Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bike Path

I have been encouraged to see work taking place on  various  old bridges in the Lower Keys so it seems like the bike path alongside the Overseas Highway is closer  to becoming a reality the length of the day. That thought put me in mind of  an essay I photographed last year on the bike path.

Florida Heritage Bike Path

You'd be astonished to see how many people ride this trail in the early morning darkness when I'm motorcycling home at 6 in the morning. Modern bicycle headlights on some bicycles are as bright as motorcycle headlights and as they make their way through the bushes they give the impression of a well off course motorized machine coming at you from the wrong angle.
Overseas Highway Bike Path
The state is bury making a true Heritage Trail all the way down the Keys and soon I hope to post some pictures of a new bridge the state has built connecting Summerland Key to Cudjoe. I am quite surprised to see so much bicycle-related road work going on but it is welcome. Frankly I wouldn't mind a whole bunch of shade trees even ones as slender as hurricane resistant  sabal palms to make the path more bearable in summer. 
Overseas Highway Bike Path
 I love seeing the winter riders out for a jaunt properly done up in safety gear and workmen's high visibility safety gear. This bright reflective stuff is everywhere part of the trend of passive "safety devices" designed to shift the responsibility for one's well being on others. When out riding I figure it's up to me to pay attention to look after myself and not to expect others to notice me, but I'm bucking all expectations there.
Florida Heritage Bicycle Trail
 The bicycle bridge is built on the foundations laid by Henry Flagler's railroad crew around 1911 which railroad was turned into a highway by the government in 1938 after Florida bought the right of way from the bankrupt railroad. And then World War Two require further upgrades as marked in the cement alongside the white water pipe on the "new" (1982)  road bridge. The first piped water from Miami was brought to Key West by the military in 1942. Prior to that residents of the Keys lived off cisterns and rain water which modern standards suggest is unhealthy. Who knew? About the only thing I miss from my house on Ramrod Key was the water cistern. I found it healthy and delicious.
Bike Trail Overseas Highway
A close up of some mangroves. Fascinating bushes are mangroves, sucking up salt water and expelling the salt to use the water. 
Florida Mangroves
 It was a strangely alluring view across the waters. You can see why people would bust a gut riding a bicycle around here.
Mangroves in Florida Keys
And when it all gets too exhausting they have the occasional bench facing the highway for a better view of cars passing in your face.
Florida Heritage Bike Trail
I really need to stop more often to enjoy this odd little spot.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pastoral Keys

There are a great many pictures available of the Keys with the typical accessories. 
That is to say with palms and sunrises and beaches and oceans.
 Because I am a man with a perverse nature I enjoy different views.
 Mangroves, clouds and swamps.
 And sometimes storms glimpsed out and sea from the hard cement of civilization.
Summer rains, much loved by me.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fleming Street

Hmm, I wonder why they call it the Mango Tree Inn?
Intriguing pause in the work:
Dog-eating leaves:
Morning at the library, surprisingly not besieged by street people waiting for refuge:
In the signs below only one place is real. Senatus Populusque Romano referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official emblem of the modern-day municipality of 
Rome. (wikipedia).
Rusty loves Love Lane next to the Library.
My favorite church structure in Key West.
Eaton Bikes. Now for sale.
I tried the Cuban bagel, and I applaud myself for being adventurous but I did not like it. 
The coffee helped.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Monochrome Beach Babes

I wanted to post these pictures on my Instagram account. I liked the photos but I had no story to tell which is why I like Instagram, a  place to post pictures without commentary politics or drama. I liked the black and white pictures I took at Boca Chica Beach. But Instagram let me down.
Instagram messed with my artistic visions cropping my pictures every time I tried to group them into one post. Instagram knew better than I how to post these photos. Fair enough I said, I'll post one so it won't be cropped by the Instagram auto-editor and the rest I shall keep to myself. And a few select friends.
In photography classes they tell you to keep objects in motion in the side of the picture that projects across the photo, giving the moving object somewhere to go, as it were. In the picture below I did the exact opposite barely squeezing the yacht into the frame while just managing to get the navigation aid on the right into the picture also to give perspective. But I liked the unconventional result anyway.
Pictures that should have been without words...but all quite pretty enough for me on my beach.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More Changes

I miss  Yebo. I miss bunny chow and hot South African sausages and the couple who owned it and made a dream come true. And incidentally they also helped pioneer food trucks in Key West, a city determined to resist any innovation with every collective breath.  Nowadays the food truck is a banal pizza machine.and I hope the operators know what a struggle it was to get this location in the first place.            
But in this town time passes rapidly and people and businesses come and go, usually they come with much fanfare like Rum Barrel owned and built by a guy involved in sports medicine or some such.and now its all gone. The attention span is now focused according to the sign on the door on developing an empire around the Green Parrot and the neighboring barbecue restaurant. I suppose some other wide eyed hopeful will try here and may last another eleven years as did the Rum Barrel.
This convenience store location has puzzled me so it hasn't surprised me to see periodic changes in ownership, or at least in signage. However the note on the door says that Ana's a Cuban grocery much loved by visitors at the far end of Simonton Street is opening up a second location here. More empire building and who knows maybe that's what this place needs to thrive, a well known name. 
But let's face it, convenience stores are on every street corner in this city. I watch people walking around town clutching plastic bottles of water as though this town is a desert with hardly an oasis to slake your sudden tropical thirst. Gallery 511 selling "fine "art made it to about three years I think. 
Which leads me to wonder how you pay downtown rents selling pretzels. I am told Auntie Anne's is  a popular chain and as they close at midnight I guess the drinking crowd might be persuaded to get some solid food late but it seems like a lot of pretzels need to get sold. 
There is much lamentation that Duval Street is all chain stores but chain stores seem to stand the best chance of fronting the enormous costs the complexity of hiring and thus survive to become established. That was the lament of the old Fast Buck's who closed and found his only viable tenant was a chain drug store. Is that bad? I don't know but it seems inevitable.
The Side Bar is a new place to drink attached to Aqua the gay nightclub around the corner from Angela Street. This used to be Rexall Electric a solidly Conch business in the practical world of supplying electricians. Now it's a place to drink after watching men dressed as women sing on stage. Well, at least it's not a chain.
Flora and Flipp's closed in 2009 and the place has been empty since. Apparently 811 Fleming Street is ready to come back to life as a small neighborhood store as soon as the city agrees to let them sell beer and wine. They have a lot to live up to if anyone remembers Nancy Larsen who used to run the place (with a dog bowl of water outside).
The store is modest by all accounts and has been lovingly described as "shabby chic" by tourists who amble in for a soda, candy bar or suntan lotion, Larsen said. The building itself has been around since at least 1899, according to city maps from that year. The old-fashioned counter looks decades old, and the rows of shelves behind the register likely date to when the building housed a pharmacy in the 1940s.
"We had a very good time," Larsen said of her tenure at the store. "Everyone knows a store like this is not a big moneymaker, but we've enjoyed it very much and we've lived comfortably."
Flora & Flipp is kind of like the "Cheers" of convenience stores -- Larsen seems to know everyone's name.
It's clear after spending some time in the store that her regular customers adore her. She asks with genuine care about their children, inquires how work's going and keeps dog treats under the counter for their four-legged friends.
"It's almost like I've been adopted -- like I'm a surrogate mother," she said.
From the Citizen reporting the closure.
The new place should soon be open, they say:
I was surprised to see Eaton Bikes and the adjacent house now appears to be for sale for one point seven million bucks.From the Bascom Grooms website:

Convenience stores, bike shops, art galleries and bars, they come they go, the city abides.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Waterfront Morning

Early mornings have been delightful lately and walking Rusty has been a pleasure. Going downtown to enjoy a cool breeze and a sunrise has been very worthwhile.
The talk of building parking garages downtown near the waterfront has galvanized opposition in town but as far as I can tell there is no way around hem. No one is ready to give up driving even though lots of people agree Key West could use fewer cars...
Schooner Wharf Bar at my favorite time of day, before they open:
Walking the boardwalk around the docks...this is where the tourists come and if they could park six hundred cars within two blocks of this spot they'd be delighted. There has been a campaign locally for a "car free Key West" to promote cycling. Listening to my millennial colleagues talk about it they think its crazy. That's nor promising.
Better car pooling and better bus service would help they say. One suggested building parking on Stock Island and shuttling tourists downtown. 
I saw this sign about diving off the cosk and was reminded of a recent case where a drunk tourist dived off such a dock at a resort and broke his neck. he got an eleven million dollar settlement. 
Living at anchor:

Monday, June 19, 2017


This place on Greene Street used to sell kites and now it is a much less colorful banal bike rental shop. Because I guess Key West needs another bicycle rental place. 
You'd have thought people would flock to buy brightly colored stuff like this, people who like dustcatchers that is. 
I like walking Duval Street early on my days off work. Rusty seems to enjoy the change of pace, exploring the smells downtown. It's such a different place compared to the bustle that will fire up the street in a few hours. It must have been seven in the morning and the only human I could see was a homeless dude towing a suitcase:
I used to like the Porch when it opened, a craft beer place that has become deservedly popular. Too crowded and noisy for me nowadays, too millennial maybe:
In addition to the homeless people stirring themselves awake from their hidey holes the worker bees tend to be out resupplying the businesses. In the picture below I had hoped to juxtapose the chicken with the delivery guy but they didn't quite cross paths as I hoped they would:
Taking his ease:
The presbytery at St Paul's still dolled up in support of the Pride Parade:
In the midst of all the constant changes downtown La Concha remains the same and I rather like the way they have set up the covered entrance in the driveway. 
I still miss Fast Buck Freddie's and yes even after I finished working there I shopped there from time to time. My wife likes the 24 hour loo at the CVS store but for me it looks weird seeing a Coca Cola truck pulled up alongside the old Fast Bucks. 
Look at that. It's empty enough you could fire the proverbial cannon down the sidewalk:
A Key West station wagon:
I titled the picture below "Traffic Jam" on Instagram:
The morning after the night before: