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Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Christmas Day

Busy day visiting, eating, chatting with a couple who literately jogged into the campground, but were staying at the Navy Lodge. They were fascinated with us staying here for the entire winter. They are thinking of going into the RV mode, but didn’t know where to start. They had looked into RV’s, but none were occupied. We gave them a tour of ours and I think they got to see how we managed the stay for the six months that we occupy this site. Just another great experience meeting people!
This noon we had lunch downtown at a Chinese restaurant. We had figured that on Christmas Day, a Chinese restaurant would be the only place open. No so, apparently most restaurants are open, but we had our tastebuds set for Chinese and so stuck to our original plan.
Key West, FL has free on street parking for the three day holiday weekend, but it isn’t to well advertised and many people pay to park. The City Parking Lots still require $20 to $30 a day parking fee. That’s why we ride bikes across town. Getting back to the Chinese restaurant, they do have free parking and we’ve always had luck in parking on their lot. The big Ford fits perfect on their corner of the lot!

Biking Challenge

If you remember reading an earlier blog, I had set a personal goal of riding 1,000 bike miles in Key West, Florida this winter! This is an update to where I’am at as of December 28, 2016. I have 618 miles to reach my challenge.
My Bird Biking Friends!

Let me explain a little about my bike and rides. I am using a mountain bike, not a road bike! The difference is the road bike weighs in around 15 pounds vs the mountain bike around 35 pounds. Hence over time, I do a mile, the road bike can do two. The difference is in the workout. I work a lot harder to get my miles than the guy on the road bike. Now, let’s talk about the actual guy on the road bike who passes me every morning like the rabbit. I being the turtle, like the old story goes. He is, I’m guessing around twenty-five years old. I being closer to 72 than 71 one makes him nearly three times younger. I watch his legs pumping at least twice as fast as mine. No problem, I’m not training for the “Tour de France”! I just want to stay in as good a shape as I can for my age.
I had a comment on Facebook the other day that my bike looked like a girls bike! Well, yes it does have a milk crate on the back. This is KW and bikes are used as a means of transportation and also to carry groceries, mail, tools, locking cables, not to mention headlights and tail lights that are stored, for security, in that milk crate. Oh yes, I did fabricate a cover for it, out of site out of mind, as well as rain protection.

The Ride!

In years past, I used to ride around the Island. It’s ten miles around, but I wasn’t really getting the exercise I wanted, because of the pedestrians, crosswalks, traffic lights and many other distractions. Last year, I elected to train with the big boys! Instead of going into town, I stayed on base and decided to cross the channel bridge over to Fleming Key and train with the US Army Special Forces Underwater Operations. Well, I don’t actually train with them, I just use the two mile, one way road to their training facility. The routine is four miles up and back three times for a 12 miles daily routine. It’s nearly every day, the exceptions are days that are above 18 to 20 knots. The wind above that is nearly impossible to conquer, that is going into the wind. The ride back is fast!

Borring? Not so!

Some might think that going back and forth along the ocean road would be very boring. “Not so”! What I imagine being boring would be going to the gym and riding a stationary bike! My usual ride happens between 6:30am and 8am. What’s so special about the time of day and the location? One big thing is the wildlife! Special, to me is the Osprey. They make their nest high on telephone poles, Florida Keys Energy, discourage this and has put up extra poles with wood skids atop. The Osprey soon pick these spots for nesting and raising
Before Sunrise Biking on Fleming Key!
their young. Now my part in all of this is when I pedal by, I’ve picked up their distinct chirps that I’ve slowly began to copy. When I ride by, I whistle these chirps and low and behold they first started to respond by looking up out of their nest. Now, I often chirp and mother or father fly along the road with me until I’m a distance from the homestead. I wish I could video this, but unless I get a GoPro video camera mounted on my helmet that isn’t going to happen.

Other birds that I watch and who watch me are Turkey Vultures, Pelicans, White Heron, Great Egret, Anhinga (snakebird). In mid November, the Turkey Vultures and the Black Vultures show up in the Keys by the thousands. They are migrating back to South America. By the end of the month, the migration has waited for the right wind direction to continue their flight to the south across the Gulf of Mexico. A very few of these Vultures stay behind in Key West. Local folklore says that when the Turkey Vultures leave the Keys the Hurricane season in unofficially over!
Another asset to biking on Fleming Key is the Ocean. Somedays the water is flat and calm, other days the waves are choppy, but unlike the ocean along the coast no continuous wave action along the breakwaters. No loud roar of the powerful ocean like on the East or Western seaboard.
In this time of the year, sunrise around 7:30am. I’m often on the road by than. I have a super powerful USB rechargeable bike flashlight along with two red taillights. One of them being mounted on my helmet and the other below the seat. In dawns early light, it’s cool to be biking up Fleming. By the time I reach my first two mile turn around the sun is lining the distant clouds that always seem to surround islands during the night. The clouds might be caused by the island warm landmass and the cooler ocean water condensing around the Coral reef. I remember watching old John Wayne movies filmed in the South Pacific with these similar clouds present offshore. Back to the sunrise! The sun breaks above these low clouds and magical beauty and warmth appears instantly.
Maybe I’ll continue with more of my biking memories in the next blog!

That is what we saw and did!

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