Laurel Avenue is not, with the best will in the world, terribly scenic, even seen under Florida's magnificent Spring Big Sky. It's a street that parallels Highway One, to the very left edge in the picture above, and if while driving towards Key West you pass Burger King, you've gone too far. If, when leaving Key West you pass Murray Marine you've missed Laurel Avenue. For some people though this collection of light industry, small business and trailers is home. Trailers are the preferred residence on Stock island these days as trailers are somewhat affordable and at Mile Marker Five they are within a bus or bicycle ride of the jobs in Key West. The trailers aren't luxury residences even if they rent for at least $1200 a month:The businesses along Laurel Avenue come in all shapes and sizes, including construction, vehicle repair and so forth:That last one is an outboard repair shop in back of Murray Marine, which is a marina at the end of Laurel Avenue with access to Boca Chica Bay: They also rent center console boats at Murray's which could be something that one might want to consider if there is a burning desire to explore waters different than those of Key West harbor. Even though this isn't a wealthy neighborhood there is pride of residence with a very Caribbean flavor:And because Stock Island used to be the place where Key West kept it's cattle stocks farmyard animals can still be found wandering around. Key West has it's chickens while Stock Island has it's Muscovy ducks, much quieter and more dignified they are too.Stock Island has it's issues too of course. Lots of cars everywhere, even though parking is a good deal easier to find here and it's free:There were rumors that the previous Navy commander agreed to re-route fighter jets in training over poor Stock Island to spare the sensibilities of the wealthy residents of neighboring Key Haven. People in power are shocked, shocked by such scurrilous suggestions but there they are the jets zipping low overhead:The arguments over jet noise rage in the paper, but the fact is the Navy was here first, and supporters say the sounds of fighters overhead are the sounds of freedom, opponents want to Navy to go away, which would be an economic disaster so those of us spared the sounds of freedom hope they stay. Pretty soon the snowbirds will be heading north and the debate will peter out thankfully. There are some wealthier homes on Stock Island. Years ago, this development at the western end of laurel Avenue used to be just another run down trailer park. there was a bar facing Highway One and it had a hand painted sign on the wall reading "Free Beer Tomorrow." The end came and "Tomorrow' was erased and replaced by "Today" for one glorious twenty four hour period, then came the bulldozers and the new Coral Hammocks grew out of the wreckage of the trailer park:It's one of those gated communities where people paid more than half a million to buy a townhouse right next to Highway One and paid that much to park their BMWs under the blazing sun:For now, until development picks up again in a distant future there are "permanent" travel trailers to call home if you have the money:Live here and you could be on Duval getting shit faced within fifteen minutes on your scooter. A cab ride home might cost twenty bucks so you might want to figure out your budget ahead of moving on down.