Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Colors

I started my blog years ago, June 2007 after a few negative experiences on forums where attack mode seemed to be the only way people could communciate, so I decided on a whim to create my own page. Furthermore I discovered that despite the ease with which I can post pictures there are very few pages on the internet dedicated to exploring places. I have a traveler's curiosity and when I sit down with a computer to myself I tend to look at non-mainstream news pages, motorcycle and scooter pages and photos of distant places. For instance I have long been curious about Cay Sal Bank, never having sailed there so I'll make it a web journey to see what I can find out. In the case of Cay sal it's mostly ornithologists and ham radio operators as you will find out if you go hunting.

Because I do not have much facility with people and my pictures of them have them come out looking rather deranged usually, I refer to study places, shadows, light and textures. Unlike the bad old days when I was losing track of the film in my camera nowadays I can switch between monochrome and over saturated color with a tap of my finger on my electronic Swiss Army Knife, known to some boring people as an Android Phone.

Luckily Key West lends itself to this sort of meditative approach with a camera, an impatient dog and a leash. Usually I take black and white pictures at night but last Sunday morning I was moved for some reason to try this:

I liked it. I walked past the Mastic Trailer Park office on United Street and I took a picture of that too. I could have taken the color photo and by sleight of pixel I could have made it sepia, black and white or monochrome in another shade but instead, by way of contrast I,left it looking as it does in real life.

This winter has again been warm and brief, Indeed the latest cold front was no more than a sudden gust of cool air from the north with a little cloudiness, not even one sudden dramatic downburst or a slight drizzle. Thus my poor Labrador is getting far too warm far too soon I. What is supposed to be the cool season.

A Key West garage. I like that bicycles are useful transportation in this town.

A yard waste can filled with trash looks as idiotic in black and white as it does in color. Recycling and Key West are not yet on speaking terms. I met one guy breaking down cardboard for the recycling bin and I remarked that he was the only other person I'd seen doing that. He suggested we form a club.

I loved the lack of common sense displayed by this lost cat flyer carefully taped over the street name. And left to rot and discolor and fade away. I hope the cat got found.

This next picture looked better to me in black and white:

This splash of color would have been wasted in black and white:

And so it goes. These are not limestone rocks in a wall covered in snow.

Building a wall out of coral today would get you locked away so deep in the dungeons you would never be heard from again. Or for a while at least.

My bougainvillea has been eaten by iguanas so I have uncontrollable bougainvillea envy when I am out and see stuff like this:

Winter colors are here, just as they will be in summer in black or white or in primary colors.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Any Sunday

I have to say that whenever I see one of these things docked in the Key West harbor the thought crosses my ungrateful mind that the people in charge of this town need their heads examined if they think Key West needs to dredge the harbor channel to accommodate ships a third bigger than this cruise chip monstrosity:
Ask a local and they will all tell you they've heard about the fabulous brunch at the Westin hotel, and how much they want to go, and soon, but none of the buggers could tell me first hand anything about this Sunday morning extravaganza. So...I am proud to say it was me who suggested to my wife, the social planner extraordinaire that we should go there this very Sunday. So we did and opulent it was too, as we shall see.
 The first thing is, you need reservations for Sunday brunch, at least in winter you do, or more specifically last Sunday we did. As we had none we were banished form the outdoor seating on the seawall and we could not get a table inside which pleased my wife as she said it was extremely noisy in the indoor seating area. So we were relegated to the pool bar which it turns out is not so bad at all. A couple were leaving as we arrived so we got the end of the bar with a view across the pool to our right. The bar tender was a cheerful Russian émigré, Vasili who has lived in Key West ten years. When we identified ourselves as locals for a ten percent discount on the $35 per person tab, one of the guests told Vasili he wouldn't qualify for the "locals" discount. Which puzzled him as he pointed out he had lived here a long time. The pedantic tourist humor went right over the poor man's head. We tipped well (I hope).
My wife liked the mimosas well enough that she had three. I, the driver had one washed down with lots of iced tea. I must say the mimosa was tart and refreshing and well sauced with champagne so it was not the usual bright orange overly sweet concoction I find myself forced to drink. I could easily have had two more had I a room at the hotel. I must say the whole concept of a buffet lunch is open to abuse, everything is thrown in and everything can easily lead to too much.
 The food selections were quite astonishing and despite the crowded tables the lines at the tables were very manageable which surprised me. I think I went wrong in starting with the breakfast foods which, with the best will in the world, are fairly commonplace. But the sausages and bacon were excellent, the frittata somewhat lacking in flavor. I did try some cheeses which also suffered the blandness gene but on the whole the spread was first rate. My wife love her tuna tartare and other odd raw dishes from the seafood table that I avoided and  my choices were of the cooked variety, pasta, mahi mahi, pork belly, all worth tasting. The pdding ( dessert) table was groaning under the weight of chocolate pastry and cream though the crème brulee was rather bland. 
The outdoor seating at Bistro 245 as the restaurant is called, looks good and I am certain we will be back in the summer to try it out.

Preferably not on a day a floating hotel is docked, as it rather wrecks  the view...
Knock that one off the list. if you want o know what I think of Bistro 245's brunch it is decidedly worth a try and worth also not pigging out if you can handle it. Better to be a local, not only for the discount but so you can come back and try it again to catch the dishes you missed. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Little Hamaca

It was meant to be. The voices spoke to me, fate intervened, it was time. None of the above actually. I just decided on the spur of the moment that we hadn't been here in a while and so I impetuously drove down Flagler Avenue and didn't stop till I got to the parking lot at Little Hamaca City Park.

I don't know how Key West does it but this city attracts money in a way Detroit wishes it could. There are construction projects going on everywhere across town; nowhere is immune it seems.

I posted this picture below to my Facebook page. I'm not sure how I feel about Facebook but I'm still experimenting with it. The service seems slow on my phone and I enjoy the wide open space of this page. In all the years Blogger has not annoyed me much, at least since the last format change, and the page is mine own.

The city is building a new boardwalk through the mangroves and Cheyenne wasn't too sure about it. She kept casting around as though looking for a way off. I worried she suddenly needed to take a dump so there was me, plastic bag poised chasing after my lumbering dog worrying what was to appear from under her tail.

As it turned out nothing and when we got back into the dodos the precipitous pace slowed to a crawl.

Little Hamaca has a reputation as a hang out for the homeless and a pick up place for men looking for men which is odd until you remember even today there are situations where bring gay is not encouraged - by wives in particular. Call me lucky or unlucky but I have never been accosted.

And this place does need a refresher.

Bees! Not only were we alone, Cheyenne and I but we never saw a bee. Too bad as they are much needed these days we are told.

This is the old style walkway, yet to be replaced.

The riviera Canal marks the edge of the park, a ten minute amble from the car.


Later I drove a Riviera a Drive and took these pictures looking back at the park.

These are the only canal front homes in a Key West. There are a few other waterfront homes but not fronting a proper canal. Pay accordingly.

Meanwhile the hound and I were still blundering about in the mangroves. It's really hard to get away from noise in Key West and being a flat island swept by wind, car noise travels everywhere. And then this place is right next to the airport.

I was enjoying the deep blue summer sky, and it was early enough the breath taking humidity if later in the day hadn't settled over everything just yet.

It was a good day to be out. Excuse the squint. Later in the day we went to Walgreens to get passport photos as my British passport has expired. I think this picture would do better than Walgreen's effort.

Oh and the reason for the walkway is to cross the mud and water that the mangroves grow in. "Hamaca" is Spanish for hammock. It is said when the Spanish explorers encountered the natives of South Florida they described the dry spots where they slung their peculiar sleeping contraptions with a word that the Spanish copied phonetically, confusing the beds with the mounds of dirt with hardwood trees growing out of them. So now we nap in hammocks and view hardwood clumps rising slightly above the swamps as hammocks too.

On our way out driving down Government Road past the airport we saw the old hijacked Cuban airplane still sitting there rotting slowly. It's part of the embargo madness that planes flown to the US get awarded to a Cuban family that won a one-sided lawsuit against the Cuban government. So instead of obeying international law and returning the plane it gets to sit here and pay off a phantom debt. Even the Citizen newspaper has finally come out in favor of ending the embargo.

Might as well make the damned thing a homeless shelter. At least it would serve a purpose!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Keys Illustrated

Pictures of places and things from my archive. No order, no purpose, no meaning.
White a Street Pier
My Vespa GTS, lovely, full of promise that never delivered.
The modest Vespa 150 that delivers more than it appears to promise
Fort Zachary Taylor waterfront, looking north.
I don't get out on the water these days. Grr...
Once up for sale yet still there, Baby's Coffee.
For some people Key West is all image.
My dog used to love walking the backcountry with me.
Live here long enough and everything changes, including the former little train to Pigeon Key now no more.
The Fort. The one, the only. Lovely.
The Sheriff's Farm saving exotic animals as well as ducks.
The Boot Key Bridge in Marathon has also gone, victim of cuts to infrastructure maintenance.
Card Sound Road with my almost new Triumph Bonneville.
Fantasy Fest
Ethnic breakfast: Cuban cafe con leché and cheese bread at Five BrothersTwo, now for sale.
Bridge fishing