my sweet family.
Then the reunion and seeing my dear precious childhood friends, happy and successful in their lives.
Then the drive south. I haven't been this way since moving to Monticello. We stayed in Homestead one night and then the drive down US 1 heading to the end or the beginning of the highway that runs from here to Maine. I have driven most of that highway in my life. I have started in Key West driving north. I have been almost to the end in Maine. I ate my first lobster roll in a little stand in Rhode Island on US 1. I have been in the Green Parrot. They brag they are the only bar in Key West on US1, I am not sure if that is correct, but if it makes them feel special, OK. I am a Florida girl. Born and raised here, the east coast. US 1 was here before any other that I remember, and travelling south on that highway stretching across the water, the Gulf on one side, the Atlantic on the other. Bug and I travelled it again, smiling and reminiscing each stories to the other.
When I lived here 35 years ago I was a school teacher, a clown, a desk clerk at a resort and a social worker. As a social worker I drove with a fellow social worker up to Marathon once a week. Sometimes it took us an hour, sometimes we would sit on the bridges for hours, stuck in a parking lot of traffic with no where to go.
Now as we drove south, memories washed over me like the green blue crystal clear water washes over the coral and fish. The Loralei, Outdoor World, Bud and Mary's Marina, now famous because of the TV show, Islamaroda Fish Company, 7 mile grill, Green Turtle Inn, place after place that are a part of me. We stopped and fed the tarpon at Robbie's marina. I giggled like a little girl as the silver giants swept through the water grabbing our dead white bait we paid $3 to feed them.
places still there.
life goes on.
We are staying at Trumbo Point. When I lived here it was Navy housing. Now it is part of the NWR where retired military people can come and rent a condo, a 2 bedroom mobile home or bring their own RV or tent. It is a first for me. I used to have a friend who worked at the same school as I did and lived here. So I had been here, but had never had access to this part of the island.
We took the Ms K out on Thursday. It has been crazy windy here, but we had a bit of a brake on Thursday and slipped out between storms. We went completely around the island. Most of it was a little choppy and windy, but very doable, but.....
as we took the turn around the southwestern side of the island, where the Atlantic and Gulf meet it was very choppy. Okay, maybe choppy is an understatement, but the Ms K handled it just fine.
Out of nowhere there was this loud roaring noise that filled the air around us, and whoosh at warp speed went one of the cigarette boats. It is the Super boats races here this week. These boats, even the small ones make Ms K look small and slow. This boat was probably 50 yards away from us and I think it might have been travelling at Warp 3, I am not sure. It was loud and over whelming, but thank goodness for us, not much wake. In the 20 minutes it took us to get around that corner we were passed by 3 different massive warp speed boats. The last, the Broadco couldn't have been 10 yards away from us. He came out of nowhere, passed us between the shore and our Ms K. We were trying to keep close to the rocks bordering the shore without running aground, and that crazy person must not have seen our 19 foot Carolina Skiff with a T-top. Come on, we are not that small. We were left deaf and stunned as the crazy person warped around us on the wrong side and disappeared in a rooster tail.
We made a bee line out of the area of play. Some may say they were practicing, no, they were playing. Running fast, no rules, just flat out running over a hundred miles an hour. We made it around and out of the area and continued our trip as we headed up the Gulf side of the island. We saw wooden schooners under full sail, speed boats, dinghies, jet skies, kayaks, centuries of water craft all blended together bobbing on the green water. Fish swam below us, tarpons, mangrove snappers, parrot fish, pin fish and Sargent majors. Rays dark and silent seemed to fly through the water, their entourage of fish scurrying along with them. Man of war jelly fish bluish with the pink 4 leaf clover and the tentacles barely visible trailing around them. Poisonous stingy pain bubbling past the boat.
My favorite of the birds is the white phase Great Blue Heron. The only place they are found in the world is here in the Keys. We saw egrets and herons, ibis and osprey. Trees and vegetation that I used to know every name, now still familiar, but the names not always on the tip of my tongue.
As Bug fished in a quiet little mangrove inlet a biplane flew over head accompanied by para sails, navy jets, Airlines, private planes of every size and shape, helicopters, blimps, prop planes pulling advertisement and then a roar from the sky and a large gray plane plodded above us and then large gray round parachutes dropped out of the back end into the sky. Even with all the things I had seen in the sky from birds to every kind of man powered instruments, my mind would just not wrap around these gray jelly fish giants floating down from the sky. The water filled with these large gray bulbs, looking even more like giant jellyfish.
That is Key West, old and new, past and present, rich and poor all mixed together. Churches and bars nestled amongst the gardens. Cuban coffee and Starbucks just down the street from each other. The streets small with the conch houses pressed in close. Electric cars, antique cars, modern cars, scooters and roaring motorcycles share the road mixed together. Bicycles with one person, two people or with seats to carry a family and their dog share the road with the infamous chickens. Bikes of every color and size some with tires as big as motorcycle tires vie for space with pedestrians. Sober people, drunk people, crazy people, tourist peaking into this world from their very normal life elsewhere. People born here, some generations reaching back as far as humans have walked on this key of bones, Cayo Hueso. Others here for a vacation that never left. Some people here only for the day from a fast cat out of Ft. Myers Beach. Last night all of this humanity shared the streets with the massive speed boats. Some of these boats were bigger then the streets and had to be carried on trailers for the parade where they were tipped up to fit through. Humongous trucks painted to match the boat, pulling these giants followed by the obligatory vehicles with pretty girls, driver and crew. Tiny smart cars, boats that were cars, a parade Key West Style. They closed Duval street and parked the boats so that humanity could pass by taking photos and telling stories.
Southern Most Point
We have gone to 2 of the 3 days of racing, tomorrow will be the last race day. We watched the races from Truman Naval Air Station from the bleachers put up on the dock there at the base. Various naval and coast guard associations selling beer, water, mixed drinks and food. The weather, sunny, in the 80s and breezy. Each of the days of racing they ran the courses and dealt with the tides, the wind, motors roaring and some blowing up. We saw one boat run over a metal green buoy and rip it down the middle. They have helicopters flying above, some with photographers, some with Navy and Coast Guard guys ready to dive into the water to save lives. They did not have to rescue anyone, so far, thank goodness.
We brought our bikes. Not conch cycles with the high handlebars and baskets made from anything available filled with beads and stickers, coconuts and painted brightly. Our bikes have taken us from the Gulf to the Atlantic. We have been to the beginning of the rainbow, otherwise known as mile marker 0, US 1. We have visited our favorite haunts and each of us introduced new places to the other.
So many places still there, so many places gone. We have visited Fort Taylor, the old fort crumbling and held up with beams and metal poles. The 2 foot thick cement cracked in two in some places. History of the military influence here on the island of bones. Pepe's is still here, a restaurant opened in 1909 claiming to be the oldest continuous restaurant here in Key West. Chickens wander the streets thicker then cats The restaurants, art galleries and tourist shops are filled with homages to chickens.
I have bought 2 T-shirts with chickens on them.
Key West is the home of the Hemingway cat
gardens overflowing with flowers and foliage that makes
my heart soar like the tiny yellow finches that flit and chirp everywhere
People literally of every color imaginable cohabitate on this island, famed to be 2 miles by 4 miles. The people here are as bright and colorful as the tropical foliage
some times of the year, literally rainbow colored skin
and not all of them live here
it is magical here
sweet warm sunshine
birds and fish
I feel my clock even more here
This year has been filled with past, present and future
all crashing into each other
in some of my most beloved places
places that hold pieces of me
places that hold people I love
places with stories and memories
and for me
Key West was always a place I belong