Jewfish Creek Bridge, The Video

Once upon a time, I made my trip to the Florida Keys.

There is a very stark break between the mainland and the Everglades in Florida City.  Everything simply “Stops”.

You get past that and there are a very few businesses way off in the middle of nowhere.  A cement factory and a quarry come to mind.  A marina is just on the other side of the Monroe county line.  But until you get to Key Largo, there’s practically nothing but grass and nature.

And this one massive scar through the landscape called US1.

Granted it is a scar, but you actually need it there to get to the Keys.

I am sure some people who are more ecologically aware would say that it does not belong there, nor do we in an ecological niche like those beautiful little jewels, but there are also people that would argue that nobody should live below the I-4 line where the land ceases to be land but more like a swamp.

Like I said, I’m not that ecologically aware.  My own feeling is don’t expand it, and contract development in the keys where possible.  But no draconian solutions, please.  They are beautiful and we can enjoy them if we play nice with nature.

Just before you go onto the island that Key Largo is on, there’s one big deep water gap.  A “Cut” so the larger boats can go into or out of the Florida Bay.  That is at what is now the Jewfish Creek bridge.

I realize I am being a small bit imprecise, but grant me that.

Since the old drawbridge was replaced years ago, they built an improved structure and then the bridge we have now.

The bridge itself is kind of minimalistic, maybe a bit stark, and painted in aqua blue, which is befitting of a place as knock down beautiful as the keys.

One of my earlier trips I took a picture and wrote about it.  For some strange reason in all the 8 or more years that I have been writing, that particular article gets read frequently.

What I did was revisit it.  I was down there for my birthday, a few days later.  Knowing that I was going there,  I brought my little video camera for the trip.  Hopefully this video will satisfy the area’s fans.

Hopefully my color commentary won’t offend too much and that my very shaky hand is not too awful.  But for now, I present the video.  For your pleasure or disdain.

Planning Someone Else’s Vacation

When you live in a place that has amazing weather when the rest of the country has, well less desirable weather for some, eventually people visit.

In this case, People would be a cousin who has my first and last name that I don’t know so well.   Nice guy, we’ve chatted quite a bit on email, phone, and yesterday Skype.

When I was a child, there was this weird device that The Phone Company had that would let you do what you can do on a cheap 50 dollar tablet.  Video Chat.  If that isn’t a little Buck Rogers in our 21st century, it’s getting close.

After getting through most of the morning nonsense yesterday we started up on a video call that lasted about an hour.  I think we concluded that each of us lives a life that is completely different from the other and it’s fun to talk about the differences.

Oh yeah and he’s coming down soon.   Time to leave the rural Nebraska winter where it can get so cold that the Carbon Dioxide will freeze out of your breath and thaw out in the Florida Sun.  Being fully acclimated to the weather here, winter can be a cold thing.  Almost freezing.  Not quite, but almost. 

Ever want to freeze your tail off?  Come on down and visit a house that has a heater that isn’t as powerful as the heater in a 68 Volkswagen Beetle with leaky windows.

On the other hand, you can sit in my leather desk chair, put your feet up on the futon, and look out at the Bougainvillea as birds that other people keep as pets land and inspect the other side of the glass while wondering why there’s this moose looking back at them.

Hi Green Singer pair.  Squeeeeeee back at you!

I’ll make coffee and we can debate the world while the sun comes up and warms our bones just like a pair of lizards under glass.

Being that helpful kind of guy I made suggestions.  Oh you can sit in the pool but you really wouldn’t want to do that since the water temp is SO cold at 60F this time of year.  Oh we can go down to the beach so you can get salt water and sand in your toes but we don’t do that since the pool can be so nice. 

Hey wait, I thought you told me that it was 60 in the water?
Yeah I did, Hmmm maybe we need to rethink this mindset!

I’m making a list of things to do when he’s here in a couple weeks.   They mostly involve getting into the Jeep and visiting all those touristy things that the Locals Don’t Do.

People in Philly don’t usually visit Independence Mall having done that when they were in Elementary School.

People in New York took the boat to see the Statue Of Liberty back when they were a child and it really IS in New Jersey Anyway, but don’t tell them that.

San Francisco?  Don’t forget to bring me back a sourdough loaf when you get back from Ghirardelli Square and don’t get lost on the Cable Cars!

I guess the nice thing about having people come for a visit is that in reality you can get that stick out of your … back, and actually do those things that people come from 1700 miles to see.  I found myself looking forward to taking my tripod and camera to the beach to beat the Sunrise and take some pictures.  Maybe getting to see the Fairchild Tropical Gardens will be a nice thing?  After all, how often does an American get to see a Durian Tree growing without leaving the country?

Just don’t eat them on the mass transit in Singapore, they may cane you.

I’ll get to be a tourist too for the first time since I moved here.  Don’t tell anyone but I’m looking forward to the trip.  After all, I Chose to live here.  I certainly can choose to vacation here too. 

Now I’m thinking about a sunrise at the ocean and a sunset dinner at the Gulf of Mexico.  It will just take some planning.  Better stock up on little jars to get a sample of the water and the sand for Souvenirs!

I live in a swamp

Ironic. Everyone wants to live in the sunshine these days. See the demographics trend since WWII for proof. People left the Northeast for places like Phoenix, Fort Worth, and Fort Lauderdale.

So I got the bug the first time I visited here in the early 70s with my family, all piled into a beast of a 1973 Buick Limited and we did a tour of Florida after getting off the Auto Train. Great excitement for a kid, I’ll tell you.

That bug I was speaking of? I fell in love with Fort Lauderdale (area) when I got here and never wanted to live anywhere else. We stayed at a motor court style hotel, adjoining rooms with a door in them, swimming pool and all right off Federal Highway. No matter that it now is run down and kind of a No-Tell Motel, it was one of the best memories of my childhood.

In 2006, I finally moved. April 11, 2006 at 8:43am to be precise, I crossed over the St Mary’s River into North Florida and never left. We bounced around and ended up in Wilton Manors, a quirky city with a reputation that is only partially earned outside, and like anywhere it is different when you live here.

Growing up in South Jersey, there were never as many creatures trying to get into the house as there are here. Other than field mice after the first cold snap, we never had to tent the house or worry about anything other than the brown mosquitos getting in. I have personally captured five geckos this last month and released the little things into the garden, have been invaded by armies of ants going after whatever was left in the sink the night before, and spiders and unidentifiable creatures of a variety that even my own habits of going to The Pond when I grew up didn’t quite prepare me for.

Fishing Iguanas out of the pool, seeing flocks of Parrots flying by through the day, the Mourning Doves watching me while I walk around the pool, and many other critters I am just learning about are some of the experiences of living in Wild Florida.

Being one of those people with Sweet Blood, and I’ve been told that its got something to do with relatively high Potassium intake (anyone have any bananas?), I am the first person in a crowd to get bit by Mosquitoes. I noticed early that our yard was chock full of those aggressive Tiger Mosquitoes and stopped going outside. The problem was that we were much worse than other places around the block for them and when our Pool filter gave out it turned out we were the local captive breeding program for the little blighters. Pool filter had a steady drip of pool water onto the pavement, and into the ground. Water dried up, and so did the skeeters in that part of the world.

The other thing is that with all the rain we get in the Wet Season (A.K.A. Hurricane Season – Duck and Cover!) everything grows with a ferocity that I’m not used to. You can practically watch the grass grow and not take a day to do so. Being someone who always liked plants and planting, I noticed that about 4 out of 5 of the cuttings I take from the Screw Palms (A sort of Dracenea related to the lucky bamboo) would root if I would stick them in the ground deep enough to hold them vertical. So now I have a garden of the things. Not the best for a hedge but when you live in a place where house plants grow as accents to your garden you can have a bit of fun.

Anyone need some house plants? If I ever come North, I’ll be bringing some to my family.