Friday, May 14, 2010


Home in Port Charlotte
70* at wakeup

After getting home from my "graveyard shift" at the Baltimore airport I stayed awake for the rest of the day and got my weekly reports done.  Kathy called me outside when she found a black racer snake sitting near my work shed.  Although these snakes aren't poisonous, we have seen then much too close to the lanai and we don't want one in the house.  I hate snakes and besides, last year one tried to eat our baby cardinals.  When I approached this one I could see it was in the process of eating a gecko.  When I nailed it with my flat head shovel, its mouth opened wide and to my delight the gecko jumped out alive and took off!  I finished off the snake and scooped it up to make fish chum of this chum.

When I walked down to toss it into the canal I spotted two manatees right across from my dock.  Now here's a rare treat!  I quickly ran to Kathy, told her to get the camera, and I ran to our next neighbors, Bob and Eleanor, to alert them.  They are in their eighties and still love the wild encounters our area can bring.  The four of us returned to our dock and enjoyed watching what was likely a male and female manatees grazing on ferns growing on the edge of the canal.  After a few pictures the couple paddled their giant tales up the canal, hopefully to return soon.

Florida manatees number around 3,000.  They love warm water and feed strictly on vegetation.  Adults grow 10-12 feet long and weigh 1,500 to 1,800 pounds.  Known by the nickname, "sea cows", these gentle giants would never harm humans.  Unfortunately humans are the biggest threat to manatees in the form of boat and propeller strikes.  According to, their closest genetic relative is the elephant. 

Here is a file photo from the internet:

Earlier on Thursday we spotted a giant sea turtle in the canal.  Last year I saw dolphins, although not in my backyard it was the first time I'd seen them up in the canal system, as opposed to seeing them regularly in the Harbor.  Eleanor and Bob, who have lived next door over 20 years told us that many years ago a baby whale was found wandering around our canal.  We also have daily visits by squirrels, regular night time sightings of racoons and Bobcats, a male and female cardinal call our yard home, as well as dozens of other bird species.

The hydraulic shop says our steering arm cannot be fixed and must be replaced.  Remember, my local Volvo dealer wanted $800 for the part?  My online Volvo discounter wanted $628.  I found a brand new one on Ebay for $425.  Since the seller was in Fort Myers I ran out and picked it up.  I think I will be able to put it on myself and save the labor dollars.  It will have to wait though, as tonight we fly to Arizona for a week long break with friends and family.  I have a daughter, Stephanie, graduating high school and my youngest, Billy, is graduating 8th grade.  The first chance I will have to work on the boat will be Memorial weekend.  I'll certainly have it up and running by June, as I planned.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Stuck at Baltimore/Washington International

I suppose if you fly enough like I do it's bound to happen sometime.  Missed connecting flight; stuck in the terminal overnight.  My flight was scheduled to depart Norfolk at 6:55 but rain delayed it to 8PM.  We took a 45 minute hop to BWI, where I was supposed to change planes and head to Tampa.  We arrived at BWI and I checked to monitors.  My flight number was nowhere to be found.  I discovered it had left 5 minutes before we arrived.  The gate agent told me there was a flight to Raliegh Durham that would go on to Tampa but I would have to run to another terminal to try and catch it.  He tried to call the gate but they wouldn't answer the phone.  I ran from A15 to B5 to no avail.  Of course it was gone.  Worse yet, they wouldn't refund anything, no hotel, no nothing.  I even lost my boarding position from A29 to B1.  I can't get out of here until 7AM.  It's 10:30 as I write this.

I'm sure I could take a taxi to a hotel and the company would approve my expense but it doesn't seem worth it for 8 hours.  I will sit here all night long and try again tomorrow.  At least my next round of travel, Friday evening to Phoenix, will be for pleasure.

Update:  It's now 5:15AM and I've been awake for over 25 hours.  The airport cleaning crew made it impossible to sleep during the night.  I honestly believe their boredom with their job motivated them to make my night miserable.  There were 7 of them and there was no where in the terminal I wouldn't hear them.  They would scream out at each other without reason.  For the last 2 hours they have done nothing but stand around and BS.  Other passengers have began arriving and the airport is coming back to life.  Hopefully, soon, I will too.  I have a 100 mile drive home from the Tampa airport.  Friday I will turn right around and head back there again.

Monday, May 10, 2010


On the road, Newport News, VA
59*, going down to 46

After a week that brought me to Philly, NJ, NY, Boston and Chicago, I arrived home early Saturday morning for a 30 hour pit stop and departed again Sunday.  There was enough time to mow four lawns, take my bride out to breakfast and get a few hours rest.  I'm now in the midst of a Central/East Virginia tour of Richmond, Newport News and Virginia Beach.  It's pretty cold here, with morning lows in the 40's.  Once again I'm glad I brough a jacket with me.  I'm returning home late Wednesday night, which will put me in bed about 1 AM again.  Friday we fly to Arizona for kids graduations.

A funny thing happened when I was in Boston, headed home.  A couple of years ago I met an online friend named Don, through a runner's website.  We have never met in person but have emailed back and forth about running and fitness.  He is a very experienced ultra marathon runner.  We had planned once to meet for the Cleveland marathon but I ended up cancelling.  Anyhow, while I was sitting at the departure gate in Boston, I looked at Facebook on my Blackberry and noticed Don's status read, "Sitting at Boston Beer Works at the Boston Logan Airport."  I saw Boston Beer Works from my gate and I hustled over there, since my plane was boarding in ten minutes.  I approached a couple of guys who looked like Don's picture but none of them were he.  I checked his Facebook profile and saw his phone number so I called it.  Unfortunately he was in Terminal E and I was in Terminal C.  There was no way I could leave my gate so we just laughed it off and planned to meet again some other day.  No, Don's last name isn't Adams but he did "miss me by THAT much!"

The boat steering arm was removed but found to be unserviceable.  I will have to order and entire new part at a cost of over $600.  The mechanic has used 3 labor hours so far and needs another 2 hour to put the new part in.  With my travel schedule, it's up the air if I'm going to be boating by Memorial Day.

I finished my last book and am now reading Staying Alive, the true story of a British couple whose 31' sailboat was struck by a whale between Panama and the Galapogos Islands.  They abandoned ship and remained adrift in their 5' inflatable dinghy for 117 days!  They lived to write this book and sail again.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Evening in Boston, MA
High of 80

Day three of this road trip started in West Paterson, NJ with a morning low of 51. I was glad to have brought a jacket.

I had planned on waking at 4AM but was startled awake at 3AM by what I am calling a "night terror.". Unlike a bad dream, these occurences seem to happen in a milisecond. When it happens, I am startled by the sound of an explosion and an instant feeling that I just died in it. Then, I'm suddenly awake with a racing pulse. I'm not sure but I think I scream out loud. This has been happening on occassion for a few months now. I'm sure it's related to either stress or exhaustion or both. I experienced this a few years ago, living in Arizona. As my memory recalls it was during stressful work times as well. Work is fine but the travel is getting tougher by the month.

On a lighter note, my drive from NJ, through NY, brought me for the first time ever to Connecticut. Someday it would be fun to have a map with push pins representing all of the places I've visited. In the US, I've yet to see Maine, Vermont, NH, Rhode Island, Montana and North Dakota, I think. Without a map in front of me it's hard to account for all of them.

At home I have a nice map of the Caribbean Islands. Now there's a map I like to fill with pins.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Princeton, NJ  66*
5AM wakeup call

In the middle of a 6 day swing from Philly to NJ, NY, BOS and Chi.  I'm not sleeping well on this trip.  I caught some kind of a bug on the plane home from Puerto Rico and it's been with me for over a week.  I'm definately on the better side of it but it's been a nasty sinus and cough thing.  Last night I got on the treadmill for the first time in 10 days.

I'm very troubled by the oil disaster in the Gulf.  This thing is far worse than most realize.
When I was in Philadelphia on Sunday night there were 5 seperate overnight shootings.
Someone tried to detonate a car bomb in time square.
These are some lovely times we live in, no?

On the far side of the world, 16 year old circumnavigator Abby Sunderland has to interrupt her quest to become the youngest sailor to ever circle the world solo.  Her autopilot has gone down and the backup unit is now malfunctioning.  You can't sail solo, nonstop, without an autopilot.  She is due to pull into Cape Town Africa this week.  She plans on continuing her journey, sans the nonstop portion of the record.  That little feat will be claimed this month by Australia's Jessica Watson, another 16 year old.

At home, I found a mobile mechanic who is supposed to remove my leaky power steering arm today.  I hope to finally have the boat water ready by Memorial Day weekend.  I wouldn't have time to get out before then, even if the boat were ready.  I booked a flight for my son, Billy, to come for three weeks this summer.  I will take some vacation time to spend some quality time with him.

I'm current reading a book called "The Ship and The Storm."  It's the true story of a Windjammer Cruise ship that was lost in 1998's Category 5 Hurricane Mitch, off the coast of Honduras.