Thursday, May 27, 2010

Key West Mobility

Part of my recent wanderings put a variety of vehicles in front of my camera lense. You will notice this jeep with the absurd horns (oh cuckold!) has rain on the hood, which rain has also been part of my photography of a few days ago. There are a few days I wish I lived in Key West just to save myself the 40 minute travel time it takes me to get home on Ramrod Key. Mostly I am glad to leave the city behind, enjoy a winding drive across the sea and land in the quiet backwater that is my street at Mile Marker 27. If I did live in Key West I would demand expensive off street parking preferably covered, like this:We gave a dinner party for a friend who is retiring from the school district to take up a job at an American school in the south of France. And when Phillip made his goodbyes standing on the deck alongside my house he looked up at the star studded sky and listened to the night sounds and he was filled with wonder at the peacefulness of my suburban island neighborhood. While living in the Keys he has only ever lived in Key West proper, and yes it is more convenient, but if you don't mind driving, living in the outlying islands, especially on a canal with a boat at your dock, is much better. I have a small canal house surrounded by full grown coconut palms but I do not employ a gardener to clear my debris, which these trees produce at a prodigious rate, year round.My neighbors on Ramrod Key all drive proper sensible vehicles, monochrome paint jobs with all windows and doors secure. The same bourgeois conformity does not apply in Key West where bizarre paint jobs are the order of the day and doors are frequently optional extras for cars. I return to the theme of off street parking in this next picture. I have only the vaguest idea how some people can shut up their winter homes, park their winter cars and leave them out all summer in the heat humidity and rain. Yet people manage to do just that and return in December expecting the cars to run. This car has a cover, though whether it is in frequent use during the summer, or if it is a snowbird vehicle I couldn't say. As you can see every inch of space gets used. This cyclist on Eaton Street caught my eye with his shirt matching the flower bed. He just needed orange crocs to complete the ensemble. I like his heavy black functional bicycle. I think they are sold by a relatively new bicycle shop on Stock Island.
There is a new bakery in town on Eaton Street in a little wooden Conch cottage that ironically enough used to house Colez Peace bakery. When Cole's Dad sold the business and left town the bakery survived just briefly then the building became an Art Gallery whose name I found more than a little ironic: Poison. Poison became an inconvenience store and now it is once more bakery. I need to try it as the current incarnation of Colez peace is as part of the Restaurant Store up the street and competition I'm sure will serve the city well. Besides, bakeries are a sign of a civilized city.Looking down the street toward the west I saw this throw back to another era rumbling up.The bath tub VWs used to be quite popular when I lived in Santa Cruz, California, home, at the time, to the dwindling supply of air cooled VWs in the 1980s. This guy was riding down Eaton most nonchalantly one handed talking on his phone with the phone on speaker. Faced with a cascade of oncoming traffic he turned onto the sidewalk (which is legal in Florida) and kept on pedaling and talking. A better cyclist than I, Gunga Din.Is it possible three divers drowned at once? I qualified to dive many years ago but it is not a sport that appealed to me much with all it's paraphernalia and time charts and nitrogen intake and all the rest. I prefer to snorkel. This next is a classic Key West scooter, a middle aged man using his machine as basic transportation to get around town. If more Americans took this up as a daily practice imagine how much less fuel we'd burn and how much less clogged our streets would be.These are not the sneakers of a local resident, and even if it is not apparent to you, it is to me.Indeed this nice couple was looking to rent bicycles and the young employee at Eaton Bikes took them on a quick tour of their options and gave them a thorough explanation of their choices in potential rides. he was friendly and competent enough I felt like renting one from him, except Cheyenne wouldn't much like me riding if she had to walk.I have been seeing a lot of kayaks on car carriers lately and I figure this must be some fashionable move in parts of the country that pay attention to fashion. It seems like every second visitor has a canoe or a kayak on top of their vehicle.My wife wants to get a kayak but I am of the opinion that if God had wanted us to paddle she'd not have given us outboards. On the subject of small engines the Yamaha dealer on the Boulevard is doing a land sale business selling genuine scooters. Key West is suddenly bulging with Buddys of all different shades and hues. And this vicious looking machine is sold by Genuine too, a Black Cat.
This next car, a Smartfortwo had a smart ass sign in the rear window except it is in Italian which makes it cute I suppose. Judge for yourself, it reads "The dog is good but beware my wife!"Chill Key West indeed, if you have a private income or a pension; otherwise work three jobs and leave the island time to visitors. I feel lucky to hold one job and have the opportunity for overtime.And here is the most feared and fearsome set of wheels on the island. The five-miles-per-hour Conch Train equipped with loud speakers and the same old spiel over and over again. Along with off street parking I would make sure any street I wanted to buy a house on would not be part of the train or trolley routes.
Getting stuck behind the train is an exercise in patience and learning to...chill, Key West style.Cheyenne does that very well, curled up on the back seat in between numerous walks.Hey homie! I wanted to shout. Vato! Que pasa? But I remembered I wasn't in California and figured he is just an artiste of the ink.North Roosevelt Boulevard looks enticing thanks to the water but it's getting hot these days and infernal combustion is a lot easier than walking.
Not to mention working in the heat. I like my night shifts up in dispatch, even when the elderly air conditioning at the Police Station takes a dump and we have to run fans all night. My work place is still quite luxurious.
And so home on my favorite stretch of roadway, the endlessly interesting Highway One.It's called The Overseas Highway because it is more or less a causeway joining the several islands, and it makes for a splendid commute, especially if like me you ride against the traffic in the evening and in the morning and everyone else is going the opposite way.