Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wednesday is No Ship Day

Usually. But not lately. There's a ship in port every Wednesday this month. Oddly, there are none in port on Saturdays. Maybe Saturday is the new Wednesday.

Wednesday used to be the day that the ferry from Fort Myers would bring in a boatload of visitors from the area around there. I think that it was because of the Mallory and Hilton docks, and the outer mole, being vacant that the savvier day-trippers chose that day. It meant they could stroll leisurely about without having to deal with an overcrowded Duval St. The Fort Myers ferry is a passenger-only vessel (thankfully!). So those coming off the ferry at the new City Ferry Terminal at the end of Caroline St. make transportation choices that don't involve automobiles. There are bicycles, motor scooters and electric cars available. Taxis and the public bus system are very nearby. Walking is an easy and attractive option. A stroll along the Key West bight can carry you as far as the Hilton Pier beyond Mallory Square, with occasional detours around some of the resorts that planted on the Gulf-side waterfront. There are restaurants galore, bars, shops, as you walk past the lower end of Duval St continue along the water, or the temptations of Duval St. itself, thirteen full blocks of unabashed commerce.

I was thinking about these things as I bicycled to the Coffee Plantation. Traffic on the streets was relatively light. Traffic was brutal yesterday. I had to take the car instead of my bicycle, so maybe I was just more aware of it, but it felt like there were real traffic jams going on in several places. The cars were maneuvering their way through the typical obstacle course of double parked delivery trucks, creeping trollies and trains, jay-walking pedestrians, long traffic light patterns, strolling roosters, and everything else.

Merchants, especially merchants of higher-end items, liked Wednesday because it usually brought in more buyers and fewer browsers. The area from which they come is typically wealthier than other parts of Florida -- think Marco Island.

We love our tourists, all of them. We, some of us, like the tourists who walk, who spend, and who like us how we are. And that's no ship.

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