Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Empty Streets

I was pondering where to take Cheyenne for a walk early one morning and I figured it wasn't too late to enjoy downtown Key West before the crowds started cluttering the streets. By nine thirty we were on Caroline Street ready for some fun and we were almost alone. Cheyenne's idea of fun is trolling the gutters for interesting smells. My idea of fun is spotting oddities; like this oddly ineffective gate lock.We passed this object of controversy at the corner of Elizabeth and Caroline. The former site of the Jabours Trailer Park has become a grassy field following the bankruptcy of the Watermark Development. Only the model home closest to Schooner Wharf Bar got built. The city required the tall wooden fence to be torn down and for now there is this pleasant open space to enjoy. I wish they would turn it into a park. Someone somewhere needs more money I suspect so that will never happen.Only myself and the energetic tend to be abroad before ten in the morning. She wasn't the only jogger I saw pounding the sidewalks. The Cypess House, constructed of Dade Pine (impervious to pests and tropical weather) after the great fire of 1886 burned down the old house which was made of cypress. All that is according to the incessant Conch Trains running down Caroline Street. This was Simonton Street in front of the Federal Aronovitz Courthouse. Quite empty and thus quite delightful. I like walking Old Town much earlier in the morning when possible but because I live 27 miles out of town, and because I am usually rather tired after spending all night at work, I don't often get to hang out down here before the city wakes up. Nine thirty in the morning wasn't a bad time to be out if you want solitude.In an almost empty parking lot Cheyenne made a friend, kind of. She is quite eager and friendly around people but around dogs she is, for the most part, indifferent. She prefers her own company. This little guy ran up and did the sniffing thing. She just stepped over him.Mike and Tuck walked with us around the lot for a while, with Cheyenne showing tuck how to check garbage for food. Mike was rather concerned about Cheyenne's garbage habits but I tried to reassure him she is just a pig in a fur coat. She looks after herself amazingly well.More empty streets as we closed in on Duval Street.I also passed a bar I have never previously heard of. Later I checked the computer at work, and there it was listed at 512 Greene Street. Who knew? Not me...I need to get out more.Behind Old City Hall Cheyenne ducked into the parking lot to check out the garbage situation. We trolled around for a while and ended up sniffing the back of Sloppy Joe's Bar, a much more familiar bar to me than Ernesto's, not that I have frequented either of them.I spotted this guy ducking into the back entrance on some important mission no doubt. Probably busy cleaning up to get the bar ready to open, I thought.Which just goes to show how little I know. It was a quarter to ten in the morning and Sloppy Joe's was open and serving customers already. I hope they have spare livers handy.This lot were racking in the "merchandise" from the store next door. A Sloppy Joe's t-shirt seems quite respectable and quaint even compared to some of the dreck for sale in t-shirt shops on Duval.I managed to drag Cheyenne away from Duval and we took a quiet step or two down Caroline. Cheyenne loves city street walks and she can't get enough of all the action on the streets. I enjoy watching her having fun and a Labrador just seems to bring a smile to the faces of passers by .I was quite content that there weren't actually any passers by for a few blocks. We ambled along until we got overtaken by a train which was packed with more people than I expected to see on such a quiet morning.Cheyenne led me down Rose Lane back towards Duval because she is a dog that knows what she wants. I was happy to oblige as Rose is quite pretty when viewed from the correct angle.Peering through a locked gate I could see the bicycles I had passed on Caroline Street around the block. Downtown Key West is quite a small space when you pace it out.I came across this ironically parked truck. An odd goal for a truck parked on the pedestrian sidewalk. Of course it was part of construction work in reality and the sidewalk was closed...Cheyenne was still stumping along full of energy and determination so I found myself trailing her down Telegraph Lane, a malodorous street behind Rick's complex.I followed my dog down Fitzpatrick Street and got her to turn right on Front Street, pointed vaguely in the direction of the car. Then I spotted the reason for the packed Conch Trains. The newspaper has been full of anonymous comments from residents (and lots of snowbirds no doubt) who don't want more cruise ships, or bigger cruise ships coming to Key West.As it stands the new generation of extra massive ships doubling their human capacity to around 6,000 won't fit down the ship channel as currently constructed. The city is thinking about trying to beg borrow or steal 35 million dollars to widen the channel. One can't help but hope it doesn't come to that. I like my Key West looking quaint.And I don't mind a quaint looking car every now and again even if it isn't as old as it looks. Cheyenne was ready to sit and watch the world go by so I found a low wall and Cheyenne found a nice brick floor. We were happy together.Out of the breeze it was a glorious day, and in the sun it was positively warm. I was glad I had brought herself to the city.A woman walked by and started to make a fuss of my dog, who leapt up for the attention the whore. And then as we were walking back to the car someone started yelling at me. "You write the blog" he said, the words that bring a chill to my shy heart. "I recognized you from the crocs and the dog!" It turns out it was Doug Bennet (with Sassi and Boca) who writes http://thisweekontheisland.blogspot.com/ He also had a rather nifty visiting card to prove it.We talked for a while, and Doug explained his rationale for choosing Key West as a retirement spot. 1) No Winter, 2) No Boredom 3) No Driving all of which sounds good to me. Except of course I do like my commute. I know I should really live in one of the most walkable and cyclable towns in North America. It was nice meeting him and I'm glad he had the nerve to interrupt my reverie and hunt me down.