Monday, January 10, 2011

Key West Night Bonneville

I was wide awake during a recent lunch break, a consideration that got me riding the Bonneville around Key West in the middle of the night taking pictures. First stop: Key west High School Auditorium, home of frequent plays and concerts. This year work got in the way and I managed to miss their Christmas event.Key West High School has been going through some ructions lately when a popular teacher got himself in hot water with some risque teaching techniques. A former teacher of the year and winner of the Wolkowski award the teacher was found to be using suggestive language to elucidate aspects of English grammar. His fate hangs in the balance but the bets are he is going to be fired, and they have had protests and endless letters to the editor and all that sort of thing. Then he, or his lawyer, it wasn't clear to me who said it exactly, made the devastating statement that he had to descend to the gutter to educate minority kids at their level. That statement pretty much settled his hash amid further howls of recrimination and accusation.Then I rode over to Higgs beach, my favorite nighttime destination and stopped by the African Cemetery for some peace and quiet. Instead it turns out some sonar operating intellectual has discovered there may be more bodies buried underneath parts of the neighboring dog park... That's a conundrum no one wants to deal with. The cemetery is a symbolic fixture here to represent the Africans who died after being rescued from a Havana bound slaver. They were brought to Key West where the Post Master (the only vaguely Federal official available) looked after them while the Feds ignored these people. Eventually, a much impoverished Post Master got them on a ship back to Africa, those that didn't die in the whole miserable fiasco.The cemetery is completed and is quite beautiful- it's definitely worth a look and a meditation if you get to Key West. Then I took this picture looking east up Atlantic Avenue. The red light is at White Street, at the end of the Pier. I took all these pictures hand held and either in slow shutter speed mode or on the "P" (professional auto) setting.I was going to take a picture at the southernmost point but there were some people there farting about, so I left them to it as I will always have another opportunity, and I stopped instead at this worn out apartment complex at the end of Whitehead Street. I run a standard bike with factory mufflers so it's not disruptive around town at three in the morning. I find this building evocative, with its bare cement stairs, boarded up windows and palm trees. It looks like something African to me, but the inevitable Key West sign gives away the true location.My 2007 Bonneville has has almost 47,000 miles on it and runs like a train. It is the best motorcycle I have owned in 40 years. Seen here looking down Whitehead Street toward Olivia Street.
I ambled round the corner on Truman for a picture alongside these lovely Conch cottages.
Some guy and his girlfriend were unloading a truck rather nosily in Polish I think, or Uzbek so I crossed the street for a shot of this church, one of dozens scattered across the city.
The Bonneville is an easy ride, easy to start with a light clutch and effective brakes. It is handy and not too heavy even though it's close to 500 pounds. This ease of use and simplicity leads some people to describe it as bland, and in a world filled with extravagant super bikes an air cooled 60 horse power twin doesn't amount to much in the bragging stakes. However it looks good, it runs a s smooth as silk and it can out perform most cars on the road and it fits easily into a moped sized parking slot. It is the ideal Florida Keys ride, powerful enough to cross the state or the country, easy enough to encourage daily riding.I am convinced some engineer at the Hinckley factory in England sat around one afternoon day-dreaming of a new bike. "What do you suppose Michael would like?" the engineer asked himself. "Why, a new Bonneville of course..." and so they built it starting at the beginning of the new century. And very glad I am too, because it does make an excellent machine to tour Key West, as you can see.