Monday, December 28, 2009


Before is below, after is above

Kathy caught Penny and Patty napping in the lanai today. Penny, top, had her head laying across Patty's back just before the picture was snapped.
Home in Port Charlotte
High today of 72, getting cold tonight
Above are the photos of the finished driveway refinishing project. We all agree it turned out great. We will have to keep the vehicles off of it for a week. Today was a beautiful day, with warm air and plenty of sunshine. By 3PM it started getting noticeably cooler, quickly. We found out a cold front was moving in. Our overnight low will get down to 41 and Tuesday will be a high of 63. By Thursday it will be back up to 80. That's more like it.
I spent the day doing paperwork in my home office. More of the same tomorrow, as I draft my January travel calendar. Our New Years Eve plans call for dinner and drinks next door with Rolando and Kathy.
We saw some of the real estate listings in our neighborhood today. A foreclosure down the street from us, on the canal, is asking 119k on a short sale. It's not nearly the house or dock we have but it's a pretty good deal. I'm pretty sure we're still near equity with the 199k we gave. There are only two foreclosures on the canal. When they sell, our value should stabilize. Non-waterfront homes in the neighborhood can be had from 50k for short sale fixer uppers to 100k for decent homes with pools, but again not boat lots. The vacant waterfront lot next to Rolando is listed at 55k without a dock or seawall. It sold a few months ago for 45k but a few years ago for 265k! Somebody lost, big time.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009


Click on any picture for full screen image

Home in Port Charlotte
Morning low of 48, high of 70
Last winter my Dad and I teamed up to bring light to our backyard boat dock and run a fresh waterline dockside. Kathy and Dad worked together to repaint the inside of our house. This season the projects continue. Yesterday we installed a new electrical breaker box above the hot tub. Today we prepared the driveway for a new coat of epoxy paint. Still to come, Dad and Kathy will re-caulk our exterior window frames. Stay tuned for the finished product pictures.
This morning we drove to Burnt Store Marina for Sunday brunch. We posed for some pictures, above, outside the harbormaster's office. We were going to travel by boat but Penny and Patty left their life jackets in Strawberry.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


On a recent trip to Miami, I discovered Scully's Tavern
Home in Port Charlotte
High today of 76
After a brief, two day, road trip I returned home last night. I spent the day today writing reports of my recent work. I now get to enjoy a few days at home, but on call. Dad cooked bbq ribs on the grill tonight and they were deeeeeeelicious. The weather has been cool this week, jacket weather for SWFL. It warmed up nicely today and will again tomorrow but by the weekend we will be back to highs around 70. Brrrrrrrrr. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009


click on the picture for full screen

On the road, Boca Raton, FL
Hilton Garden Inn 53*
I made it out of Virginia last week, a few days before the blizzard hit the area. I was gone for 5 days, home for 2 and now I'm out again for 2 days. Tomorrow I am working in Delray Beach and should be able to head home until after Christmas.
My Cardinals won their 9th game of the season, beating the Detroit Lions, and winning the NFC West division again. They will start the NFL playoffs at home in a few weeks. I'm not sure how far they'll go but one thing is for sure. This is an even better team than the one I saw in Superbowl XLIII in Tampa last February.
I spent some time cleaning the boat last weekend but there's much more work to do. I will spend some of my holiday time waxing the hull to a shine. I also would like to launch the boat and do a little fishing. I haven't been on the water since before Thanksgiving.
There's been a nasty cold front that entered our area. Today's temps never got above 60 and I wore a coat all day outside. By Thursday we should see 80 again. I love Florida in the winter. Speaking of winter, today is the winter solstice. The days will now begin getting longer by a minute every few days. Summer will be back before we know it. Wow, time just flies by, doesn't it?
Above is a photo I shot in Newport News, Virginia in November.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
68* at wake up, going to a high of 82*

My Dad arrived safely from Arizona, last Friday. We are enjoying his company, of course. I have gotten very consistent in my walking exercise, going 5-6 days weekly. I'm up to 5.1 miles at a time now and feel good about it. When I was running, before taking the summer off, I had dropped my weight from 280 to 238. After 3 months of inactivity I went back up to 263. I am now sitting at 252 and ready to continue dropping.

There's been no time on the boat lately but I have found evidence of a small hydraulic fluid leak. I need to find the time to search for the source. I am leaving on a short 2 day trip to VA today but will be gone to Homestead, FL the rest of the week so it will have to wait.

My Cardinals play on Monday Night Football tonight. When they win, they will clinch a trip to the NFL Playoffs for the second straight year, with a guaranteed home game.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 70, rain last 2 days
I travelled all of last week, departing home Monday and returning Friday. It's Saturday night and I leave again tomorrow at noon. The travel is really crazy now but I try to keep a positive outlook. Kathy has been very supportive. I have been very tired.
Above is our latest home project. I envisioned creating this "where to" sign from the moment we bought our home. I cut the arrows, Kathy stained the wood and we collaborated on the lettering and milage. It's quite befitting, actually, because some days I don't know where I going next. I do know that I would like to visit these other ports, as Captain of my own ship.
Kathy has already started her next project. We bought a very detailed concrete lighthouse, with a captain, a pelican, coconut trees, etc. At this stage it is plain concrete and she is painting in all the colors. Before and after photos will come when she is finished.
Last year we didn't put up a Christmas tree but we bought one after the holiday ended. This year we really enjoyed putting it up when my daughters were visiting for Thanksgiving. Today I put up our moving reindeer, complete with simulated water pond.
We're shopping for a canvas mooring cover for the boat. I had a local guy come give a bid for a custom fit, snap on cover, and it was for $1370. Really high, I thought. I priced out "semi-custom" covers online but they are designed to be trailer covers ($695) that strap down to your trailer frame (and not the best quality material either), not mooring covers to snap onto the boat like we had on our Sea Ray. I have priced out high quality Sunbrella fabrics and am contemplating going the DIY route, except having the fabric provider do the sewing while I do the measuring, marking and install all the hardware. So far it appears I can purchase everything for about $500. I'll keep thinking it over.
My thumb is still a little sore but getting better. My sinus infection is all cleared up.
My Dad is on his way to stay with us. He is driving his RV across the country for the second year in a row. Tonight he is in Texas. His estimated day of arrival is next Friday, the 11th. Something tells me he may spend more time at my house, this winter, than I will.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Click on any image for full screen

Kimber took the wheel and held helm for 84 miles

Stephanie watches our wake

Captain Kimber did so good she got to wear the official Messing About Captain's Hat

Daddy and daughter

Daddy and other daughter, Stephanie

Returning home at sundown, Kimber hit wide open throddle

She enjoyed the wind in her hair

The next day; Bill and Kimber hit the beach

Casting off

Kimber LOVES Florida

Bill hooks up

First catch of the day

The lady fish is known as the "poor man's Tarpon" because of the fast fight they put up, similar to the Silver Kings but on a much smaller scale

After photos, Bill revives the little lady to live for another catch, another day


Fish running left, fish running right, peeling off line in a hell of a fight

Now if I can only get this hook out, I'll let you go too

Be careful, Dad....

Son of a _______ ! I'm hooked! (click picture to enlarge)

Off we go to the Peace River Memorial Hospital
Home in Port Charlotte
High of 81, Low of 69, gorgeous day on the beach
When does a perfect day at the beach end in a trip to the Emergency Room?
When the fish you caught goes into a full panic as you try to remove a treble hook and you end up with the barb buried in your thumb.
So this Doctor walks into the treatment room and says, "Dude, that's a great lure...I have that one." So do I, I my thumb!
He was very nice and quite skilled, having to do this procedure on a weekly basis here. Before I left the hospital I had 6 holes in me. A tetanus shot, 3 injections of lydocaine, the hook going in and the hook coming out. The real good news was he gave me some antibiotics which will fight off infection and finally get rid of my sinus infection!
As you can see from the pictures, Monday we had a wonderful day on the boat. The water was dead calm all day. I taught my daughter, Kimber, to drive and she never let up. She piloted the boat on an 84 miles journey up and down the Gulf Intercoastal. We stopped for lunch on Pine Island. The restuarant wasn't great but the company sure was. On the way home I dropped a couple of trolling lines off the back of the boat, had one big strike, which ended up a strike out.
You know what they say about me...when it comes to fishing, I'm all thumbs!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
Low of 70, high of 83
light morning shower

The past week has been whirlwind for me. Having spent only 38 hours at home after my trip to New England, I departed Sunday the 15th for Norfolk. Monday's work was very productive in Virginia Beach. Monday night I arrived at the Hampton Inn in Newport News, VA to one of the nicest hotel suites I've been lucky enough to occupy. The 2 room suite featured a gas fireplace in the living room that was so cozy, I debated sleeping on the couch.

Tuesday morning I awoke with a slight sore throat and ear pressure. It progressively got worse throughout the day. I figured it wasn't the flu since I'd been vaccinated and lacked the fever usually brought on by influenza. By the end of the workday I knew I had a full blown sinus infection. Tuesday night was miserable. I debated heading home but there was a critical tree care safety class I had to teach on Friday. I called my health provider to see if I could head to an Urgent Care in Virginia but learned that my HMO offers no out of network benefits except for life threatening emergencies. Great.

I opted to report to my own version of Sick Bay; cancelling my field work for the next two days in lieu of hotel bed rest Wednesday and Thursday in order to give myself the best chance of recovering enough to teach Friday. I made it through, taught my class, and returned home to Tampa Bay on Friday night.

It's Sunday morning and we're waiting to drive back to the Tampa Airport to pick up my daughters, Stephanie and Kimber, who are flying in from AZ for Thanksgiving. I'm still feeling all sinus-ey but each day is better and last night had my best night of sleep in 6 days.

Remember that 120 mile boat trip we were supposed to take Nolan and Nancy on? The boating forecast tomorrow calls for bay and inland waters to be smooth. That's the best we can ask for. We're planning on taking the girls cruising on the Intercoastal Waterway, through the Pine Island Sound, to St. James City for lunch at the Waterfront Restaurant. We'll be out long enough for a sunset and yes, Nolan, I am charging up the spotlight. We will launch at 10:30 AM and return home between 6:30 and 7:00 PM.

Friday, November 13, 2009


My road trip encompassed Boston, NYC and Philadelphia.
It almost lasted longer than planned but I escaped the streets and skies of Philadelphia.

Home in Port Charlotte

I’ve completed my first trip to the Northeast Territory and it wasn’t bad. The weather in Boston was surprisingly mild, in the mid 50’s all day. From there it just got colder all week. NJ/NY featured 46 degrees at 5AM wakeup and it just got colder all day. I must say I enjoyed seeing the Manhattan skyline for the first time since I was 18 years old. Lady Liberty was inspiring. Driving around New Jersey was a pain in the ass.

My coworkers and I decided to head for lunch at 12:15; to a Subway sandwich shop nearby. Imagine my surprise when, not only was there no bathroom to wash up, there were no tables and chairs in the restaurant. I’m not saying none were available. I’m saying the restaurant had NO SEATING! What’s with that? We went next door to a Chinese place to find the same arrangements. We punched Subway into the GPS and found there was another one 2.6 miles away. The streets are stacked on top of each other so you can’t exactly make u-turns. We spent over an hour travelling that 2.6 miles, with the aid of a GPS. Unreal.

The drive from NJ to PA was uneventful, albeit, 2 hours. The hotel in PA was in a town called Phoenixville, a largely Irish settlement with a great pub called Molly Maguire’s. I enjoyed a couple of Guinness brews and a seafood medley linguine.

Friday morning I worked in the Philadelphia area and it was windy, rainy and cold, with temps in upper 30s. The rain cancelled most of the work crews so after doing an office audit and seeing the one crew on the road I headed to the airport to catch an earlier flight home. It’s a good thing I did or I may have not made it home. The weather was turning worse as the day wore on.

My original flight was set to depart Philly for Tampa at 550PM. I found a nonstop departing at 135PM and grabbed a standby pass. By the time I cleared security the 135PM had been delayed to 305PM. After reaching the gate it had been pushed back to 520PM and my original flight had been cancelled. While standing at the gate I overheard an announcement that a flight was boarding to Fort Myers. I quickly asked if I could get on that flight and grabbed the last available seat! I was freee from Philadelphia. My truck will remain in Tampa but hell, I’m flying back out on Sunday anyway.

I called my bride and she was happy to pick me up in Fort Myers, an hour from home. We had dinner together and are enjoying a nice evening at home, listening to Sirius radio.

Up next: Sunday afternoon flight to Norfolk for a 5 day trip across Virginia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Hampton Inn Boston, MA
48 at wakeup, heading to 52

Vacation gives way to work as I awake in Boston for the first time ever. I flew up yesterday on Jet Blue, also a first time for me. It was the best flight I've ever enjoyed. I had the exit row to myself and sprawled out like a big old dog across all 3 seats. With Sirius radio in my headset I relaxed for the entire 3 hour flight. What a change!

Vacation was terrific. Our friends from AZ were very impressed with SOFL. The Keys were as great as ever, with the weather seeming to stay at 81 day and night. We toured the Mel Fisher treasure museum, something I treasured myself. We saw gold and silver, valued at over 10 million dollars, recovered from the Spanish Galleon ship Atocha, which sank in the 1500s off the Florida Keys. I will post pictures as time allows. A cloud cover ruined sunset at Mallory Square but we enjoyed a great one over Charlotte Harbor on Saturday night.

Sunday we launched the boat in 25mph winds. It wasn't the best day to be out there but we enjoyed ourselves, nonetheless. I entertained and calmed our guests aboard by singing songs as the 4 foot waves rocked and rolled the boat and the occasional 6 footer came over the top and soaked us to the bone for about 2 hours. With the high winds and warm temperatures, we dried quick after our arrival at Burnt Store Marina for brunch. Following brunch the decision was made that the girls would stay behind as Nolan and I brought the boat the 15 miles back toward home. We couldn't return to port until the tide came back up so we docked at Fishermen's Village, had a beer and caught a ride home to get my truck. We picked up the girls at 5 o'clock and they dropped us off back at the boat just after sundown. Nolan and I crossed the harbor in pitch black, with strong gusty winds twice blowing us out of the channel. (The genius captain didn't bring his handheld spotlight). We nearly ran aground but escaped with a quick reaction of raising the outdrive and letting the wind blow the boat off the sandbar. We got home safe and put the boat to rest on her cradle.

Monday was spent replacing our hot water heater, which had been original with the house 27 years ago. I decided to spend a couple of extra dollars to install a hot water circulation pump to provide instant hot water throughout the house. What a great thing that is. Before, I had to run my shower for 5 minutes to get hot water. Now it's more like 5 seconds.

Monday night we had steak and lobster with our guests, at home. It was a great end to a great visit with dear friends.
Tuesday I drove our friends to the airport in Tampa for their flight back to Phoenix and I flew to Boston. Tonight I fly to Newark, NJ for work Thursday. Friday it's Philly then home for a day.

Hurricane Ida came and went with little notice to us. It's now a rain system that might meet me later this week as she works her way up the Atlantic coastline.

Someday I would like to make my own ocean voyage from Key West to New England.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
80* at 10PM
It ain't over 'til it's over. Just when you thought there would be no hurricane season to think of, this evening we have the 9th named storm of the 2009 hurricane season. Tropical Storm Ida has formed just off the Costa Rican coastline, in the western Caribbean Sea. Her winds, as of this writing, are at 65MPH with central pressure of 995mb. The lower the pressure, the more dangerous the storm.
This storm is too far away from Florida to be of much concern today but I will continue to track it, as there's a lot of open water in front of it once it crosses the Honduran peninsula. The official end of hurricane season is November 30th.
Today we picked up Nolan and Nancy from the airport in Tampa and brought them to Port Charlotte. We had dinner on the harbor at Benedetto's in Punta Gorda. They were both impressed with our community but especially the water. Tomorrow we leave from paradise...the Florida Keys.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 86, low of 68

I'm working locally Monday and Tuesday with a short week. Our vacation starts on Wednesday when our good friends, Nolan and Nancy, visit Florida for their first time. We met them as neighbors on dock 1 at Pleasant Harbor Marina, on Lake Pleasant, AZ.

We will pick them up in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon and make the 90 minute drive to PC.
We're planning dinner on the Harbor at Benedettos in Punta Gorda for Wednesday night.
Thursday we will depart for Key Largo. Our favorite bar musician, Jimmy Ray, is playing Thursday night at Snooks Bayside. Friday we will head for Key West and do the whole tourist thing on Duvall Street. Friday night will feature sunset from Mallory Square, near mile marker zero on US 1. Saturday will be a long 6 hour drive back to Port Charlotte. Sunday I have planned a 120 mile boat trip along the Intercoastal Waterway. Monday will be a rest/recovery day at home and I think we'll need it.

Tuesday, when I take them back to the Tampa airport for their flight home to Phoenix, I will be headed for Boston and back to work. I will then have 2 really hard travel weeks, back to back, before taking Thanksgiving week to spend at home with my wife and two visiting daughters from Phoenix.

The weather here is supposed to gradually cool down all this week, from the high 80's to the lower 80's in the daytime.

After nearly 2 years, I'm at 22% capacity on my blog site. Eventually I can create some space by taking down my Superbowl pictures, which I'm sure are eating up a bit of space. I need to start printing these words so that they can definately outlive me.

Friday, October 30, 2009


San Juan Intern'l Airport
Day three flew by just like the previous. With a 4AM wake up call and leaving for work at 5:15, I was gone from the hotel before the sun had a chance to greet me. We arrived back after 7, missing the sunset. Dawn turning to dusk are the best pictures I could come up with since day 1.
The workdays were long but the work was enjoyable. This is our company's maiden voyage into Puerto Rico and we hired 8 guys to help a transferred manager open our new branch. Jose, the account manager, is from PR and came to our company 4 years ago as a college intern from the University of San Juan to our Miami branch. He now gets to transfer home with the opportunity to grow a branch of his own someday. The new employees were extremely pleasant people and after my two days of company and safety orientation, they were all excited and grateful at the opportunity to come to work for the best!
I spent the evening getting to know David, the branch manager, better. I have worked with him sporadically over the last 2 years as I service his Miami branch but we have never spent more than a few hours together before this trip. We spent much of the 3 days here together, training the new hires and dining with our clients. I found him to be a very interesting and fun personality. David is also from PR, originally, but left for Miami 23 years ago. We both continued working in our respective hotel rooms from 7-930 last night until we finally went to a late dinner together, which was really just appetisers and drinks; mostly drinks. We are planning to bring our wives over here next time, with a trip that will extend to the weekend. We spoke of work and the opportunity Jose has to grow professionally and financially here. At only 28, he could have the world by the tail. It won't be easy for him. He is operating out of his truck, with no local administrative support and all new hire employees. David asked me to keep in close contact with Jose so that he "doesn't feel like he's on an island." We both shouted back at each other, "Even though he is!" We laughed so hard it hurt.
Going to bed after midnight made the 4AM wakeup call hurt even more. I was at the airport by 5 for my 7:00 flight but even security didn't open until 5:30. After touchdown in Miami I will make the 3 hour drive home to my honey. Next week I work Monday in Venice and Tuesday in Bradenton. After that, it's a much earned weeklong vacation with friends from Arizona visiting us for the first time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


San Juan, PR
low of 80, high of 88
occassional brief showers

Today was work, work, work. I wasn't even allowed to bring my camera into the Pharmacutical Manufacturing plant where our company is doing the landscape now. The only photo I took was at 6AM, outside of my hotel balcony, of the beach in the morning light. As luck would have it, I'm on the 10th floor and my camera is in the trunk of the rental car.

After work I joined 4 colleagues and one of our clients for a traditional Puerto Rican dinner in the town of Juncos. The restaurant building is 78 years old. I enjoyed fresh caught mahi mahi, generously stuffed with lobster and crab. I can't tell you what the side dishes were but they were good. We drank Puerto Rican beer and even toasted our new business relationship with some completely illegal (for the restuarant to sell) Puerto Rican moonshine. They call it Pitorro.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the day was the many compliments I received, from both my colleagues and our new client, for my Spanish language instruction. Somewhere out there, my freshman year high school Spanish teacher should be proud. Gracias, Senora Cordova. Gracias Senora.

I have a 4AM wakeup call so I will close this and hit the sack at 10:30PM. Hasta manana.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Courtyard Isla Verdes Resort
San Juan, Puerto Rico
80*, 94% rh, brief showers now and then
My flight from Miami was delayed 45 minutes but otherwise uneventful. I have really come to appreciate Southwest Airlines, which I had flown exclusively until this month. I took an Air Tran flight home from DC last week and flew American down here. Southwest has a much better boarding procedure, despite not reserving seats, and they have wider seats with more leg room.
I touched down at 4:20PM local time and was picked up by a colleague from the company. Willie was born in NYC but spent his childhood living in San Juan. He gave me a nice tour of Old San Juan, which is where the above pictures were taken. The Spanish fortresses were quite impressive, although we just drove by.
San Juan was founded by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1508. The island is roughly 100 miles by 40 miles and separates the North Atlantic from the Caribbean. It is now a U.S. territory and Americans can travel to and from here just like within the States. Here's an interesting fact I found online:
Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Trench, roughly parallel to the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico and lying about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The Puerto Rico Trench is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) long and 60 miles (100 km) wide. The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Milwaukee Depth , lies within the Puerto Rico Trench, at a depth of 27,493 feet (8,380 meters) in the western end of the trench, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Rico. The origin of the trench can be traced back to the beginning of the Tertiary period. The Puerto Rico Trench appears to be part of a complex system of sinistral strike-slip faults in the north Caribbean; the trench seems to have been opened continuously for about 70 million years. It is partially filled with sediments. The Caribbean's greatest known depth is Cayman Trench (Bartlett Deep) between Cuba and Jamaica, at approximately 25,216 feet (7,686 meters) below sea level.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
Record high of 93, low of 68, brief shower at 5PM
The fishing on Saturday was slow and small. Nothing worth photographing but I caught a Jack Cravelle, Catfish and a Needle fish (freaky too, you should google it). Rolando caught a couple of undersized Grouper, a Cat and a Perch. The good news was that it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The boat ran good and the wind/waves cooperated all day. We ran 53 miles.
We came home to a wonderful dinner prepared by our wives, Kathy and Kathy. I couldn't resist taking a picture of my plate before digging in. Fillet Mignon, pasta with Pesto, accompanied by those giant lobster tails we had purchased in Key Largo. I introduced Rolando to my other sailing buddy, Sailor Jerry's Navy Spiced Rum. This was likely our last supper together, as neighbors, since the economy has forced them to give up their second home, next to ours. We did it up nicely that night but we are sad to see them go.
Sunday I completed our fall yard renovations but installing new decorative mulch in our planter beds. The turf grass is drought stressed from our record high temperatures and lack of measurable rain but the red mulch really dresses up the landscape. We planted two new Coconut Palm trees, taking the place of a bamboo and an under performing queen palm. These two coconuts were "rescued" by me off the lake bank of a golf course in Palm Beach. We planted them in pots and they sprouted and really took off. Monday morning we awoke to find one of them ripped out of the ground. The short list of suspects includes a family of raccoons living along the canal. I knew they were trouble when I saw them wearing bandit masks.
It's Monday night and I'm packed for my first ever trip to Puerto Rico. I will drive to Miami tomorrow morning a catch a 3 hour flight to San Juan. I am teaching two days worth of landscape safety classes and equipment certifications. Our company opens up shop there, officially on November 1st. November will take me to more new territory: Boston, NY/NJ, Philly, and back to the Atlantic coast of Virginia, then working my way northeasterly across Virginia for a week.
There are two pieces of good news. One, I'm so busy because I'm still employed. Two, I have 2 separate weeks of vacation wrapped around that November schedule.