Florida 2017

Last week we went back to Florida for the umpteenth time, but this trip was different because we added Key West to the mix. From Ft. Myers, Cheryl and I took the Key West Express, a three hour boat ride with 300 of our closest friends across the Gulf of Mexico. You can make a day trip out of it, but we thought that would be rushing it a bit so we decided to spend the night and go back to Ft. Myers the next afternoon. It turned out to be a very good decision.

After Key West we spent three nights at the Marriott on Marco Island, which has been re-branded a J. W. Marriott since our last visit, which means it’s much more expensive than it used to be, or so it seemed. I’m sorry J. W., whoever you are, but $14 for a mojito is indefensible, and so is $7.50 for a can of beer.

img_0927 This sunset picture of the beach at our hotel on Marco Island is the only one I took on our trip that I would call a photograph. The rest are just snap shots.

img_0931Here’s a shot of the beach on Marco Island. One of the drawbacks of taking pictures with an iPhone is you can’t see the display screen in bright sunlight, so you get crappy photos most of the time. This is one of a small number that wasn’t completely terrible.

img_3960This is the view from the terrace of our three bedroom, three bath hotel suite in Key West. (Thanks for the free upgrade Marriott) We loved it. Too bad we only had it for one night.

img_3976These are just a few of the yachts in the Key West harbor near where the ferry from Ft. Myers docks. Apparently there are some wealthy people here. Ya think?

img_3965I heard a noise coming from a palm tree outside our hotel room and this fellow crawled down from the fronds and took a nonchalant stroll across the seawall. Turns out iguanas are  quite common in Key West, as are chickens which roam about wherever they damn well please. Hugo the trolley driver pointed out two more iguanas on our sight-seeing ride around the island, which we enjoyed and found very informative. And Hugo was a trip.

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This place is typical of many on Duval Street. Open air, right on the street for optimal people watching. Plus it shares my daughter’s name so that was a bonus. Beer and peel and eat shrimp for an afternoon snack. Enough said.

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On Tuesday afternoon we had some time to kill before re-boarding the Key West Express, so we killed it at the Schooner Wharf Bar. This fellow on stage is Gary something (starts with an H) and he has been playing in Key West bars for many years. He plays songs by John Prine, Dylan, Neil Young and others, as well as the obligatory Jimmy Buffet tunes, and in between he tells stories about his life that are politically incorrect and very funny. The oysters were fresh and the beer was cold and I could picture myself doing something like this on a regular basis if I was a Key West local, which sounds like a worthy goal to me. I could waste away in this place with ease, blown-out flip flops and lost shakers of salt not withstanding.

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I went to Key West expecting to find a major tourist trap with some famously over-rated bars, Hemingway t-shirts everywhere and no natural beaches (no waves because of the coral reefs, therefore no sand deposited on the shores. Thus endeth the lesson for today.) Instead I came away completely enamored with the laid back feel of the place. Key West is a state of mind, a place where, in Buffet’s words, “the days drift by, they don’t have names and none of the streets here look the same. There’re so many quiet places, the smiling eyes match the smiling faces.” We loved the friendly people and the history of the place and especially the old homes with their metal roofs and tropical style and banyan trees in the yards, and we agreed we now have a new plan for how to spend our lottery winnings, when we get them, which we will, someday.

 

 

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Through Narrow Streets of Cobble Stone

Simon & Garfunkle’s, The Sounds of Silence, played through my head as I walked through the narrow streets of  SoHo, Little Italy, The Bowery and the rest of the East Village. We had gorgeous spring like weather this past weekend and since I had a Saturday hair appointment on Wooster Street I took my camera along for a bit of street shooting afterwards.

My lens was pointed skyward to capture the 19th century cast-iron and red stone building facades against a contrasting deep blue. I never realized before how many red buildings there are downtown. Some of them topped in blue or oxidized copper green. Almost all of the buildings had a water tower perched right on the corner of the roof or sported a huge billboard on the side, advertising fashion, food and neighborhood bars.

St. Patrick’s Old Church, on Mulberry Street was going through a renovation and I could only get a corner glimpse of the cemetery but, the outside of the building was beautiful in its color and Gothic style, and gleamed in the sun and I was able to capture a few reflections in its windows.

Because the sky was bright and the slender streets were in shade, that made for perfect reflections of the towering buildings on the hoods of cars, store windows and of course puddles.  I zoomed in and pulled together a singular grouping of buildings all different shades, styles, heights and widths showing off the dynamic changes in each neighborhood I passed through. One of my favorite buildings of the modern architecture and the best reflections, ever, is the glass and steel, Astor Place Tower! It’s like photographing images through fun house mirrors. I’ve photographed these neighborhoods many times over the years and each time I look through the lens I see something different and create something new.

It was getting near five o’clock and I had not had anything in my stomach since breakfast other than a cup a Cafe Au Lait at the salon (yeah, I know. Life’s tough) and I was hungry. My parting shot was of the Astor Place train station’s reproduction of the old striking blue-green, IRT kiosk, where I descended into the depths of Manhattan and caught the #6 train heading uptown and home.

Still singing that song……Image result for musical note

 

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Australian History Hilarious? A Review of ‘Girt’ and Eliza Fraser.

I used to teach early 1900s Australian history to thirteen year olds. Oft times it was difficult  to say who was more bored- me, wondering when the overloaded spit ball above a child’s head would succumb to gravity and fall  onto a desk… Or the students, whose hormonally overloaded brains wondered who the hell these people were, wearing full length clothes in Sydney during Summer? Didn’t they have singlets back them?

To be fair, the history of early European settlement in Australia is as dry as a dingo’s donger, especially in some Year 7 text books. But scratch the surface of almost any notable historical event and there’s intrigue, competing versions of the same event and terrible misunderstandings. The tale of Eliza Fraser, shipwrecked in paradise in the early 1800s, is one such event. [...]

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