Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rusty Does Little Hamaca

I had lunch with Robert, we parted ways and Rusty got up from sitting quietly under our feet (it was outdoors). Rather than gallop home I decided to reward Rusty with a walk. One day I will run out of new places and he will be disappointed. Today  was not that day.  
The walkway in Little Hamaca City Park has been modernized with aluminum to replace the old wooden handrails, which were here when I came with Cheyenne:
Rusty trotted on ahead and he is devilishly  difficult to photograph as he moves so quickly:
Unlike his predecessor, the late lamented yellow Labrador Cheyenne who was fast enough:
The old information signs are still here, decomposing into illegibility: 
The essence of the story, oft repeated here is that the Spaniards understood the Indians to be describing their beds "hammocks" when the Indians meant the mounds-of-high-ground-that-are-dry, when asked about their sleeping places. Hence the confusion and the name given to outcrops of dry land in the middle of the Everglades ( and Key West it turns out): hammocks where hardwoods thrive in the midst of water.
The walkway crosses the path above the dirt and the salt water and eventually arrives at the Riviera Canal. 
There used to be space to tie up a boat here for water access to the park. Nowadays the aluminum rail is solid and uninterrupted. Not many boats ever used the dock and I expect fear of falling into the water motivated the change:
And so back whence  we came:
The gambusia trenches are still here of course. They used to keep mosquito larvae eating fish in these trenches to help with the insect problem in the Lower Keys. I suppose the silting up problem is more trouble than they are worth:
This is where the story gets a bit sticky. I sort of wandered off the trail following Rusty and playing with my camera, and before I knew it I wasn't at the edge of the trail but I stepped off far enough to be properly lost.
Rusty thought it great fun, but I was wearing socks and sneakers and my feet got wet, the branches snagged me and it was an awful sweaty struggle to get out of the maze. I have no idea how I managed this feat of idiocy.
 Twenty minutes later all was well, feathers unruffled once more...
The wretched dog enjoyed himself enough to demolish a bowl of fresh water:
 Rusty was far from exhausted so we had to tour the old Hawk Missile site, a Cuban Missile Crisis installation now rotting away. And from the tops of the berms that protected individual rocket launcher sites we could see all the way back to the Riviera Canal:
In this picture you an see the berm of mounded sand and gravel built to protect the rocket launchers:
We climbed them together and I felt like I was twelve years old again, except that now I have gray in my beard and an iPhone instead of a slingshot.
 And a brash brisk explorer of a dog:
They are trying to beautify this area too, but I hope it remains as open and untrammeled by signs and fences. Fat chance:
 My dogs, past and present love exploring this place:
Past above and present below, barely visible through the leaves:
Another berm-top view, this time of the Las Salinas and Oceanwalk complexes at the eastern end of Key West:
 They have done a lot of clean up around here which is nice, I grant you:
Rusty will be sad if this place gets closed off or overly gentrified:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Road Block

Is it a big deal? I don't think so in this case but Dorn Road has lost the last quarter of a mile of it's five mile length (measured from Highway One).

The road has been sinking at this spot for some time but I guess the dip got bad enough that the county decided to close the end of the road to traffic.

There is also this hole which promises a more widespread problem underneath the apparently solid surface. Good idea to close off the road especially as there are no houses beyond the break.

I love the solitude at the end of Dorn Road. You can hear the traffic on the highway if there is a strong breeze but often you are in the middle of nowhere in silence. The last two houses on the end of this road are off the grid as the power lines stopped a mile or so back.

The high tides are encroaching in the mangroves pushing colors and shapes ahead of them in the form of frothy mud.

There is nothing out here, 28 miles from Duval Street.

"Nothing" is an exaggeration, there are always graffiti and in this case a Carolina Dog hanging out.

The red reflectors used to be here at the turnout at the very end of the road.

The cement barricades used to be here, blocking off a side trail which is now no longer accessible to vehicles.

I wonder how long it will take for the road surface to give way to nature as it is left to it's own devices?

This barricades gave me an increased feeling of isolation for some reason that I could not put my finger on.

And then after a surprisingly long wander we got home and Rusty spent a little time sun bathing in his favorite spot on the tiled driveway.


He likes living here enough he doesn't bother to leave which he could very well do as there is no fence to prevent him.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Boca Chica Hike

I was not quite so demonstrative but I enjoyed going deep into the back country at Boca Chica Beach.

I haven't been all the way back for years. Cheyenne came back a time or two soon after I got her from the pound. This picture from 2009:

Rusty had great fun running down the beach and working his way through the bushes. The shoe fence is still there:

Some people like to leave their mark as they go. I take pictures and leave footprints where there is sand or mud. Some build cairns for whatever obscure purpose:

There is also an elaborate stick structure that Cheyenne found fascinating in 2010:

And which Rusty circle in delight in 2016. They have done their best to give it a suburban sort of look with decorations and even a disabled Yamaha Zuma scooter parked along the far side. Ready for the commute as it were:


It is a desolate and lovely coastline with a sandy trail barely discernible among the rocks and mangrove roots:

The first obstacle is this water crossing. It's enough of a river to have encouraged one man to set up his nude sun worshiping location just before the gap in the beach. This area is noted for its nude sunbathing, and more.

Rusty's confidence in me has gone up enormously in the two months we have been together and he took the plunge fearlessly when I indicated we had to cross.

The little Carolina Dog is quite the acrobat:

I was wading thigh deep in the water which happily was quite warm but fast flowing like a river on a rising tide.

This beach also has it's share of Cuban Chugs, the name given to the craft they build out of found materials to cross the Straits of Florida, 90 miles of potentially extremely rough waters. I admire their guts, building these things in a country where it's forbidden and then taking off on such a journey seeking a chance to land avoiding the coastguard who would take them back to Cuba. Once they get ashore they are safe and can stay.

The Cubans also put engines in their Chugs. Some are gas powered and some diesel adapted for marine use. It is remarkable ingenuity and bravery, so I hate seeing posts on Facebook each time there is a landing where people spit on these Cubans for wanting to come here for "the benefits." Only someone who has never emigrated, or left their home town can imagine that these journeys are undertaken lightly for a chance to not work and help their families. I emigrated in a commercial jet airliner and that was tough enough.

Sometimes the stray dog comes out in Rusty. His frolicking was interrupted by the sight of something mysterious and weird and of deep concern. When he gets worried he sits and stares just like this in the picture below. He had spotted the pelican bobbing on the water, a dark dot in the top right of the picture.

He explored every inch of the woods:

In 2010 this sturdily built canal to allow the flow of water in and out of the bay was only half built:

Now it's finished and you can't cross to the last piece of open road, Old State Road 4A that used to go all the way to Stock Island.

We turned back and walked the much shorter faster direct route on the old asphalt back to the beach:

Rusty was not tired by the heat and was always alert, looking around:

An extinct civilization, an old power pole:

Back at the beach a cool breeze was blowing and Rusty set off to explore the woods behind the trail. He didn't want to miss a thing. I played with my iPhone camera:

On the last stretch there was one final terror that forced me to put Rusty on a leash for the last half mile. This red thing was bobbing and weaving looking to kill my little brown dog:

We made it safely out of there. Rusty has even got used to me rinsing him off after a wet walk and he took his bath in stride. Then it was time for a very long deep nap.

When I made too much noise in the living room he went to his bed in the bedroom. When I retired to the bedroom for a nap after my chores and before I went to work, he got up wearily and went to find some peace and quiet on the couch in the living room. He really needed his sleep poor boy.