Saturday, August 28, 2021

Blimp Road

I am very ready for new horizons even though these old familiar ones do not decrease in beauty even as the time passes. Blimp Road for an easy morning walk with Rusty yields spectacular beauty.
As you drive past the Kickin' Back convenience store on Cudjoe Key a road off to the north drives two miles as straight as the proverbial arrow through the mangroves to a boat ramp. To turn off Highway One to come here at sunrise or sunset especially in summer with all the clouds and humidity is to see stuff like this:
Every side road in the Keys dead ends, often into water. The story is told of a young tourist who drive off the end of Blimp Road a couple of years ago and spent the night in her car filled with water as she was scared to step out into the darkness lest she drown. The car was sitting on the bottom in knee deep water. They have added red reflectors at the end of the road to point out the reality of the longstanding signage:
The boat ramp, like all roadside public ramps in the Keys is free for anyone to use (at their own risk doofus!) but if you prefer to have services and help to hand use a marina which will charge a fee and hopefully help prevent you from launching your truck. 
The large airborne object is operated by the US Air Force to monitor boat and  air traffic in the Straits of Florida. Smuggling has always been a business in the Keys since before prohibition. Nowadays they pay big money to get their relatives out of Cuba and fast boats are less than three hours from a  Cuban Beach. 
The driver of the blimp sits on the ground and monitors windspeed and direction. Standing at the end of Blimp Road you can hear the directional motor running on the blimp. It sounds like a distant monotone blender.
A still summer morning will take your mind off the vagaries of the Blimp. There was a second one for a while sending TV signals to Cuba but the Cuban government blocked the propaganda easily and TV Marti was dropped. 
The blimp points into the wind if you need to know whence blows the breeze and they bring it down in the event of windy weather forecasts. If the Blimp is down either they are maintaining it or  the weather is predicted to get blustrous. Otherwise it flies day and night.

There have been occasions of the blimp getting off the tether and flying away. Once the blimp landed in the water next to a rather startled fishermen who called it from his boat.
It's well lit at night with red blinking lights and I am told it is clearly marked on aviation charts, yet it has happened that a small private plane flew into it. That happened one night years ago and I look up and wonder how it was possible. Perhaps in the flatlands the pilot didn't think to check for obstacles. No one survived.
That's the trouble with living here along time, in a place where not everyone does. I find myself remembering stuff at work no one else remembers or cares about. I feel like a fossil surrounded by late arrivals and newcomers and all with a  forward view down the road. I can't imagine how it feels to be a Conch with generations at your back. I fled Europe to escape that uncomfortable pressure.
They also talked years ago about handing Fat Albert (the blimp) over to the weather service and their budget but that didn't seem to happen. You can't get close to the blimp because there's a fence and guard house and trespassers are decidedly not welcome. Partiers on Duval don't seem to remember this is actually a frontier town with real responsibilities. No matter how short your stay.