Monday, July 2, 2012

The New Houseboat Row

It used to be that people chose to live on their houseboats in Cow Key Channel barely attached to the Key West seawall.

I have recently discovered a whole new community of floating homes a hundred miles north.

Cheyenne and I were traveling the 18 miles stretch to Florida City and I decided to pull off and stretch our half dozen legs. Across from the Anchorage Resort seemed ideal and that was where, to my surprise I found a whole new community.

The new 18 mile stretch, the primary road that connects the Keys to the mainland, was recently raised over the mangroves by a mile and a half long bridge. This has the unfortunate effect of cutting off the formerly roadside businesses so planners were required to connect the resorts to the now overhead US Highway One.

And there some boaters found a place to tie up to the columns and drop an anchor and live alongside the access road to the resort.

Not all the boats, I dare say, are full time residential homes.

But many of them show signs of being just that, with their dinghies and barbecues and potted plants.

It seems a slightly odd place to choose to live when you have the ability to anchor pretty much anywhere near a potential dinghy landing site.

Under the bridge means no hot sunshine beating down but it also means no sunlight to power solar panels, no refreshing rain to wash the boat and fill your water tanks, and above all endless rushing and roaring from the cars and trucks rumbling overhead.

Cheyenne liked her walk a d indeed we briefly passed an angler with his young dog heading back to the car. I marveled at the houseboats and their choice of location but all he could mutter was that it was free, with envy in his voice.

It wasn't the envy of a man planning. To do the same thing but the envy of a man lacking the determination to choose the same lifestyle, resigned to a life filled with modern conveniences shoreside and mutely resenting those with the nuts to choose a different path. He seemed sad and defeated so I chose not to ask for his picture.

I had as per usual managed to forget the repellent and the mosquitoes thought I was manna showered upon them from heaven. Luckily I don't get welts but my legs were black with sucking insects. And quite a few dead ones.

We strolled the bank till I could stand it no more,

...even distracting myself with the camera the bugs intruded on my serenity.

I pondered the life afloat I left behind seven years ago and...

...still fail to be sorry for the change. Good fellowship yes, but a life aboard a small boat tends to limit one's horizons paradoxically and standing around a camp fire tends to bring out the parochial in boaters.

I have heard it said that some people know the cost of everything and know the value of nothing. Sometimes boaters can get lost in where to find the cheapest hardware or the location of the free water spigot. It tends to make the philosophical man cringe in dread when the call goes out for a gathering of neighbors to get together and chat.

Yet in a world where alienation by television is the norm the is something t be said for the companionship of the boating world, the fringe dwellers who have to go further failed than the nearest mall for their shopping.

It may be "free" in terms of mortgage payments, if the boat is paid for, but there are lots of other costs involved in living off the grid on the water.

I'd rather I've out there than underneath the arches, but I like the night sky and the sound of rain on the deck and the silence of no cars. And I like philosophy more than I like pondering the cheapest possible cost of a widget.

Cheyenne would find living on a boat tedious. She likes grass and urban walks and riding in the car especially when I'm there to attend to her every need.

On the road again.

Nice views from the top of the bridge.

I usually travel Card Sound Road for a quieter drive but anytime I'm on The Stretch I'll be thinking about the houseboat row downstairs and wondering how they like the sound of my tires rumbling overhead.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Garythetourist said...

Nice essay Michael. I assume you were at the bridge that goes in front of and over Gilberts. I haven't stopped at Gilbert's for 25 years or more but it used to be a yearly ritual as I "island hopped" my way toward K.W. These days, as I pass by, I look down on Gilbert's (literally and metaphorically) and smile with memories.

Conchscooter said...

I think they must have lost tons of traffic thanks to the bridge, despite the DOT's best efforts.I often wonder who stopsoff at those roadside resorts.