Sunday, January 13, 2019

Staples Avenue Footbridge

My inability to move quickly is annoying from time to time, like on those occasions when a perfectly composed dog rolls rapidly by on a specially built trailer towed behind a bicycle. There he goes..!
And the bicycle was heading toward the Staples Avenue foot bridge which was where Rusty and I were heading from where I parked the car a few blocks away. The housing in New Town is very different from the cute wooden housing blocks in Old Town.
This is where Conchs came to build modern homes when they dumped their downtown homes on hopeful businessmen from the mainland.  Who ultimately got the best deal is open to interpretation of course. I have added here a screen shot of Google maps  from the neighborhood which shows the footbridge as the narrow neck joining two streets across the Salt Run canal which runs north and south at that point. The canal enters Key West from open water near Winn Dixie at Overseas market as shown. The footbridge connects 8th Avenue to 10th Avenue allowing bicycles and pedestrians to avoid the traffic of four lane Flagler Avenue. The Salt Run Canal isn't clearly shown but it goes all the way and makes a right angled turn into the Salt Ponds. 
The Staples Bridge has been around a long time probably more than a decade though I have lost track exactly. It was a much desired addition to New Town to allow safer travel across town.
It was an early introduction to the irritation that the anonymous Citizen's Voice can cause. There was an eager cyclist who kept nagging the city commission to get the promised bridge built. Finally it happened and the outraged author faded away. As I recall her never did post  a vote of thanks or anything gracious like that. 
The bridge is now, in my mind, a monument to that angry cyclist's persistence.
Do not ride your rental scooter over the bridge! It's not okay. The NIMBY neighbors got all bent out of shape by the construction of the bridge as the idea of encouraging bicycles to parade through here was going to ruin life as they knew it in this cul de sac
In the end of course the sky failed to fall in and this bridge has become a helpful highway to cyclists crossing town. They come they go silently and without visibly ruining the approaches... 
The canal is deep enough for boats, at least for boats low enough to pass under the road bridges which are only a few feet off the water. I saw a dinghy and a small center console while walking here though photography is inhibited by the thick mangrove bushes either side. 
Rusty and I looped round the canal across the footbridge then across Flagler next to the traffic then back up the other bank of the canal.
It is a pleasant enough neighborhood and you can see why residents weren't keen to get squadrons of bicycles through here.
Modern single story homes with air conditioning, yards garages and off stree parking for boatsd and trailers and stuff.
Not picturesque but very practical. 
I always hope it snows somewhere else. So far I have not been disappointed.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Not Cold Enough

I was pretty sure there was someone in the elevator when I was waiting to go to work because I could hear the hydraulics huffing and puffing and the elevator just wouldn't show up. Naturally by the time I felt I could stand no longer and I deployed the walker to sit in, the box arrived and the silver doors opened.
Sure enough there was a man inside. What was weird was he was dressed in a t shirt and a swimsuit and carrying a pile of towels. Because I have no filters I blurted:' Are you going to the pool?" With horror in my voice. Yup he said smiling broadly. I've lived here fifteen years but I grew up in New England. 
It's 65 degrees out there I said, and the temperatures are dropping as the sun goes down. I work night shift so I was getting into the elevator around 5:30 to be ready at work by six. He looked cheerful as he strode out into the parking lot.
I work for the National Weather Service he said as though that qualified him to underestimate the frigid temperatures associated with this cold front. Besides he said I'm a Federal employee so I have thick hide not getting paid and all. 
I told him how glad I was to be a municipal employee, which in retrospect may not have been the most empathetic approach to the conversation. He said this wasn't his first shut down, which is grotesque when you think about it, but it was the first time no one is sure they are going to get back pay. That gave me pause as I stumped across the parking lot behind my rolling walker. 
He was very diplomatic about laying the blame. But madness his easily identified even this far from Washington. Madness is failing to operate things you have promised to run them. I can't imagine working like that and the extent of the shut down is horrifying. Law enforcement isn't exempt.  
The Coastguard  is  not getting paid. That made the headlines locally. Everyone loves the Coasties but at the moment their paychecks suck.
A colleague is taking a plane in a couple of weeks and is wondering out loud how that's going to work out. The security people are falling by the wayside as they aren't getting paid either. There is an air of Alice in Wonderland in this shut down, daily life carries on but some among us are being picked off. 
The weather guy's parting thought was wondering if Canada was open for refugees. We both knew we aren't going anywhere but the Conch Republic state of mind isn't strong enough to stand up to no paychecks from the Feds. 
I'm so glad I work for the city. Pity the Federal workers in our midst, even if they are tough enough to go swimming on a 65 degree afternoon. You still need a paycheck to hold out here.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Simonton Beach

Simonton Beach remains one of those funky little treasures in Key West that you can visit and enjoy without spending any money at all.  So I come back from time to time and take a quick peak at the west end of Simonton Street at this little strand of sand wedged between two large hotels.
I caught a glimpse of the Sunset Key ferry heading into the island dock. The ferry runs all day and all night every half hour in each direction. The crossing takes less than ten minutes and in the middle of the night it runs on demand. But you have to have a reason to ride it, a meal at the restaurateur on the island and if not that  then permanent or temporary residence in the exclusive quarters out there. It's terribly private and random wandering, even if you rent a cottage for the night, is not allowed in case you butt into a musician, an actor or a politician, who none of them mix with hoi polloi like you or me.
The former public lavatory on Simonton Beach (coming back to earth here with a bump!) has been converted into a restaurant and a very good thing it has turned into to, in my opinion. What used to be a hang out for bums and unsavory characters has become a pleasant place for those who like to sit on beaches and eat a sandwich or drink a beer. I don't have much truck with bums mostly and even less  do I lollygag on beaches but for those that do this spot has become cleaned up and accessible. Rusty and I were there early so he got to hang without being shooed away. 
If you lived on a boat in Key West Harbor this would be you (below) commuting. It looks romantic but his bum is probably wet and if he forgot anything he needs back on the boat, he's screwed for the rest of the day. Plus he'd better be hauling his trash and an empty jug or two to fill with drinking water to haul back to his little piece of floating paradise which he never sails as it is too much bother to move your home under sail. Other than that this is the ideal lifestyle. Until hurricane season.
This guy uses his boat for recreation or to make money and pays the price to live on land probably:
The ferry leaves at eight and gets back at five in the afternoon with a crowd of sunburned occasionally seasick or drunk passengers. I highly recommend at least one visit to the fort and if you can swing it go camping for a few nights. Staying on the island after everyone leaves is wonderful and the night sky is exceptional. Best National Park ever.
Oh and take boring videos as you go. Your friends will really want to see them when you get home.
Traffic jam!
The need to gossip transcends everything.
Purposeful angler. The long black pole on deck is used to punt the boat through very shallow water to chase fish on the flats. The captain stands on the platform above the engine and pushes the boat with the pole reminiscent in style of a Venetian gondolier (who actually uses a bent paddle not a pole).
Simonton Beach from the cement dock along which I had propelled my rolling walker and which I had to make sure I didn't drop over the side in my eagerness to take pictures. The bright plastic things are pedal operated catamarans which when I was a kid were called pedalos. 
The shed is actually Lagerheads restaurant which you can check on Tripadvisor where people say they like it. 300 reviews and 68%  excellent.
I used a filter to reduce the colors in this picture which didn't get as many thumbs up as I would have given it on Instagram. I really like the picture as it came out.
Then some black and white:
I took some random boat pictures just for fun.
It doesn't necessarily look as bouncy and as rough as it was in the harbor. Key West is simply not well equipped with a sound all weather anchorage for pleasure boats. Boot Key Harbor in Marathon is much better offering protection from wind and waves in all directions. Key West Harbor is deep, requiring a lot of anchor chain and rope, and has strong currents and lots of traffic all of which adds up to a poor spot to live at anchor. To get peace and quiet you have to go a long way out beyond Christmas Tree Island (also known more formally as Wisteria Key) and the further you are the more exposed your anchorage is and the longer your commute. 
I got the impression two out of three people on this boat below, were more absorbed in their phones than in their lovely surroundings:
It was probably a long morning fishing already. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Rusty at Dawn

Another early morning dog walk downtown,  and the photos shown here I took with my iPhone 8 which I find has much better balance for night pictures. The big camera frankly requires too much fiddling to get it right and when I'm walking Rusty, which is to say every day, I don't  have time to set up a tripod and twiddle dials. So I fall back on the phone and it seems to do fine.
There was a question yesterday about how Rusty managed my time in the hospital and rehab and how he is dealing with being home with me.  First off he was perfect. The poor dog didn't see me for nearly three weeks, as i was suddenly whisked out of his life by the helicopter that flew me from the accident scene on Highway One straight to the Intensive Care at Jackson South Hospital. Rusty was handed off like a parcel with friends picking him up or visiting him at the house and Layne coming and going at weird hours. Thank god for friends and for Rusty's perfect patience. He handled the commotion with perfect aplomb. 
Finally he was able to see me at the rehab facility which shortly thereafter changed hands and dogs were subsequently banned - but Rusty was grandfathered as all the staff loved him. He hated the hospital bed I was lying in as the electric motors that raised and lowered the bed freaked him out. He was clearly massively uncomfortable in the strange room but as usual he soldiered on and learned to cope. Indeed by the time of his third visit Layne said he started to wag his tail and get all excited even before she pulled into the parking lot. He recognized the approach to rehab.  Not only that he also got very comfortable with my bed, lying in my lap and even napping on the bed when I was sitting in my wheelchair. 
Nowadays we are living in a borrowed apartment with an elevator, very kindly made available to me while I strengthen my gait and the chair lift at home on Cudjoe gets to be less intimidating. Rusty is no great fan of apartment ;living as he has no dog door and can't come and go as he pleases at home. But he is infinitely adaptable and waits patiently in the apartment when we are forced to leave him at home for a few hours. 
He likes walking round the apartment complex in the gardens as there are lots of dogs walked there at odd hours and there seems to be much of interest for him. He walks too fast for me but my wife cn keep up with him. I take him places where he can wander off leash and i also take him home to Cudjoe frequently to let him know we still live there.  He is doing quite well with no obvious signs of stress and we help him along by making a huge fuss of him. I have noticed he has become a little more close, choosing to sleep alongside me when I'm home alone napping, or sharing the bed with my wife while I'm at work.
I also take him for street  walks as he enjoys those. Downtown before 6:30 I can let him trot along on his own and I totter along behim him with my rolling walker.
I've walked him around Mallory Square and up and down Fleming and Southward Streets and I've managed to keep going up to 75 minutes. My legs tend to burn after that long on my feet and I generally need a nap before physical therapy or a session in the gym...But these days my life consists of bursts of exercise be it walking or the gym followed by sleep. They say bone repair requires a great deal of rest and I'm living snoozing proof of that.
The light coming up didn't do enough to douse the decorations at the waterfront and they looked good:


There are still several multi-million condos for sale on Simonton Street if that is of interest:
And Old key West survives in a few spaces and yards with ongoing projects and a taste of the sea:
Time for a nap.