Monday, August 29, 2011

Driving In The Dark

So here's a question: why are drivers afraid to burn their headlights?

I have read that among other hair raising driving techniques in India, they prefer not to use their lights after dark for fear of wearing them out. Really, check ADVRider's stories of derring do motorcyclists in India if you don't believe me. The thing that bothers me is that too many drivers in the Keys seem to feel the same way. I was out on the road shortly after dawn on a rainy Monday morning and there they were, the drivers afraid of wearing out their headlights.

It seems like lunacy to me and yet people do it all the time.

In the photo above you can see two cars a quarter mile away near Boca Chica Naval Air Station but the closer car cruising in the passing lane (grrr!) isn't nearly as visible. I hope the driver is playing with his phone to have a proper excuse for driving badly and not paying attention. Perhaps I need to take a riding trip in India to get a better perspective.

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The Other Porch

I like that bar on Caroline Street at Duval called The Porch. Indeed I prefer to the place on the east side of my little house that goes by the same name. My own porch is eight feet by twenty-four and used properly it would give our 800 square foot home a whole extra room.

Having an uncomfortable porch is silly in a place where porch living is synonymous with Florida living. Who lives in the Fabulous Florida Keys and doesn't want to have a nice comfortable space to enjoy outdoors?

Prodded by the boys, yesterday we pulled out all the crap that passed for furniture and piled it all on the deck. Then we went to work pulling out the mosquito netting and worn out wooden trim.

We had a quotation from a professional for five hundred bucks to replace the mosquito netting. But as we thought about it we realized we have never really been bothered by mosquitoes up here despite the holes and the lack of a door and so why do we need to enclose it at all?

I loathe netting; it cuts the air flow and makes the space claustrophobic. You can't lean on the hand rail, balance a cup of coffee and enjoy the sunlight on the greenery, with that stupid netting boxing you in.

We tore it out and Chuck took my picture to prove that I wasn't just standing around watching them work.

Wayne, the former carpenter was our leader and he soaked his t-shirt working like a dog. That was humbling.

Wayne's better half liked to pose and look butch but we are fond of Chuck so we tried to be sweet to the big boy with the big power washer nozzle.

It's silly but I am really looking forward to installing our new more comfortable rocking chairs and our properly square table, with a few plants potted by the fabulous Thérèse and not much else.

Clean and simple is what I want to end up with when it's painted, though I'm sure my wife and the boys will want dust catchers. We've opened up the north end which used to be closed off with impenetrable damned netting, so that will make this stretch of side deck accessible for the first time. We never used to circle the entire house to get here unless the air conditioning pump or satellite radio antenna needed attention. Now we have a whole new walkway. Cool.

The real power behind the washer was Wayne of course and he did the honors, finishing off our Sunday chore.

Now if the painter finally returns our call we'll pay him to scrape and paint or else we may end up doing it ourselves if Key's Disease prevents him from following up on our initial appointment. We'd like to spread some work around but if the pros can't be bothered, what the hell, we'll do it ourselves.

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Keys Pix 7

The sailboat at anchor is a perennial Keys image. The newspaper reports the county is going to try to limit living aboard for free in local waters. It's been problematic forever, people dumping their toilets directly int the water, just like people on land using septic tanks which don't work in porous rock. Then there are the bright sparks who abandon their fiberglass hulls to blight the landscape forever...and so regulations are coming.

Pulled up at a traffic signal, and sunlight was cut off by a human made cliff suddenly interposing itself alongside.

I have a colleague who drives a jacked up Jeep, at 15 miles to the gallon...and Tina, apparently at the wheel of this monstrosity likes to pay through the nose for gas. I'm glad my passion is for relatively economical two wheelers rather than these things. Must be tough to be in love with a sun blocking cruise ship of the highway.

Driftwood as art, caught in the rocks of a seawall.

Strong tides have been running which I suppose has to do with the new moon at this point. I notice the full moon much more than I do the new moon in my land bound life.

Being close to nature was one of the pleasures of living at anchor.

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Carpooling Sucks

I feel rather bad because I enjoy my commute. I enjoy it so much I did a bad thing recently. I decided to keep on doing it.

Let's face it; the scenery on my ride is excellent, but that's not why I love my commute.

The traffic on the whole is easy, especially as I work nights and I travel against the heavy traffic flows both ways. Even when traffic is backed up on the Overseas Highway I never have to do the Big City Stop-And-Go, I just have to throttle back and dawdle a little.

My commute is fun because I thoroughly enjoy riding my Bonneville to and from work.

The worst thing about living in the Keys is how straight the singular road is. I dream of the day a high speed ferry leaves Stock Island at noon and arrives in Mariel at 3pm. A quick pass through Cuban Customs and I could be off riding the Sierra Maestra for the weekend. That would be fantastic but until someone figures out an end to the stupid embargo all I've got is Highway One.

And my 2007 Triumph Bonneville which is the perfect ride for these islands.

I have ridden this bike almost 53,000 miles in the four years I've owned it and I still get a cheap thrill when I hit the starter and anticipate the ride. I don't care if it's hot, if it's raining, and if it's cold I can cope if I get properly dressed. I would rather ride than drive any day.

Then there's Cheyenne and for my Labrador I get in the car when ther are places to go and with her I go for a drive because she can't ride the Bonneville with me. But my commute is mine, the ride to work is all my own: no wife no dog and no car.

Well, it was because one bright day I got a new person on my shift and would you believe it, she lives across the canal from me. How could I not carpool? It's obvious it's ecological it just makes sense. But, bugger me, I missed my Bonneville, my forty minutes alone, my ride through the night, the sound of the wind in my ears, the ability to go in early and ride around town, the ability to stop on the way home and look at the moon on the water.

I don't even mind it when it's raining. These nothing quite so snug as being wrapped up in waterproofs listening to the rain splatter your helmet as you ride. Or you could be in a car stuck in a line of cars wishing you were riding that motorcycle whose tail light was disappearing into the darkness of the Saddlebunch Keys. Told Lisa last week, a man's just gotta ride.

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