Friday, October 23, 2009

Veterans Park

It was too cool to consider going swimming. I am embarrassed to mention temperatures were hovering in the mid 70s but the northeast breeze was cool and wintry and dry and it didn't feel like a day to immerse oneself in ocean water. So I didn't, I stood on the shore and took pictures instead. This is Veterans Memorial Park at about Mile Marker 39 at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge.Veterans is a good place to bring a picnic and enjoy the view. Like most parks in this small islands, Veterans isn't what you might call expansive but it has all needed appurtenances for a day at the beach. And rules too, including No Nothing Overnight:And there is a magnificent toilet building for your pleasure, which is worth knowing if you are caught short while traveling:You can stroll the beach and take pictures:You can bring a pal on your motorcycle and take a quick turn in the parking lot. These reprobates would probably get loud raspberries from the quaking all-the-gear-crowd Up North who are alternating envious glances at the sunny Keys afternoon on their computer screens, with the gray overcast precipitous day outside their windows, in that delightful time of year known as the all-important "change of season." These guys hitched up their shorts just to give you an extra taste of their summery pleasure:I don't give a fig for changing leaf colors or drooping apple boughs or frosty hedgerows with panting robin red breasts in them. I can't wait for temperatures to get back to normal, the winds to die down a little and give me another week or three of swimming weather before the next cold front puts the final seal on summer.
The waters off Veterans Memorial Park are not too terribly deep and you can wade out on a sandy path between the sea grasses for a good long way before the water covers your knees, so I generally prefer to go to Bahia Honda State Park for swimming.Veterans is nicely set up for families to come out and enjoy the waterfront, with chickee huts, picnic tables and trash cans everywhere, a service of Monroe County Public Works, and very civilized it is too.
The problem with living in the Keys is that you get acclimated to the weather and winter suddenly feels cool and dry when most visitors find the sun balmy and warm compared to what they go through at home. This hermaphroditic metrosexual looked decidedly European to me for some reason. But as effete as he appeared to my sturdy eye he was doing alright for himself, as it turned out.I wondered if perhaps she might not have been his sister, but he took some pictures of her posing in a style that was decidedly odd if they were blood relatives.I hope they enjoyed their visit to the Keys and spent vast sums of money. They certainly seemed to enjoy lounging on the beach as I busied myself taking my pictures. I had a dinner date with my wife and I was buying dinner at the Winn Dixie grocery in Big Pine before she got home so I had to pull my finger out. Here are some more happy memories of the Keys being recorded at the water's edge. You really owe it to yourself to get down here and do the same. Just ignore my moaning about the cold fronts and frosty conditions, because I happen to prefer summer's heat.
It's been a lot hot summer, extra hot in fact, and I've heard from my neighbors who have been longing for relief from the heat. I plan to switch modes too, and as swimming ends cycling begins and walks in the back country become bearable in winter.
I'll come back to Veterans to sit out and perhaps watch a sunset, or, if I get ambitious and can drag myself out of bed early on my days off perhaps I could photograph even a sunrise or two.The great pleasure I do get from this modest change of seasons is that one doesn't have to waste time dreading winter. It's a change, a modest one, but outdoor living is in some ways enhanced, rather in the way people in horrid climates take advantage of snow by skiing and riving snowmobiles and they make the cold their friend. So I do different things in winter when it's cooler than i do in the blast of summer's heat.On the colder snaps in winter I start grumbling about how we need to move further south, Puerto Rico is largely immune to cold fronts as are the US Virgin Islands, but the truth is cold is relative and it doesn't last long in the Keys. On Sunday we were treated to a night time low of 67, by Tuesday the sun was firmly out and the high broke 80 degrees. Now we are in a rough pattern of 78 by night for a low and 85 by day for a high. Delicious.Veterans Memorial park is easy to miss. It's on the south side of the Highway and flashes by like this:Flashes may be a rather inappropriate word because tourists have just come off the Seven Mile bridge at this point so they tend to be rather slow, taking it all in as they rumble slowly by:And there in the distance, to the south, is Ohio Key and it's RV Park overshadowed by a giant Stars and Stripes and the rather less aesthetically appealing rectangular blob that is the useful electronic highway information billboard.A book, a loaf of bread, and a jug of ice cold filtered rain water. And Veterans Memorial Park. Date anyone?