90 days post Sandy..

The news tonight was full of the positives of the recovery from Sandy, some 90 days post-storm. The President signed a 50 billion dollar aid package to help with the repair. I have not read the bill, probably nobody really has, but it was reported in the paper that there was some supplemental funding for various agencies snuck into this package. Are they still there, I don’t know.

More near and dear to my heart (and place of employment) is the Edgar Felix Bike Path. This is the trail that runs from Allaire Park to Manasquan. I have ridden my bike the length and back dozens of time and it is a favorite of mine for my 1 mile or so lunch time walks. Today, I went to take one of these walks on the trail near its northern end. The trail abruptly came to a stop in a huge tangle of fallen trees.

The trees came down during Sandy and are still exactly where they were that Tuesday morning when the sun came up. There has been no work done to remove the trees. If you are walking you can make your way through the trees. If you are on your bike, forget it.

I shot some video today and posted it on You Tube. Here is the link http://youtu.be/jp1m6Yt18UQ  I have sent this video to the local newspaper in an effort to get someone out to clean up the mess. There is a big focus on getting the beaches ready for the summer and it seems that the non-beach recreational areas are being left behind. Maybe there is some money in the 50 billion to clear this trail  When I figure out who exactly is responsible for this part of the trail I will post their contact information. Maybe we can get them to do their jobs.

Yes, I owe you a few very interesting vacation days and the first two days back to work.

Pictures, hmmm. Here is a picture of the Marywood University campus. Yesterday (Monday), school was closed due to snow and such. Enjoy!



Vacation Day 12..

Yesterday was Day 12.  I am almost caught up.

Day 12 was January 24, 2013.  I had been thinking about kayaking all week. It’s been breezy here in South Florida all week. I think when the weather is cold up north, the wind blows down here.  My two choices for kayaking were Key Largo (85 miles away) or Matlacha (120 miles away). Yes, I could have found kayaking in Fort Lauderdale or Miami and not driven the distances. In the end, I decided to drive to Matlacha to kayak. The company there Gulf Coast Kayaks does kayak fishing along with regular kayak rentals and eco tours.

I discovered that I needed to arrange a day in advance for a guide to go fishing. Since I did not know that, they gave me the kayak, a fishing pole, some hooks and some advice. I purchased live shrimp from the bait shop across the street. The owner loaned me a live bucket to keep the shrimp in. He just wanted it back when I was done, no charge. I ate a quick-lunch and headed out on the water.

The first spot I was told to fish in was near some crab pots about 150 yards off the shore. I anchored up and fished for about an hour or so. I caught a catfish and small skate (looks like a sting ray).  I moved the kayak a few times at the first stop, but I did not catch any “eating fish”. I moved about a quarter-mile away to some boat docks and tried tossing my shrimp under the pilings, no bites.

So I paddled across the bay to the mangroves and anchored up in the mouth of the mangrove cove. The bay and the sun were in front of me and the tide and wind were pushing the water in to the mangrove lagoon behind me. I figured there might be fish waiting for the tide to send them a meal, so I fished there.

I caught two Sheepshead. They could be eating fish if you wanted to eat them. They have small mouths and are very good at stealing your bait. I had fun. It was quiet, there was not much boat traffic and even though I was not catching many fish, they were biting at least.

I was unprepared for pictures since I left the timeshare without zip lock bags and the kayak company did not have a dry bag.  The kayak guy had a container with a screw on lid that I put my phone and car keys in. Water proof, not water tight. There were no problems with either my phone or the keys, they did stay dry. I shot a HD video with my camera phone. It is hosted on You Tube.  Click here to see the video.

After getting out of the kayak at sunset, I shot these picture of Matlacha. It’s a funky town. Enjoy!



Vacation Day 11..

Yo ho, ho..  A pirates life for me..  I am now a bachelor in Florida.  My DW and DS3 went home to the frozen (sub-frozen) north yesterday.  Me, I’m getting the maximum return for my timeshare dollars by staying until Sunday.  Right.  Day 11 was January 23, 2013.

Today’s adventure was to travel to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades.  I read about the park in a guide to South Florida bike rides. That guide can be found here.  They have a company in the park the rents bikes and runs a tram tour for people that don’t want to ride a bike. The park is in the Everglades, next to an Indian reservation.  The park has a flat, 15 mile loop trail that takes you out into the Everglades. The mid-point of the ride is an observation tower that allows for a 360 degree viewing of the Everglades. 

All good ideas, when viewed on a webpage.  The drive from Weston is about an hour. Most of the drive is through the Everglades. The State of Florida is doing quite a bit of road work on Route 41 which added nearly 20 minutes to the drive. It also seems from the last two days of driving, that controlling the water in the Everglades is big business in Florida. Dikes, dams, canals, locks, pumps, bridges and construction are all evident visiting this area.

The bikes that they rent are steel frame, one speed, back pedal to brake, type bikes.  The tires are about three inches wide and suited for riding on the sand. The loop trail is paved for its entire length. There are alligators along the loop trail. Lots of alligators. More than you would care to see. And, they are not in cages and neither are you! The alligators were mostly placid during my visit. I would ride by them and say hello, they would ignore me. I would stop the bike every now and then and take some pictures, they would ignore me.

The devil of the ride was the 15 to 20 mph wind out of the north that blew straight down the loop trail on the 7 mile journey back to the parking lot from the observation tower. The breeze kept the temperature down (mid 70’s) but with the steel frame, fat tire, single speed bike, the ride back was a challenge. I really missed my own bike that day. And, for all my carrying on, I really enjoyed the visit.

Instead of heading back east through the construction on Route 41, I decided to continue west toward Naples and pick up I 75 and take that road home. I saw more of the Everglades than I thought existed. Trees, canals, birds, indian villages, and more construction. I was happy to get to I 75 since the speed limit is 70 and the traffic was light.

After I got back to the timeshare I bought some fresh ravioli and sauce for dinner. I took a dip in the hot tub, cooked dinner and called it a day.

Here are some pictures and a video from my visit to the Shark Valley National Park. Enjoy!


Vacation Day 9..

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am catching up.

Day 9 was Monday, January 21, 2013. MLK Day here in the United States. That explains why there were so many kids at the beach in the middle of the day during the school year.  After breakfast I asked my DW and DS3 what they wanted to do with their last full day in Florida.  Tuesday (the next day) they had to go home. DW to work, DS3 to get ready to return to school for his spring semester. They both decided that they wanted to go to the beach. Fine with me.

We went to the beach in Hollywood, Florida.  They have a 3 or 4 mile long “boardwalk” along the beach front for shops and people. There is a bike lane for bike riders and skaters and such. You learn very quickly not to either walk in the bike lane or to look both ways when crossing the bike lane.

We played some frisbee on the beach, chasing the frisbee into the ocean until we were all pretty wet. It was breezy and maybe 76 degrees. Up north where we live, a cold snap had just started. The outside temperature in New Jersey was in the single digits. It was a good a day to be on the beach in South Florida.

We walked the boardwalk from one end to the other looking at the various shops and restaurants and decided on pizza for lunch. The funny thing is that DS3 picked the restaurant where we ate and my DW and I had eaten at the exact same restaurant last year when we went to the beach. I guess there was something about the business the appealed to both DS3 and me. The pizza was ok, I mean, you are in South Florida. If you want great pizza, this is not the place to look for it.

On the boardwalk there is a band shell where we have seen musicians perform while the primarily French-Canadians dance to the music. There are a lot of license plates from Canada on the cars parked at the various hotels. Many of the stores have bilingual signs (French and English) and staff. 

After our day at the beach we went home and showered and headed to a Brazilian restaurant. This is one of those places where they bring the meat on skewers and slice it at your table. We feasted big time. The meal was expensive, but everybody enjoyed the variety.

Here are a few pictures from the beach. Enjoy!


Doing the Time Warp..

Not the dance, just an abbreviated overview of Days 6, 7 and 8. These were all lacrosse days. The reason, or excuse for traveling to Florida each January is to play in the Florida Lacrosse Classic.  I play on the OWU Men’s 45 plus team. This tournament has three age levels, 45 plus, 50 plus and 60 plus.  The 60 plus guys had two games this year. Most years they only play in one game. I guess there are more active players reaching the 60 plus bracket.

Friday, January 18 was Day 6. The 45 plus team played in four games that morning. Each game was 18 minute running time halves. We played at  8 am, 9 am, 10:30 am and 11:30 am. Wow!  So, you wanted to play lacrosse in Florida.  Welcome home, as it were. The 50 plus team played later in the day at 2 pm and 3:30 pm. I primarily played on the 45 plus team, but I did play some of the 50 plus games when the older guys needed a break.  The 45 plus team went 2 wins and 2 losses on Friday. The 50 plus team lost both of their games.  After we played there was a huge tailgate with red solo cups and much laughter.

Saturday, January 19 was Day 7.  The 50 plus team had a game in the morning that they lost. The 45 plus team played 2 games in the afternoon that we lost both of.  After the second 45 plus game/loss of the afternoon there was another lively tailgate in the parking lot.

Sunday, January 20 was Day 8 and the last day of the tournament.  The 45 plus team played at 9 am, winner would be in third place for the weekend. Looser, not really sure. We won a very close and spirited game against a team that had beat us on Saturday in a close game loss.  The 50 plus team’s final game was won by forfeit. The other team went home.. So, we got our entire team together, along with DS3 and some players from other teams and had a pick up game Sunday afternoon. DS3 was really happy to be able to play since he watched the old guys play all weekend.  Sunday night was the team dinner at the Carolina Ale House where we watched New England lose their football game.

There you go, three-days in 400 or so words.  The daily schedule for those three days was something like this: get up, breakfast was a sandwich from McDonald’s. Play lacrosse. Come home to timeshare, make a real breakfast. Take a nap, get up, play lacrosse, tailgate, cook dinner (or eat out) and go to bed. Repeat until the weekend is over.  All in all, for the weekend I played in 11 lacrosse games.  My DW and DS3 shot pictures of all the games, the tailgates and the sidelines. There are about 3000 pictures on my computer from the weekend. I will continue to go through them for content and clarity and then post them to the web.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend of lacrosse. Enjoy!


Key West pictures…

I’m off the hotel wireless and running internet via my cell phone and a tethering app. Here are the Key West pictures from the Vacation Days 2, 3 and 4 post.




Vacation Days 2, 3 and 4..

Today is Thursday, January 24, 2013.  Vacation days 2, 3, and four would be  January 14, 15 and 16. Yep, I am behind. Fortunately, I took pictures back then so I can remember what happened those days.  Without any further nonsense, here we go.

Day 2, January 14

This day was a Monday. We woke up in Weston in our timeshare traded room. DS3 was sleeping on the couch. We traveled south after breakfast to Ramrod Key.  Ramrod Key is 28 miles north of Key West. We rented a three bedroom, three bath home through www.vrbo.com .  We have used this website to stay in private homes several times. Usually the cost and amenities are better than staying in a hotel room. The house was nice, neat and clean. Probably about three years old. The back deck looked out on a lagoon with boats and other homes across the lagoon and on both sides of us. I will post a few pictures below of the house.

During the ride we stopped for lunch at Key Fisheries in Marathon. This is the same company that we purchase seafood from and have it shipped to our home. The food was excellent as were the views. See the pictures below. We also stopped at a tourist attraction consisting of a giant (25 foot) sculpture of a spiny lobster. See the pictures below.

After getting ourselves settled, we drove the 28 miles to Key West and watched the sunset and the sunset celebration. (More pictures). After the sunset we drove back to the house and cooked and ate our yellow tail snapper dinner. Bed time came early for all of us after the long trip and a great meal.

Day 3, January 15

Today went drove to the Geiger Key Marina on Geiger Key to rent kayaks. The marina was recommended to me by Barbie Wilson, who posts a sunrise picture on Twitter every day.  My DW and I shared a kayak. DS3 had his own. I have decided that next time I will get my own kayak. Not that I don’t like sharing, but when the wind is blowing and the person in front of you is paddling, the back seat person gets wet. Several times I made course corrections for the simple reason fo getting the spray to go in a different direction. We had a good time paddling for about three hours. Pictures, of course!  After paddling, we ate lunch at the marina. The food was good and we sat right on the water’s edge. Pretty cool. A huge pelican can by looking for lunch as well.

After lunch we went back north to the house. DS3 and I went to the local hight school to practice lacrosse. My DW took the late afternoon off to read her book on the back deck of the house. I worked on getting the stick head that DS1 had given me to work with my throwing mechanics. That accomplished and a good sweat, we stopped at two fish markets and bought fish for dinner. Dinner that night was cobia, stone crabs and shrimp.

Day 4, January 16

Today was the day that we had planned to spend in Key West. Our first order of business was to have lunch with Barbie Wilson. I was going to meet an internet acquaintance for the first time. We all had lunch at a restaurant called the Hog Fish Grill.  Eat here in Key West if you can. The food and the atmosphere were great. Barbie is a great person and we hit it off during our lunch. Pictures..  After lunch she went back to work and we went to play tourist in Key West.

We visited the Hemingway House, the Key West Light House, the Rum Bar (1000 block of Duval), the Southern Most Point and Mallory Square. In front of the Hemingway House we saw a 2014 Lamborghini out being photographed for publicity shots. The car was space age cool! Pictures..  After our visit in the area around the Hemingway house, we drove down Duval and parked near Mallory Square. This is where the sunset celebration takes place each night. See this spectacle at least once in your lifetime.  After the sunset we went to The Smoking Tuna for dinner.  Dinner was a disappointment. I would say based on that meal, eat elsewhere and go there for the music and the bar. We were out of Key West by 8:30 pm, exhausted.

There you go, three days in the Keys. Pictures are below. Enjoy!

PS: I’m having problems adding pictures with the current internet connection. The Wednesday Key Pictures will have to be added another day.



Vacation Day 10..

Today is Tuesday, January 22, 2013.  Winter has finally arrived for a good part of the US. My DW and DS3 flew home from Fort Lauderdale to Philadelphia this morning. The temperature here when they left was 70 degrees. When they arrived in Philadelphia the temperature was 21 degrees!  Yikes.  I must have apologised three times to my DW for sending her back to the cold. She has to work tomorrow having exhausted her vacation time. Me, well..  I’m here in mostly sunny, windy, South Florida until Sunday around noon time. DS3 has to get ready for his spring semester. He drives back to Scranton next Monday and classes start next Tuesday. His current GF will be taking the train from Long Island to the Jersey Shore where DS3 will pick her up and bring back to our house. She will be visiting for a few days.

The trip into the airport as not too bad this morning. We sat on I 595 in a few spots due to rush hour traffic heading into Fort Lauderdale from the suburbs. After a teary good-bye (DS3 will miss me..kidding), I went to Grandpa’s Bakery and Restaurant. This establishment was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Eggs Benedict were good. The coffee fresh and the waitress service was attentive. I will go back there again.

After I sent the family on there not so merry way, I had chores to do. Chores on vacation? Yes, and I have avoided them for sure. Laundry, cleaning up the lacrosse gear from the weekend, food shopping for the week and dealing with the aftermath of my car accident 10 days ago. . These are just a few of my favorite things. I figured out that my clothes folding skills have not magically improved. Go figure.

I’m working on pictures from the last ten days. At this point I have +26 gigs of images from our trip though the Keys and the 11 lacrosse games I participated in. Yep, 11 games in three days.  I have the bruises to prove it.  Spoil alert: The GM (45 plus) OWU tem that I played on finished 3 rd in our division. I think our record was 3 wins and 6 losses.  Third place?? That’s what they said. I think the top two teams were undefeated.

My goal over the next 24 hours is to catch up blogging.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s visit to the Hollywood Beach boardwalk. More on that in another post.




Vacation Day Five…

Today is Thursday, January 17, 2013. When I last posted we had arrived in Weston, Florida after trashing my min van driving to the airport. Today I got the estimate for the repair, 1500.00. I guess I need to add the cost of the tow to that number. And in response to my brother’s comment that we should invest in a tow truck, I’ve been giving that some serious thought. The car will be repaired and back on the road by the time I return from Florida (I hope).

Today DS3 and I stopped in Key Largo and visited Kiffney’s Firearms to shoot pistols in their indoor pistol range. Neither DS3 or I have ever shot a pistol before. We shot 100 rounds each. We shot the following pistols, .45 Glock, .40 Glock, 9 mm Glock and a 9 mm Smith and Wesson.  Bam and bam until there was nothing but spent shells on the floor. We traded off pistols to have the chance to load and fire all the different weapons. We had fun. My DW watched through the window while we were shooting. She did not want to shoot the pistols. I shot zombies and DS3 shot a terrorist target.

After we returned from Keys (we went to the Keys on Monday, more about that later this week), we had our lacrosse team’s first and only practice. The tournament starts tomorrow. Our first game is at 8 am tomorrow morning. Yikes!

Here are a few pictures from today. There will be many more pictures as the week goes on. Enjoy!



How did your Sunday go?..

Bamm!  Who needs Emeril?  Tonight’s blog comes to you from Weston, Florida.  We (DW, DS3 and I) are here on vacation. If you were 19 would you have wanted to go on vacation with your parents?  I’m not sure of the answer if I were asked that when I was 19. Those were different time.

The day started out at 4 am. Up and showered and out of the house by 4:45 am. It was really foggy in New Jersey and the general local area.  While driving west towards the airport in my silver van (252,353 miles) I was involved in a motor vehicle accident.  I was the fifth car in line getting ready to enter into the circle (roundabout) at Route 70 and Route 206. There were no cars coming north on 206 so the line of cars I was in heading west on Route 70 proceeded into the circle.

The rule in circles (at least in New Jersey) is that the vehicle in the circle has the right of way. When it was the car in front of me’s turn, a state trooper approached the circle from the south.  He was not yet in the circle. I saw the car in front of me slow down, I looked to my left, the trooper was just entering the circle, we still had the right away. I looked back forward and the car in front of me was stopped. Dead stopped. My old van does not have ABS and when I slammed on the brakes I slid into the back of the car that was stopped.  The air bags did not deploy, so the impact was less than 5 miles per hour.

Needless to say, the state trooper saw the whole thing. He had us drive off the circle into a business so that no more accidents would happen.  Behind me was DS3 driving his mothers van. He and her van are fine. It turns out that the person in front of me was a paramedic and stopped to give the trooper the right of way. He did not have his lights on nor was he in any hurry. I got a ticket for careless driving. The officer said that the women had the right of way but decided to let the trooper go first. I guess that may not have been the best decision. My van was un-drivable.  The hood, the radiator and the bumper were messed up.

I was able to make my flight in Philadelphia. I called my mechanic’s towing service and they towed the van to a local body shop. I guess on Monday or Tuesday I will find out what the cost of repair will be.  In retrospect I should have asked the trooper for a case number and the contact information  from the person I hit. I will be calling the insurance company tomorrow without any of this information. The other car had very minor damage to the rear bumper.

Now, we are in Florida. The sun sets here about an hour later than at home. We spend that hour in the pool playing frisbee and soaking in the hot tub.  

Me, the king of pictures, did not take nay pictures of my van this morning!  What was I thinking?  Here is a picture of DS3 and I at lunch in a pizzeria in Fort Lauderdale.  Enjoy!


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