Saturday, December 10, 2011

Not Wells Fargo

We shut down our account at the Too Big To Fail bank last year, despite the obstacles and difficulties they set in our path. This is the last locally owned bank in the Keys, aside from the credit unions where my wife also has an account. I suppose it is inevitable the ubiquitous Spottswoods have their tentacles deep in the founding of the bank...but my wife the critic is very happy with their service and get this: real people answer the phone when she calls the bank!

I am not much interested in banks but I do get a small town thrill when I ride by the billboard on North Roosevelt and see my bank supporting small town sports. I can't help but think how much better off we all might be had they had the nerve to let them fail after all, those Too Big institutions.

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Parking Galore

I cannot possibly recall why I took this picture. I think I messed up the exposure because in the shadow there is one of those silly painted faces that have appeared around town as part of a Facebook prank I believe. My dog was dragging me toward Higgs Beach and thus it is I offer this picture as a sample of my daily failures with the camera. The sunlight looks good though on the column.

The point was that I wanted to illustrate the broad swath of White Street which allows for a tree-lined sidewalk, parking and a class two bicycle path, where class one is a separate path, two is painted and three is nothing more than a sign advising bicycles travel here...Parking is a hot issue this week as the city is spending a Federal grant to put sidewalks on Virginia Street. Which sounds good but neighbors are upset that tall trees have been cut, and they fear parking on the street will be limited.

The city says the trees were already badly pruned and faced a dicey future as they were out of balance. The parking they say will double with the new cut outs. However that will count the number of legal spots and up till now cars have been parked everywhere.

White Street is the exception, not the rule so don't be fooled, living in a town of narrow streets and alleys brings it's own pressures. Laid back living? Maybe, if you have quiet neighbors and off-street parking.

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Traffic Crush

I was filled with admiration for this couple towing a trailer behind their Honda Goldwing. The black SUV crowded them horribly leaving no room behind them and weaving as though contemplating a pass on left or right. The motorcyclists carried on imperturbably perhaps unaware of the danger behind them. I figured the SUV was going to wreck and I wanted a record of them before they fled the scene.

In the two lane section the SUV passed on the right and dodged back mid lane when the stopped bus loomed on the shoulder. By then the serene Goldwing riders were safe and still ambling along at their entirely appropriate speed. I wished everyone well on Highway One who encountered the car between Big Pine and Miami.

I like to ride paying attention and sometimes I do exceed the speed limit but I don't tailgate and I don't pass on double yellow lines and when someone catches up to me, whatever the speed, I pull over as by the laws of physics if they catch up they must be going faster than me and why hold them up? But to risk anyone's life deliberately seems the act of someone with absolutely no life experience at all. Evade the idiots I say.

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Chez Jiri

I showed up at my favorite local motorbike shop without warning and with no particular purpose in mind. I found the proprietor enjoying one of the perks of fixing other peoples' bikes: the test ride.

The 2002 Zuma looked brand new to me, 600 miles ridden he said and abandoned, thus choking the carburetor which needed cleaning before it would run again. There was an engine loose on the shop floor kept under observation by Cheyenne:

Cheyenne knowns how to make herself at home in Jiri's shop. We talked of this and that, the joys of child rearing, the pleasure of being in Key West and not Brno. The owner of the cruiser engine wanted Jiri to pull the engine from the frame to replace a bearing in the water pump...such was the silly design of the motor putting the bearing out of reach unless the motorcycle and engine were separated:

In summer it's hot in there and in winter the shop can be airless on a sunny winter day so the fan was whirring pulling in outside air. Odd but necessary.

Jiri manages pretty much any job on any bike. I have always been intrigued by these small Japanese thumpers designed for on and off road use (enduros they called them when I was a kid), practical in town, lively in the dirt and...time to stop dreaming. Mine is a one bike home.

There are always crotch rockets needing work as South Florida generally, especially military bases breed boy racers or Harley riders almost exclusively. This next picture encompasses four generations of Yamahas, an 80's superbike, a cruiser and the lovely 400 four stroke twin. Plus the liter crotch rocket in the foreground.

I was reminiscing about my two weeks in Corsica in 2005 with Giovanni and his BMW like this one. I liked it a lot. And I liked Corsica even more, I'd like to go back and take another ride. Giovanni has outgrown the comfortable simplicity of the R1150 and is now eyeing a new 1600 6 cyclinder monster. He laughs at my loyalty to my Bonneville.

Jiri is a reluctant subject for the camera but I am not deterred.

His assistant, nameless and hard working didn't pause for me, my camera or even my dog.

Who sat back and impeturbably kepton keeping an eye on things.

I wonder if I would have survived learning to ride if stuff like this machine had been available when I was pottering around on a 30 horsepower 350cc café racer in 1975.

Oh yes, there are miles and miles of bikes and scooters at Jiri's place.

Jiri likes four cylinder Japanese motorcycles and encouraged me to go for one when I was contemplating the replacement for my unreliable Vespa 250 GTS. He sighed when I got the Bonneville but it has turned out well so far. I bring the Haynes manual when I drop it off for it's annual valve check, carb balancing and cable lubrication.

I'm a silly bugger. I forgot to buy my four quarts of oil for the change I will do at home in a thousand miles. Oh well I guess I'll just have to pay him another visit.

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Key West Oddments

The shortest of walks produces a collection of images in this town. A burning cloud.

A rising moon.

Beads trapped on a fence. Beads are practically a currency in Key West.

A handicapped couch carefully parked half on the sidewalk but not blocking Hunt's Lane.

Priscilla has moved from the desert to Key West.

You don't have to be at Mallory Square to celebrate the setting of the sun.

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