Friday, June 24, 2011

Key West Aquarium

It's a popular spot the refurbished Key West aquarium and I've heard from lots of people how fun this place is. School's out so the little dears are now sticking their hands in...
...and the petting pool looked quite popular.Sharks are a crowd pleaser, as long as they dead or stuffed or mounted or safely tucked away where they can't hurt people. In reality we are much more likely to hurt them than they are us. They are after all getting to be endangered and we humans are not. The walls of the aquarium are lined with a multitude of tanks.I felt sorry for the big creatures stuck in small tanks circling endlessly. watching the big rays flap as they tried to jump out of the water made me sad. I've seen them do it in the open ocean and they are magnificent.For smaller fish I suppose it's not so bad, though I am no fan of caging living things.The big statues hanging from the ceiling feed one's fantastic fears of sharks. I get out of the water when I'm snorkeling and see a shark, I'm not keen to deal with them mano a mano, but equally I don't swim at night, I don't drag dead fish around on a spear and I've never had a problem.The sharks that were crowded into a pool fascinated the boy scouts. I like the look of the invasive lion fish stuck safely in a tank. these things were the usual product of idiots moving exotic predators out of their natural habitat for profit and now they infest our waters and tear up the sea life in a most unnatural way. Their spines are poisonous though not close to fatal for humans, their meat is said to be delicious and divers hold contests from time to time in an effort to cull them from the reef."That has beautiful blue eyes," said Wayne. Beautiful? I'm not so sure, and neither can you be from this crappy photograph. It is quite the indoor attraction.But they also have outdoor tanks.
As you can see this place overlooks the Key West harbor so the location is quite lovely.But it's also work. This is not a fish as it happens but someone doing the gross work of cleaning.I was not alone in the quixotic effort to record the fish on pixels.This is a place worth taking away some memories, if you like fish.

Seen In Key West

As Florida beaches go Smathers, Key West's longest claim to beach fame, is pretty mediocre, but it is inherently appealing.

It's also my long way to and from work if I have time in hand and when I ride up South Roosevelt at six in the morning I see flashlights bobbing around as other people in this town also have difficulty keeping away. It's not a great beach by Florida standards but it has coconut palms, a few Tiki huts and some water sports and you can laze away an afternoon here if you feel like it. Year round and that's pretty cool.Higgs beach has similar facilities and people will go and hang out there all day too. Higgs is a county beach and an off-duty Sheriff's deputy patrols the beach most days as it tends to accumulate bums at a rapid rate. However i see lots more families hanging out here than previously so something's working right for local people.The Monroe County School District appears to have won decisively the struggle over the very tall building that has gone up at the site of the new Horace O'Bryant School. The newspaper says the latest statistics brought to negotiations by Superintendent Burke prove conclusively that the district acted within the law by not bothering to tell the city a very tall building was going in on the property, angry neighbors be damned. Meanwhile the paper also reports that the idea of rebuilding city hall at Glynn Archer seems to be coming back into favor. And whats more the city commission seems intent, at last, on getting a favorable deal from the school district, a plan Chair John Dick rejects out of hand. For the rest of us living and working in the city and the county life goes much as usual. I liked this picture of the younger couple struggling with their electronic paraphernalia while the old dude just sits in the shade chillin'..
For some people limin' as they say in the Virgin Islands is a fine art, like sleeping sitting up in public.I think the life of a homeless dude is just too boring. Imagine, I would have great difficulty doing something as simple as writing a blog even.

The Mannillo Trail

There is a nature trail off Key Deer Boulevard on Big Pine key and i have been there before. But I have been promising myself a visit with camera to the second and newer trail at this location.We were alone Cheyenne and I except for about two million mosquitoes in the woods. It was kind of stupid to be there at dusk but the days are hot, over 90 degrees and Cheyenne is sometimes reluctant to go for a walk in the heat of the day.
The trail is named for a local accessibility activist who died at the end of the last century. Mannillo apparently craved more than anything to be simply accepted and this trail is the embodiment of that ideal. The trail is wide and flat but it's not Disneyland, you need to look where you are going or you might encounter this fine piece of oolite with a large hole in it.
The helpful signs that line the route are set at a middling height to make them easy to read whether standing or sitting.
These woods, once you are protected with repellent are quite lovely as the sun goes down between the pine trees.
You are never completely out of hearing of civilization even though Big Pine is by far the largest and wildest of the Lower Keys, but it is possible to gain some isolation in Nature.
At the end of the trail there is a viewing platform once again built to a suitable height for someone sitting down to see out, and read the sign boards.
Cheyenne and I were out on particularly muggy evening that we hoped presaged a rain storm, or at least I hoped, though I'm not sure Cheyenne has an opinion about this persistent drought.
Then it was time to blunder back to the car through the growing darkness.

I mean it really did look like a summer thunderstorm was about to descend upon us, but we got no rain at all. This rainy season is totally weird.
No matter how gruesome the skies we seem to manage to get lovely sunsets too.
Cheyenne wanted more walks but I was done with mosquitolandia so we repaired to the less densely riddled area around the baseball diamond on Key Deer Boulevard and we walked till it got dark. When Cheyenne gets in the mood for walking neither insects nor rain drops nor threat of thunder nor even extreme humidity will put her off. Good dog, making up for all those years on a chain.

June Is For Locals

If you have local id you can spend the month of June as the guest of assorted attractions in Key West.I have spent some time lately renewing my acquaintance with various attractions in town. They call it a thank you to locals and as the point is to get us to attract visitors as well I figured I'd mention it before the month runs out. Historic Tours of America, Ed Swift's outfit is doing the offering, not surprising as I find he is fond of his home town despite it's unappreciative residents, and it includes the Little White House, The Conch Train and the various attractions at the end of Whitehead Street. It is great fun being a tourist at home; wear the sticker with pride.Watch this space for more on the subject.