Thursday, June 10, 2004

Geiger Key

On Tuesday, we drove out to Geiger Key to see if we could hook up with our friend Tim. Tim's a cook. We met him when he cooked in the Galley at Schooner Wharf, and when he was making late-night street music with a Jerry Garcia look-alike. We had tracked Tim as far as the Hogfish on Stock Island, where we were told that he had moved further on up the road to Geiger Key Jerry has a real name, but I forget what it is. We always called him Jerry. He bore a remarkable resemblance to the original, and played passable guitar, at least on the limited number of songs he knew. Tim was a guitar player too, a better musician than Jerry.

Jerry was a hustler. As we came to know his story, it had these elements: he was from Cleveland; he was getting a pension of some sort from the VA; he lived in his van, on the streets and at the beaches; his wife was back in Cleveland and in control of the money he got from the VA. He was also a real character. He played the Garcia resemblance for all it was worth, and knew enough GD music to make it work well enough to earn a few tens of dollars in his street gigs. He did a very good impression of Chris Farley giving his "living in a van down by the river, eating government cheese" routine from Saturday Night Live. He had a rap about being in a band with Jimmy Hendrix's cousin Ricky. He got himself 86'd from Schooner Wharf for fighting.

We were enough involved in his life as a result of Janet's fascination with his personality to support his efforts to put a band together and get some gigs, to buy him a drink occasionally, and finally to let him use our telephone to call his wife to see if her could convince her to send him some more money. He disappeared soon after that, telling a few people that he was headed back to Cleveland. No one has seen or heard from him since.

Anyhow, to get back to Tuesday, Tim is working now at the Geiger Key Marina and Tiki Bar Restaurant, cooking, and living in a trailer in the RV park there. We did hook up with him and, although he was working, we were able to talk for about 15 minutes. He was in a working band until recently, but opted out because it wasn't working for him.

Now, Geiger Key is a nice place. It's about 12 miles from Key West, just beyond the Naval Air Station at Boca Chica. Tim loves living out there. There are houses on it, maybe a few dozen from what we've seen. There's a stretch of beach on the ocean end of the key, with not very much sand, and not very crowded. The road there dead ends at a point, but the beaches continue on for those willing to walk to them. I've heard that some go there who are striving for that overall body tan, but you couldn't prove it by me. And there's Geiger Key Marina, Smokehouse, Mobile Home Court, and RV Park.

In the course of our talk with Tim, he mentioned that there is a trailer for rent, and an apartment that would be coming vacant soon. That resulted in a meeting with Bill, who "owns" the kitchen at the smokehouse and manages the rental properties there. It turned out that the apartment for rent is the entire upstairs of the Smokehouse, two bedrooms, a huge wrap-around deck, air conditioned, all utilities included. Janet's immediate concern was with the noise, especially the music from the bar below. The Smokehouse bar puts on music three nights a weekend, but its ususally over by 9:00 o'clock, only occasionally going until 10.

Geiger Key Marina advertises itself as "The Backside of Paradise" on the obligatory merchandise they sell at the bar, shirts, hats, bumber stickers, and the like. The bar itself is all outdoors, though some of it is covered, and there's a small poolroom around back. We were out there several times during our previous residence, either for the barbecue on Sunday afternoons, or for music by somebody we knew. Despite our reservations about living that distance from Key West, and we have several, we're going to have a look at the place this weekend if Bill can arrange it with the current tenants.

It's like somebody said over at Its Only Key West once, you really have to be here to find the best places to live. We've been very fortunate to get this house & dog-sitting gig for our first three weeks back.

Its all good.

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