Sunday, September 18, 2011

A New Old Bar

The sign says " since 1993" but there was a time in the eary part of this century that they closed.

My wife and I came here years ago to meet a friend and enjoyed it well enough though we aren't really bar flies so any establishment that wants to stay open by relying on our custo will be out of luck.

Grunts reopened a year or more ago and has a reputation still for inexpensive wine and beer (only) and clean restrooms, a point of pride still apparently.

It's a small building in a large patio which gives a unique flavor in a town that boasts no offsets and buildings are therefore piled on top of each other.

Outdoor seating in a garden setting is what I remember best about this place, the restrooms' reputation notwithstanding. It deserves a return visit.

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Mexican Trike

Mercury was the messenger of the Gods, and the God of Trade, thus a fine name for a delivery tricycle, just like this Mercurio.

This is a story of disappointment. I noticed this machine from the street and the closer I looked the more I realized this was the One That Got Away.

We were anchored in Isla Mujeres on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, our plan being to sail for Key West as soon as the weather looked favorable. A 335 mile crossing would take three days in the fickle currents that separate Mexico from Florida. That the journey ended up taking two weeks owing to the sudden onset of bad weather that sent us on an unexpected detour has nothing to do with this story.

After two years spent cruising Mexico and Central America on both coasts we had seen hundreds of these tricycles doing sterling work hauling all manner of stuff everywhere. I wanted one.

My dog was getting old and I figured this would make a great ride for her. Plus I could haul stuff with it from the boat around town. All I had to figure out was how to get it from Mexico to Key West. Suddenly that seemed simple enough, our sailing catamaran had a wide foredeck; I figured we'd just stick it on the deck in front of the mast. Easy peasy.

Well, my wife put the kibosh on the whole plan, looking me as though I were insane. No tricycle, no mad foredeck cargo. Forget it. However I never did quite forget the ornate tricycles in Mexico. Indeed when we were in Puerto Madero on the southern Pacific Coast of Mexico we had taken a tricycle taxi back to our boat and that ride from the taco stand to the harbor stuck in my memory.

I have the appropriate accessories to ride this magnificence but all I could do was look. Theban employee of the business showed up and he shattered all my fond memories. He said it was a horrible ride, it felt as though it were about to tip over on each and every corner and the other delivery people preferred to push it than ride it. They all preferred the traditional towed tricycle to the Mexican pusher. I was crushed.

I guess that as Cheyenne ages she will have to make do without a splendid Mexican Mercurio to play the princess riding in the front. Boo hiss. I'd even planned to get her a soft cushion to ride on.

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Key West Pix 12

Random pictures of Key West, above a palm framed by a tree and a house and below, more banal, Waste Management tackling downtown revelry trash.

I have never found Duval Street easy to photograph. I'm not sure why, perhaps because it's the famous street in the city and I can't capture that essence of fame. It just looks banal in my pictures, even when spiced up with cyclists in motion.

For some Key West is a jigsaw that doesn't quite work out. That's not surprising really as the island is a rectangle offset from e cardinal points of the compass so nothing quite matches up.

The old Wachovia building at the more-or-less north end of Duval Street.

I empathize with her need to record stuff even as it flashes by.

This is Jack Riepe heaven: a cluster of women cyclists. For me it's just another reason to learn patience.

This on the other hand is how it should be, with the car put away and the motorcycle ready form instant use.

Looking south from South Roosevelt Boulevard:

Looking southeast more or less from the same spot.

I told you the island isn't square.

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Commuting Key West

Driving in toward Key West just after dawn you would be astonished by the number of car drivers that fear wearing out their headlights.

While one can agree that technically it is probably day time one feels compelled to ask why would they want to risk getting hit head on for want of turning on their headlights? A dark truck on a dark morning with headlights off is almost as stupid as the cyclist who rides in the street when a perfectly acceptable bike path is alongside. Yet here we see a cyclist in delicious spandex and helmet riding right next to the traffic lane, as is his right.

Yet to put oneself at risk of getting hit by a driver distracted by a phone conversation seems like lunacy to me. There he is riding on the highway shoulder with a smooth straight bike
path off to his right. Why, dear God, why? And then we have school zones in town.

The theory behind them makes perfect sense, slow down for children. The practice of slowing to ten or fifteen miles per hour with not a child in sight seems decidedly odd to me but there we are. It's no loss as long as your fellow drivers don't get bored and forget where they are; there's always a risk of getting rear ended. And here is another odd man on a bike once again preceding to ride in traffic than use the somewhat inadequate bike path.

I am no foe of cyclists though their habits are quote odd. This next guy on White Street appeared to be texting as he pedaled; quite a feat.

Guy was a serious rider intent on getting where he was going.

And the ubiquitous scooter is an ideal travel vehicle for getting to work in Key West.

I was standing in the empty lot across from the former José's Cantina waiting for Cheyenne to finish grazing the grass.

It was fun watching how various people were making their way across town.

It was a lovely morning it seemed a pity to waste it at work.

I was glad I work nights.

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Another Irritating Street Vendor

The title of this essay came from the subject himself. Let's get that out of the way before we cause offense to the well intentioned champions among is of those without a voice.

My relationship with Roger, such as it was, was one of those hail fellow well met type of acquaintances born of geographical compatibility.

I was in the habit of parking the Bonneville across Eaton Street on my way to the Tropic Cinema. The irritating vendor across the street got in the habit of calling to me. Then he found out I was a night dispatcher and that tickled him pink. "Hiding in plain sight," he chortled when I told him I enjoyed my anonymity.

This is a story of life out west, started in Washington State, a respectable career putting values on houses, a job that became an odyssey of travel across the western states finding true values in homes that may have been undervalued. Those were the days; nowadays banks keep trying to overvalue our underwater dwellings...

But that is of no moment to Roger today, a happy man with a snug nest on Eaton Street next to Duval. Roger needed to keep himself busy when he came to Key West 18 years ago, to stay and to live and to settle down.

It's a good life in Key West, a city that can absorb a man's interest such that Roger hasn't been back to Seattle in fourteen years.

He thinks my job is wildly stressful, I think his job is far too public, dealing with actual live customers, selling stuff.

All those are activities that cause me far more stress than answering a 9-1-1 call.

Cheyenne liked taking a pause in the shade. I enjoyed the chat. Key West accommodates the widest range of people, among whom I have to now count myself. Roger and Me.

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