Sunday, May 8, 2011

Scooters On Duval

This delivery scooter is all of a piece, red bandanna red ice chest which is how you know it's making deliveries on a red scooter. Besides he looks cool and in control of his machine.Key West is the exception to the rule in so many different ways when it comes to North American cities- a place of tolerance for the most part, at the southern tip of the most intolerant states in the nation; a town with a reasonably balanced budget in a nation collapsing under the weight of fiscal disorder; the only town in Florida that saw an increase in tourist traffic over the previous year. And it's two wheeler friendly.Riding a skateboard (illegally on Duval) will save you money on transportation. Some people think that riding a motorcycle will save them money if they use the bike instead of a car. Not so, if you want to save money drive a Yaris or similar and forget the motorcycle. In this country motorcycles are designed and sold as toys, a fact that drives me nuts because I view my Bonneville as my primary transportation unless I'm hauling my family around. I passed these guys on Highway One on the way into town and I was glad to see they made it to Sloppy Joe's in one piece.Key West is a place where riding a scooter is absolutely the norm. If you prefer to ride a bicycle you will be in the mainstream also. Indeed during the last hurricane evacuation city officials who calculate these things figured fully one third of Key West's residents had no car. (There was a constant stream of buses from the high school to the shelter in Kendall for people who wanted to leave town but lacked the wheels).If you are 21 years of age and have health insurance you are allowed to ride without a helmet and to ride a 50cc scooter you only need a car license. Even insurance is optional. I think it's a shame that scooters are viewed as toys even as bicycles are in most of this country. There's a lot of talk in the US about eliminating dependence on foreign oil but in the picture above you are looking at the best way to do it. Are you ready? Even tourists who come to town and take to the freedom of the rental scooter like the good folks above don't seem to take the lessons of simplicity and good sense home with them. I ride because I really enjoy being on two wheels and I know it's not for everybody but I think we'd have a lot less road rage if we had more people enjoying the freedom of two wheels. Call me a dreamer but I'm not the only one.

Drowning Dog

I was kneeling among the mangroves trying to get a picture of the boat at the dock when I heard an almighty loud splash as though someone had dropped a large Yellow Labrador off the seawall into the canal.Imagine my astonishment when I looked up and saw Cheyenne paddling hard with a really intense look in her eyes. From past experience I emptied my pockets before getting involved but at least I did have the presence of mind to take her portrait in the water before I reached down and unclipped her Extenda-leash which was getting tangled rapidly in the mangrove roots.I grabbed the scruff of her neck with one hand and put the other under her armpit. Her front leg was stiff as a steel rod as she dug her claws into the coral rock in an effort to lever herself out and she was not happy when I bent her leg, pulled her close and hauled 85 pounds of soaking wet Labrador back to dry land. The place where she is happiest.

She repaid my laughter at her predicament by standing between me and the contents of my pocket lying on the ground nearby and rapidly shook off a gallon of muddy weedy canal water over everything in sight. Including my latest edition of Motorcyclist wherein I had yet to read Big Piner Joe Gresh's take on one more cruising motorcycle. I guess I deserved it but I have so far pulled Cheyenne out of the Blue Hole, a muddy mosquito canal she got stuck in, and my neighbor Phil, the one friendly guy on my street, has fished her out of the canal when she edged too far on the dock wondering where our boat had gone. I hope the fourth time is the charm but I'm not holding my breath. She smells great now after a comprehensive shower she submitted too more meekly than I have ever previously seen.

Paen To Mother's Day

Someone once told me that no one loves you as your mother does, a poignant sentiment for a man whose mother died four decades ago, and one not enhanced by the merchandising of yet another Holy Day. Motherhood has always had a mystical element to it, the notion of one human being coming directly from another and those of us who don't get to be pregnant can hardly imagine the connection. Other than of course, as the offspring. Everyone born of woman is of few days and full of trouble as Job tells us in the Good Book. A sentiment not worth repeating on a day that mothers everywhere are being feted and fed.My boss Jessica a mother and unaccompanied by the father of her child has somehow conceived a passion for a man who lives and earns a good living helping to extract precious oil from the Canadian Far North. so they are apart today. He is a solid single father to his girl so between them they make the Hallmark-perfect nuclear family for her screen saver at the office: Noel of course gave Jessica grief when she came to work overtime on my shift a couple of nights ago. "Enjoy your prairie blooms" he snickered gayfully as he left the communications center. Working with Noel is a laugh a minute and he made the most of the flowers which caused some blushing in our easily embarrassed boss. Who does NOT like her picture taken...

Mother's day, for all it is manufactured as a point of sale brought some good cheer to the office that day and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful to my own mother who brought me into the world 53 years ago and had the unfortunate fate of leaving me to cope alone when I was just 14 years of age.If you still have your mother be sure to thank her for all the effort it took to get you where you are.Without her none of it would be possible, as short and as troubled as it may be.

Duval Village

I was working Channel One, the main police communication channel and the position I prefer at work when Officer Hall called out a periodic check of Duval Village. It happens that officers frequently call out the names of stores I've never heard of, which they check at night, just to make sure everything is okay. It's the anti burglary patrols that they do during quiet times at night and they often leave a little note saying we were by and everything was okay."Show me clear with an Eye-On-The-Island at Duval Village" Officer Hall called out and I logged his check in the computer. It's the radio routine that goes on all night, and I reply with a time check to show the activity was logged by me.
Duval Village? Never heard of it, I thought to myself as he moved on and the night moved on and the drunks came out to play. Nevertheless it bugs me when I don't know where something is and after almost seven years of sitting at the radio directing the night shift I am pretty sure I know all the locations and lanes. In fact about once a year some place new manages to pop up and make me ask myself where was that place?
And every time that happens I head out and take a look to make sure next time it's etched in my brain. I guess Duval Village isn't part of my consciousness thanks to my dis-inclination to shop, and these kinds of baubles I usually find with less hassle at the Walgreens Pharmacy on the boulevard, lots of parking and not a lot of dawdling tourists enjoying the day out there.
Who buys this stuff I ask myself, and how many souvenirs do they need to sell to make the rent and payroll? It seems mind boggling to me, a man never trained for commerce.

There it is: Duval Village in all it's glory complete with bar and alcohol as is only proper in Key West.And as for the question who buys this stuff, right across the street I found my answer on the back of a scooter. That's who.

Dawn Clouds

Every morning I ride home from work the views across the water are spectacular. It doesn't matter what the weather may be doing, or not doing, as long as daylight is breaking the islands and the tidal waters surrounding the road offer a view.It is rare the morning that i choose to stop and take picture. My dog is waiting at home for her morning walk and she knows it takes forty minutes for me to get home. Around 6:35 am she is awake and listening for the sound of the Bonneville approaching, so says my wife who watches Cheyenne get ready.
I got home close to seven Saturday morning but I was groveling around with my gorilla pod and I ended up under the bridge because I liked the look of the pilings in the half light. These are more conventional views from the highway: This is my only road so it shows up from time to time in these pages.
And I have no doubt when next I ride home from work next week the Keys will have another and different show to put on alongside the road.