Shared Experiences


One of my kids and her husband went off to Singapore to do a little adventuring.  Turns out Singapore was celebrating their 50th birthday so they got to be part of the festivities.  They are going all over the island trying all kinds of new stuff and having a blast.

This picture is one that Sarah posted on her Instagram account with a little story.  Back when Singapore was only half as old as it is now, Sarah was about 2, and I went on a business trip that included Singapore.  My internal clock was all messed up and I was wondering the streets around midnight.  This restaurant set up tables out in the street in front of it’s indoor seating area, not the sidewalk, in the street.  Most of the tables had people sitting at them eating, drinking and having a good time.  As I walked by I noticed that pretty much everyone had the same thing, a bowl of (what turned out to be) spicy noodles and a Tiger beer – a BIG Tiger beer.  I am not sure if that was all they sold or that was what was best.

By the time I reached the end of the row of tables I had decided it all looked REALLY good and I should try some.  I turned around, found an empty table and ordered my noodles and beer.  The people watching was good and sipping my beer while I waited for the noodles I could feel some of the jet lag sliding off my back.  The noodles were spicy, the beer was cold and it was probably the best meal I had on my whole trip.  It was more than that.  I recalled that fond memory several occasions.  Surprisingly, someone was listening.

Yesterday Sarah and Greg were wandering the streets of Singapore and saw a street with tables setup and people eating spicy noodles and drinking beer.  I doubt that it will be one of the best meals of their trip but I know for at least two of us it will be a lifetime memory.

“ Tonight was a very full circle moment for me. When I was much younger my Dad used to travel for work. One of my favorite stories of his was how one night walking through the streets of Singapore he saw people sitting in the streets eating bowls of spicy noodles with giant beers and just stopped to enjoy. Today I got to experience the same thing. Thanks for the wanderlust dad. “

Travelogue – that’s a wrap

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6


Our time here is winding down.  It’s time for a review, summary, recap, lessons learned, post mortem . . . did you ever notice how many words and phrases there are for looking back at something you already did?

This trip got an A for food.  Chinese, Thai, BBQ, Seafood, sticky buns, crepes, pizza, burgers and of course frozen custard and Italian ice, they were all yummy.  I don’t think we had a single dud meal on the trip.  We had some pretty good stuff at home but the stars of the trip were cooked by someone else.  If you should find yourself around Ft. Pierce on a Saturday morning, head over to the water behind city hall and visit their market.  They have a baker who does a wonderful assortment of breads, croissants and muffins.  I recommend the sticky buns.  A few yards away is a guy from Maryland who (according to Linda) makes some of the best crab cakes south of the Chesapeake.  It doesn’t matter that it’s for breakfast.

Kayak Fishing – B+  My fishing rod and I had a good run at the fish while we were here.  Only once was I skunked.  The weather was good.  We didn’t have any rain to speak of.  The wind came every day but there was always time to paddle the kayak before it got too strong.  It was a loss that I couldn’t launch in the neighborhood this year but since I had to drive to my launches I discovered several new launch sites and fishing holes.

The roads are less crowded in June than they are in February, but the water is much more crowded in June.  Do not attempt to launch your little plastic boat anywhere near a boat ramp on a weekend.  You will be taking your life in your hands, not to mention your ears being assaulted by some really bad “music”.  Nothing says fishing like gangster death rap.

Weekdays are great, very little traffic on the road and on the water and plenty of parking.  You really do have a ton of options.  The only caveat is you want to arrive at your park/launch/sandy spot on the side of the road before 11:00 am or after 1:00 pm.

Finally, we want to thank our friends who shared their house with us, it was top notch.  All went extremely smoothly this visit.  No appliances were harmed in the making of this vacation.  The internet was solid which makes life as we know it, possible.  We love spending time here for all the reasons listed above and more.  Now it’s time to return to Texas where people wave back and Mexican food nourishes your soul.

Travelogue – Lunch with Darryl (and his other brother Darryl)

kayak-sailFlorida has pretty predictable weather patterns, it’s mild and sunny in the morning, not too much wind.  It starts to cloud up between 12-1, the wind also gets stronger, then there is about a 30% chance of rain between 2-5.  This makes planning my kayak fishing easier.  The wind tends to come from the same direction (east) when it gets strong in the afternoon.  I try to be in a position NOT to fight that wind on my return paddle.

This means I often return between 12-1 – lunch time.  Since I can’t launch from the neighborhood like I have done in the past I spend a lot more time at parks, boat launches and sandy clearings by the water.  What I have discovered is; if you work for the city/county/state, or you are part of a yard maintenance crew, plummer, pool cleaner or even a cop, between 11:30 – 1:00 you seek out one of these parks or sandy patches by the side of the road to spend your lunch hour and a half.  Pretty much everyone who does their job in a vehicle does this.  All picnic tables are claimed, some lay in the grass, some never leave their truck.

I have to admit, I have mixed feelings on this.  If I was delivering phone books all day in my truck, I would want to spend my lunchtime in a shady park by the water too.  After all, if you are driving a dually with 6 guys inside and pulling a 30 ft trailer how many lunch options do you have?  On the other hand, a mom taking her kids to the park isn’t really comfortable sharing their picnic table with Chico and the man.  One time I came back to the kayak launch ramp and there was a truck parked on the ramp.  This is not cool.  So, in general, I think this is one of those things that is what it is and you just work with it.

It does make you think what they do everywhere else.  I would have to think we have as many electricians and yard guys running around the suburbs of Houston as they do in Vero Beach, where do they all go???  I know where our yard guys go, our front yard.  When it’s time for lunch they sit against a tree and eat and rest for a while.  Once one of them broke out a hibachi grill.  It’s OK with us, we have known them for many years and the place always looks better when they leave than it did when they got there.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Travelogue – Steady State


Travelogue – Detours

We stay in the house of some good friends.  It’s a block from the beach and there is a park 2 blocks away.  A block in the other direction takes you to the bay where I go kayak fishing.  The house has plenty of room, is nicely decorated and even has a garage where I can store my kayak and fishing gear.  It’s a pretty sweet setup.

In the past I would pull my kayak on a cart down the dead end street where I would launch into the bay.  An older couple lives next to this spot and I asked if it was OK for me to launch here.  They said they owned it and it would be fine as long as I didn’t park a car there.

This year I went by to make sure it was still OK and there was something going on there.  A dock was being built where I used to launch.  Linda and I talked to the old couple and opened a can of worms.  Apparently they didn’t really own the property, they and their neighbors kind of divided it up and took care of it.  It was a super skinny strip of grass along the dead end road.  Well someone bought it from the city.  The neighbors are up in arms, that patch of grass allows cars to turn around, neighbors to get to the water and things like yard maintenance trucks to park to work on the yards.  Motions were filed, cops are coming by, people were going to court, fences and logs now block access.  It’s no bueno.  In the past I would launch from there 4-5 times a week, it looks like I will be loading up the truck instead of the cart.

One of the things we like to do in Vero is to go to Ft Pierce on Saturday mornings.  They have a market there where we buy bread, produce and usually breakfast.  It’s at a park right on the water,  there is live music, food and vendors selling all kinClear-Plastic-Storage-Bins-With-Lidds of stuff.  It’s a great place to spend the morning.  That’s how we started our stay.

We have done these trips a number of times and we have gotten pretty efficient at packing, unpacking and getting setup.  One of the keys to our success are the plastic tubs we use.  They have locking lids and come is several sizes.  By now we know what stuff goes in what tubs and where they get packed in the truck.  During our stay they may act as coffee table, night stand or cloths hamper.  Don’t leave home without them.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Travelogue – It’s all downhill from here

Just before we reach our destination for the night in the town of Midway west of Tallahassee we cross into the Eastern Standard Timezone and our 12.5 hours car trip quickly turns into 13.5 hours.  We won’t mind going to bed early but we won’t be our usual chipper selves when 6AM rolls around.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  First we shall have dinner and we are now in Sonny’s BBQ country.  When we are seated the waitress tries to hand us menus and we give her the “do we look like we are fooling around here?” look and she knows she is dealing with professionals.  There will be 1 turkey lunch special (yes you can order it for dinner) with Cole slaw, french fries, garlic bread and a giant sweet tea, AND 1 sliced pork lunch special with Cole slaw, french fries, garlic bread and water, oh, and a side of BBQ baked beans to share.  In less than 8 minuets the BBQ sauce was applied to the smoked goodness and it was having a medicinal effect.csuites

We had stayed at the Comfort Suites in Midway before but it was in February instead of July.  It was a nice  enough place, good location, reasonable price.  But, we will not be returning, at least not between the months of March and December.  This hotel like many Comfort Suites has a “feature” on their air conditioners called “e-save”.  It doesn’t matter what temperature you set the thermostat for, it will decide for you when you have had enough.  Yup, it just quits and there is no turning it back on.  After an hour or so maybe it will give you a little more – maybe –  if you’re nice.  This is especially handy in the middle of the night when you wake up sweating.  This is a major fail for Comfort Suits, it e-sucks.

The first few times we traveled like this, hauling half of what we own in the back of a open pickup truck, I was pretty nervous about people stealing my stuff while we were sleeping.  Most things were in tubs except some fishing gear, 12 packs of soda and of course my kayak but someone could just pop the lid off a tub and make off with my underwear or crunchy peanut butter.  Turned out there were fewer people than expected interested in my underwear and all those boy scout knots must make the kayak a less desirable target.  I still worry a bit and always check on it when I have to get up in the middle of the night to berate the air conditioner but I am no longer surprised when I find that everything is still there in the morning.yeehaw

We chose to go south on I-75 then to the turnpike instead of taking I-10 to I-95.  Florida has the SunPass for their toll roads.  In Texas we have EZ Tag.  In Florida we were able to buy a SunPass from a vending machine (right next to the cookies) for $5.40 at the Florida welcome center.   Then we activated over the internet with a credit card.  The only down side is that you have to go through the toll booths at 25mph.  The EZ Tag works at several times that speed.

So we took the turnpike to our exit, and I am not making this up, Yeehaw Junction.  Next we went due east 30 miles into Vero Beach.  Destination reached.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Travelogue – Florida Bound

One thing we did different this trip was change up when we got gas.  Usually we get down to around a quarter of a tank then pull off and fill up.  These stops may or may not coincide with a meal break.  The reason we wanted to make a change is because on our default schedule we end up at some pretty seedy fuel stops.  One gas station brags that not only do they have gas but a pork rind buffet and casino.  The whole thing is the size of a 7-11.  We managed to avoid this stop this trip.gasstation

Every time I pack the truck for the trip I use a slightly different strategy for lashing down the kayak on the rack I install above bed.  I keep thinking there must be a perfect Eagle Scout type solution.  Most of the time my strategy works but not always, and I never made it to Eagle Scout so I have yet to find the perfect solution.  This time the upside down orange plastic boat that looks like my truck’s Mohawk is holding steady.  One fellow traveler was not so lucky, his kayak looked like the guy in a car chase scene who jumps on the car hanging on by his fingernails while the driver tries to shake him off.  We went around that guy.

Here comes Mobile Alabama.  We pick up the dice, blow on them for luck and let them fly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yahtzee!  No rain, no fog, no 15 mile backup to squeeze through the tunnel 2 by 2 under Mobile Bay.  Of course we had to stop outside the tunnel but only about a quarter mile.  You can’t expect people to drive right into a tunnel without stopping first, what if it’s leaking or scary in there?  All in all it couldn’t have gone much better.

A53G36 Florida s Turnpike Florida tpk Ronald Regan Expressway rest area rest stop service plaza

Florida s Turnpike rest area rest stop service plaza

Florida is now only a couple of rest areas away.  We will have to eat up a good chunk of the panhandle before we stop for the night but the end is in sight.  Speaking of rest areas, Florida and Texas have the best rest areas in the country.  This is appreciated on long journeys especially if you fell for the pork rind buffet earlier in the day.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6


” a movie, book, or illustrated lecture about the places visited and experiences encountered by a traveler”

The actual traveling part

We have been to Florida many times since we moved to Texas.  We have visited most of the coasts (Gold, Space, Treasure, First, Emerald, even the Forgotten Coast) and of course we have gone to central Florida to visit Mickey.  We flew occasionally but mostly we drove.  The trip can take anywhere from 8 hours to get to Pensacola to 18 hours to get to Miami.  Key West would be another 3 hours from Miami.  For this trip we were going to Vero Beach about half way down the east coast of Florida, which is about 16 hours away.

routeHaving a plan is required for a trip like this.  Our plan was to pack up Wednesday and leave around 6 Thursday morning and drive to Midway a town just outside Tallahassee.  We prefer to travel farther the first day of a 2 day trip, then we can have an easy second day.  Thursday morning we were eastbound and down, all was going according to plan as we left Texas.

There are 2 spots along this trip where the chances of headbutting your steering wheel or suffering a temporary bout of Tourette syndrome goes through the roof, Baton Rouge and Mobile.  These are the cities that time (or at least the Corps of Engineers) forgot.

First up, Baton Rouge.  99.3% of the people on I-10 west of Baton Rouge traveling east just want to make it out the other side.  This number drops to 99.1% on football weekends as the local clans gather.  We will just say neither the 99.1% nor the fans of the opposing team will make it out unscathed.TrafficJam

On this particular Thursday as we approach the Mississippi river bridge we come to a full stop.  Unfortunately this is not unusual.  Just about everyone wants to stay on I-10 heading east, as you go over the bridge only half the lanes are for 10 East and only 1 lane gets you where you want to be.  The other two lanes are populated with those who feel waiting their turn is for suckers and those who have no idea of what the 50 year old traffic pattern has in store for them.  On this day one driver of each of these two tribes met on the down side of the bridge.  It was just a fender bender but it was enough to turn a bad situation into a Baton Rouge situation.  45 minutes later we made it several miles to the construction zone which has been under construction since the Louisiana Purchase.  Finally back to the brake/accelerator tap dance, finally back to normal.


Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6


Alexa, Make Me a Samich

imageSitting on the counter in the kitchen where the radio used to sit is our personal cloud servant in a can.  Her name is Alexa and she comes from Amazon and is otherwise known as Amazon Echo.  If you are not familiar with the product, it’s sort of like Siri in a stand alone bluetooth speaker that is connected to WiFi.  You can ask it questions like “Alexa, what will the weather be like tomorrow” or “Alexa, What year did the movie Animal House come out” and she will speak the answers.  You can also say “play NPR” and it will use internet radio and knowledge of where you are to stream you local NPR station.  With an imageAmazon Prime account you can say something like “Alexa, play some Rolling Stones” and it does.  There is a companion app for your phone and tablet.  You can add things to a to-do list or grocery list (Alexa, put Fruit Loops on the grocery list) and they will show up in your app.

I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised with how well the system works.  It’s pretty fast.  The ability of the device to pick up your voice from across the room and understand you is truly impressive.  The sound is good and can get really loud without breaking up.  The hands free thing is a lot more useful than I thought it would be.

They have only been shipping to Prime members.  We ordered ours in January and got it just last week.  They seem to add features regularly and because all the brains are in the could they usually don’t even need to update the software on the device itself.

Alexa won’t make you a sandwich (I asked) but she has some funny quips if you ask her pop culture type questions and she has enough useful features to justify her $99 price tag and dethrone the venerable CD/Radio unit that had been ensconced at the end of the counter for 20+ years.  I think this is going to be one of Amazon’s wins.

Get Trampled


I just stumbled across this and I had to post.  Apparently it’s the 40th anniversary of one of my favorite albums and all time favorite songs.  The album is  Physical Graffiti, the song is Trampled Under Foot, the band is Led Zeppelin.

it was a double album and the cover had windows cut out with pictures and letters that could slide back and forth changing what was in the windows.  You used to pour over albums and their artwork it was part of the full musical experience.

This is from the laughingsquid web site where I found the video.  Make sure you find the boy  in the picture (this one struck close to home, I guess Sarah came by it naturally) and the lady on the couch, you might not be able to look away.  You can navigate using the arrow keys while the song is playing, you can also click on the windows when the video starts.  I had to watch several of them all the way through.  I am hard pressed to tell you why but I am doing it again as I write this.  I love this song, I’m talking bout love.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the legendary Led Zeppelin album Physical Graffiti, the surviving members of the band, in collaboration with director/creator Hal Kirkland, storytelling agency Interlude and production company PRETTYBIRD, have created a richly interactive video that invites viewers to explore the mysteriously enticing rooms behind the building facades pictured on the album cover. All the while, a previously unreleased rough mix of “Trampled Under Foot” (in its early working title form called “Brandy and Coke”) accompanies the visitor’s virtual journey.

Fans have never had so many ways to explore and see a music video come alive. By selecting one of the featured 16 windows, the audience can enter into the room and will discover events that pay homage to the window illustrations on the original artwork. Featuring archival footage, such as the band’s full Earl’s Court performance of the song, original animation and more, Interlude technology allows viewers to follow and interact with characters from room to room without disrupting the flow of the song.