Tuesday, August 31, 2010

take a bow

The Key West Maritime Memorial Museum at the old navy pier on Truman waterfront features two World War II era ships; USS Mohawk and USCGC Ingham are both berthed at the inner cay wall and both, as you might expect, have interesting histories.

USCGC INGHAM is a "Treasury-class" cutter and, to date, the most decorated vessel in the Coast Guard fleet with two Presidential Unit Citations. She was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1935 and formally commissioned in 1936.

Serving with distinction during World War II on convoy duty in the Atlantic theatre, she sank an enemy submarine in 1942. Transferred to the Pacific theatre in 1944, Ingham served as an amphibious flagship.
She also served during the Korean War (1950-1953) and in Vietnam (1959-1975) where she earned one of those Presidential Unit Citations I mentioned earlier.
After Nam, Ingham was reassigned to regular Coast Guard duties until 1988 when she was decommissioned.

From 1989 to 2009 Ingham was on display at Patriots Point Navel and Maritime Museum in South Carolina where in 1992 she was declared a National Historic Landmark and at the end of her time there and a little refit in drydock, Ingham was brought to Key West.

USS MOHAWK was first assigned patrol and icebreaking duty on the Hudson and Delaware Rivers and at the outbreak of World War II, she had been stationed at Cape May in New Jersey. But at the start of the war in 1941, she was assigned to North Atlantic escort operations with the Greenland Patrol. There she served for the entire war launching better than a dozen attacks against enemy submarines in the doing.

At War's end, Mohawk was placed "in reserve, in commission" status with a skeleton crew and again stationed at Cape May.
Two years later, in 1947, Mohawk was decommissioned and mothballed. But the next year she was bought by the Delaware Bay and River Pilots' Association, and for the next thirty years served as a pilot boat on the Delaware River.

Years later Mohawk was rescued from a Staten Island scrap yard where she'd been rusting away for 15 years or so. She was towed to Miami for major repair by the Miami Dade Historical Maritime Museum who then established the USS Mohawk CGC Memorial Museum and brought her down to us here in
Key West.

As the faithful followers of Key West the Blog know, I am something of a history junkie and the United States Navy is steeped in noble history, myth and tradition. So where better to get an occasional history fix than at the Key West Maritime Memorial Museum.
To Ingham, Mohawk, all who have served on either ship or are serving now to preserve their histories, please accept my gratitude and, take a bow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

nightsky & small miracles

Not long ago I found myself a once weekly gig working the overnight. It's easy enough work, the pay's good and the extra bucks come in handy. But better than that, while I'm out and about getting it done, I can watch the night sky.

I've always been a sort of amateur, naked eye astronomer.
I can tell most constellations apart and usually the difference between what's a star and what could be a planet. Then, when I'm not sure of what I'm seeing, I know how to look it up.

That said, while I was out and about through the overnight this week, I was followed by this image of the moon and an unusually bright light to it's left. A planet I reckoned but honestly, didn't know which one.

Now here's where one of my small miracles comes in.
Earlier that day, during the daylight hours, I met a young woman walking her puppy; one of those marble pit bulls. Both the woman and the puppy were super friendly and we chatted for several minutes while I patted and played with the pup. The puppy's name, as it turned out, was Jupiter.

Now, I knew Mars was visible in the sky that night but that wasn't the right position for it. Then I remembered the puppy and thought, "what are the odds?" that's gotta be Jupiter
up there. (divine intervention strikes again)

Once I'd finished my gig I shot these few pictures (it's great having a digital camera with a 10 x 48 zoom lens) and judging from the spherical shape, color and random meeting with the puppy earlier that day, decided that it definitely was Jupiter
I was seeing.

But of course for things scientific you always need verification so I went to the "AstroViewer" and, sure enough, Jupiter was in the right position to support my decision but
so too was Uranus.

Hmmm, I wondered. . .
Can you see Uranus with the naked eye?
Well, it turns out that you can but, as far as I know, it only ever appears as a blueish pinpoint of light in the night sky.
My target was decidedly a planet of a different size and color.

So between the size and color, position on the skychart and a chance meeting with a puppy, I'm going with Jupiter.
Of course if any one of you knows better, please let me know.
I never mind being better informed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

sweaty palms

Saturday, August 21, 2010

white street pier

Every so often I enjoy and hour or two sitting out on the end of the almost 1/4 mile long fishing pier off the Atlantic end of White Street with a sketchbook and con leché to watch
the sunrise

Out among the few joggers, bicycle riders, dog walkers, homeless folks, fishermen and seagulls, it's calm and quiet, the air is cooler than it is inland and the new day's sea breeze carries fresher air.

Well, on one such a morning I got to pondering the pier's backstory. (the why and when of it, you know?)
So when I got back home I climbed on-line to try to find the answers. To my chagrin, there wasn't a whole lot of anything about it. So the next day I got myself over to the library on Fleming Street to ask Key West's history guru,
Tom Hambright, about it.

What I learned was that back in the mid to late 1950's Monroe County had a little surplus money laying around and decided to spend it on infrastructure projects.
What they came up with was construction of a series of "roads to nowhere" like Loop Road and County Road 939 up on Sugarloaf Key.
In 1956, when some of that surplus money was allotted to Key West, the voters decided they wanted a fishing pier and the "unfinished highway to Havana" (another road to nowhere) was proposed and finally built in 1960.

These days the White Street pier is something of a tourist draw, every once in a while there'll be a fishing tournament out there or it'll be part of the course for one of
BW Promotion's official 5K runs and on special occasions (the 4th of July or New Year's Eve) the city uses it for fireworks displays.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

a word from our sponsor - VIDEO

click arrow to start video. run time, 1:26

take a bight

Sometimes I get my head so far up my work and worry,
I forget about all the cool stuff to do and see around Key West. (well, in my case, it's not so much worry - I've been up to the plate a few times so there aren't as many curve balls life can throw at me that I haven't seen before - but I have been known to work non-stop for weeks at a time)
Anyway, maybe that happens to you too.

It didn't happen as much when I was living a half block from the bight on William Street, it couldn't. . .
I'd hear Barry Cuda honky tonkin' on his piano at B.O's Fishwagon on Friday nights from my front porch; or saxman Marty Stonely (sorry, no website) on Sundays at Schooner Wharf jammin' reggae and calypso.
The music always drew me in and in the time it took to get to my feet, walk that half block singing the chorus of "Three Little Birds", I'd be there knowing. . .
"every little ting gonna be alright"

But now, living over here under the flight path on the cemetery side of town, it's a little different. The rousing sounds are the roar the jet engines passing overhead (but I don't get inspired to go to the airport) and when I finally do remember to get my dose of live music, it's an easy 15 minute walk; just enough time run "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" in my head while I take it.

What brought all this up for me was talking with a buddy who said that this "bullsh*t economy" had him working so much this past year that he hadn't been out on his boat for months and, did I see on T.V. Goldman Sachs this and
Obama Care that. . .

He raved on for a while and I wondered, privately, how a guy working so much made time for watching so much television.
"I'm telling you man", he continued "I'm so beat at the end of the days it's all I can do to crash in front of the tube with a brew at night." (. . .oh, that's how)

So I'm thinking, work all day everyday and then some at a job you don't like and worry that the ends still won't really meet and then let the 24 hour T.V. talking heads badger you 'til bedtime with crisis and chaos and an Afghan girl with her nose cut off.
That's a life you live, maybe, in New Jersey; but here?
In paradise?

So what's the fix?
I'm guessing the details are different for everyone and for sure, we all need to take care of business but the broad-stroke, at least for me is first, don't take it all so seriously (face it, in 100 years we'll all be dead), then relax and remember who you are and where you came from.
Make a list of the things that lighten your heart, bring peace to your mind and pleasure to your body.
Lay it all out on the table in front of you, your true ground of being, embrace it with all your love and take a bight.