Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Unknown No Name

I am not really sure why I took my camera with me on this walk. I make it a habit to return from time to time to No Name Key and walk my favored walk on the island and I was pretty sure I was all photographed out here, for at least a while.In the end I decided to take the squeeze box just because you never know quite what you might see and perhaps I might find a picture or two to add, at random to my next collection of vignettes. Cheyenne in the mangroves, or trash discarded in a mud hole. Who was it, I wonder, who decided this was the right spot in which to discard some superannuated wheels?This is dry season at it's driest in the keys. Normally the wet mud has long since dried and acres and acres of mangroves have arisen out of the swamp and the walkable acreage has doubled on many of these small islands. This winter has, with it's incessant rain and cursed cold snaps, caused the mud to take extra long to dry out.At long last trails normally submerged or semi submerged have dried out enough to encourage an adventurous walker to take a side trail or two which was how Cheyenne and I ended up traipsing far off our normal well beaten, track. The camera was a welcome burden.I plunged off on a side trail at random, and tried another previously unnoticed side trail and found to my surprise that I had slipped through the looking glass and instead of the trail petering out it led me, as though by a nose ring, deeper and deeper into the furthest recesses of No Name Key.From the south shore, at low tide I could see the Highway One bridge that connects Big Pine Key to West Summerland Key, the road that leads to Bahia Honda State Park.The day was warm, a harbinger of summer, yet the breeze was still cool and the atmosphere was far from oppressive. As the sun broke through the haze the walk became a delightful exploration, my dog and I tramping and exploring so far from anywhere we could not, for once hear the remotest of engine sounds from land or water.Exploring the Lower Keys is not mountaineering, nor is it even the search for the perfect outcrop of rock from which to view valleys and rivers and woods that stretch to the horizon. The horizon here is nothing more than variations on a well worn theme: mud, mangrove and water. That I can get excited by the prospect of seeing more of the same, in endless variations, comes as something of a surprise to me and I am not always sure Cheyenne appreciates my discovery of the inconsequential, but she is a good sport.No Name Key is indelibly connected to the disastrous invasion of Cuba, known to us as the Bay of Pigs, for these were the forests where the invaders practiced their skills prior to the landing in Cuba. Then this was a truly remote place. Before 1938 No Name Key was the place where the four hour ferry ride from Lower Matecumbe landed and joined the Lower Keys to the mainland. After 1938 Highway One by passed this little island and pushed it essentially off the map. A good place to train unconstitutional guerrillas to invade a sovereign nation. There are no signs of their activities but Alpha 66's terrorism hangs invisible in the air over this island even today.It was inevitable though somewhat aggravating to find tracks in the dried mud. Not just foot or dog prints but bicycle tracks, no less!And a giant's elaborate causeway of heavy flat stones. It seems like a lot of work to go and search for bait fish.To my surprise we eventually connected with the main side trail once again, back where I knew where we were and the adventure was over an hour after it began.A pedestrian freeway back to the car, parked on the main boulevard a mile away. We marched back side by side.A motorcycle is a grand thing but a dog that puts up with pointless walks to nowhere is, sometimes, even better.