Friday, October 20, 2017

Higgs Beach

What an odd winter this promises to be in Key West, if not all the Keys. This place depends on tourism and finds itself in conflict between the people who make tourism work and have nowhere to live, and the needs of turism themselves. Outsiders are speculating wildly that tourism this winter will die in Key West thanks to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, which mostly spared Key West itself ironically, and now we have Fantasy Fest looming, usually a break from the mundane in this town which lately has had nothing mundane to deal with.
 I went by Higgs beach a couple of days ago before the recent spat of rain and it looked dare I say better than it used to. Some inventive soul has adapted the Mediterranean fashion of making people pay to sit on at least a portion of the beach and they seem to like it.
 There is plenty of free parking as it were, on the beach for those who want to lay out in the sun on their own piece of towel but the umbrella things seems quite popular. 
The bandstand is looking none the worse for wear from a  distance at least as though there had never been a Category Four...
Salute is open and there is a plywood sign at the White Street Pier to tell you so.  Businesses face two big issues as they open for business in what has traditionally been the tourist ump in the Fall doldrums: publicity and staff.  The storms were over hyped before they arrived which was okay as lots of people evacuated but apparently afterwards the story was that everything got wiped out. My neck of the woods in the Lower Keys got trashed and is still heaped with garbage but Key West is all rouged up and ready to play. 
As long as the staff can show up. One of the biggest issues now is housing for the workers who got displaced. The deal for them of getting FEMA vouchers to stay in hotels is not only running out of time it's also going to take up rooms that hotels hope to rent at much higher rates to visitors. The local versus tourist debate that inflames so many opinions has suddenly become stark and cannot be ignored.
One side will point out that without tourists there is no income while the other says without workers there are no tourists. It's become a kind of Mexican Stand Off. Its as though not one single person can figure out a way to untie this Gordian Knot. 
Which should give you some idea of how much strategic planning goes into the road map aid out for the future of the Keys. And I think its safe to say the Keys have the capacity to attract people no matter what so even though Fantasy Fest may be more low key which I wouldn't mind, people will come I'm pretty sure. Even though everything isn't completely back to normal.
Key West's residentially challenged are still on the streets as though they have anywhere else to go, so some things never change. 
People worried about the birds and iguanas in the aftermath of the storm and though I think iguanas have suffered a temporary set back the wildlife is still here.
Scenes like these are unique among all the spectacular scenery available in the continental US. How best t make them available to people who want to see them is still very much up in the air as long as worker housing is seen as being in opposition to visitor needs. No change there apparently.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Point

As though to conveniently illustrate the force of 130 mph winds the very inconvenient Hurricane Irma sandblasted one side of the freshly painted Southernmost Point buoy.
In happier times, two days before the sandblasting it looked like this as I struggled with the concept of selfie while playing tourist in a  deserted town:
This week a city employee had the task of fixing it up under the impatient gaze of visitors eager to get their picture taken at the monument marking the somewhat fictitious point. 
I say fictitious as it is only more or less the southernmost civilian point in the US with the Navy base behind it rather more so. Furthermore Hawaii claims the southernmost point in a US state even though you could say they are trumped by American Samoa. Whatever, you get the point (pun intended.)
 Certainly the people lined up to take their pictures get the point even if it has been mauled:
 Further up the street the Southernmost House which may or may not be furthest south, still stands:
And all I could think while taking that picture above was how much better off we would be if all power lines were buried. Imagine: no more wind related power outages!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Flying Key West

Standing across the salt ponds from the airport on a  cloudy undefined afternoon I caught this scene of the old hawk missile tower between my vantage point and the airport in the distance.
They are flying in and out of the airport which had been a staging area for relief supplies during the hurricane emergency. I saw a mobile tower installed off Government Road so it seems the airport didn't escape unscathed.
 From across the way it all looks normal enough, the palms bending to the fresh east wind...
I came close to understanding why some people like to go to airports to watch planes come and go. You can follow them up into the sky and over the horizon and wonder where they are going and why and  who is on board and so forth. 
 It feels a bit nerdy to think of myself as a plane watcher and in reality I'm not. Mostly I don't like flying with all the security checks and invasive searches and uncomfortable cabins with bad air...
 And on the ground I can't stand the noise they make.
 I wandered about and took some pictures while Rusty hunted for God knows what in the bushes. 
I'm glad flying is returning to normal.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Key West Night

A  few pictures I've taken while walking Rusty.
This picture of the former Braza Lena and Keyviche looked particularly desolate to my eye.
Caroline Street as home to the Walking Dead:

 Rose Lane:
 Disorder as post hurricane order:

 The sentiment I totally disagree with. Because I am a spoilsport:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bahama Village

I started on Simonton Street catching corner windows of the county Gato building 
illuminated against the night.
 Then I noticed the paint scratched letters on a Duval Street store and they put me in mind of the general sandblasting given the Keys by Hurricane Irma. Everything goes back to that whether or not it's true.
 Rusty marched off into Bahama Village:
 These piles of garbage are fascinating to him.
 I find myself standing around waiting for him. Then I wonder t the elaborate  window grating and the ghastly plastic sign tacked next to it.
 Such an intricate mosaic survived the wind:
 I caught this reflection in a car window:
 I had time to spare to stand around and see what I liked. Rusty was head down.
 A construction van of some type seems to be outside every home these days, whether they live there or work there. 

 The Sym Wolf Classic, a 150 cc motorcycle that I like the looks of very much. In Europe these retro bikes using replica Honda 125 engines are very popular.
The classic Conch Cottage:
Public Housing, Key West style, Robert Gabriel on Amelia Street:
I labelled this picture on my Instagram account "The tree that ate Key West":
This is an imperfect picture of the community pool which deserves a much better representation:
This I liked as it appeals to my puerile sense of humor:
Why did the coconut want to cross the street? Because...I've forgotten the punch line I made up but it was  a clever pun I thought up. Something to do with being Irma'ed.
Rusty and the defaced Southernmost Point:
Wind strong enough to peel paint. I hope never to see that again.