A Hawk at the Conch Tour Train Key West Picture

The art of Photography is first and foremost being at the right place at the right time.

I was wandering around and being somewhat creative down near the foot of Duval and wanted to go into some air conditioning at Mallory Square’s mall and spotted this bird on the sign.   I’ve grown used to seeing large birds in South Florida but really did not expect to see a hawk sitting in the middle of the touristy thickly settled Old Town.  On the other hand, you are very close to the ocean at this spot and there are a lot of small islands nearby so maybe this critter needed a rest.

Back Seat Driving from the Conch Tour Train Picture

If you do go to Key West and wander through the touristy areas like Old Town or go to see the Southernmost Monument, you’re going to see these trams.  They are everywhere going through the streets with a driver in the front giving you some explanation on what you’re seeing and where you are. I guess its fun to do first time you’re anywhere, there are tours like this in many cities.   As you can tell, I like to walk and take pics instead of having this particular view but this does have its own charm.

Cats and Bikes Do Mix in Key West – Picture

There’s a particular six toed Hemingway Cat that visits this particular house every day.   The cat adopted the person who lives here and comes and goes as it pleases.  In this case, it seems to have taken up residence on the porch, behind two small fences, a bicycle wheel and a Bougainvillea in a pot to have the best view of a wandering photographer. 

It also is a bashful cat and wouldn’t stay put for very long.   I did manage to get this one shot off before it left tying together in one small area some things that you see everywhere in the Keys – Cats with an extra toe, bicycles, and tropical foliage everywhere.

Bahama Village Gate Picture

I seem to have managed to get the same picture as the street view for this spot so here is the close up for the sign.   What this is is the gate to Bahama Village in Key West.   I use that sign as a way to get to some restaurants down in the village that I wouldn’t go to after dark since most of them are closed, but during the day it’s quite safe even if you aren’t as tall as I am.

I have always been treated well, and I suspect that there’s an interesting cultural difference in that area.   In most suburban areas, you can walk anywhere.  You will be watched and seemingly ignored while people will notice from behind windows and blinds.   Try it in a suburban tract home development and you will see what I mean.  

I’ve walked through Bahama Village, during the day, and I’ve noticed that the folks there will actively go out of their way to meet your gaze and say hello.  I have always thought of it their way of saying “Look Mr Tourist, this is my home and neighborhood and there aren’t too many things you’d really want to see here but enjoy your walk and if you’re lost we can help”. 

Much nicer than being ignored any day.

An Art Wall In Key West Picture

Key West has a reputation for being an art colony.   A place where you can put together all sorts of things in new and creative ways, take them down to the Business District on Duval Street, get into a Gallery and sell them.  

Being from Philadelphia area originally, I’m used to Public Art.   Philadelphia has a law that if you have a new large building in the Center City area, a certain percentage of the cost of the improvements must be made available for public art on the property.   I’m used to it.   Art becomes part of the background.

This little wall was on a private property, not at all public, it was on a corner of the streets, and somewhat incongruous in its location across from the Key West Cemetary.   It was as if the owner of the property had a wall that got partially demolished by a hearse that missed its mark, decided that they could do something creative with it.   So the owner took some mortar, coated the bits and pieces with it, and stuck some mirrors and colourful bits and pieces to the wall.  I’m glad that Art can flourish in small towns and large, and while it is not a polished piece, I’m enjoying it in its “primitive” splendour.  Art can be functional as well as beautiful.

Antonia’s Alley Key West Picture

Sometimes there are spots that you just wouldn’t expect to see right in the middle of it all.  On Duval Street in Key West, in the center of the touristy business district, there’s a rather nice restaurant called Antonia’s that serves Italian Food.   I’ve been told it is still a good restaurant, the locals seem to think so.   Since Italian food really isn’t my favorite, I passed on the restaurant this last short trip.  

The day I took my pictures, I was looking over my shoulder and saw this alleyway.   Way towards the back there was a rooster and hen scratching around, and yes there are wild chickens roaming “Free Range” in downtown Key West, and I was trying to get a picture of them.   They were too far off but I did get a rather nice view of this alley.   Looking at it it struck me just exactly how peaceful it looked in the middle of all those tacky T Shirt Shops and plastic gimmickry.   Bougainvillea vines to the right, Ferns on the left, chickens ahead on the Brick Pavers and it was a very nice pace to step back out of the bustling crowds before going onwards for more … of the same.

Global Warming or just a truly bad movie?

I’m sitting here watching this movie called “Where the Hell’s that gold?“.  This movie is so appallingly bad that I wonder why Encore put it on let alone it got filmed.  Answer would be Filler for Encore and Delta Burke and Gerald Mc Raney needed to make some money.  It could have been so fun with Delta playing “A Painted Lady”, a Madam really,  in the old west with Willie Nelson as a love interest and Jack Elam as a Crusty Old Buddy.

Instead what I’m doing is sitting here watching them spar back and forth in that “Love Fighting” you see in all of these movies and wondering… Why is it that all these cowboys in Mexico on a train in the warmer season (No steam in their breath) are wearing Jackets AND Vests?  After all, they end up heading towards Del Rio, Texas at the end of it.   The place looked windy and green.   Wet season would be late Spring/Summer, Right?

Then I realized, Burke and Mc Raney are Republicans.   They tend not to be thorough in their … research.

(Ok, I couldn’t resist the Pot Shot!)

Adaptive Re-use in Key West, The Strand Picture

When Walgreens decided that Duval Street needed Yet Another Drug Store To Sell Plastic Crap and other necessities, they bought the Strand Movie Theatre.   This beautiful old building was going to be razed then a faceless building put up in Corporate style would be in its place.   Luckily the people there fought it, had it declared a Historic Place and forced Walgreens to step back and see what could be done.  If I remember the story right, the interior was pretty much trashed from years of neglect and misuse, so it had to be redone.
I was inside the place while in Key West, it looks like just about any other Walgreens anywhere else, although a bit smaller.   Chock full of souvenirs made in places like China made of plastic, towels made in places like China, and so forth.   But step outside and you have the beautiful facade still intact.   It would have been better if the original purpose of an old movie house were left there but if it has to be bought by a big corporation and a drug store put in, I guess this is about as good a compromise as you will get.
At least the Neon signs still work!

Willie T’s Bar Key West Picture

Right on Duval Street, there’s this Bar.   Willie T’s.  For the Geotracker in everyone, the location is right there on the Sign:

Willie T’s
525 Duval
You Are Here
N 24 34.3
W 81 45.7
This is Paradise
It must be paradise and one of those places the Locals go to.  Its a bar that serves rather good food, and has thousands of Dollar Bills stuck to the building.  People put more up, they don’t seem to lose any to people who don’t understand that it would be rude to remove them.  The bills have names and locations written on them, little sayings and greetings.   People come from all over the world to enjoy a little bit of paradise on a scruffy little island in a particularly good bar that seems to welcome all.   Once you get to the island, you will find your internal clock slow down some, you’ll be looking at the building next door and think that the peeling paint is “local color” instead of sloppy, and that there’s always tomorrow.
All in all a rather nice place for a vacation.

Windsor Street Key West Conch House Picture

Hidden among the Palms here is a house.   There’s a particular sort of architecture in Key West called a Conch House.   Porch in front and back, overhanging roof to block the sun, and a hallway from front to back on one side to get to the one or two bedrooms.  They are not large, and typically are made of pine.   I tend to feel like a bull in a china shop in one of those buildings.   They’re built to withstand storms and allow the breezes to pass through.  When you build them within inches of each other and plant them as thickly as this, I can’t see much breeze getting through.

I can hear my Mom’s voice in my head saying they are not something a family would live in but they are “quaint”.  Besides something with 3 bedrooms in the right part of Old Town Key West would be going for $500K and it would be small, under 1200 square feet.  These little places are really an out building on an estate in size anywhere else and you are looking at almost the entire street frontage in the picture.