Thursday, October 7, 2010

Boca Chica Amble

Every day lately the weather has been a gamble between rain and sun and with the first cold front of winter temperatures have dropped a few degrees.Leaving home for Key West a week ago the clouds loomed menacingly overhead as I drove Cheyenne down Highway One.At the Shell gas station in Big Coppitt I turned south on Boca Chica road which winds through the mangroves for a few miles to a dead end at the beach. In this case we had to stop a little prematurely for construction work at the bridge that separates Geiger Key from Boca Chica:The temporary traffic light was changing merrily on it's own, on a timer I suspect. I have never seen a light boxed up in plywood like this light tower:Soon enough we were at the beach and Cheyenne took off on foot, nose to the ground. The road dead ends at a barrier which closes off the remains of the roadway that got washed out most recently by storms in 2005. The list of rules is the usual stuff, no camping no alcohol and beach closes at 11pm. Why the county calls this place Geiger Beach I'm not sure; everyone else calls it Boca Chica Beach, because that's the Key it's on. This is the back side of Boca Chica (small mouth in Spanish) and the fence to the right of my car, pictured above, is the southern boundary of the Naval Air Station. Geiger key ended at the bridge with the roadworks pictured earlier...Mind you, signs even nonsensical ones like this one below are sprouting everywhere around here:
My friend Robert started the habit a while back of putting out blue barrels that he found washed up, as trash containers. After the noted storms of 2005 Robert says they co-opted his plan and now they are actually stencilled by the county as official trash cans.
Robert's trash can idea has helped immeasurably to clean up what had been a trashed beach. Which was too bad as the views here are splendid:
Cheyenne was having the time of her life sniffing around. She likes to smell where other dogs have been though she has no particular desire to hang out with the dogs themselves.
Owing to her unfortunate upbringing in a prior life she doesn't like to swim and she restricts herself to land based exploration. There's lots to explore at Boca Chica Beach, a place where transients like to make a home from home.
The nearest actual residents are just up the beach:
The number of visitors, especially in winter, is quite astounding. This whole place will be packed with people and their dogs hanging out.
Bubba stick with seagull. The white PVC pipe is set to mark some mysterious channel.
Sunrise. The great disadvantage of the beach manifests itself at this time of day when the mosquitoes and particularly the sand fleas manifest themselves and start biting the shit out of any exposed inch of flesh.
Time to flail one's way back to the car and try to close the doors on any errant biters. Back onto the one road out:
Long straight stretches of road punctuated by the occasional turn.
Slowing down to roll through Geiger Key, which I believe was named for either a man called Captain Geiger, a wrecker in Key West's early history who knew the ornithologist John Audubon. Or possibly the Key is named for the Geiger tree which Audubon named for his friend.
The other reading says Geiger Key was named for an early inhabitant by that name.
At last one is back at the junction with Highway One at the Shell station on Big Coppitt Key.
That name they say is derived from the English word "coppice," perhaps because there used to be a notable clump of trees here at Mile Marker Ten.