Friday, January 6, 2017

Fire On THe Water

There are these two old guys who live for a few months each year at the RV park on Ohio Key and each morning they wander out on the beach across the highway and they come with their dogs.
While Lucas and Sam play out of the water  the men stand up the beach a bit to avoid the flying sand and water thrown up by the frantic dogs. Sam the Labrador and Rusty:
They, the men, talk of this and that, their ailments which all retirees seem to enjoy, and they talk of politics and tell tales of human stupidity and sometimes they get around to discussing life in the RV park.
And I know this because I bring Rusty here once in a while for a play date. He seems to enjoy himself being sociable with the other dogs and I, much to my surprise enjoy listening to the two men who are close to 20 years older than me discuss the joys of life in retirement.

Below I took a skimpy picture of the American Shoal light tower barely visible to the naked eye:
Before the other dogs arrived I took advantage of our alone time to set Rusty to running up and down the narrow strip of sand not covered in seaweed. While he did that I played with my Lumix FZ330 and its rather remarkable telephoto lense.  Remarkable for a "bridge camera" which resembles a traditional Single Lense Reflex in size and shape but is a one piece camera that functions like a sophisticated pocket camera. Hence the term "bridge" as it bridges two different philosophies of camera equipment.
One of the old farts is from Kentucky and he drawls in that peculiarly typical way that makes almost any pronouncement hilarious. Particularly when the speaker has a sharp wit and a non nonsense view of human stupidity and frailty. Because I speak with an English accent (modified over the years) I am viewed as extra smart  which I find very odd. Especially when I come up against a Southerner who paid attention while living a long life and is frequently stereotyped badly for his accent despite the knowledge he has gained. I wish he was at work with me listening to the catalogue of complaints I hear answering 911 calls of which very few are what you might call emergencies...He has a pointed and wry sense of the ridiculous.
 I learned a fair bit about sleep apnea the other day as Rusty ran himself into a coma. It turns out one of the guys has failed to get a  good nights sleep in about five years. Hard to imagine.
 There we stood on the edge of the world pondering death by truck driven by some crazy suicide killer in the name of religion. I don't suppose I could run out of the way one of the men said. After we've walked  a  couple of hours on Duval we get pretty slow, he pondered to himself. Don't know if we could  step aside he said. I wondered if having people walking around with guns everywhere would put a suicide driver off.

He told me about a  veteran he knew who kept 28 guns in a 30 foot RV who he allowed didn't seem to be "quite right." I wondered if the veteran could hit an angry truck driver with any of the 28 if push came to shove. Not too far away traffic rumbled on US One, caring not one jot about our mental ramblings.
I went to the nursery yesterday Sleep Apnea said. I stood and stared at plants all morning, which made her happy. His buddy was still wondering about the 28 guns the veteran owned. I wonder he said where he stored them all in an RV only thirty feet long. Well he did live alone said the other old timer as though that made room for more guns and fewer plants. I went on vacation with 8 kids and grandkids once, the other guy reminisced. It was pretty good even though we only had three beds.
I'd rather have a dog than a bunch of plants or guns though I wondered if we live in a  world where random drivers may suddenly decide to run us down to the greater glory of God. If that were the case I don't think a gun would save me. I am so clumsy I'd shoot myself first.
Rusty was exhausted by then  and happy. As we all were.
 I wasn't that tired.
Play date is effective.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Lost Horizon

I stood on the beach and watched  a whole winter world float by. The waters south of Bahia Honda were busy, another sign that the winter influx has started to fill the Keys for the next few months.
It is a relief to come out to places like this and get away from work and the crowded roads and all the people on the streets. 
The funny thing about these places is that visitors naturally tend to congregate in one place and just a few feet away there you will find a quiet spot to walk with your dog, take pictures and space out all by your lonesome. 
Rusty found iguana holes to inspect and I put my Lumix camera to use chasing boats and birds with the telephoto lense.
A busy dog.
An hour of running back and forth chasing smells and he was ready to take  a nap when we got home.
I am not used to seeing pink seaweed. So I took a picture as Rusty rustled up the bushes behind me. There was no one anywhere in sight even though a dozen cars were in the parking lot right off Highway One.
Then I saw the cormorant paddling along the shore and I thought to myself, small bird big ocean.
The old Bahia Honda bridge, over a hundred years old in fact, still stands and looks great in pictures. I know I have taken variations on this picture before and I am pretty sure I will again.  It is an extraordinary structure no matter how many times you photograph it.
I thought I blew this picture but the FZ330 Panasonic made a picture I did not expect to get.

I saw what I thought was a car exhaust under water. On closer inspection it was a waterlogged old boat fender and the rope it had been tied to... I wonder what the story was?
This barge was actually a sailing catamaran with its mast on deck. Another story there too, especially if the mast lowering was involuntary.
Dramatic skies following a weak cold front:
We don't seem to get strong cold fronts anymore with powerful winds and rain and roiling clouds and plunges in temperatures. Everything is relative but a drop from 82 to 65 in the space of an hour, especially around here in the sub-tropics, is pretty dramatic.



The lobster carapace put me in mind of lobster mini season and that's something I don't much like. It's two days when anyone can dive for lobster supposedly under strict limits and conditions (no air tanks, no spear guns, not in residential canals etc...) but it turns into a massacre the week before commercial lobster season begins. 
A couple of turkey vultures pondering what exactly Rusty might taste like as he...
...lay there panting to get his breath back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Afternoon Sun

The gym I go to is close by Don's Place, the bar, so when I am sweaty and tired and Rusty is with me we go for a walk which often leads us this way down Truman Avenue. I posted this picture on my Instagram account (michaelconchscooter) as "Wasting Away In Margaritaville." A bit obvious but true nonetheless.
The other side of Don's Place on Turman. Where you come for a seven am drink.
What I like about Key West is what sometimes drives you crazy about this town: the variety of characters and scenes that one just takes for granted. Homeless run shoulders with millionaires who wear street clothes without labels. Cycling is efficient, but car ownership isn't and thus loses its role as status symbol.
I read on Facebook about the travails of packing and leaving for anew home in California posted by someone I knew in town. I can't say we shared lifestyles as he made a lot of money and l;iked to live high on the hog. I don't mind going high on the hog but I am happy to go low too, especially when I travel. I see no point in journeying to a country 5,000 miles away to eat the same high end "American grille" or sushi instead of trying local dishes. 
So when I read of their new California home in a gated community with home owners passwords and bylaws and all that stuff I wasn't surprised. I guess after  a long time in the chaos of Old Town orderly gated serenity has its appeal. And yet here we were approaching another typical street scene, bicycle repair man took time out to pet Rusty and show me the nuances of his low rider, two people standing in the street blocking the road, as you do, chatting.
Nice signage too, for a change instead of the nasty plastic hardware store stuff:
The bell at the firehouse museum on Grinnell:
No idea what this is but someone worked hard to create it:
Rusty rarely grazes on street food but he cleaned up this lot. He is a surprisingly picky eater for a former stray. Maybe he likes the civilized food he gets at home these days:
Oyster shells as road fill. Weirdly medieval:
I love the evening light on these classic Key West porches:
Reading while cycling:
Florida louvered window:
Here you go, home sweet home. Conch cottage needs  a lick of paint. And restoration no doubt. 
Good luck!