Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Chicago Midway International Airport
warm in the terminal

My Boston trip got better, following my "Rainy Day and Monday."  That night the front desk picked up my dinner and drink tab just to make me feel better.  Tuesday and Wednesday was uneventful business; save for the fact I got done early today and scrambled to change my Thursday flight to a Wednesday departure and spend an extra night in my own digs.

I jumped on the computer and, in my rush, accidentally changed my flight to one Thursday afternoon.  When I tried to change it again, I was denied and had to call an agent.  Fortunately they were able to book me on a Wednesday flight, leaving in 2 hours.  Hurry to to the hotel, pack, check out (no extra charge) and rush to Boston Logan.  My flight home would be through Chicago Midway and then on to Tampa.

I enjoyed 2 drinks on the flight (yes, only two) and the flight attendant refused my coupons, instead serving me on the house.  NICE!  I landed in Chicago at 520 PM and discovered there was a 440 PM departure to Tampa that hadn't left yet.  I wonder why?  I rushed to the gate and asked for a standby ticket.  The woman next to me, going to Houston, also must have had a flight change because she asked about her baggage making the plane and was told her baggage would not arrive at the airport until much later than she.  Oh crap, I checked bags too.  I decided the 2 hour early arrival wouldn't be worth it since I'd have to drive 3 hours round trip to get my baggage back from the later flight.

I called my wife to check in and as I was walking through the terminal it hit me.  CRAP!  Why am I flying to Tampa?  My truck is in FORT MYERS!!!  (almost 200 miles from Tampa)  Kathy asked me, "Are you KIDDING ME?"

I don't know why she always asks me that when I screw something up, because I have yet to kid her about this stuff.  I told her not to worry, that I would find a ride to my truck.  The dilemna is always, where to fly in/out of.  Tampa is 1.5 hours north of our house.  Ft. Myers is 1 hour south of us.  I didn't know whether I was coming or going.

I called my company counterpart, Ken, who covers north Florida and 9 other States from his home in Tampa.  Who knew if he would be in Atlanta or Memphis or NC or SC or STL or Alabama or whereever else he works.  You see, I'm not the only one living "on the road".  JACKPOT, he was home!  He was also scheduled for office days on Thursday and Friday.  He was more than willing to pick me up at 11PM, drive me 2.5 hours to Ft. Myers and 2.5 hours back to his house tonight.  What a guy!

I called Kathy back to tell her the good news and she was relieved.  She even invited Ken to stay in our guest room tonight and enjoy a little bed/breakfast, South Florida style.

I found my departure gate to Tampa and couldn't understand why we weren't boarding at 6:30 for the 6:50 flight.  The gate agent informed me that Chicago is on Central time, not Eastern time.  Oh.

As I settled in to my seat in the concourse I heard the people behind me talking about their flight to Ft. Myers.  Ft. Myers?  There's a flight to Ft. Myers?  Yeah but it's under delay and won't get in until 11 PM anyway.  Besides, my luggage is going to Tampa.  Oh well, it will be good to spend some time catching up with Ken.

Just then, Ken texted me and asked for my arrival flight information.  I looked at the gate board and couldn't tell if it said Flight 110 or 1110.  I was too tired to get up and walk over there so I figured I'd just look at my boarding pass.  Guess what it said?

Flight 222 to Fort Myers.


This whole mess about Tampa was my exhausted imagination.  I was never going to Tampa at any point today or tomorrow.  I gotta get some rest.  I'm 99% sure my truck is really at the Fort Myers airport.  I'll find out soon.  Not soon enough.  Flight 222 to Fort Myers is under delay.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today, Monday, I flew from home to Boston, via Baltimore. Flight delays caused me to tell my pre-arranged driver to forget about picking me up. I didn't want the poor guy hanging around until after 5 to get me from the airport and then have him miss dinner with his family. Besides, the hotel has a shuttle, right? Wrong.

It was dumping rain when I landed. I got my 3 bags from bag claim and called the hotel. They gave me instructions on how to get there via public tranportation. Does everyone take credit cards, I ask, because I never travel with cash. They assure me they do.

Two buses, a subway ride and a walk through the rain to a taxi stand had me and my luggage soaked.

I jumped in the first cab and told him my destination. 2 blocks later I thought to ask him if he takes credit cards. (Apply brakes here).

A 2 block walk back to the cab stand further drenched me, my luggage and its contents, as well as my laptop and phone. Have I mentioned the 3rd bag contains 10 CPR manikins?

Meanwhile back at the taxi stand, in the rain, I ask at least 10 drivers if they take credit cards. No, no, no, no.
I call the hotel and they tell me its only a 15 minute walk to get there. How much worse could my day get? I head out and determine, after 5 minutes, I am walking the wrong way.

Righting my course, the baggage is really getting heavy. After 15 minutes of walking, the hotel is nowhere in sight and the rain is really friggin' dumping down.

I tuck in under an awning and call the hotel. I pretty much beg them to come get me.

The desk clerk tells me to hail a cab and they'll be happy to pay the driver.

Eleven hours after leaving my house, I finally arrive at my hotel.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Home in Port Charlotte
Raining heavily at 8PM

At home we're in the middle of a rain event that is predicted to bring us 3".  It's off to a good start.  The rain started about 3PM and has really increased since the sun went down.  This weekend we did some spring planting.  The freeze of the century killed many plants in our area and in our own yard.  Kathy and I replaced 5 hybiscus' and transplanted 2 of our homegrown coconut trees from the canal bank to the yard.  We did a great job maintaining the root balls on the coconuts.  The yard grass is in bad shape.  I've got about 25% burmuda grass and the rest is a mix of weeds and undesireable native weed grasses.  All of the seeding we did last spring has gone for not.  With the limited time I spend at home, it's really tough to do what needs to be done.  I fertilized the burmuda and will continue to nurture it along.  Hopefully it will spread throughout the yard now that we are getting 80 degree temps.

I heard on the news tonight that California will have a measure on their ballot this year to legalize marijuana for recreational use.  The idea is to tax and sell it to help the State out of their 20 billion dollar hole.  That will be interesting to watch and see what comes next.

Monday I fly to Boston, returning home Thursday for a three day weekend.

UPDATED: Monday morning at 6:35AM, current FL satellite view

Monday, March 22, 2010


Madigans Waterfront Restaurant features fine and casual dining on the banks of the Occoquan River, VA.
River view of Madigans

The town of Occoquan was founded in 1857 by a single settler

This hotel building is dated 1865 and was the headquarters for General Wade Hampton during the Civil War

Views along the Occoquan

Woodbridge, VA (near Lorton)
Upper 60's, rain much of the day

I'm currently on a 5 day DC metro run.  I will do 5 branches in 5 days, flying home late Friday night.
Above are pictures from one of my regular dinner stops.  The Occoquan River feeds the Chesapeake Bay.

The boat is still sitting at home, waiting for me to figure out how to fix the power steering leak.  Shop repair manuals have been ordered and I'm hopefull they will help.

Saturday I was fishing the dock with Rolando (next door neighbor) when a pontoon boat came by on the canal with four people aboard.  The captain asked, "Who's messing about?"  I answered, "That's me."  He pointed out my boat to the others and said, "There's the boat that's too big for the bridge."  I realized he'd been reading my blog.  It turns out he's the guy who found the blog a year ago while researching moving from NJ to FL.  He had emailed me back then but I never heard from him until now.  It turns out he bought a house a few blocks from us. 

Speaking of blogs; I have been following the adventures of Abby Sunderland on her blog.  She's a 16 year old from California, circumnavigating the globe, non-stop, solo.  Upon completion, it will be a world record for the youngest to do so.  Check her story out at

Training update:  2 weeks into my program and I'm down 14 pounds.  I'm waking up at 4AM on this road trip to workout before the work day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

7-11 DIET

Home in PC
High of 72

I don't intend to turn this into my "diet blog" but there is some good news on that front.  And since I haven't boated or fished in weeks I may as well blog about what is going on with me.

I spent the past week working and trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat.  In a nutshell, I am consuming about one third of what I used to and I'm working out 6 days a week.  I counting every calorie, fat gram, cholesterol and sodium gram too.  I can't say I'll keep up the counting but the initial result cannot be disputed.  Monday-Sunday, in 7 days, I lost 11 pounds.  I don't pretend to this that pace will continue but if I can lose a pound or two a week I will easily make the Doctor happy in 11 weeks.  He wanted me to lose 20 pound in 3 months and I'm half way there in a week.  I walked 26 miles last week and started over with 5.1 today.

We bought a blood pressure machine and I am taking it morning and night.  So far, so good.  My morning readings have been around 111/70 and my evening readings averaging 118/71.  That's way better than the 143/91 I had in his office.

I haven't had any luck getting the power steering ram out of the boat yet.  I have tried but there seems to be a stuck pin that I can't gain the leverage to remove.  After that pin, there's two more bolts that need a midget to remove them.  I did manage to change my spark plugs and distributor cap.  I ran the boat for about 15 minutes to charge the batteries yesterday.

This week I'm working close to home and sleeping in my own bed every night.  Sunday I depart for Washington DC.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Key Largo Hilton
High of 78
Kathy joined me on the trip to the Keys.  She's doing 2 days in Key Largo and 2 days in Key West while I work during the days.  Sunrise over the Atlantic and sunset over the Gulf were the usual spectacular affairs.

I recently got the results of some routine blood lab work and the results were not good.  Last year I was doing so good with running and eating right, I lost 42 pounds.  Since stopping that regimen I gained back 25 pounds and sporatically walked for exercise.  Long story short, if I don't get my blood sugars, cholesterols and blood pressure in check I will be line for diebetes and and coronary artery disease.  At 44, my life is likely half over.  I need to live a lot smarter on the second half.

My new doctor is not a great help.  He gave me a "form letter" diet and told me to lose 20 pounds in 3 months.  I will be redoing my blood work then and if not improved he will recommend prescription medication for blood pressure and cholesterol.  He said I am dangerously close to diabetes and that is one of my biggest fears.  He gave me a guideline for an 1800 calorie per day diet.  It calls for my fat intake to be less than 30% of my total caloric intake.  He says to cut down my sodium but didn't say how much.  My own research says the USRDA for patients with hypertension is less than 1500 mg, so that will be my limit.

My biggest obstacle is the "on the road lifestyle my job requires.  I am forced to eat in restaurants 15-20 days per month.  My sister in California suggested I ask the restaurants for their nutritional value menus.  Well that must be a California thing because so far in two days I have yet to find one restaurant who will reveal this.  Each server asks the manager and says they don't have it.  So again, I'm on my own.

I can do lunches at Subway because they readily reveal their numbers.  Some other chains like Fridays, Chilis and Applebees have specific sections on the menu for low fat but I will have to watch out for hidden sodiums on spices and sauces.  Here was my menu for today:
Breakfast:  2 pieces wheat toast with creamy peanut butter, 1% fat yogurt and black coffee
Lunch:  Subway 6" chicken sandwich on wheat with apple slices (instead of chips) and water
Dinner:  8oz fresh mahi fillet, grilled plain, with steamed veggies and water.

My workout last night was 3.5 miles and tonight I did 4 miles.  I even ran the last mile tonight.  I'm also doing weight training with dumbells.

I kicked the fast food habit last year so that's not a challenge.  I have to be done with fried foods, chips, chicken wings, and all desserts.  I don't drink much soda, unless it's mixed with rum, but I have to take that to zero as well.  Above all else, I have to find a way to control my portions.  That's my biggest sin; overeating.  But I am determined and resolved.  I kicked cigarretes more than 3 years ago and I can do this now.  The Little River Band said it best.  And yes, it's time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Renaissance Hotel, Portsmouth, VA
My hotel is the last tall one on the left

My travel week ended in the 300 year old shipping port village of Portsmouth, Virginia.  Since I had to stay over Friday night I figured I may as well have a nice view.  Portsmouth is across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk and is the home of the US Naval Shipyard.  Many large Navy ships were in port for maintenance and I could see the flashes of light as welders worked on the big gun ships.  It's also the home of Maersk, the container shipping company.

After checking out the restaurant in the hotel lobby I decided to seek alternatives.  I could see some large retail area across the river and asked the desk clerk about it.  He said it was a restaurant district in Norfolk and directed me to the river ferry to gain passage.  For a dollar and a half I was ferried across on a 60' paddle wheel boat.  I dined at Joe's Crab Shack.  For once, I didn't really mind eating alone because the mess of eating crab legs and whole shrimp is not something you want people to see you doing.  My steampot also included a link of andouile sausage, red potatos and corn on the cob.  It was pretty tasty.

After diner I had a half hour to kill so I walked the docks and looked at the big dollar yachts tied up in port.  I could smell the odor of someone smoking the wild wood weed.  I had to laugh, realizing I hadn't smelled that odor in well over ten years since my days as a cop in Arizona.  I guess it's like the smell of death, once you smell it you never forget it.

The ferry boat blasted it's fog horn to announce it's return.  I boarded as the only passenger at 9:15PM.  Despite the 40 degree evening chill I made my way to the top observation deck and stood watch as I cruised the Elizabeth.  300 years ago English sailor navigated these same waters.  If her depths could talk she'd speak of times when war ships were made of wood, not steel.  She'd tell of Civil war battles rages on her shores and of the night the Confederates burned the shipyard rather than turn it over to the Union forces.  She'd cry of the nights her current ran with blood.  For 300 years hulls have hovered above Elizabeth's floor.  I gave pause to wonder, when 300 more years has passed who will know of this night when I quitetly cruised the waters of history?  Will my blog be bouncing around some digital field in the atmosphere or will a printed copy be stored in some box somewhere?  Perhaps carried by a solo sailor following the course yet to be set by me.

In this view of the Elizabeth, from the web, my hotel can be seen at the point on the left side, toward the top of the picture.  Moving up and right across the river is the Waterside restaurant district where I dined at Joes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Newport News, VA
Low 36, high hit 50

My week in the Mid-Atlantic is going fairly well. The weather has been cold but cooperative. The fact that I'm working indoors this trip helps a lot. My drive from Philly to Richmond was nearly 6 hours but I encountered only light rain. The classes I'm teaching are going good and it's nice to be appreciated by my "students."

Since moving to Florida I have started reading a little more (especially on planes). A friend from Lake Pleasant (AZ) introduced me to the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. McGee is a fictional P.I. who lives in Ft Lauderdale on a boat, he won in a poker game, called the Busted Flush. On my flight from Tampa to Philly I finished my second novel in the series of 22 when the passenger across the aisle from me asked, "Are you a Parrot Head?", referencing the nickname for diehard fans of Jimmy Buffett. Since my new Florida roots have also sprung a huge appreciation for island music and songs of the sea, I answered him "yes.". "What chapter?," he asked. Well I'm not exactly a card carrying member so I had to fess up. He said he spotted me reading Travis McGee while wearing a Landshark Beer shirt and figured I was in the club. Jimmy sings, "Travis McGee's still on Cedar Key," in his song Incommunicado.

The guy asked where I was from. After 42 years of saying Arizona, it's weird to say Port Charlotte, FL. But he told me there's a great Parrot Head club in my town and he told me the bar they meet at. He also told me about several local bands who play "Trop Rock," the code name for tropical or island music. If I'm ever at home maybe I'll check it out.