Sunday, April 21, 2019

Olivia Street By Night

It was early in the morning. Rusty woke me up and demanded a walk. It had been a while since we came to Key West before dawn so I drove us downtown from our home on Cudjoe Key.
I started by taking him to Truman Waterfront which held no interest. So then I stopped on Olivia Street for a look see. This Rusty inspected with greater enthusiasm. I got a few pictures.
It was around five in the morning by the time we got here but there was no one around, except for passing cars on Duval Street. 
I wandered along behind Rusty's busy nose enjoying the warm night air and the architecture that never bores me.
We are told Key West is the largest historic wooden neighborhood in the country. 
Not surprising really. Simonton at Olivia:
I can look at this stuff all night long. All day too, except it's more peopley then.
It's remarkable to me how much detail there is in the homes around Old Town and I've been looking at this stuff for two decades.
Olivia Street looking east, away from Duval Street that is.
And not all of it is wood:
But there again this is old Florida and it looks excellent and atmospheric:
Back on Duval Street briefly, at Petronia:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mangrove Walk With Dog

Combine this with a cool easterly breeze and you have a perfect walk to end a long work night.
 I still see people online apologizing for crappy phone photos. I left my big camera in the car and used my iPhone 8 for a change.
 I had fun mixing up the compositions and the filters. Apple gives the filters weird names too, like "Vivid Warm' which I find intriguing. Or  "Vivid Cool" for a change.

 A rising sun helps give some dramatic colors too.
 Next day on Summerland Key Rusty was on form exploring.
 I was still waving my iPhone about.
 We sat together for a while enjoying the day.

 And at the end of Niles Channel Road I got all artistic with the black and white filter. 

 I think we had some good walks.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mall On Duval

It was last Friday evening I parked the car at the Old Town parking lot at Fire Station 2 on Simonton Street. From there Rusty and I took the alleyway past the Onlywood restaurant and debouched onto Duval Street.
Wasn't I surprised to see a whole bunch of diners sitting in the roadway. I had forgotten that on Friday and Saturday evenings the middle blocks of Duval Street are an experimental pedestrian zone.
You can check out the website here  but there isn't much more information to be had. It might be helpful to know city ambassadors in orange vests are there to offer friendly advice and guidance but you can also turn to the police officers on patrol.
My pictures were obviously taken early in the evening so you will have to take my word for it this experiemnt is proving to be a success and why shouldn't it? It's long overdue. 
The pedestrian zone was supposed to end this month but the city extended it into July to see how strong the local support is for the event after the snowbirds go home. So far so good. And if you don't feel well the fire department has two well equipped paramedics ready to take care of anyone in need in the pedestrian zone. A fully equipped advanced life support ambulance is parked two blocks away at the fire station in case you were worried.
And it seems you can get a  tattoo al fresco if you so choose!
There are a couple of prominent local voices raised against the Mall on Duval experiment. It sounds odd at first but their concerns are financial as it costs the city five thousand bucks a night to put on this show.
The interesting thing is, some of the merchants outside the three block zone are agitating for the pedestrian area to be expanded as they see loss of trade where the vehicles drive. It seems pretty obvious this idea is a good one and I hope it will grow,  
I like walking and I think the streets lend themselves to a permanent pedestrian zone on Duval. Move traffic one way on Simonton Street and the other on Whitehead Street, and after lunch you close Duval Street to allow deliveries to be completed and then you have a giant friendly open air hang out where people could shop and gather and eat and drink. 
Include the Bourbon just outside the zone, which looked festive and welcoming with outside stools lined up ready for customers later.
I happened to meet Bill and Toni from Syracuse who tried to steal Rusty but he wasn't having any. Good dog. They were enjoying the mall from their home on Stock Island in between wasting their time reading this page. Hi there!
See? You never know who you'll meet at the Mall on Duval.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


I was thinking about how people leave Key West after I read a Facebook comment from someone ending their vacation and returning to Canada for the summer. I like to take Rusty to Little Hamaca in the middle of New Town, especially now the winter residents have left and the place is mostly empty as summer heats up. 
Little Hamaca is right next to the airport which as you can see is heavily fenced in along Government Road, the roadway that leads all the way to the back of the city park.  It is actually a peaceful spot wedged between the Riviera Canal and the airport fencing, however you do get to listen to the aircraft coming and going, and aeroplanes are not really peaceful if meditative silence is what you are looking for.
What I mean is, there is open space in the park, trees and shade and room to wander with your dog, and aside from the aero engines there's not much going on among the trees. Little Hamaca used to be renowned as a pick up place for closeted gay men and perhaps it still is for all I know but  Rusty and I walk there unmolested.  
And yet, through the impenetrable fence there is a surprising hive of activity. Planes are taking off and landing all the time. I see helicopters, commercial airliners and tons of private planes coming and going. I used to know an air traffic controller who worked there for a while and to him it was a sleepy little backwater and I suppose he knows what he is talking about but it looks busy to my untrained eye.
I think of all those people in the planes looking back as they leave, some looking forward to their next visit, others lamenting their departure and I suppose some who are glad to be escaping this claustrophobic little island...And as I watch the take offs and struggle to photograph the flying machines in some interesting and previously unimagined way I recognize I am glad to be the one staying behind.  
I cannot say I am a fan of flying in commercial airliners as I find the process dismal and out of my control, thinking of all the lines, the inspections, the lack of dignity in the process. Air travel is a means to an end for me and I would love to cross oceans as a passenger on freighters in my retirement instead of flying. My wife would beat me up if I suggested that but the dream lives on. 
So I feel rather sorry for those in the planes looking back wishing they were here or looking down wishing they were driving and of course I am glad to be the one left behind.
Then there are those planes I might like to fly in like the Dry Tortugas tour planes which fly low over the multicolored waters and give you a short half day to wander the ruins of Fort Jefferson out in the ocean. 
The float planes take off from the airport whence they return in a few hours, but at the fort they land on the water and taxi up to the beach to avoid their passengers getting wet feet. It's actually pretty cool.
 And there are the little privately owned bluebottles buzzing back and forth around the skies, what pilots call "general aviation":
 In between the relatively large machines:
 And I even saw an odd looking experimental type machine take off:
And then there is the plane that will never fly again. It was hijacked to the US during an internal Cuban flight. Instead of being returned to Cuba  a Miami federal judge awarded it as compensation to an exile Cuban family in the city and the plane sits behind the fence in Key West and seems to be slowly fading away. Weird.
And to wrap up this Thursday's look at Key West and the Keys here are a couple of gratuitous dog pictures.
 Rusty enjoying yesterday's sunny afternoon at Little Hamaca City Park.
A dog shadow flitting hither and yon.