Saturday, September 17, 2011

Entering The Keys

I had a few pictures left from my RV trip to the mainland.

Coming back on the 18 mile stretch I was in the privileged position of sitting at the desk the boys had custom built in their roving second home and I was looking out of the side windows when it occurred to me I had a rare view across the watery entrance to the Florida Keys.

I snatched the pictures as best I could as we flew along the elevated roadway.

These are the scenes so difficult to see in an ordinary car, and when riding a motorcycle one is not permitted to stop of course, to enjoy the views.

I wonder if people live on these boats?

It seems a strange place to live out the years of one's life, alongside the main road far from a proper center of life ashore.

Key Largo is a four lane highway of endless little shops and store fronts. There is no there there and perhaps for a first time visitor comes as a disappointment after the splendid aerial ride into the Fabulous Florida Keys. Keep driving south, where the views get better, as good as these across the watery sounds at the entrance to the Florida Keys.

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Port Pine Heights

We have had an absolutely perfect summer, moderate humidity, gentle breezes and not usually as stifling as one might expect.

It is still pretty hot and quite warm enough for furry Labradors stumping past the empty homes of snowbirds enjoying getting boiled alive in the heat and humidity of a mid west summer.

Strange people, the Keys are lovely right now. We haven't even had many thunderstorms this week thanks to the low humidity.

Port Pine Heights is an odd name for an odd community on an odd island.

The development stalled out years ago and the streets are all laid out as is usual in optimistic Florida urban planning with lots of grassy bushy gaps between homes.

However it is not a height in any geographical sense, all is at sea level. It lies at the north end of Key Deer Boulevard on Big Pine Key.

Port Pone Heights is a long way from a job in Key West, well more than an hour bit it is lovely retreat for those that desire such peace.

Put out more flags.

And fewer street lights.

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Elizabeth At Caroline

I wonder how it is that watering sidewalks seems a sensible move even as salt water intrusion is threatening cities in South Florida which rely on aquifers for fresh water.

We are so used to watering our plants we don't think about it. But I have noticed how much water my own plants suck up. So even though I get fruit and vegetables, at what price I ask myself. And so we blunder on, vague disquiet perhaps but no discussion.

I love these No Trespassing signs. The one above was slipped between a mosquito net and a door apparently to ward off paper thin people. The one below on a former Bahama Conch Community Land Trust properties. It occurred to me the sign was prompted by the presence of the beer can. Or vice versa.

The Trust is all but dissolved and the properties were supposed to be taken over by the city's housing authority, the success of the public over the muddle of the private. In the rear I found this elderly abandoned Honda Elite, from my own experience these are solid and trusty scooters that go forever and need almost nothing. And here abandoned.

Also abandoned the former Jabours trailer park. Many promises, many no trespassing signs and all we get is knee high grass. Too bad people aren't actually allowed to enjoy this open space going to waste.

But that would set a precedent and the vague notion that a public park would be nice might take root in the public consciousness.

I look forward to the day my flowers thrive like this. Many waterings in the future no doubt.

I hesitate to send a private message but looking at flowering plants puts me in mind of the Chicago cousin and her forty years of marriage. I guess that takes quite a lot of watering too.

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Poker Run, Key West

Bike Week in Key West is not just sitting around downtown drinking, but it is also supposed to be a ride to the lovely Southernmost City from Peterson's Harley Davidson dealership in Miami.

On the way the riders are supposed to stop and pick up five randomly issued cards which they turn in once they reach Key West. The highest poker hand wins.

It's a bit of a poker hand getting to Key West for some riders. I find the Overseas Highway a joy to ride but I hear others remark how hard it is to stay to stay focussed and some fear riding after dark, a fear I find absurd for the highway is well lit in built up areas and is well equipped with lines and reflective cat's eyes all the way.

But in the end it's all streets and palms and sunshine and showing off.

It's not necessary to,ride a Harley to pull a babe...

...but it helps.

People wonder at my pink Crocs, purchased for me originally by my wife, but I would do terrible things to her if she had pink and purple pinstripes painted on my Bonneville.

On the other hand I think I fail signally to look gnarly on my Triumph.

Key West makes for a nice background for the motorcycles, as much as for anything else.

This local bike was looking good on Whitehead Street. I rode across country on one of these Yamahas a decade ago from Fort Myers to Santa Cruz. I liked the four cylinder, shaft drive Maxim and remember it well.

The bikers against drunk drivers will no doubt continue to fight the good fight on Duval Street.

This woman paused for a second in front of the decked out Harley on display. I hope the drinkers this weekend pay attention to the message. The city is packed with cabs.

I am working tonight and I am sure my trainee will be running hundreds of licenses and registrations during our twelve hour shift. I know Lisa is up to the challenge which is lucky, because police dispatch will be working a very long twelve hour shift.

For locals Bike Week is a time to stand on the sidelines, bitch about the awful loud mufflers, and watch the parade.

But life goes on as normal in a town that sees two and a half million visitors a year.

There are lots of weird custom arrangements to marvel at in Key West. Reducing the back end of a motorcycle,to look like this is an odd way to spend money in my book.

And let's not forget, some Road Kings get particular customizations.

"Hey," I called out to this Suzuki rider. "Where's your Harley?"

The Hayabusa has been at the top of the list of performance motorcycles anywhere in the world for many years. I don't think he misses riding a Harley judging by his smile. Odd man.

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Lower Simonton Street

Simonton and Greene streets intersect here, a couple of blocks from the infamous Sloppy Joe's bar.

John Simonton and Pardon Greene were two of the four Anglo owners who bought Key West from Juan Salas who had received the island as a land grant from the King of Spain.

Now they are memorialized by these two strips of asphalt which is more than most of us will get after we are long dead.

The giant dive shop encourages people to come and buy stuff to dive by putting a picture of a disheveled pouty young woman in the window.

The economy of Key West seems more than usually split between businesses that are doing well and those that are not. There has always been a great deal of activity, buying and selling in this town but these days the chances of making a go of a new business in a town that lies it's well established locations seems pretty tough.

I see a lot of commercial for sale signs but I have no way of knowing what is going on statistically compared to past years.

Compared to many local governments things here seem quite stable, with the county assessor even guesstimating increasing property taxes after years of declines in the city.

It doesn't seem like we are going to get any help from the state or the Feds so we have to keep hoping the tourists will continue to come down in droves to to spend their money.

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