Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eco Discovery Center

It's been a while but it was time to head back. Florida Monthly Magazine rates the "best" attractions in the state by some means not made clear and half of Key West seems to win a category in their readers' poll. http://www.floridamagazine.com/bestof2010.html The Eco Discovery center won "Best Nature Center" a win they are touting. Fair enough I suppose, a win is a win in our crazily competitive society, but the list looks suspiciously weighted in favor of South Florida and the Keys in particular.The walkway into the center is paved with donor plaques. Once inside, and entrance is free, the center puts on a good show.Weather in the Keys involves some discussion of waterspouts and hurricanes.Dioramas display flora and fauna.
I think this is it:
I really enjoy wandering the place and taking it all in.
You can dive without getting wet:
And the undersea lab notwithstanding there are tanks filled with actually water. And coral.This was the main reason for my visit.
I had heard on the radio (when the "Best of..." award was also discussed) that a live Lion fish had been donated. It looked like an aggressive little bastard, sitting and staring out of it's aquarium:A staff member clued me in on the fish which has become imported to these waters by accident and has no natural predators except for the Blue Wrasse that likes to eat it's eggs. Which is a good thing as each Lion fish can produce hundreds of thousands of eggs. The Lion fish is aggressive and eats anything it can kill. It's spines are poisonous but apparently it's meat is delicious, like Hog fish. Also delicious to some people is the Queen Conch sitting in solitary splendor in it's own tank. This is a native mollusk eaten almost to extinction in these waters and is now imported from Central America to feed Key West.
Standing inside the center one can look out and see the harbor just a stone's throw away.An air conditioned refuge from the world outside.
My friend Robert's favorite marker in the walkway, his favorite saying really:
And here he is caught in a pensive moment as we strolled out together.I can't remember why I don't come back more often.

1500 Mile Iron Butt Update

It was not entirely easy, much much harder than the 1,000 mile Saddle Sore ride last year but I arrived in Binghamton New York under cloudy skies on a 55 degree morning with 20 minutes to spare. I got my forms witnessed at the local Jail, had a massive breakfast served by a delightfully stereotypically surly New York waitress, and mailed off my paperwork to the Iron Butt people in Illinois... Story and pictures to follow. Suffice it to say the Triumph was perfect, the Catskill Mountains were great fun to ride, and as I was no longer Iron Butting I thoroughly enjoyed being let loose on the road without having to document anything further.
In a few hours Jack riepe will be letting his dogs loose on me and that is of far greater concern than the meth fuelled truck drivers of Interstate 81. And they were truly terrible. That I am able to see my breath tells me I am far too far north far too late in the year. Despite the changing leaves extravaganza and the fine riding through the Catskills, I hope theykeep my place in the Keys for when I get back Friday.