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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion, Nov/Dec 2012 - Key West, FL

Introduction - This being the sixth Key West Journal of the Mercury Pirate Ship's pressed surgeon as he looked soberly at the pirates and their lifestyle whilst celebrating the Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion at Fort Zachary Taylor. Mercury Flag over Fort Taylor
Photo: William Pace
He, finding it to be pretty fun overall, gave up trying to look at it soberly and regretted that decision pretty badly the next morning, although we're really getting ahead of ourselves here. This Journal (It is not a blog. Don't even call it a blog. There were no 'blogs' in the 17th OR 18th centuries, so let's stop all this nonsense about blogs, shall we? Then we have an accord? Good.) features notes on historical vignettes, living history, goats, land and sea battles, references to
The Good the Bad and the Ugly, music and dancing, the Dead Man's Chest Auction and other divers diverse diversions.

Prologue: Too much information for most people about the surgeon's trip to Key West including The Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's Hat's moment in the sun; What happened while picking up luggage; Grocery shopping with pirates; Details on the plumbing situation at the Compass Realty office, shaving music for James Bond, and... What? Oh, sorry. I got a bit carried away while describing all that mundane stuff. I had a friend who used to complain that the Herb Alpert's Main Theme for the absolutely inexplicable James Bond parody Casino Royale (1967) sounded like shaving music for James Bond because it was bouncy fun, but not really interesting in a James Bond sort of way. Which is kind of like this prologue; You know, you can really skip this page if you like, but having it here amuses me. It may even give you a giggle or two.

So the journey to my sixth Key West pirate celebration started out with me forgetting my hat. Naturally I had to Airport Hippies
Photo: Mission
A photo of the airport hippies. (OK, No one
promised you a good photo.)
go back home and get it. (On my way to Searles in 2010 I forgot my wallet, but I just had someone bring that to me. The Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's hat is another matter entirely.) It's a good thing I got it, because it was the star of my trip to the island. Usually two or three people comment on the ol' Patrick Hand, but this time no less than 8 had something to say about it. At this rate, by the time I hit my tenth KW Pirate Fest, I'll be staving off comments on the hat with a... stave.

Waiting in the Detroit airport there was a large group of what can only be described as hippies - patchwork vests, long print dresses, acoustic instruments in old black cases plastered with stickers, dreads - like a storybook hippie group really. They were waiting at the gate for the flight to Atlanta. I took this to be an omen. (Of what, I don't know. But it was an omen.) I took photos that came out really crappy because I was trying to take them without the hippies noticing. I don't know what a pack of hippies might do to you if they saw you taking their picture, but I didn't want to be wounded before I arrived in Key West! (Then again, they probably would have just made peace signs. Make love not war and all that - although this group was far too young to have any connection to the original movement so the mantra may be different these days.)

The second flight - going from Atlanta to Key West - was full of boisterous tourists, decked out in the what I'm sure they felt was the finest of gaudy Patrick Hand Original Planter
Photo: Mission
The One, the Only, Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's Hat
faux Caribbean island wear. The lady sitting next to me was with her father who was clearly making his first trip to Key West. They talked the whole way down about the plane, the funny little screen in the back of the seat, whether it would play the football game, &c. (What football game, you ask? I honestly have no idea. I only watch football for the commercials. In February. Sometimes.)  I buried my head in the book The four years voyages of capt. George Roberts until we got to an altitude where I could use my laptop and work on my Golden Age of Piracy Christmas article.

When the seat belt light went out on the tarmac, I got the Patrick Hand Original™ down from the overhead bin and the woman next to me became all curious about it. (Her father was still admiring the little screen in the back of the plane seat.)

I explained that it was a 16th/17th century planter's hat, used to keep the sun off the heads of Caribbean planters. This led to a discussion about the event going on at the fort and she became very interested and told her dad about it. Wanting more information, I produced one of my business cards and suggested that she could find links to the Fort and the FTPI website by looking at the first page of last year's Surgeon's Journal. She said she was going to try and come out and that I should not be embarrassed if she yelled out my name. So I could look forward to that.

OK, one last rambling observation on getting to Key West and I promise to stop. (I've been told never to include this stuff in the Journal, but it fascinates me, so I can't resist. Skip the next couple of paragraphs if it really annoys you.)

We all gathered around the airport's luggage thing and several folks jammed right up against it so that no one else could see the luggage or get to it even if they could see it. This is despite the fact that this would not make their luggage appear any sooner than if they hung back and waited for it to appear. The Blue Hardcase
Photo: Mission
The Blue Hard case Luggage. (Fascinating, no?)
(It's tradition.) Standing a few feet away from me was a very anxious-looking girl. She said she didn't know what her luggage looked like. I made concerned noises.

"I'm on vacation. I'm de-stressing. I'm here to unwind," she replied apprehensively, as if it were some sort of hopeful defense. She was wringing her hands. I don't think I've ever seen someone actually and sincerely wring their hands.
"You don't seem to be de-stressing." I commented.
"I have anxiety issues," she confided, sotto voce. (What?! No!)
I asked her why she couldn't remember it.
She said she had mainly looked the inside of it, not thinking about the outside. There is a queer sort of logic to that, I have to admit.
We nattered on for a bit, me kind of teasing her into relaxing and she retensing herself every time a piece of luggage that could have been hers came out of the mysterious portal.
"What color is it?" I asked.
"Black."
"Ah, there's your problem. You should never buy black luggage. I didn't."
Just then my black carry-on, which I had gate checked in Atlanta, appeared. "Annnnd I'm about to make a liar out of myself." I said as I stepped up and grabbed it.

More and more people got their luggage and began to drift away. Finally there were only a few of us left. The remaining people grabbed everything else on the belt and disappeared. Then it was just us. I spotted my bright blue hard case coming out. Suddenly she got all excited and said "I think that's it!" It was right behind mine - the very last piece of luggage from the plane.
"And that's the way you find it," I said with a wink and headed out.


Mission Arrives
Photo: Jim McGavic
New to the Surgeon's Journal - Product Placement! Shop
at Avis for all your baby and pet care product needs!
Loaded with luggage, I made my way to the exit to find Captain Jim and madPete standing on the curb in full garb. "Why didn't you guys come in and help me?" I asked. I never got a good answer to that.

Our non-captain Quartermaster William Red Wake was driving, so we loaded everything in and got on the road. I asked if we could stop at a grocery store, which they agreed to do. (This is what crew members do for each other, especially when dealing with the ship's surgeon who might be operating on them with sharp, crooked knives some day.) I was the only one not wearing garb. "At least you have your hat!" madPete offered brightly.

In the store, Captain Jim took upwards of 5000 pictures of me getting groceries. If you haven't had quite enough non-event stuff yet, this series of images of yours truly shopping for eggs and such should just about put you over your limit.

Mission and madPete going in
Photo: Jim McGavic
Pirates madPete leads the captured prisoner
surgeon... to the Piggly Wiggly!
Mission looking back at camera
Photo: Jim McGavic
"Jim brought his camera? You guys
aren't taking photos of..." *click*
madPete and Jim with beerPhoto: madPete's Camera
All this time you thought the pirate's
treasure was gold, didn't you?

Boy! Grocery shopping! That'll show all those people how exciting the pre-event stuff can really be! Yessir!

Pirates in Produce section
Photo: madPete
Pirates in Produce! 'Cuz it prevents scurvy. Plus it's cheery and
colorful. William, Mission and Captain Jim looking for scurvy grass.
Pirates at CheckoutPhoto: Jim McGavic's Camera
My twin Mae saw this and commented, "That poor girl!" (I think
she was empathizing because the girl sort of looks like her.)

Compass Realty
Photo: Stolen, modified, mangled
We then had to get my condo keys, which turned out to be a problem because there were no condo keys hanging where they were supposed to be. Fortunately the owner of Compass Realty was in the office with a plumber trying to figure out if they should use dynamite to remove the cement pad that used to be for a shower in the office. (The owner thought this was pretty funny. He even showed me the concrete shower stall pad, which had several holes the plumber had drilled in it hoping that would cause it to break apart.) When I asked him why they had a shower in the office, he answered, "We thought we might need it some day." Ah.

He was a really nice guy and he made five or six different calls on my behalf trying to determine what had happened to my keys. While he was doing that, I went out to apologize to everyone waiting in the car and ask them if they wanted to just leave my stuff there and go back to the fort. I could walk to the condo. William replied, "Are you kidding? I've got two hours invested in picking you up. I want to see how this all turns out." So I went back in and learned that they had forgotten to put out my keys. (What? No!) So the owner went in the back and got them. (Kind of makes you wonder why he didn't do that in the first place, but they never tell the owner anything now, do they?)


Condo bedroom with shade pulled
Photo: Mission
Our carload of pirates then graciously took me to my room, helping me bring up some (but, as it turns out, not all) of the bags of groceries, with Captain Jim capturing the event for posterity. (Actually, he didn't, but he should have. We needed a whole new series of irrelevant pics for the right about here.)

I was most pleased to note that the pull shade that I mounted last year was not only still here, it was already pulled down! Yet another valuable contribution to Key West courtesy of the Mercury ship's surgeon.  (The first two valuable contributions being Bucky and Becky... but they're another story.)

Since everyone was in garb, I unpacked some of my Michael Bagley original garb, threw it on me in typical non-matching fashion and we headed over to the fort. Lily Alexander was at the gate and she graciously checked me in. I was finally back in the pirate world.

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