Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Smathers Beach

It looks like nowhere much like Key West, yet this strip of sand and palms is in fact what the undeveloped south shore of the island looks like to the east

Looking east toward the airport the beach curves round and the sand fades away yielding to a cement seawall. In the picture below the seawall is masked by the pile of drying seaweed bunched ashore by the currents.

It's hot and bright and shade free along the seawall yet they bike walk and jog out there, most in the cooler dawn and dusk periods.

There are still some uninformed people who come to the Keys for sandy beaches but sand beaches are the exception around here. The Keys are formed of rock, not sand like mainland Florida, so beaches here are more like gravel than soft sand. This stuff was imported by barge to keep users happy.

The waters off the beach are shallow for a long way out so swimming is more akin to paddling close inshore.

The old Navy officers' barracks are now the pink Key West By The Sea condos reportedly built of solid cement and tougher than any hurricane that has blown in so far.

Speed traps are common out here so beware. Florida has a rather weird law that does not allow for tickets within five miles of the speed limit which is worth knowing. Driving recklessly around the crowds of pedestrians along the beach is another matter entirely.

The red number eleven marks the ramp entrance to the beach. It's worth knowing in case you have to call for help. The cops refer to the ramp numbers on the radio all the time when they patrol the beach.

Given it's limitations it is quite the idyllic spot for people seeking exotic palms on sand.

Smathers used to be lined with parking meters that irritated some residents beyond belief. They are gone now, and comments in the paper thank City Commissioner Wardlow for following through on his campaign promise. Free parking for beach goers!

Some residentially challenged people occasionally gather at the tiki huts on the beach though their preferred venue is Higgs Beach. I happened to notice a new fence being installed along the beach at Higgs which will bear investigation.

The beach was named for Florida US Senator George Smathers, a friend and confidante of President Kennedy. They were handsome young playboys together in the nation's capital at a time when the press was rather less intrusive than today.

Smathers Beach was also a front line defense equipped with missile batteries during the Cuban Crisis of 1962, far removed from today's diversions.

Rent a chair, lie on a beach towel, rent a boat or swim in the ocean

Smathers Beach smothered during spring break, sought out by crowds in winter and summer, currently enjoying a little down time before school gets out and families swarm.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad