Highlites From On The Road
All of you out there, please raise your hands if you know something, anything, about Fat Albert? Not so fast now. I’m not talking about Cosby’s rotund fall guy. That would have been a no brainer.
In the lower Keys (As in Florida’s) there’s a Fat Albert that anyone who’s traveled between Big Pine and the southwestern end of the road, knows something about, if only its existence.
Fat Albert is a huge balloon, a blimp if you will. This blimp doesn’t fly randomly. It is not a dirigible according to Webster’s Collegiate best. A dirigible is power driven and “flys” as piloted. Fat Albert is 175 feet long and 58 feet across. It has a payload of 1,200 pounds. It doesn’t go, but two ways, up or down, because its tethered to a cable.
What it does do is impressive. The cable is fifteen thousand feet long. However, Fat Albert is normally “flown” at 10,000 feet. The Air Force brought the balloon on steroids to the north side of Cudjoe Key in the early eighties. Its purpose is to monitor low flying air traffic, surface vessels, looking for illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, and the weather. It is part of NORAD, the U.S. air defense network. The information is used by DEA,CIA,Border Patrol, Coast Guard and any other government agency that needs its input. Coverage extends to Tampa Bay on the north and to Cuba on the south.
In 1990 a second blimp was brought to Cudjoe Key for the purpose of transmitting TV Marti programing to Cuba thirty hours a week. The Cubans were able to jam the signal for most of the island and it was known in Cuba as “No See TV”.
In 2013 the government decided to decommission the Tethered Aerostat Radar System and set March 15, 2013 as the shut down date. My family and I were there on Cudjoe last year for the Florida Lobster, recreation short season, at the end of July. Fat Albert was aloft when we motored by in the morning and when we came back from the Little Swash Keys in a tropical frog strangler it was down and tethered to its cradle as we sloshed by in the down pour.
Homeland Security had taken over Fat Albert and the other Aerostat stations along our southwestern border and in the Bahamas. So the 33 year old system lives on after all.
Albert is a phenomenal sight up close because of its size, and an oddity when seen at ten thousand feet. It can be seen from offshore a good distance, probably ten to fifteen miles because of its altitude. There are a lot of cool things in the Keys. This is just another one for the list of Keys oddities. And it’s not hard to find at all.
In the Inglis –Yankeetown community, we have a burgeoning population of feral cats. It is fast becoming an uncontrollable situation. Much like feral hogs, and regardless of the difference in physical size, possibly even more destructive.
I received an e:mail today from Inglis Mayor Drenda Merritt.
“Inglis, Florida is a small community on the nature coast. We have a large feral cat population and in the past our Animal Control has had to transport these animals to our county Animal Control where they have been euthanized. We feel there is a better way to handle this issue. We have had a parcel of land donated to the town next to our Animal Control. This property is wooded and with some fencing and raising of the canopy we would have a great place for a feral cat colony. We are working with other animal rescue sources for the spaying and neutering of the trapped feral. These animals will then be allowed to live out their lives in a safe environment. We need funds for the raising the canopy and the fencing to make this a reality.” Please help by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/x59cxg
Massive Conservation Coalition Calls on Interior Dept. to Stop Wildlife Deaths from Feral Cats
From the American Bird Conservancy
“The number of domestic cats in the United States has tripled over the last 40 years and continues to rise,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of the Washington, DC-based American Bird Conservancy. “We are asking Secretary Jewell to take actions that will protect our native wildlife from 150 million feral and outdoor cats that are decimating wildlife populations in the most sacrosanct of locations, such as wildlife refuges, national parks, and other important public lands.
"Domestic cats have been either a direct or indirect factor in 33 bird species extinctions and have been identified by the science community as one of the world’s worst invasive species. Rational heads have prevailed in terms of how stray dogs are treated. Stray cats should be treated much the same way. Turning a blind eye to this problem will only perpetuate the escalating impacts to birds and other wildlife, as well as threaten human health and safety,” said Susan Elbin, Director of Conservation and Science, New York City Audubon Society."
To read the entire article follow the Link: http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/140311.html
Go See The Coconut Telegraph
Doing research for today’s Fat Albert article I ran across the website of a first class news and laughs site called The Coconut Telegraph. Headquartered on Big Pine, there is plenty to learn and enjoy. When you get there, scroll down to the Walmart Ship piece. You’re not going to believe it. Here’s the link. www.bigpinekey.com
And here's some stuff I found as a result of visiting their site:
[iTit] Apple announced today that it has developed a breast implant that can store and play music. The iTit will cost from $499 to $699, depending on cup and speaker size. This is considered a major social breakthrough because women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them. Thanx Coconut Telegraph.
How To Tell Instantly If The Non-Ethanol Gas You're Buying Is The Real Thing
Thanx to Coconut Telegraph and You Tube Link