Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cemetery Scenes

I can't get enough of the cemetery which is as  much for the living as the dead in this town. 
Walking in off White Street it's as though it as an extension of the world outside:
 In a country dedicated to the proposition that death is for other people the idea of enjoying a cemetery touches Americans the wrong way.
 For Conchs, forced by a high water table to bury their families above ground the cemetery is a place composed of memories.
 For historians it is the place where Key West, officially founded in 1828, is recorded, by birth and death.
 Some people complain the cemetery isn't kept up to their exacting standards, but these are the same people who complain about parking and speeding and noise and leaf blowers and trees (for trees or against trees as the mood takes them) and on and on. 
 Soon enough they will be silenced by the Grim Reaper and here they will be planted.
 The cemetery is a park, a place to rest and commune with the dead and their history.
 Tourists get trapped in here from time to time as the gates are locked at dark. 
 You can drive into the cemetery and ride a bicycle but motorcycles and scooters are banned thanks to persistent bad behavior. I rode my Vespa one last time in the cemetery the day before the ban came into effect probably 10 years  ago now. Unfortunately the cemetery can be a useful short cut and scooter riders were speeding on a mission to save time. A bit ironic in a cemetery.
 A canopy standing by for the next resident to arrive:

 Joseph Cullen Root originally founded the first group, Modern Woodmen of America (MWA), because he wanted to create a fraternal benefit society that would "bind in one association the Jew and the Gentile, the Catholic and the Protestant, the agnostic and the atheist."  While he succeeded with MWA being that type of organization, heated arguments resulted in Root and another man being evicted from the society.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Truman Waterfront Construction

I do miss the open spaces left by the Navy when they handed over 34 acres of former base to the city almost two decades ago. Tomorrow Important People will be open a child's park at Truman Waterfront in a symbolic re-opening of the entire space which is still largely a construction site. Change has finally come and a new park is sort of appearing from the debris and planning that is currently Truman Waterfront. As was:
As  is:
The  Navy warehouse was supposed to be saved but it was ruled too decrepit and swept away in the changes that are clearing Truman Waterfront and turning it into a neatly clipped park:
There are green spaces appearing between the broad avenues paved across the land:
One has to acknowledge it never was terribly trimmed  during the interregnum when no one had plans for the space. I enjoyed walking my dogs around here.
I shall be interested to see what this all ends up looking like by the time they are done. There are no plans to open up the waterfront to join the park to the Margaritaville property. The Hilton (and then Westin) owners made n move to bridge the gap to help create a waterfront walk all across town. Now Jimmy Buffett owns the place now but still no sign of change there.
I suppose it was too much to hope there might be some whimsy left in the old open space. I found this picture from a long while ago of Cheyenne walking near the old Navy guard huts at the entrance to the military property:
And the performance space has opened much to the irritation of residents. And yet neither the noise nor the traffic seems as bad as the critics suggested they might  be. Who knows maybe this new fangled park might work out.
Image result for truman waterfront amphitheater
I will miss the old unregulated open spaces but I am glad I enjoyed them while I could:
And the quirky illustrations of a way of life lost to Key West in the drive to be neat and clean and tidy:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Blimp Road

Blimp Road is one of the destinations where I walk Rusty from time to time.
 For some reason he likes it a great deal, running and sniffing and obediently sitting when the rare car drives by exploring a dead end street.
 I pass the time with my camera.
 I wonder how the wood got this morn.
I have no answers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stock Island Eats

I have a confession to make: I turned a corner last week and discovered a change in myself of which I am not proud. Key West is finally starting to rub off on me and not in a  good way. I used to make fun of people who couldn't be bothered to drive five miles across Key West saying it was too far. My wife once had a classroom aide in her school on Stock Island who quit the job a few weeks in as it was "too far" to drive across Key West  every day.To commute four miles for a road trip hound like me is nothing. I enjoy my 25-mile commute...and I was always critical of stores that needed two outlets to serve this small town. Fausto's the grocery has one on Fleming near Duval for Old Town residents, and another a mile away on White Street to serve New Town....Absurd I'm sure you'll agree.
What happened was Chuck and Wayne decided we were overdue dinner together so they asked my wife and I to choose a place to meet. I had been missing Cuban food at El Siboney lately and I suggested that to my wife who enthusiastically agreed. She was surprised when I explained I meant the new place, a few months old, on Stock Island. No need to drive "all the way" to the original location on Catherine Street. I caught myself: "all the way?" I was sounding like some homeboy afraid to leave his neighborhood.  But the truth is, driving to town from the Lower Keys where we all live was too far. We didn't want to deal with the traffic and all that parking nonsense in Old Town. I have joined the ranks of the absurdist population of these small specks of land.
 Dinner was fine and fortunately the former Rusty Anchor makes an excellent venue, clean spacious and quiet compared to the hustle and jostle of the tile floored original El Siboney, all noise and garish lights and loud staff. So now I have an excuse never to eat on Catherine Street again.
Then I had to take my wife to the airport for a flight to a conference and we rounded out a Stock Island visit at Roostica for a pre-flight lunch. I had a ridiculous sausage egg and cheese sandwich in best Italian-American style while my wife had more genteel eggs Benedict.
Stock Island is moving up in the world. Pretty soon we won't need to go to the metropolis of Key West and all that traffic and parking and crowding...I need to get out more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Escape Spring Break

I hate to sound like an old fogey but I remember when Spring Break changed the way Key West operated for about six weeks. It was an exhausting time in the Key West police department with all hands on deck, no leave and night after night of regular shifts or overtime. Young people came drank, got overheated, passed out vomited and fought. It was six weeks of hell and high wages..
These days hotel rooms are too vastly expensive for young people or their parents to front and hotels themselves see little value in upsetting all their other high paying guests by inviting in rowdy youngsters. Its a tough call in a  town where tourism is down 20 percent (they say) and  you might suppose drunk horny teenagers might help fill the gap. Instead it seems the trend  at Spring Break has moved away from paradise in the Keys to other luckier destinations.  I am okay with that, not least because there are still enough spring breakers to fill the beach and to spend some money and cause a  little police work late at night and keep us on our toes.
So when I left Key West after exercise Friday I stopped on the way home on a whim. Actually I stopped twice, the first time to get a fizzy caffeinated drink on Stock Island and then ten miles later I stopped the scooter just off the bike path at a funky little roadside gazebo near Bluewater RV park.
The traffic kept rolling  but I was stationary, in the sun, out of the wind for a few minutes. No one knew where I was or what I was doing nor why I was doing it. Not even my dog.  There were no pedestrians or cyclists and the cars streaming by in the 55 mph zone had occupants too busy to notice me off to the side in the bushes.
It didn't last. I got home, a 20 minute ride away.  Rusty looked up and plopped back down. I went upstairs to shower off the dried sweat of exercise.
There are no Spring Breakers on my street. I hardly know why I needed to stop but I'm glad I did.

Monday, March 26, 2018

West Summerland Key

I am acutely aware of the next hurricane season which starts in a couple of months.

West Summerland Key, near Bahia Honda is still wrecked of course from Hurricane Irma.
I still miss the lush greenery from years past, seen here with Cheyenne enjoy the shade.
The stumps of the trees are sprouting leaves in a pathetic way.
As it was:
As it is since last September:
Next to the Seven Mile Bridge we have Veterans Memorial Park. As was:
As is:
The park is closed but I saw some people frolicing in the waters of the park last week.Good for them.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


The obsession Key West suffers from with its wild chickens seems to me could be represented better by this flag than the Conch Republic standard:
 I was fascinated by this lump of iron lurking in a  flowerbed:
 Another Hallmark Holiday came and went:

 I have no idea what this thing is. It came from pennsylvania I think and was nicely built though whether a camper a workshop or a shed I couldn't tell. It lacked some key West quirk in its decoration or lack thereof.
 Yesm, bananas grow and ripen in the wild in Key West. Don't pick them even if they hang over the street.
 Chickens galore.