Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coastal Living

A colleague of mine went to lunch with her friend from Guam and they talked about things other than the weather. As Guam is truly tropical I don't doubt these sunny winter days seem quite cold. But they still look good.We were out boating with Wayne,,,,and Chuck......and as we returned to their home we caught a few glimpses of Sugarloaf Key's outline.The islands have sprouted lots of large homes on large lots and here, 20 miles outside Key West there is room enough for such sprawl.On the other hand this isn't sprawl in the traditional sense. It's just that for the longest time the appeal of owning a winter home in the Keys drove lots of people to seek out their place in the sun. This Buckminster Fuller dome is for sale, and the speculation was they are asking 550,000 dollars which seems a bit steep to me. In 2005 this place might have commanded three quarters of a million, but those days are long past.The waters may be tidal but they are generally very shallow close inshore.You could take a long walk off a short pier.Older homes tend to be CBS- concrete block structure homes that have the typical 1960s Florida look to them. They aren't on stilts and as a result federal flood insurance can be twice as expensive as that for a comparable stilt house. Hurricane Wilma in 2005 flooded a great many homes built like this on the ground floor.Thus houses on stilts are much preferred. When we were house hunting in 2004, after we got off the sailboat, I was rather reluctant to live in a stilt house, what with all those stairs and everything.However I got used pretty quickly to living in our "tree house" so named thanks to the mature trees growing around it. Having a canal is a good thing too as it makes going out in your boat ridiculously easy.
With all the coconuts and West Indian almonds and mature gumbo limbo and mangroves my house feels surrounded by trees and because it's on stilts we get to see more of the crowns of the trees than the trunks. These homes allow residents to indulge certain among their whims; in this case flying.Coconut palms aren't native and they produce huge amounts of fronds and fruit to be cleaned up, but for most people they represent the "local" flora that people want to see.You can imagine sitting on the lanai or even on the lawn where you could enjoy getting a slight winter tan under January's weak sun.
Cocktails overlooking the water? The views may not include mountains but they aren't bad.That little two seater seaplane belongs to neighbors of Chuck and Wayne.And the plane itself must have a story to tell. "Italian Flying School?" How did that get here?
And after the arduous boat trip this is what life ashore looks like.Cheyenne was ready for her nap. Tootie and Zuzu were busy looking regal.Like I said it's nice having your own dock, ours is much less organized than the boys' but we like it's woody, mangrove shrouded seclusion. Waterside living is as great as you would expect it to be. Especially in summer when the water is warm enough to swim- 71 degree water is too cold for us.