Friday, June 3, 2011

Strangers In Paradise

So I'm cruising North Roosevelt Boulevard on my wife's ET4 riding toward a date with my wife on Stock Island and I pass a guy sitting up on his own ET4. He's focused on riding in the busy big city traffic. Meet Gianpiero on his second day as a Key West resident.He caught up to me at the traffic light and we say hi as Vespa riders do. One doesn't need a Vespa, one rides a Vespa instead of a Chiang Zhou because one loves a Vespa. He leaned across and asked, nodding at my cream colored ride, Is there a dealer in Key West? Very funny so I elect to show him the way to Jiri, jack-of-all-trades in the Key West motorcycle world. Gianpiero (Jan-pier-oh) counts himself a Venetian so I guess he will fit in nicely in the Key West island life, especially as he moved here from the Big Apple. But he's worried about corrosion on the love of his life so he and Jiri start to talk about ordering parts to keep the Vespa 150 looking good.
I hand Gianpiero one of my new cards, he is actually the first recipient-stranger and slip away to my appointment. It was a busy afternoon on Stock Island where Steve needed to move his boat and the cross winds were making the operation tricky for a crew-less Captain.Steve is a teacher on Stock Island who lives in Key Colony Beach and wanted a pied-a-terre in Key West to reduce his commute. The lure of the romance of sail snagged him after a lifetime as a stink potter and he bought a rather nice Hunter 31 in Marathon, sailed it to Key West (marveling at the economy of a sailboat under power) and wants to explore the waters around the city at the very end of the road.We moved the boat with some rather indispensable help from one of Steve's new neighbors, repaired to the clubhouse for beer and snacks. I had iced tea on the grounds that turning up to work smelling of Red Stripe might not be too suave and considered one more useful workday afternoon in the bag.

Dog Wilderness

It's been a while but Cheyenne and I still take time occasionally to get out and walk in the woods but it's getting too hot to do in the full heat of the noon day sun.Early in the morning the sun was striking the tops of the trees and I couldn't get over how lovely the colors were against the blue, cloudless sky.I think these things were Jamaican dogwoods but they looked like maple leaf "helicopters" those leaves that whirl and twirl as they fall.It was still fairly hot and muggy for my ten year old Labrador but she was having fun. This No Name Key trail is criss crossed by Key deer and she could smell where they'd been.The sun was coming up and like vampires......we had to go home to bed.

Vespa Sunrise

I just had to stop when I got to Summerland Key, five minutes from home, to take the time to and watch the sun come up. I took the picture below wondering if the poor unfortunate souls trundling in to work were in the mood to notice the display in the sky. The air is warm even at this early hour, but for me, used to the daytime heat of the Florida Keys in June, there is a cooling breeze which I can feel and find refreshing. It's certainly not hot enough to make me sweat.With the sun coming up the countryside looks flat and black below the Niles Channel Bridge but the clouds overhead get a thick creamy three dimensional look.
The little Vespa isn't actually so little. With a 150 cubic centimeter engine (the size of a small shampoo bottle) it produces enough horsepower (12 I think) to move me around 65 miles per hour. With the wind behind me I saw 73 miles per hour on the flat the other day. This scooter is a pocket rocket and I love riding it.I can leave work at six in the morning worn out but by the time I get home I've got my second wind and when I pull up under the house I've got enough energy to load Cheyenne in the car and take her to her favorite spot in the mangroves for a walk. That's the benefit of riding a commute instead of driving it.Passing the Lower Keys shuttle bus always puts me in mind of the fact that one fine day it will be economically more sensible to ride the bus with a pass than to ride my motorcycle. It's actually a fine way to travel into Key West, air conditioned and comfortable, but it does take longer to make the trip door to door and I wouldn't be out riding.
I don't even mind the rain because when it rains there is a snug feeling inside the waterproofs watching the rain slash down. I only wish it would rain. They're drowning in the Pacific Northwest and we're dry as a desert down here. Big clouds, no rain.Theoretically one is supposed to get bored riding Florida's straight highways but we've lived in our house for the past six years and I still look forward to the ride at the beginning and end of each shift. My own street is a narrow one lane paved road which at this hour is devoid of people dogs or vehicles.We are closing in on the longest day and the sun is fully up by the time I get home, especially when I'm late home like this day.
My wife met me downstairs steps behind my madly happy dog. "I called your work, wondering what happened to you," she said through sleepy eyes. Luckily she's an understanding sort and looked through my pictures taken while riding, helping me discard the useless ones. It's a decidedly good commute. I ride 12,000 miles a year so there must be something to recommend it.