Vacation bunnies..

To the person from up north (not us) that brought the “norther” to South Florida, Go Home and take your weather with you!  Wah, wah, I know we will get no sympathy in this cause.  As you can guess, the weather down here has turned colder. We still have our shorts and flip-flops on. Instead of 82 and sunny we have 68, cloudy and breezy. Again, no sympathy is expected.

For breakfast we went to 5 Hermanos Too, a Cuban “joint” that serves authentic Cuban food and coffee. The egg sandwiches on the Cuban bread are outstanding. We found them last year when we stayed about 10 miles further north.  My DW and I walked around the neighborhood to look at houses and dream. We found a fixer-uper that is listed for 599,999.00. On LBI it would be a tear down and start over.  I took a video of some beautiful flowers in front of a house painted blue like the ocean complete with a mural of a jelly fish on the wall. 

DS3 and I went out on the street to throw the lacrosse ball around. I will be playing in a tournament Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No time like the present to start warming up.

We kind of missed lunch and went out for ice cream around 3 pm. We went into a tiki bar and found two things. People smoking and no food. A quick Red Stripe later we were gone. We found a deli with ice cream just up the road and had our snack. After we returned to house I figured I better get some pictures in before it got dark out. I will post a few of the pictures below.

If you read this mornings post you read about our adventure last night for dinner. Over the course of the day I have traded texts with Barbie and I spoke with the owner of the marina on the phone. One silly comment has blown up into something else. Does the waitress still have her job? I really don’t know. But like I told the owner, we will return and eat there either way.

Thanks for reading.


Swingers? Not exactly..

Life is funny. Sometimes you have to work for the stories that you tell, other times, well, they come to you. Last night we ate dinner at Geiger Key Marina and RV Park.  They bill themselves as “The Backside of Paradise”. This is another of those places that you probably won’t find in a tourist brochure. You should add them to your Lower Keys places to eat. How did we find them? There in lies the story.

About a year and a half ago I started following Barbie Wilson on Twitter. She is the “Sunrise Queen of Key West” @barbiedoll0087 is her Twitter name. She posts a picture of the sunrise and some sunsets from Key West every day of the year.  I fantasize about living in Florida, so this is my way of living vicariously though her pictures. Especially on the cold winter days in New Jersey.

When we came down to Florida last January we, (DW, DS3 and I) met up with her at the Hogfish Grill for lunch.  It was a leap of faith by both of us since we had “met on the internet”. Lunch went well and we have continued to trade twitter messages of the last year. Usually with her posting some epic sunrise or a Key West picture of some sort and me favoriting or commenting on the picture. I’m sure she has quite the following of people around the world that enjoy her pictures.

Last night we arrived at the Geiger Key Marina to meet Barbie for dinner. She was working until 8 pm at the KW Urgent Care.  We arrived first and grabbed a table.  I told the waitress that we were waiting for Barbie to arrive to eat. She gave me the strangest look. I said, yes we know Barbie, I met her on the internet.  The waitress’ look was priceless.  You see, Barbie’s husband running a fishing charter company called Knee Deep Charters out of the same marina. They know her quite well.

Not wanting to cause Barbie trouble at the marina (small town, people talk), I explained our story.  This allowed the waitress to relax a bit. She looked at my DW and I and said, “Maybe I should not say this in front of the kids (DS3 and his GF), but I thought you guys might be swingers..  Umm, we laughed. No, just tourists!  We are in the Lower Keys and that kind of thing probably goes on.  The comment still has us laughing this morning as I write this.

This morning Barbie texted me that the manager of the marina called her to apologise for the swinger comment and that the waitress was in trouble with management.  I told Barbie that we though the evening went great and were not at all offended. 

As a sad  note that gives this blog post a unhappy ending, the waitress lost her job this morning.  That sucks.

Sometimes the stories come to you.



Enjoying a nice warm breeze..

Greetings from Sugarloaf Key, Florida. We are sitting in the screened in second floor porch watching the water and relaxing. Dammit, we are relaxing!  Really, it is all good.  We flew down Sunday into Fort Lauderdale and had breakfast then drove south to the Lower Keys. We wanted to try to make it for the sunset celebration in Key West Sunday, but that would have ment that we could stop nowhere on US 1. Driving straight through skips some of the fun of that drive. So we stopped and acted like tourists.

Monday we went into Key West in the afternoon. In the morning my DW and I went out and kayaked in the bay for an hour or so. Sun screen is mandatory for us visitors from the north. DW3 and his GF went for a bike ride. Today they said they want the kayaks. It is 10:30 am and they are still asleep. They might miss their kayak chance again today..

Key West was fun. We went to the Smokin’ Tuna to see Scott Kirby, a favorite Key West musician. The only problem was that his scheduled changed between Friday and Monday and he was not there. We had a few beers and a cheeseburger. The beer was cold and the burger was fine. Then we walked Duval Street for a while and ended our walk at Mallory Square. We watched some of the street performers and the crowd as we waited for the sunset.

The clouds and some rain changed the sunset viewing plans of the tourists yesterday. I got some pictures before the rain blew in. We may go back and try again tonight.  Dinner was at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island.  Here is a tip, if you find yourself in Key West or the Lower Keys, eat dinner at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island, you won’t be disappointed.  And yes, the neighborhood you drive though appears a bit sketchy, but you will be ok.

Here are a few pictures and we will check back in later in the week.

Thanks for reading!


Scott Kirby, Concert II..

Tuesday night my DW and I went to the Tuckahoe Inn to see Scott Kirby perform. Scott is one of our favorite musicians. He is a part owner in the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon in Key West. Scott seems to winter in Key West and spend the summer driving around the United States performing. The last couple of years we got to see Scott each time he was at the Tuckahoe Inn. This year was a treat since he performed there twice in one summer.

The Tuckahoe Inn is in Beasley’s Point, NJ. They are not far from Exit 25 on the Garden State Parkway. Here is a link to the pictures that I took that night of Scott and Lew London. I also shot some video which I uploaded to You Tube. That video can be found here (Scott Kirby and Lew London at the Tuckahoe Inn).

Enjoy the pictures and stop in and see Scott if you find yourself in Key West this winter. We surely will.






Welcome home from vacation, dude..

More like a rude welcome home. Not from my family, just reality reaching out and trying to bite me in the butt.  The last blog “Vacation Daze 13, 14 and 15” detailed my travel back to New Jersey from Florida and how DS3’s car needed brake work, again.  We dropped the car off Sunday night and I was ready to call the mechanic first thing Monday to make sure the car would be ready to be driven back to Scranton on Tuesday.

Monday morning started out cold, but sunny. I went to make coffee and remembered that I had left my insulated coffee cup at work two weeks earlier. No problem I used one of the “other” not really insulated coffee travel mugs for my coffee.  My DW kissed me, said “Have a nice day!” and she left for work.  I went out to start my car so that it might have a chance to warm up before I drove to work. Guess what, the car would not start. The battery was dead. Yes, I replaced the battery and the alternator a week before the accident two weeks before.  Crap. I did not have a dead battery scheduled in my morning.

All of  the other four cars that have my name on the title were elsewhere. Nobody to give the old man a jump-start. I have a battery charger from when I fished at night and needed to charge the car batteries that powered the lights.  I plugged the charger in and hooked up the battery and went back inside.  Tick, tock. I smiled, so I will be late for work after a two-week vacation. Nobody will even notice. I went back outside into the mid 20 degree weather after ten minutes and tried to start the van. It struggled and then it started. Nice!

Off to work I went. When I got to the office I shut the car off and then tried to start it, it started fine. I checked at lunch time, again it started. Work was busy. Not insane. I had checked email over the two weeks I was away in an attempt to soften the blow of returning to work. The people I work either missed me or they were glad I came back to do my work. Same result. Monday night DS3 and I played lacrosse in Robbinsville with the post-college crowd. Neither of us had any goals, but we had fun and did not get hurt.

By the end of Tuesday my vacation mojo was gone.  It lasted for two days..  The rest of the week was a blur. Wednesday night I spent two hours after dinner working on the hot tub (outside in the dark). A piece of plastic had fallen into one of the intake tubes and was banging up against one of the pumps. Sooner or later the plastic would either shred or the pump would jam. Either option was just as bad as the other. I had to drain the water before I could remove the pump. It is all back together and full of water again. This spring I will have to remove all the wood around the hot tub and replace it. Over the last 12 years the termites have trashed most of the wood shell. Fortunately for us, the hot tub is shielded by foam. The wood frame is more decorative than structural. With my wood working skills, this will be an interesting project.

I worked from home on Friday. The power went out at the office around 3 pm on Friday, so the day ended early.  Not bad. Friday night my date and I went to Calloway’s for a beer or two and a bite. No kids, no hassles, just some drinks, Buzz Time Trivia and each other.

Today is Saturday. Bacon and good coffee from New Orleans with breakfast.  I blogged this morning wrapping up my vacation. Tonight we are having filet mignon for dinner. The Shop Rite had them on sale last week. Shrimp, fresh mozzarella and baked potatoes will round out the meal. Hopefully we will do the hot tub hop tonight.  

Day to-day routine has returned. Schemes are being hatched to move to the St. Augustine, Florida area in three years after the boys are all out of college. Maybe not, without dreams, where would we be?  The kids keep telling me that it’s no too late… Adult school yoga is signed up and paid for the spring sessions. Now we have to wait another three weeks for classes to start. I can’t wait.  Maybe vacation and yoga (at the same time) would help to keep the vacation mojo longer after returning home.

Pictures.. Yes, I have a few to share (like 5000 of them). See the captions and enjoy!


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 .  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.



Day 357, Who needs sleep..

When we last met (through this blog) it was nearly midnight here on the East Coast.  I had just returned from playing lacrosse in the 90 degree heat with DS3 and 20 or so other foolish lacrosse players.  After publishing last nights blog I went to bed. You would figure after working all day, driving 150 miles, buying a car, playing lacrosse and having a cocktail, I would have slept like a baby.  Well, that was not the case. I tossed and turned and could not get comfortable. Dammit!

Tonight we had a marinated flank steak on the grill with pan sautéed zucchini and some nice, inexpensive, Merlot wine.  The zucchini came from a local farmers market. This was the first market of the year. My DW also picked up some fresh mozzarella and sour dough bread. I like sour dough bread. My father used to “commute” to San Francisco for work when I was a child. He would bring home sour dough bread when he returned from each trip. That is how I came to enjoy sour dough bread.

Work was  only busy because I went looking for work to do. The company president asked me to jump into support since they were short-handed this week.  I did as I was asked. Sometimes you have to play ball. My DW had a decent day. Tomorrow looks to quite busy. DS1 worked a full day today. He seemed to enjoy the flank steak leftovers tonight. Most nights what we had for dinner does not interest him. DS2 left this morning to visit the college friend whose father died last week. We are proud of him that he sees a need and is willing to give of himself and his time (and money) to put his values first.  DS3 had the day off. I guess the highlights of the day for him would be his trip to the beach with a friend and the fact that his parents will be picking up his car Saturday morning. If all things go as planned he will be able to drive it home from work on Saturday.

Tonight as I write this I am listening to the Smokin Tuna Saloon live stage feed. Joe Bachman is on stage again tonight. If he shows up in you neighborhood, make the trip. He has an amazing stage presence. We will go see him this summer at the Jersey Shore. Joe can be found on twiiter @joebachman .

Picture time. This picture is from DS3’s 18 th birthday in April 2011. Enjoy!



PS I need to get back to yoga class. Soon..

Day 211, I still did not make it to Key West..

It baffles me. Here I am about 180 miles from Key West. I drove 190 miles to and from Scranton in the same day weekend after weekend. Yet I can’t seem to make it all the way to Key West. Only the first hour of the drive is on the interstate, the next three hours are on roads with lower speed limits, traffic and traffic lights. That is probably the reason. Or maybe that is the reason I tell myself.

Today I went to Key Largo. I drove the Card Sound Road for the first time. If you have ever driven into the Keys there is a way to skip the beginning part of US 1. Going on Card Sound Road requires a dollar for the toll and a few extra minutes since the route is less direct. When I got into Key Largo I stopped at Florida Bay Outfitters to discuss renting a kayak for the afternoon. The rate was reasonable, the equipment looked good and the people were friendly. How can you go wrong when the stars are all aligned like that?

I went to lunch then returned to the shop and completed the paperwork and headed out into the bay. When I left the wind was blowing briskly from behind me. I understood that would mean I would be kayaking against that wind on the way home. The open water section of the paddle was a little over a mile. After the open water section was behind me I entered the mangroves. In this video you can see the mangroves and the water, notice the silence (except for me narrating). I finished paddling through the mangroves and headed back towards the dock.

My course back to the dock was directly into the wind. The waves were about 1 foot (no big deal in a boat) with some slight white caps. I got a little spray with each wave that hit the front of the kayak. During part of the ride I was accompanied by a pair of bottle nose dolphins. They swam with me and around me. I have to say it was really neat. I would have shot some pictures but it was too rough out in the middle of the bay.

When I got back to the dock they told me I still had two more hours of rental and that I should go back out and paddle some more. That is what I did. I stayed close to the beach so that the land blocked the wind and reduced the waves. I saw some Tarpon swimming under a dock near a restaurant. The restaurant feeds the Tarpon so they hang out under the dock waiting for dinner.

After finally being done with the kayak, the rental guys said that they had a shower and a changing room. I was excited about that since I was wet from the ride across the bay. The shower turned out to be an outdoor shower with only one water temperature. Hmmm, I must have missed that memo. I took a quick shower, real quick.  After the shower I had a beer and waited for the sunset. There are pictures on the bottom of the sunset.

I had dinner at the restaurant next door. The wings and the beer were good. The calzone was bad. Not really bad, just not what I am accustomed to getting in NJ. Maybe it is the water, maybe the flour or something. I ate the cheese and not much of the dough.

I’m back at the condo in Weston for the night. I have one more full day left in Florida. I am thinking about going fishing tomorrow. I just am not sure where.

Enjoy the pictures,


Wishing I was in Key West for post 129..

If you follow things in Key West you probably know that last week was Fantasy Fest, this week is Meeting of the Minds and next week is race week for the offshore power boats. I think if I had the money, I would spend these three weeks in Key West.  Taking the weeks one at a time, Fantasy Fest, no clue? Do a google search. From what I have seen and read, this looks like a week out of control. Do I see my self participating or just watching? Hard to tell. There could always be the when in Rome rule. Or not, I might not have enough nerve.

Meeting of the Minds is the Jimmy Buffett fan week. Called Parrott Heads due to the fans singing along at the concerts, this week features the top Trop Rock bands in the country. This year was the 20 th anniversary. From what I have read, Jimmy Buffett and the band were in town and performed this afternoon.  The women that cuts my hair is a huge affectionato of race week. This is the week the high-powered offshore power boats come to Key West to wrap up the racing season. There are lots of parties (when isn’t there in Key West) and boats going fast.

Back here in New Jersey, another work from home Friday. I get to sleep late and go to the kitchen office in my pajamas. I was busy for most of the day. My DW had another action packed day at the hospital. She called looking for a ride home after work. We live a mile from the hospital and recently she has been walking both ways.  Today she was just too tired to walk home. For dinner we went to Calloway’s. I receive two coupons for ten free wings at the last town festival. Tonight we cashed in one of those cards. Mmm, good. A couple of beers, a sandwich and people watching rounded out the night.

DS3 had his picture in several of the recent Royal Warrior Battalion Facebook posts. Either last week or this week the MS1 students had a lesson in how to take your weapon apart.

Too many pieces leftover

 Here is a picture of hin trying to put it back together. I guess they will practice until they can do it blindfolded. I meant there are only so many parts and they all only go together one way. Once you identify the parts, putting it back together should not be that hard. I may regret those words one day, but dude, bring it on!

Tomorrow we head north for the weekend. We are celebrating my DW’s birthday Saturday evening at Kildare’s and Sunday afternoon DS2 has a Wind Ensemble concert at Marywood. Other than that I hope to play some lacrosse with DS3, do some food shopping with both and spend some time talking about the last month in Scranton.

Good night to all, another picture, sure. This comes from July 2008. I went for a bike ride and convinced my youngest to come along. Here a picture of him at one of our rest stops.  Enjoy!


Sean Dogtown