Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I wondered why this truck was traveling 38 miles per hour in a 45mph zone. We dawdled for quite a while at this absurd speed, but there was nothing visibly wrong. The passenger hand came out a couple of times and spilled trash along the highway even as I kept my place three seconds behind the truck for five miles as we moseyed along the double yellow lines.

It was boring, give them that. Perhaps they were on their way to an unappealing job and trying to delay the inevitable. That this was an exercise in fuel economy seemed highly unlikely.

When we reached my goal, the dotted yellow lines where I could pass the truck, sensing no doubt an imminent loss of control, the driver speeded up to 52 miles per hour yet insufficient to put me off passing. However oncoming traffic kept me in my place. We drifted through Summerland Key back at 38mph when we were safely stuck back behind solid yellow lines. Happily the supply of trash had apparently run out and no more flew from the window.
Bad driving is common on the Overseas Highway; what is rare is to see it done with name and phone number listed on the back of the vehicle. Clearly this was no genius at the wheel!

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City Of Signs

Elections are coming and there are three candidates for mayor. The big issue in Key West is what happens to the signs after the elections. The ones posted on private property, like this one, have a clearly defined life but the one's placed on medians and poles...that's another story.

This next sign is for King of Fantasy Fest and one achieves election by raising the most money for charity. Daveforking is an unfortunate website URL but there it is. Some people think anything goes for Fantasy Fest so perhaps it's appropriate.

Some signs in Key West are helpful signs. Useful and pretty, how about that?

I don't know what happened to the bingo hall but this sign made me laugh.

You Have Been Warned. Except, what exactly is loitering?

Cheyenne and I got away without any accusations of loitering wafting after us. This next sign seems clear enough.

You'd be astonished how many people want to give money to Ricky Arnold and the other tow companies. The tow companies call police communications to check and see if the vehicle is stolen. When we tell them it's not, off it goes. And it costs hundreds to get it back. Please don't park in these unattended lots.
Some signs mean a great deal.

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Gone Boating

The state flag flying over Key West Bight may be a bit tatty but it's mostly sun worn because the sun shines a great deal down here.

So naturally even in the quiet month of the year boat captains have to stand around and ponder their boats before the ten o'clock start to the commercial boating day. There's nothing quite like standing around nattering and stealing a moment from the day with a colleague.

There's tons of advertising claiming the finest boating trip in the world leaving Key West. While I cannot claim to have a clue, never having ridden any of them, except sunset tall ship cruises, one of them has to be right for somebody.

The big catamarans are floating bars but they too leave in the morning which must make for an epic day for their passengers.

I cannot drink during the day or I get a headache and instantly pass out. This dude loved my dog but she was excessively interested in his brown bagged can rather than him.

Some people can drink alcohol in the middle of the day, no problems. Some people can do it and have the crew drive the boat for them.

However you don't need a multimillion dollar boat to get a crew driving for you. Take a parasail trip, and do it in September when the crowds are away and customers are at a premium.

The tedious part of being a captain is giving the pre-departure speech. It's like giving the safety speech on a commercial airliner and the passengers have to listen while all they wantto do is be out on the water.

All the waterborne activity looked good not just to me.

All the coming and going from the smallest...

...to the biggest. Registering a Key West boat in an unpronounceable out of state venue seems rather not local.

And what would a harbor be without a quiet little rat boat, someone's floating home docked in the middle of all the noise?

Key West Bight is a working harbor, not shrimpers like thirty years ago, but the city will take what it can get. And this sort of boating is a lot cleaner if less picturesque than commercial fishermen who have retreated to Stock Island.

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The Ikea Experience

As far as is known, explorers have unearthed three IKEA stores in the wilds of Florida. One in Orlando, one in Tampa and one west of Fort Lauderdale in a town that rejoices in the unlikely name of Sunrise, despite its westernmost location.

We were directed to park the forty foot moving home in among the loading docks in the rear of the store, and there with generator pumping, the dogs set about the arduous task of sleeping under the air conditioning vents.

We meanwhile had to face the crowds and crowds of people from the miles and miles of cars parked all around the store. Some smart person came on a scooter though considering the purpose of this Swedish home furnishing store one has to assume it was a sensible employee who showed up on two wheels.

IKEA, I have discovered is a cult, and what's worse it's a Swedish cult so everything is cheerful, efficient and Nordic. These are not easy qualities to emulate if you are a misanthrope and a non-shopper.

Everything is bright and easy and instructions abound. Need a lesson in how to shop at IKEA? No really, if you don't know how it's done they have tutorials on TV with captions. They also sell food. Free! Cheap! Swedish!

Refreshed with American style scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes, we took off across two floors of stuff. Crowds and crowds of shoppers and miles and miles of stuff. It was enough to make a non shopper pass out from exhaustion, just by looking.

The standard here is to make maximum use of minimal space. Imagine you live in a one room cabin north of the Arctic Circle, and you are tired of the moose skin and caribou decor. You pop down to neighboring Sweden and get yourself a prepared room kitted out with all necessaries in 215 square feet. Well, if you live in Florida in a not yet repossessed McMansion, you can do the same thing, thanks to IKEA.

It is supposed to be inexpensive and much of it is, but all of it is labeled in impenetrable Swedish which makes shopping a real adventure.

$1500 to store a TV may be cheap for Swedish socialists but its a lot of cash for impoverished capitalists struggling to pay their medical bills. They sell inexpensive straw chairs which felt to me more like lying in a haystack than reclining in a chair.

And you know how in normal stores they put fake books on shelves to lend verisimilitude to a display...Well here they are real books. Only of course they are, once again in impenetrable Swedish.

I read a lot of reviews of stuff and meals and ride reports on ADVrider and elsewhere and everyone is terribly leery of mentioning a price. People use electrons to do all sorts of execrable things but there is is weird online Victorian prudery when it comes to money. I found IKEA to be refreshingly forthright when it comes to prices.

And their pictures scattered around the store of Scandinavian designers is almost Gothic.

By now it was time for lunch which was lucky for me as I was ready for Swedish nourishment. Robust stuff they eat in Sweden it turns out, and for not much money. Four bucks for fifteen meatballs in cream sauce with mashed potatoes and ligonberry sauce. Weird but true and it tasted as good as Chuck promised it would.

Chuck thought I was weird when I noticed the bizarre designer portraits hanging around the store, but when I caught Wayne in an attitude of prayer above the Overboard Chocolate Cake, and I started giggling his initial observation was confirmed in his mind.

In the end Wayne got up and left the cafeteria exhausted by the noise and confusion and he forgot to taste the cake. Which was by the way excellent.

Then we charged up and down the warehouse helping ourselves to the big ticket items we had noted down on the pad (per IKEA regulations) and eventually left the temple with a new office a new bedroom, bits and pieces and a thousand dollars poorer. We are postponing a few other projects as a result, but my wife is now an official member of the IKEA cult.

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Palatial Indian Dinner

Chuck knew Layne my wife missed her Indian experience because Key West needs Indian. Son he did his research and found this with excellent reviews not far from where we were staying.

The Palace in Weston was going to be good we knew that, but the signs weren't great. Too many servers crowded us and there was not any sense of coherence in our service. We ordered a large Kingfisher beer and got a small and at that point another waiter told our original server that there are no large Kingfishers any more. But they were on the menu...

We got our chips and onion relish, we got some beers and we got confusion in waiting the table. The waitress was not familiar with the food so we made our choices, two lamb and a chicken for main course and a plate filled with deep fried deliciousness for an appetizer to share.

It all worked out but it should be a reminder that expert wait staff is integral to the dining experience. A great chef is great but a crap waiter makes the dinner crap if the diners aren't experienced or lucky or careful.

Wayne liked how clean the place was. I just liked the décor.

And the bread. We ordered a mixed basket of naan, four flavors for ten bucks. Yum.

Wayne got the chicken in a rich sauce and reminded me of Mexican molé, which Wayne thought sounded disgusting. It was good stuff whatever you called it. The lamb was superb especially the dish cooked in pomegranate sauce.

It makes me hungry just looking at the pictures...

We went back home to sleep in La Quinta leaving the boys in the RV.

Cheyenne even got her own bed in a corner of the room. We slept spindly, filled with delicious Indian food. It's funny what matters when you go to the mainland.

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