Friday, June 30, 2017

Night Waterfront

It was very early in the morning and Rusty was ambling by himself sniffing here and there and circling around me giving me time to look and see what I could see without the need to be lurched along at the end of a leash. It was liberating for both of us.
I noticed the lighted globes at the Marker Hotel recently sold I am told by developer Singh for one hundred million dollars. Which gives him play money to build more impossibly expensive accommodation in the town formerly believed to be quirky. We still see funky bicycles in Key West; all is not lost.
I am not an occupier of bar stools much. I have no facility for small talk and i struggle to remember the details of people's lives, their births marriages deaths and recent events. My own life seems to ebb and flow with a regularity that would frighten me if I thought too hard about it. Sitting on a bar stool trying to impress a stranger would make me pass out from over exertion. I have no idea how people do it, but look at this picture of well worn stools at Conch Republic Seafood and you'll see they do just that:
In keeping with it's city lease I assume, Conch Republic keeps commercial boats at it's docks, the remnants of a fleet that once filled the Key West Bight, now known to some as the Historic Seaport for those people who buy Singh's developments, and now this boat or two is here for a touch of authenticity.  
This is what the tourists want, comfortable seating, a solicitous captain kn knowledgeable of where the fish are and ready with a flow of cheerful soothing banter and cold drinks. 
This si the modern fishing fleet of Key west, the smelly commercial boats are banished, for now, to Stock Island, where the Monroe County government fights a desperate rear guard action trying to buy up commercial dockage to preserve an actual commercial fleet for a while longer. 
It was lovely at five in the morning, no traffic no people just me and my dog and my camera and the sound of the breeze. That's when the old Key West manifests itself a little bit from behind the stage paint of name brands and accessories and the vacant looks of those who don't know what thrill they seek.
By the time they come out to play Rusty and I were long gone home and to bed. Vampires both.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bernstein Park

It happened that the passenger window in my wife's convertible Fiat 500 decided to die with a  very loud crack as I was driving the car and opening the window at the same time. The glass didn't break but it gradually and inexorably sank slowly out of sight into the door. No amount of pressing the button brought it back, nor did my efforts to pry it back up to keep potential rain squalls out...Suddenly in this past week of sudden and very heavy rain we had a car repair emergency. Bugger.
Mind you my wife gets mad at me when I point out what a nuisance her car has been from time to time, I who had endless struggles to keep my classic Vespa P200 on the road, ultimately unsuccessfully...She notes I also broke the slider on the passenger window of her Sebring convertible, an incident I no longer recall.  Anyway she made the appointment and I drove the car to the shop so they could install new plastic runners for $350 to restore the window.
Rusty wanted to come along and he unlike my late lamented Cheyenne is much more flexible than the old Labrador so he hops in and out of the Fiat with no problem. So we went for a walk, as you do while the mechanics sweated in the non air conditioned shop. $350 seemed like a bargain thank you.
 We wandered past Bernstein Park which is getting a  massive make over. The eight million dollar project started over a year ago and has work still to be done.
 Konk Life magazine reporting on how county commissioners are sprucing up Key West's neighboring island:
Danny Kolhage said the change began with the last County Commission agreeing to build a new fire station on Stock Island, and has continued with the current Commission signing off on two new road and drainage projects for the area that will begin later this year.
“But the cornerstone of our efforts out here is this major capital improvement to Bernstein Park,” Kolhage said. “Bernstein Park, as you can see, sits at the heart of south Stock Island. It’s the only recreational area that this community has.”
The $7.9-million project will have a baseball field, soccer field, soccer practice field, playground, basketball court, exercise trail and new field lighting. It also will have a new 5,500-square-foot community center, with a large room and a smaller room for public use.
The project also will raise six acres of the park (the non-wetlands portion) by up to two feet to address flooding caused by rains and high tides that have hampered use of the fields. This will require about 20,000 cubic yards of additional fill.
The fields will have natural grass and be watered using rain water collected in cisterns and reclaimed water from Key West Resort Utilities.
I think the cause of all the walking spotted an iguana which was much more interesting to him. They don't allow dogs into Bernstein Park so I don't think he cares too much about the redevelopment.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Monochrome West Summerland Key

 I like black and white best when there are contrasts and textures that stand out.
 Rusty was busy sniffing out iguanas leaving em standing there with a camera in hand.

 It was a windy day.
 The old Bahia Honda railway bridge.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sunday Lunch

The goal was to get out to Tarpon Belly Key for lunch, using Robert's power cat hauling the fixings for a grilled lunch under the Australian pines. 
The mission was successful. We grilled burgers, drank lemonade, swam, talked exercised Roberts dog, who unlike Rusty is boat trained, and then I napped on the half hour boat ride back to the dock.  Oh, and I took pictures. 
It was a lovely day for it, classic blue skies white clouds and crystal clear waters.  Check it out:
Dolly and Robert, our hosts.
Tarpon Belly comes in two halves, the private island for sale for two million bucks I'm told, and the publicly owned half where the shrimp farm was based once upon a time. In between is a deep channel bridged by concrete blocks.   We were all familiar with the island and as Rusty was home I felt no need to explore, so I ate and swam and enjoyed the views. Then we packed up and skimmed home.
 Soon enough we were back in civilization. oh well. 
Florida living, year round. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fire Station 2

The new fire station on Simonton Street remains a thing of wonder to me, and there it sits after three years, doing its job after so much controversy to get it built.
The parking lot has remained much as it was except tidier and there is no panhandling zone, a sort of free speech place for residentially challenged people to hang out. But the news paper comment encapsulated the fury of some people at the tought of a new fire station where City Hall used to be:
City Hall was wrecked by Hurricane Wilma, not by flooding but by leaking roofs that rendered the building unfit due to mold. It had to go but the invective rained down.
I miss the shady parking alongside the city hall building seen above but the new fire station is nicely done and give a dog a place a to rest in the shade... well as a place for studious street people to pass the time. They get moved along at night but during the day this is a public space. Patience among the agreeably housed is running out though. They paid millions for their Conch Cottages and they didn't fork that lot over tos hare their retriement space with the brazenly poor. 
Rusty will hare his space with anyone no matter their wealth or status, gender, sexual identity, color race or creed as long as they are kind. Little wonder dogs appeal to me. Besides all that they never call 911, they deal with their own problems. Which come to think, may not always be ideal.
The hotel across the street was the source of much of the lamentation when plans were published but there seems to be a truce. The trouble with living in Old Town,never mind running a business is that buildings are very close together, and any minor change can have a huge impact. I wish changes could be made a little more gradually and with a lot more discussion because it's obviously easy for panic to set in among such tightly woven spaces. 
Not everything about the place is in the best possible taste, it has to be said.
Fire prevention is taken seriously in a town built of seasoned wood with structures standing cheek by jowl.
A properly housed fire department is an effective fire department.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bike Path

I have been encouraged to see work taking place on  various  old bridges in the Lower Keys so it seems like the bike path alongside the Overseas Highway is closer  to becoming a reality the length of the day. That thought put me in mind of  an essay I photographed last year on the bike path.

Florida Heritage Bike Path

You'd be astonished to see how many people ride this trail in the early morning darkness when I'm motorcycling home at 6 in the morning. Modern bicycle headlights on some bicycles are as bright as motorcycle headlights and as they make their way through the bushes they give the impression of a well off course motorized machine coming at you from the wrong angle.
Overseas Highway Bike Path
The state is bury making a true Heritage Trail all the way down the Keys and soon I hope to post some pictures of a new bridge the state has built connecting Summerland Key to Cudjoe. I am quite surprised to see so much bicycle-related road work going on but it is welcome. Frankly I wouldn't mind a whole bunch of shade trees even ones as slender as hurricane resistant  sabal palms to make the path more bearable in summer. 
Overseas Highway Bike Path
 I love seeing the winter riders out for a jaunt properly done up in safety gear and workmen's high visibility safety gear. This bright reflective stuff is everywhere part of the trend of passive "safety devices" designed to shift the responsibility for one's well being on others. When out riding I figure it's up to me to pay attention to look after myself and not to expect others to notice me, but I'm bucking all expectations there.
Florida Heritage Bicycle Trail
 The bicycle bridge is built on the foundations laid by Henry Flagler's railroad crew around 1911 which railroad was turned into a highway by the government in 1938 after Florida bought the right of way from the bankrupt railroad. And then World War Two require further upgrades as marked in the cement alongside the white water pipe on the "new" (1982)  road bridge. The first piped water from Miami was brought to Key West by the military in 1942. Prior to that residents of the Keys lived off cisterns and rain water which modern standards suggest is unhealthy. Who knew? About the only thing I miss from my house on Ramrod Key was the water cistern. I found it healthy and delicious.
Bike Trail Overseas Highway
A close up of some mangroves. Fascinating bushes are mangroves, sucking up salt water and expelling the salt to use the water. 
Florida Mangroves
 It was a strangely alluring view across the waters. You can see why people would bust a gut riding a bicycle around here.
Mangroves in Florida Keys
And when it all gets too exhausting they have the occasional bench facing the highway for a better view of cars passing in your face.
Florida Heritage Bike Trail
I really need to stop more often to enjoy this odd little spot.