Monday, July 6, 2009

Dawn's Early Drive

The Fourth of July has always felt much more like a personal holiday to me than the usual fireworks and barbecues and parades in the public arena. Today is a day I am lucky to have off this year as it falls by chance on the alternating weekend that I don't have to work. Thus because I am an Ironist by inclination I thought today would be the day to celebrate my commute home, especially as I was forced to drive this year on "Ride To Work Day." Talk about irony!Also there is the indisputable fact that if your inclination is to snag pictures from a moving vehicle it is much easier and more effective- dare I say safer?- to do it from behind the seat belt of a moving car!

This is the time of year that brings us the longest period of daylight in the northern hemisphere and daylight savings time is in effect in Florida so the sun starts to come up even before I leave work a few minutes before six. By the time I have driven out of the Key West/Stock Island urban agglomeration of street lights, traffic lights and lighted buildings, the sun is suffusing the eastern sky with white light. There's another irony, Baby's Coffee at Mile Marker 15 isn't yet open when I flash by in the 55 mph zone (I stopped to take the picture that particular morning) but the mangroves and flat waters alongside Highway One are clearly visible:
A few miles further on, deeply into the 45 mph zone from Sugarloaf Lodge all the way to Big Pine Key I cross paths with my only traffic light at Sugarloaf School. It was erected a few years ago to allow parents and buses to get out of the school and onto the highway. It rarely stops me and even when it does, the red light doesn't last too long:Then it's past Mangrove Mama's restaurant and the Sheriff's substation on Cudjoe Key (pronounced "Kud- Joe"). There are occasions when you will see a deputy parked on the side of the road, so it doesn't do to blow by assuming that because there aren't windows in the building they can't see you...The car pictured above was a deputy heading home either to end the night shift or to start the day shift. I really enjoy the long straightaway that comes up past my wife's gym, Pirate Wellness next to the Kicking back convenience store. I don't usually stop by to say hello as i am no fan of organized public gymnasiums.Some impatient loons pass slow pokes here crossing the quadruple yellow lines. I don't as a ticket for reckless driving would be hard to wiggle out of. In a more driver competent society we might have alternating passing lanes for traffic in each direction but around here such an arrangement would lead to a Darwinian cull. I'm not opposed to that you understand but politically speaking, allowing people to pass here would be electoral suicide. So we trundle along at speed limit plus five mph, per the rules. Then it's over a short bridge with splendid water views... ...and onto where my post office is located alongside the best little Ace Hardware store in North America. This is where a good eye is needed as there are plenty of opportunities for deputies to park and write reports while waiting for the unwary commuter anxious to get home to bed: The Niles Channel bridge seen in the distance is a forty foot high (12 meter) span that gives a view across the mangroves and the sun, by now risen above the horizon:And then down the other side into a blaze of sunrise glory:And into the waiting radar gun of a parked Florida Highway Patrol trooper. There used to be one parked frequently at the base of the bridge on the Ramrod Key side, but I haven't seen the cream and black car for a while so perhaps it was my neighbor who was a trooper and lived across the canal from me. I did catch a glimpse of an improperly attired rider heading towards Key West, and lacking other motorcycles to complete this little tale I present his blurred image here. It's hard to stick to 45mph over the bridge, it is quite inviting:And then it's time to leave the highway and drive three quarters of a mile down my little one lane street to my house......where I arrive around 6:35am. I do enjoy my commute, especially I have to say, by Bonneville.