Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gilbert's Resort, Key Largo

I was driving home from the mainland and for some reason I decided to stop my impetuous flight on Highway One and take a break. Actually Rusty hadn't stretched his legs for a while and he was the reason. I decided to take a tour without actually getting out of the car of Gilbert's Resort.
It used to be right alongside the Highway and there was this drawbridge across Jewfish Creek. I took this picture in 2008 as the new flyover was just being opened:
This used to be the main road and traffic was swept right pas the front door of Gilbert's. The future did not look bright when they took out the drawbridge and closed the connection to the other side of the creek. I figured people would be too busy whipping by on the bridge up above...
As usual my economic prognostications were all wet. Gilbert's seems to be doing fine thank you and it's not surprising. This is your first Keys encounter, a place where you can sleep, eat and drink right on the waterfront in a suitably tropic resort atmosphere. 
The motel itself is decidedly old fashioned...
 ...and the surroundings are only glamorous in the context of the traditionally run down tropical ambiance that visitors expect in the Keys:
A few coconut palms have grown up around the sign marking the turn off to Gilbert's, thus obscuring the view, but this 2008 picture clearly shows the height of the bridge over the resort;
It's a huge construction:
And you do get splendid views from on top of the  bridge. 
Of Gilbert's, open water, mangrove islands. Worth a view.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Smathers Beach

A hot  day at the beach and at last it seems like there may be a few hints that the summer tourism drive is letting up a little bit. 
I paused on my way to work so these pictures were taken a little before six in the evening, and I took the time to play a little with my iPhone camera. 
Check out the smoothness of the sand in the next two pictures. I took photos of the tracks in the sand left by the tractor that tows a seaweed harvesting machine to clear the beach each morning around dawn. 
There were so few people on the beach that large areas of sand were left undisturbed all day by human feet.
Smathers is named for a Florida US Senator who was a contemporary of President Kennedy and who shared it is said a similar taste as the president in amorous adventures. Somehow he got the largest beach in Key West named for himself. Playboy Beach doesn't have quite the same ring to it, I think.
 The best time of year to enjoy this mile of silky imported Bahamian sand in relative solitude.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Bridle Path

It was hot and sticky and I was pretty sure Rusty would be too tired from walking downtown to spend too much time here. I was wrong.
An hour later...we half finished exploring the Bridle Path and i could see he was ready to keep going despite his tongue hanging down to his knees.
 A Busy Dog.
 The Bridle Path used to be where horses were exercised, though these days you are much more likely to see humans and dogs here traveling parallel to South Roosevelt Boulevard.
The ocean view across the street attracts lots of walkers and riders to the wide sidewalk on the other side of the street.
 It's the route I use when I have to spare coming into town.

 Bicycle anyone?
 This area is known as  the "swale" as we shall  see.

 The salt ponds were supposed  to produce salt but now they are just swamp.
 Very pretty but swamp nonetheless, occasionally kayaked.
 No camping on the swale... defined as a marshy depression.
 Rusty wasn't camping technically, he was just resting.
I like the Bridle Path and now I can trust Rusty not to run out into the four lane street we might come back here more often.

 A successful morning. He ignored me, ignored food and passed out.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Key West Fences

Some random pictures of  buildings that caught my eye walking Rusty early one morning. They were all taken between Virginia Street and United Street roughly between Bayview Park and Casa Marina. 
I noticed home many barricades the homes showed off between themselves and the street

This house had no fence or hedge on this side owning to the garage apparently but it showed  a lovely blank face to the world: 
A hedge above a fence:
A fence at the former May Sands school possibly being repaired:
A cement fence protecting an electrical substation:

A guardhouse indeed:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Key West Life

On Tuesday Florida holds its primary election and I have to confess I suffer this election season rather than feel energized by it. Florida has become the poster child for gerrymandering with a majority of people registering as Democrats and both houses returning veto proof majorities of Republicans. The Democrat primaries are things of ugliness as the state party falls into disarray over the possibility of candidates actually facing the chance of election in the year Donald Trump weakens the national Republican Party. I guess we none of us are at our best when confronting the grim possibility of success. I am in two minds about voting at all, the first time casual corruption and social indifference has brought me this low. 
But I live in the Florida Keys and in this happy place elections mean not very much if like me you live in the county. Lots of names pop up, none of them too familiar and incumbents rule the roost so things will continue bumbling forward vision-free for a few more years I suppose. However two things stand out this year that cause me some heartburn locally. One is the hospital and the other is Mosquito Control. And both are producing some deeply weird and disturbing public stances. 
The newspaper reported on August 24th that a woman doctor at Lower Keys Medical Center filed a lawsuit against a male doctor who yelled and grabbed her one day in March while disagreeing over treatment options for a patient. She apparently decided to try to get him arrested for battery but responding officers declined in the grounds that four months had passed since the alleged neck grabbing incident. The newspaper reports she called police after her complaints to hospital authorities failed to yield results. And now this fiasco has gone public. Timing as they say is everything. 
 The reason I find this story of a workplace disagreement so compelling is because this dormant incident has been re-awakened at the exact same time that the hospital is in huge disarray and may see its contract with local authorities canceled. The CEO of the place was fired after it was revealed she notched profits up to an unheard of 32% of income a feat that merited abject praise from her for-profit bosses, but got her fired instead after local patients started a boycott of the hospital for its inhumane  treatment and billing practices. So in the news pages we learn of ineffective support of female staff while on the back page the hospital seeks understanding just as elections approach. 
Influential citizens want the contract with the Tennessee based health treatment system rescinded and they want a return to a locally owned community hospital. Which means elected leaders are shitting themselves as they face unremitting demands that they do something real. I've read quotations from local victims of this third world hospital expressing outrage that profit comes before patient welfare. A sentiment I have felt all my life and never expected to see it on everyone's lips suddenly, but when half the patient roster seems to be in court with instant final demands for payment from the Gauleiter of Lower Keys profit starts to look ugly. Wait long enough and every shade of human behavior will parade in front of you in this astonishing community. 
While the hospital's future may take a couple of election cycles to sort out Mosquito Control may face changes very soon.  A British company called Oxitec has a plan to release genetically modified mosquitoes on the secluded island of Key Haven just outside Key West as part of the struggle to contain Zika world wide. Unfortunately Key Haven is packed with wealthy white influential citizens who resent their opportunity to take one for the team and help eradicate the non-native disease bearing aedes egypti mosquito. It turns out the ranks of the wealthy on Key Haven are also loaded with conspiracy theorists of the sort who know that climate change is rubbish and everything they know about genetic engineering they learned at the movies. Check out this Facebook conversation by Never Again. 
Oh yes, bumper sticker politics will be making a return. Personally I'd be happy to see Oxitec loose the mutant mosquitoes in my neighborhood not least because after wondering what was going on it became apparent to me the opponents of Oxitec are a bunch of nutters. These are people who will happily pay thousands of dollars for dogs bred to exasperation but fear mosquitoes bred for impotence. Some of them worry impotent mosquitoes may one day bite their children rendering them impotent and the Zika outbreak in Brazil is the product of scientists tampering with nature for profit! Meanwhile they forget these same scientists eliminated yellow fever and polio and smallpox and gave us middle class First Worlders lives of ease and free from the permanent anxiety of sickness borne by insects. There's gratitude! Whooping cough anyone? Got plague? Need measles? Fear vaccinations?
I was listening to the radio in a recent drive to the mainland and the scientist interviewed said human brains are wired to see patterns and historically our Neanderthal ancestors were predisposed to believe the rustling in the underbrush was a threat because that was how the smart members of the tribe survived. Which has led us to be gullible in the modern era and to seek patterns where none exist. We like our universe to be well ordered, not chaotic. I find myself suddenly slipping further and further out of the norm in old age, like a space walking astronaut letting go of the tether preferring to spin off into outer space alone and unsupported. It's where my reluctance to vote is taking me. 
The line between seeking order in the universe and swallowing a conspiracy theory is suddenly razor thin in my view and thus it becomes easy to assume a hospital lawsuit is a way to pile pressure on our leaders to make difficult changes. But that theory at least carries no determine the outcome for the public at large. It may or may not be a coincidence and leave it at that. 
On the other hand some theories carry very real consequences. It's easy to assume Mosquito Control wants to wreck our white middle class DNA by offering lab space to a company that seeks to eradicate disease. So action is better than inaction, myth trumps facts, ignorance is no longer bliss it is a call to action. The entirely wrong action no doubt but action nonetheless. And I can't swallow that. I just can't. Next time you eat a hamburger you are eating cow DNA and that no more makes you a cow than getting bitten by a mosquito makes you a mosquito. But the planet is overburdened with people so I suppose selective self destruction may well be worthwhile. My only wish is that the idiots who deny climate change be the first to drown, that those who prefer chemical mosquito control to DNA mutants be the first to get yellow fever and let none of them be elected to office next Tuesday as so many primaries are essentially uncontested. Fat chance. So expect continued environmental degradation more diseases spreading and less rational discussion about how to deal with it. None of this is new, Shakespeare wrote about it centuries ago: