Key West - Random Notes

Sun 3/2/14

(Left from Bob's house 7:00 AM)

As Bob says, you have to drive the BMW or it will drive you. Once it gets into a long axis rut it wants to stay there, bouncing around resisting efforts to be guided out. And you don't take your eye off the road because you will drift into the adjacent lane. But that is the price for quickness.

So far, driving the little convertible is the most interesting aspect of the trip. I95 through Florida is boring.  Long stretches of heavily travelled straight road made negotiating  traffic around Jacksonville fun. Florida, at least this strip five or ten miles from the ocean is boring geographically.

However there were a couple of things,

Somewhere in the vicinity of Melbourne we saw a little hill. Maybe 100 feet tall and the size of several football fields. It was covered is rich green grass.  Not a bad place for a restaurant. But then we noticed the odor and the birds. It was a garbage dump. The old people, the transplanted Yankees, the motorcyclists, the people driving $200,000 motorhomes, the tanned golfers generate a lot of garbage.

And there were the memories.  During a bad time in my life in the late 50's I lived in West Palm Beach. Bob's company had offices in smaller towns across South Florida. He visited once a month.

I don't know about Bob but I spent a lot of time contemplating lost people and lost scenes. Taking a side trip down mythical highway 1, which, 50+ years ago was only North South road - passing pastel stucco houses - smelling fish and old perfume, I saw ghosts.

And there was the pickup with a Confederate flag parked in front of the Red Lobster.

We did about 650 miles ending up in a Hampton in Port St Lucie. Tomorrow 250 or so miles and the Keys.  Then things will be different. But still - discomfort has its place.

Mon 3/3/14.

Arrived late 3/3. Hot. Staying at Abury Court. Lots of people, difficult to cross narrow streets. Happy or at least boisterous people. Afternoon spent looking for me a lightweight long sleeve shirt and suntan lotion. Despite being given directions by sweet smelling man on bicycle could not find suitable shirt – settled for suntan lotion.    

Place seems a combination of Charleston and Oracoke.
Chicken and six toe cats are free roaming protected animals. Chickens started as Haitian voodoo sacrifices. Saw several. Roosters crowing. Saw one six toe (did not count) cat – called Hemmingway cats. I asked cat if he is writing these days.

Tues 3/4/14

Second day went to Dry Tortugas and Ft Jefferson. Took about 2 ½ hours on 150+ passenger catamaran. Could have gone to Havana in same time.
Saw freighter on horizon – only superstructure showing. Can understand how this lead to discovery of earth’s curvature.

Fort Jefferson has bleak sort of beauty and elegance. Entropy doing it in.  So many pictures taken sucking essence from subjects. They will disappear.
Spiral rock steps go middle and upper levels. Steep. From above, stairwells like black pits. In some places could not see steps and had to blindly put feet down while feeling along wall.

Passengers mostly middle age or better. Cruise ship goers. Nice enough in morning then not so great during dark teatime. My fault not theirs. PS – Bob’s car got ticket for being parked against traffic. We went to office. I perceived girl as loud and rude – I had a bit of a fit.
At dinner tonight aging gay couple sat behind us. They were having trouble picking out food. One was dressed in macho cowboy outfit. Could be described as tall drunk homosexual cowboy. It was not midnight.

We talked with two people – both adventurers – both pleasant. Man from South Carolina – visits parks and hikes. Had taken three weeks to get to Key West – while we too two days. Girl wants to be PhD in study of ancient human bones. Was camping two nights at fort. She is also travelling – with her little terrier. Her mother is Jewish which qualifies girl for free trip to Israel before her 26th birthday. She is 25. We told her she must go.
Wed 3/5/14

Got up early, sat on little balcony and drank coffee. Dark. Strolled around block. Saw man smoking, walking little dog. We agreed this was a good time of day. Air was like velvet.

Breakfast pastries at funky little bent wooden bakery. Everybody everywhere is pleasant.

As we were eating lunch at place on harbor, huge cruise harbor dumped an army on browsing people. They seemed busy, intent to absorb the most in the time allowed.
Visited Hemmingway house and Truman’s second white house.

Left Key West about 2:00 PM.

Driving past edge of Miami - past mile after mile of the same houses  both Bob and I agreed that we would rather be in Harlan Kentucky.

Applying suntan lotion, I covered my arm in greasy white goo.

Stayed at Hilton in Miramar near Ft Lauderdale.

We ate at nearby Jason's both of us agreed we are not part of this world. I might be going bad. I seemed to bother kids at Jason's (but did OK with other people so maybe I am OK)

I am becoming a little concerned that my clothes are beginning to smell

Thur 3/6/14 
North of Fort Lauderdale we turned inward to middle part of state. Going back we will stay off interstates. It is a different world - has an Appalachia feel.  Functional little cross road towns. Failed businesses falling on side of road.

In Leesburg we ate lunch at Wolfy's. A meat and potatoes place. People were old - not decorously old like old people in Key West, but country old - retired truck driver and waitress old. Some had been brought from the home by a young woman. (But they seemed happy enough.) Bob wondered if old man looking at menu had been here everyday for a long time and could not remember from one day to the next that he had the same thing everyday. A senile Sisyphus. Leaving we saw one of the waitresses negotiating the busy highway - probably walking home. She had pretty pulled up hair but her face was weathered.

Later we stopped at a McDonald's for a pee and coffee. Waiting in line I heard Little Drummer Boy over sound system. Thinking I might be crazy I asked Bob if he heard it too. He did - although that does not preclude the crazy part.

We saw a roadside sign offering medical services for "Smoker's Only Heart Disease".

I was beginning to drive Bob crazy with my ongoing concession of all his points and insistence that none of it made any difference - that it all came down to treatment of people at bottom. For the sake of tranquility I quit.


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