Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blimp Road

I have been enjoying the weather lately, a prolonged period of cooling north breezes similar to a prolonged early cold front. Cheyenne has expressed her joy by demanding long walks early each day after I get home. So instead of retiring to bed I will find myself out and about watching the sun come up.

I tried walking Cheyenne in the Spain Boulevard subdivision on Cudjoe Key but the dog doesn't seem to enjoy it for we reason. I love the sandy lanes wedged between hedges of palms, houses tucked almost out of sight behind huge lots, horse stables and mangroves. So in an inspired moment I took her to the north tip of the long straight line called Blimp Road.

The balloon known as Fat Albert, the aerial platform used to check the Straits of Florida for intruders, gives its name the the three mile section of dead straight road pointing north from Highway One. The blimp is tethered to a piece of land that is owned by the Air Force curiously enough, the only Air Force Base in the Keys. We are told it costs you $16 million a year to fly the balloon called Fat Albert on the sort-of secret base. I knew a guy who retired from a life of piloting the blimp from its ground station and I tried to find out more but his lips were sealed. A pity because as jobs go driving a blimp seems among the more esoteric even if not terribly interesting.

The refreshing winds have not only driven away mosquitoes, a pleasant change in itself, but they have also whipped up white caps in the channels and created the sort of crisp white sunlight that is typical of Florida in winter. Small dogs in heavy fur coats enjoy it very much, I'm told.

As I drove north from Spain Boulevard I saw a man swinging his arms vigorously as he strode along, passed by the stream of early morning vehicles driving out to the Air Force base and I stopped alongside him to offer a ride. He smiled and pulled his ear plugs out - he was exercising, silly me. He caught up to Cheyenne and I water's edge and pulled a one-eighty and marched back the three miles onwards the highway.

Aside from all the cars streaming into the Blimp Base and the early county workers opening the dump, Cheyenne and I were the lone dog walkers. But alone we were not, entirely, at the end of Blimp Road.

In winter the turn around space will be full of the vehicles abandoned by kayakers and canoeists and bored snowbirds will sit in their parked cars admiring the view across the channel. For now it is empty and unused except for the occasional happy Labrador.

 

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