Saturday, May 19, 2012

Parking Woes

Yesterday I wrote around a few pictures I took at Duval and Eaton Streets watching the world go by on two wheels. Today the other face of the two wheeled coin: parking.

I am the first to admit I am anal when it comes to living life and I like things done my way, but general stupidity does irritate me one step further.

Granted there was lots of room across the street from my dentist's office but why did the guesthouse resident feel it was okay to just dump his scooter across the space?

It was still three after I came back with nicely cleaned teeth thirty minutes later. Not everyone fails to understand the principle of good manners and perpendicular parking. This rental scooter is at least pointing straight at the curb.

Parking is a big industry on a small island pullulating with vehicles. This woman spends a lifetime of days sitting on Whitehead Street propping up the sign pointing to the Steve Walker lot on Caroline at Telegraph Lane.

Skateboarding on Duval is forbidden but these four little wheels are a smart way to go around town for youngsters with a sense of balance.

This is the proper way to park a two wheeler, rear tire in, touching the curb, perpendicular to the sidewalk.

The idea is to point out so the motorcycle leans into the camber safely, and while parking the rider has control of the roadway. When leaving the rider can see who is coming and when it's safe to leave and join the flow of traffic. Easy peasy, at least for those of us with OCD.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

More Key West Wheels

It happens from time to time that I like to sit somewhere shady and watch the traffic go by.

I like the fact that Key West is a two wheeled town, both motorized and pedal power. And though the are always complaints about lack of bicycle paths and lack of mutual respect between road users the fact is two wheels are better than four in Key West.

In a country devoted to large vehicles and protection at all times from any weather that might remotely be described as inclement, Key West stands out as a place where small is beautiful.

As annoying as this Zuma scooter was with it's enormous gantry blocking my photographic view, it too is an example of the inventiveness of the two wheeled lifestyle. Need an SUV? Attach a trailer to your Yamaha...

Bicycles get people to work, they aren't spandex recreational tools.

Three wheelers are taxis.

They give Old Town an asiatic look.

This kid was pushing his cruiser hard, and I simply caught a quick frame of him pressing down on his pedals.

This guy was actually cruising smoothly along, not far behind. Much effort, not so much result perhaps.

She arrived by bicycle which qualified her for inclusion in this essay. The stand could easily be hitched to a scooter, lots of exhibitors at Mallory Square do just that.

I am quite fond of Harley Davidson motorcycles, marvels of adaptability and rock solid reliable when ridden by smart owners. This guy flattened his battery and looked idiotic trying to jump his ride. He knew it.

When he did get it running he roared off in a thunderhead of shame and noise.

Tourists love renting scooters. Back home they'd die rather than be seen on two small wheels.

Cheyenne is the main reason I drive four wheels at all these days. Leave her at home and I will be found aboard the Bonneville.

Some people like to toast their scalps even on four wheels.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this beehive drift by. Better than a pair of pink Crocs.

Practical bicycle, basket and all.

And finally the owner of the mobile gantry arrived, kick started his tired scooter and finally cleared my shady field of view.

An open shot across the street.

Lots of wheels.

Just out cruising in a state where if you're over 21 you can ride helmet free.

And most do. I do around town frequently. I like the freedom to choose.

Summer's coming and riders across the country are gearing up for exciting rides in winding mountains and valleys and sunny beach roads everywhere. Down here the roads remain the same, straight and flat furnished and burnished 'neath tropical sun. I'd like a mountain or two.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

600 Block Duval

There was a plan to create a pedestrian zone weekend evenings in this part of Duval Street.

The plan garnered massive interest and even support until merchants operating outside the two block area of the proposed pedestrian test zone complained.

They said the plan would be so successful it would draw customers away from the blocks of Duval still open to motorized traffic.

Outside the common sense free zone of the Conch Republic sharper minds might have suggested expanding the test pedestrian zone.

Instead fear of success grabbed the community by the throat and the whole pedestrian zone plan was tossed out. Things are just fine as they are. Eat drink and be merry for change has been banished from anybody's radical mind.

These gloomy thought were brought to my mind by the announcement of Fast Buck Freddie's impending closure, one of the reasons given (aside from Internet competition, ever present) was the absence of local shoppers from Duval.

Locals who plan to preserve their livers see little reason to shop on Duval. The pedestrian access plan was supposed to reverse that.

The 600 block got $32 of my dollars quite by accident. They are quite seriously worn out, are the pink Crocs purchased for me as a surprise by Amanda of the BVI blog, British Virgin Islands.

So when I saw Crocs in the sandal store I went in without much hope. Men's size 12 in pink are not common items as straight men are fearful of the color and somehow the gay community hasn't cottoned on to the style that is a rubber clog. Thus the big pink ones fall by the wayside.

The clerk was delighted to unload two pairs on me at a 50 percent discount and offered more if I wanted them. Two new pairs should last me a year so I feel awkward about buying a multi-year supply of recreational footwear.

The clerk in the sandal shop was alert because she understood immediately my point about pink Crocs, people who are afraid to talk to me because of my footwear are too fearful in general to be worth my while.

The six hundred block worked for me.

And after I spent some money I managed to avoid getting run over.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Smathers Beach

It looks like nowhere much like Key West, yet this strip of sand and palms is in fact what the undeveloped south shore of the island looks like to the east

Looking east toward the airport the beach curves round and the sand fades away yielding to a cement seawall. In the picture below the seawall is masked by the pile of drying seaweed bunched ashore by the currents.

It's hot and bright and shade free along the seawall yet they bike walk and jog out there, most in the cooler dawn and dusk periods.

There are still some uninformed people who come to the Keys for sandy beaches but sand beaches are the exception around here. The Keys are formed of rock, not sand like mainland Florida, so beaches here are more like gravel than soft sand. This stuff was imported by barge to keep users happy.

The waters off the beach are shallow for a long way out so swimming is more akin to paddling close inshore.

The old Navy officers' barracks are now the pink Key West By The Sea condos reportedly built of solid cement and tougher than any hurricane that has blown in so far.

Speed traps are common out here so beware. Florida has a rather weird law that does not allow for tickets within five miles of the speed limit which is worth knowing. Driving recklessly around the crowds of pedestrians along the beach is another matter entirely.

The red number eleven marks the ramp entrance to the beach. It's worth knowing in case you have to call for help. The cops refer to the ramp numbers on the radio all the time when they patrol the beach.

Given it's limitations it is quite the idyllic spot for people seeking exotic palms on sand.

Smathers used to be lined with parking meters that irritated some residents beyond belief. They are gone now, and comments in the paper thank City Commissioner Wardlow for following through on his campaign promise. Free parking for beach goers!

Some residentially challenged people occasionally gather at the tiki huts on the beach though their preferred venue is Higgs Beach. I happened to notice a new fence being installed along the beach at Higgs which will bear investigation.

The beach was named for Florida US Senator George Smathers, a friend and confidante of President Kennedy. They were handsome young playboys together in the nation's capital at a time when the press was rather less intrusive than today.

Smathers Beach was also a front line defense equipped with missile batteries during the Cuban Crisis of 1962, far removed from today's diversions.

Rent a chair, lie on a beach towel, rent a boat or swim in the ocean

Smathers Beach smothered during spring break, sought out by crowds in winter and summer, currently enjoying a little down time before school gets out and families swarm.

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