Thursday, September 18, 2014

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Looking at the thermometer on my phone I was quite surprised to see it was supposed to be a modest 83  degrees. Faced with a  six mile ride home I wondered if it might not actually be closer to a windless 95  degrees.
I was as far south as I could conveniently go on Old Stat Road 939A on Sugarloaf Key, at the spot where the old road used to cross a tidal creek in he mangroves:
Just last week i was here on my boat checking out Tarpon Creek where the boat seen below was turning.
Only when I was here I drifted through the channel feeling far from civilization. This boater was playing a loud stereo that blasted 1980s dance music across the tops of the bushes making it seem like he was whistling to keep his spirits up as I watched the white canvas square twist and turn along the channel.
This is a popular spot for picnics and for ...trash:
Even though the last two miles of dirt track are now closed to motor vehicles.
Once upon a  time internal combustion could get you this far as I wrote  in 2007 :
Starting back in the mid afternoon heat I paused in a shady spot for a moment to take a picture that looked like this:
...but felt like this: 
I really prefer walking to cycling but Cheyenne has been reluctant to come out on this trail in recent years, even in the cool of winter so as an exercise in getting some exercise this seemed a good destination for my bicycle. I did walk a bit just to enjoy the peace and quiet of not being in control of a vehicle for a short while.
A friend sent me a few texts and I marveled at how connected we are, not a stunning revelation I know, but still the ability to be connected all the time in this age of electronic wizardry still catches me by surprise sometimes.
Here i was walking past a huge water filled hole in the track, surrounded by sodden discarded trash miles from any apparent neighbors and yet in my pocket not only did I have a phone, and several books but also a flashlight and a camera, a pocket calculator and an internet portal as well.
Humans have had bicycles - velocipedes - for more than a hundred and twenty years, two hundred if you don't need pedals and tires to count them as proper bicycles, yet I was born decades before a portable phone was even a possibility. I still marvel when I use it in any of its guises, from book buying to seeing my way in the dark, never mind taking and publishing these pictures.
Trash is a constant companion, here a pile of apparently household items including a coffee maker and a purse rotting under the rain and sun.

After getting off the dirt and back onto Highway One at Mangrove Mama's I turned east and crossed the bridge to Cudjoe and found myself on the newly  built section of the Overseas Heritage Trail. 

 Overseas Heritage Bicycle Trail is the page with all the information about the trail that will one day connect Key West to Key Largo, all 106 miles of it. And at least on Cudjoe Key they've done a really nice job converting the old Highway One roadbed into a partially shaded path separated from the modern roadway by a tall thick hedge.

The views are quite spectacular.
And where the trail crosses a street its separated from motor traffic. It crosses Highway One at open crosswalks which in winter require a fair bit of patience as traffic is heavy. 
Across the highway from Pirates Wellness Center (closing this month for ever unfortunately) the bike path is separated from the local access road by a  stout cement median, no expense spared:
The trail is a mish mash of solutions, and not all islands have this level of separate facilities. Not all the old Flagler bridges have been turned into bike paths unfortunately so sometimes bicycles have to ride on the shoulder of the Highway. 

However around here this new trail makes riding quite a pleasure.

And by the time I got home I was ready for a shower and a nap. My dog, abandoned for two hours had other ideas so after I parked the Trek I had to load up the Labrador for a walk. At least she enjoyed it.
And then it was all too soon time to go to work. I am lucky I love night shift as I can still take full advantage of daylight the nights I work.


dennis cleveland said...

Michael how do you do so much during the day when you work all night ? I also work nights (and days)...12 hour shifts. What's your secret ? Didn't mean to hijack the topic but I've been wanting to ask you...great pics by the way !

Conchscooter said...

Total darkness in the bedroom.
A silent neighborhood.
No obligations.
No alcohol.
I usually wake up, alarm free between 1and 2 pm. I go to work around 5:15. Lots of time to go for a bike ride!

On my nights off I go to bed at night in the normal way and get up in the morning alarm free. In the afternoon if I get sleepy I'll take a 30 minute nap.

During my shift I get a one hour break which I use yo either ride around town taking pictures but more usually in sleep on a cot in a storeroom.

Cheyenne gets minimum one long walk in the morning and a short one in the heat of the afternoon.
On my short weeks when I work two days I do my chores, dentist, car mechanic and all that.

I exercise every weekday enough to work up a sweat and I rarely go out at night. Smoke noise and crowded bars are not my scene. Written down it sounds horribly dreary but so far I have no health issues and take no medicines, glucosamine and psycillium excepted.

There. Confession completed! A colleague half my age asked the same question Tuesday night. I shrugged as I hadn't thought about it till then.

David Masse said...

Hi Michael, I saw the archive picture of your Triumph.

I find myself thinking more and more about motorcycles and whether I want one, and what motorcycle that might be. I look at sport bikes and know that's not what I want. I look at cruisers and think that might be a hoot, then I look at the Beemers GS and R types, and they look too Teutonic modern, and then I find myself having a soft spot for Triumph Bonnevilles and other similar models (love the badge, love the overall shape, love the chrome which seems like the right balance, etc., etc.

So basically I want your bike, I think.

Conchscooter said...

Can't have it sorry. The Bonneville gets panned for being boring but I find it easy to ride and all round capable.
First thing: find a bomb shelter so when you tell She Who Must Be Obeyed you want a bike you can take cover.