The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Key West porch

From the porch | Off the rock. Hogs, Poker Runs and tree whackers

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


Hello from the always interesting Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, affectionately known as ATL (because your brain will be addled by the time you get through here. Get it? AT-eLed? OK. Sorry about that digression. Too much time on my hands.)

Left the rock on the noon-something-something Delta flight today (Friday). Delayed just enough by that thunder boomer to miss my connection to the Athens of the Midwest, affectionately known as DSM, a far more civilized airport than ATL, but much less interesting than EYW on the rock. So, since flights to Des Moines are few and far between unless I wanted to hitchhike through Detroit or Minneapolis, I spent seven hours — and $29 — in the Delta Sky Club.

Usually when I connect through ATL, I’m running from gate to gate with barely bathroom break time in between. So, when faced with seven hours, I forked over the $29 and spent the day in the Sky Club. Free munchies, comfy seats and desks on which to work, plenty of recharging plugs, polite people and kids who didn’t knock me over while jostling to the jet way. No lines in the bathroom. I almost hated to leave and re-enter the real world.

I’m off to visit my sister in Des Moines before the snow flies, which in the case of Des Moines, could be tomorrow although Accuweather tells me I can wear shorts with my fleece jacket. Must be that global warming stuff.


Hogs and the Poker Run

Forgive me the stereotypical hyperbole just this once.

I know. I know. We’re supposed to love all tourists, even the really obnoxious ones, because they bring money to the island. But I shudder this time of year when the Poker Run Harleys with their over-sized egos astride roar into town. They’re almost as off-putting as the power boat crowd with their Confederate flags and entitled strutting.

Both crowds have three things in common. They think their money entitles them to “own” the island while they’re here. They think they are  special because they can flaunt their toys, which they are certain we envy. And, they really don’t much care for Key West; we’re just a destination on their journeys.

The Phil/Drew Peterson Poker Run folks rumbled onto the island last weekend, only to find that the city had barricaded parking along Duval, relegating them to a $20 a pop parking spot in Mallory Square, which apparently none of them took advantage of. No showing off their  egos, so they picked up their toys and went home.

There are some businesses complaining they lost money because the city put up the barricades. The city says Petersen refused to play by the rules, refused to pay for a permit and therefore wasn’t entitled to city services.

Even the Key West Sunrise Rotary in 2016 called it quits with the Poker Run. Long the sole “do everything for the Poker Run and hope to make some money,” the Rotary Club broke up with the hogs. Whatever they earned simply didn’t offset the hassles and the work.

I’m on the city’s side this time. If the Poker Run wants Key West as its destination, then it’s got to clean up its act, follow the rules, get the permits, pay for all that extra security and clean-up and be a good partner. Seems they’re thinking more like they’re entitled to all that for free. Because, wow, we get to look at their saddle bags.


Tree whacking

I’m going to come back around on this at some point, so just a few passing comments.

I love trees. I owe trees for my childhood food, my education and my current Key West home. My dad was a forester. My three brothers are foresters. My husband is a forester. Heck, without trees there would have been no newsprint that was part of my professional life for four decades. Let’s just leave it at “we are a family of tree huggers.”

I think that entitles me to these observations about the never-ending Key West tree conversations:

  • Trees have lifespans. They get old, decrepit and die. Just like people. A few make it 400 years; like the oak in my yard in Rockford, IL. Most of the Key West kind of trees don’t make it past an average 50-75 years.
  • Plant the right tree in the right place. A hole in a sidewalk is not the right place. An average size Key West yard isn’t a happy home for a Royal Poinciana. A tree’s like an iceberg; the parts you see are but a tiny bit of what’s happening underground. Just ask the roots pushing into your swimming pool walls.
  • Trees need consistent care. That means trimming, limbing, elevating, pruning, feeding and watering, even the occasional pesticide. Especially in inhospitable locations and climates. We top-whacked our mango tree by 50 percent two years ago. It was so grateful for the haircut it gave us a record-shattering crop this season.
  • Not every tree can be saved. We’d be better served to plant the right trees in the right locations on a consistent schedule to encourage bio-diversity. Then they wouldn’t all be dying at the same time, as is happening across the island right now.

And, with that, it’s time to help my sister prep her Iowa garden for the winter. Have a great weekend, my friends.


  1. Ric johnson

    Born in rockford. Moved to key largo 7 years ago.

    • LGC KWIN

      Doncha just love this small world stuff!

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