Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rusty And I

I woke up quite early and I did not want to get up but the plan was to walk Rusty and then go to exercise class then walk Rusty some more then go home and knock off a bunch of chores for the rest of Friday. So yes I did roll out of bed and scoop Rusty up and I drove him to town where I tried out my new to me camera. First picture on Frances Street at Olivia next to the cemetery:
I stood around seeing what I could try with the new camera and without Rusty's cooperation.  He darted off to smell things.
Learning to customize the white balance took a bit of practice and some pictures ended up with rather more exotic lighting than I first intended. Rusty was somewhat impatient and as he had to be back in the car in forty minutes when I went to broga I sympathized with his impatience.
Key West has been living through a series of weekend summer events, seafood and mango celebrations, Hemingway Days and so forth as the city stays busy during the less tourist part of the year. Weekends still see tons of traffic coming down the highway but things have quieted down a bit.
And temperatures have heated up quite a bit too. Everyone is moaning about the stifling heat and outdoor work seems particularly rough at the moment. But it is still the time of year when empty second homes get their makeovers.
There is a storm brewing in the Caribbean, which as it is July is not exactly news but memories of Hurricane Irma ( and Wilma and Andrew and Georges and on and on) all crowd in as we watch the little crosses and circles from and dissipate on the National Hurricane Center map.
There have been a surprising string of afternoon thunderstorms this year, almost as though this were the west coast of Florida where afternoon downpours are an almost daily feature with lightning and all the fireworks. Rusty has not been enjoying the noise which has been imitating the huge thunderheads Up North.
Key West keeps on keeping on. A city founded in 1828 has been through quite a lot of weather, not to mention fire but all that was not enough to end the city's existence. Bankruptcy nearly did it in the Great Depression but tourism arrived just in time to save it.
Me? I'm saving myself on the mat at Broga, one exercise at a  time. Losing the use of your legs is a huge incentive once you start to get them back.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Lobsters For All

Some people go mad for lobster and just for them fishing is allowed for two days toward the end of July each year.
 I am not a huge fan of lobster and nor is Rusty. He was fascinated by the practices of the free divers.
 The idea is for amateurs to have a chance to hunt lobster using basically their hands and lungs
 And people come down from all over the state to have a go. Sometimes people drown after suffering heart attacks as they try to push themselves to catch their lobster.
 I did hear a rumor one person died this year but it was uncorroborated. Law enforcement was quoted in the papers as saying there were fewer violations this year.
 Lawlessness has been the theme for years. People like to hunt in residential canals where it is prohibited, or they use spear guns and air tanks which are also banned.
 There are limits to how many you can catch on either of the two days the mini season is open.
 I suppose it is an enjoyable vacation for desk jockeys but the whole mad experience leaves me bemused. Go to Publix and buy lobster I figure.
 Or bounce around ina small boat at the mercy of wind and waves.



 Rusty stuck to looking for iguana.
 The Old Bahia Honda Bridge is looking tattered.
One wonders how many more seasons it will survive. Or the lobster themselves which face commercial fishing next month.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Burdines, Marathon

If you are driving through Marathon and both you and Robert are feeling hungry you might decide,as we did, to stop at Burdines and eat a burger. This is not Burdines the department store, this is Burdines the Tiki hut above the water where they sell a none dollar  burger with green chilies that will, as the saying goes, make you slap your momma. Something like that.
Burdines is at the end of 15th Street (Ocean side which means on the south side of US 1. The north side is called Gulf Side by residents of Marathon). Its the point on the highway where four lanes become two in Marathon and that';s how I directed Robert to the side street as it had been a while since either of us had been to Burdines. 
It was a hot walk across the parking lot but it was worth it.  I climbed the stairs like a man who never had his pelvis broken for him and when we  were at the top they directed us to a bar stool which is not how I eat lunch. A table with a chair at the proper height so my feet reach the floor and a pleasant view of water, boats and sunken boats.
 That's Burdines, all open air and old Florida style:
That's the green chili burger which is best eaten with a knife and fork. Robert had  a modest cheeseburger with no buns and a side of salad. I had Burdines' specially seasoned salty fries and quantities of Diet Coke to fend off the heat. You can't eat like this every day but once in a  while it really is the way to go. 
After lunch we wandered out into the sun for pictures and a taste of the breeze and the view.
Marathon is a working town of some ten thousand people, maybe fewer since Hurricane Irma I'm not sure. Unlike Key West this town, the second largest in the Keys, has commercial fishing  as witnessed below: 
Looking east from Burdines the marina that used to exist has been torn up supposedly to make way for more modern facilities which never appeared. The bridge in the distance which connected uninhabited Boot Key to Marathon has had it's span removed as the bridge was crumbling. The radio station staff on Boot Key get to work by boat, so that is that. I used to like walking there when I was in Marathoin as there was nothing there but trees and a road.
Marathon has a really nice harbor surrounded on all sides by land. The city has put moorings in Boot Key Harbor and operates  a marina with all facilities a passing boat crew might want, internet access laundry facilities and so forth. In winter it is quite the hub for boaters passing through the Keys. 
I bought a new (lightly used) camera and so far I am quite pleased with the increased megapixels from my old Panasonic which I am keeping for back up as the 12 megapixel FZ300 is very rugged. The FZ1000 has 20 megapixels on offer with a shorter telephoto but I really like the pictures I am getting from this camera. In the old days I had cameras with interchangeable lenses and all the Single Lense Reflex folderol but in this brave new age I like the modern digital "bridge" cameras which look like SLR cameras but have fixed telephoto lenses, no internal mirrors and do a very decent job for an amateur like me of covering all bases for not much money ($350 in this case on an eBay auction).
I very much like my iPhone camera but I do enjoy the telephoto and the ability to have some control over the pictures I take to improve depth of field and to be a bit more adventurous with shutter speeds and so forth.  I got a rather nice portrait of Robert too.
Boats can be complicated things and sometimes they seem to prefer not to float: 
Looking west out of the main entrance to Boot Key Harbor there are channel markers leading to open waters with a bunch of people  fishing:
I spotted a station wagon for some person living on a boat. I would go mad if I had to shuttle back an forth in something this disorganized but it has character or something 
 I forgot: this is the sign at the entrance to Burdines.  That's full of character, or falling apart:
And so when you pull out of 15th street onto US1  you are  full of burger and if you are feeling superhuman, maybe you are extra stuffed with a roll of fried Key Lime Pie (which we did not have this trip though I have tried it previously whence this picture):
And as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself with talk of fried Key Lime Pie you turn south on the Overseas Highway and take to the Seven Mile Bridge, and so home.
For Robert an afternoon of doing stuff of which he has lots  to do he says,while for me in my carb coma it meant sleep and cuddling my dog who was hovering in the air conditioning avoiding the blazing heat.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Cow Key Channel North

My wife was busy in town and with an hour to myself I went one place I want to go with my camera every time I come into town.  I look out to the water north of Key West, with no opportunity to stop  and wish I could pull over and take a few pictures. So on this occasion I drove over to the welcome center, parked in the lot there and  walked back to the seawall, via the crosswalk which is a work in progress and is no way safe! As  a pedestrian I worry that what happened to me once, getting rear ended, will happen to one of the cars that courteously stopped for me...but all was well. I made it intact to the promised land.
If you look past the boat parking lot with the wrecks which my friend Rick in Santa Cruz calls "hovel craft" there is a stretch of gorgeous open water to the isolated mangrove islands in the flats to the north. 
Some of the boats are occupied like the one below,  which I only realized when I downloaded the picture and noticed the swimmer. Boats at anchor pay no rent and are therefore cheap housing ina  city that desperately needs it. 
However it offends the soul of a sailor in some respects to see boats  treated as mere cheap apartments. One would like to see the floating hovels kept smartly with sails furled and bird droppings washed off but usually they rot gently at their anchors.
And fiberglass doesn't rot, it will be around forever. From time to time there is a push to remove abandoned boats but the expense is damnable. The tow companies will drag them ashore, load them onto trucks and haul them to the dump after the hulls are broken up but the equipment and labor required to do the work is massively expensive and the landfills charge good money to dispose of all those square feet of relatively heavy boat parts. The worst of it is that there is an endless supply of abandoned boats waiting to take the place of those removed. How much do you want your taxes increased to clear them all out? It's a problem to which no one has found the answer.
Aside from the mechanics and cost there are also the legalities. Officials have to try to discover the owners names and then contact them to warn them that their "property" faces what amounts to confiscation by the state. While you or I might agree the fiberglass hulls are nothing more than eye sores no one wants to encourage the notion that private property is up for grabs simply because the neighbors are mad about it cluttering up the view. Due process is also expensive and time consuming. 
So there it is, a lifestyle, a  way to live, freedom, and bloody nuisance all rolled into one. And bear in  mind I like many others in this county, came here by boat and lived aboard. I did not however leave my boat to rot on it's anchor. I think the person I sold it to did that.  
And then when you live on a  boat you have to come ashore and therefore you need an accessible dinghy landing. 
You can circumnavigate the island on a jet ski tour if you feel like it and for those that don't you can enjoy watching them, and listening to them, while you are on land:
I liked this picture below which appears to make them tied at the stern. In face the standing jet skier was the guide passing by the red jacketed client heading out for open water, Stock Island is in the distance.
Last minute instructions and off they go. I'm going to have to do it one time before I die. I've never ridden a jet ski but I owe it to myself to try one more new experience, I think. The peanut gallery of disapproval will be ignored.
Mangroves lining North Roosevelt Boulevard while on the horizon you can see the brown block of the "Stock Island Hilton" the local nickname  for the county jail.
Let me close out this brief look at the anchored boats north of Key West with a view to the Gulf of Mexico in the distance.  Lovely isn't  it?