I treat Fat Albert as my weather gauge. Not only does the blimp show which way the wind is blowing, but the balloon also shows when the weather is predicted to be gnarly. Those are the days the blimp isn't flying and is pulled down to the safety of sea level.
It is tethered to the ground and uses devices to monitor boat and aircraft traffic across the Straits of Florida. It is a small outpost of civilization set back in the mangroves of Cudjoe Key, an area filled with salt water and stunted bushes and any chance a nearby boat ramp.
I find Fat Albert's presence in the sky, visible from far away on the Overseas Highway, to be a reassurance that everything is as it should be and that is good. The blimp is its own reminder that we are on the edge of the country, an outpost pushed far out to sea, a corner in the traffic lanes of ships at sea. The blimp is a reminder of the reach of the US as much as little league on North Roosevelt Boulevard is a reminder that the flag and apple pie are the symbols stereotyped for all to see that this is America, a small piece, no matter how far out to sea we find ourselves.
You have time to think these thoughts as you wander aimlessly one more dead end side street, socially distanced, alone with your dog and your camera wishing the humidity would go down just a little bit and let some air into the atmosphere.
This is the first year of all the decades I have spent enjoying the tropics that I find summer to be just a bit too much. I'd like to imagine it is my resistance that has been beaten down but everyone seems to be saying the same thing. Even Rusty has been less energetic than usual and he doesn't mind the heat.
There was a Serious Photographer at the end of blimp road this last time I was there and he had not one but two expensive cameras on tripods aimed in the general direction of the pink tinted clouds that promised the arrival of the sun. He seemed rather reluctant to share good mornings with the guy with the dog so we steered a wide course around his expensive apparatus and I amused myself with the my cheap pocket Panasonic.
We wandered away, Rusty and I with expensive tripods unmolested and the silent photographer happily snapping away at the sunrise and I was thus reminded how lucky I am to see this stiff any day I feel like.
I am also lucky that Rusty is smart and sensible and stays away from people that don't want him around. He seems like he cam read my mind sometimes, another reason to keep my thoughts pure when I am out with him.
Upside down reflected in the water, or right side up a firm speck against the wafting clouds there it sits, the blimp of Cudjoe Key. So all is well.