Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paradise Heat

I was riding past the former Paradise Café on Eaton Street when I saw the mister going in rather spectacular style. I also noticed some sort of clean up or something was going on inside as the front door was open. One can only hope this prominent Eaton Street corner will come back to life soon.

I quite liked Paradise Café for two things. They made Chicago sized meat sandwiches with enough content to fill two sandwiches which made them economical. They also offered my dog scraps which was kind. I wonder what might come next?

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Sugarloaf Creek

I have been an unhappy boater this summer, my outboard has been off it's feed, underpowered flat out and leaving me feeling uncertain about it's ability to get me home.

So I have been learning to appreciate the Florida truism that it's best to have friends with a boat. Hence our ride with the boys today was quite a rare pleasure in the summer of 2011.

We left their Sugarloaf home and headed south as my wife wanted to go snorkeling at Looe Key. This trip involved entering the mangroves and running the salt water channel to open water at the other side. Our wake in here created the largest waves.

The creek is effectively a narrows between two large bodies of water so the tides run fast and strong through here and make a lovely picture.

This place was a refuge for local youngsters years ago, and I know the are lots of fond memories of picnics and swimming at this spot.

It also happens to be the very same spot where the old state road 939 used to cross the creek on a bridge. I have walked the dog and ridden the Bonneville down here and look forward to doing it again this winter. Pictures to follow.

The south side is a longer and more varied walk from the Loop Road but it ends up in the same place...

Mangroves aren't hugely scenic but I enjoy being around them. These red mangroves grow in salt water which makes them unique and quite useful in a marine environment. They act as a hatchery and nursery for fish, they protect the land from storms and wave action and they make for a green landscape in a place where not much can grow.

"Local Knowledge Required" may or may not be true but it sure does help.

The Coastguard maintains a lot of markers through this channel but open water isn't that deep unless you count four feet at middling tide to be deep. Deep enough for a small (less than 30 foot) sailboat.

We stopped for a picnic on the boat and a swim and it was deserted and lovely and entirely in the spirit of those distant Conchs who had this place to themselves all those years ago. I felt like apologizing for the intrusion.

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Cheyenne's Waterfront

I am going to miss Truman Waterfront when the thirty four acres of glorious open space get filled in. I rather think Cheyenne won't much like the change either.

She and I come down here from time to time and if we see half a dozen summer people walking or cycling it's a lot. I thank the Navy for declaring it surplus and for giving it to the city.

I like the absence of busyness, I like the two retired coastguard cutters parked at the seawall and run by volunteers.

It's the perfect wilderness surrounded by busyness.

The plans are being worked out for the proper final use of this emptiness, and they include an old folk's home, maybe, and a high end marina and shoppes and all that fake stucco and brick walkway and impeccable flower bed stuff. You've seen it in a development near you.

There's money to be made and progress cannot be stopped.

Overnight camping is prohibited and the area is patrolled but this place makes for a nice park during daylight. It even has a Porta-potty.

If you look closely enough there is something of interest to sniff out even in the most unlikely places.

And pretty pictures appear as if by magic right at your feet.

Others appear overhead. I couldn't help but contrast and compare Nature's best effort...

...against the human created skyline.

The old Navy warehouse still stands. I liked the idea of incorporating it into a form of farmer's market. People object saying there is no agriculture in the Keys. True enough, but Homestead, 125 miles away is one of the great crop growing areas of the entire country. Personally I'm tired of buying frost burned lettuce from the stores. It goes bad in a day.

Decrepitude is not always a bad thing when it's not lettuce.

Sometimes entropy has a particular appeal. I fear the future, with its promise of economic retrenchment as far as we can see. Aside from all that, the arguments in favor of insistent expansion gain ground as the fear of bankruptcy stalks the land.

This island used to be a sandy mound with unused Navy fuel tanks buried on it. Now it's Sunset Key a refuge for the one per centers among us and famous people who think they can get Key West and privacy simultaneously on this exclusive sterile little suburb.

High end condos to the right of us, multi-millionaires to to the left of us.

What hope that this emptiness stay as it is? Absolutely no hope.

Clean up, improvement, change, are all in the cards.

My plan is to enjoy it while I can. Joni Mitchell was right.

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Loco Lane

I keep thinking I have discovered and explored every street and lane in this city. You wouldn't think that would be too hard on an island four miles by two, yet here I am once again at a new find.

It was a casual written reference I don't remember where that alerted me to Loco Lane which is little more than an expanded driveway off Petronia Street on Solares Hill.

I have walked driven and ridden past it half a hundred times without noticing it, but when I searched, there it was.

There is nothing unusual or untoward about this little lane,

...other than the that it is unmarked by any official street sign. Perhaps "Mad Lane" is an irresistible moniker for a drunk visitor not to steal.

It is much like any other Old Town Lane recorded among my more than two thousand essays.

Tight little homes tucked away,

...lots of lovely greenery overhead.

And the inevitable sign language so necessary apparently to harmonious living.

It was a bright sunny summer afternoon, not too hot, but warm enough, the short length of this lovely quiet corner of town was no shortcoming at all.

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Key West Discards

The streets of Old Town are narrow, even the wide one's and it is a matte of some surprise to me that trash pick up is as smooth and effective as it is. One needs a certain level of adaptability to drive these streets in anything larger than a two wheeler. Turn a corner and there it may just be: immoveable object blocking the street doing an invaluable job of work.

It must be christophene season in Key West because ripe Spanish Limes are littering the sidewalks. Note to self: it may be time to plant a tree for myself as I am quite fond of the sweet citrus known across the Caribbean.

In so many ways Key West observes the seasons in reverse as compared to temperate climes. In dropping off a bunch of spring cleaning at the dump last week -$21 worth! - the operator of the scales told me they have been extra busy lately. spring cleaning I said. And I think it is, even though it is September by the calendar.

The unfortunate fact is that in tiny spaces the old tends to have to sit outside for a while as the forces of clean up are mustered, so neighbors have to be patient. Former residents of gated communities with strict curbside rules will not necessarily do well here.

Changes in latitude really do require changes in attitude. Though why people drop off their well worn shoes all around town I have no idea. I may have to start a separate essay dedicated to this bizarre activity.

Empty drink containers are a dime a dozen reminding mothers everywhere to do a better job raising their offspring.

This graffito had me puzzled, as I couldn't read it, which rather masks the point of the project

Ingratitude is an ugly thing, but I hope the author learns to see one day, with eyes wide open.

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