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!

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Venturing Out

June 3, 2020



Venturing Out
With the lifting of some restrictions, the county reopening as of June 1st to tourists and restaurants finally being allowed to have actual dine-in guests for the first time in months, the Covid-19 pandemic feels as if it is improving slightly, especially since the news has found a story to cover that is not pandemic related with the tragic death of a black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a ruthless police officer who pinned the man down with a knee to his neck as he literally died begging for relief. 


That event and the social unrest that has followed with nightly protests and rioting across the country have dominated the news coverage pushing Covid-19 to the side at least for the time being. It has been a dark and frightening time across the country and the coronavirus cases continue to rise in the United States with currently 1,823,214 confirmed cases here and 105,814 deaths attributed to the virus nationally. Locally things remain fairly stable with 109 cases in Monroe County, still 41 in Key West and the 3 deaths that came early in the pandemic.


Rob and Meredith

After being mostly alone in isolation since mid-March, Kathy and I started making baby steps about getting back out into the world as it slowly reopens with new guidelines and procedures designed to heighten safety and lessen possible exposure to the virus. We went to our first small group event at the home of our friends Nadene and Trevor who hosted a small gathering of about nine total people to celebrate and witness the virtual graduation ceremony of their daughter Meredith from kindergarten.

Nadene, Meredith and Trevor

The school hosted a virtual zoom graduation where each child who was graduating broadcasting from their own home as part of a ceremony for the entire school, each family could join and watch on-line as the students did their own individual march and received their diplomas from their family as the rest of the school watched on-line. Such is the new reality and I must admit it worked like a charm and while probably not as intimate as the in person event might have been, it was still pretty cool.
Meredith was in all her young glory as she accepted the certificate from her Uncle Rob and threw her cap just as if the ceremony had been held at the school and the small crowd of gathered friends celebrated her accomplishments before enjoying a nice lunch and a celebratory cake. 


Later in the week, Kathy and I returned to the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge which is about 30 miles up the road in Big Pine Key to visit the Blue Hole, do some hiking and go out to a restaurant to eat for the first time since the pandemic started. We choose the famous No Name Pub on Big Pine which is renowned for their pizza and isolated location and we were the only customers in the place. It felt very safe as all the staff were wearing the requisite face protections and the tables were indeed situated at six foot intervals, which would have mattered if there were other patrons.

It felt good to be out again, though still it had an air of strangeness, much like just about everything does these days, but the pizza was delicious and we had a great afternoon. We even got to see some Key Deer on our way out which put a nice cap on a wonderful getaway from the routine we have been in for months. It was brutally hot out, as summer seems to have arrived suddenly in full force, but still well worth the trip up the Keys. Hopefully we will be able to get out more often as the summer moves onward.


Anything would be better than staying home watching the news, an already dreadful and dreary year has gotten much worse as the racial inequities of our society have been laid bare once again. Hopefully the anger, frustration and fear that is being felt across the country will actually have some sort of a greater impact this time around. 

Monday, June 01, 2020

Oh the Places You’ll Go

June 1, 2020



Oh the Places You’ll Go

This year has to mark one of the strangest graduations ever for students completing whatever year of school achievement they are finishing. Actual attendance at school has stopped altogether for the past couple of months and all the activities, rituals and events associated with attending school including all sporting events, clubs, dances and proms, and graduation activities have been pushed aside with strange virtual classrooms replacing the standard education system. Current students have been deprived of the normal life events associated with school that many remember for the rest of their lives

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage as we reached a grim milestone this week as deaths in the United States smashed through the 100,000 barrier and the current toll stands at 1,782,894 confirmed cases and 104,130 deaths in the United States with 108 cases here locally in Monroe County, 41 cases in Key West and 3 deaths. Even as the numbers rise, the Florida Keys are officially declared reopened as of today as the roadblock check points have come down today, hotels have reopened and visitors are welcome to return.


The TDC caused a bit of controversy when they released an ad campaign that quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that many, myself included thought was inappropriate and insensitive to say the least. Thankfully once public outrage was evident the ads were pulled and hopefully not too much lasting damage occurred. 


Key West and the Keys have been an isolated bubble, mostly free of any viral outbreaks today and the fear is that reopening will cause a surge in the number of cases as outsiders from around the globe return. Of course businesses are starved for customers and the large majority of people and businesses that rely on the tourist economy here are anxious to get funds flowing again. We will continue to have fairly strict regulations as far as wearing facial coverings being required in all businesses and limiting the size of crowds, but people tend to be complacent about following such rules and things could get ugly.


Certainly social distancing was not in evidence much at all among the Key West High School senior class who gathered this week for a vehicle parade that started and ended at Key West High and took a lap around the city so that supportive folks around the island could offer their congratulations to the class of 2020, who have gone through an experience unlike any previous class ever.

I walked the few blocks over from my house to watch and photograph the students as the parade of vehicles drove out of the high school parking lot and down Flagler Avenue in front of cheering friends and family who lined the streets, mostly respecting the social distancing policy. It was pretty inspiring I must say, these poor kids have endured a strange year to say the least, missed out on so much of what constitutes the high school experience and still have little clue about what will be happening in the near future as the uncertainty about whether they will be able to go away to college at all still hangs over them.

In spite of it all they remained upbeat, happy and anxious to move ahead and onward into whatever the future hold for them. Their parents and families are just as proud and excited as any before them and they too have been suffering the past few months and have little idea what the future holds for these students. 

Things have slowly been returning to a small sense of normal for us as well, we made our very first visit to someone else’s house this week as we spent an afternoon over at our friends Bonnie and Mike’s home. It was weird yet wonderful and we kept our distance but were happy to be able to interact with others in a new environment. We have had some people drop by our house during this, but it was the first time we ventured out and it was really enjoyable. You forget how much you need human interaction.

Kathy also volunteered this week at the Farmer’s Market collecting signatures to try and get ballot referendums on the upcoming election ballot concerning the size and quantity of cruise ships that visit Key West. There are three options that will potentially be included on the ballot that variously limit the size and scope of cruise ship visits to the island moving forward. Getting the referendums on the ballot is the first step to gauge the public interest in the limiting measures.