Friday, December 16, 2011

More Odd Wheels

I grumble from time to time about how all we ever see are Harley Davidsons posing up and down the Keys, but I do like to see the Road King on the streets from time to time. I like the purposeful symmetry of the bike and if ever I decide I need 800 pounds of motorcycle (!) and can spend $20,000 (!) this would be it.

On the other hand I have a suspicion a bicycle like this might cost half as much as new Triumph Bonneville.

These sorts of sophisticated, over engineered rides appear in town in winter when energetic wealthy incomers bring their sports from Up North to impress the rubes on single speed beach cruisers with fat tires and baskets.

I was quite surprised to see a prominent made in China label on this disc braked suspended, fully equipped machine.

Are we approaching the day when Chinese bicycles will be a fashion statement? I suppose that is a given and we will be taught to embrace it. I remember my Schwinn mountain bike fondly nevertheless.

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Things I See

I'm not sure whether I should be annoyed that someone could be so stupid as to stick empty alcohol bottles in trees. Or, working on the assumption that they had just consumed the contents, should I be astonished by their agility at tree climbing while smashed out of their minds?

I am as useless at identifying butterflies as I am at everything else that grows, flies or crawls.

However I do know a pretty thing when I see one.

Even when my powers of observation are dulled by a gigantic head cold I know what I like and this brown beauty was very cooperative in striking a pose. Always on a rock for some reason.

The osprey nest at the top of the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower seems to be getting bigger.

I rather think the old tower will be a jumble of wood soon enough, lost to indifference and the ravages of time.

Talking of indifference I caught a half picture of a man propelling himself down the street as though he thought he were on the water standing on a paddle board. Call me strait laced but as a way to get around it leaves me completely indifferent.

There just is no end to the permutations that people will employ to get exercise and get around. Perhaps after cheap oil runs it's course we will find this form of locomotion to be far less eccentric than appears to be the case nowadays. I just don't think it would work too well for me under any conceivable circumstances.

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The Perfect Dinghy

Dreamers who imagine a tropical life afloat will follow their fantasies across oceans into strange harbors, perhaps anchoring off fantastic beaches and visiting hidden coves on strange coastlines.

All of which is fun no doubt but in my rĂ´le of pricker of dreams it's the floating home's dinghy that excites my imagination and rarely does one see a dinghy as well turned out as this one. Consider how perfectly it holds it's position off the beach, with a stern anchor laid out properly to prevent the boat from swinging wildly and damaging itself or others.

At the bow the boat has a rope fender not only decorative but functional and placed exactly where the owner wants it, presumably because the dinghy rides off the port quarter of the mother ship.

Inboard we see the required back up oar which may be a scull, designed with a curve to push the boat from the rear, even though I could see no corresponding notch in the transom. Perhaps it is just an oar or perhaps he uses a rope to secure the scull.

The bow was secured to the root with the sort of round turn I can only accomplish after studying and practicing endlessly, and which comes easily to the owner of the boat, who is therefore a sailor. I blame my left handedness for my cack-handedness at knotting. I am just not very good at remembering stuff like that. I used to be able to splice three strand rope (the easiest kind to splice) once upon a time. A skill long since lost.

A proper dinghy has crap inside, and not all are just like this one which is neatly ordered with all easy to hand. A fuel tank of course, a bailer, some ropes which are always useful and a bag probably containing required "safety" equipment.

The seat that crosses the hull side to side is called a thwart and this one has a compartment, a clever use of space. I love this ugly brown, incredibly well equipped dinghy. It's owner would likely think me a nerd for getting worked up over his work horse. But I know what I like.

Modern sailors prefer rubber dinghies like the one below. I used a similar dinghy carried in similar fashion not least because inflatables are stable and we traveled with two large dogs. They make excellent dive and swimming platforms and they are remarkably resilient. Inflatables don't row well but they don't tend to sink either and they can, though very rarely, be folded and rolled up for long journeys over open water.

Modern cruising sailors call their dinghies "station wagons" such is the need for versatile reliable and load carrying transportation to and from shore. Some sailors use alternatives like canoes or kayaks if internal combustion is not wanted, with it's associated costs, smelly fuel and mechanical unreliability.

In the end though a trim ten or twelve foot hard dinghy, properly equipped is a traditional and therefore proper.

A thing of beauty forever.

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Bridge Fishing At Dusk

That lemon yellow sky was announcing the end of another perfect day in the Florida Keys.

Perfect for me, but perhaps it was a day that was lacking for a young man angling furiously and searching for that elusive fish.

Once again we find our stimulated local government doing work to keep our infrastructure solid.

Something like that.

If not fishing, then peering will do, as seen below. It's what I like to do on bridges around here. I did not come to the Keys to kill fish.

I like to eat them, but hunting them is tedious to my urban mind.

Even fish-less it really was the perfect end to another perfect day.

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Nameless Trail

I was armed with the latest copy of Vanity Fair filled with gossip and innuendo so I had no problem standing in the woods while Cheyenne did her thing.

The light was gorgeous illuminating the upper reaches.

While down below we trundled along through the green tunnel.

Cheyenne's relationship with wildlife is pacific on the whole. Birds fly away and she ignores them. Key deer tend to be more interested in her than she in them, though she does like sniffing along their trails after they are long gone.

Enough ambling and she likes a nice lie down on the cool rocks or in the mud.

Luckily this trail is mostly rock which kept her clean but which encourages people to ride their bicycles here. We met one such, a severe woman with ear phones and a scowl who barely acknowledged us amateurs as we bimbled along sniffing and reading and staring at the sky as we went. Then another severe lady appeared ushering along three loud busy dogs held back on powerful leather leashes. She needed jack boots to complete the effect. Cheyenne barked back a bit as they took off down a side trail before we resumed our meander. I like walking a laid back dog but I do admire those brave souls that give a home to loud energetic and overly eager dogs.

It was a glorious sky overhead, finally the cold front had arrived bringing not cold weather but sunshine and blue skies.

I was having so much pointless fun meandering in amateur fashion, I was late for an appointment with my wife to water an absent friend's garden. My dog passed out after dinner, exhausted by the excitement of No Name Key in winter.

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