Thursday, December 9, 2010

Boca Chica Beach

The sky was cloudy, and I hoped it was a good day to go deep into Boca Chica Beach, a notoriously buggy place. We parked the car, Cheyenne and I alongside the only other vehicle currently at this most popular beach, a van whose occupant had the engine running and a laptop perched on his steering wheel. He nodded cheerfully as we stumped by and then my Labrador and I were alone in the beach wilderness.I had plans this early morning (8 o'clock is early for a lot of people) and they involved walking as far as we could in ninety minutes before I had to drive in to Key West to meet my wife. The old road was torn up by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 but prior to that this stretch of asphalt was open to cars and it was much wider than the narrow strip still open to bikes and walkers. The ocean is unchanging if a little melodramatic this fine morning.I had remembered to apply copious layers of insect repellent so I'm not sure if precautions were effective or if the threat of cool weather was enough to keep mosquitoes at bay.Boca Chica is a strip of public land backed by the Boca Chica Naval Air Station which regularly flies jets off the runway here. They fly low and loud simulating aircraft carrier exercises, but the beach itself is open to public use, this side of the green hurricane fence. The power poles along here mark the old state road bed (not Highway One as some believe. The Old Overseas Highway used to pass through Boca Chica Base itself and a portion of it is still used as a second entrance gate). I have seen these "State Beach" signs for sale on Duval Street. There is no doubt however that people fling their clothes off with gay abandon around here, whether such activities are state sanctioned or not. Not, most likely, as Florida has a government that enjoys very much interfering with people's private passions. In the name of freedom, naturally.
Anyway, by the time you encounter a middle aged naked man (not me!) down here you will have been amply warned. Someone with too much time on their hands has been adding to the sole tree on the beach. A testament to the indestructible plastic pollution of our coastal waters:This Cuban chug used to be further down the beach closer to the tide line but it has apparently been pushed up further onto dry land. It was quite a sophisticated home built escape vehicle, with a hull made of sheet metal bolted together sheathed in fiberglass to make it water tight. It has engine mounts inside and seemed to have canvas flotation rings around the top of the hull. It is also filling up with trash after long exposure to lazy passers by. The US Coastguard OK is supposed to indicate the boat has been inspected and accounted for as much as possible by the Coasties. Cubans are always floating over, or dying in the attempt, when the ocean is calm and the breezes die down.Speaking of time on your hands there is a stone hut construction also on this beach and very elaborate it is too.It has chambers and paths and decorations and everything. Crusoe would be at home here.Further down the beach the way is obstructed by water, a pond spilling out into the ocean. Across the salt pond the eagle eyed guardian of Boca Chica Naval Air Station.Hurricane storm surge has made a mess of the coastline here. It's what Nature tends to do, tearing up the dirt and making human access more complex. Someone has strung up a set of polyethylene rope between the trees to enable people to totter dry foot using rocks as stepping stones. Cheyenne and I, properly clad fear no water- my Crocs and Cheyenne's paws are amphibious.A good spot to pause.Someone left a copy of Conch Color magazine in this pleasant reading spot on a small chunk of waterfront sand, well shaded with a nice ocean view. Here is a surviving culvert from the old road. We had to get our calves wet to cross another outgoing stream of salt water to get to the next chunk of beach.Another someone with a lot of time on their hands has been piling up rocks to create another causeway. They need to buy and wear waterproof Crocs instead.More old road, more old power poles stretching to the horizon.These rocks mark a divergence in the trail. To the left follow the beach picking your way through mangroves. To the right turn inland.Quite a few years ago I brought a bicycle down here and rode to the end of the road. The road peters out at the end of the island, ending abruptly in the middle of the bushes as I recall at the spot where an old wooden bridge collapsed.We were alone in the shrubbery, still drippy and wet from recent rains.And, technically speaking, not completely alone:I was surprised to come across this magnificence in the middle of the road. Later I spoke with Robert about this channel which allows the salt ponds to flush with the tides and he said it was built a couple of years ago. The steel plates looked quite new.We stood on the bridge for a while watching the water flow under the road and then it was time to turn back toward the car. We walked briskly along in companionable silence cutting the return journey in half, and in less than thirty minutes we were back at the car.

18 comments:

judi said...

When I was down there in July my daughter and I took her dog to Boca Chica to let her dog run along the beach there. We saw a ray in the water, the shoes and a nudist(thank god he sat up) and the stone hut. Its surprising the work they have put into that hut.Its also amazing the amount of shoes that are on the fence. Thanks for the memories!

RichardM said...

Another nice tour of a part of Key West that is off the beaten path. It looks like a wonderful place to explore. Thank you.

Richard

Conchscooter said...

Richard: what do you explore in the frozen nortth? I'm dying to know.
Judi: "thank goodness"? you were probably batting on the wrong team for him anyway...

judi said...

Umm yeah becuase there are some nudest you don't mind seeing nude and others you would rather not see nude(he was the "rather not"). PS: on the way back his team was showing up. LOL

judi said...

By the way it's a balmy 7 degrees here in NE PA.

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

Do the male nudists sing the song "There's a mosquito on my peter, and I can't shake it off"?

This is a place I will visit on my next trip to Big Pine. I want to see the stone hut.

S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen said...

Thanks for the tour of this Boca Chica Beach, generally the thought of those lovely Nudes keeps me at the Boca Chica Beach on base! Besides, they have a terrific tiki bar...

RichardM said...

In the winter, not much exploring. Walks are limited to roads and a few trails that are open to walkers. It is pretty dark much of the day except around lunch time so most of my walking is in the middle of the day. There are some X-C ski trails that are lit that I enjoy in the evening. As long as you are dressed appropriately, the cold weather really isn't an issue until it gets really cold. today is -34C is getting really cold so probably no walking outside today. In the elementary schools, the low temperature cut off for outdoor recess is -25F.

Richard

Conchscooter said...

Dear Richard, we are contemplating giving up on taking a road trip next week if it doesn't warm up. It's barely above freezing in Palm Beach and Birmingham is supposed to be down to 17 at night. I love the idea of Alaska but I cannot fathom living like that. My hat's off to you. You seem so normal in person.
The nudity issue at Boca Chica was always at the back of my mind when last year the freak out of the day, for weeks, was whether there should be a nude beach in Key West. It's been pretty obvious to anyone with a brain cell that going nude around here involves either, a) staying at an appropriate guest house ( for straight people too I should add, they exist!)b) renting a boat for the day and buggering off to your own nude Eden or c) shuffling out here to Boca Chica. But no, people want a big open stretch of sand that announces GO NUDE HERE. Initative please you freedom loving people. God gave it to you, now use it. Nope, we'd much rather have some family drama in town arguing how nude is nude. Erk.

Conchscooter said...

Oh and Jeffrey you call it a "stone hut"? That's a new one, it must be some nasty habit gone viral on Youtube unbeknownst to me.

Anonymous said...

"There is no doubt that people fling off their clothes with gay abandon around here"....May be the funniest thing you have ever written..well played Conchy old boy..well played...!!!!

Buffalo Bill

P.S.- Thanks for your advice on how to cope with cold weather,I've really stepped up my bacon intake..while i'm tired of hearing my heat weep..the cold weather dosent seem so bad anymore.

The Florida Blogger said...

Middle aged and old men always find a way to don their birthday suits in the Keys. I'm not middle aged or I would have done it myself:)

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

I believe you called it a stone hut (referring to the structures), but it would be a good euphemism for getting naked in remote FL spaces. Sanibel is supposed to have its contingent of naturalists getting skitters on their peters, but I have not attended.

Anonymous said...

Conchscooter, you got a link from www.keywestproperties.com!
Hooray! More exposure!

Conchscooter said...

Jolly good. I couldn't actually see it. I would be astonished if my kind of reality were interesting to realtors.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

What the bloody hell? The way things are going, I have plans to move into that hut. I have been collecting bottles and cans from the sides of the road to guarantee having enough gas to make the trip. I am also bringing a bag of bird seed (to attract chickens) and my fishing gear.

My new career will be writing romantic couplets on sea shells (piss clams) for old couples staggering off the cruise ships. The shells will cost me nothing, and equal the original sentiment I will have written.

"These are the days we'll remember as best...
"When I almost got hard on the sands Of Key West."

The metal channel almost suggests real eastate for sale, eh? It would be ideal for my pet giant squid business.

It is 23º here at the moment, headed to 17º tonight. All temps are cited in Fahrenheit, as if I gave a shit about anything else.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Judy said...

As of this past weekend, the US Government has posted "many" signs saying No Trespassing all along the walkway down to this beach. No more going there it would appear.

Conchscooter said...

That would suck