Friday morning I get an email from Ranger Ed, who was working the sunrise shift at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. “Got your phone. Sorry. Picked up yours and mine when I left this morning.”
Since no one can function all day without a phone, I grabbed the keys and headed across the island. Across Southard and back on Olivia, the two streets that span the island; one way each.
I love Key West in the early mornings. That’s the slow time right after sunrise and before doors open around 9 o’clock. Bars are closed. Streets empty. In fact, in my phone rescue jaunt, I encountered one truck on Southard and three cars on Olivia. Duval and Simonton as I checked both ways were sans cars and people.
There are people if one looks closely enough. They’re emptying trash cans, picking up the overnight garbage in the street gutters, cleaning the public bathrooms, washing windows, trimming a hedge. Early morning tasks that fool us into thinking the island is pretty darn clean for a place with so many people dropping crap all around. Early morning people who do the stinky jobs the rest of us hate to do at home, much less for a job. I am grateful to them.
Anyway, while I was there, I stopped to take a look at the soon-to-be USS Billings, the Navy’s newest war ship which will be commissioned at 10 a.m., this morning. It’s a small and tidy ship whose looming presence lends an ominous feel to the usually upbeat Truman Waterfront Park.
Early morning workers were already busy doing the daily cleanup of the park, prepping for the day’s visitors and Saturday’s commissioning ceremony.
Miami Herald reporter Gwen Filosa did this 9-things-to-know-about-the-USS Billings-commissioning. It’ll get you up to speed. Oh, and no, if you don’t already have a ticket, you can’t go.
If you’ve not been to the Truman Waterfront Park — ever or recently, might want to add it to your to-do list. The hullabaloo raised for a couple years by the island’s naysayers has evaporated in the face of the park’s out-sized success. Trees. Trails for walking and biking. The Duval Loop stop right at the entrance. The splash pad my grandson says is the “best ever.”
And, right now, the best observation point for the USS Billings.