Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Names of the Florida Keys through which Jim is paddling evoke strong images: Conch, Hog, Knight's, Duck, Grassy, Fat Deer, Vaca (Spanish for cow), Ramrod, Knockemdown, Cudjoe, Sugarloaf, at al, including the romantic-sounding Islamorada. While that last name may be pleasing to the ear, it wasn't so easy on actor Gene Hackman last Friday. He was hit from behind by a pick-up truck while riding a bicycle on the Key. We're happy to report that his injuries weren't serious; he was briefly hospitalized with bumps and bruises. Crawl (Kraal) Key was named for the corrals or pens there which once held sea turtles destined for human consumption. There is now a sea turtle "hospital" in the area, one of very few in the U.S., with facilities and staff trained to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured sea turtles. The city of Marathon encompasses most of Knight's Key, Boot Key, Key Vaca, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, Crawl Key, Grassy Key, Hog Key and East and West Sisters Islands. Imagine being the city manager of such a municipality - with all it's coastal allure, literally miles out at sea. Satellite images of the area are surprising to this writer, with numerous homes and facilities in such a fragile, vulnerable place. Key Vaca, by the way, may have been named by or for the intrepid early Spanish explorer Alavar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca who had many incredible adventures beginning with a trip to Florida in the 1500's. An excellent biography of Cabeza de Vaca is available at: www.pbs.org/weta, on the people index. It makes for fascinating reading! Weather conditions for the group with which Jim is paddling call for easterly winds today of 15-20 knots. Following today's paddle, expected to be about 12 miles, the group will have a "lay day" to rest and recuperate before a 7-mile open-water paddle on the next leg. God-speed to all. Be safe out there!