Monday, September 23, 2013

Flying The Friendly Skies

I am resuming a series of essays from recent trip to Italy that were interrupted by a shortage of Internet in my traveling life. Let me start by stating clearly that I got home Thursday September 19th in the middle of the night and very glad I was to get home after two weeks away. It was an excellent trip but home is home and I needed to get my dog over her irritation at my sudden disappearance.


I am not a fan of flying, as may have become apparent recently. I dislike the loss of control over one's life when airlines dictate one's every move. Cabin crew used to be glamorous people reeking of sex in the sky and hot hotel dates with pilots and rich businessmen far from home. Nowadays they more closely resembled harried hotel staff serving second rate food and minuscule drinks to passengers crammed like sardines. I flew home on American and frankly it was a let down compared to the rather more upscale accommodations previously recorded on the much maligned Air Berlin flight I took the other way. The American Airways flight had manky little video screens in the middle of the cabin, and two movies run at the pilot's convenience, the cabin crew were not as glad to see us as the introductory video seemed to imply and unlike Air Berlin we never got warm towels to wash with nor bottles of water to drink at will, and on and on and on.I just focused on the fact that my tickets were free thanks to my wife's judicious use to the American Airlines credit card, free to Rome and back. Cool.

I had some Italian reading matter with me so when electronics were ordered switched off I could happily read the newspaper and my favorite magazine, Classic (d'Epoca) Motociclismo. They had a comparison of World War Two sidecars, a water cooled Zundapp 125 from the 1970s and a Swiss 350 from Motosacoche. A preponderance of Germanic stuff but nevertheless...
"Are you into vintage bikes then?" my next seat neighbor leaned over and asked me. Jeremy is from San Antonio and rides, wasn't I surprised, a Norton a Moto Guzzi and a vintage Triumph. We nattered on for a while, me trying to hide my envy. I mean, yeah I do have a1979 Vespa which is a vintage machine, but really compared to a Moto Guzzi T850/1000 that doesn't really count. What are the chances? "I've seen prettier heads on zits," he remarked when he saw my iPad rendering of him.
Get this he also was known to me from an article he wrote about riding vintage bikes in Corsica, an article I read avidly in my copy of Motorcycle Classics magazine. He got a chance to ride an Ariel 1000, known as a Squariel because of Turner's odd choice of four cylinder configuration. He really liked it and was surprised by the quality of the ride. Read about it here:

I was entranced trying to figure how to convince my wife this would be worth trying: Do you think this cheerful hopeful smile might work?

I managed to pay Jeremy back by letting him read a book off my mini iPad (an electronic device I have come to love more than the full sized iPad!) He was into it.

We read for a while and we talked and I let him know about the joys of modern Bonneville, which he has been wavering about buying. I convinced him it is a an easy to live with modern machine that he agrees looks good. 76,000 trouble free miles is quite an endorsement.

Then we got to Chicago and my most interesting travel companion was gone. I hope to keep in touch. Great fun and thus a much better trip than I expected or deserved. And I don't blame hi m for the horrid head cold and cough American Airlines gave me.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Poker Run, Key West

I like the classics among all the many versions of Harley Davidsons parked on Lower Duval Street for he weekend of festivities.
A 1975 Yamaha RD350 two stroke with a mere 2500 miles on it. And a nearly naked babe recline nearby, not  exactly a classic but its  what people expect  from a gathering of  bikers.
Key West brings its own sense of humor to a gathering of badass bikers.

And the serious looking hardcore women just look out of place in a town devoted to old fashioned fun.
All the gear all the ime. As long as they are flags.
Rum Barrel a couple of blocks off Duval looked a better spot to hang out.
A tad more crowded on the main drag.

the most popular BMW ever looked out of place to me. But she liked it.
An old BSA turned into something unrideable but interesting to look at.
Some wacko warmed the Ickes of my heart by bringing an MV Agusta 675 triple to this event. I wished I was twenty again!
Another Beeza made unrideable, chopped this time but with sensible soft panniers. Perhaps this one was ridden here? Lovely!
Another vintage two stroke, a perfect, unaltered screaming Kawasaki 500 triple. Check out those sticky-outy cylinders!

Selling something I think.
Street scenes.

I have no idea what to say. This is not really my cup of tea.
Saw these guys wobbling their way up the beach as I left town to go home. Cheyenne was waiting for me. We're friends again. Phew!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Walking The Village

You'd think every dog ever walked on the streets of Key West was wild and vicious. Either that my wild and vicious Labrador installs fear, because they walk by determined not to allow their dogs to sniff. Not that Cheyenne is terribly interested in other hounds.

Getting stuck in traffic tales on a different kind of stickiness in Key West. Traffic jams elsewhere usually involve multiple lanes and too many cars for a given space. In Key West a garbage truck constitutes a jam. On a one way street like Petronia you may have to wait a while and learn to be patient if you enter the block with the garbage truck working its way down ahead of you.

.a brush with kindness" the sign read, a master of double entendre as Habitat had a hand in rehabbing the structure. I remember when Habitat wanted to put up afew houses on Bog Coppitt along Highway One. Habitat Landing got built in the end over the protests of neighbors who were apparently worried about the content of the characters of the residents of the homes. Which puts me in mind of BANANA -Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

In some cases not building anything comes easily. Check out this empty lot.

In other cases buildings are well worth looking at.

Key West offsets, which always put me in mind of the question: how easy is it to live European style, very close to our neighbor?

The "No Dredging" flag is out everywhere, and the referendum is set for October 1st.

This sort of yard can make up for the lack of privacy seen above:

No privacy and nowhere to park. Two wheelers rule in this small town.

Public housing in Key West is scattered all over the city but what there is tends to be rather old fashioned looking too. I find it hard to imagine but some of these boxy apartments don't have air conditioning in the summer.

Robert Gabriel was Monroe County's state representative in the late 19th century which seems inconceivable in light of the failure of Reconstruction so I suppose naming something after such a pioneer is appropriate and this is what they came up with.