Friday, June 10, 2011

More Key West Signs

Now you know where to go if you want to see naked breasts in Key West:I find it hard to view the sad eyed Eastern European women uncovering their breasts for obsessed Americans as "exotic" but what would a tourist town be without a little drunken titillation? Far more exotic to me are these hand written signs popping up around town. Neatly written in the copperplate of a long lost era when penmanship mattered, carefully pinned to fences and trees (!) I have seen more than one of these pleas for an employed female room mate.I expect an "exotic" dancer from bare Assets would qualify. There is that open space where Jabours Trailer Park used to be, behind Schooner Wharf and apparently people were enjoying the open space before Pritam Singh steps in and builds another hotel, so in an effort to prevent anyone getting the idea that this open space should be enjoyed they put up rope around the perimeter and more of these ugly signs. Weeds and plastic signs. Stores keep popping up around town and because I am decidedly not a shopper I have no idea where they are so in an effort to keep abreast of the changing retail scene I try to notice these shops. When people dial 9-1-1 if they don't know the street name they can tell us what store they are in front of and the computer will accept that as a location and spit out a street address. It helps me when taking the call if I can visualize where they say they are so I can confirm the location more accurately. Besides I rather liked this non-plastic sign.Dust catcher alert! "Anointed"? Huh?Key West: land of the barely noticed inexplicable.

CGC Ingham

It was time I figured to go and pay a visit to the floating museum at the Truman Waterfront. The US Coastguard Cutter Ingham has been open to visitors for some time and I much enjoyed my tour of the Mohawk a while back (link at the bottom of this page) so I wanted to check out this bigger ship out.They have rearranged the parking lot and put up helpful signs explaining the ship's history. It was involved in Atlantic Convoy duties in 1943 amazingly enough and it survived and here it is in Key West.I went up the ramp to be greeted by nobody except a young volunteer chipping paint in the time honored tradition. "Can I give anyone my twelve dollars?" I said hopefully. She went to look and while she was away I took a quick snap of the sickbay which looked amazingly well equipped:I was looking forward to wandering around when the volunteer came back with the unhappy news that the ship was closed till ten and the time now was only nine thirty...I was too early to take my self guided tour. Well bugger here are some pictures I took from the seawall a while back:
Cheyenne was happy to see me. She made herself comfortable under the gang plank resting on the shaded cement:
The parking lot is totally devoid of shade at Truman Waterfront. Lacking any proper pictures of the Ingham I've included pictures from my tour of the adjacent Mohawk. It's a shame that the Spottswood plans for the marina and waterfront here include moving the floating museums to an untenable section of the seawall, opposed by the Navy which says they would block access to the harbor. I hope the city demands they stay.

Hurricane Evacuations

We are getting cautionary essays about hurricane season being upon us and as we haven't had a storm hit the islands for several lovely years I have no doubt this subject will have to be revisited before the end of November. Some people in town look forward to hurricane parties where drink flows liberally and stories get taller as the winds get stronger. However I have survived a few storms in Key West and I have found that being prepared helps, especially when we manage one more hurricane-free summer and preparations were not needed at all.Let me say straight up that if there is any need visitors get evacuated first and this year the people in charge have announced they will be cautious and thoughtful before they order an evacuation. In the past they tended to evacuate tourists at the first sign of a distant storm to the detriment of local business. The chances of a vacation being interrupted are remote but it can happen. Prices are lower in summer for a reason and a vacation in the tropics in hurricane season requires a certain level of maturity and flexibility in a traveler. Just like if you come in winter and meet the rain and gray of a two day cold front there's no point in getting mad. Shit happens but a hurricane is no threat to a visitor's safety.Everyone has their own plan and my wife and I have developed our response to the threat. For what it's worth she gets the dog in the car and evacuates the minute schools are closed (high season for storms is in September when schools are back in session). She leaves immediately before Highway One gets clogged and lines form at gas stations and she takes a "vacation" with friends on the mainland. I don't get to evacuate as mine is a reserved occupation so I close up the house and wait to be ordered in to work where we get locked down for the duration of the storm, and if you think sleeping in a police station with one's colleagues is a breeze you have another think coming. There's nothing quite like stepping out of the shower into the men's locker room where the SWAT team is getting a last minute briefing. "Uh, good morning!" one says brightly clutching the towel closer. Boarding school was never quite so...well armed? People wonder how one copes with an annual storm season and it is a nuisance but when one considers that hurricanes give plenty of warning and loss of life in a storm is a rarity in Key West
we have to feel sorry for the people living through and dying in tornadoes and flooding Up North while cold winter rains fall on people out west in June and so on and so forth. Living in the Keys it's hard not to notice the power of nature up close and personal, so one tends to be more preared mentally for the possibility of disaster. The millions who live in the unprepared suburbs of the big cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale are likely to suffer a lot more during the soggy power-free aftermath of a hurricane. People in the Keys really pull together when faced with a destructive hurricane, if history is any guide.Hurricanes bring out a lot of braggadocio in people and the pseudo toughs sneer at those of us making preparations but I have always found talk is cheap. Sensible precautions are...sensible. Storms are unpredictable and they generate tornadoes within them that create unpredictable damage and your home may survive one and not the other. There is an element of luck that supersedes preparation. I just know that I feel better locked in at work knowing my wife and dog are safe and I have done what I can to look after our home. And that is how a fussy middle aged worrier prepares for hurricane season. Getting drunk rarely enters into it for me.

Burdines In Marathon

The street leading to Burdines needs some work because if you don't know where the restaurant is you won't any help here:There used to be a building on the spot that has been razed but the best I can tell you is that 15th street in Marathon is where the four lane Highway becomes two lanes, or vice versa. Once you are on 15th you are well on your way as you roll past the rather down at heel trailer park and come to this:By the time you arrive in the parking lot there are many useful sign posts, better late than never as the cliché has it.
Dogs are welcome but I prefer to leave Cheyenne, well walked, in the car providing there is shade and a breeze and that was what we did. The shaded parking on the right... are Tiki huts for the people who live on their boats in Burdines' marina. The restaurant is at the end of the pea rock, past the date palm dedicated to Gene Burdines.Burdines offers the passing boat all services including fuel which could be a bit of a hazard for diners.The bar is open air and in heavy rain one could sit inside though the outdoor seating is well shaded.I had a bottle of Yuengling but my wife took her calories in the form of Burdines well known home made lemonade.We hadn't been to Burdines in ages as my wife pointed out but that was no reason apparently to stick to our usual choices: Patty Melt for her and Green chili cheeseburger for him. This weekend my wife went for raw tuna on a salad and I went for a cheese steak concoction.The basket of fries in the middle are heavily salted but I resisted the temptation for a second beer. Excess in moderation. The cheese steak was fine though there was more bread than I could eat. My wife enjoyed her tuna, a dish I cannot for the life of me enjoy as I like my meat cooked which is barbaric I know.It was a great day to be out, windy and thus cool overlooking the water. This view east toward Boot Key Harbor...

...and this west toward open water and the Seven Mile Bridge:The whole shebang came to $35 including a decent tip.

Truman Waterfront

Truman Waterfront for the time being continues to look a trifle dishevelled as the 34 acres of open space await their fate.Plans for the former Navy land are being drawn up and considered. The newspaper reported recently that the city rejected an offer to work out some options by a land use planning group that would have charged $20,000. Taken on it's face the move seemed like a good one, until one read the fine print. A group of residents wants to turn the building seen above, a former Navy warehouse into a local farmer's market which isn't as absurd as you may think considering the vast farming enterprises growing all kinds of food in Homestead, 130 miles away.The planners rejected by the city could have formalized this back to the Earth citizen's movement and given it structure, so it's dismissal on the grounds of cost seems spurious at best. More likely it seems the alternative , low key planning threatened the nonsensical marina plan and upscale shopping experience suggested by Spottswood-Meisel.
I don't see much in the way of community value to be placed in a project that promotes more Miami-style upscale development when this waterfront open space could be used for the people who live in town and who don't arrive by yacht. In the end I am a county resident and don't vote in city elections so I stand on the sidelines and watch the tussle from a far. Cheyenne and I enjoy it exactly as it is but this open space is a bonanza in the making and leaving it well enough alone is no option at all. In many communities across the fruited plain one has come to find recycling in effect as an obvious community resource to cut costs. Not in Key West but these cans are a fresh start here at Truman Waterfront at least:In other development news I was saddened to hear what I believe is only a rumor. It seems the plan to convert the Waterfront Market building into a brew pub may be foundering. Apparently the Bight Board (the city owns the properties around the waterfront) says a brewpub is not compatible with other used. Like the Turtle Kraal? Half Shell/ Conch Republic Seafood? Huh? I hope this rumor proves to be unfounded. Mind you there is a move for a bowling alley to go into the former Waterfront Market which isn't a bad idea. Personally I'd rather the rent for the empty, vast spacious Silver Eagle distributing warehouse on North Roosevelt were able to accommodate a bowling alley and game parlor (pool anyone?) and decent beer be brewed on the waterfront. I would like that compromise a lot. I hope the rumors of brewing's demise are just that.