February 14, 2009

The Florida Keys

The sky is a different color of brilliant blue in the Keys. I took a picture, but it doesn’t really convey the intensity and depth of color.

I spent—what day was it? What day is it now?—Thursday, I think, tooling around the middle keys with my colleague. Judy and her husband Terry have just started wintering down here and were foolish kind enough to extend an invitation when she learned I’d be making my annual Florida pilgrimage. It was her offer that stirred the idea that I could visit a number of bloggers on my way down and back. And what a trip it has been.

Judy and I went south of Marathon over Seven Mile Bridge to Bahia Honda State Park. Most of the roadway down the Keys is lined with businesses and condos. Apparently and thankfully there is a moratorium on building height that keeps the community intimate. At the park the beauty of the land remained intact.

We wandered on foot and by car through meandering trails. There was a single butterfly in their designated butterfly garden, which included this butterfly house. I’ve never seen such a thing and I have to wonder if it’s just a piece of whimsy. Why on earth do butterflies need a structure? What would they use it for?

I’m now the proud witness to two national “follies” at opposing corners of the continent: Seward’s Folly, which was the purchase of the state of Alaska from Russia, and Flagler’s Folly, which was running a highway and train down the east coast of Florida to the Keys. Seward’s gamble paid off handsomely; Flagler’s not so much. Here’s the tail end of his roadway and bridge.

From our rail of the bridge we looked down onto brush and trees. Movement revealed a brown and orange iguana munching on leaves. This big daddy was at least three feet long. The picture does not do justice to the brilliance of the orange crest running along his back.

The only request I made of my hosts was sunset on the ocean. They served it up in style. This was my view over their shoulders when we had dinner.

The stars that night were vivid and plentiful. Constellations that are too low on the horizon in Indiana are high in the sky at this latitude. I saw Orion, of course, but also two globular clusters, two open clusters, and even the Andromeda Galaxy was up. I am so glad I hauled those big astronomy binoculars down with me.

I had to pull over for gas on my way down the Keys, and this sign said it all.

If I need any motivation at all, I can just remember the view from my living room window one week before I left.

The next day would bring the long drive up the length of the Keys, across Alligator Alley, to friends in Fort Myers. But I would need to start the day with an important task in Key West.


Java said...

The juxtaposition of the two final pictures speaks louder than anything you could say. Enjoy your stay, dear lady.

bigislandjeepguy said...

love your accounting of this trip....keep it comin'!

Jeaux said...

You've put a new spin on 'circuit' party, though I suppose Hemingway would called it a 'moveable feast,' yourself being the main course. You've gone a long way, baby.

Somehow Flagler's folly is a fitting metaphor for this part of the world... so many of us have come here and decided "pffft..." and never looked back.