Thursday, April 30, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I am not looking forward to the next year and a half of planned road reconstruction between Big Coppitt (Mile Marker Ten) and Key Haven (Mile Marker Five) when the state is planning to repave the four lane highway. Apparently the engineers came to Key West to plan the two-and-a-half-year wreckage that was the reconstruction of North Roosevelt and when they drove the four lane highway they were appalled by what they found. It is a nightmare of pot holes and torn asphalt, worthy of a forgotten African highway in the early stages of self destruction. So I'm glad it will get rebuilt but it means more road works for ever and ever Amen. The Boulevard work seems to have been brilliant mind, with properly timed traffic lights and no flooding yet in the mild rains we have had so far. I have high hopes for the next round of work and look forward to a billiard table smooth highway out of Key West. Next year.
Meanwhile downtown Key West has been torn up for much of the winter for sewer work or some other thing. I have to say it was bizarre seeing the streets in the busiest part of town at the busiest time of year closed off for construction work and now the city is not completely saturated with people the machinery has moved out of Duval and Eaton and Simonton Streets. Judging by the picture above it would seem it is now Greene Street about to be torn up.
The sign above amply expresses the lack of giving a toss that exemplifies the mass tourist economy. I know that running a business costs money but a lick of paint would work wonders for a lot of the tatty smudged and grody downtown businesses. And the duct tape (or more accurately boat tape) to "clarify" the sign just looks like shit. I mean if you are going to overcharge people couldn't you at least do it with style and grace?
So I close with a few early morning street scenes, the time I like best in Old Town. The streets are dirty because the cleaning crews haven't got here yet and drinking from nasty plastic cups and throwing them in the street is the kind of tourism our civic leaders are eager to promote. But if you look beyond the signs of the night's excess the city retains its small town charm, its tropical warmth and bright colors and its variegated roof lines.
Some people can already be heard moaning about the summer heat that can be felt during the day. I love it. I sleep in air conditioning but I have shady areas outside my house to sit with my dog and read ( I read she watches the world go by) and I enjoy the lassitude of being in the heat without the need for doing.Dry heat makes my skin itch and renders my hair like straw but summer in the Keys is an invitation to enjoy the shade, go swimming and to go for moonlit walks with your dog. I hope the snowbirds never figure out how lovely Key West is in the summer. I've been in Kansas in July and I cannot imagine the attraction. July in the mountains....well that's different.
I like summer in Key West and if I can find the time to blast up to New England this summer once again for a few weeks away I wouldn't mind. Luckily summer lasts easily into October here and swimming season usually ends near November with the second real cold front. I have a busy summer ahead so I may have to stay close to work in Key West but that will be okay too.
Doug Bennett of blogging fame enjoys his retirement in Key West, always a cheery greeting for passersby from his Caroline Street home. Check him out when you stroll by.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Then there is my hero, the amazing Roberto Patrignani who raced motorcycles, wrote about them and traveled all over the world on unsuitable machines. For some reason Italians are particularly good at riding Vespas in improbable places and I grew up on a diet of such adventures, so to me the idea of an elderly two stroke scooter as a travel adventure machine makes perfect sense. Low maintenance, low cost, easy to ride and easy to lift up when it falls over, equipped with a spare wheel and a fan to keep the engine cool these simple rugged machines epitomize freedom to me. And I'm not alone. check the modest partial list below:
General Lee, 50cc Around the World
Elefantentreffen By Vespa
Stergios Gogos -Around the World in Greek
La Vida Vespa by Markus
This German's exploits are particularly close to my heart as he rides the exact same type and year Vespa that I am riding, a 1979 P200...
On his English language website (link) Markus also known as Don Calvo (which means bald in Italian, the language of Vespas), says he traveled 13,000 miles across 31 European countries.
A young German lad took off for the Americas and rode Alaska to Patagonia on what I consider to be a grossly overloaded Vespa 125 ex-Postal Service. He had a few mechanical issues, notably the suspension which is hardly surprising when you look at his load...His blog is very efficiently translated into decent English.
Two Crazy Germans In The Middle East
The Americas By Vespa 150 by Illario Lavarra
On this Facebook page you can read about a group of Modern Vespa riders crossing the USA and ending up in Key West. I had hoped to meet them but I had no luck and am limited to their Facebook Page.
This Canadian couple has no visible website, but here's what I found in the press: LINK and more recently: LINK
Personally I find the prospect of riding a complex computer driven modern scooter long distances rather more daunting, but I am a creature of my generation. I hope this is all food for thought if you thought you knew all there is to know about idiots riding "mopeds."
Orin at Scootin Old Skool also ran my story on his well known blog: Scootin' Old Skool about the whys and wherefores of my choice in three parts.