Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bow Channel

It's a bridge like any other along the Overseas Highway but I got a hankering to stop and see what I might see at the particular span that joins Sugarloaf Key to Cudjoe Key. They have been turning the old Flagler Bridges into fishing and non motor vehicle bridges alongside the main highway, but of course as these nice improvements are completed some anal retentive sign poster comes along and makes it seem like using the bridge is the adult equivalent of learning to play well with others. With a trash can every fifteen feet you'd think the great unwashed could either figure out what to do with their trash or NOT. But sign makers need jobs too so it's all explained in glorious technicolor at the entrance to the footbridge.Pelican season is in full swing in the Lower Keys. On the water and on the parapet of the bridge.Paul from Aiken, South Carolina was on vacation with his family. He abandoned them to their fate for a brief hour as he fished for permit from the bridge, with no luck apparently. He had heard tales of fish practically jumping onto baited hooks out on the water. He said Aiken is inland, near Augusta Georgia, which made me feel bad as I live in the Keys and I can't stand to pit my wits against the fish. In the same way Mark Twain reputedly said golf is a good walk spoiled, I feel fishing is a nice boat ride wrecked. Besides I am too embarrassed to risk discovering fish are smarter than I am. And look at all the gear you need:And fishing also uses almost indestructible monofilament line that gets caught up everywhere including the overhead power lines:The Flagler Bridge is also a bicycle path.
The views were glorious. I love the flat water of a calm day in the Keys.
Cheyenne finds lots of interesting smells along these bridges, much to my surprise. To human eyes the dog level walk looks sterile and boring but she must find fish smells of all sorts because she walked the bridge in a delirium of smelling.More views, this time to the south across the Straits of Florida.I also spotted this contraption anchored out in the channel. A neighbor in the Santa Cruz, California Small Craft Harbor coined the term "hovel craft" for dilapidated homes afloat. Rick's term still pops into my mind when I see stuff like this on the water.
This picture shows the rungs built into the cement power poles which stand in the waters alongside the bridges. They are supposed to be resistant to hurricanes up to 155 miles an hour, and though it remains fashionable to complain about power outages, since Keys Energy upgraded the power system I find power outages to be quite rare.One problem has been the anchoring of sailboats in the Channels between the islands. Owners tend to abandon them there and when strong winds blow they break loose and their masts hit the power lines knocking out electricity across the Lower Keys. Peering over the side of the bridge I could see clear waters beneath me. Cheyenne was amusing herself alongside me.It got so bad between Big Pine and Little Torch Keys that sailboats are no longer allowed to anchor in the upper reaches of Newfound Harbor. Sugarloaf Key is home to a campground 16 miles outside Key West.They also keep a marked swimming area with erections in the water:Sniffing our way slowly to Sugarloaf Key.
As Cheyenne pottered around I watched the boaters get ready for a December day on the water.
We were going out later in the day so I wasn't envying them. Happily I have done my share of living at anchor so I don't ride the bridges wishing it was me out there. Our modern economy is a new adventure every day it seems like, so I wouldn't be surprised if my wife and I ended up back living on the water but I'd rather it were in something larger than this 22 footer...
The week leading up to Christmas saw a ton of road traffic on Highway One so one can legitimately hope people were in town spending money.And someone was forgetting to read the rules while on vacation. I took two paces to my right and dropped this offender in the proper trash receptacle. It wasn't that hard, and you'd think the owner would have garnered sufficient energy to do the job himself.
Just my kind of restful vacation, living with the neighbors youngsters squealing with delight next door.
Luckily the human race is not relying for it's survival by expecting me to propagate.
While I am not overly fond of children I positively loath this stuff, it's up there with iguanas and lionfish in the invasive species nuisance categories. Brazilian peppers were imported as ornamentals with their holly like red berries and crisp green leaves and their ability to propagate by spreading their roots but they take over wherever they grow edging out slower native species. If they have to grow anywhere on wasteland by the highway is as good as anywhere, them and their nasty spiny branches.
It's not curvy riding down here but it's not all bad on a sunny winter morning.We ambled back across the deserted bridge wondering where the anglers were.Out on the water perhaps?
Until cheerful Peter from Cudjoe Key showed up striding along with his and his neighbor's retrievers in tow. They fussed over Cheyenne momentarily while we discussed the nauseating state of winter cold weather this year and last.
We agreed it has been too cold for too long. Peter's state of practical dog walking dress reflected my own comfort level, which is as it should be for people who live around here. People often ask if there is a dress code in the Keys, and my answer is as shambolic as you can muster is good for any occasion, name brands and ironed shorts are for country clubs Up North. Of course I get shot down because a lot of people do like to dress up, but my theory makes my sartorial life easy - for me, as I enjoy a certain level of decrepitude in my clothing. He was walking a couple of very happy dogs. He didn't look that unhappy himself so perhaps they got it from him. Speaking of iguanas this venerable beast was sunning himself alongside the highway.
I accidentally on purpose drove his way but he was long gone by the time my tires rolled past here. Iguanas will be around long after the last human being has been nuked or killed in a car wreck. It seems a shame to leave these splendid bridges and views to these gross, vegetable garden eating predators.