Saturday, February 25, 2012

Key West

The whole family went on a cruise from New Orleans to the Bahamas two weeks ago.  None of us had been to the Bahamas and it was time for a change.  We all had a great time, the Bahamas have beautiful beaches and we ate good food.  On our way there, we stopped for a day in Key West.  We hadn't been to Key West for ten years, and this time Ray and I wanted to visit the places we knew when we lived there in 1969 to 1970.  First of all I have to say that most of the places we lived while Ray was on active duty and we were moving every couple of years have been unrecognizable when we went  back to visit.  I think it is a combination of fading memories and progress that makes this happen.

It was surprising then that once we got away from the old touristy part of Key West how much was still familiar.  There have  been major changes, but we still recognized much more than we expected to.  First of all was where we lived.  We owned a mobile home for the first several moves, and amazingly enough the mobile home park we lived in is still there.  When we moved down to Key West, the highway was closed at 11:00 at night for two way traffic, so large trucks and mobile  homes could go up and down the highway.  It appears that mobile homes are not allowed to be brought into Key West any more because there wasn't anything in that park newer than twenty years old.  Considering the risk of being is a mobile home in a hurricane is equivalent to trying to ride out a tornado in one, that was a smart decision.  But affordable housing is doubtlessly scarce and the occupancy rate looked to be close to 100%.  We could have bought the home on our old lot for $19,000.00 Thanks, but no thanks.

We next went up the Keys to check out the location of the old Cudjoe Key Air Station.  It was located on the gulf side of Cudjoe Key and the reason we left was that the station was closed.  We thought we might find rubble, or for a while from what we could see, a waste transfer station.  Ray was not happy about that idea. Instead we found the remote old base being extremely noticeable due to the presence of a white dirigible.  It turns out the station is now being used for observation of boat traffic in the Keys and Florida Straits.  In other words, they are hunting drug runners.  Sort of cool, huh?  We wanted to get a closer look, but the do not enter warnings were a quarter of a mile from the gate and we decided not to push our luck.  We didn't need to be arrested and miss getting back to the ship.

We also stopped at Bahia Honda State Park.  Ray and I spend a lot of weekends there, snorkeling and hanging out with other people from the Air Station.  The park has beautiful beaches, great snorkeling and was a short drive from Key West.  Looking back, I don't think we realized what a treasure the park was while we lived there.

Last of all, we wanted to drive the Seven Mile Bridge again.  In  1969 we had a Corvair Monza and a German Shepherd.  The road was two narrow lane and the longest bridge was seven miles over the water.  I remember being more than a little nervous about driving over the water with just a metal railing between the car and a twenty foot drop.  You got used to it quickly and enjoyed being able to pass on the bridges when the tourists slowed down.  A number of years back the highway was replaced with much wider two lanes and concrete side.  There is absolutely no sense of danger at all.  I would guess that it good, I know there has to be a lot few accidents.  But back in the day, the fear was part of the mystique of living in the Keys. I will say that looking at the old sections that remain reminds me that the fear was absolutely justified.  That was one narrow road.

Key West this time wasn't your usual tourist visit, but we had a great day.

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