Thursday, September 26, 2019

Cruise Key West

Rental scooters: curse or blessing?  Discuss.  Looks like great fun from here. On a car license you can ride a 50 cc scooter in Florida, and by extension the Conch Republic. They are supposed to be limited to 30 mph, and rental scooters actually are speed limited.  So the first curse is that getting stuck behind one on a main thoroughfare can cause a back up. 20 mph is the citywide speed limit which is helping create some rather tense driving as not everyone wants to get where they are going at bicycle speeds. Being in the middle of that on a scooter with no experience of two wheels or the city layout is the second curse.
Parking a scooter is easy so that's a blessing and in this town parking is hell. People go mad for parking spaces and if that  isn't enough many of these residents are new in town, paid massively for a house that has a garage converted to another room and think they shouldn't have to walk a few blocks from their house when they park their cars. It's a slow learning curve, because the complaints about lack of parking never seem to diminish. The city struggles to apportion the limited number of spaces fairly between residents and visitors but the results are always criticized. 
Scooter motorcycle and bicycle parking is free. Pretty cool. So that's a big fat blessing. May the power of city hall never grow less!  I was wearing a helmet when I got knocked down last year and it undoubtedly saved my life. However if you are over  21 you can do as you please so to see a rider with helmet  its a rarity. 
One of the things that impresses me about scooter riders in Key West is how useful their machines are. Scooters aren't tools for enthusiasts, they are basic transportation. You will see people riding to work on them, people of all ages and income level. There are only a  few long established professionals who have offices with designated parking. Almost anyone can benefit from the convenience if not the low cost of scooter riding
Towels are a widely seen accessory, the theory being that the towel will offset the burning heat of the vinyl seat under the sub- tropical sun. And you would expect me to say that scooters are fun to ride. Because they are, and if you aren't careful you can fall and wreck your vacation and your fun. Turning corners is a skill not easily mastered judging by the number of people who fear leaning into a corner to get round it. The other beginner's mistake that will cause bleeding is excess enthusiasm on the accelerator. As the scooters don't have gears and clutches a quick burst of acceleration will have your machine rearing like a bronco. I exaggerate but you know people fall off too easily. 
It may therefore be a not bad idea to use your feet.  That's how I get these pictures and I like to walk around town. There's lots to see.
 The alternative is to have someone else peddle or drive for you.   
And the last and in my opinion worst alternative is the ubiquitous golf  cart.  It is slow and takes up the space of a car and cannot be parked in free motorcycle parking. Tourists love them so I must be missing something but I would rather be buried in cement than get stuck behind one of these abominations in traffic. However crash one of these and you won't be bleeding like you will on a  scooter.
I see walkers all the time of course and  if you come to Key West you will too. I have to admit the weather lately has been most un-Septemberlike with strong winds, low humidity and cool temperatures relatively speaking,  so walking has been the perfect way to get around. Walking Rusty before dawn has been positively brisk except what seems brisk to me probably doesn't to you.   
The slightly odd thing about the people you see on the streets of Key West is that they will give you no idea what time of year it is. Even if they look overheated and bothered it may be an 80  degree day in February. It is rarely so cold as to require a sweater or a jacket in Key West. T shorts and shorts are the uniform.
I know some people look forward to changing wardrobes with the change of seasons but wearing shirts and shorts year round has never bothered me. Endless summer is perfect for my taste. 
I do miss hills and varied terrain but for twenty years the mangrove flats have been a suitable compromise for perfect year round weather. I was talking to a colleague at work and she has never got used to year round heat in Key West and she pines for the winters of her native Ohio. There is no accounting for taste and that is brought home to me as her impatience for retirement is an expression of her desire for a return to cold winters. Rather her than me.
The local chickens rule the roost in the end. They survive baking summers and hurricanes and floods and all manner of disasters. We are told they are descendants of Cuban fighting roosters, a legend that has never made any sense to me.  But that's a consideration for another day.
I need to go for a walk. Or a scooter ride. Anything, a bicycle maybe, but one of those ghastly golf carts.