Friday, September 26, 2014

Key West Bight Asleep

I set my alarm for five am on my night off and I looked forward oddly enough to getting up in the dark and letting my hound loose on an unsuspecting city a half hour later. All as planned, Caroline Street dead to the world:
Call me anti social but this is the best time to be in the city, the bars have closed, everyone has gone home and day shift hasn't yet turned up to start the business of cleaning up and reorganizing from last night's debauchery.
The simplest of scenes presents itself as something mysterious and unknowable, the familiar made strange by the hour and the darkness. 
It's me, Cheyenne and all the walking dead of my imagination alone in the world plundering the formerly living to stay alive. 
These souvenir stalls and bait shops aren't exactly my hang outs by day but Cheyenne loves this part of town and she trots back and forth sniffing everything, because apparently everything here has a story for her nose. 
The Cuban Coffee Queen was firing up as I walked by, employees arriving on two wheels, pedal and power. Coffee and cheese toast is the breakfast of champions around here but luckily they weren't ready and I had no money on me so temptation was held at bay.
Key West is full of shadows and the fact that summer time now extends into November is a pleasure for me as I like the early morning darkness, whether I'm riding home from work or whether I'm just walking around.
I like the old duck tour amphibian bus stop sign, it remains as an Awful Warning. The Navy killed off those monstrosities by preventing them from launching in the Navy Basin at Truman Waterfront.
However the sign is a reminder that they will probably be back one day clogging the streets. That's what their website says at any rate and I wouldn't put it past them.
No time to shilly shally as my dog has places to go and things to see and its hard enough to keep up. Soon Key West will be awake again and we have walking to do before that happens.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Meadows

To be awake at dawn with your Labrador and to have not a care in the world is a wonderful thing. I decided it was time we went for a walk in the Meadows, that part of Key West that looks like Old Town but is on the western edge of Garrison Bight.
It's those streets bounded by Angela at Peary Court to Truman, and White to Eisenhower.
The bits I like about it is that it's a quiet neighborhood, not least at dawn in September. In winter throngs of people would be out walking their dogs about now.
My dog had the run of the place and this was her day, apparently to sniff tires.
I enjoy the mixture of architecture here, Old Florida:
Trim homes with compliant palms to add a touch of tropical charm:
A pensive Labrador weighing her options:
Lots of trees in this neighborhood, always a sign of wealth for some reason. Homes in The Meadows aren't cheap, and half a million dollars won't buy you much if you are used to ranchettes on quarter acres in other places. There are no sidewalks which is annoying and off street parking is rare as most garages have been sacrificed to create more living space.
The charm of this neighborhood is obvious, despite the cars crammed on the streets.
The Meadows got their name from the time these streets were built on a meadow, I am told.
There are no shops, no tourist attractions, no convenience stores and thus no reasons to visit these selected streets, unless you live here or are eccentric enough to enjoy walking your dog here.
Even the old street markers survive even if they are not apparently considered worth preserving legibly.
And so we left before the neighbors were properly awake.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Seven Mile Bridge Clouds

I drove  to Marathon where my wife teaches, to meet her for dinner at the Tarpon Creek Grille at the Holiday Inn. It was a spur of the moment thing and Cheyenne did not want to stay home so I took her in the car on an empty Overseas Highway. I was struck by the cloud cover, caused by one of several tropical depressions blowing wind and rain into Southeast Florida recently.  I was so isolated on the road I took a few pictures, not my usual, just off the cuff shots of my primary color world reduced to pale shades of blue and gray. For a change.

Dinner of Cuban rice balls and Italian shrimp pizza was good. The new restaurant is pretty and service was first rate. I want to go back.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Walking Around Fleming

I have given up wondering how much other people are aware of their own mortality but ever since I was a teenager my mother's death brought home to me the very tenuous nature of life, and the impermanence of our time on earth. It is commonplace for the subject to produce nervous laughter or avoidance or irritation if a blundering fool like me brings the subject up in polite company. I am fond of remarking that if I die while riding, well, that's not something to mourn, but to accept.
 Yet even with an awareness of death life has to be lived as though time is limitless to some extent. you can't max out your credit and spend all your pay check and expect to live with any serenity and purpose at all. yes, we are going to die, but we do have to keep a little something in reserve assuming we won't actually die today! Key West with its churches and its  street people is an example of how life can so easily be lived on the edge.
Last week I learned of the death of an Internet blogger who died in his 60s while asleep, not in the throes of some ill fated road traffic crash, as one might assume would be the fate of a rider... So this past week has been filed with the reflections that come in the wake of a reminder of the very definite parameters of life.
Walking around Key West with my dog I am reminded of abundance, wealth and the superfluous stuff that overloads our lives. Check out all these trash cans:
Even the recycling bins are filled with garbage that will rot in the landfill 200 miles away at Pompano Beach. Bottles and cans only? Hardly!
 I took a walk one morning recently under cloudy skies and Cheyenne, who doesn't  seem to know what gloom is, cheered me up by trotting back and forth incessantly. There is stirring in me that feeling that I must not let life pass me by, perhaps a post mortem gift from Bob Leong, now a mere shade himself no longer able to ride and see and live, and thus I feel the burden that requires me not to waste a minute. Which is bloody hard to do!
 Routines reach out to us and grab us by the ankles. Fear of the future impels us to seek work and security and a place in the world.  Our friends expect us to toe the line and social pressures try to bend us to fit the mold.
More than most I have found my own way through life, declining o be settled in one place, choosing not to have children, eschewing most attempts to shoe horn me into a "proper" career. Yet key West has seduced me into immobility and I like it.
Bob recently wrote of preparing to put his two motorcycles into winter storage to face Canada's cold season off the road and he lamented the lack of rides taken in 2014. That thought set me to thinking how much commuting I have done and how little motorcycle travel his year. We have done family road trips ith more to follow, if I'm spared, but motorcycle trips? Nah. 
By an odd coincidence my wife recently suggested I should take a motorcycle trip this Fall and spend a long weekend cruising the Sunshine State. I guess I must have been giving off that vibe. I hope the vibe is just a need to live, to do something, to prove in some infantile way I am alive beyond the restrictions of routine. To sit, to drink, to stare aimlessly into space is as sure a living death as any.
I walked Cheyenne, I got tired after a full night at work, I went home, I slept. It was good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Crawling Awake At Higgs Beach

Early morning at Higgs Beach, the county owned property on the south shore of the city.
Higgs beach is a popular hang out.
 Local residentially challenged folk like to spend their days here, and though the beach is closed at eleven pm each day it is open to all during the day. Monroe County frequently has an off-duty deputy sheriff assigned to patrol the beach during the day.
Sleeping by day is permitted and the restrooms are open which helps keep the place clean. There is a sign in the bathrooms reminding patrons that ablutions in the sinks are not allowed. The overnight homeless shelter on Stock Island two miles away has showers. 
Just because they have no roof does not mean they don't have opinions. Lots of opinions for anyone who will listen.
 This woman was loudly giving backing directions to a truck that nearly managed to cream another parked car. Had she one, you might have been tempted to tell her not to give up her day job as traffic control is not her strength. No harm done, just a lot of noise.
 Some of us keep our shoes on the porch, others park their sandals outside their car. The beach is better admired through a windshield for some people.
These shelters used to be favorite hang outs for frequently rowdy drunk homeless citizens. They got themselves banned following numerous citizen complaints, picnickers intimidated from bringing their families to the beach.
The county adopted a smart and simple expedient of  fencing off the pavilions and calling it a restricted children's playground and all adults must be accompanied by children. Unfortunately one of the shade trees shed a branch when children were playing here so all the trees were promptly mown down and replaced by awnings. But the local subjects and their street drama have been effectively silenced. 
The beach itself is raked every morning to keep noxious vegetable matter off the sand, expensive Bahamian stuff, imported to delight tourists, as are the coconut palms which are not native trees in these islands.
The tractor rolls up and down scooping up dead seaweed while the dude with the bucket wanders around collecting trash.
 A tractor is actually a rare sight in these islands where agriculture is an unknown profession. What dirt there is, is too expensive to use to grow crops in this salt laden air. Pioneers used to grow pineapples in the Keys a hundred years ago but cultivated fields stop at Homestead. 

 The short cement swimming pier has steps leading down to the water but this morning I saw one dude only on it, running up and down looking for the source of eternal youth.
Higgs Beach has grassy areas and a dog park about which I wrote in 2010 and which is still there though under threat of being moved to accommodate a new road pattern at Higgs Beach.
I find these outdoor spectacles of Greco-Roman private exercise to be rather tasteless. God invented gymnasiums for a reason, but fortunately they all have jobs to go to or something because later in the day they disappear, unlike the residentially challenged.
Cheyenne is the world's worst opportunist but these folks were simply exchanging opinions about the world and had no food on offer so she soon lost interest.
This guy further up the path at Rest Beach next door to Higgs showed immediate interest in my blonde babe...who was more interested in his breakfast which was placed incautiously on the ground. Like most men he would gladly have given up lunch for a chance to chat up one as cute as Cheyenne but I felt bad for him and dragged her onwards. He might thank me later.
But he sure did look desolate as Cheyenne stumped off with me, her one true love.
 A lot of early risers enjoy the White Street Pier to check out the sunrise.
I might have too but my dog pulled me away among the palms and  trash cans at the Bocce Court on the way back to the car...