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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #221  (Vol. 5, No. 25)  This edition is for the week of June 14--20, 2004.

LA FLORIDIANA
Will's Key West Adventure -- Part One
 by Will Moriaty
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEW
"Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story"
 by Mike Smith
ODDSERVATIONS
An Afternoon at the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase
 by Andy Lalino
THE GREAT BENZINI
On Comics
 by Ben Gregory
SPLASH PAGE
Is Political Outsourcing Corporation Centralization With Media Hype?....One-Shots
 by Brandon Jones
MATT'S RAIL
Edgartown Excitement....The Masters of Horror is Back!
 by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Tedd Webb....Bush Speak....You're Out!....Jaws 30....More on Moore....Meet The Beatles, Part 21
 by Mike Smith
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Will's Key West Adventure -- Part One
The Trip That Almost Wasn't

Tuesday night, June 1, 2004:
I was feeling fine most of that fateful day until I sneezed three times that evening. By the time I went to bed I began to cough and feel a little run down.

With threatening skies above, our Seacoast Airlines Piper Navajo will soldier on safely to our destination in Key West.
By the morning of Wednesday June 2, 2004 I could tell this was not the onset of an ordinary cold. Every muscle in my body ached and I would end up sleeping all but two hours of that day. By Saturday June 5, 2004 I developed laryngitis. I had already missed three days of work, a record amount of time for an illness in over eight years.

Monday morning June 7, 2004, I visited the doctor, as I was not shaking this illness off as quickly as I wanted to. I was also facing a flight to Key West on Friday June 11, 2004 and needed to get rid of my congestion and plugged up ears or the trip to the Trees Florida Conference that weekend would be a no-go.

A Healing Then A Set Back
A view of the interior cabin of the Navajo as we were flying over Pine Island Sound in Lee County.
By Wednesday June 9, 2004 the antibiotics and decongestion were pretty much effectively doing their job, but due to my inactivity, a shin splint condition in my left leg made getting around absolutely miserable and painful so I found myself back at the doctor's. Cortisone, heating pad and keeping my foot elevated was the prescription. I was looking at only a day and a half to either catch a plane to Key West or bail - - I had to start healing and quickly.

Determined to become active again, and with my wife Karen's encouragement, my crutches and I got into the Huntress (my 1999 Firebird) and took the trek to the Air 1 hanger at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to depart on a SeaCoast Airlines (http://www.seacoastairlines.com/) Piper Navajo to America's southernmost city. At the Air 1 hanger was SeaCoast employee Brenda, who is a most delightful and accommodating person. She was extremely attentive to me in light of my condition and her level of customer service was a high compliment to this Zephyrhills, Florida based carrier.

First By Air...
Bright turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico below, a reduction of engine power heralds the initial descent into Key West.
Nine of us passengers boarded the twin engine Piper Navajo, the second of two such aircraft needed due to the Friday demand of passengers headed southward for a weekend or reveling or relaxing. Although the clouds over the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport were building up as we readied for departure, it was not raining, nor was there much turbulence once airborne. Without a hitch we raced up Runway 35 and were climbing northward over Old Tampa Bay. Banking to the west over Pinellas County, we followed the west coastline of the State until south of Naples when we flew over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I sat in the very back of the plane with a native of Key West named Charlie Bowers. We discussed the unique character of the Florida Keys and how over development has endangered the natural and cultural character of this Caribbean treasure attached to the southern tip of the Florida land mass.

Banking over Old Key West, the Navajo begins its finals onto Runway 9 of Key West International Airport.
After circumnavigating through some nimbocumulus clouds south of the Ten Thousand Islands, we began our descent over the turquoise blue waters north of Key West. Then out of the haze on the port side of the wing, the first slivers of islands appeared. The Keys were now in sight! Once over the Old Town portion of Key West, the pilot executed an acute banking descent to the east for finals onto Runway 9 at Key West International Airport. Upon descent into Key West two things became apparent. The land was dotted with the brilliant red-orange hue of the Royal Poinciana tree, and the land was also parched from a prolonged drought.

Upon surveying the airport there were some aircraft gems on the ground, including an old Douglas DC-3, a Beechcraft B-18, a U.S. Army parachuting plane and most incredibly, a Russian built Antonov An-24 belonging to Cubana de Aviacion. Our Piper Navajo pulled into the tarmac at the airport's f.b.o., Island City Flying Service.

Now the next challenge - - getting to Marrero's Guest Mansion (http://www.marreros.com/), where I would be staying during the duration of my time in Key West.

Then By Land...
A panoramic view of Key West on finals to Runway 9.
One of the passengers on the plane noticed my condition and took pity upon me. He had a pick up truck parked at the airport and offered to drive me to Marrero's. We struck up a conversation after leaving the airport. It turns out that he and his family were staying in nearby Big Pine Key. When I asked his name so that I could credit him in this article for his good deed, he requested that he simply be known as "Anonymous" and that he felt that by doing such works was in itself a reward to his Lord.

It was wonderful gesture as well as a Blessing to meet such a truly Christian man.

God Bless you "Anonymous", wherever you might be right now, and in all that you do.

The dark gray skies of St. Petersburg gave way to the sunny skies of Key West at the Island City Flying Service hanger eighty minutes later. It sure beats eight to ten hours on driving!
The pick up pulled up to 410 Fleming Street, where Key West's most hospitable and beautiful lodging accommodation, Marrero's Guest Mansion is located (see PCR #197 http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr/laflapcr197.html). It was great to see the affable and attentive innkeeper, John, once again. When I commented to John that I preferred to stay in the historic inn over the hotel where the conference was being held, he replied that go to such corporate hotel chain in a city with the charm and history of Key West was the equivalent of going to a McDonald's for dinner in Paris.

I couldn't have said better myself John!

After a few moments of resting in my room, I gathered my crutches to begin my trek onto Duval Street. Another Blessing was unfolding - - I was able to start walking without quite as much pain. After about an hour, the pain started to subside, and I found my self walking normally. As I had originally planned to snorkel during this trip, I signed up for the Fury Catamarans Sunset Sail for that evening.

They don't call it a Flamboyant Tree for nothing! A Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia) shown in full bloom on Whitehead Street in Key West.
Then By Sea...
By 4:30 P.M. I was walking beneath the Royal Poincianas and Coconut Palms on Whitehead Street on my way to the docks where Fury Catamarans (http://www.furycat.com/sunset.htm) had two of their 65 foot long sailing vessels, one of which would take me and forty other people eight miles out into the Atlantic to one of the few coral reefs in the United States.

Next week in Part Two, your fearless (?) author takes a plunge into a coral reef, snorkels the jetties of Ft. Zachary Taylor's beach, and tours some incredibly historic and unique Key West garden spots.



"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.