Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rusty Does The Bridal Path

Cheyenne died about 6 weeks ago and I have been trying to move ahead but I miss her still and taking Rusty to the places we used to visit together has been wrenching. The thing is he seems to enjoy these spots as much as she did when she was younger and more active.
Six years is a long time and it is no fault of Rusty's that I miss her. He is becoming an ideal dog, easy to live with, obedient and very loving, qualities sometimes that you had to look for hard in Cheyenne as stubborn and undemonstrative as she was. Rusty is like a puppy compared to her steady easy self confident walks and as much as I want him in my life I am reluctant to let go of Cheyenne completely. I keep expecting to see her one more time.
Life goes on and Rusty is full of it, even in the heat of the last few days. 
The Bridle Path parallels South Roosevelt Boulevard, twin sandy tracks underneath the palms, the place where supposedly Key West could exercise horses. Sometimes it's misspelled "Bridal" which makes me laugh.
It has a fair bit more to see than we explored on this, Rusty's first visit to the wooded section away from the road: 
Above you see the modern view and below with a little manipulation I made the place look old, with my Labrador looking at me wondering why so many pictures...
...and Rusty doing his thing:
All manner of traffic rushes by on the nominally 30 mile-per-hour South Roosevelt Boulevard.
With a frisky young dog like Rusty the leash is a bit of a requirement as he could be in the roadway in two bounds.

 New arrivals at the airport miles from downtown and not looking for a cab surprisingly.
 All that traffic and a time for a short pause to look at the ocean and contemplate.
 Unless you have a dog to walk.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Coconuts On Duval Street

I stopped for a juice on Duval Street, a reflection perhaps that summer is here. It's hot, no two ways about it. I read of blizzard warnings in the Rocky Mountain states and I have no doubt the prospect of skiing is going to render them almost as giddy as the possibility of enough snow pack to end assorted droughts. Splendid.

Rusty does quite well in 90 degrees but his tongue does come out and he does seek out the shade. He has no taste for puddles and relies on me to supply clean water from the trunk of the car.

You can buy a coconut (complete with a straw) downtown for something around five dollars, a practice I find odd as they offer more than can be he with a straw. They get thrown out with all that white meat tucked inside. When I was a child a coconut was a rare thing, a once-a-year fruit and now I find them falling into my yard at a rate greater than I can deal with them.
Spring Break is winding down they say but you wouldn't know it as traffic on the highway is constant and Duval Street is busy. The heat is the harbinger of summer and this is the time of year one looks forward to the change of season. Then by September one will be ready for that other change of season, back to winter. It looks like endless summer, and sometimes it feels like it.

Rusty doesn't much like Duval Street with all the noise and crowds so I am making an effort to walk him as much as I can. But it is getting a little hot for that.





Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rusty Does Wawa

I was told there is this cool new gas station from Up North which is starting to penetrate Florida. I went to a Wawa when I rented an Indian motorcycle on the last day of last year and I found the sandwich okay and the lines inside daunting. While traveling through the Tampa area after visiting the Dali museum on Easter Saturday we decided to to let my critical gourmet wife make her own judgement. 
Wawa is a family enterprise from Pennsylvania and the rather absurd name comes from the village where the chain was founded, though why any English speaker would name their home town after the sound of the squawk of a newborn infant is beyond me. Be that as it may, Wawa has decided to enter the Florida market and they have got this far south so far as I can tell. Like Yuengling they are a prized institution in Pennsylvania and apparently they are to be appreciated now in the Sunshine State. Yuengling is my cheap beer of choice and I quite like it. Wawa is okay but not as special as people will tell you.  
I walked Rusty to the place where my wife brought food and we sampled the hot menu. Philly cheese steak got a thumbs up with decent bread but the mac and cheese with sriracha poured over it was not satisfactory. The cheese was not flavored like cheddar and the thing was  glop in a plate. The potato soup was okay but not particularly flavorful. Had it been 50 degrees not 87 it might have done more for us.
My wife said she liked the look of the fresh salads and we agreed that salad and a cold sandwich might be our go-to items for Wawa in future if looking for road food. We do that at Wendy's where they make a decent Asian salad and you can get a topping-free baked potato if you have a hankering for a spud. 
My mind still boggles at the sight of gas that costs less than two bucks a gallon. I fear the consequences of this inexplicable dive in the cost of energy but we have lives to live and filling up the car for twenty bucks seems a luxury in a world of increasing prices. Rusty just enjoyed watching the world go by. 
Wawa is an odd place. It reminds me partly of the Italian Autogrill freeway restaurants, fast food done well:
Italian Freeway Food, Autogrill

The man in black below is looking up the menu on a display and ordering his items through the touch screen. The workers behind the counter fill the order and bring it to you. 
You select drinks and accessories, or pick up cold items from the displays.
 And go to the pick up window to pay and there you are.
And copious quantities of alcohol are also available. One odd note is they don't carry a full line of sodas in cans so coke zero is only available in a bottle which I find less cold than when the fizzy sugar water is wrapped in aluminum.
 We cut across country driving state and federal highways across Florida. We have made it a point to see as much of the state as we can as we enjoy road trip so there weren't surprises in store for us along these roads. Having said that Robert Wilson introduced me to a new place to visit, this time in Lakeland, close by where we  passed: Frank Lloyd Wright For now I contented myself with photographing more typical Florida architecture which I labeled as Rusty and rusty houses on my Facebook page. 
We stood around with some Mexican men who were roasting peppers and cutting up fruit and ate chunks of out of a cup with lime juice and hot peppers scattered over the fruit. We shared a roasted corn cob smeared with queso fresco  and more pepper flakes and were reminded of journeys to Mexico, and we were rendered nostalgic. It was a bit of a contrast to our lunch.
Rusty is a superb car traveler curled up like a little red fox on the back seat but ready with a  stretch and a yawn to come out into the world for the occasional walk. He had been rendering the car fragrant with his farts for some tens of miles which naturally came as the highway was bordered by fences and no place to walk. At last we found a spot and I backed up to the opening. He ran and romped and gamboled and fell into a rather full ditch. I dreaded the smell but he shook off the water, rolled in the grass and loped up to me with his tongue hanging and a big grin on his face. He smelled of water  and dead leaves and we went back to the car where he had a proper drink and a treat and composed himself for sleep.
We entered the Keys in the dark as planned when traffic had subsided and had a swift trouble free drive home. We had a snack and a glass of wine while Rusty passed out, not on his couch but in his crate for which he seems to be developing a fondness. Strange dog. I think he was relieved to be home and ready to sleep off the effects of his first long road trip. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dali And Disney

Next time we are in St Petersburg we will visit the Museum of Fine Arts but my wife had heard about this exhibit and was hell bent on seeing it. 
I had no idea Dali spent his war time years in the US collaborating with Walt Disney but the show demonstrated what a profound influence  surrealism had on Disney. Indeed looking at animated movies from the 30s you would hardly credit the saccharine corporation of today with being rooted in such outrageous short films. 
The exhibit drew quite a crowd comparing the lives of Dali in Catalonia which reminded me of my Italian childhood and Disney growing up in Missouri which reminded me of nothing in my life. I found it odd to be suspended in the worlds created by the two men, one from my youth and one from my adulthood. I saw movie influences which I recognized from later films rooted in the art work of Dali and the film scenes he created for Hitchcock and Disney. They were as was explained in the exhibit, artful self promoters though I saw Disney as more of a sell out to the mainstream while Dali stuck to his grotesque dreams and sold them anyway to a public at large seeking some contact with his world of art. There was a museum full of people to see it:
 Which reminded me of his ant obsession:
I pondered whether people really would drink from or swim in the fountain outside were there no sign prohibiting such activities.  It seemed rather surreal to me:
We spent a couple of hours wandering and headed back to the car with the air conditioned dog inside sleeping.
I was surprised the parking lot upstairs was as empty as it was considering how many people were inside the place. Perhaps they preferred to park in the sun closer to the building itself.  Walking is not a popular pastime but most people in Florida would rather park in the shade. 
I liked the shapes so I took a picture and here it is.
And the surrealism did not stop at the museum gates. Walking the ever patient Rusty we found this sign which made no sense to me.
We saw no alligators. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rusty Tours St Petersburg

The day started as one might expect.  
 I left the hotel room to load the car. Rusty has some separation anxiety still.
We have found a couple of Asian restaurants we like in St Petersburg. So, rather uncharacteristically we went back to pay them another visit. The sandwich shop also sells Boba Tea which is now rather less fashionable among non Asian people but I still like tapioca. I went all in and had the Durian version. My wife, less adventurous and smarter had soursop. I have to say Durian tea was a  bit rough honestly as the pungent aroma of rotten onions and vinegar wa sin my nose and the sweet custard flavor was in my mouth. My wife said my breath smelled of rotten eggs for some time. Not my best food choice of the day. And her soursop tasted sweeter.
We walked Rusty downtown and he did quite well in public. He's getting better on the leash staying directed, he responds to his name and he does okay around people, mostly. He still shys away from loud people or people dressed in bright colors(!).
The Vinoy Basin where I lived for a  summer in 1989 I think. I was at anchor here and eventually moved into the marina next door when using the dinghy to get to the car to get to work got tedious. Summers on the west coast get really wet and thundery.

These kids were bent over their phones in the waterfront park, but they may have been listening to the live music coming from the yacht club.
 Rusty got freaked out and started pointing...yes that black and white dot was a dog on the opposite side of the street minding his own business. That's how freaked out he was while living as a  stray. 
 Danger passed he got back into normal dog mode.
 Segway Tour. They looked really weird to me, like clockwork ducks or something.
I like not having squirrels in the Keys. Rusty restrained himself and didn't pull my arm out of it's socket. He's a terrible coward, ready to chase small stuff yet quaking at the sight of a large dog miles away.
 Shakespeare in the park would be nice. We just saw the set under cloudy skies.
We went for dim sum, a meal we cannot find in Key West and listened to the conversation at the snowbird table next door where they discussed boating misadventures, broken engines and storms and so forth. Which turned out to be entertaining as service was not fast.
The picture on the wall reminded me of the Top Gear motorcycle adventure in Vietnam where they ended their epic journey converting their motorcycles into boats to reach the houseboat finish line. And that's all I know.
 Hot tea and rice cakes waiting for the main event.
 The dumplings were okay, shrimp and peanut was different, but the fried calamari...
 ...were surprisingly large balls of deep fried chunks of quite tough squid. The eggplant was oddly flavorless and the ribs were just okay. It was an odd meal but every now and again things don't quite go one hundred percent. I guess it was an off day as the previous visit was excellent and we will try again. 
 I was reminded outside the hotel that I was no longer in the Florida Keys:
 I got beaten up once in St Peterburg delivering pizza decades ago. They threatened to stab me but I went at them with the pizza box, my only weapon. Luckily the customer had ordered a large which made a useful foil but I took a fist to the eye and the delivery had to be aborted. I felt bad for the mother stuck at home wanting a treat. I prefer life south of the Big City.