Sunday, October 24, 2021

The End Of The Journey, Key West 2000

Leaving Cuba after the storm cleared and we had finished exploring Punta Jutia we sailed once again for Key West and the next evening we dropped anchor behind Christmas Tree Island. The dogs got their walks immediately of course  and we slept secure ion the knowledge we had arrived, almost penniless, back in the US of A.  The next morning after another island walk we pulled up at the fuel dock at the city marina and called Customs to check us in.

It was good to be back but we were still thinking about our crazy illegal time anchored off Cuba's north shore, as in this photo taken from the upper deck of a friendly Cuban boat anchored nearby avoiding the same storm.

We walked around Key West at this stage pretty sure we were going back to our house in California. We missed our friends in Santa Cruz but I had no desire to go back to the great pay of truck driving 18 wheelers through San Francisco, and Layne had no desire to go back to lawyering. We walked and pondered our future.  

The thing I notice about our pictures of Key West was how little so much of it has changed in the past twenty years. We checked out houses and found a crappy upstairs studio for $185,000 making us think our boat might be best. We weren't even thinking of hurricane damage possible every summer at that point.

Curtis, Robert and his wife Nola greeted us and made us feel at home. I knew them from previous efforts to settle in Florida and at some point we figured we might want to join them. What happened was that Layne found her arthritis hurt much less in the tropical heat than in the cold damp of coastal California. The plan slowly formed that perhaps we should stay and settle in Key West.

I still liked living on the water, photographed here rowing into Garrison Bight from the mooring Curt loaned us out by Rat Island. We surprised our friends by applying for work. Layne got hired as aJuvenile probation officer much to her surprise. In those days regular office jobs were easy to come by as work in bars and hotels paid a lot more but Layne wanted a pension. She was determined on that point. I got hired as about captain thanks to my license, earned in a. moment of madness and I turned my hobby into my job. That pension thing kept nagging which is how I ended up at the police department. We sold our California home and bought a house on Ramrod Key and there we were. A new life done and dusted.

The dogs continued traveling with us as we moved between our old life in California and our new life in Florida. It took us a while to move what stuff we needed, to sell the boat and to move into a new life.

I took this picture on Grinnell near Five Brothers and I remember it well. I used to commute in this car to my job in San Jose and a friend kept it for us while we went sailing. It had no air conditioning but we drove it back and forth between Santa Cruz and Key West.

With two large dogs, alternating between the front and back seats. We humans shared the driving and the dogs switched between the back seat as one of us rested and the front seat keeping the driver company. We surprised a few people at our stops as the four of uncoiled from inside the little clown car. That Geo Metro 5 speed was a brilliant little machine.

Back in the US the stops along I-10 were rather less scenic than the places we had explored from the boat. But we went back to walking and exploring as we could.

I am not looking forward to droning I-10 even now so I am planning a zig zag route to see friends in Arizona next month. We saw a lot of desert in those years.

Debs stopped eating suddenly while we were in Santa Cruz. He had inoperable liver cancer and died suddenly just like that, to general family devastation. Emma mourned him for the rest of her life but she lived on for a few more years dying eventually in our Ramrod Key house with Dr Edie in attendance, the same vet who just gave Rusty his travel documents for our next journey. It's been a long life earning our pensions. I am ready for another go.

The buddies running through their favorite Santa Cruz walk, the open space at Porter Sesnon in Aptos.

Caroline and Duval

This used to be the Cypress House but this hotel chain has bought up a bunch of places around town and calls them Klimpton. Clean tidy and freshly painted. 
Not everyone is ready for the well heeled masses. This is the sort of repair of which I approve:
The Curry Mansion soldiers on unperturbed by change overlooking Caroline Street:
They are tearing up and repairing Whitehead Street, which in the ordinary course of things would be a good thing during low tourist season. This year there is no end to the stream of visitors and I have no doubt next month when Canadians are allowed back half of Quebec will decamp to the warmer South, including Higgs Beach in their Volkswagens. Bloody van dwellers!
I liked photographing the working classes doing their thing on Duval Street. At work I used to get endless complaints from a few irritated shop owners rendered apoplectic by bad parking and endless unloading.
Cruise ship stores aren't recovering because cruise ships aren't coming back for the foreseeable. City residents voted against the former flow of 800 large ships a year and the state is fighting back and I've heard it said sip operators aren't keen to visit a town that doesn't want them.
There were lots of people forecasting doom and economic gloom without cruise ships and their money. Obviously pilots and ships agents must feel the shortfall but neither the city nor the budget seem deeply impacted. Maybe that will change over time.
I don't think the argument that cruise ships show prospective long term tourists a good time is holding water. Thousands of people are finding their way here every single week it seems. The recent mercy stop to unload a sick passenger gave a graphic aerial illustration of the pollution thrown up by the ship as it docked in the formerly pristine teal colored waters. The Citizen newspaper shows a lovely brown smear all round the ship as it docked. 
I saw a powerful off-road Jeep parked on Rose Lane. This is what I should have bought to drive the sand pits of Central Florida...
Finally I caught. glimpse inside the Casa Antigua without actually paying for a tour. Enjoy.
And indeed poor old Hemingway, that Key West symbol, stayed here when stuck by travel plans gone awry, in 1928 I think it was. He learned to like Key West but stayed half the time I did. He didn't need a pension though so he had that excuse for decamping to his favorite home - in Cuba. 2009 Finca Vigia Link.