Friday, November 12, 2021

Florida 2021...Heading North for Home


Said my good~bye to mom and Kelly on Wednesday Night, then headed back to the Red Roof, watched some World Series and packed for the morning trip back north...

I had planned on stopping by the Gulf Shore area of Alabama to see my old football officiating crewmate and umpiring partner, fellow Air Farce Vietnam Vet, and buddy...John has had stage 4 Lung Cancer since late 2017 but despite the dire predictions, he has survived for over 4 years now, and him and wife moved from Ohio to Alabama last spring...the weather however, and my restlessness, decided to get the best of me and I instead headed straight up I 75...also missing a stop in Kentucky to see my long time friend and former broadcast mate, Andy Magione...it just wasn't in the cards. 11 days on the road and moving from motel to motel, had gotten the best of me. Nearing 73 that came as no surprise, despite feeling in reasonable health for my age...

So up the Interstate heading into some major rains, which would strike about


the time I hit Ocala in West Central Florida...traffic came to a stop on more than one occasion, but I still managed to make it to Cordele, Georgia, and the Colonial Best Western, where me and the family have made many stops...great, albeit aging, motel, and stay...always a great, hot, breakfast, thrown in with the $89 price tag...

A decent sleep, not great, but decent, was had and up for breakfast, and headed


north, with Atlanta, Knoxville, and more rain ahead...Kentucky was the worst as I was delayed by 3, count them, Three, traffic stopping accidents, which delayed my arrival home on Friday Night by a couple of hours...I finally arrived back in Celina by 10pm...happy to be home.

Grading the trip:  Fishing D-,  Travel Conditions  C-, Weather in Florida, B+, Hot and Humid, but for the most part rain free, except for the travel home...Flagler Beach A, Stay at Tom's A, Venice C, Naples C+, and Everglades B...overall I give the trip a C+...had better, had worse, didn't see some of the people I planned on, but for the most part, I enjoyed the time away...

Photos-Top Final Sunset on Venice Beach, Florida, Driving in the Driving Rains on I 75 near Ocala, Sunrise from my first floor room at the Colonial Best Western in Cordele, Georgia, and bottom Sunrise at Flager Beach looking out from my motel balcony ...



 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Florida Trip 2021 Post #6...Chokoloskee Island and the "Smallwood Store"

 


I arrived at Naples, stopped by sister Kelly's house on the Gulf Channel, and visited her and 97 year old mom for a couple hours, before checking in at the, what would be, disappointing Red Roof Inn...WTF?, No Coffee Maker, No Coffee at all...for 2 mornings I would have to drive to get a damn cup of joe...otherwise the place was close to Kelly and was so-so for $100 bucks a night...

Anyway you can read and see photos of the first day and night, in Naples, where Brother in Law, Denmark Mike fixed a great meal...being the world calls chef he is, and has been for decades, it was no surprise at all....

In addition to visiting mom, who knows how long her, or for that matter me, will be around...the women has survived COVID when she was a mere 96 years old, so my guess is she has a better than average shot to make the century mark...and she still has her mind, sharp as a tack...which makes it that much better.

Anyway that was the main point of my trip, along with fishing, and photography...

I always spend a day or two when in deep south Florida driving the Everglades, usually highlighted by a trip down Loop Road...my plan this year was to drive the entire  distance, which after the 27 miles would bring me out a few miles from Miami, or at least the Miami overflow, but I go lazy, and


decided not to take the time to drive the 50 plus miles to Loop then another 2 hours driving it and back to Naples.  This year, the Big Cypress, Everglades City {just a quick visit} and then on to Chokoloskee Island, the land of Old Florida Drug Runners, and outlaws.

Two stops I wanted to make on the Island, which sits on the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands: 

Ten Thousand Islands

In all my trips to The Everglades area, I had not crossed the long straights


and bridge from Everglades City to Chokoloskee...but this time, at the urging  of my brother in law, who wanted me to drop by the Havana Cafe just over the bridge, I decided to give it a try...besides I wanted to visit the Smallwood Store that I had read about in the book "Totch", the story of Loren "Totch" Brown, who lived and wandered this area for most of his entire life...                                                  



Totch

So, Wednesday, October 24th, I spent the morning driving down to Everglades City, Chokoloskee Island, and visited the Smallwood Store, then on to the Havana Cafe for Lunch:

Havana Cafe

Smallwood Store



The afternoon, after lunch and a quick return to Naples {I ended up putting 185 miles or so on the Jeep that day}, I returned and explored a part of the Big Cypress Swamp that I had not been in before, that part coming up in the next installment.


Photos...Top:  Inside the Ted Smallwood Store there hangs a mural of how the store looked back in it's heydays, around 1930.  {2}  Denmark Mike fixed us a grand meal on night #1 in Naples, Seafood, Steaks, and Veggies on the Grill and his Pastry Chef made us a Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake  {3} The welcoming sign to Everglade City, progress, thankfully, has been slow coming to EC, but sad to say, it is coming...{4}/{5} The Havana Cafe, where I had a Cuban Sandwich, Chips, and a Beer...around $20 before the tip, pricy, but well worth the stop, if and when I get down that way again, will stop once more ... {6} and Bottom...The Inside and outside entrance to the Smallwood Store, if you have any interest in Old Time Florida, you should look that story and history up, also, if any interest in the Everglades in the old days before the great invasion of two legged varmints, pick up a copy of "Totch", they come fairly cheap in the paper back and it is well worth the read and photos...

Far Bottom Photo is the backside view of the Smallwood Store...it was a bit humid that day, but well worth the $5 fee just to visit Old Florida, which was what it was back in the early 1950s when we arrived in Venice.

Back Later>>










Monday, November 8, 2021

Florida Trip Post #5, revisiting Flagler Beach/Pier

 


Thought I would use today's post to revisit my look at the Flagler Beach/Pier portion of my Florida visit...When I arrived at Flagler and the quaint beach motel on October 20th and thru my stay, which ended on October 22nd, I saw nice Atlantic Breezes and plenty of sun and humidity, perfect weather.  Looking back I'm glad I stayed when I did, the weather these past few days has turned into a bit of an adventure, looking at the weather and news stories....

As you can see from today's Pier Camera,  the sun is back out, but the waves and Rip Tide is still in force: 

Flagler Pier Cam  

It appears that these conditions will last thru mid week, at least...

Meanwhile here is a quick little story from one Orlando TV Station on the view of the Pier...

Wild Pier Waves {< click to see story} 

<<<This photo showing wave action is NOT mine, It was copied from the Palm Coast Observer, and I thank them for this shot.



The top photo meanwhile is me at the Pier fishing and enjoying the sun back on Friday morning October 22nd...

OK...that was a quick look back at the trip's beginning, next post I will be moving on down to Naples and the southern most points of the Florida Gulf Coast...


back later>>>

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Florida Trip 2021 Post #4

 


By the time I was into the Florida 2021 Trip Day #6, I would say good bye to Tom and his St. Johns River, and cross the state, then back on I-75 south to my old home {1953-63} Venice...albeit, hardly the same town I grew up in.  Venice, like almost all the coastal areas of Florida {along with the Orlando mess}, has become over crowded, crime ridden, and way to "Diversified" for my enjoyment...but that rant and cow left the barn long ago, so I still felt the need to make my obligatory stop, like I have done for the last visits,  about every other year.

Regardless, I grabbed the cell phone when I stopped near Sarasota at the I-75 Rest Area nearby and checked out some motels and prices...no way was I staying at the place the family stayed back in the late 1990s and early part of this century.  The Inn at the Beach, while it has not changed much in looks has sure went up in price, and I didn't feel the need to spend $200 a night for a damn bed, no matter how close it was to the beach!



Inn at the Beach Venice  

So after a bit of searching, I finally found an Old Venice Motel, one that was around when I was just a kid...

Island Breeze Inn   

Make no mistake, the place doesn't look as good as the photos show...it's actually kind of a, well I won't use the word "Dump"...but it's no 4 or 5 star hostel either.  However, for my needs, A/C, a fridge, Cable TV, and fairly clean, at 1/3rd the cost, it was indeed "My Kind Of Place".  I mean, what the Hell?  I was on a solo trip, without the wife or kids, grandkids, or motorcycle riding buds...I needed a place to sleep, sit outside the room and smoke a cigar or two and drink a few beers...Bingo!  I had my place for the next 44 hours or so...

Up next ... a couple of days of wandering the beach, Jetties, both north and south, to do some "fishing" {not good, but the rip tide was partly responsible} and photo taking.  Hey the old hometown ain't what it used to be, but I usually feel obligated to stop by and see the changes...a few old friends still live there, but not on the agenda for this trip.

Photos:  Top Island Breeze Inn, my room at the end of the strip...I was the only White Guy there for the first night...lots of Spanish Speaking Contractors...good guys, some living in the west strip of rooms with their families...2nd photo, the Inn at the Beach as it looked back in 1998 or maybe 2000, one of the family trips, the only major change is the cost!  From about $100 a night to around $200 to $275, no thanks...Bottom Photo, the Monday October 25th Sunset off Venice Beach.


Friday, November 5, 2021

Part #3 More Florida Trip Photos...Flagler Beach, Daytona, and the St. Johns River

 


Amazing what a couple of weeks, or even days can do...

When I left for my 11 day solo trip to Florida on October 19th, the weather in Ohio was sunny and warm...when I returned it was raining and has been cool to cold and frosty since, although the rains have ended and we are now getting cool and sunny/dry, which looks like by early next week with get back into the low to mid 60s for a few days, before Indian Summer ends. We are likely in for 4 months of winter, hopefully the Bullshit "Science" of man made Global Warming will see another warm winter, surely to cause panic in the loons/Chicken Little types, on the left...😆

Meanwhile when I arrived at Flagler Beach, on the Atlantic side of North Florida, just above Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach, on the 21st it was dry, warm, and humid...check out the Flagler Pier today {11/5/2021} compared to what it was just 2 weeks ago....here is the Pier Cam from Flager:

Flagler Pier Cam

Quite the difference from this:   >>>>

My youngest son, his boys and wife, along with her family are in Orlando and Disney World the next 10 days...looks like the lousy weather will be done by Monday, thus saving most of his expensive vacation...

Photos Above:  Tom's place on the St. Johns River has this Dock View...didn't catch many fish, but I enjoyed the view and stay...2nd photo above, the Flagler Pier on my Morning Fish Day, Friday 10/22/21...much better than today 11/5/21..





After leaving Flagler around Noon two weeks ago, on the 5th, I headed some 40 miles inland to Astor, Florida, on the St. Johns River...there I stayed with an old Ohio friend, Tom, who works with Horses, Trotters, and Pacers, near DeLand...Tom rents a fine place on the River, and I stayed there Friday and Saturday Nights, before heading out towards the Gulf Side of Florida and my old hometown of Venice...

Friday Afternoon Late we headed to Daytona Beach to the Oyster Pub for some Oysters and Beers...Saturday it was fishing, beer, and then pizza, as we watched Ohio State dismantle Indiana's football team.

Photos above...My old Ohio buddy Tom Friedly at the Daytona Oyster Pub...Tom had the Raw ones and Chili Soup, while I had the soup and a half dozen "Stuffed Fitzpatrick" Oysters...I much prefer them cooked and done...some folks like them raw...💀


More Later>>>


Thursday, November 4, 2021

More from Florida October 2021 Trip

 


While the Fishing was NOT good this trip, and the photography did leave a lot to be desired, I refuse to let the 11 day, 2900 miles of driving, be a total loss...after all, I did get to see my 97 year old mom, living with my youngest sister.   And I ate well thanks to my Denmark Born and Naples Yacht Club Big Guy, Brother in Law,Mike.  I also found a nice and likely future spot on the north Atlantic Shore at Flagler Beach, and managed a day in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp.  So, despite the bad fishing, the total hate for the changes at my old hometown of Venice, it wasn't all bad....and I have been spending time going through my photos and seeing what I can do with them...

Like this one from off the Venice Jetties...a lone "Sailor" no doubt with engines running, since the "sails" were not out...I turned this lite blue photo, with a strange water line between the Jetty and Gulf, first into Sepia and finally into the Bottom Large "Orange" that you see at the Bottom...the Top Photo?  Well that is Steaks, Grouper, and Mahi~Mahi, or Dolphin,{not to be confused with the friendly, protected Purposes} For Desert ?  Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake...

And then the Boat Shots and Related Upgrades? Or Updates...

From Blue Original unfiltered, to Sepia, to the final "Orange" View...
Back later with more from the Florida Trip>>>




















Monday, November 1, 2021

{Another} Florida Trip Post and Report...

 


Seems I usually get down to my old home state about every two years...and each time the place is more crowded, and more fished out, and more traffic...and of course more F**king People.  It is especially noticeable in my old home town of Venice.  As much as I loved the place growing up for the decade from the early 1950s through 1962, I almost cringe, almost Hell, I do a major cringe, when I see what the developers and overcrowding have done to that bit of Paradise...Naples, where youngest sister lives, and now my 97 year old mom lives with her and sister's husband, is even worse...the traffic and crowds in October are bad...can't imagine what they will be like post Christmas??  {yes I can imagine, and cringe some more}.


The only parts I found on this 11 days jaunt, that were worthwhile, were Flagler Beach {a few miles north on the Atlantic of where Mom's Condo was located on A1A in Ormond Beach}, my Old Ohio Friend Tom's place on the St. Johns River, north of DeLand, and my quite time in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp on the northern edge of the Park...I 95 on the east, I 75 on the west were clogged with traffic and moronic driving fools...

The fishing plans, were not up to snuff, and I bailed on visiting some old friends, because of traffic, and other considerations.  Despite fishing "reports" that are not worth "reporting on" and a less than quality photographic group of sessions, I did get some times that I enjoyed in...


Will I go back?  Of course, if I'm still alive and kicking...gotta a couple of more places I want to check out...Cedar Key is one.  I was going to work my way there this time, but on my way north, I-75 and the west coast were crashed by a mass of major lightning and wind storms ... so I bailed on that and on my planned trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to see an old Football Crewmate and umpiring buddy of mine...those, God willing, will come along on the next go~around.

Meanwhile this and the next few posts will feature some photos from the trip...

Photos-{1}Found this little 1950s style "Hole in the Wall" Motel across from the beach on A1A at Flager Beach...decent price, not cheap but less than $100 a night, stayed for 2 nights, next time, when I drag Patricia down, it may be for a week...nothing fancy, but great location and hospitality...{2} The Room layout...{3} On the Trip Back on I-75 near Ocala, this storm and other items, ended my plans on Cedar Key and the Gulf of Alabama...it was a major cluster foxtrot...

More Photos and Story details beginning with the next post....

Bottom Photo...Flagler Beach at Sunrise on 10/21/21






 

Monday, October 4, 2021

A Young Hawk Plays "Kick the Can"






 
I was out at Windy Point on Grand Lake's southside last week for a sunrise photo shoot...wanted to catch the rising sun, which I did, a couple of Eagles, ditto there as well, and some huge White Pelicans, before they head south...chalk that one up as well.

But the best photo op came out of nowhere and quite by surprise...

Some half hour after the sun came up, about 8am, I heard a noise and the cry of a Hawk...so I looked up and this young Juvenile Red Tail {no, it's NOT a Coopers Hawk} was standing on a outdoor grill that the ODNR places around the state park.

The youngster allowed me to approach, snapping photo after photo, as I got closer...I fully expected him to fly off, like most Hawks and wild birds would do...but not this guy, I ended up getting some 35 or 40 photos of various quality, some good, some blah, and some blurred and lousy...however I was able to get very close, which made me think perhaps this young male was injured...that turned out not to be the case...he just wanted to show me his "game" it appeared.  The Hawk then proceeded to play a game of "Kick the Can" for my camera and his {and my} amusement...This went on for about 10 minutes until another Juvenile, this one a Bald Eagle flew overhead...the Hawk took flight and my photo shooting for the morning was pretty well done...




Back Later>>>>

Friday, August 20, 2021

One More Grand Lake Eagle...


Woke up at 4AM and couldn't get back to sleep, that is rare for me, especially since I put in a pedestrian 4 hours at Honda from 6-10 last night...but wide awake I was...I looked out my bedroom window and it appear clear as a bell with the near full moon.  So up I got, made a pot of fresh coffee...and prepared to head out to the lake and take some Sunrise Photos...Well Hell!

As I prepared to leave...BOOM!  The Fog started to roll in ... again!!!  

Since I was awake anyway and the fog was hit and miss...I drove the 6 miles or so to Windy Point on the south side...the Sun did push through the fog and haze, and I snapped some shots, although I have not went through those yet...because towards the end of my planned shoot, some Juvenile Eagles began to sit on the rocks and then some began to fly about...40 shots into the haze, I got a couple of "fair shots" nothing great...but as I was preparing to leave, this guy decided to fly right over my and another photographer's heads...BOOM AGAIN!

That is my "Photo of the Day"  


back later>>>>



 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

More Grand Lake Eagles and Pelicans...

 


Patricia is in Wisconsin until early next week, spending time with her step mother and her family in general...Me, with a weekend visit from Daughter Anissa, and the Dog and Cats, are at our own devices...

Went to bed early Tuesday with plans on getting up early to do a photo shoot at and along Grand Lake...No Luck!  I was up, well before sunrise, but  the fog took out any chance of getting around to shoot landscapes, sunrises, or birds, so I set it for this morning...Clouds again, so I slept in until about 7 and figured not much Sunrise Photo Ops, but maybe I could get a bird or two with the camera...haze but no thick fog greeted me when I arrived at my old haunt on the  southside at Windy Point...


Snapped a few weak sunrise shots, and then waited...finally a few large White Pelicans, along with a few Juvenile Eagles came flying in and by...The White Pelicans differ from their more common cousin, the Brown or Yellow Pelican by size, the White are at least 30% larger...after stopping by here in their new migration path a few years ago, they now, at least some, make Grand Lake their home around 9 months a year, skipping December through February, before making their way back when the ice melts off the lake.


The American Eagles now number around 100 along and near the lake...many, like those photographed here, are the younger 4 or 5 years old or less, and are sans White Heads, which appear around their 5th birthday...these guys were the young ones...

Photography in the Haze, and Clouds, sometimes requires a bit of trickery ...filters or programs to get a better effect...and those are noted here:

The bottom one here is my favorite of the morning, a South Bound Eagle...flying away from me...lol, just got the Real View ... 👀😎

















Monday, August 16, 2021

Arrest Joe Biden Now...For Murder and Crimes against Humanity in Afghanistan...


For any Liberal/Progressive/Leftist Shit for Brains, that stop by...why do you continue to support this useless, evil, Demented Son of a Bitch, named Joe Biden? 

Is your misguided hate for Trump that entrenched?...Biden and his Administration, which he is hardly in charge of, is ushering in the end of our Republic at Warp Speed...Inflation, no longer in charge of our own energy, the Mild Phony Virus and it's Variants, pushed by lies and the media {one and the same}, is just the beginning, and now there is this outright deserting of American Civilians, via letting them stay while the Taliban ran wild...

So Lefties, Screw you and the Biden/Harris Disaster:

Murder in the Middle East via Joe Biden 


Back with more pleasant subjects later...

Florida 2021...Heading North for Home

Said my good~bye to mom and Kelly on Wednesday Night, then headed back to the Red Roof, watched some World Series and packed for the morning...