Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lucky Old Sun

Islamorada, Florida Keys
74 degrees
It's late and I have to work tomorrow morning. I have decided to turn the blog over to a guest writer for the night, to share our wonderful day. Enjoy this guest column from my daughter, Kimber.

This has been my first trip to Florida, let alone the Keys. I wasn't sure what I was to expect but let me tell you, it has been amazing. Today I woke up on my own at 5:30 a.m. I'll say that at home in Arizona, I work at a bar and usually don't get home until a few hours before this time so it was unexpected. Dad and I left home at about 7:30 to the Keys. We started listening to the new Kenny Chesney CD Lucky Old Sun which is based in the Keys and was the perfect music setting. The way there, I was still trying to wake up and decided to read my book. I have been reading the Twilight series and am on the third book called Eclipse. We were traveling through the Everglades when I saw a sign that said 'Panther Crossing'. Are you kidding me?! I was still reading while Dad shouted and I had just missed a dead alligator on the side of the road. Dad said it must have been 10 feet long. When we finally got to the Keys, I was reading and Dad asked me why on Earth I could have my head in a book with this scenery. I looked up and we were surrounded by the most beautiful water in front of me. The Atlantic Ocean on my left and the Gulf of Mexico on my right. The color reminded me of my favorite Kool-Aid flavor, blue crush. This was a constant for miles and miles. I have never seen water or land like this. Up until this point of my 22 years, Rocky Point, Mexico has been my favorite place in the world. I go every year. I jokingly asked Dad why he would rob me of that and change my new favorite place to two thousand miles way??! He said Kimmy, you have no idea what you are about to embark on. We stopped at Key Largo I believe, to see the actual boat that Ernest Hemingway sailed on. I remember reading on Dad's blog about the day he first saw this boat. It was amazing. We checked into the hotel shortly thereafter and then headed for Key West. This was such an amazing drive. I would highly suggest it to someone who has never done it. My new favorite song is Kenny Chesney's "Way Down Here". It says 'If I'm gonna be down, I'd rather be down, way down here'. This is about the Keys and I can totally understand the lyrics. We walked around for a while, taking pictures at the Southernmost Point of the U.S., buying T-Shirts and what not. We had lunch at a seafood restaurant. I had clam strips and Dad had a chicken caesar salad (abiding by his diet). After lunch, we went to an area the server had suggested to watch the sunset. There, we saw the most amazing ship I had ever seen. It was the Disney Magic cruise ship. It was so incredible, you couldn't believe the sight. We sat there for a while talking about fishing and different boats Dad wanted. He talked about wanting to sail to Key West one day and I told him that when he decided, I would go with him if he needed a sailing partner. While Dad was talking about his dreams, I was having a hard time paying attention with the weather above. The 'Lucky Old Sun' was hiding behind the darkest black clouds. It started to sprinkle and I asked him if he thought that we should go. We arose from the ground that we parked at and it started pouring rain. I am from Phoenix and I am sure that I have never seen rain like it! We ran for a few blocks when Dad left me under some shelter to go and get the truck. It was so amazing. We drove the 80 some miles back to our hotel on Islemorada. When we got here, I was on the balcony and heard some live music. I asked Dad if we could head down there and he agreed. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Live music on the beach next to a Tiki bar. Perfect. All I can say is that my friends are telling me that they will send me my belongings as soon as I give the word. This place is perfect. Listen to the song 'Boston' by Kenny Chesney and you will know that one day that will be me.

Thank you for having me as a guest blogger and I hope to have more adventures to share with you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


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Click on photo to enlarge to full screen

Home in Port Charlotte

High of 78
Ship's log hour 357.8
Kimber and I set out from our home port at 3:00PM and cruised the canals to Charlotte Harbor. As we idled through the residential canals I enjoyed my first sighting of a manatee. These aquatic mammals are an endangered species and a real treat for any Floridian to see. They are gentle giants, weighing up to 500 pounds, and as vegetarians would not harm a human in the water.

At 4:00 PM we docked at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda, where we met Kathy. She had driven over to meet us because I had planned on spending the night on board and the girls didn't want to. We launched from Fish.Vlg and set out to Boca Grande to watch the 5:35 sunset. The water became absolute glass and was unbelieveably smooth. Just shy of our destination I spotted a bottle nose dolphin to port side and stopped so Kimber could shoot some pics. We were instantly surrounded by a pod of dolphins that must have been more than 2 dozen. This was the biggest pod of dolphin I have seen since arriving in South Florida.

The sunset was all Kimber could have dreamed of. Clear skies, perfect temperatures, a real Kodak moment. Our trip back to Fish.Vlg was so smooth, Kathy didn't even object to me running at wide open throttle, 34 knots. I dropped the girls off as the twilight was really fading and I made a beeline for the Charlotte Beach complex, where I planned on anchoring down in 6 feet of water in a rising tide.

My plan was quickly altered when the anchor windless malfunctioned and wouldn't drop the chain. I determined the problem wasn't witht the actual windless as much as some kind of electrical shortage in my dashboard. The windless switch made a hard, rapid clicking sound like a bad solenoid. When I activated my running lights I noticed the instrument panel gauges all red lined and my GPS shut off. If I turned the running lights off, everything came back to normal. With the fading light I didn't have much time to troubleshoot. A decision had to be made. I could stay away all night, drifting and fishing in the darkness. No. I could tie up at the Charlotte Beach pier in violation of the county ordinance against camping there. No, mostly because foot traffic could approach my boat on the pier while I was sleeping and even though I was armed, I didn't like that idea. (At 2AM on Thanksgiving morning, 17 Cuban refugees landed at Gasparilla Island, near here). I checked the GPS and saw the tide was at 1.1 feet above mean tide. Last I calculated, I could make it under the short bridge. I decided to try it. I set out in the darkness, using my running lights but no GPS and got to the short bridge at 7:30PM. I made it under with 2 inches to spare. I love it when a plan comes together.

My new dock light and pole made docking a piece of cake. I flushed the engine and spent the night in my own bed. Now I have an electrical problem to mess about with.
Ship's log hour 363

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Paradise

Home in PC
High of 75

My daughter Kimber, 21, arrived last night to spend 8 days with us. This is her first trip to Florida and I will try to make the most of it for her. We started out our day with Dad making us a ham/mushroom/cheese omelet, topped by Dad's homemade salsa. After a minor home repair to Kathy's bathtub faucet, Kimber and I set out for the 20 minute trip to Stump Pass Beach State Park. We spent a few hours watching the waves roll in while we each read novels. Kimber is reading the second in the series called Twilight and I am reading a biography called Papa Hemingway. It was an absolutely gorgeous day on the beach.

It's going to get cold tonight, 40's on the coast, 30's inland, but it will still reach the 70's in the afternoon. By Friday we'll be back to a high of 80 and a low of 68. Kimber and I are heading for the Keys on Sunday morning.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Run and give me twenty

Home in PC
52 degrees at wake up

Friday I accomplished my 20 minute run! It wasn't easy but the end result was satisfying. Next week is more interval running/walking, with a 25 minute run to end that week.

Saturday we worked around the house. Kathy inside, me out. Dad got the day off after all of his projects. I spent the day on my hands and knees pulling weeds in the yard. There are so many and they grow off these looooong vine like roots. I filled an entire 30 gallon trash can with them. The grass doesn't look very good now but I am fighting battles that will, hopefully, pay off in the spring.

Sunday will be focused on football. The Cardinals (7-3) take on last year's champs the Giants (9-1) in Arizona.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lucky 13

Hampton Inn
Ft. Pierce, FL
58 degrees at sundown

Today's workout called for:
5 minute brisk warm up walk
8 minute run
5 minute walk
8 minute run
5 minute cool down walk

I went to the hotel fitness center and started out on the treadmill but quickly realized the equipment was malfunctioning. I think the belt was loose. I abandoned the comforts of the indoors and headed outside. It was a little chilly in my running shorts and tank top but I didn't care. I had work to do. The run went as planned but I couldn't help but think about what it waiting for me on Friday; 20 minutes of running, no walking. I decided to try and push myself today to test my endurance. When I neared the end of the second interval 8 minute run I just kept going. I ran through the 5 minute cool down music, with a really wide strong stride for the final minute, for a 13 minute longest to date. I then did the cool down on my own. Today's total ended up being 21 minutes of running and 15 minutes of walking. I'm ready for Friday.

For dinner tonight, I inquired at the hotel desk and took their suggestion. Chuck's Seafood Restaurant is located on Hutchinson Island, across the causeway from Ft. Pierce's U.S. 1 Highway. It was nothing more than a small neighborhood bar but it has been there since 1961. The menu was very impressive. I enjoyed:

a cup of Concho Chowder
a ceasar salad
grilled/blackened Dolphin (mahi-mahi)
steamed veggies
3 Michelob Ultras

The bill before tip was $35. The food was very good. I'll be coming back here in four weeks when I return to Ft. Pierce to teach First Aid/CPR. By then I will be running 5k three times a week! I still say the best meal I have had in all of Florida is from the Fish House, in Key Largo, where I had the Dolphin served Hemingway style with the white wine cream sauce. I'm telling you...that is the best! When Kimber comes for Thanksgiving we are going to the keys and I will get to enjoy it again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

St. Lucie River

Click on any picture for full screen

A sculpture at my hotel: Dolphin fish in pursuit of flying fish

American Tug

M/V Broken Promise V

Hey, that's my wife's wine!

A 55+ yachting community (condos) with gorgeous docks

A condo community's docks, "Tarpon Bay" in St. Lucie, FL

Nice grass, huh? Wonder who does the landscape.....

The St. Lucie River in Stuart, FL

Stuart is one of the best boating communities in all of FL

7:00 AM Eastern
Hampton Inn
Stuart, FL
54 degrees at wakeup; high in the 70's

Last night I completed day 1 of week5 of the C25K plan. It was tough but I sure felt good about accomplishing it. The weather hasn't gotten quite as cold as they forecast and I have no problem with that. This new Hampton Inn is on the banks of the St. Lucie River, just west of the Atlantic intercoastal.

7:00 PM Eastern
Hampton Inn
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
70 degrees

During the work day I shot the above photos for your enjoyment. The green and white boat is an American Tug trawler, the first I have encountered so close up. Beautiful boat, docked at a 55+ condo complex on the St. Lucie river. These folks are minutes away from the intercoastal and the wonders of the Atlantic Ocean. Lucks sons o guns......

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Football weather

Home in Port Charlotte
55 degrees at 8PM

A cold front has moved into our area and tonight we will hit the 40's and be cold for a few nights. We will hit the 70's in the daytime, but the 40's each night.
Yesterday I finished week 4 of the Couch 2 5k plan. Tomorrow I will begin week 5 and it gets tough from here. I will begin the week with three 5 minute runs and end the week with a 20 minute run.

Kathy, Dad and I went to Applebees to watch the Arizona Cardinals game on TV. We had a nice dinner and the Cards improved to 7-3, their best record since 1977. The Cardinals have 6 games left in the regular season and 4 of them will be home games. My football team will be in the playoffs for just the 2nd time in my children's lifetimes. Have I mentioned the Superbowl will be in Tampa this year?

Tomorrow I will head to the East coast of Florida for Tue/Wed/Thur.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let There Be Light

Click on any picture for full screen

Assembly stage

Before photo shows the dock without light

The new lamp and pole features a double 120A outlet for running a shop vac or battery charger on the boat.

We chose a high pressure sodium lamp

We have long needed some good lighting for the boat dock. It's difficult to slip the boat in the darkness and once we land, I have an hour or so of post trip maintenance such as flushing the motor and performing a fresh water wash down. Dad and I recently installed a high pressure sodium lamp, mounted on an 8 foot pressure treated 4x4 pole. We added a dual 120A power outlet to run the occasional appliances I use on board, since we don't have a shore power pedestal.
I completed day 1 of week 4 of my Couch to 5K training program last night. It was the toughest run yet. This week's plan is:
5 minutes of brisk warm up walking
3 minutes of running
1.5 minutes of walking
5 minutes of running
2.5 minutes of walking
3 minutes of running
1.5 minutes of walking
5 minutes of running
5 minute cool down walk
The total comes out to 15.5 minutes of walk time; 16 minutes of run time. I covered about 2 .2 miles on that routine and can tell that I am officially running more than walking. I chose to continue my cool down walk for an extra mile. My legs were feeling it this morning.
I weighed in this morning at 254. That's minus 26 pounds in 10 weeks. It's slow and steady weight loss, which they say is the best kind. I'm also down 4 inches in my waist size.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fresh Catch

Home in PC

Our off shore fishing trip turned out to be 4-5 foot waves off shore, when we were expecting 2-3. It was great experience for me to handle the rough seas but lousy for fishing. We returned to Charlotte Harbor and fished Boca Grande Pass. Rolando had the King Triton touch, as he caught more than we could count. It took me a while to hook up but when I did, I boated Nassau Grouper, Gag Grouper and Snapper. All were undersized and had to be released but Rolando got the two keepers above, a Snapper and a Spanish Mackeral.

It's after midnight and my Arizona Cardinals just escaped Monday Night Football with a narrow victory. I'm headed off to bed, thankfully with playoff dreams still in my head.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shipping Out

Home in Port Charlotte
61 degrees at wakeup at 5 AM
Forecast high in the upper 70's

In the words of the late John Denver..."Hey it's good to be back home again."

That was a looooong trip. I was able to catch an earlier flight, so I got home Friday night instead of Saturday. As the plane approached Tampa International I could see the sun setting over the Gulf. I've been here for 11 months now and for the first time it really felt like I was coming home. Dad's paintjob in the living room, kitchen and family room looks great. I love the color scheme Kathy picked out.

Rolando and I are shipping out this morning to chase those King Mackeral in the Gulf. We will cross Charlotte Harbor, go through Boca Pass, enter the Gulf and head north. Will will troll from Boca Pass to Stump Pass, near Englewood. The marine forecast calls for North winds around 15 knots, seas 2-3 feet, bay waters a moderate chop. We will launch at 8 and return at 4, tide willing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Checking in

Hilton Garden Inn
Phoenix; 51 degrees at wakeup; high of 76

I am working in the Phoenix branch all this week. After work yesterday, I took my 21 year old daughter, Kimber, out to dinner at RA the sushi bar. It was a very nice visit. I will see her again in a few weeks when she comes to South Florida for Thanksgiving.

I completed day 2 of week 3 of the C25k program.

I'm ready to go home...this is a very long week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

No Dinero

McCarrin Airport
Las Vegas, NV
85 degrees

My travel schedule is starting to hit me. It's about 5PM local time, in Vegas, and I am thoroughly exhausted. My flight out from Phoenix was delayed by 3 hours so I arrived here close to 11 PM, which was 2AM in my head. My co-workers picked me up at the airport and we all had a very late dinner at the Monte Carlo. I went to bed as they headed for the casino floor.

I awoke at what I thought was 5AM, but after being up for 30 minutes...realized no one had rolled the hotel room clock back on this, the second day of daylight savings time. So there I am, 4AM wide awake. The hotel fitness center wasn't going to open until 6AM, but that would be too close to my 7:30 breakfast with the team. I opted to do my workout outside in the cool morning air. Because of the 24/7 congestion in Vegas, coupled with the fact that the ENTIRE CITY is under construction, jogging the sidewalks of the strip was not a good choice. I noticed that the 5 lane valet driveway at the Monte Carlo was closed and blocked off for a resurfacing project scheduled for later this morning. I looked to be about 125 feet long and maybe 5o feet wide. The best part was there would be not obstructions or interruptions.

I treated it like a small track and completed week 3, day 1 of the C25K program. My intervals this week are 90 seconds of running, 90 seconds of walking, followed by 3 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and then the entire cycle is repeated. Of course I began with a 5 minute brisk warm up walk and ended with a 5 minute cool down walk. I noticed the difference in elevation, running at sea level in Florida vs. 2028 feet here. The air was thinner and cooler and my lungs worked slightly harder.

My return flight to Phoenix was cancelled but I was able to get on an even earlier flight. However, I arrived at the airport 3 hours early so here I sit again. Southwest wanted $80 to change my flight to an earlier departure. I think not. Looking around, this is not a very nice airport, compared to most I have been in this year. Thank God for my laptop.

The result of my corporate meeting is that I will take temporary responsibility for covering the DC Metro area, which includes 3 branches in Gaithersburg, MD; Chantilly, VA; and Alexandria, VA. All of this is in addition to South Florida. It might sound like a strange plan, jumping from Florida to the nation's capitol but GA, SC, NC were already covered by a guy who's still here and they didn't want to hamper his long standing relationship with those branches. If I have to get on a plane, it really doesn't matter where I go. My Phoenix duty will be for this week only, as they chose to give it to a California guy. After the jet lag I'm going through now, it's just as well that I stay in the eastern time zone.

I managed to come and go from Vegas without gambling. It's easy when you carry no cash.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Catching Up

65 degree morning; beautiful

I arrived late Thursday night. I spent Friday afternoon with my kids, Billy and Stephanie. We went out for great Mexican food (which doesn't exist in FL) and later saw the movie, Eagle Eye. Saturday I spent with my son, Ryan, his wife, Bonnie, and my grandson Ethan. Even though Ethan has only seen me a handful of times in his 20 months, he took to me better than I could have hoped for. We read books, went to the park and I got to rock him to sleep for a nap. That alone was worth my trip.

Saturday I finished week 2 of the C25K running program. I did another double dose to help prepare for week 3, which is going to be tough. My sister says, just wait till you see week 4. She said she is going to repeat all three days of week 4 because it was so tough.

I'm spending today, Sunday, with Heather, Curtis and the other grandboys, Dylan and Devin. We're going to watch my Cardinals face the Rams and Curt's Browns face the Ravens. I fly to Vegas today at 5PM for a Monday meeting.

I posted a couple of pictures from last Thursday. I worked in Longboat Key and had lunch at a nice little hole in the wall along the Intercoastal Waterway. The restuarant is called Del Mar but the locals still refer to it by its former name: The Pub. I enjoyed the lobster bisque, along with an order of smoked fish dip served over whole grain melba toast. MMM tasty.