Monday, September 14, 2009

Florida Keys Day 3, Part 1 | Salvaging a rainy day on old Seven-Mile Bridge

The old Seven-Mile Bridge leads south to Pigeon Key, beyond which was the stormy weather that ruined the rest of my journey to Key West.

The first full day of my vacation in the Florida Keys was largely disappointing. I had planned to stop along the road to Key West, taking photos when something caught my eye. But rainfall messed with those plans early as I drove into a line of storms in the lower Keys.

The one stop I did make before hitting the storms, however, was at Pigeon Key, on the northeastern end of the famous Seven-Mile Bridge connecting Marathon and Little Duck Key. I had done little planning before this trip - my typical style of travel - but a friend had told me that a stop here would be worthwhile. The old bridge is open to foot traffic to Pigeon Key, a small island containing several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lacking the patience to walk the bridge to Pigeon Key to shoot some old, boring buildings, I settled for some photos of the rusty span.

To the north, a heavy core of precipitation moved off the Gulf of Mexico side of Marathon. Though I vacationed in the Keys on Labor Day weekend, a popular time for residents of South Florida to spend a few days of leisure in Key West, the lower-profile attractions such as Pigeon Key saw considerably less traffic, save a few walkers and joggers on the old bridge.

In this image, the new bridge is to the left, and to the far right, the choppy seas of the Gulf of Mexico indicate the windy conditions I experienced during my walk. Later, after I had finished, I looked in my car's rearview mirror and saw that the gusty weather had frozen my hair in an upright position. When my first day in the Keys began with such forceful weather, I was hoping to witness why the chain of islands is known as the waterspout capital of the world. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky.

With my lens zoomed in, the edges of this frame darkened, causing the vignetting effect. The focus of this photo, though, is a shallow area offshore, with signs planted in the bottom to warn boaters of the danger.

Knight's Key, the lower portion of Marathon on which the northern end of the bridge lies, isn't necessarily the most popular place for casual anglers. Along the Overseas Highway through the Keys, there are several pullover areas and beach access spots that are popular with fishermen, swimmers and snorkelers. And the use of them is free; the state parks along the route, though, charge about $4.50 for entry. At Knight's Key on the Saturday during my Keys weekend, these anglers were more than casual; they were serious. But the result of this particular catch - a large bunch of weeds - is kind of laughable.

After the anglers had given up and cleared out, some tourists moved into the area from which they were casting their lines. But I'm not sure what this mother and son found so fascinating. Some monofilament? Or maybe dead fish?

The sky over the horizon developed that deep blue hue indicative of lots of rain in the distance. Meanwhile, the choppy surf crashed against the concrete wall.

From the stairway that leads from the old bridge to that fishing area on the gulf, I looked up at these two people who were admiring the wind blowing out of the southwest.

The color on the underside of the old bridge nearly matched the blue sky of the distant rainstorms. This might be my favorite photo from the first part of the day, just because of the colors.

This is the new, currently traveled bridge that carries U.S. 1 to the lower Keys. This is taken from a fishing area on the Atlantic Ocean side of Knight's Key.

The color of this kite surf, contrasted against the dark blue sky, caught my eye as my car headed over Little Duck Key, just south of the Seven-Mile Bridge. But when I had a chance to stop and grab my camera, the surfer had already called it quits for the day and had floated toward the bridge, where he packed it up.


Denise said...

No pic of your hair??

Andrew Knapp said...

I did take that shot, but it wasn't my best self-portrait.