JANUARY JOG JOURNAL
Saturday, Janaury 1, 2011
After the Annual Polar Bear Dip at the FloraBama, the first ever Florida Perimeter Beach Run started at 1 PM. The weather was supposed to be thunderstorms, but it held to just a mist and a few drops. The sun came out at the end of the run. Yeah! It was 5 1/2 miles along the beach. The water was translucent green. Just beautiful, the waves pounding the white beach. I jogged this stretch non-stop. It was important to me that I finished the first jog non-stop, though that is not in any way a requirement. Just so I jog each step.
Sunday, January 2, 2011.
The sky was sunny. It was 81 degrees in my tent but not that warm outside. Wonderful day. I took off with a view of beautiful blue water. The
waves gently rolling up to the beach. No oil, no tarballs, etc. If anyone is debating whether or not to visit Florida because of the oil, it is really a
non-issue. No worries, friend. The jog was short, just to the end of the road on Johnson Beach in the Gulf Islands National Park. the
scenery was absolutely jaw-dropping. If you get this close to Pensacola, don't miss it.
Tomorrow the jog is from the end of the road to the end of the key. Five and a half miles of beach and no road. Hmm... Can't stage my bike. It might prove to be a very interesting day. Noly, at the park ranger station, reminded me to take water. I will. Maybe one of the rangers in a vehicle will be out at the tip of the key when I get there. Hope so! C'est la vie and pray!
Monday, Jan. 3, 2011
The jog is complete. What a beautiful day. I had to start at 8 am to make sure I was back by 1 pm. I was, barely. The day started cool
and clear. It was a very fun jog. The water was sparkling blue and the waves were again gentle and sweet to see. There are a few pics on the Photo Page that I took along the way. The beach unfortunately was an entirely different story. Tar balls and tar patties. (like cow patties?) The beach was loaded with them. But only where the road ended.
People in gaters were going up and down the beach to assess the situation. From talking with them, I discovered they had just arrived from
other areas, national parks in Hawaii and Nevada. The BP workers were off for Christmas and had arrived back today to start cleaning that part of the beach. Up to today, the beaches have been perfect! So, if they cleaned those, this beach will be back to it's wonderful natural beauty in no
time. I met Jim and his staff along the way. He was wearing a USNPS hat but I think he was with BP. Not sure. He said he would send pics
once it is cleaned up and I will post them to show you the contrast. The workshop went well. (Note: As of June 24, no pics from Jim.)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Day off. Oops. I just saw a portion of beach at NAS Pensacola that I need to jog. The locals say it can't be done. (well, some of the locals)
I stop by a thrift store while I was scoping out the best way to get on base. There a lady told me that the Navy will let me on to go to the museum. Fantastic museum by the way! I told the gate guard what I wanted to do and he said I would need a sponsor, someone with a card admitting that person to the base. So, I found one, kind of. Story and pics to follow on that one. The folks at BP cleanup and their resident archaeologist did a great job helping me. Here's a pic of Elsa Heckman McMakin M.A. archaeologist. Her company is Foxfire Geophysics Thanks much! And a special thanks to Jim the foreman of the BP crew. I didn't catch his last name, but he's the kind of guy that gets things done. And he makes sure people are treated right. Thanks Jim. (I think he could be much higher up that corporate ladder if he had wanted. They sure could use him there!)
New campsite. Gulf Island National Park, Ft. Pickens. Beautiful area, but I feel like I am in a retirement center. Camping is
so-so. There are no barriers between campsites and the facilities are antiquated. Big Lagoon was very nice!!! C'est la vie! I will
just have to change my outlook.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Ran from Ft. Pickens to my 5-mile point where I staged the bike. Halfway through the jog, the storm hit. I got a body treatment I wasn't expecting, a wonderful sandblast. No more dead skin cells on this fella! After the initial wind and downpour, the rain became steady and I took my shirt off so as not to catch cold. I had to bicycle back to the car in the rain as well. Oorah! That and an hour or two in the tent by the heater! New adventures tomorrow. Can't wait! Love you kids.
And I think the blog is up and running. Someone give it a shot please!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Jogged up to the Pensacola Beach Pier. I jogged in the afternoon to see how it was. It is more fun to jog in the morning. More energy. I staged my car at the pier and rode my bike back 5 miles in the wind. lol No fun there! It took 40 minutes! But I finished the jog. Yeah!
Friday, January 7, 2011
Today, I was up early and ready to jog. My brother Terry called. That was nice. I felt much better today. The wind was worse so I thought I should try to hitchhike back to the pier as I staged my car at the end of the jog. (I do that whenever possible.) Well, I have hitchhiked before when I was in the army stationed at Ft. Knox. I hitchhiked home to Wauseon, OH a few times. So, let's pray and try. I gave it ten minutes, then I would unhitch the bike and start pedaling. Well, I thought to claim a ride through prayer, but I reserve that for when I feel sure that is the Lord's plan and not mine. But I felt it was, so I claimed it.
With a minute and a half to go, Jimmy Grissett, a contractor, picked me up! Yeah! He does a lot of hotels and condos in the area and
is a nice fellow. I asked him about the local folks because this Pensacola Beach seems so negative. He said it is. He has worked at Orange
Beach, AL, just the other side of the Florida-Alabama line and it is completely different over there. I agreed wholeheartedly.
The folks here simply don't care about customer service. I was at a nice hotel gathering information and a well-heeled family was checking in. No smile, almost no eye-contact from the receptionist. I thought that odd, but everywhere here it is like that, except Circle K! The girl there made me
feel like I was in Florida again!
Well, I started jogging from the pier. BP was out in force this day along the section of beach I was jogging. As I was jogging by I stopped to take a pic, and a big, black fellow name Alvin came over and reminded me not to get too close to the heavy machinery. He was a very nice guy, huge and friendly. If I ever need a bodyguard, I would want him! Anyway, he is from Pensacola so I asked him about Pensacola Beach.
He said he used to come here with his family, but the folks here aren't very kind, so he takes his family to Perdido Key and Johnson
Beach! (So, it isn't just me. Whew! I thought I was getting a bad attitude or something.) The beach, by the way is beautiful. I've
added a few pics.
I decided to take two days off. I have been jogging every day for 7 days and I thought my legs could use a break (lol). And since I received an LA (Lower Alabama) Parrot Head meeting notice for 11 AM this Saturday at Lulu's, I thought it would be a good time to catch up on my newer acquaintances. (Lulu's is near Orange Beach just off SR 59 and is owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister.) (Touristy!)
Saturday, January 8, 2011
I called Ellen M. and got directions from her. I must say, that part of Alabama is beautiful!! The Parrot Heads were happy and sharp. They raise a lot of money for charities, as well. Kim runs a good meeting and there were folks there I had met before at the Flora-Bama. After that we went to Tacky Jack's where I espied the largest order of nachos I have ever seen! And the bacon-cheeseburger I ordered was excellent. PK was there as well. In fact a PH group called the Phuzzies were there in force. We had a good time. Jack the original owner was there. He has since sold the place, but he still gets special treatment. He is the kind of guy who will say something bad about himself and turn it around to be something good. And, as many supposedly self-made men, he has an ego as large as Tacky Jacks. If he is not the center of attention, he attacks the one who is. I really should put him in his place, but I was invited so I keep quiet. He truly is Tacky Jack!
Then I was invited to a Newcomer's Club Wine Tasting event for that evening at 6. I took and bottle and an appetizer and it was more fun and more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I made a few more contacts and met some very unique and cool people. And I found a dance partner for this Friday night. Her hubby doesn't like to dance and gave his blessing. So, cool. Friday night Swing! Thanks Jen! (They didn't show, but I had fun anyway!)
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I wasn't going to go to church today, but I was up anyway and I am a Christian, so... Right! Get to church! But which one?
This is always the fun part. I prayed and thought. Hmm... I still have an Olive Garden card. Why not use my Nextar and go to the Olive
Garden and find a church near there? Good idea. I went to a beautiful Assembly of God church. The folks were very nice and the music
was very good. But more about that in a separate note. Tomorrow, come rain or shine, I start jogging again. Good!
Sun. evening. I got back to the campsite. My tent was half pushed in, some lines were slack and some tent pegs were pulled out. After all there
was a wind advisory out. And it was supposed to get windier! I had three choices: Live in half a tent and hope for the best (HA!), pack everything
up and sleep in the car which is not uncomfortable, or find a better way to anchor the front of the tent, the part taking the brunt of the wind. II pulled my car around close to the tent and lashed one guy around the headrest and closed the door, the other guy that was in dire need of help, I ran it through the front driver wheel spring and staked to the ground. The only way this wouldn't work would be if the tent itself ripped. Wow, was it loud. It was only 9 pm and the wind was supposed to continue until 2 am with gusts up to almost 40 mph. LOL
I prayed and laid down, fully dressed just in case. It was too cool. I slept well, waking up at the big gusts. The other two tents in the campground didn't fair so well. One was down completely. Later I help the fellow get it back up. The other's fly was off and the top of the tent was just a screen. Both were soaked. But, thankfully, mine was okay.
Monday, January10, 2011
The jog today started around 11 am. The sky was overcast, the wind was blowing and the water was churning. It was beautiful. Big waves crashing down and the spray flying up in the air. Awesome and dangerous looking. The jog was actually about 5 and a half miles and took over an hour and a half. Then I rode the bike back. Later that day I explored Ft. Pickens. Awesome place to see. After that I treated myself to a can of tomato soup and finally used the George Foreman and had two grilled cheese sandwiches. Yummy. With that I had some red wine and half a Dr. Pepper knock-off. Good.
Now I am at Peg Leg Pete's enjoying a half dozen oysters and a draft. A good way to end the day. I hope to start earlier tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Tomorrow never came! I set out to park my car at a place called Bottoms Up on Navarre Beach. It is a jewelry shop/ice cream shop/other stuff shop. I planned to hitchhike back 5 miles and start my jog. No such luck. So, I get on my bike and start out, but the wind is strong and I would have been wore out before I even started. So, ... I go and get a haircut, try to change my phone. (What a mess that was! Straight Talk uses the Philippines for its customer service.)
I get back to camp and prepare for a long jog the next day, plus I have to break camp in the morning.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Broke camp, and had three eggs for breakfast along with a turkey sausage thing and toast. Very good! Drove the 20 or so miles to Navarre Beach, actually to a spot just before Navarre and found many beach access sites there. Cool. The wind was still strong, gusting to 20 mph, and it was chilly so I decided to ride and jog in 2-mile increments. It worked great! Two miles is pretty short after 5-mile jogs. The second time I rode the bike back to the jog point I had to double check and make sure I was at the right place.
It seemed so short! I did 8 or 9 miles today. When I got to the Eglin AFB part I just kept jogging until I would see a sign. No sign! I met an older fellow, USMC, named Howard, and asked him how far I can jog up the beach. He looked at me kinda funny and said, "As far as you want!". Huh? Good news! I told him what I was doing and we talked.
I asked that if I jogged the entire section tomorrow could he bring me back as it is several miles by road. He gave me his number and said sure. (It pays to wear my USMC cap!) He is a good guy and I will get a pic of him tomorrow and post it. Plus buy him dinner or a beer or something. (He wouldn't take a thing, not even a shell.)Speaking of posting pics, I saw people picking stuff on the beach so I got out my camera to get a pic and post it in the volunteer section. They were picking up shells only. This happened three times. But when I picked up some stuff and an old tire, the clean-up people helped and put the stuff in one of their gators. Thanks guys (and gals)!
It was a beautiful day, but chilly. There were a few people fishing and a few beach walkers and me. By the way, I did have a companion at the Ft. Pickens campsite. She is beautiful and would dance for me every time I sat outside. She is my ballerina. Click her to see her pic.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Eglin AFB Beach Run. I slept in the car last night near where I was going to start the jog. It was cold! (I like my robe! It keeps me warm!) Well I got up about 6 and decided to get a bite to eat before this half-marathon jog I was about to do. But I just kept going to the Eglin Base on the Santa Rosa Island. The guard was very polite, and "No" I couldn't get in as the base is restricted, but "Yes" the beach all he way is open. Yippee! Confirmation! Which tells me when all else fails, do it yourself.
I went back to a Waffle House near the bridge and order biscuits and sausage for stamina. It was good. I got back to the starting point and had on a jacket, my water bag, now called a hydration pack, which also carried my lunch and a few snacks. I also brought my poncho liner for emergencies or whatever. I started jogging at 7:50 am and kept going for about three and a half hours, stopping once in a while to stretch or work on some trigger points. There is a tower in the middle of that area and it didn't look too far. HA! It was at least five miles.
Jogging past that was an in-your-face moment! lol Take that tower! I beat you! Well, I kept jogging and came across some swimmers in the water and some on land. I thought they were air force till one called another Chief. Navy! On an air force beach. Okay. There were practicing finding and dragging a mine to shore. I said I thought they were air force. The chief responded, "Are you kidding, it's cold out today." That was a good one.
About ten or eleven miles into the jog, I needed a break. I put the poncho liner down and sunk to the ground, hoping that I could get up sometime this afternoon. Actually it was about 11:30 am. I ate last night's potato crunch tacos that I bought and forgot to eat. They were good. And drank some water. After about twenty minutes I stretched and five minutes later I was jogging again. This time a little slower. I could see small buildings ahead and they were slowly getting bigger.
About a mile away I stopped and stretched again and about a half mile away I did it again. By the way, the whole time the wind was in my face lightly, the temperature reached the 40s and the sun was out. The water was a beautiful dark blue and calm. It is so clear here. I found several fantastic shells and brought some back. I finally reached the building I was aiming for and there's more to the story, but suffice it to say, I am back! I called Howard and, good to his word, he came and picked me up and drove my back to my car. It took a big chunk out of his day, too!
He owns two Krystal fast good places, one in Crestview and one in Mary Esther. Stop by and buy! He wouldn't take a dinner, a beer or a shell. Good guy. Thank God there are good people. Here is Howard's pic.
Friday - Sunday, January 14 -16, 2011
It was a relaxing weekend. I checked into Motel 6 Thursday night and stayed two nights. I took full advantage of the bath tub! I had to go back to Pensacola for Swing Dancing. I was tired, but it was fun. I had planned to stay just one night at Motel 6, but more money came in and I was tired. (I later bought a blow-up mattress for my cot and now wake up refreshed, not tired.)
I had lunch at the Fish Bar. An elegant looking place right on the water. But it is my kind of place. You can lick your fingers there and no one will say anything. I had their lunch special. Bernadette, the waitress, suggested instead of their chowder I try the gumbo. And I am glad she did! It was a good meal and reasonably priced too. I asked if there was a place to get a good chocolate martini and she said right behind me at the bar. If fact, if I get it at the bar it is half off! Well, my breakfast/lunch was over, so... Heather fixed me a very good chocolate martini and for less than 5 bucks. I would definitely recommend the fish bar for lunch or cocktails.
Later, I was doing my laundry at the motel. A beautiful black girl came in to get her stuff out of the dryer. We talked. She is from Chicago and here for a week or two of 'shows'. She invited me to the show. I just wished she had cleaned out the lint catch! After doing my laundry, I went to McGuires because so many people told me to go there.
I asked what there special was and they told me. But I forget the name. All I remember is it is made of lots of rum and one is enough for the evening! Luckily, Motel 6 was close by. (Ah, I went back for lunch. The drink is called the "Irish Wake". Lots of alcohol, but too bitter for me. Lunch was about $6 and no drinking that stuff this time!)
That night, Friday, I drove back to Pensacola for the East Coast Swing dance and I had promised this couple I would be there. They didn't show, but I had fun anyway. Teaching someone how to swing dance, or teaching a move or just dancing is always fun! The younger guys want to show off with their moves. They jerk the girls around. My moves are basic, but are done very well. The ladies appreciate that. (In this case, young girls.) It's great that kids are picking this stuff up early in life.
Saturday was a relaxing day, working on-line, resting, going to Target to get a few things. And I slept very well that night! Sunday, I stopped at IHOP and met Carol. She has been waitressing there for over 25 years. She loves it. And she gets things done. I was sitting there enjoying my breakfast and this old duffer slowly walks in, seats himself and Carol waits on him. In a few minutes he holds up a couple of dollars and she takes it and has someone go outside to get the newspaper.
The old duffer said he wanted only a certain paper and she said she knows and it's the right one. Then she said, "I am warming up the syrup for you just like you like it." And she smiled the whole time. Now that's service! I spoke with her later, she loves her job. When I had finished the meal I asked about nearby churches and she said there was a big one just around the next corner. I went.
The sheriff's department was there to help with traffic. 1500 members and it started as a storefront church around the year 2000. I think it is called Destiny Worship Center. Before the service I sat sipping coffee in a cushy chair. They had some free coffee and a Starbucks-like coffee shop there. Free coffee tastes like - coffee! There was a man and his daughter there. She looked to be a junior or senior in high school. The man said this was his and his daughter's time together (signaling for me not to chatter.) When he said that her face showed otherwise.
In fact, though I kept quiet until he spoke about five minutes later, he never said a word to her. He just kept looking at this cell-group brochure. So much for father-daughter time! They left and a short time later a very nice couple in their 60's sat down. They were wonderful and gracious. Very nice. I saw them after church and we talked a bit. I asked them for their phone number, something I almost never do, because they were such nice folks. Their last name is Good. lol It figures!
The sermon was given by a visiting pastor and it was good. Someone pointed out Mike Huckabee to me. Evidently he bought a place down there and that is his church as well. I was just a few feet away. He looks like a nice guy. I didn't butt in to say, Hi, though. Give the guy a rest! That afternoon, I moved into Topsail State Park. They just opened part of it to tent camping. People there very nice and helpful. I would recommend Florida state parks for a variety of activities. If fact, get a season pass, and if you're a vet get a 25% discount! The campsite was squared with fine gravel. Very nice. The sight was a square about 15 by 15 feet. Room for my tent, the fire pit and a picnic table. It is off the beaten path. It comes with water and electricity. I like it.
Monday, January 17. 2011
Martin Luther King Day. Hmmm... Forgot about this holiday. Hope the buses are running. They are. I planned to take the bus to do my jogging today. After several failed attempts, I got the right place and the right bus. I had to transfer but it was better than riding my bike all the way and then driving back to get it.
The jog started at 11 even though I was out of camp by 8 or 8:30. Bummer. It had rained earlier that morning but now the sun was out. I started where I left off and after a bit fell into my rhythm. It felt good, but I had three days off and it was a little difficult. I thought it was going to be 5 miles but it turned out to be more like seven. No wonder I was tired!
I finished by jogging over the bridge to Destin where my car was parked at the community center. I think I will park it there tomorrow as well. After getting back to camp and getting some soup and two grilled egg and cheese sandwiches, I took a nice shower and massaged my feel for a while. Now I am at Panera's typing away.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Now that I kind of knew the bus system, I drove to the community center to start my jog and then catch a bus back. I was going to end my jog at the Crab Trap, a restaurant/park about five and a half miles down the beach. A huge problem arose. I couldn't get to the peninsula! It's only about 30 yards from the Emerald Grand, but it would take at least two miles to get their by walking. Shoot! Well, I talked to some folks and they said I might get a ride by someone going out fishing. No such luck. No one was going out today. The someone suggested I ask the shuttle service,which supposedly just for guests of the Emerald Grand.
Tony was generous and offered me a ride. I then offered $5 and he said sure. But he didn't have change for a $20 so I said I would pay him when I got back.
The peninsula was a fun jog and the land connected again about a mile or so down the beach. BP was out, but there wasn't much to look for. I asked a person standing by in a BP outfit what they were doing. She, Chris, said they were a recon crew that goes around digging pretty deep into the sand to see if they find anything. She is the biologist tagging along with them. Her job is to keep the workers off the dunes and away from the water. She is there to protect the land and wildlife. Sounds a little bit like she guarding the prisoners, doesn't it?
Later down the beach, I met two fellows fishing. One was Ron. Now Ron is a talker. And he'll tell you straight. He's about 5'6", kinda thin and wiry, wore an Alaskan fishing hoodie, jeans and bare feet. We chatted a while and then I asked how far to the Crab Trap. He said at least a mile. So, I bid adieu and took off. When I got to the Crab Trap I called the bus service to see when the bus was coming. And lo, and behold, Ron pulled up in a red pick-up. He said it wasn't a mile and I agreed. Then he offered me a ride back. Sure! We talked.
Ron, a native of Ft. Walton, lived as a logger in northern California for over 20 years. Then he came back and was a commercial fisherman. Today he was fishing on the beach to sell his catch to a local restaurant. He is almost 62 and waiting for his social security to kick in. He isn't sure how much and said it really doesn't matter. He has some land and can sell a place if he has to. That's all he needs. He loves his lifestyle and has always lived his passions.
He said he has made mistakes, but they have always been in the direction of his passions and he has no regrets. I wish I would have taped this conversation. The best to you, Ron!
When I got back to the Community Center, it was open so I went in to scope it out. The nice lady handed my a flyer of things to do. Line dancing, Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:00! Only five bucks. I was going to do that. It's a lot of fun and good exercise as well. I put the flyer in my pack and took off.
I walked over to the waterfront by the Emerald Grand and there was a speech going on. Someone said the governor was there. Cool! I can give him my business card!
So, I listened to the speeches about Vision Airlines bringing 5000 seats a week to this area. Very good news indeed! During the speech, I asked a security man how best to get my card to the governor. He said to give it to him, who in turn would give it to his aide. So I did. I gave him my card. But then I thought, "No, I will do it myself." After the speeches, I inched my way closer and closer. The handshakes were flying. I waited. The small group shifted to their left for a news conference. I joined the group. (I was in my jogging clothes, with a dirty shirt, and the rest were in suits. Oops! Oh, well!)
The news conference was quite funny. Whenever a reporter asked a question, they postured so importantly, and when the governor responded, they nodded vigorously as if they were bobble heads set to go off as soon as the governor spoke! It was fun to watch.
When it was over the governor had to walk through me to get to where he wanted to go. So, I shook his hand, placed business card in his other hand, then grabbed his elbow and said something like what I am doing and it might be good for Florida. He was rather glassy-eyed from all this morning's to-do. Immediately after, I attended the VIP reception. I just followed the folks up the steps, chatted to the mayor of Niceville and signed in. The girl hesitated, and was having trouble with the passes. So, she gave me one and in I want. It was a fun time and I met some interesting people. And nobody knew who I was! I chatted with different tables and we had good conversations about local commerce. It was fun. Some people looked at me strangely, like, "Do I know you" or "Should I know you" and some gave their cards. I loved it!
Later, I went to Panera's to get online. I just met a couple of ladies. Sandy and Sue. One just landed a big sale that "made her year" and they were finishing the online stuff so they could go celebrate. (Curious, at that same Panera's I met a fellow that does TV and radio commercials. Quite good too. He was mentioning a few decisions he had to make, professional and personal. And I wish I could see him again, because with a few questions I could really help him make the best decisions for him.) But, anyway, the other lady had just moved back from Atlanta and didn't have a job yet. So, after learning what I was doing, she volunteered to pick me up after the run.
Super. I don't have to stage the bike!
Wednesday January 19, 2011
Got up, ate and staged my car at the Crab Trap. I would call Sue when I finished. I started jogging about 7:40 and finished by 9. I jogged six and a half miles and it felt good. I walked back to the Hilton and was walking through the halls to get to the front desk to see if there was a shuttle or some other way to get back just in case. I was wearing my Detroit Tiger T-shirt today and this fellow who works there stopped me in the hall. He said his dad had played for a year at Detroit before being drafted into the military. His last name was Iler. Cool.
Later I found out that is fellow was an engineer for Hilton. A nice guy. His dad was drafted and did so well on the ASFAB test, or whatever they called it then, that he was put into the Air Force and ended up on a mountain top in Turkey at a satellite site. The son told the story of his dad calling his dad's mom from that site an asking her if this was why she raised him, to be on a mountain to in a strange country watching something in space! LOL Ah, the people you meet, often just by chance, and the stories they have!
I called Sue from the Hilton and got a voice mail. Uh-oh. As I was checking on how to get back to my car, she called me back. Yes! I have a ride! I had gotten up early so I could take the line dance class today. She picked up and got me back to my car in time. I offered to give her my first workshop "Embrace Your Passions" and she accepted so we set up a time for that. I like doing this for people as it helps one clarify and focus on his/her life more clearly so life has a better direction, better living.The line dance was fun. I was almost the youngest one there, but not the most energetic! Abby, the instructor, taught us well, starting out with a review from the previous week, we quickly moved on to some fun line dances. Later, she told me about a ballroom dance, focusing on West Coast Swing this Saturday. Sweet! I have been looking for something like this and now I found one. And it was nearby as well.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Got up, went to church, the Destiny Worship Center again. I wanted to see the Good family again as they are such nice folks. But no such luck. The sermon was by the regular pastor. And the verdict is still out on this church. Every one is well-heeled, which does raise a small red flag to me. Even in a 'rich' area, if the church preaches well, some of us poor folks would be there. The sermon was positive and he did say that Christ died for us, He loves us, etc. And that is great! But I am still wondering, did Christ die for us "sinners" or just us people? That is the crux of the matter for me. I hope the church is on the right track!
That afternoon, I drove down to Panama City and St. Andrew's State Park. The park is located at the end of Panama City Beach, or at least on that beautiful strip of sand. The state parks have better campsites than the national parks. There is more privacy for each site - more bushes and trees between sites. The Florida Park System has been voted the best in the US and I applaud that decision.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I am up early and get to the shower. These facilities remind my of my military days. And it's kind of nice. Good water flow, strong hot water and kind of a communal gathering. I almost always sing or hum in the shower. After all, it is a new and beautiful day! I was at the sink shaving and said good morning to this older gentleman and we talked for about 45 minutes right there. He is quite a fellow. Vernon Harness is his name.
Now, Vernon Harness has established his own pattern of living. He and Ron, back in Ft. Walton Beach, and others I have met along the way have one thing in common. They know what they want in their hearts and they haven’t been seduced by the ‘normal’ conventions of life. They are living their passions!
Well, Vernon and I agreed to meet later that day after my jog. So, having wanted to glean some information from him and not wanting to be one of those ‘users’ who take and never give, I bought us a few refreshments. Well, he stopped by as I was cooking my evening meal, so I made sure to
make enough for both of us. Fried rice with a store bought burrito, some picante sauce and cheese and, wah-la! A very tasty meal. He didn’t want any, so I had to eat it all…and I did!
Well, he was probably in his 70’s. He had retired and had himself a nice place in either Ft. Myers or Naples. Then he realized that the house was keeping him locked into only one place. (Now, Vernon isn’t hurting for cash. He can travel and buy whatever he wants, including extended stays in Australia and New Zealand.) But he has worked out over the years places to camp free all over America. And he was telling me his secrets!
He keeps a log of every place he stayed, the area, the costs, if any, and other pertinent data. It is an amazing log. Here is a fellow who can stay at the best of places, but prefers his self-converted van. Also, after he retired, he rode his bicycle across America three times, just to do it.
We had an excellent conversation. He recounts many interesting stores, and tells about all the people he meets. They almost unanimously say the same thing. “I wish I could do that!, but…(fill in your own blank).” To which he replies, “Do it!”
He was just in the area to take care of some family business, but was itching to leave. He told me I needed a van and not a car. After thinking about that for a few weeks, I traded my car for an older cargo van. And I love it! The really cool thing about this is that I know that God is involved in it and is leading in interesting ways. My job is to listen. Sometimes, this jarhead is hard-headed.
Now for the jog. I found the trolley runs regularly to the beaches. My stopping point was Beach Access Point 94. I found the trolley stop, called to see when it was coming and waited about fifteen minutes. The driver was a nice guy and left me off right where I asked him. Thanks!
I did my stretching and exercises to zydeco music and was off. It was just a five-mile jog. The day was slightly overcast the waves were a foot or two high. The beaches were beautiful as usual. The sand was soft so I ran as close to the water as possible. I passed the first pier and stopped before the second one at Beach Access Point 54. It was a good jog. I saw some folks fishing off the pier and hoped to do the same someday
soon. I had to walk about a half mile to the bus stop. It wasn’t in the best area. Even though it was before noon, there was a rather heavyset girl standing on a nearby corner giving me an inviting look. I shook my head and quickly moved on.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I am up early to catch the bus to my beach access point. The bus stop is less than I mile away so I walk. The bus arrives on time and he drops me off at my stop. I really need to go to the bathroom, so I cross the street to this convenience store which only has outside toilets. Trashed and the store owners really don't care. Overall, Panama City Beach caters to the young and dumb. "Get 'em drunk! Get their money! Get them outta here!" That should be their motto! So, I cross back over the street and stop at a condo and ask the lady to use the restroom. She nixes that idea and suggests the public restrooms by the pier which is about a half mile away. And I can't go behind a bush for this one! So, I take off and run pretty fast. And I am happy to get there, too!
After that, I settle in for a nice jog. (By the way, the condo I stopped at, was offering a month for $900. That is about the same I am paying for my camping!) I begin to count down the beach access numbers 45, 32, 19, 3, 2, 1. Yes! Now I am at the state park and the beach is even better. I arrive at the jetty thinking I am done. Then I look to the left. The most beautiful little beach is there. A nice arch, down the hill. I jog that too. And now I am done! I walk back to the campsite on a trail. I find a small monument there.
This park was given to the state from the federal government. The name on the plaque was Richard Nixon! Gee, he's the same guy who signed my thank-you note when I left the Army at age 19. Back in camp, I find that Vernon is gone. But we had had a good chat. I sure hope to see him again sometime.
Thursday, January 27. 2011
I get up and wonder how I am going to get across the channel to Shell Island. I have been checking. No one has offered me a boat ride. There are two shuttles running, one state park and the other commercial. They will start in March. Hmm. Looks like the doors are closing. I hang about for a day and keep checking. Nothing.
Friday, January 28, 2011
I call an insurance company that is supposed to pay me starting this month. Another company had been paying me steadily but because they increased their rates exorbitantly on my medicare clients, I re-wrote as many as I could to get them a better deal. I lost money, but that is part of the deal when my clients trust me. So, things are getting tight and I am hoping the other company is starting. I call them. They say they overpaid me last year and they need to take that back first. Before I receive even once cent. Yikes! I am shocked. I pray and decide the doors have closed for now.
Since I had promised my associate that I would watch his office for a few weeks sometime this winter, I call him and tell him I am coming back now. So, if he wants a vacation it is time to get started. We negotiate a price and I will be there in a few days. Actually, this is good. i want to see my kids anyway. And I could use the money as well. So, "Hi Ho, Hi Ho off to Ohio I go."