Friday, September 9, 2011

Marathon Drive

Driving out of Marathon we saw a lot of empty store fronts and they made me think back to when I came to the Keys in distant 1981. I came on a whim and found myself not drawn at all, which is funny because so many people remember the funk with fondness. At the time I wanted bright lights and big cities to offset the tedium of my country upbringing and off I went.

I have been in the habit of remarking that my middle aged self would rather see a more laid back life now, more like that I found here in my youth. I fear perhaps my wish might be coming true. Below we see the rather odd juxtaposition of public defender and state prosecutor working out of the same building. There should be job security there, if not great fortunes to be made.

Key West has been lucky so far, but we still hear no good news from Up North on the employment front. Officially the numbers went up by 400,000 while, officially, another 78,000 fell off then rolls onto the void of no help, no job, no nothing. Where we all dread going. I wonder who will come to town this winter to fill our Christmas stockings in the tourist trade?

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Sugarloaf Planes And Pets

Its all change on Lower Sugarloaf Key these days. Riding toward Key West near Mile Marker 17 the venerable Sugarloaf Lodge is on the north side of the highway, looking the same as it ever did, and it's been there for decades. This is the section of the U-shaped island known as Lower Sugarloaf, while Upper Sugarloaf is the part of the island around the school at Crane Boulevard.

However change is on the way. The previous owner died a few months ago but not before a new restaurant was planned for the lodge which has thirty odd rooms in the motel section of the property.

Apparently a top flight wood fired pizza parlor is planned for the old restaurant which has been undergoing much anticipated renovation work.

The Tiki bar on the water has been operating along with the rooms even as the renovations continued in the restaurant but now the new Zaza's pizzeria is supposed to be on the verge of opening complete with proper wood fired pizza ovens.

Next door the airstrip seems to have lost it's mascot the single engined plane carcass that used to sit alongside the highway advertising the airstrip just up the side road.

Change is in the air I guess. According to their website use of the airstrip is free for flyers who stay at the lodge. And the lodge also takes pets according to that website.

They say Sugarloaf Key is named for sugarloaf pineapples once grown here but whether or not that is the case I have no idea. At least the name won't be changing....

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Key West Nocturne

It was an after work excursion to Duval Street, in complete darkness now that the sun doesn't show up until almost seven in the morning. The San Carlos looked lovely.

When I go out to look for pictures sometimes I know what I'm looking for and sometimes I don't. This early morning I wanted to see Duval Street the morning after the night before.

I found just that, with trash collection well under way near the pharmacy converted from a movie theater.

And lots of trash there was to move too.

Street cleaning to remove the beer and vomit and spillage of a tourist town on the town, is a mechanized occupation.

It may have been dark but the buses were running doing all the necessary required to haul workers to work. The weekly Key West The News was freshly delivered. Scandals galore this week and all about forthcoming elections, check online if you feel inclined.

I took advantage of the absence of all human life (other than the precious cleaners) to stick the Bonneville where it should never go for a happy picture.

No Bull Here would be my caption were I one to caption my pictures. I leave captions to readers.

Restaurants were dead to the world with rather effective alarm systems to keep the peace. Bars must close by 4am say the city ordinances.

And then out of the gloom came a striding figure. He passed, silent in the night going I know not where.

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Blimp Road Sunrise

On my way home from work this morning I wanted to feed my need for a beautiful sunrise. So I went someplace else, and found myself on Cudjoe Key.

I love standing on the shore and looking out across flat water.

The mosquitoes played absolute hell with the small pieces of exposed flesh showing under my open face helmet and around the neck and cuffs of my mesh jacket.

I took one with the flash, above and how dull it appeared. The one below I took with a slow exposure, hand held and I liked the result looking north from the ramp at the end of Blimp Road.

The quiet of the night was disturbed slightly by the head long rush of workers arriving to start their shifts on the Air Force Base where they fly the blimp that monitors the Straits of Florida for smugglers.

I had my sunrise fix and I rushed down the two miles of dead straight road to the Overseas Highway, and then home as fast as my Triumph Bonneville would carry me.

I passed my wife along the way as she drove to work rocking out in her convertible with the top down. We waved as we passed in the first light of day. My dog was asleep on her recliner on the porch when I got home and she was barely awake as I took her for her first walk of the day.

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Marathon Hurricane

The five dollar lunch is at the sign of the big fish.

My wife who has to work in a Marathon classroom from time to time was introduced to a cheap and cheerful lunchroom in the city.

Hurricane is more than a place to eat food. A "lounge" in Dixie is not just a place to sit, but a place to sit and drink and you have to be 21 to do that. You can vote at 18 though, which I think generally, is a bad idea.

If the fish isn't marker enough for this place on Marathon's endless strip, check out the other big fish sign at the other end of the restaurant/bar.

We drank tea, which in Dixie is a cold drink with ice cubes and stuff. There was television and a pool table in the room which I think generally is a bad idea but lunch made it worth it.

My wife figured this was an excellent way to enjoy the good medical news we got that her foot wasn't actually broken. And for half the copayment at the doctor we got lunch. For two.

The menu was long, sandwiches, platters and fish but we hadn't had ribs in a while so we indulged.

I loved the mixed plates and the waitress with the English accent, similar to mine, but we both affected not to notice. It's what English speakers do. "Where are you from?" is the most asked question in the Keys and the most tedious. We enjoyed our sensible portions, and our own company.

I liked this place, low key, funky decoration and unpretentious food. Good value in a town devoted to that very earthy concept.

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