Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vignettes XXV

It's not only Key West that claims sunsets for it's own. The town of Rincon ("Corner") in western Puerto Rico claims it is the land of beautiful sunsets. And they sell bumper stickers on the strength of it: When last we went to Puerto Rico we took a quick rental car trip to the western end and walked out to the lighthouse. The town of Rincon left us rather cold, but I shall have to go back now and see if it bathes me in happiness when I take Puerto Rico Highway 413. I'd like to ship the Bonneville down and then take the ferry to the Dominican Republic but I think the wife would frown at the expense. That would be true happiness, riding the mountains of the Caribbean.
There has been an outbreak of wrecks in and around Key west lately. I had photos of one motorcycle down with a seriously injured youth. Then a local businessman rode his Harley into the path of an oncoming car and managed to get himself airlifted to Miami for treatment. When I left home last week I found a back-up toward Big Pine Key, not in my direction happily, for another wreck. Then,on my way home from the movies I nearly spotted another wreck one fine afternoon. I was ambling along when a PT Cruiser came zooming up behind me, so I pulled over and let him by, so he could tail gate the car in front. That car needed to stop for a red light at Sugarloaf Key and the PT Cruiser disappeared into a cloud of burnt rubber. Literally. I couldn't get the camera out of my pocket fast enough, but the PT Cruiser nose dived like a stubborn burro and the rear wheels lifted off the road skittering from side to side as the driver, his underpants undoubtedly soiled by now, struggled to stop his car. I was laughing like a drain, the driver of the red car shrugged his shoulders helplessly and the tailgater in the PT Cruiser dug out from under a pile of displaced picnic gear.No harm done but he left a lovely streak of rubber in the road for a souvenir.
So how much do you feel you have to "give up" to take to the road on two wheels?One full sized parking space at least. Photographed from the third floor of the Freeman Justice Building.
That same morning when I went to see what was going on in a very busy court room, I saw this guy sitting out enjoying the morning air.

I only noticed the "Morgan for Mayor" sign in the background after I took the picture. This year incumbent McPherson who has won two, two-year terms consecutively is facing a major challenge from fellow Conch Craig Cates. The battle of the bubbas has some people wondering why two good old boys are duking it out. I have an idea but that would be worth more than my job to discuss here. Meet me at Sandy's if you want my take. You're buying my con leche.
On the subject of Sandy's I was riding through town unnaturally early and I spotted this dude picking up a coffee on his way to work. Scott is a madman, and here's why. This summer,with no motorcycle experience he bought a Kawasaki KLR 650, loaded it with gear and rode across country and had a fabulous time.He didn't ponder it or over think it, he just lived the dream with no muss and no fuss. I admire that,

Now he is riding his KLR to work at Key West High School where he teaches. He said my Bonneville was more comfortable when he sat on it- his KLR was so tall I squashed vital organs trying to reach the ground with my toes. I had been planning to go on a ride with him to the Everglades when I fell off the Bonneville June 1st. I hope he will re-schedule when it is cooler. On the subject of cooler I quite liked this latest version of Harley Sportster, except for the side mounted tag (saddle bag impediment) and the single, very u-shaped saddle: I can't help but remind myself how maintenance free these motorcycles are- self adjusting hydraulic valves, belt drive and a dealer on every corner, except in Key West.

I came across this for sale sign at the Casa Resort on Seminole Street. They are apparently selling off these historic old buildings.

I thought a picture might be a good idea to remind us of another loss when some warm hearted builder throws up another lot of cookie cutter executive condos. Oh well.

I always enjoy snapping pictures of people using their scooters. Just using them, with no great fanfare. This guy was buzzing merrily along South Roosevelt with a large duffel bag between his awkwardly placed legs and a stuffed backpack on his back.

I know, he could have more rubber on the rear tire, boots on his feet and all that stuff. But he is out riding and doing what needs to get done.
Also at Sandy's I snapped a picture of the dudes doing what needs to get done. There's meat on the menu at the café on White Street at Virginia, but I like their breaded fish sandwich.Lots of mayo and a large with one sugar. Bu-u-u-rp. That will put me to sleep on night shift, digesting the fish while the coffee fights to keep me awake on these long slow nights of September when no one is in town.
I wrote recently of the flood of tourists still visiting Key West. Well, I would have done better to keep my trap shut. In a few months this scooter parking space, on Eaton at Duval, will be filled with rentals and an occasional Bonneville but right now you can see for yourself:
Lately I've been parking further up Eaton as there is a scooter spot with a large shady tree over it. I went to see Public Enemies at the Tropic, a true to life depiction of John Dillinger and a little slow in the middle of the two-and-a-half-hour flicker, and I was glad to find the Bonneville in the shade. Hot vinyl burns through thin pants. On the subject i found a large cruiser by Yamaha, which they call a V-Star of some immense proportion parked in the shade on Appelrouth Lane.

I don't quite get the cruiser thing, the low saddle and the feet flung forward and the immense bulk, compared to a svelte standard motorcycle, even one encumbered with luggage. I like sitting upright as having my feet underneath me puts me in better control of the machine, I think :

The angle of the photographs doesn't help but trust me, the V Star was huge.
So can you guess what this is?
It is a lower unit off my 25 horsepower Yamaha outboard. There has been a rash of lower unit thefts across the Keys, about 60 of them at last count. People apparently drive up to empty houses and unbolt the lower unit which has no serial numbers or identifiers and haul the unit off in their trucks. An Upper Keys neighbor spotted one of them and set off on a foot chase after the thief. That one got away butleft behind the truck. Sheriff's investigators have told the paper they think it is a ring out of Miami so I was hoping that as Robert and I started in on my unit we wouldn't be turned in for stealing my own lower unit... Happily mine is rather smaller than most of the units getting snatched and we were no experts in removing it. The National Guard would have had time to get on stand by by the time we separated the two halves of the outboard. I normally keep my boat at my dock during the summer swimming season, but with Robert's help we hauled it out at the community launch ramp and replaced the impeller which was three years old and rather tired.
My wife's shoulder is healing nicely from surgery but she still can't climb in and out of the boat so I decided we might as well haul the boat out and Robert nudged me into doing the necessary maintenance. That must be what friends are for. "You don't want to spend $80 an hour to pay a stranger to do it..." he said. "I don't?" I thought. He was right.
When I took a stroll down Knowles Lane I saw this old Suzuki Tracker mouldering away. Picturesque I thought, but it could have been anywhere, so I saved the pictures for another day.
That would be today:

The interior of the vehicle looked more like a garden shed than a machine that had once relied on internal combustion for it's raison d'etre.When I was a kid we used to sit in these kinds of junque-mobiles and make raspberry noises while we spun the steering wheel. I am not allowed to do that any more under penalty of being committed to an institution so I take pictures instead.I don't think this machine will be rolling again soon. I rather wonder how it manages to just get left on the street in a town which is crying out for parking spaces. It must know someone important.
I have no idea if these bald old coots own the orange v-twin on the sidewalk, or if they even ride motorcycles. I was stopped at the traffic light on Whitehead Street and liked the picture of the Green Parrot bar scene. I liked it enough to take a second Green Parrot Bar picture of another, more standard v-twin cruiser.I don't know how they do it, go out drinking and then ride safely home.
Not all of them do of course. I have no idea why this vehicle was stopped, probably for simple speeding which prompted the thought: There, but for the Grace of God, go I- and as I rolled by at a sedate speed gave thanks to the unknown driver for distracting the long arm of the law for me.
The new school year has started and we have all been told to look out for increased enforcement and the dreaded unmarked cars. I hope they catch lots of drunk drivers, my bete noire.