Saturday, September 3, 2016

Just A Category One

Hurricane Hermine isn't over yet, but I wanted to record some thoughts about this tropical storm that skirted Key West bringing just rain and wind and struck the panhandle of Florida forcing storm surge into land. In Florida one homeless guy has been killed by a falling tree so as usual damage to property easily outweighs loss of life compared to earthquakes tornadoes and landslides. Cedar Key got a nice trashing from this "modest" hurricane:
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I'm not in Cedar Key right now so I got these images from news outlets on the Internet and the lesson for me is that no hurricane is minor. The National Hurricane Center rates storms by sustained winds and Category Three moves up to the category of Major Hurricane but even 80 miles an hour, sustained is a lot of wind, even if it isn't sustained at 115 mph.
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Hurricanes lose strength over land by Hermine is expected to bring rain and wind to the east coast and ratchet back more strength in time to give the Outer Banks a good blow and perhaps bring damage to New Jersey and New York. That's the true power of a hurricane, even a modest category one that drops back to being just a tropical storm over land. Hermine dropped an estimated five inches of water in a  few hours on the Gulf Coast. Check out this picture below and ask yourself how you'd feel watching waves roll past your home in the middle of the night with shrieking winds:
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And the clean up after a storm is a pain in the ass. Power will probably be out and so will insects in force. It will be hot and sticky and drinking water will be as warm as the proverbial bucket of warm piss. Manual labor will be the order of the day and you will be lacking sleep and composure. 
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And all this if the storm doesn't increase in intensity in the last hours before landfall and perhaps the tide is higher than anticipated so flooding will be worse and on and on. I don't envy them Up North as they deal with all this. So the question is: what do we do in the Keys when hurricanes threaten? We sit back and watch the rest of the country get trashed. So far...But in the event don't underestimate the strength of the storm.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Caroline Paved

One really needs to take time sometimes to enjoy the good bits.and seeing Caroline Street paved is nice. This street used to be rippled and dented so badly you could barely ride a motorcycle sedately down it without being bounced out of the saddle.
There's a reminder of the piteous state the street was in:
Breakfast and the newspaper at Harpoon Harry's. Fond memories fro me from the years before I worked night shift. I don't think I would switch to days just to enjoy bacon and eggs in the morning.
History is everywhere:
Rusty garnering attention:
Talking of riding Caroline Street I spotted this guy around the block enjoying James Street, fully prepared with a helmet and everything:
I quite like palms coated in Christmas lights in the season but I was quite surprised to see some leftover lights sill hanging on:
I posted this on Instagram. Don't have a cow, drive one.
I've dumped out of Facebook. I find the social pressure of being asked to pray think or post comment agree or like just too much. Besides people keep re-posting instead of showing off their own pictures. I find Instagram much more soothing. All original pictures, no comments necessary. 
Finnegans Wake is undergoing one more transformation. I met the owner, a middle aged white guy, nice enough but he had trouble articulating the menu precisely of  a retired Surfer's Bar and restaurant. It's quite extensive and one hopes it is well done: Lucy's Link 
I suppose it's no coincidence this place is also the second restaurant in a chain originating in New Orleans. The ill fated Backspace was the same and I wonder if there is a connection. I did point out to this owner that he at least isn't fighting that squabble all over again. Finnegans is gone and that's that.
We shall have to see if this new attempt can hold it's own. Joe's Place went away. Back on Caroline and the former PT's and a bunch of other thin gs is now empty again. As is the rather passive aggressive bike parking sign in a hedge with no rack:
The street after all the construction looks glorious.
So will the JDL's Big Ten, former PT's former...blah blah blah spring back to life soon?
The gravel lot has been formalized at 908 Caroline into a tour bus parking lot. Tour buses get little respect in Key West as they bring people from Miami for the day and those people like cruise ship passengers are not viewed in the same favorable light as overnight visitors. 
Repaving looks good. I'd like to see more around town. Smooth streets, not more condos. My kind of construction.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Avenues, Stock Island

I do believe the Avenues of Stock Island will be exempt from the development plans being enacted for the rest of this working class island. I was out early one morning, after yet another downpour that filled low lying land, seen here at Bernstein Park looking more like Bernstein Lake.
The Avenues are where people buy own and hold private homes on actual lots unlike much of the housing on Stock Island which tends to be a mixture of apartments, public and private and trailer parks where the land is currently slated for development.
There are of course lots of trailers here with some concrete block houses and manufactured homes on stilts as well. 
Its quite an urban setting for all that Stock Island is unincorporated, lots of homes packed into the street.
There are dogs on chains on Stock Island and I have seen them outside some homes much to my discomfort but I saw none this day (Yay!). However I did see this which gave me a shiver imagining its former occupant:
Mind you, not all humans live a whole lot better which is worth remembering when animal cruelty crosses your path. To me this rates as a hutch with air conditioning:
There are newer homes here and a few years ago you'd be hard pressed to but one for less than half a million dollars.
The neighborhood in question is shown in this screen capture:
Address that are numerical streets, 1 through 20 are in New Town in Key West. Numbered avenues are on Stock Island.
Rusty is enjoying urban environments more and more:
The flag flying proud over someone's castle:
And then we find the picket fence delineating the aerial manufactured home.
The wing mirror dilemma as shown below. I ask myself why wing mirrors that get knocked about are absolutely impossible to re-rig onto the car. Clearly this owner gave it the old college try to no avail:
I like wandering the avenues especially early in the morning before the Le Mans style Grand Prix starts up with everyone launching theirs cars into the street for their commute.
It is a place of eccentricity and personal style, outdoor living and letting it all hang out. It's way too intimate for me.
I have a friend who lives here and in the six months since they moved in their dogs found some kids breaking into their back yard over a tall fence. Another friend says her boyfriend won't allow them to live here for fear of what fate worse than death might befall her.
To me it's noisy vibrant diverse and annoying in the Avenues in equal measure. I love walking around here but the idea of living her fills me with dread.
Dogs barking, engines revving, furniture being abandoned, its a real life West Side story or Eastenders played out in Spanish and English Creole and Spanglish.
My idea of gardening is hiring a landscaper but I am also a keen transporter to the dump of my outmoded unconsidered trifles. When I see a few too many bits and bobs piling up I start twitching, hitch up the trailer and haul them off to the dump where they relieve me of eleven dollars and I go home feeling it was money well spent. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for lightening the clutter.
If Rusty were to tell the story he'd point out this is a neighborhood filled with smells.
Because I'm human I smell nothing but I see cars everywhere, like used car lots.
I just don't see how even the most hardcore of developers could buy up all these lots and turn this into something hotel or resort-like. Perhaps its wishful thinking but I hope the chaotic run down avenues will be a thorn in the side of gentrification for years to come.
I will continue to walk here from time to time and enjoy the sometimes astonishing view of life as it is lived on Stock Island.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gilbert's Resort, Key Largo

I was driving home from the mainland and for some reason I decided to stop my impetuous flight on Highway One and take a break. Actually Rusty hadn't stretched his legs for a while and he was the reason. I decided to take a tour without actually getting out of the car of Gilbert's Resort.
It used to be right alongside the Highway and there was this drawbridge across Jewfish Creek. I took this picture in 2008 as the new flyover was just being opened:
This used to be the main road and traffic was swept right pas the front door of Gilbert's. The future did not look bright when they took out the drawbridge and closed the connection to the other side of the creek. I figured people would be too busy whipping by on the bridge up above...
As usual my economic prognostications were all wet. Gilbert's seems to be doing fine thank you and it's not surprising. This is your first Keys encounter, a place where you can sleep, eat and drink right on the waterfront in a suitably tropic resort atmosphere. 
The motel itself is decidedly old fashioned...
 ...and the surroundings are only glamorous in the context of the traditionally run down tropical ambiance that visitors expect in the Keys:
A few coconut palms have grown up around the sign marking the turn off to Gilbert's, thus obscuring the view, but this 2008 picture clearly shows the height of the bridge over the resort;
It's a huge construction:
And you do get splendid views from on top of the  bridge. 
Of Gilbert's, open water, mangrove islands. Worth a view.