If You Take a Picture Please Leave A Tip

To be fair, the sign was for the left of this scene but it fits in well.

In Key West there’s a grand old tradition of going down to “Zero Duval Street” and saying thank you by watching the sunset. 

This was not exactly the right time for the picture for a sunset, I should have come back about an hour later, but this works in its own way.  Sunset Key is a little ways off shore to the west of Key West and serves as the plate that the poached egg of the sun will settle into.   The Sunset Festival happens every day and where you have people you have street performers.  This view excluded the buskers and the rest.  There was just a very helpful family sitting by the little dock watching the water and the fish therein. 

When Nature puts on a show, all you need to do is to wait for it. 

Saving your bike in Key West

I always had a bike when I was growing up.  I was taught by Mom and Dad that when we were through with them, put them away.  Usually that meant open the garage door, roll it in and squeeze the bike into a hole in the “treasures” that were stored in there. 

The garage was a treasure trove of trash and old things we couldn’t bear to get rid of.  Things put there when I was a toddler were still in there when we moved out of the house when I was in college, never touched.   It was safe.  Even when the house got broken into, the garage was untouched because it was too much of a mess.   I never conceived of having to do anything more to keep anything safe.

Every time I pass by this building in Key West I’m stopped by it.  The place needs a coat of paint or three.  It has some serious weather damage and wood that needs to be replaced.  I’m sure if it ever got looked at it “wouldn’t be up to code”.  Knowing Sgt Gary Blocker, and Kim on Code Enforcement here in Wilton Manors, I’m sure of it. 

That doesn’t mean that the building is unsafe although it may.  It has been there through countless Hurricanes, Tropical Storms, Thunderstorms and invasions of snowbirds and it still stands.   It looks like it is still inhabited although you can’t prove it by me.

One other thought.  That bike.  There’s a bike on the second floor balcony that is chained up on the outside of the railing and it has been there for at least five years.  It may be moved off the balcony and used to “go home” at the end of a work day.  My own personal fantasy is that the building is a secret art studio where the next century’s treasures of the Louvre Museum are being created and the artist is watching everyone watch his house for inspiration as they scratch their heads about how bikes grow on trees … or balconies.

I’ve been told that Key West is a fairly safe place in most areas during the day in Old Town where this place is.  Just don’t leave anything out that isn’t tied down.  The folks on the job in Police Work call it “Opportunistic Crime”.  Bikes are a prime target anywhere, most folks don’t have a safe and cluttered garage in a place as congested as Key West to hide their treasure trove.  I’ve been told that if I don’t have a lock on a bike in Key West, don’t stop anywhere.  I don’t know if it is quite that bad, but it does lend itself toward individualistic and quirky solutions.

Like planting a bike on a building.

I’m sure that the next time I drive the 200 miles to Key West to rescue someone’s computer network in what the owner described as “Executive Level Service”, the bike will be there.  I hope so.  Quirky is good. 

Hopefully whoever owns that place won’t “clean it up” too much.  Part of the charm of Old Town Key West is the wonderfully scruffy look that the place can have.  Duval Street looks like Disney partnered with TGI Fridays and what was born was the result.  Leave the tourist traps behind and the crowds thin out rapidly and you get to see the charm that was everywhere and is slowly being gentrified away. 

You may even see a bike growing on a balcony.

Entering the Keys on US1 – Picture

Every so often you get to step outside of your comfort zone and do something Different.

How often do you actually get to drive a car through a UN World Heritage Site?

The view you get here is when you’re driving South to Key West on US1 the Overseas Highway.  Despite the fact that its bogged down with far too many people that are doing just the same thing it is an amazing drive.  At this point, the border of Monroe County is just ahead of the car, the entry sign is just on the right hand of the frame and those buildings are in The Keys.

The road itself is not my favorite.  Its suffering wear and tear of too many cars, washboarded in spots, potholes to the last surface below it worn in others.  Driving a Jeep Wrangler you get used to a ride that is not exactly soft.  But from this spot, it is another 115 or so miles to my destination and each of them bears watching for diverse hazards.  There are many stretches of bad road, construction and a road bed that is too narrow for the use it’s been given.  There are also crocodiles, key deer, and pelicans.  The pelicans are the only thing I’ve seen close up, and just barely missed having the inside of my car painted by one on the Seven Mile Bridge.

The picture above is much nicer than the one on street view in Google Earth.  That one when I look at it as of this writing is during construction, but it is linked below.  It is an older picture on Google Earth, and the view is much improved since the road construction has moved South.

You can zoom out and see for yourself how much further I had that day.  It may be a somewhat ugly strip of asphalt but look left or right and you are in an unparalleled one of a kind slice of beauty.  The people in the Keys can paint their buildings pastels, put up signs proclaiming that they’re in paradise and try to sell it to you as you drive past with the kids screaming to buy shells, but they have nothing on the natural beauty there.  The road is a mess, it is 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West plus the 16 mile causeway back to the Mainland, but the land it traverses is well worth looking at.

Network Trouble in Paradise

I’ll be coming back to Wilton Manors today.

Spent the weekend in Networking Paradise.  Four different PCs, each with a virtual machine on them.  One Macbook without a virtual PC on it.  Getting all of that straightened out so that they can all see the network all at the same time using Virtual PC and VMWare can be a trial.

My own machine, which the blog is written on, gave me some fits in the middle of it all.  Actually the Virtual Machine that runs on the laptop all the sudden decided to forget how to network.  After a couple of virtual cycles, the machine saw the network and all is well. 

That’s how I’m writing this.

I’ll have the whole network purring before I leave here in the morning Monday.  The nice thing about Laptops are that they’re portable.  You can have a network running in the space of a desk if you know what you’re doing.  Sometimes, I know what I’m doing, other times… I’m scratching my head.

At least the lot will be working, I’m winding down and it’s been a long weekend for me.  If you don’t want to pay someone like me, go to a computer store or computer website and buy yourself an external hard drive around 1TB in size.  Find where your machine sets up the backups, and make sure you get a full system backup.

Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Eventually you’ll find yourself getting a virus and you’ll be glad you did.  In home support like this is expensive in time and in money.  Sometimes you get your data back, sometimes not.  This time, my friend lost nothing but the use of his machines for a weekend.

I may even have gotten to see Duval Street tonight… I haven’t gotten that far yet.  It’s Sunday Afternoon, and this post is set to go live right around when I’m loading the car to come back home.  I missed the Volunteer Appreciation lunch on Saturday, and really wanted to go see it.  All the reports I have gotten about it were that it was a great party.  This makes…two maybe three years I’ve missed it.  Next time!

New Post, New Month, Last Picture

At least the last one from the Keys.   When you’re driving along that ribbon of black top, you are wondering “Am I There Yet?” for quite a long time.   This is “There”.   This is the end of Monroe County and the end of the Florida Keys.   Oh sure, there’s places like Key Biscayne, and a few islands on the west coast with “Key” in the name, but they aren’t “THE” Keys.   You’re looking at the few feet on US1 that is in Monroe County, FL.   From this point onward, you’re on the Mainland, and still in the Glades.   There is a sign for a restaurant, another saying chill out to pass in 2 miles, and the last one, to the left of that boat near the road is the sign announcing “Entering Miami Dade County”.

I hit that spot, thought that this would be a good place to stop taking pictures and just drive.   I relaxed, turned up the radio, smiled at the sun and made it up to South Miami for a tank of Gas, and another 55 or so miles to home. 

This reminds me of the old jokes that people would say about going to visit a friend’s house to watch their slide shows of their vacations and listen to their monologue.   Terribly boring way to spend a night, so I hope that this isn’t as bad.

At any rate, I’m done with my Keys pictures.   There’s other things to put up from around here, hopefully they won’t be too dull.

Jewfish Bridge leaving the Keys

I published a mate to this picture about a month back.  It was the first in the series because it was the first I took when driving South.   This is the Northbound view from just North of the crest of the bridge.   Shows you a good view of the Glades.   Flatter than New Jersey or any other “flat” state.  Green as it gets.   The land is absolutely lush, choked with sawgrass, mangrove, and other tropical foliage, stuffed with wildlife both natural and exotic.   Beautiful area.   Way off in the distance lies the Florida Mainland and Miami to the North.   My home beyond that.

This is a view that you just don’t seem to get in many places.   An almost unspoiled view of wildlife.  Untouched lands where there are no farms or buildings for about as far as you can see.  I’m glad I’m so close to something that I was only once able to dream about visiting.  I can only hope that the State is able to reclaim the wetlands that were taken away to build this metropolis that stretches about 100 miles from North to South, about 20 miles from East to West from the Agricultural Interests.  A one of a kind jewel that can not be replaced.

Islamorada Hurricane Monument

When driving up US1 from Key West, after about 80 miles or so (I’m doing this from memory so don’t hold me to it), you hit the middle to upper keys.   The land and road changes from being East to West to bending toward the Florida Mainland to the North. 

In 1935, on Labor Day, an extremely strong hurricane hit this spot.   What it did was inundate the land and wash everything that was not strong enough to manage the storm surge out to sea.

That hurricane is why US1 goes to Key West and doesn’t stop further North in Dade County.   What happened was that the Railroad that was built from Miami to Key West, Flagler’s Folly, the Florida East Coast Extension was basically erased.   The storm surge washed out the tracks in the Middle Keys, but left the bridges intact since they were built to last through some rather durable concrete.   To this day you can find remnants of the tracks and a Caboose or two here and there from Islamorada on South, and the bridges were left in place.

The entire railroad right of way was sold to the state of Florida for a dollar, and the road was paved over the tops of those bridges.   In places you can tell that the road was built on a right of way since it is slightly elevated, and absolutely flat.   Others, you get on the more modern replacement bridges and can look down on the old Flagler FEC bridges and see the road bed.  They’re used for Fishing platforms for the most part and are quite popular.

This monument stands for all those who lost their lives on those days in 1935 in that horrific storm.   It ruined a railroad but made the lower keys what they are today, Accessable… after a LOT of work.