No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, April 03, 2020

Social Distancing

April 3, 2020

Social Distancing

The terrible scourge that is the Global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic started hitting a little closer to home in the past few day, first came news that our friend Amy had tested positive, she is self-isolating in her home and seems to be doing fairly well so far, but the news wasn’t so good for another Key West resident, as Keith became the first documented virus related fatality in Monroe County last evening.

Keith and Marshee with their sons.

I did not really know Keith all that well, but like me he was a 55 year old man with underlying health conditions so that in and of itself is frightening. I do know his lovely wife Marshee, Marshee and I worked together many years ago, shortly after I arrived in Key West in the deli at the Winn Dixie grocery store.

Marshee is a larger than life figure, brash and funny and about as big-hearted a person as you will ever meet. I grieve for her and her family, their two sons and all of Keith’s extended family and friends. The bad news is that we are I fear still in the early days of the proverbial curve that continues to rise with no signs of slowing or stopping any time soon. As I write this there have been 245,573 confirmed cases in the United States with 6,058 deaths attributed to the virus. Over a million cases worldwide and here locally Monroe County currently is showing 38 confirmed cases with 19 of those being here in Key West, with Keith being the first and to date only death.

It is such a frightening situation one that has changed the way of life for all of us in remarkable and permanent ways. Our state was late to the party on ordering a stay at home order, but the good news is that here locally it seems people are taking the situation to heart and we have been busy self-isolating for a couple of weeks. It is a strange phenomenon to be inside with little to no real human contact at all other than Kathy. I am thankful to her though as she has been wonderful and there is no one I would rather be isolated with. We seem to get on each other’s nerves less than usual in spite of being together for so much time.

Like most everyone else we have been limiting our trips outside the house to shopping and or the long walks we take each evening to keep our sanity. We are exceedingly careful when walking, avoiding people and staying as far away as possible from the few other people we see out while walking. Even when we occasionally encounter friends, we keep more than a safe distance. It seems each day that passes finds less and less people on the streets. I keep reading about random tourists that are still here, but I have seen no evidence that they are here and the county has maintained a roadblock that is designed specifically to keep visitors from arriving by car.

We try to not watch too much news coverage as it is repetitive and depressing, but we do like to keep informed by watching trusted news sources. Here locally that means the excellent reporting from local “Miami Herald” correspondent Gwen Filosa and NPR’s Nan Klingener, each have been vital sources of much needed quick and accurate information at a time when it is much needed.


We have been spending time watching web broadcasts from friends like our friend Landon’s daily “Coffee with Landon” feature on facebook live, or our friend Graffy’s inventive and fun broadcasts of his Hot Tub Duck Races which feature close to 100 numbered rubber ducks tossed into his hot tub with the winning duck being the last one sucked up into the drain. It has been wildly popular and fun and he has completed three live broadcasts to date with more to come.

The creativity and kindness shown by the vast majority of people has been an inspiring silver lining to this insanity and it has helped keep us from totally freaking out. It looks to be a long haul before and if this thing gets turned around and anything that helps break the monotony and fear of this scary time is welcome. Kathy and I did manage to sneak in a nice snorkel along the broken pilings of the former dock at Higgs Beach just before it was totally closed like every beach in Key West.

It was a tad rough, but still a welcome diversion and a beautiful day to be out in the water with literally no one around. Since the beach has since been closed, it may be some time that we can snorkel again, at least in that location. There is no prohibition, contrary to rumors about being in or out on the water in boats, but you must maintain a safe distance from others and in the interest of adhering to the stay at home order, we will not be going for the foreseeable future.

Monday, March 30, 2020


March 30, 2020


To say this has been the strangest month of my life would be something of an understatement. The Global Pandemic that is Covid-19 Corona virus has hit the United States like the proverbial ton of bricks in the past two weeks and I am afraid that it is just getting started.  As of this moment, the official numbers in the United States are already staggering, 156,391 cases with 2897 confirmed dead, a number that continues to rise exponentially each day and still shows the nation on the upswing side of the curve that we have been so busy socially distancing ourselves in an attempt to flatten.

Here in Key West, things have magnified as well over the past week or so as we currently have 24 positive cases in Monroe County and just over a dozen here in Key West with thankfully no deaths yet and 4 patients needing hospitalization. Those numbers figure to grow even though we have been pretty good on shutting everything down here. All bars and restaurants remained closed or doing take-out only, and even the number that started doing take-out has dwindled as the days have past. The county has set up a literal roadblock at the north end of the Keys, stopping all visitors from entering- only residents and essential personnel can enter.

The airport has seen a dramatic decrease in arrivals and flights and anyone from designated “hot spots” like New York or New Jersey must complete a mandatory 14 day quarantine in place upon arrival. The county followed the city and state and finally closed the beaches, fishing piers and just about any areas where people congregate in an attempt to limit personal contact and hopefully get this thing under control.

About 60-70 percent of the island population is suddenly out of work, with no foreseeable end in sight, the misery that this is going to cause is just getting started. Kathy and I realized pretty quickly the financial hardship it is going to place on our tenets and we already have offered them a 50 percent reduction in their rent payments for the next three months at least. Thankfully, to date, my employment has continued though I am working from home like so many others. Kathy is still working though on a much abbreviated schedule so this will be having a tremendous negative financial impact on us, like so many people.

It also takes an emotional toll, it is tough being so isolated, especially for me as I love social gatherings and interactions which have pretty much stopped altogether. Kathy and I have been making the best of the situation, completing a few long overdue projects around the house, spending time watching our many musician friends doing live broadcasts from their homes, interacting with friends and family using social media and interactive software like Facetime and Zoom to keep some sense of normalcy.

I experienced my first two Zoom board meetings this week, one for the Tropic Cinema and one for the Key West Literary Seminar, each group trying to react and survive in this bleak new reality. Our mood has remained fairly upbeat so far, helped no doubt by what have become long daily walks around the island. Each evening we pick a different route, downtown, uptown, along the beach, through neighborhoods, it has become the form of entertainment that keeps us sane and active.
I have carried my phone with me and have documented much of the island via photos on these walks and they depict a Key West that is unlike any that I have ever experienced in my 30 years here.

Streets and businesses that are traditionally packed with people, locals and visitors are now spookily empty, lonely and bleak. We occasionally cross paths with other locals also out in what is now mostly a ghost town as the streets are mostly devoid of people and activity. It is a surreal experience that I must admit I do rather find a perverse pleasure in experiencing, though I realize the devastation that the emptiness really means to so many people and their livelihoods.

I have trouble watching the news, I try not to be too political on this blog, but the total lack of anything approaching real leadership during this crisis from the current occupant of the White House and his supporters has been beyond staggering. It has and continues to cost people’s lives. The unwillingness to admit the problem early on, the total lack of preparation, the continued incompetence, outright lies and ineptitude on display is historically unprecedented and will leave a tragic, sad lasting legacy of death and despair when this is all said and done.

That does not look to be anytime soon, a week ago I held out slight hope that possibly the worst would be past by the end of May so that the Indianapolis 500 would be able to go ahead on its Memorial Day weekend date, but sadly the organizers this week realized what is becoming increasingly clear and postponed the race until August 23. I can only hope that this will be over by then, though at the moment it really seems pretty bleak and optimistic to think that.

The small silver lining is that often the worst of times brings out the best in people and there are continuous examples of people rising above and performing heroically. Whether hand sewing masks for emergency workers like my sister Michele is doing in Indianapolis or just performing seemingly ordinary random tasks that are now somewhat heroic, like delivering mail, working at a grocery or providing take-out to needy citizens or the best of the best our health care workers, first responders and military who are once again going above and beyond, this country is full of amazing heroes.