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Pirates in Paradise 2010 - Key West, Fl

Mission with New Fraction Extender
Photo: Shay & Mission
Mission with his new, blue, period fraction extension device.
Being the not-quite-surgical account of the Surgeon Mission, long-standing "captured" surgeon who is allegedly aboard the (apparently invisible) ship Mercury. Including all that took place in Key West when the pirates descended upon this poor hapless, innocent town...ok, who are we kidding? It's the modern day Port Royal. Or, perhaps even better stated, the modern day Soddom and Gomorrah. So the pirates will just be another colorful square in the quilt that is Key West.

Prologue - Speaking about the various parts of the trip down. (Note to you SJ purists - if it possible to put those two concepts into a single phrase without blaspheming, you may want to skip this page and wait for the next posting which will contain stuff relating to the event. This one mostly seems to be about a car. For the rest of you... well, you're probably used to him wandering off-topic, talking about cars and cartoons and other things.) Information on security, the bar with the fish feeding tubes, the trip down in Shay's Model A Ford which only involved 3 or 4 breakdowns, along with sundry other random things. Not much about pirates, though. Nope. On behalf of the editing staff, I'd like to apologize for that: sorry.

Skeleton on Image Screen
Photo: Umm...see if you can guess.
Ok, let's just get this right out of the way and move on to things that are actually interesting. Because I was wearing an insulin pump, I was patted down at the airport. The security guy received a contact via his walkie-talkie explaining exactly what the problem was and then the guy had me show it to him and tapped around my waist. That was it. My only regret was that I couldn't see the image of my skeleton from the full-body scanner. (Some day I want to have a full-length X-ray of myself to hang in my foyer, but that's a story for another day.)

At the Miasmi International airport, I was met in the baggage claim by Shay of the Keys and her daughter Lilli. Her daughter looks remarkably like her. I would show you a photo except I hadn't yet gotten into full Surgeon's Journal mode. (This means I was being shy and didn't want to take any photos yet. You have to ease into being a tourist or something. Once I get snapping, I am a photographic phool.) Lilli was on her way back to Anguilla, where she lives. (It's about 60 miles north of St. Kitts. I had to ask, so don't be embarassed if you didn't know that.) After meeting me, she was heading back for her hotel to work on her doctorate thesis. Ah, these crazy kids and their wild ways!

Beer by Fish Feeding Hole
Photo: Mission
Ocean Bar Glass Floor
Photo: Mission
I stayed a few days at Shay's (say, that rhymes real nice) in Key Largo. Most of that would make for pretty poor copy in here, although her son Chad, aka 'Commodore Swab' on the Pyracy Pub and his wife Sansanee (both of whom you may recall from last year's Pirates in Paradise Surgeon's Journal did take me out Sunday to do laundry while Shay was at work. Yep, you just can't have too much fun in Key Largo. Ok, to be fair, the laundromat was near a neat little bar on a pier, the name of which I forget, that had glass floors and green lights so that you could look at fish swimming around under you. (See the photo above.) There were also pvc tubes right in the middle of the bar down which you could throw fish food. I know this because my beer happened to be sitting right next to one of them. Some guy came boldly right up to me with his daughter and proclaimed that "This one will probably work better!" He proceeded to nudge me out of the way and dump some pretty scaly-looking stuff down the hole. I hope none of the powder from that drop floated into my beer. I'm not sure what sort of powdery stuff fish eat, but if it's like worms, I'm probably better off not knowing.

A Tightly Packed Rumble Seat
Photo: Mission
One thing about Shay - she drives cool cars like the Model A and a BMW Z3, but they are the least practical cars on earth for actually transporting the sort of gear you need for a long vacation. Commodore Swab generously agreed to pack the rumble seat of the Model A for us (well...with a bit of prodding from mom ;) ). I had started to do it, but was really sort of making a mess of things before he came along. He has a knack for such things. It didn't help that I had mailed all my surgical junk down in a large wooden box (which you can see poking out of the rumble set area nearest you.) He managed to jigsaw it all in, however. Shay had bobby-pinned a pirate flag to the end of her gun (whose name is 'Arvel') so that it would make the normally subtle and invisible Model A standout as we drove. You can't actually see the flag in this photo, but I promise to feature another shot later on in this missive for you.

Once packed, we were finally ready to roll! To the gas station. Ok, we weren't ready to roll, but it gave me an opportunity to get some photos of the Model A. Notice how spartan the dashboard is. Of the four things on it, three of them didn't properly. This included the speedometer. Shay explained that, "We don't need no stinking speedometer! The fender rattles at 5mph, the hood rattles at 25 and the tranny drops out at 40!"

Shay filling the Model A with gas
Photo: Mission
Thrill as you watch Shay fill the gas tank!
View through the Model A Windsheild
Photo: Mission
The view from my perspective. (The sail hat did not remain there for the trip.)

Now we really were ready to go. Naturally, I took a bunch of pictures from the passenger seat which seemed just fascinating to me at the time, but which are absolutely boring to anyone who was not there (like you, for example). Nevertheless, I took a bunch of them and you have to look at some of them like the ones you see below. The one on the left is of the old 7 Mile bridge and the one on the right is of the road to No Name Key. (We'll get to No Name in a minute.) We kept the top down, which allowed me to get sunburned, despite having slathered myself with SPF 30, but which was worth it. I think. There's nothing quite like a trip down the Florida Keys in a convertible, especially when you get into the stinking natural mangrove farms part of the trip. Whee!

Traveling on No Name Key Photo: Mission
Ah, the scent of mangroves...good thing you can't smell it.
Traveling over 7 Mile Bridge
Photo: Mission
Ah, the rush of the wind...too bad you can't feel it.

We made a few stops on the way, most of which are not interesting. In an unusual move, I will not tell you about any but the most interesting stop. That was at the No Name Pub, which is (naturally) located on No Name Key.

Model A @ No Name Pub
Photo: Mission
We were going to just stop in for a beer - the No Name Pub is a neat place to have a beer - but we wound up having pizza as well. Shay had heard the pizza was good, so we had to do it. We wound up chatting with a couple of Harley guys (the NNP is the sort of place where motorcyclists stop), who told us about their trip down to Key West. While we were waiting for our pizza to arrive, Shay started admiring all the dollars that are stapled to the walls, ceiling and anywhere else in the bar that they can find. For as long as I have been going to the place, there have been dollars. In some places they are several layers deep. Not wanting to be a total tourist, I have never indulged. Before I knew it, however, Shay was requesting a marker. So I tried my hand at dollar decorating. You can see the results in Shay's hands here. That weird thing on the right hand side is supposed to be the Model A. I was trying to draw it from memory and, as you may notice, my memory is not all that great. The barkeep got us a staple gun and, standing on two barstools in a way OSHA would probably not approve of, I stapled our dollar right above our seats. It's right inside the door way, two rafters back from the bar. Check it out next time you visit the No Name Pub. (If you can find it, that is - by which I mean both the pub AND the dollar.)

Mission stapling dollar on ceiling Photo: Mission Shay holding the gussied-up dollar
Photo: Mission

After a fine meal we waddled out to the car and...it wouldn't start. It had been acting up a bit before, but not starting was a bit more difficult to surmount than the occasional sputter and squeek. Shay had warned me about this in advance, so I was ready for it. She had a whole plan for what we could do if the car irrevocably broke down. It was based on the mile markers (everything in the Florida Keys is based on the mile markers) and it involved complex mathematical equations. She peered at the engine for awhile and announced that the fuel filter (the sort of yellowish/clear thing in the photo below right) was clogged with rust, probably from the gas tank. So we cleaned it out. I was stationed at the engine with a fire extinguisher. (Yep. A fire extinguisher. Traveling in antique autos is not for the faint of heart.)

The Model A's Engine Photo: Mission
Shay peering at the engine
Photo: Mission

The car still wouldn't start, but it made hopeful sounds while not starting. Using all of my secret engineering prowess, I noticed that as she pressed the throttle the whatchamacallit wasn't hoo-jiggying. With this bit of technical knowledge, Shay was able to fix the car and we were on our way.

Mission posing
Photo: Mission
You know the name.
Shay working on engine again
Photo: Mission
Shay peering inside again.
This bit of respite from engine problems was not to last, however. The engine sputtered and spluttered most of the way down from about mile marker 20. Shay was most concerned about having to stop, as the car really threatened to give up its spark when we were at a standstill. This wasn't much of a problem when we were on the A1A Overseas Highway, but became more problematic once we hit stoplight central: Key West and environs. So I guided Shay a back way to the Trumann Annex, which allowed her to break more traffic laws than I care to mention while trying to coax the old buggy to keep ticking along. We finally hit the home stretch and managed to just get parked in front of the Truman Annex rental office when the Ford gave up the ghost. She sent me inside to check in while she peered under the hood. When I came out, she had one of the fuel tubes off and was blowing into it (followed by a quick spit of gasoline). Like I said - not for the faint of heart. Eventually she figured out that there was rust coming down the line, which she managed to get out. After that...well the 82 year old car purred like an orangutan! We had arrived!

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