The solstice means it's quite dark until close to seven in the morning. I get home at 6;30 change out of my uniform after my fulsome greeting by Rusty, then we get in the car and rive to a different location each day for a walk. I have found variety fuels a dog's imagination as much as it does a human's though I do tend to choose longer walks for days when I feel fresher after a night spent taking 911 calls. Some mornings I am too frazzled for much.
The plan this morning was a quick walk at the end of Niles Road on north Summerland Key. I turned north opposite the Mobil gas station and drove to the end of the pavement. I noticed the tide was extremely low and I got an idea. We arrived at the old wooden bridge to nowhere and before Rusty knew what I was doing I swept all sixty pounds of him into my arms and put him on the bridge. He liked that, as he has a lively curiosity.
Years ago Cheyenne and I came out here but she wasn't going on the bridge as it was beyond even me to lift her 100 pounds over my head...I did walk the bridge the last time in 2008 the year before I got Cheyenne so I knew what was at the other end of it (nothing).
Nowadays there is a massive ladder attached to the end of the bridge where in the old days I scrambled up using steel spikes hammered into the pilings by somebody for that purpose. You can still see them sticking out of the wood.
From the bridge the view was quite lovely at dawn and the gnats and no-see-ums hadn't found me- yet.
Some fisherman left some reeking bait in a bag on the bridge. Rusty was grateful even if I wasn't.
It was a hefty construction apparently designed to carry vehicles. The bridge looks very similar to the bridges I have seen in old pictures connecting the various Keys before the single unified road was built. I took this picture of a bridge near Key West from the book Charlotte's Story.
I was kicking myself for leaving behind my big camera,m the one with the telephoto lense but as usual my iPhone 6 acquitted itself remarkably well all things considered.
The northern end of the bridge does not present an implacable cliff figuring I guess that if you got this far you might as well have an easy step off into the mangroves.
However the trail is nothing but a small line between cleared bushes, more or less muddy with no sign of any construction of any kind. It's as though someone thought about developing this small island and built a massive bridge before plans fell through. I timed it as a 15 minute stroll to a point where the trail got more muddy than it was worth struggling to walk on and we turned back. It seems some people land near here by boat and have built a fire pit now overlooked by a rather severe sign:
The blue dot marks the spot as screen- shot on my iPhone map:
At the bottom of the picture you can see the asphalt parking area at the end of Niles Road and the trail to the bridge, the straight gray line. The island is utterly devoid of traces of development. Which suited Rusty.
Oddly enough there was a solar shower hanging in a bush which was also decorated with several shampoo bottles perched in the branches. At first glance it seems idyllic but there again you weren't walking in a swarm of no-see-ums which landed on the tiniest piece of bare flesh not exactly sprayed with repellent. I swallowed them by the mouthful when I breathed. It was obnoxious walking with my head in my own private cloud of hovering gnats. To strip naked to wash seemed like torture of the worst kind.
The only problem remaining was the descent back to Summerland Key by my sixty pound Carolina Dog who, when he realized he had to throw himself into my arms got rather restless. I stood in the shallow water and reached up for him while making soothing noises. He allowed himself to be caught when all other options were clearly not going to work. I carried him safely to the dry land and the walk was about done.
It was a memorable morning one way and another.
He forgave me for manhandling him.