Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The old cutter Ingham makes for a great picture especially with the early morning sun illuminating the floating museum.
I was not alone enjoy the cool morning air... I got a cheerful greeting in response from the couple entwined in their hammock. Quite enterprising I thought, sleeping in this corner unseen by all except me and my dog.
I used the flash to give this weed growing out of a crack in a wall, an eerie underwater look. Everything human is on hold here while the future design of the park is decided by the city, so plants tend to creep on buildings not maintained.
I'd love to see the old warehouse restored. Some have suggested using it to house a community market, a plan derided by others.

These picnic tables looked photogenic to me. Tough they were lined up in a rather regimented way.

The channel marker shown below lines up with a shorter mark placed near the beach. It's when the two line up that a ship entering the Key West harbor channel knows it is safe in deep water. These aids to navigation still matter in a world filled with electronics. Piloting by landmarks is a useful skill especially when the electrons fail.
Navigation is what mariners do to find their way when out of sight of land; piloting is directing a boat by marks when in sight of land. Now you know. Cheyenne, like you, couldn't care one way or the other.
Here's another thing, a blocked drain. Flooding is a nice problem in Key West and will probably get worse now that planetary carbon dioxide limits have been measured above 400 parts per million for the first time. Blocked drains don't help. Climate change? What's that?
For now we are dry and the waterfront is undeveloped. Cool.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Cyclist's Butt And Other Pictures

Riding your bicycle in your underwear. It's how I know we live in the shadow of the End of Times.
Some people look to the Middle East for Armageddon, others study the entrails of Wall Street. I think it is a matter of bad taste that will bring the world crashing down around our ears. Driving home with a butt crack in your face gives you new appreciation for the burqa. Some days it feels like there is no happy medium when you live in a vacation town, good taste and common sense yield to the crass within us.
I saw the car rotting in a Old Town lot of this most expensive city and wondered at the odd use of space in a town that supposedly wants for nothing but space. On the other hand scooters remain very fashionable in town even these rather odd Chinese 3 wheelers. unlike the Italian version this scooter has a windshield, wipers and no facility at all for leaning round corners. All the disadvantages of both car and scooter it seems to me.
Parking is easier to find this time of year but two wheels, even three, are better than four for that. This picture I took against the setting sun on Front Street.
Old boats find quiet parking on canals too. The trick I have found with oats is to keep them, use and sell them the moment the lust for ownership passes. Nothing rots quite so fast or completely as an unloved boat.
Armchairs left out by the side of the road rot none too fast. I have  adiscreet pile of stuff bound for the dump and when I judge it to be time with a full load for  my small trailer off it goes. My neighbors are not quite that way inclined preferring to let it all hang out.  It's in keeping with the indoor/outdoor nature of life in the sub tropics, but it does look odd, this way station for junk roadside.
Young people complain there isn't much to do in the Keys, and I suppose that's true if they are inclined toward snowboarding or rock climbing. Failing that they do often seem to enjoy finding quiet spots in the backwoods and there burning rubber for amusement. This black streak was in a Big Pine industrial neighborhood, doubtless no one there to complain in the middle of the night.
How this bear got into the Key Deer refuge I couldn't say but I knew I was under observation as Cheyenne and I stumped by.

Rain has been falling out of the sky at random lately. I carry waterproofs in my motorcycle saddle bags because I never know when it might hit. It plays havoc with clothes drying on the line too but rainwater seems to be good for the fabric. Cheyenne likes rain because it cools the place down. 
One small note for drivers in the Key Deer Refuge (Big Pine Key mostly) if it is light enough to be able to read the 45mph sign thats how fast you can go (assuming no deer on the verges). There has been an epidemic of slow drivers of America hypermiling on Highway One lately. I had a great moment the other day when a county ambulance caught up to a cretin in a gray Nissan slowly passing a truck in the four lane section of the highway unawares of the brightly illuminated ambulance behind him. Then he panicked, slammed on his brakes and darted into a gap in the median, the place where police cars make u-turns to chase speeders in the opposite lanes. Well, you should have seen the rubber burning on the ambulance's tires as they struggled to deal with the moron's panic. No harm  done happily and I got to confirm my belief that driver training should be ongoing through adulthood. Don't hog the left lane is lesson number one. Don't hold up traffic while you sight see is lesson number two. 35 at night 45 by day, thank you.
"Have you fed the dog?" my wife texted. Duh! Don't I always?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Part Time Big Pine And The Lonely Alligator

My dog does like to lie around and there are those occasions when she lies around and I say to myself, "She looks just like an alligator."

Check it out. Above we have a Yellow Labrador (not a Golden Retriever) and below we have a genuine North American alligator (not a saltwater crocodile). I can't see any difference.

We had run out of eggs and my wife had settled on breakfast for dinner last night and she needed eggs to mix in with the (soy?!) chorizo. I was going to sneak a ride on her Vespa to the Winn Dixie but as soon as I started to assemble the shopping list - phone, wallet, cloth bag - Cheyenne leapt to her feet and started wagging her tail in a big round circle. It was obviously walk time for her which meant I had to submit and drive the car. Where to go? That was the question buzzing through my head as we drove down Indies Road toward Highway One. Ah yes, of course, the Blue Hole.

We hadn't been to the Blue Hole, a former quarry filled with fresh water, in a while. This is one of those places that lives high on the tourist check-off list and is thus rarely unoccupied. Indeed there was a Jeep in the parking lot when we arrived but by the time I had Cheyenne's collar round her neck and a plastic bag in my pocket they were pulling out and leaving us alone to deal with the setting sun and the lonely alligator.

Cheyenne trotted back and forth smelling every single blade of grass and sticking her nose in leaf piles as usual. For every two paces I took she took a dozen. My wife sent me a message telling me to buy grapes and I was lucky the message got through as there was barely a phone signal in this sylvan place. The modern clever phone is becoming indispensable with all it's functions and I think of my Android as an electronic Swiss Army knife, as I rely on it for pictures and as a flashlight, a navigator and a message machine in the old fashioned way, not to mention as a fax machine.

In between all that I can put it in my pocket and stand around and watch the sun set. As long as my dog didn't try to go down to the water's edge to say hi! to the silent alligator we were okay. She tried that one time before and the alligator did stir slightly before I got my furry friend back to a safe spot. Eventually the sun went down and we had to get to the store for those eggs and grapes and tomatoes. We were expected at home.

Key Deer Boulevard looked unusually lovely under the deep blue skies.

I like finding solitude in these cluttered islands. It's as much about the time of day as much as the location when you can find yourself alone.

Winn Dixie was an island of light in the darkness. It was a good time to shop for food, the aisles were relatively uncluttered and I zipped through the shopping list. On my way out I saw this sign of the times. PT means part time, and this store has a reputation for shitting on its workers, importing cut price foreigners to do work formerly done by unionized full time Americans. Here's the evidence. No benefits for you! What a great way to treat the community you rely on for customers!

I feel helpless in the face of corporate America's indifference to the people who live and want to work here. I wonder what the point is of putting profits over people. It's an age old question, but it's too bad we aren't asking it anymore.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Aggravation Of Small Boats

My wife and I, though not anglers, a subject I do not wish to revisit today, do enjoy swimming in the ocean.
Our 14 foot Dusky has suffered from some engine problems but we believe we found a guy on Stock Island who manged to lick them so we have made a determined effort to send the summer monts swimming.
We define summer as that period when seawater sustains a minimum temperature of eighty degrees. Usually around April or May and ending around October or November depending on the number of cold fronts and rain.
Owning a small boat is a fine thing. My wife wmated a steering wheel so we went as small as we felt we could which worked out to fourteen feet and a 25 horsepower outboard which gives a planing speed around twenty (land) miles per hour.
it's easy to tow and to launch at our neighborhood lanch ramp. Residents pay ten bucks a year to use the ramp while I think the charge for visitors is fifteen bucks a pop.
The motel complex on Ramord was recently sold according to the newspaper. The previous owner was some Canadian dude who was murdered a few years ago in Costa Rica. The future of the motel, Tiki bar and dive shop was in some doubt but new owners stepped forward promising to continue to offer commercial snorkeling trips at Looe Key while allowing locals access to the pool.
It's about a mile from highway one to the end of the canal and my dock behind my house is three quarters of the way down. The drive seems endless at no wake speed.
Launching means I get to see the side of the houses I don't see when I am riding down the road.
Formal sea walls are popular though I like the mangroves next to my house for privacy and lack of maintenance.
There are a bunch of side canals too, blasted out of the rock fifty years ago when such things were permitted.

The main canal is getting a bit narrow in places as the mangroves tend to flourish.
Chugging down the canal is a bit boring actually and I'm glad we live much closer to the mouth. Also that puts us further from the street noise of Highway One. The prevailing south east winds mean we hardly hear any traffic at all at home.
Home at last.
Cheyenne is neither a swimmer nor a boater. She'll come out with us if we take her but she's quite happy to hang out at home and wait. Tough life.
Our first test run produced poor performance. I think the carburettors need to be cleaned. Sigh. Another haul out. Oh well.