If I need to get my dog exhausted without the fuss of working my way into Key West during the morning rush hour, a productive hour can be spent wearing her out on Stock Island.
Stock Island is where the workers live, where they retreat to just a mile outside the Big City where rents are marginally more affordable and where development threatens the trailer parks.
And trash takes on mysterious connotations of lost cultures and unknown rituals. They operate cock fights in secret on Stock Island and they pile their trash like obelisks by the side of the road.
El Mocho a real Cuban diner now open for dinner. There is no concession to beauty here where fisherman have coffee and talk in the morning, where fighter pilots in the know come from the nearby base to eat real Cuban food, where I come sometimes to have bacon and eggs and Cuban coffee and Cuban toast.
Sunlight cures all ills, including the architectural ills of slab sided cheap commercial construction made sparkling by a mirrored window.
School is a short scooter ride away, lunch tucked under the seat, Dad riding.
No helmet is not perhaps the optimal solution especially as Florida actually requires one for juvenile riders, but I like the style of riding to school. Start them early.
The West Marine store on Stock Island is a rather bland and uninspired building like so many around here. But give it some early morning sun and a few palm fronds...
Rock paper scissors or some variation thereupon as they wait for the school bus. Haitian kids find Cheyenne to be unnaturally large. I'd like her to eat several of them to bring the point home that we should be left alone, but as usual Cheyenne only pays attention to that which interests her and live people and animals rarely do.
There's lots of parking on Stock Island, which is a sidewalk-free zone.
And some people find pink to be the ideal color for their pimped ride. I find it over the top but one can't argue that it is a speck of color in a sea of drab industrial uniformity.
Perhaps they are relocating, perhaps not. Perhaps the plans for hotels and resorts and marinas and upscale housing have taken their toll. Perhaps the business has run its natural course. Change is good they say but I remain unconvinced.
Come all the way to the End of the Road to live in an apartment complex built in a style that completely lacks style of any kind. But it does have palms.
This is the kind of daily rider cycling I appreciate. No special clothing, no special machinery, practicality oozes everywhere out of machine and rider. Sometimes the demands of a sport's rigid fashion requirements make the sport itself too complex, too involved to be available for a simple moment outdoors. By the time you've suited up the moment is gone. These eminently practical daily riders around the Lower keys show us the way to daily satisfaction, even if it may be court mandated and a driver's license reinstated will end the practice.