Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold Key West

From the National Weather Service a note to cheer us all up:


Special Weather Statement
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KEY WEST FL
502 AM EST MON DEC 13 2010

FLZ076>078-132200-
MONROE UPPER KEYS-MONROE MIDDLE KEYS-MONROE LOWER KEYS-
INCLUDING THE COMMUNITIES OF...KEY LARGO...MARATHON...KEY WEST
502 AM EST MON DEC 13 2010

...A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MAY BE REQUIRED FOR THE UPPER KEYS
TONIGHT...
...RECORD COLD TEMPERATURES POSSIBLE TONIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT...

THE COLDEST WEATHER OF THIS SEASON WILL IMPACT ALL OF THE FLORIDA
KEYS TONIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT. ON TUESDAY MORNING...LOW
TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO DROP INTO THE UPPER 30S IN THE UPPER
KEYS. THESE TEMPERATURES COMBINED WITH SUSTAINED NORTH WINDS OF
AROUND NEAR 25 MPH WILL RESULT IN MINIMUM CHILL READINGS IN THE
LOWER 30S. SUBSEQUENTLY...A WIND CHILL ADVISORY WILL LIKELY BE
REQUIRED FOR THE UPPER KEYS. ELSEWHERE...LOW TEMPERATURES TONIGHT
ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 40 AND 45 DEGREES IN THE MIDDLE KEYS...
TO THE UPPER 40S TO NEAR 50 DEGREES IN THE LOWER KEYS. THESE LOW
TEMPERATURES IN THE LOWER KEYS WOULD CHALLENGE THE DAILY RECORD LOW
TEMPERATURE IN KEY WEST ON DECEMBER 14TH OF 50 DEGREES SET IN 1952.
ON TUESDAY...HIGH TEMPERATURES WILL STRUGGLE TO GET OUT OF THE LOWER
TO MID 50S WHICH WOULD BREAK A DAILY COLD MAXIMUM RECORD IN KEY WEST
ON DECEMBER 14TH OF 57 DEGREES SET IN 1962. ALSO...THE RECORD DAILY
LOW TEMPERATURE OF 53 DEGREES IN KEY WEST ON DECEMBER 15TH SET IN
1962 WILL BE SERIOUSLY CHALLENGED AS TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO
DROP NEAR 50 DEGREES. THEREAFTER...WELL BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES
WILL SLOWLY RECOVER DUE TO VERY COOL GULF AND BAY WATERS.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After I got so much grief for whining about the cold I braved an early evening walk downtown and took some pictures a couple of days ago. This is the Curry Mansion much beloved of Conch Train Drivers who will point out Curry came from the Bahamas, and in a splendid example of American derring-do died as Florida's first millionaire. Stirring stuff.This next shot was a picture of Fogarty's on Duval Street all festive and stuff with the lights. So I know Key West doesn't sound cold at 59 degrees (14 C in case Jack riepe needs to know) but witness how few people were out at dusk:And those that were out braving the wet streets after a pre-cold-front cold shower were all wrapped up like it really was cold:As we close in on the shortest day of the year it is getting dark very close to six o'clock around here, and in the half hour before I went to work picture taking was getting complicated. People just wouldn't stand still for my camera's long exposure times.
Unless they themselves were caught up in a similar pastime.
It's Christmas time of course and Key West isn't immune to the lunacy. Of course if you think about it the original Christmas actually did take place under palms, but it's not what seems culturally appropriate at this time of year:The whole Nordic Christmas thing doesn't play out very well for me. Yule logs, long nights, snow drifts and all that are for people who like snow men and toboggans.It isn't that cold in Key West in absolute terms but this weather made it cold enough a few evenings ago for the Bull to close it's shutters.A night like this is bad for business but great for police dispatchers who end up taking fewer calls from outraged drunks all night. I can't remember where this next fuzzy picture came from. Rick's perhaps? I don't go drinking downtown much. I have been to Captain Tony's once and the Red Garter strip club once but these other loud bars don't do much for me. I have been wanting to get a beer at the Porch in the Porter House but the opportunity hasn't presented itself lately.
I am not fond of noise and even less of crowds which makes me a terrible candidate for an evening of riotous drinking on Lower Duval. Even my motorcycle has feeble factory mufflers unlike more manly cruisers that rumble around making a great deal of noise. Purists siniff when they hear my putting Triumph and compare it to a sewing machine. Let them, I ride 15,000 miles a year (25,000 kms) and if it were as loud as this flashing by object below I'd be deaf. And so would my neighbors..This is the Holy Grail of Key west bars, the one on postcards everywhere. And no, I've never been inside for a drink...
It must seem odd I suppose to live in a town filled with so many bars and to be indifferent. Personally I don't believe Ernest Hemingway would be seen alive drinking in Sloppy's or Captain Tony's today, no matter what the advertising claims. I think he'd be the Chart Room with his friends, a place where I have had a drink once and I figure I can struggle through life without going back. It seemed rather rustic for me. I like walking around downtown especially in summer when it's emptier, or on a cold winter evening...
...but I am useless at the hail fellow well met routine of a noisy bar. I hate sports and I'm not too fond of television so anytime I am in a bar I end up studying the advertising which I find fascinating, but my friends think I am a simpleton or weird and ignore my socially motivated anti-television comments. I was hoping Jack riepe would fly down out of a cloud and direct this lost tourist on her way. Tall: check, blond: check, leggy: check, thin: check. He is so predictable. Brenda is a Conch, born and brought up in Key West and lo these many years patrolling the streets of her city. She was stopped by a red light and we chatted for a while. We share a similar sense of humor and a similar dislike for the cold. The officers have been all bundled up for the winter weather with windproof jackets and gloves and I've even heard talk of long underwear, though I'm not going to share my motorcycle gear with them; my Aerostitch undies saved me on me last Iron Butt ride Up North in October. This si the original Sloppy Joe Russell drinking hole. This is the place when Hemingway helped move the furniture to the place on Duval. That was before most of us were born. Things have changed a bit since then. Read To Have and To Have Not for details and decide if WPA Key West would really have been for you.This incessant cold weather is making me cranky with another freezing cold front due here as I write this essay! Nice gray skies floating above Old City Hall.
Umbrellas for sale on Duval and ponchos too. Not the sort of seasonal shopping one hopes for in Key West.
There doesn't seem to be any end in sight with more temperatures scheduled around 50 degrees (10 C) tomorrow night. I can hardly wait. I brought the car to work the night I took these pictures so I was able to feel even better about my choice of wheels when I saw this Suzuki parked in an icy puddle. I hoped they enjoyed the ride back to the hotel, tough buggers that they must be. I had figured out earlier in the day how to operate the heater in the car and was feeling pretty smug.My wanderings took me past Fairvilla on Front Street, a store devoted to the sale of sex toys and underwear. As far as I know. Let me be clear here and now: If I ever get the urge to wear women's underwear it will never be a subject for this blog. More interesting to me was the empty courtyard alongside Fairvilla, wherein lay an elaborate mural that I don't recall seeing previously.A potted history of Jamaica's Port Royal of all places. And the inevitable skull and crossbones, Disney style. The Hemingway effect on history is everywhere in Key West.Emptiness downtown. I rather liked the effect of shiny warm lights reflected on wet pavement.

I almost felt like shouting out "Ho! Ho! Ho!" but I couldn't quite bring myself to do it.