JULY JOG JOURNAL
Friday, July 1, 2011
Six months since I started. I had to take a total of two months off to watch an office, spend spring break with my son, see my kids on my birthday and visit a friend in Chicago. But, still, six months. And getting close to being done with Phase II, the Gulf Side!
Yesterday was a busy day so I am taking it easy today. Jogging Lovers Key, about 2 1/2 miles, dog beach, 200 yards and kayaking to Big Hickory Island which is not quite a mile-long jog. I sleep at the state park marina, get up and go check out Bonita Beach and get some gas. I stop at McDonald's for a big breakfast. I didn't eat dinner last night and I need some fuel. Also, I hardly slept last night. Too much coffee and hot weather, I guess. Anyway, I get some fuel or me and for the van and off I go. Bonita Beach is easy, but Barefoot Beach access is difficult. You have to go through a guarded community for a mile and a half, then pay $8 to park! Then the end of the beach is still at least 2 miles away from the parking area. It's is going to be a long day that day!
I get back to Lover's Key State Park, so named because before it was a state park, lovers would go to this beach and enjoy. None of that here now, the state has taken over! lol The park has about four sections and the amenities are excellent. I am still a very big fan of Florida's park system.
I make my plan after triple checking all my options and chatting with the good folks at the Lover's Key office. I park my van in the parking lot and take my bike to the northern access of the park, right at the beach. I walk to the end of the beach. Even though it says private, you can be on the beach as long as you stay below the highest point of high tide. This is easy to do because of the line of shells and seaweed and sea grass. So, private, doesn't really mean private. Hasn't yet! I jog to the bridge, about 30 yards and stop to do my stretching and push ups, etc.
The weather is clear and sunny. It is going to be a hot day. I take off around 11 am. Having jogged several miles and kayaked some yesterday, I thought today would be a piece of cake. Ha! About halfway through the key, I had to stop. I guess the big breakfast wasn't such a good idea, especially in this heat. I rest for about 20 minutes and take off. Now I feel better. There are many folks on some parts of the beach and none on other parts. The sand and shells make it difficult to lie on the beach in many spots, but the beach and water are really inviting. I round the bend and find it impassable. I thought it went for a longer stretch, but I guess the weather and water took part of the beach.
I walk back to the pavilion and catch the tram back to my van. I get to the van and take off for the northern end and my bike. I could really use some ice water about this time but am unwilling to pay $2.25 a bottle! So, I plan to go to Publix and get some ice. Driving by the office, I spy a water fountain that has nice, cold water! Yes! I hop out of the van and drink up and then fill as bottle up as well. Ahh.
I get to my bike and remember that I haven't had my devotions yet. So, I grab my Bible and that bottle of water and sit down on one of the park benches and read the next chapter in Psalms. I am not getting through very good these day, but that's my fault, not His. After that I nod off
on the bench for about 10 minutes. I really didn't sleet much last night! Then I grab my bike, recheck my plan and head to Dog Beach.
This beach is a hoot! You have to walk about a city block through up to two feel of water to reach the beach. The dogs love it! The beach this day was only about 200 yards long and not connected to any land. It was high tide. I was amazed to see all the dogs and people having such fun. I didn't bring my phone/camera so I ask this guy who has his phone out if he can email a pic. His name is Randy O'Neal. He is a young attorney from Richmond, KY and a nice guy, too. The two pics of Dog Beach are from him. Thanks, Randy!
After I jog that little beach I cross the bridge and pump up my kayak to go to the middle of the last beach of the day, Big Hickory Beach. Supposedly, it is a private island, but still the beaches are open. The short kayak trip was beautiful with mangrove on both sides. I beach my kayak and take off up the beach. There is a big storm brewing and if it heads my way, my plan is to put the aluminum paddle about ten feet away and hunker under my kayak. Fortunately, I didn't need to do this. I jog the beach and have to skirt around several trees in the water. Beach erosion. I come to the end and the big white egret has to move from the end of the beach. He flies off into the forest. Cool. After reaching the end, I walk back to the kayak. I find some shells I haven't see before! I take about four shells back with me. A husband and wife are there shelling as well. They are nice folks and we chat for a bit.
I kayak back and head to the state park where I can wash off and dry the kayak, and myself as well. Later I head to Publix to get a few things and stop at the ice cream / coffee shop, Truly Scrumptious, to get back on line. They tell me I can't unless I order some food. Paula, who works
there is very nice about the whole thing. So, I go next door and grab a beer and still use the ice cream / coffee shop to get online. Now, this sort of thing has never happened to me before. Later I talk to someone who used to work near this place and find that the owners overprice their food and simply are not nice people. Whenever this girl went there, or her friends, they always had a bad experience. So, I will post a pic of that place so you now where NOT to go!
It's been a long day and I head back to the park marina to sleep. Nite.
Saturday, July 2,2011
I get up, get cleaned up and get going. I want to jog Bonita and Bearfoot Beaches today. It looks like rain, but I get ready anyway. I am going to park my van at Lover's Key, bike to the trolley stop and take a trolley to Bonita Beach, etc. I hop on the bike and get to the park office to fill up with cold water. Sonya is working today, a very nice and pretty girl who is full in good information. She checks the local weather for me and the downpour begins! She looks at the radar and the news isn't good. Rain most of the day. Hmm... I may have a change of plans. It is still pouring down outside so I wait in the office and we chat. I tell her what I observed about some of the beach scenes and she says I have most of it right on. Cool. She asks what I think about Ft. Myers Beach and I tell her. She mentions that the north end of the beach is a big party place and the southern end is where retired people go. Some young people party every day. Once in a while it may be fun but the everyday stuff is definitely not for her. She prefers Bonita Beach which has a more relaxed atmosphere and the water is cleaner.
The rain lets up and I bike back to the van. I hear there is a used book store at Santini Marina Square. My friend recommended a Florida author Carl Hiaasen. She says the books are really good and I should take a read. So, off I go the Book Nook and the lady helps me find what I need. This store is really laid out well and the lady, Annette the owner, really enjoys her work. Great for a rain Florida day! I ask where I can get online and she recommends Subway. So I go to Subway, (I am there right now.) and ask about the WiFi and order breakfast,which to my surprise is both affordable and very good. Yummy. .Brad and Ruby are working and we chat a bit. They really help me understand this area more completely. I posted their pic. Good kids, positive, sharp and fun.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I am up and ready to go, including breakfast, by 8:30 am. I want to go to Sunday School. The only place that has Sunday School is a Baptist church. I get the feeling I am supposed to stay for church too, but I don't want to. I need to jog beaches today. I took off yesterday and I have to finish the Gulf Coast by July 10. I get to the church just before nine. It is a very nice building. I walk in and get directions to the Sunday school room. Lo and behold, they are serving a full breakfast! Some homeless guys are there and well as church folks. This happens every Sunday, and I think Wednesdays too. I had already eaten so I grab a coffee and a donut. The folks are friendly and happy. I wonder when Sunday School will
start as it is getting late.
They say it often starts late as this is a laid back church. Hmm... I wonder. Then this guy comes in wearing a nice shirt, blue jeans and flip-flops He starts to read the bulletin. He sounds kind of not too concerned about it. This, I soon discover, is the pastor, Shawn. So, far I am not impressed. Then Sunday School begins and we are in the book of Acts, Chapter 17 I think. Shawn is using his phone to read his notes. Still not impressed. Then he starts talking how Christians get on their high horses and start chasing rabbits and forget the gospel. Now he has my attention.
People respond with their ideas and questions. I join in, of course! But not too much. Some very good questions are raised and Shawn handles them very well. Better than I could. Now I am getting impressed. He is talking how Christian treat homosexuals in such condemning ways and also brings out the fact that these same Christians often gossip, which they must think is okay. But these two activities are both equally condemned in Scripture. So, he asks, why focus on one and forget the other? Shawn is not against homosexuals, he loves them just as he loves everyone. We all need God and this is his primary goal in life. Bring people to God through God's way, His Son. Now I am very impressed. He seems kind of flaky but right on in a spirit-led life. Sweet! This is getting fun.
I ask Shawn, along with his beautiful wife, Sherri, who is sitting next to him, how he came to be at Ft. Myers Beach Baptist Church. They story comes from both of them and is so cool and hilarious and difficult as well. Their story could take up a whole chapter in a book!
As I said earlier, I hadn't wanted to stay for church because I wanted to jog while there was some cool air left. But after attending Sunday School, I had to stay for church. And I wasn't disappointed! The music was upbeat and inspiring, the sermon was on two of the disciples, James and John, the Sons of Thunder, a nickname Jesus gave them. I laughed several times through the sermon, which took some time but didn't seem at all that long. And the message was excellent as was the altar call at the end. If I were to settle in this area, this would be my church! The weirdest baptist church you will ever visit, and I hope you do. Just don't eat breakfast before you go!
I head out after church to Lover's Key State Park, a wonderful staging area. I park my van, get my gear together and bike up to the trolley
stop. The trolley is later and the driver explains that Ft. Myers Beach is really crowded. We take off. I tell him what I am doing and he drops me off at the best stop, just over the New Pass bridge. I walk to the end of the beach and it is crowded. More than I have ever seen. Well, I still have to do my per-jog workout. I stretch, do about 40 push ups. Some guy says something and stares. I am not sure what that is about so I just look at him and then get back to my workout. I do some crunches, leg work and about 20 squat. Then, this same guy, about 60, comes over and says, Gee, you are in grate shape! I couldn't do that! (It makes me feel good!) I say just start jogging. Now I am ready. I take off, jogging around people and things. Folks are nice and having fun. A young girl on a boat offers me a beer. I say, in about three hours at the end of Barefoot Beach, and keep jogging.
The weather is hot, the sun is out, the water is calm and the beach is beautiful. I feel good. I round the northern bend and start down the stretch. I always try to nod, say hi, or wave to folks. Most wave back. Bonita Beach is a friendly beach. I feel so good that I jog backwards a few times! I pass Bonita Beach and head down an almost empty stretch of beach to Barefoot Beach. I can see the end of the beach and plan to jog all the way nonstop. But there is a guy and his girl friend trying unsuccessfully to get their beached jet ski into deeper water. I ask if they are okay and no they are not. So, I stop and help get the jet ski in the water. Helping folks is more important than doing the beach nonstop. I round the bend and see a boat beached as well. There are about five guys on the boat and only two are trying to get it off the sand. It ain't happening. I tell them I can help in minute when I am done.
By the time I get back to help they all got out and got the boat into the water. They thank me anyway. I would ask for a ride, but I am not sure about them. I couldn't stage my bike because the park charged like eight bucks just to take my van back to the parking area to stage it. And it is a mile and a half from the parking lot to the road where the trolley is, plus it is at least a half mile to the parking lot from the end of the beach. So, I may have to hike it.
The weather turns overcast and cool with a slight breeze. This really helps! And because I went to church I am the happy recipient of cool
weather! Barefoot Beach is less sandy than Bonita, with more shells,but still very nice and there are plenty of people there. I finally get to the end of the beach and turn back to the parking lot. The sky becomes really dark and I barely make it to the parking lot and there is a pavilion there Cool. I meet the park ranger, "Montana". She is a very nice person. I ask her if there is a shuttle bus to the main road and she says there isn't. She also says she can't take me as it is against policy. That's cool. But next is even cooler. She invites me into the office, offers me a towel and some snacks and water from her lunch box I balk, but she says she has plenty. So, I enjoy. We chat.
Her story is most interesting. She loves Montana and is back here taking care of her father. She had a good life there, but her father was more important. It has been five years. She goes back to visit her friends at least once a year and will be there again. She has done more outdoor things and has been a veterinary assistant, etc. She is perfect for the job. I need to start hiking out so I give her a hug and take her pick. Thanks for being so nice, Montana!
I go down the steps and there is a shelter than has several cases of artifacts and wildlife stuff. Jan is taking care of it. This guy from Texas is
kind of hitting on her in a polite way. I take a seat and watch the show. Besides, I have the feeling that I wasn't going to have to hike out of there. Finally there is a lull in the conversation. I ask Jan how long she is going to work today and she says she is leaving soon. I ask if I could get a ride to the trolley stop. She says, 'Sure!" Ahh.. Another pleasant and helpful person! Cool. The guy from Texas has a bunch of folks, about six in all, who need a ride too. Some have foreign accents. She says yes and they load up. I make sure I get the front seat.
Jan has been in Florida quite a while and loves it here. I think she volunteers at the exhibit. She is very cheerful and helpful. She drops
us off and even has change for a fiver for me. Thanks, Jan. You really are a sweetheart.
Within 20 minute the trolley shows up. Charley is driving. He used to drive buses in New York City. Now he is here. He is a sharp guy and I
enjoy talking to him. He drops me off and I get a pic. It's posted n the July photos.
I bike back to my van, get cleaned up and make a call to Net10, which is a nightmare. It takes at least 30 minutes to get through and about that
much more to get something done. I sure hope they don't screw it up again. If they do, I am dropping them. Later I hit Ft. Myers Beach for a cold beer. (I don't get drunk or behave in an unbecoming manner, but sometimes a good beer is good. (For Christians against all drinking I suggest you read your Bible more carefully.) I am not advocating that everyone should drink, but for me it is okay. Also, I can get on WiFi there. Thank you, Truly Scrumptious! (They don't know it!) This way I can check out tomorrow's jog.
Once, last year, I was at my preacher's house and his wife was serving hot chocolate. I asked if they had anything to put in it. She thought and remembered that someone had given them some Peppermint Schnapps Great! I put some in and it was very tasty. The next Sunday after church, the pastor's wife was talking to an older lady. I couldn't resist. I went up to her and thank her for the liquor she gave me at her house. You should have seen both faces! She handled it well and gave me a look I deserved! That was fun,too!
I spend the night in van.
Monday, July 4, 2011 Happy Fourth of July, America! Love You, Mom!
I am up early and cook some turkey polish sausage, two eggs and bread with butter and honey. Mmm...Good. I check out Delnor Wiggins State Park and get an early/late entry pass. Kimberly there is really helpful. The park will fill up early today, so I have to stage my bike and get back. I almost stage my bike not as close as I wanted. But fortunately I ask someone about the jetty and they say there is a beach access closer. Cool. I stage my bike at the right place and drive 8 miles back to Delnor Wiggins State Park.
I park in the last lot and don my jogging gear. I walk out to the beach and it is beautiful. Sugar sand, blue, calm water, clear sky. Wow. It's going to be a good day! I find the end of the beach and there are a few folks fishing there and it is small. I walk carefully to the end and jog tiny steps around them and get to a clear and large sandy area. I do my stretching and stuff. There is another former Marine there with his wife. They kayaked out there. We have a good chat and I am off. It feels good again. The sun is out, the beach is ideal. There are already many people on the beach.
I, as is my habit, smile, wave or say hello to folks when appropriate. These folks are uppity! About half wave. The other either ignore me, stare at me, or stuff like that. Hmm... The things I have heard about this beach is true. Snobby. Not everyone to be sure, but enough to make people avoid eye contact. Odd world, isn't it? (I see you, but I don't want to see you. If I see you we may have to communicate.) Now there are many folks on the beach who just want to lie in the sun, read a book or just stare at the water. And they really don't want to interact as this is their time off from their busy schedules. I can spot these people usually and though I might give a nod, I just pass them by. But many others are looking around, etc.
Naples seems to consist of the rich who barged in here and behave in a hoity toity manner, (not all, of course, but enough to say it), and the folks who were here before the place was put on the map. Nice folks. I have met many.. And there is a very nice middle class community just north of here, Bonita Springs. Yes, there are rich there too, but it's not the same. I talked to a college girl who graduated from the local high school here. A lot of rich kids go to this school. She said they were really two-faced and uppity. By the way, she holds no grudges and is well balanced as a person as I see it. If you didn't have money, they ostracized you,she said. Plain and simple. So, she hung out with other middle class folks.
Interestingly, she saw the uppity kids for what they were. Very shallow and self-centered. Are all moneyed people like this? Absolutely not! I have met some excellent folks, just excellent human beings who happen to be wealthy. And I admire them much! But back to this situation. Even best friends often turned on each other. I voiced that this is what I saw on the beaches and other places with their parents. (She then realized this was learned behavior. The kids learned this from their parents.) The rich who have to show it off, and not the rich who are normal folks with money, but the "uppity rich" really have no friends. They have appointments, acquaintances, etc., but they are just as self-centered as their "friends".
They are out for themselves. Wow! What a way to live. They are going to die arrogant and without friends. And often without strong family ties as well. I witnessed this first-hand in Korea. I was in the hospital side room where this fellow was dying. His wife and daughter were there with him, but not taking care of him. Both had make-up on, especially the daughter. She actually was looking around wanting to leave, not out of grief, but she had things to do. (A friend invited me there to help.) And it is the same here.
Anyway, the beach was wonderful. Good,firm sand. Sugar sand. Nice and wide. A very nice beach. Many people were fishing, catching lots of
snook, others were in the water, which has a nice sloping grade to it. And many were on shore doing their thing to relax. I stopped to take a picture and this little baby, maybe one year old came up to me. His mom was there watching. It was a hoot. They baby like the blue on my tennis shoes! She we played for a minute. I tapped my shoe while the baby played with the blue trim. It was so funny, I laughed out loud. The mother thanked me for stopping to do that. (I was the one who had fun!) And I took off down the beach. Things like that make life worthwhile. Some call it living in the moment.
It was getting hot. I had run for just under an hour and I was sucking up the water fast. About halfway down, I guess, this place called Pelican Bay. It is just after Vanderbuilt Beach, which is quite nice as well. I saw the American flag and the military flags, including the USMC flag! So, I thought this was a state or county park pavilion. It sure looked good. People were coming onto the beach with plastic cups of ice. Cool! Wonder if it costs. I walk up and inquire about that. The lady says, 'Don't you know this is a private facility.' 'No," I say. 'I didn't see any signs and I did see the flags and I am a former Marine.'. Could I get some ice and water? She yes okay and point to where it is. (Now,folks, if you are showing the Marine Corps flag, you darn sure better let the marine in!) I thanked here and drank a couple of glasses of iced water. And then I filled my water bladder with ice. Sweet. Man, did that taste good going down the beach! The folks I talked to there were nice. Actually, I would like to vacation at Pelican Bay sometime. I think those folks know how to do it right!
That is about the halfway point of my jog for today. I ask a fellow about a small cut that I hope to wade through on my way to the jetty. He
says it's about a mile down and I can cross it if it's not high tide. Hmm... I don't think it's high tide. We'll see. I reach it and plan to go straight
across. I ask a kayaker coming through how deep it is. He says it's no more than four or five feet deep. I can make it he says. I hoist my pack, with my cell phone in it, over my head. I start it and after about five steps, it gets a little deeper than I want the current is pushing me sideways. No stability. So, I back out and go a out fifteen yards past the mouth of the little cut. The water is a lighter color and shallower. It is not more than waste deep. Cool. I make it to the other side, put my pack on and after a minute start jogging.
The rest of the beach is just as nice as the first part. I see the jetty and since I am reaching the three hour mark into my jog, I focus on the stones of the jetty. That way, I won't stop along the way. I decide that instead of focus with a serious look, I should smile and enjoy the focus. This works. l! I am not sure it will always work, but it does this time?
I reach the stones of the jetty. Whew. I am whipped. I stop, take my pack off, lean over and rest. Then I go up the jetty and look at tomorrow's jog. Cool. It seems I passed all the big buildings of Naples today! They were eight miles away when I started and now they are behind me. I like that!
I start to walk back to my bike at the beach access point. I stop several times. It is not that far, but it is hot and I am tired. Why rush? I find my bike, unlock it, and take off. Now for the eight-mile ride back. I get the feeling that something good is going to happen on the way back. Will I get a ride? Not sure. But it is a nice day and I can take my time. So, I enjoy the ride. I ride past a KFC that is advertising a buffet. And I need some veggies in my system. I was going to cook up some sticky rice with chicken when I got back. But I need veggies. I am looking for a Chinese buffet. They have veggies. I don't see any. Then I spy a Sweet Tomato! Yes! That's the good thing that was going to happen. For less than ten bucks I get all the veggies I want and other great food as well. It is one of my favorite places. I lock my bike up and get some chow. I load my plate with veggies and enjoy it. I have other things as well. Finally, I see a dark chocolate frozen yogurt machine. Indeed, my ship has come in! The first was so good, I have another.
And the best part about it is this is my turn. I am almost back to my van. I ride to the gate and tell the gentleman that my van is parked there. He sees my hat with the Marine Veteran on it and says, "You're a veteran. That's good enough for me!" Gee, thanks! That makes me feel good. I get to my van and decide to hit the beach for a rest. I am reading a new, highly recommended author, Carl Hiaasen, and want to read further. It is a good read. So, I get my beach stuff, walk the short distance to the beach and set up. Then the clouds come and it starts to rain. The Cubans who are at the beach say in the water. Even though there is thunder. I don't see any lightening. I wait it out under my beach umbrella. After waiting a while,I grab my pack with my phone in it and head to the van. Then I remember I have a motorcycle rain suit in the van. Cool. I don he jacket with good and head back to my stuff.
As I am walking to my umbrella and chair, this kids says, "Why don't you come in? It's warm." I see all these Cuban people in the water, at least three groups. Well, what the heck. Maybe they know something I don't. So, I get in the water and it is warm. I am still a little hesitant about the thunder though. Later, I asked a fellow who was fishing about that. He said they always do that in their home country. I as where that is and he says Cuba. (That's how I know they are Cubans.) I asked about the thunder and he says he has never heard of someone
getting zapped. And I realized there is no visible lightening. It's all above the clouds. I ask what if he sees lightening. Then you get out of the water he says. Make sense to me.
The rain stops and I stay in the water relaxing. But I need to work on this site so off to Starbucks I go. It's ten o'clock and time for me to finish. It has been a good day. Nite.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I am up early today as I want to finish the Gulf side by Wednesday. This means I need to jog the remaining five miles of Naples Beach and kayak to Keewaydin Island and jog half of that, about four miles. So, I am out and ready by 8 am. No time for my normal routine. I hope to do that later today. I stage my bike at 33 Ave. S. and head toward the jetty to find some parking. No free parking. The charge is $1.50 an hour. I park at Lowdermilk Park, which is right on the beach and very nice. I figure it will take about one hour and 45 minutes to jog this stretch plus time to hike to the bike and bike back. So, I pay for three hours. That should be enough.
But I have an uneasy feeling about this. Anyway, I grab my gear and start hiking toward the jetty. It is a little farther than I thought. As soon as I reach the jetty I turn and start jogging. It's 8:07 am. Even though it is early morning, the sun is hot. There are some people on the beach and more are trickling in. The first jogger I meet waves at me before I have a chance to wave at him. That's rare and neat. It's going to be a good day! Well, a good moment, anyway. After jogging for about 20 minutes I begin to wonder if I left the lights on in the van. This begins to worry me as I have a habit of doing that. So, I stop, hike back and check the van. Lights are off, but now I have to add more money for parking. I add another two hours just to be safe. Returning to the beach I wave or say hi or tip my hat to folks. What I said about the other part of Naples Beach goes double here. But there are always wonderful exceptions. And there are very nice folks on that beach as well. It is getting hot and I need a break.
I see a man sitting on some wooden structure that is perfect for a bench. And it is in the shade. I join him and we have an excellent conversation. His name is Bob and he is a retired police officer from the UK. He served 17 years and rose through the ranks to become a division commander. We discuss how it used to be there as well as in the US. Officers kept the peace, using wisdom in handling situations, whereas now it has shifted to keeping the letter of the law, without being able to use their own discretion. He has been all over America and we chat about that as well. After about 15 minutes I give him my card, which he accepts intending to give it to an avid jogger friend in the UK. I am refreshed and my pace is brisk. That break did me a world of good. I jog past Naples Pier, which is impressive. A lot of folks are fishing off the pier already. I spy the Keewaydin Island. Sweet. My next stop. I finish this job. Great beach, by the way, with several beach access point. Just have lots of quarters!
I hike back to 33rd Ave. S., turn on the beach shower over my head. Ahh... That's nice. I unlock my bike and head toward my van. The mansions are huge here. The landscaping is the most ornate and lush I have seen in Florida. In Sarasota and down the beach towards Venice they have expensive houses and mini-mansions, but in Naples they have huge, perfectly manicured lawns with rows of palm trees, fountains, statues,
everything. And it continues for quite a while.
And I am very glad I purchased additional time for my parking. Otherwise I would have gotten a ticket. And i did see some cars with tickets, so they enforce it strictly, it seems. I get back to the van around 11:45. I clean up at the facilities. Hot water again!
I get back to the van and the car next to mine has the door open so I can't get into the side doors of my van. I tell the fellow, "That's okay, take your time." He says, "Time?". I repeat my self and so does he. So I just walk around to the back of the van and chill. He, his wife and two young daughters are getting ready to leave. He asks me about what I said, so I explain to him the idiom, 'take your time'. I think he finally gets it. We chat. They are from Holland here on vacation. They are traveling north to Tampa and are enjoying Florida very much. I ask if the girls have found some shells and show them my collection on my dashboard. They have some and don't want any. They take off with some goodbyes and I start thinking about getting some laundry done. I really need to wash some clothes as I am down to one part of short pants and a swimsuit.
But I get the impression that I need to go get a parking place for my van so I can kayak to the next island and I need to do it now! I follow these impressions. Yes, I think God is leading me, and taking care of me too, by the way. Early on I found it prudent to follow these leadings. Ten extra
miles of kayaking St. George Island taught me that! lol So I head back up to park my van. Someone told me there is free parking, but that proves to be false. The spaces without meters are for beach permit sticker parking only. Bummer. These meters take quarters and even if I did have enough quarters I doubt the meters go as long as I am going to need.
I drive up and down the road a few times wondering what to do. There are a few constructions sites and I wonder if I could park there. There is also a side street that looks good for parking, but I am not going to do that as I would probably get towed. Should I ask at a construction site? I hesitate. And drive by again. There does seem to be parking available there. So, finally I stop and ask a fellow. He says the boss is gone and he can't give permission. I go to the site across the street, explain what I am doing. he says the boss is gone, but let's ask the second-in-command. He takes me to him the fellow says,sure, since they have got space today. Tomorrow would be a different story he observes. Later, while getting my kayak ready and wearing my USMC cap, he give me a 'Semper Fi'. He was in during the mid-seventies. I can't say any more about these two fellows, but thanks!
I pump up my kayak, grab my gear and wolf down a tasteless turkey polish sausage and some bread along with apple juice. After all, I hadn't eaten yet that day. Then I make sure my van is locked up. Just next to the site is a dock. No house, just brown stones. I hope the water is shallow. Yes! I find three kayak pontoon things. I set my kayak on one and hop in. I am in the water paddling. I need to check out some pieces of beach before I get to the island. The beaches aren't really beaches. Just spits of sand with trees and shrubs. I decide right there that if there isn't 50 yards of clear beach, it isn't a beach. Got to draw the line somewhere!
Now to Keewaydin. The channel is busy so I pick and choose my time carefully. I paddle over to the inland side of the island and find no place to put in. So this means I have to travel up the jetty against the current. Fun! The current isn't quite as bad as my son, Andrew, and I experienced in Destin, but the jetty is long and I have to really paddle. Got to smile at times like this! The boats coming in are kind to me and even though it is not a 'no wake' area they slow down so as not to create big waves. I shout or wave thanks and they reply with waves. One boat going out, not seeing me of course, really kicked in the power. I think, "Shoot, this is going to be fun!".
A large sail boat see what is going one and speeds up just a little to intercept those big waves. Sweet. I shout thanks and he replies something like no problem. I appreciate that. I round the jetty and drift into the sandy beach. Not really supposed to be there, at least not past the high tide mark. But I put my kayak in some weeds near the jetty and start jogging. I plan to jog for a hour. It is 2:45 now so I decide to jog till 4 PM. There are two huge mansions on this end complete with a few golf holes and other amenities. I see no one, except for a beach gator heading my way. I think, "Is this security?" No, they turn off. The day is beautiful, the beach is excellent with white sand, nice and wide and the clear water is lapping the shore. Great day for a jog. On the way out I past just two small groups of people who have anchored their boats near shore. They are having a nice, relaxing time. I keep jogging.
I get the feeling to stop at 3:45 instead of 4 PM. Okay, 3:45 it is. I jog counting the minutes as I am getting tired. Finally at the 3:45 mark I stop and there is one of the many signs that says in case of emergency contact 911 and it give the location. Mine is R108. That is my stopping point. Now for the walk back. No ride today. I start slow and then pick up the pace. My phone rings and I stop and take the call. It is my friend from Chicago Cool! We have a good chat and then I remember that I promised my daughter that I would call her school for her. So I do that too.
Now I can see the mansions. I finally get there and find my gear intact. I take it down to the beach and pump some more air into it. And I am
off. I think the current looks to be against me, but I am wrong. This is nice! But the current does fight me just a little once I get more at the end of the channel. I arrive back at the kayak pontoon and scoot my butt up onto the ramp. Made it! Great! I take my stuff to the van and head out. Back to Delnor Wiggins State Park where I can clean up, cook some chow and rest. Once I get there I decide to go for a relaxing time in the water.
I walk in and the water is cold! What's up. It should be very warm. Then I realize that I hadn't put sunscreen on today and I was in the sun all day. Too much sun! Bummer! I get out.I cook Ramen and sticky rice with a couple of eggs. Delicious! While cooking, a park ranger, Lourdes is her first name, stops by and we chat. Later she tells me where the restrooms are open all night and that they have electricity there as well. Sweet. So I can charge my computer! But I have to wear a jacket to do so because of the mosquitoes! I sleep early.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I am up by 5:30 as I want to get going. But first I stop at McDonald's right around the corner. I get a senior coffee and have to plug in outside. I need to work on my journal. I spend more time there than I wanted, but I have good feelings about it. I finish my computer work and leave for Marco Island around 8 am.
I follow US 41 South and see a sign, Miami, 110 miles. Wow. That's a first. I turn toward Marco Island and want to text a friend. I see a sign that
reads Isle of Capri. I turn down that road and stop to text. I had checked the map and saw this place but in my mind I thought it was more or less a closed community and I had decided to bypass it and go straight to Marco Island. But then I said a quick prayer for direction today and decided to check it out. I stop at a marina/restaurant and ask a few guys on the docks about where I am at and the best way to get to Keewaydin. They say I am at Capri and the best way to kayak to the island is from right here. I can put in my kayak for free as well. This is nice! But the best thing about Capri is the people. They look you in the eye, smile and offer a mutual respect. Something that has been missing the last few days. Ah. Back among CIVILization!
I go get ready, pump up the kayak and in 20 minutes I am in the water. They say it takes about an hour to kayak to the island. And I think it took that long. Most boats are friendly and slow down when going by so as not to make too big of waves. The sun is out and the water is beautiful. I reach the southern part of the island and the beach is big, wide and nice. There are several charter and rental boats there as well as private boats. Kids are playing, people are laying out and other are fishing. A nice, sunny beach day.I tie my kayak to a plastic post and head out. These plastic posts are ubiquitous throughout almost all the beaches of Florida. They have signs on them telling us humans that birds are nesting, so please keep out. And there are white ropes looping through all the signs. They are there for good reason.
Back to the jog, I am thinking it should take about an hour or so if I walk briskly. I need to go to sign post 108. The beach curves and it is beautiful still. There are some tree stumps in a small area on the beach but not enough to cause any problem. I see some beautiful homes as well. Not on the water but set back a ways. No more than ten along the four mile stretch. They aren't mansions, but large, nicely done homes. The beach itself is awesome. I think they replenish the sand as the upper part of the beach is sugar sand and the lower part is regular beach, tan sand and shells. But, this beach is empty and wonderful. I don't see anyone for miles.
I find sing post R113 and know I am only a mile or two away. Cool. But very dark clouds are coming from the southeast. Doesn't look good. I pass R109 and can now see R108. The rain starts light and then gets worse. I keep walking to R108. I get there and the rain begins in earnest. I walk into the foliage and stand under a short palm tree that has some dead branches hanging. Keeps me pretty dry. I drink some water, eat an apple I brought and try to use a big leaf to catch some rain water. It works. I just wonder what else I ingested besides. So I stop doing that.
After twenty minutes or so I plan to leave. I set a time of 1:30. If I don't get a sign to stay, I am jogging. One thirty comes and the rain lets up quite a bit so I retie my shoes and start jogging. I am worried a little about hypothermia so I take my shirt off. It is just keeping me cold anyway. And if I do get cold I will jump in the water as it is warmer there. The rain stops, but later it drizzles. But that is okay, I am jogging and having fun! It took
about 10 minutes to reach the next sign post while walking, but I wanted to make time going back so it only took seven minutes to reach each one.
Five markers in thirty five minutes. Cool. Still don't know how far apart they are. I reach the end and see a family heading toward the water. They are the only ones I see. The crowd has gone. I round the beach and hop in my kayak and head for the next beach which is only a few hundred yards away and less than a mile long. I want to add some air to my kayak so I pump some more in but it isn"t working very well. I hope the pump is working. Finally it is done. Then I discover that I did not take the string off the pump. No wonder it didn't work so well! Duh!
I take off for the next beach. The current is against me this time and I beach the kayak as soon as I can. It is easier to walk the thing that to paddle
it. I walk it along the shore and see two beautiful stingrays, dark with white circles about 10 feet away. Beautiful. There is a small one in front as well.
I reach the end of the beach and start walking back so I can jog it. I get a couple of phone calls along the way and take care of them. It is still
drizzling as I reach the end and start jogging back. I then hop in my kayak and head back to the marina. I round the island and find one more beach I had forgotten about. I jog that too and head back. The current seems to be with me. Yes! I find the marina, take care of my gear and use a gallon of fresh water to rinse myself with. I towel off,change clothes and head to the restaurant for some French fries and a drink.
Tomorrow Marco Island.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Having slept in the parking lot across from the Capri restaurant, which seems to have excellent food by the way, I hear rain on my van. Hmm... Maybe no jogging today. I check he weather and it calls for thunderstorms today, but tomorrow seems even worse so off I go. I take a wrong
turn and go around the parking lot of Island Market and get back on the street. But I see a free WiFi sign so I turn back into the parking lot. The folks sitting outside are looking at me like I am weird or something! The fellow asks what I am doing, I say checking my tires. He says, yep, they are round. I can tell right now that this is my kind of place! The lady sitting there, Angela, runs the place. She is very nice and gives me the password for her WiFi even though she has no idea whether I am gong to buy anything.
This is one of two stores on the island and she has done a good job with it. It has everything for a gourmet deli to cold beer. It is a local community get-together. They let me spend the day there if I wish. Folks come for coffee, ice cream and other things. The sandwiches are excellent. I eat a meatball sandwich and eat slowly because it tastes so good! I sit outside chatting with some old timers. Very interesting people. Bob flew B-25s in WWII, Bob was aboard a Fletcher-class destroyer then. Another gent called the colonel stops by. I ask about Capri and Marco Island and they tell me about it. Capri is a wonderful neighborhood community. Years ago it started as a fishing lodge and has now expanded to many beautiful homes, most on the water. But these folks are keeping it real. Nice folks.
One tells me about the original plan of Marco Island. It wasn't supposed to have building higher than three stories, but the developers, Marcos (?), couldn't quite do ti financially or something and sold it. Money came in and built high rises on the beach. Now there public beach access is extremely limited, you have to pay eight dollars to park, and that is not on the beach! One whole section is considered private with no public access. Yeah, bring the family! Not here! But another long-time resident of Marco Island said the current beach system was in the original plans.
And about ten or so years ago they made it a city which incurred another layer of taxes for the locals who have lived here for many years. The locals voted the city idea down six times I hear. Hmm... Isn't money grubbing politics grand? I am all for honest business development as long as it respects the community, but when tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars are to be made, all the coyotes start circling their prey. Add I have met a developer who said things used to be that way, partly, but now it's different. They take big chances and lose millions and sometimes gain millions. Not their's, their investors. They worked on one project, a resort complete with golf course and other amenities, for 10 years,
the investors then pulled out and the bank took everything! So, there are at least two sides to this story. And a third as well. I was reading Carl Hiaasen's book, Puppy Love when I first wrote this. Read this hilarious book and you will understand.
Another example of possible shenanigans was in today's paper. In today's free paper i read the the police chief is resigning after about 12 years of service. Just under that article is another article about a police Sgt. being reprimanded by the police chief with a demotion for arresting an owner of a well-known restaurant because he is driving a stolen Bentley! The owner said it is collateral for a bad debt. Even the paper implies something is fishy on Marco Island. More later... After my jog on Friday, I met an older couple and we chatted. I brought up the articles and they thought the policeman should have been fired. I mentioned that I really wasn't sure and didn't trust the restaurateur. They said, "Joey? He gets away with a lot of things." These folks are nice people and I find that there are many nice folks here on Marco Island. Most have been here a very long time.
Enough of that. Tonight I am staying in the parking lot of Angela's Island Market. Do you remember Truly Scrumptious? Well, Angela's place is the opposite! People congregate at this carry out and gourmet deli because the food is great and so is the ambiance. Chairs and tables are lined up outside for people to sit and talk. WiFi and soft music is on even when the place is closed so people can sit and relax and get on line if they wish. And Angela and Melissa are wonderful people who genuinely like the folks who stop by. If you need to get online or want an excellent sandwich, etc. stop by. You won't be disappointed!
Friday, July 8, 2011
It rains all night and it is really coming down. Not much wind, but torrents of rain. By morning the rain has stopped and the weather is overcast
but clearing. Good day for a jog! I grab a cup of coffee at the Island Market and chat with the owner, Angela, for a while, then head to Marco Island. I was going to stage my bike at the southern end but felt that I shouldn't. So, I didn't. I pulled into Tigertail Beach parking lot, paid the eight dollars to Lee, a very helpful lady who really likes her job. I park and go down to the beach, or at least what I thought was a beach. It was just the lagoon beach and to get to the real beach you have to wade 50 yards or so across the lagoon. It is not deep. But I need to get to the private beach so I may kayak. I go back and talk to Lee. She helps and then say that Todd, the person who rents the kayaks, etc. can really help me decide. We chat a bit and she also tells me many from the Miami area come to this beach on the weekends. She is always asking and they say this is much more cleaner and more family oriented than the beaches in Miami.
I go back to the lagoon and Todd is there. He is a very nice young man and sharp. I tell him what I want to do and he says, that yes, the
kayak would be best. So, I go and get my kayak, pump it up and start north toward the bend. The water is rather shallow and before I get there I have to walk the kayak a ways. Then I hop back in. I see my landing spot. There are two women and a man there taking pictures. I shout that I can take a pic of all three as soon as I land. They readily agree. I land the kayak and put it in the grass, then walk over and take some pics of them. I seem to have a knack for getting people in natural poses for pics. They like them. They are from Toronto, Canada, but Cheryl and her hubby have moved here permanently and are very happy here. Ellen and Murray are visiting and love it as well. Very nice folks. I ask if they can take a pic of my using their camera and then email me the pics. They say yes and Cheryl, it's her camera, take a couple of pics. And emails them to me right away. Sweet.
They say the end of the private beach is about three miles away. I think it is less, but don't dispute. I start hiking along the beach. It does take longer than I expected. I need to go around just a little brush to reach the end of the beach. I decide to do a full work out there. I always try to listen to my body when exercising and stretching. I take my time and do all the stretches I usually do and do my push ups, but I forgot my squats! I start jogging and it is warm. The beach is narrow in spots and wide in spots. I would think that with the high rise condos there, they would try to re-nourish the beach as some spots of the beach are too narrow to jog. Then the beach widens out. There are a few folks there and they are nice. Shelling is great there, but I pick only one shell. The last time I saw this type was on Anclote Key and I gave all those shells to my friend and have been looking for that type ever since!
I jog well past the outer peninsula so decide to stop and walk the rest of the way to the kayak. After all, this is no longer a perimeter beach. I hop in the kayak and start paddling. The tide should be starting to go out now so I start making good time. But shortly after I take off, the water shallows so much that I must seek deeper water. I see some calm water and head for that. It works...for a little while. But then I must get out and walk the kayak. I do this by putting one end of the paddle into the kayak and hold and guide it with the other. I have to walk the entire way. Well, I will need a break after walking almost a mile in water halfway up to my knees. But the water is nice and the birds are beautiful. I make it back and ask Todd if I can rinse off the kayak with the hose. He says sure and I finally am able to clean my kayak after three days. I rinse everything off, kayak, paddle, life preserver, etc. I tip Todd a buck and say thanks.
I put the folded kayak under my arm and carry my stuff back to the van. I open the back doors and hang my kayak outer shell over one door and the inner part over the other door. I think that I will take a break for an hour. By that time I will have finished cleaning and stowing the kayak and eating. I decide to eat a can of chicken. But I add some salsa to it and eat it with crackers. Wow. This is really good. I call it Pollo Excano Mexicano. I will definitely have this again! With my back van doors open people can see all my gear. So I feel obliged to comment on what I am doing. One couple seems to like the idea so I give them my card with my web address on it.
Now for phase two of Marco Island. It is about 2 PM and I get some cold water from the fountain for my bladder and start hiking through the lagoon onto the outer beach. It is about two and a half miles so I maintain a pretty fast pace. I want to get back in time to visit Capri and take a break
there then jog the rest of Marco Island. Now, skimmers are my favorite birds and I have seen more recently than ever before. They skim the water with their lower beaks in the water, skimming for food. Beautiful to watch. Well, the is a skimmer nesting area and there are an estimated 800 skimmers here. Nice!
The end of this peninsula turns back around and narrows to a point. There are some boats anchored there and people are relaxing and having fun. I get the end point and retie my shoes and begin jogging. I think I have a blister again. I had a few a couple of days ago. Oh, well. Not too bad. The wind is in my face but that doesn't really matter today. I am in good shape and it is not a 10-mile jaunt. The water is a steel gray and beautiful The waves are crashing into the shore with white foam. There are people in the water. Wow. But it does look fun. I keep jogging and soon reach the sign and trail going back to the lagoon. It took about 40 or 45 minutes. Not bad.
Now the $8 ticket I purchased earlier is good for any county beach. So, if I get to South Beach by 6 pm, I can walk out the three miles to the starting point and jog back. And I will save eight bucks! So, with that in mind I head to Capri and buy a coke and almost chug it. Mmm... Good! I take a break till five o'clock. Then I take off for South Marco Beach Access. I had scoped it out earlier and it is not a big parking lot, Next to it, closer to the beach, is a private parking lot for the beach. Plus I have to walk down the street, cross the intersection and walk between two high rises to get to the beach. But it is worth it. This beach is wide, white and beautiful. Lots of folks are on it. I think the width of this beach varies from fifty to one hundred yards. Very nice.
I start route-stepping to the lagoon sign. First I have to pass a very long row of high rises. Some very nice architecture here. After about one hour I reach the starting point. I take a five minute break and stretch a little. The final jog of the Gulf Coast begins at 6:30 PM. And I feel good! I am smiling most of the way. I play only fast-paced music in order to keep the pace lively. Sometimes I slow down, but I try to pick it back up. I smile, say hi or wave to folks. The folks here are better than Naples, but nothing like Bradenton Beach. But many nice folks are here nonetheless. I round the crescent and spy the couple I gave my card to earlier. They are in chairs relaxing on the beach. I think they spy me first, actually. They smile and say hi. That's nice. Makes me feel good.
Now I focus on the end which I can see and is about three or four hundred yards away. I am smiling all the way now. Baby, this is sweet! I reach
the jetty and see a little bit of beach on the other side. So, I jog that too. Finished! July 8, 2011 at 7:44 PM. First the Panhandle and now the Gulf Coast. I feel... tired! And happy too. I start walking along the beach, take a few self pics and start looking for the beach access and that couple. I find them first and say hi. At least someone saw me finish. Then I find the access and walk toward it and sit on one of the benches. The view really is wonderful here.
I chat with a person who is having a difficult time choosing whether to live here or in New England. We discuss the issues involved and discover that this person hasn't developed a sense of community here yet. That and other things. We discuss ways to do that. It is a long and pleasant conversation. Her hubby and grandkids come up from the beach. Very nice people. He and I talk selling. A grandchild give me a small shell. This person said I don't look like a salesman. That piqued my interest. Okay, what do I look like. She thought and finally said I look like an adventurer and a journalist. Hmm... Something to think about. I do like writing and meeting people as you can probably tell my now. Maybe she has something there. What do you all think?
Walking up the steps I see this older couple but they look really young at heart and I say so. The wife says, they have to go backup north so he can celebrate his 90th birthday with his family. Wow. They simply don't look it. His handshake is very firm, full head of hair and fit. She is too. What a cool couple. He sees my Marine cap and mentions he was on a destroyer in the Navy. A radar man I think he was an officer. Not sure. He said the only time he cried was when the Marines landed on Iwo Jima. He said the Navy and Air Force had bombed that place for three weeks straight. But it didn't matter. The first wave of Marines were slaughtered and the second wave was decimated. The third wave, he said, about half survived without wounds or worse. An eye-witness account of the invasion of Iwo Jima. Wow.
I find a lot of nice folks on Marco Island. Some of the beach folks, locals and tourists to be sure, are haughty as seen by their actions, but I think there are many nice folks here. I have run into several. Many of these folks have been living here for over 20 years. Maybe that's the difference. But there are a lot of these folks and, except for the city spending everyone's money, I wouldn't mind living here. But I would choose Capri instead.
And then, Bud, the Capri island gent who served on a destroy in the pacific as well just came up a few minutes ago as I was typing this. I mentioned that I met another WWII destroyer vet and about Iwo and Bud mentions he was support on Guam,Sampan, Pelee, the Philippines and a few others, He thought Pelee was a big waste of men and resources. I, having read much on this, agreed. Amazing, the folks you meet, isn't it?
Plus I got a little more cash in the bank so I decided to celebrate. I hit Publix, buy a bag of ice, two 1.5 liters of coke and a six pack of Chill. Plus I stop at McDonald's and got a nice, greasy Redouble and a Chicken sandwich, my usual fare. Plus a half gallon of milk as Walgreen's for only $1.99! I drank half of that before I got into my van. You see, I am saving my money for a little break. So, frugality is my friend!
I head back to Island Market and by now it's around 10 pm. The store is closed but the WiFi is up. I grab my computer, plug it in and take a
seat. I want to update my site, but even though I spray myself twice with poison, OFF, the mosquitoes are still getting to me. So, I call it a night and
head into my van. It has been a good day!
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I don't want to overstay my welcome so I say my goodbyes and head back to Ft. Myers. I am done with the Gulf Coast but want to attend the Ft. Myers First Baptist Church again. I feel led to sop at Delnor Wiggins State Park for the day and night. It's about halfway to Ft. Myers Beach and the folks there are nice. The beach is just gorgeous there and many people spend the day and some nights there. Lots of mosquitoes though. I park my van and cook some chow. Ramen with an egg and cheese. Yummy. Lourdes and another ranger stop by. We chat. She tells me the best place to park. They kind of know I am sleeping in my van, but neither I nor they say anything. They even offer me an almost empty can of Raid. And I take it!
After that, I park at the last parking lot. It is still light out and I find an observation tower. It is about 30 feet high. I grab some water and a book and climb to the top. The view is wonderful. Over the tree tops I can see some of the blue water of the gulf and all around are trees and then
high rises to the southeast. A very nice view. Soon, a young couple in bathing suits join me. I feel like I should leave maybe? But I don't. They both work for the local college. Nice kids. They leave after a while. I stay for an hour or so. This is a good place to meditate (which means to think!) and pray and enjoy nature's beauty.
Later I take a path to the beach. The nighttime water is gorgeous as it meets the white sands. There are a few fishing out there. One
is shirtless and swatting at mosquitoes This is odd. The beach is quite wide here and the bushes and trees are far enough away, but someone said they sprayed for the blood-sucking dive bombers, the they took to the beach. He doesn't have any repellent so I go back to the van and give him some.
Later I go to the van and make my bed. Goodnight world!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I get up, get cleaned up at the Lover's Key Marina (warm water!) and get to church almost on time. The pastor and his family are on vacation so the Bible study is led by a capable church goer. It is fun and, of course, I input points that I think matter. I do this because sometimes the technical stuff neglects the content stuff. Knowledge is good, but the purpose of the knowledge is better and necessary. Also,, I got to be the reader! I love to read out loud! And the story in Acts was a good story, so it was even more fun. And this time I went hungry Pancakes today and milk too! The sermon is given by the youth pastor. He talks about missions to Haiti. And I begin to wonder...
How come this nation Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominica Republic which seems to be a prosperous country, how come Haiti is still poor? Dirt poor! We as a nation and we as individual churches have dumped billions of dollars into this quicksand of about 10 million people. How much per capita have we wasted?
Nothing has changed. Our doctors and educators are still needed over there. What gives? Isn't anyone demanding change? With incentive gifts comes responsibility, no? No offense, but let's take care of the poor and needy home first! Until the Haitians decide to help themselves, like the Dominica Republic, we are wasting time and resources.
So much for the sermon. Oh, well. Afterwards, a fellow asks me where I am staying. I said I am not sure yet. He invites me to his place just down the road. Cool! Because I was tired and had prayed during church that I could stay in a place with a sofa and relax. Cool, et? And this was his first time to that church! He had to go to a friends party that day, but he said the door is open, just go in and make yourself to home. I did.
After church I volunteer to visit an old folks home with them. They are short-handed this week. It was a very good experience. I got to add a few
things. I realized that they were still alive! So, if they are still alive, God must have something for them to do. Our ministries change as we grow (old) and I mention that. Maybe this is the time for their prayer ministry. But the crux of the matter is don't just sit there and die, God has stuff for you to do! Also, one speaker mentioned joy. But I didn't see much joy there. Some, for sure, but the majority didn't have any. So I mentioned that the joy of the Lord is our strength and if we don't have it we are weak. So, like David in the Psalm prayed we should ask for our joy back. And God will show each how to get it back. It was fun.. Later, a lady of the church cornered me and asked who I was. She thought God used me there, and I kind of think she is right. Cool! If He can use me, He can use anyone! Heck, I even sang!
Then I went back to the apartment. He is a good guy. Later we talk a lot. We have much in common. I believe in energy work, so does he, etc. Western culture often neglects or rejects things God gave us. Take dreams and visions for example. In many cultures, including those where the Bible is widely distributed, God speaks to people this was as well. God has spoken to me in dreams before. But I accept that He can and does do it. For some reason, God won't use the things we humans reject. And some churches are so scared of this stuff, they reject it outright! The Book of Acts isn't a transition book, it is a book of how Christians lived back then. Miracles, tongues, personal prophesying? Things that God uses to
spread the wonders of His love, gone? I think not. Is this stuff misused? Of course it can be. Look at the Corinthian Church. But the knowledge of scripture can be misused as well. And it is, too often.
But anyway, I had a good stay. I asked if he likes sticky rice and he did, so I cooked some before I left. And left a few cans of food as well.
The next morning I get up and say goodbye early. I want to leave before he does. And I have a personal Heart Walk with Cheryl, who I met on the beach. She and her hubby are good folks and she wanted to do the Heart Walk. So, I said I usually charge so how about breakfast? She agreed. We had a good chat and the Heart Walk seemed to really help her focus and define her current situation, etc. Anyway, she gave me a tip
of $80. I was shocked. And I needed it! But I thought $60 was right, so I gave her back $20. Oh, and I did some energy work on her as well. A few days later she texted me and said that really helped.
We say our goodbyes and I take off for Ft. Lauderdale and the other coast! I am picking up my friend who is flying in. We are taking some time off for a little cruise and a few days in the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami area. I take I-75 and stop at the rest stop about halfway. I meet Sgt. William Suarez. He's on duty. A cool dude. He was retired from the New York Police Force after just seven years. He had the Times Square beat and was chasing a criminal (perp?) across the rooftops. The next day he had a physical and they discovered an irregular heart beat or something like that. Well, go figure! Hopping rooftops at night might just cause a few things! Like high blood pressure, a fear of heights, bad dreams of falling, wearing double sided tape on your shoes, walking the beat with a parachute, etc.
Monday, July 12 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011
My girlfriend flies down from Chicago and we spend some time together visiting the Bahamas, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. We have a wonderful time and then she has to fly back.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I just woke up outside the Tropical Everglades Visitor Association Visitor Center on US 1 just south of Homestead in front of the sprawling motel, Fairway Inn. I had asked at the motel what time the visitor's center opened last night about 10:30 PM. They said at 8 in the morning. I asked if I could park my van in front of the center as they had tow-away signs posted. The clerk said sure. Lots of mosquitoes!
Since no one was using the laundry room that late at night I finally washed my clothes! Clean duds always makes me feel better.
The visitor's center is well staffed by volunteers who really know their business. They give me all the information I need about the few beaches that are on the keys. Plus they explain where the best snorkeling is and who to use to get there. Hint, not the state park folks. They are a bit pricey. After a nice time getting information and chatting with these folks and buying a few mosquito repellent bracelets I get back on HWY 1 and head for the Florida Keys! I was here before during my motorcycle trip in 2007 so I kind of know what to expect. I hope to get this done in a day or two so I can begin the Atlantic Jog as soon as possible.
I follow the road to the keys and stop at the first shop that specializes in snorkeling gear. The fellow who runs the place is still setting up shop outside his store, but has time for me. There are many choices, many expensive choices! I ask: "What the differences in the gear?" "Not much," he says. "These work just as well as the higher priced ones." "Well," I say, "I'll take these then.," It costs a little $30 for snorkel and mask.
I walk into the store to pay for them and the lady working there goes for a few add-ons, not having heard the conversation outside. She wanted to sell me stuff to clean the stuff of the inside lens of the mask. But the guy already told me that a little toothpaste works just as well. So, I decline. But there is one thing I may need. It is a snorkel buoy and costs about $30. If I snorkel outside the designated areas the law requires I use a snorkel buoy. I think about it and decide not to just yet. On the way out I ask a customer and her daughter where I can get one cheaper. She whispers "K-Mart." "Just down the road on the left." I say thanks and head to K-mart.
At K-mart I see the buoys at a lower price and I also see that I paid $10 too much for my snorkeling gear. Well, so much for going to the experts! I do see some white tennis shoe socks on sale for a buck apiece and get three. My are getting a little stiff, not to mention the various shades of gray. Now for the beaches.
I look over the booklet they gave me at the visitor's center. Most of the beaches are ocean side and I am looking for bay side in order to do it in order. The road to the keys starts at mile marker 125 and descends to 0 on Key West. The first beach I come to is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Oops. The beaches are ocean side. I stop at Founders Park on Islamorada at Mile Marker (MM) 87. There is an Eight dollar charge to get in. I get my card out, trying to stave off more encroachment to my meager funds. The lady at the Kiosk hears my story and tell me to go ahead. I ask if I can put her on my website as I don't want her to get in trouble for letting someone in free. She says it's at her discretion and go ahead and put her on.
Her name is Brenna. She is a retired school teach from either New York or New Jersey. She lives it down hear and besides working at the park she volunteers at the local school. She says the big disease down here is alcohol. If one is not doing something, one drinks. She does things. I park my van and go to the beach. The sand is imported, not sure where. It is a nice little beach. There are a few people out, a school teacher, who has been here several years and thoroughly enjoys her life here. A couple at the northern end enjoy the beach as well. There seems to be a lot to do at Founders Park. Here is a website to learn more: Founders Park. The beach is nice, and small. I am done in less than a minute. Such is the life of a beach jogger in the Keys. I hop back in the van and say goodbye to Brenna. On to the next beach!
Where is the next beach? I keep driving and checking the list of Key beaches in the booklet I have. As I drive over a bridge I see a little bit of beach, but enough to jog. It looks like a trailer/RV park covers the whole little island. I pull in and walk to the office. It is nice and cool in here. I tell them what I am doing and the lady says, "Sure, go ahead" and she gives me a pass for my van. I find out that this is Sunset Key or Ohio Key as it seems to have two names. The beach is small and muddy in some parts, but it is a beach. As I jog the beach I notice the housing and the way it is set up. I would not want to live there. It seems more like a party spot for older folks. And traffic with the golf carts was busy. This is the off season and I would certainly not want to be here during their busy season. It would be like living in a city with 24-hour noise pollution. There are 900 lots on this tiny bit of land. Wow.
I stop back at the office and thank them then leave for the next beach. This is going pretty good I think. I should be able to finish by tomorrow maybe! I ride and ride keeping my eyes peeled for a beach. I find none. Finally I see a beach that isn't in the booklet. It is not very big, but I need to jog it. So, I park my van and walk to the beach and jog it. Not sure even where it is, except that is is before Key West. On to Key West.
But before I get there I see a sign that says "No Name Key - 3 Miles". Well, with a name like that I have to check it out. So I make the turn of US 1 at Big Pine Key and head west then turn north over the bridge to No Name Key. There are key deer signs so I hope to spot a few before I leave here. There are many homes on the side roads on Pine Key but not on No Name Key.. It looks like some folks like the country aspect of the keys.
I reach the end of the road. There are two or three big boulders marking the end. About 10 yards past that is the water. Driving up to the end I see this small deer nibbling fauna by the roadside. I stop the van and take a few pics. They don't bolt right away so they must be used to people. After they leave I explore the area. There are trees then water. A beer can here and there shows that folks seem to like this place. Before I leave, I change clothes for Key West. While I am changing the key deer come out to the roadside and start eating again. This time I get even closer and take a few pics and a video as well.
Now for Key West! As I mentioned earlier I was here a few years ago arriving on my 2007 Road King Classic modified with an Electra Glide Seat and a box on the back. I didn't realized until that evening but I arrived on the longest day of the year. I found my way to Mallory Square and the Sunset Celebration. I didn't even know these things existed, but stumbled onto them. Nice! Then Duval Street. So, having been there before I just wanted to see the place for a while this time.
The big thing for me now is finding free parking. I am not sure if there is such a thing at Key West. The first thing I need to do is locate the beaches. I turn right on N. Roosevelt Blvd. and look for beaches while trying to find Simonton Street Beach. There are none to be seen. And Simonton is on hotel land it seems. So, onto Ft. Zachery Taylor State Park, the next beach. I pull into the park around 7 PM and talk to the guard. Yes they have a beach. I park the van and find a very nice little beach. The best so far in the Keys. But there is one problem.
The beach extends into the US Naval Reservation which is off limits with "No Trespassing" signs posted on the fence that separates the beach. But the fence doesn't extend into the water. Aha! A way in maybe. But I don't want my picture in the paper for trespassing on government property. Which seems a real possibility because I am going to jog that beach!
While I am strolling the state park beach, I wander onto the naval beach. There are just a few people on the beach and the closest one, about 40 yards, is getting ready to leave. I wave and shout hello and that I have a question. It turns out that she is from Iowa and an intern for the marketing department with the Navy here. I give her my card and ask if she can help. I ask her to give this card to her boss and call me tomorrow morning at 8 AM. She says she will try. She is a nice person. Most folks from Iowa are nice.
I walk back over the line and head back to the van. Now for a parking place. I ask a park ranger who is making sure no one leaves their garbage behind. He says there is a place just outside the park where the parking is free. The directions are a little confusing so I as the gate guard as well. He is a very nice fellow and explains. I find this little parking lot between the state park and the Coast Guard museum ship. It only holds a few vehicles, but there is a space for me and the sign says no campers or RVs, but it doesn't say no overnight parking! Yes, I found my evening place of rest. Now for Duval Street!
I grab a water and take off for Mallory Square first as there is a beach nearby that I wish to jog this evening because it will be difficult to reach that place by van tomorrow. I arrive at Mallory Square and look at the map of the Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa. It is a spacious hotel and the beach is at the end. There are two parts to the beach, but tiny. A sign says this is a topless beach. So I take of my shirt. (Not really.) There is no one on the first part and I jog it in about 5 seconds. On the other side two young couples are sitting together enjoying the night. I tell them that this might look funny but I have to jog this little beach. I jog and they chuckle. (I would too!) We laugh together and I am on my way.
I walk up and down the street a few times. There are party-goers, couples of all ages, parents with little kids, and the occasional street musician with appropriate dog with sunglasses or parrot on shoulder. It is a fun place. I get tired and sit next to a Britto display. His artwork is fantastic. I am looking at some Hello Kitty work he has done thinking about my daughter and how she have enjoyed Hello Kitty stuff since she was very small, maybe 5 years old living in Korea. She still adores Hello Kitty stuff.
About 10:30 PM I head back to my van. It is just five minutes away. I settle in for the night thinking how my picture will look in the paper when I get arrested for jogging the Navy beach. Good night!
Friday, July 22, 2011
I am up around 7 AM, shave and get ready for the day's jog. I hope to finish the keys today. I drive the few yards to Fort Zachery Taylor State Park and park my van. While walking to the beach I see a yoga class of about 10 women on the beach. What a nice place to practice anything! I walk past them and get to the starting point, do my exercises and stretches and then it begins to pour! So much for the yoga class! I walk under some trees to keep some of the rain off me. It let's up quite a bit but is still sprinkling. I take off and jog the beach. As I come to the Navy beach I realize that the rain is good for me. No one will be on the beach! So, I put my head down and just keep jogging. It must be too wet for the Navy to guard it. I reach the end near an antenna complex, touch the wall and jog back.
As I get past the fence lightening hits and the thunder is tremendous. Time to leave! I head for my van, completely soaked but having accomplished my mission. Yeah! Now for the next beaches on Key West, but not before getting another picture of me at the Southern Most Point of the Continental United States as shown by the bell shaped monument. Actually any tourist map of Key West shows that this is not the southern most point. But it may well be the southern most point you can access. Anyway, it is always fun to get your picture taken there. Mine is in the photo section for July. Oops. I seem to have lost it. C'est la vie. C'est dommage.
I drive down to the other beaches and realized they are mostly connected so I can jog them all at once. I drive town the then of Smathers Beach and decide to stage my bike there and park back at the monument. There is free parking there and it is close to the first beach, South Beach. I take off for the beaches and start jogging. South Beach, Dog Beach Broken Glass Beach... I don't know where one ends and one begins but I jog them all. I wouldn't recommend any of these beaches to you for anything. Simply not worth going to. Higgs beach was the same. Smathers Beach, the big one on this key is a nice beach but the water stinks and it is shallow with a lot of sea vegetation. Plus many low lifes are hanging out there. When I staged my bike I drove down the road a ways and turned around near the airport to go past my bike to make sure the bums sitting near there wasn't going to mess with it. They didn't, but I fell it necessary to check nonetheless.
The jog was fun. It felt good to jog for longer than two minutes. After a while I was at the end. Good. Now I can leave and get to the next beach. It is still morning so I have a change to finish. As I leave Key West I see a Borders bookstore. They just had announced they were closing their store so there must be a sale going on. I stop and look for a book that my girlfriend wanted to read. I find it and buy it at a little discount. Later today i will send it to her.
I find a post office at Summerland Key. I enter the post office and there are two people waiting in line, a middle-aged lady and a guy . There is no one at the counter. We wait. I shout a hello to see if anyone is there. Nothing. The lady begins to cry uncontrollably. The other guy and I look at each other. He shrugs his shoulders. I go to the lady and ask her what is wrong. She says the Marines just called and said they could not find her sons body. I put my arm around her shoulder and told her I was a Marine and I am sure they will find him soon.
The clerk comes and takes care of the lady's business. Then the guy's is done quickly. I see the lady and the guy outside talking. Good. She really does need support right now. And what the heck in my Marine Corps doing calling a mother and telling her they can't find her son's body? I wrote an email to Commandant later. No reply. Shameful!
The clerk is part time and doesn't really know what she is doing as well as she should. I recommends the wrong envelope and after I pay I ask about the delivery dates again. She gives me a different answer and I say I wanted it delivered quicker. It becomes a little problem since the first envelope is already sealed. I am not going to pay double so she gets the supervisor from the back who takes care of everything quickly.
On my way again, I see that the next beach on my list is Bahia Honda State Park at MM 37. While crossing a bridge I spy a beach not on the list. It is a nice little beach. I drive onto the key and see a sign Camp Sawyer. It is a Boy Scout camp and is currently under construction. I drive in and ask the workers if I can jog the beach. The Latino guy in charge was friendly and gave his okay. It was difficult to find access, but I jog that beach as well. I wonder how many more of these 'hidden' beaches I might run into.
I hop back in the van and a few miles down US 1, I arrive at Bahia Honda State Park. Funny name! The folks are nice and I drive to the beach. This is one of the best little beaches on the keys. The sand is nice, the water is good for snorkeling and many families are having fun here. I talk to one of the workers and they say there is a long beach over the hill from this little beach. I talk a walk up the steps and over the hill and find a very nice beach. Long too! They say that further down the beach there is must sea grass along the shore and much debris as well, including glass, so I should be sure to wear shoes.
On they way back to the van I pick up a coconut that has just fallen. I ask the DEA official who is parked nearby. "Can I have this coconut. I wanted to open it like I saw on Duel Survivor on TV." He asks, "Where did you find it?" "Under the tree" I say. "Was it on the ground or did you climb the tree?" "It was on the ground" I say. "It's okay to keep then," he says, "we just don't wanted people climbing these trees to get coconuts. It's dangerous." "Is it green", he asks. "Yes," I answer. "Then the milk is sweet, the darker color means that the sweetness has gone into the meat." "Great!", I say. and we depart. Cool! When I have time this will be fun to open.
I get some water for the jog and take off. It is really a beautiful day and hardly no one is on the beach! I like that! After a while I am jogging on sea grass close to the shore. The garbage that has washed up is ugly. I pass that area and then find a little stream going into the key. I follow it for about 20 yards and then my feet sink too deep into the muck so I get out of there. Next I come to some flats. I walk across that to the trees and have to grab a tree to keep from falling into the mud. It goes halfway up my calf. I round that and find beach again. I jog to the end and see a "Private - No Trespassing" sign. So, I jog to the little pier and see a small house.
These folks have the right idea! What a neat little place to relax. Now for the walk back. After a while of walking on this hot day, I meet a couple on the beach who are getting ready to go. They are Russian. Tatyana and Pavik. I speak a little Russian and they speak very good English. I help them carry their stuff and ask for a ride to the main entrance. They are gracious and agree. They are from Chicago and have driven down for a few days of Florida sunshine. They are heading back tomorrow. Pavik laments how he has only caught one small fish. I mention that we seem to have the same skill levels at fishing.
They drop me off at the entrance and I walk back to my van. Then I get a bite to each and dawn my snorkeling gear. This is a cute little bay and I need a break. The water is warm and I begin to snorkel over the grassy area because that is where the sea life is. And there are many small fish there. It is fun. About 20 minutes later I get out and rinse off. There is a boy there about 11 years old. He has a shell in his hand he wants but the shell's owner has left the home yet. He is thinking of ways to keep the shell. His folks encourage him to let it go to no avail. I then tell him it is against the law to keep a live shell. He takes it to the water and drops it. His parents give me a nod and when the boy comes back I ask him if it feels better to let it go. He says it does.
Just down the road is Veteran's Park. I get there. It is a county park with a restroom and some picnic areas. The beach is small but nice and I jog it. The name on it isn't Veteran's Park. There is a sheriff's car there so I walk up to it and a very pretty sheriff's deputy gets out. i was expecting a burly guy, so I am surprised and tell her so. She appreciates the remark. I ask her and she says if the mile marker is the same then this is Veteran's Park Beach. Good enough for me! I thank her, hop in the van and take off for Marathon Key and Sombrero Beach. Maybe I can jog that before the sun sets.
Sombrero Beach is the nicest beach in the keys. The sand is imported and a white sugar sand. I walk to the southern end and find a wedding set up, but not in progress. At the end of the beach I look south and see more beach. I start going under or over docks to get to the end. Going past a large boat a guy yells from the second floor of his place. He ask if I now this is private property. I answer by telling him what I am doing and that I won't linger and that this isn't private property according to the Florida State Constitution and keep going. I don't give him time to answer.
I reach the end and jog back. The beach is very nice and even though it is getting late and the sun is going down there are still many folks on the beach. Some of the wedding party is there as well. Guess I missed it. I jog to the end of this beach and find more private properties along the beach. The first has a fence going all the way into the water. I do believe this is illegal. I go around the fence and keep jogging. No one is there any way. But if they were, it would have been an interesting conversation!
Night has fallen and now I need t place to stay for the night. I drive and look. I really don't see anything. I decide to stop at IHOP to get some food in me. Next to IHOP are a few trucks parked for the evening. Maybe that is where I can park too. I go into IHOP. They don't have an outlet for my computer for WiFi. The lady suggest I go back down the road to a place called Hurricane Grille near MM 50. I go there and find it a busy place with two main rooms and a band in one. Yes, they have WiFi and a place to plug in, plus a $10 evening menu! Great! I order a Yuengling and
the Beef Burrito With all the Fixin's and it comes with either soup or salad. It really filled me up. The place is nice and the folks are nice as well. I can easily recommend this place and hope to visit there again.
While there the bad was loud but good. The bass player was the leader and looked like a younger version of a buddy of mine in the Marines who played bass. I had to ask, so when they took a break I asked where he was from. Nope, not the same family. It would have been cool if...
I realize that this is the perfect place to spend the night. So, I hop in my van and settle in for the night. Hopefully I can finish the keys tomorrow, baring any more surprises!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I am up and at 'em early. My next stop is Coco Plum Beach so I as directions from a young man at a gas stop. He tells me to go up two light and turn right and follow the road. So, I go up the road to the Chevron Station and turn right. I come to a curve and a sign one a rental complex says Sunset Beach. Hmm... Is there a beach here that is not on my list. I get out and go to the office to ask. It is Saturday and no one is there. Someone else pulls up and I as them. They say the beach is south on this street. I drive down that road to where it stops at a little park. Sunset Park. It is a nice, yet small park with limited parking facilities.
I park my van and go out to look at the beach I am going to jog. I notice that it extends to quite a ways to the northwest along private housing and then goes northeast. Not sure how far, but it has to stop at a jetty up ahead, so off I go. It is a beautiful morning as usual and I enjoy the walk across the sand over the docks to the starting point. Once I get there I turn and start to jog. The sand is firm and the beach is nice with some debris as usual in the keys. I reach the little park and zip by there.
I jog to where some condos are and there is a big cement wall separating me from the beach so I have to walk up and around the condo. I enter the complex. There is a landscaping crew and I ask if I can get to the beach. One says yes and the other, the boss, says it is a private area. So, I go to the beach using the driveway that goes around the shed. It is not a gated community so I don't worry too much about it. I get to the cement wall and start jogging again. I reach the end of the beach and realize that I have to enter a condo complex that is small but gated, with docks on the water. So, I get off the beach and walk up to a fellow working on the docks. When I first meet him he looks at me kind of funny and asks how I got there. I say, "The beach." and he just looks and nods. We chat a little. His name is Mark Pierson. He is the quintessential Florida Keys type. He works hard, has an earring, a tattoo and long hair and is in shape. And he is a pleasant fellow. It turns out he has lived here all his life and is a manager or something here at the little resort. He show me the pedestrian gate and I bid farewell.
I walk back to my van and head for back up the road and turn right on US 1 across the bridge and then turn towards Coco Plum Beach. It is not easy to find, but I was there earlier. It is a nice long beach which allows dogs. I again park the van in the parking lot and head to the jetty to start my jog. There are a few people on the beach, some with their pets. A young couple is away from the others and there is a heavy-set fellow with his wife under a beach umbrella. (I always want to ask these guys if they want to jog with me!)
While jogging this beach, I have to climb over some rocks more than once. Some of these places are a little difficult. But I do see one of the best locations I have seen in Florida. The house is large and nice but not opulent. The pool is amazing. It has a run-off facing the ocean. I can just imagine how wonderful it is to be in the pool and look out over the water. And the hot tub is on the other side of the yard, again overlooking the water. I take a picture as this is one of the best layouts I have seen on my Florida journey. Marvelous!
As I approach beach proper I see the beach umbrella blowing away from the heave-set fellow. They have a time chasing it down. I offer to sell my umbrella anchor to him for $15. He declines. Oh, well. I get back to my van and cross this pretty little beach off my list.
I head out for Long Key State Park, the next beach on my list. As I cross the bridge to Long Key I see a strip of beach. So, I pull off the road and park my van and get out, I walk down the embankment and begin to jog this little strip of beach. It looks like a private group of houses and cottages. The sand is nice but looks imported, at least in some areas. No one is around until I come to a nice little place. A lady and her two grown children are enjoying the sun this morning. I ask about the sand and they say that yes it is imported. There are from Ohio or Michigan and we have a nice chat. I jog a little further and see the state park sign so I stop and walk back to the van.
Long Key State Park has the best camping I have seen in Florida. Every campsite faces the beach, which is narrow, but nice. The campsites are almost full with people coming and going. I got into the campsite area by accident. I saw the gate open and a camper coming out. He asked if I could close the gate. I said sure if he gives me the combination. He kind of gives me a funny look and gives me the combination. Cool! I go through the gate, close and lock it and hop back in the van. Then I look behind and see a few cars wanting to get in. A busy place indeed!
I park my van at the southern end turn-around and walk to where I left off. There is a lady and her son I think walking the beach as well. I say hi and keep going to the end and then jog past them as I work my way up the beach. I get to my van and move it to the outside of the campground area and start for the beaches again. As I walk to the starting point I meet the lady and young man who turns out to be her nephew. She is from Miami and she and her husband have a place here. They love it here, coming as often as then can. Long Key is a very nice place. We have a pleasant conversation and I bid adieu to start jogging . I jog to the northern end and begin to walk back.
At a nearby picnic table I lye down to stretch my back and relax. I get up and start walking to my van. I use the phone and realize I cant find my car key. I had it in my pocket with my phone. I go back to the picnic table thinking it fell out when I was stretching, but after looking for a long time I don't see it. I start looking at a few other picnic tables nearby just to make sure. Nothing. Then I retrace my steps along the beach to the bushes on the beach where I had to bend over to get through. Still nothing. I go back and look around the picnic table several times. Then I police the area to my van. Nope. The keys have disappeared. Bummer. I have one around my neck on a string necklace, something my brother Dan had taught me while on motorcycle trips so I could get into the van, but I hated to lose that key!
Oh, well, Time for the next beach. Maybe I didn't even have the key with me and it is in the van somewhere. I will look later. I am almost done with the Keys! Or so I think! Don't get me wrong, the Keys is a great place, just not for jogging beaches. I really want to go five or ten miles on a jog. It feels good. This short stuff is time-consuming and not much fun. According to my list I have three beaches to go: Anne's Beach, Kite Beach and the two beaches at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Even though it is late, I should be done today.
I get to Anne's Beach at MM 83 and park alongside US 1. It is a busy place and I walk down to the short strip of beach and jog it, weaving around the people. I hope back in the van and start out again. Immediately I see a driveway to Anne's Beach and a few spots I didn't jog. It is small and very crowded with hardly enough room to get in and out. I pull in and turn around and a car leaves so I get a parking spot. I get out and the place is really crowded. The beach here is less and 20 yards long! I jog it and pull out. Done.
Kite Beach is behind Whale Harbor Marina. This place has a few restaurants the I hear are quite good. The place is busy, but the one thing I want to do before I jog this tiny beach is see the African Queen, the boat that was used in the movie of the same name. I see it! It isn't in the best shape anymore, but it isn't blown up either. I even get to touch it. I wonder if it gives autographs? After all, it was the third start of the show.
Kite Beach is nothing to speak of so I won't. Having done that I move on to the last beach at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park at MM 102.5. I enter the park again and find there is two small beaches. I choose one that I think is the southern most and jog it then drive over the little wooden bridge and jog the other one as well. It is a beautiful little place. By now it is getting late, about 7:30. So, I hurry up and cook me a meal and think of what to do next.
Back in the van I see another list of beach and it looks like I forgot one. On, no! It is Holiday Isle Beach back at MM 84.5! This is a private beach at a hotel/resort complex. I guess I will have to spend another night on the Keys. I head back south. Once I get there I realize how nice this place is! The rooms are booked and there is a party in full swing at the huge tiki bar playing rock and roll. I park the van and walk through the complex to the beach. The beach is nice but not too big and it takes just a few minutes to jog it.
There is much parking here and I hope to finagle a spot for my van tonight. I walk in to the office and meet a very efficient young man named Greg. I tell him I want to have a few drinks at the tiki bar but don't want to drive after that. Can I park my van here tonight and sleep in it? He says yes! So, I go put on another shirt and visit the tiki bar near my van. It only has a few people and there is one guy playing country songs. Not my cup of tea, but I plan to have just lone drink and crash. I order a beer and sit at the bar. There are steps going up to small frond covered areas and I go up and have a seat. There is a couple from Spain at the one across from me. After a bit, I ask them to take my picture. We chat and she is working for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. He came over to visit her. They are a very nice young couple and we have fun. They suggest I jog the beaches of Spain and Portugal. Hmm... I will think about that for quite a while I am sure.
I get back to the van and put my towel to cover the front area and go to sleep. About 2:30 AM I hear pounding on my van. I wake up and shout I am coming out. The guy is still pounding. I guess they are guards and I am right. I tell them I have permission and they say I don't. They aren't nice and I am getting irked. I explain to them what Greg had said. They say he has no right to say that. Well, he did, I said. They call back to the office and check with the clerk on duty, a chubby girl I had met earlier while getting online there to check my email. She said that is what I told her, but she hedged not wanting to get into trouble. Great!
The leader of the two tells me I will have to leave. Not after drinking I won't I say. He radios his boss and they decide that I should move my van to the front of the resort under the light to sleep for a few hours. Then they will wake me. That sound fair to me. I also hear the boss say they if I hit anything they are responsible. Hmm... Nah! I follow the golf cart to my spot. They guys says he knew someone was asleep in the van because of the towel. Duh! That's why I normally don't use a towel. But this time I had permission. They leave and I go back to sleep. But not before he mentions that in this county there is a $1500.00 fine for parking and sleeping in your vehicle. Oh.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I wake up at 8 AM. I guess they left me sleep. That was nice of them. Now I have to find a church and jog those two beaches again and leave he Keys. I head north and get the feeling I should head south instead. I don't want to head south! I keep heading north and see a Circle K. I pull in and shave and change there. The lady working their didn't seem to mind at all. Then I left and headed south. Looking for a church. I finally found one at MM 93, the Burton Memorial United Methodist Church. I walk in and think they are having Sunday School. The preacher is talking and a lady interjects something interesting. Later I do too. Only afterwards I find out that it was the early service of the church. Oops! Anyway, the sermon was okay and the folks looked a little religious to me.
I asked about coffee and someone said that if Rick was there, there was coffee. Rick plays guitar in the church band. He is quite good. I walk back to the fellowship hall and rap a cup of coffee and take a seat on a metal chair along the row of tables. A fellow from church joins me and introduces himself as Roy. He is an interesting fellow and seen we are enjoying good Christian fellowship. In fact, most of the folks seem to really know the Lord. I have to change my thinking about this church! Roy works on fire trucks from Key West to Palm Beach. Nice niche! He is also a Gideon, one of those folks who place Bibles in hotel rooms. What is remarkable is that they Gideons is constantly getting letter of thanks for placing those Bible from people who found God and His help through this ministry. Cool! Anyway, we have a good time. Then I meet his wife, Debbie, who is very nice as well. Then Rick the coffee drinking real estate fellow sits down. We have a good time. They ask me to join them in prayer at the pastor's office. Sure. They pray for the next service.
I already attended the first service so I enter into a small room where there are books. I choose a good book about the history of the early church fathers up to the time of Origen. It is a very interesting read. Church is over and I go back to the fellowship hall. Then I walk out back to take a phone call. The back yard area is beautiful. There is a cement altar decorated on top with shells, glass and other things. There are cement backless benches in a semicircle in front of the altar. Behind the altar is water and mangroves. This is a very beautiful site. I site and meditate for a while and write some things down that I thought of. I like this place.
Everyone has gone now and the doors are locked. So, I head out to jog those last two beaches again. After all, I plan to do them in order. It won't take long. I jog the fist and jog the pair at the state park. Then I sit at a picnic table at the park near the last beach. It is a beautiful day and I want to relax a little. The Keys are done!
I see an egret with a broken leg. It is hobbling around and I want to tell someone. Finally a park official comes around to collect trash. I stop him and mention the bird. He tells me that they know about the bird and have checked into it. They were told that as long as the bird can take care of itself and get food by itself to leave it alone. Okay. I go back to the picnic table and sit for a while. Then I hear a voice say, "Can we sit with you, Luther?"
I look up and it is Roy and his wife, Debbie! They are going to grill and invite me to join them. T-bones! I accept and get some whole wheat pretzels to add to the meal which includes grilled veggies, corn on the cob and a few other things as well. We have a good time and I eat very well. Later I let them alone and sit by the water. It has been a good day.
I take off for Miami and South Beach! I drive back through Homestead and see a sign "Everglades National Park". I want to make double sure that there are no beaches there so I stop at a motel and ask the clerk about it. He is friendly and let's me know that there are no beaches there but does mention that Key Biscayne does have some beautiful beaches. And is that before Miami I inquire? Yes it is. Okay, so is there a beach before Key Biscayne? Nope. Okay, So, Key Biscayne it is. I ask how to get there and he says just follow the signs and you can't miss it. I ask about a fast food place there in case I want to sleep there for the evening. He says there is a McDonald's, etc. there. I thank him and take off.
Following the signs on US 1, I see the sign to Key Biscayne. It takes me over a toll, the Rickenbacker Causeway. This is a nice place. I then arrive on Key Biscayne and it is late. I go to the end of the Key and see the state park. Good, now I know what I have to do tomorrow. I then look for a place to crash for the night. Also, I need some gas. $4 a gallon? I get two gallons. And I don't see any fast food place either. This is a high-end island! I finally find a 7-11 and park there.
I buy some Gatorade and sit outside for a while on a bench. Some kids pull up in a few vehicles, very nice vehicles. They get out and start chatting about college and how to cheat in college. After a while they leave and I am still thinking about a place to spend the evening. This is the only place on the island and it doesn't look good for me. I did see some parking area on the Rickenbacker causeway and decide to check that out. I drive down past Virginia Key and turn into the park on the north side. It is at least 11 PM and the sign says it closes at 6 PM I believe, but the gate is open and there are several cars parked there facing the water. I find a place for my van and hop out with the intention of asking someone if we can park here all night. I approach a car and think better of it.
I approach another car and ask a guy and he really doesn't know and doesn't want to be bothered. This doesn't seem to be a very friendly place! So, I hop back in my van and think. As I am wondering, I see headlight coming down the beach. This is really cool. Evidently there are enough rocks, etc. to support a vehicle there. I zips past and I smile. At the end it turn and drives back up into the park proper. Must have been a jeep II think. I decide to bit the bullet and go to the other side of the causeway. This means I will have to pay a toll again.
So, I head out and find a gas station that won't charge too much. I find one and it has a nice store inside. But there should be a sign in the stores of South Miami. "English No Speak Here" Yes, some do, but many don't. Having lived in Korea for twelve years I am almost fluent in broken English so I get along just fine. I see a 10-lb. block of ice. A rarity. There is no price so I grab a few more ion drink that are on sale and head to the register. I ask how much and she doesn't now and can't find the paper. I offer to pay the same as the regular ice and she says okay. But she charges me for two and I just want one. So I make another deal because she doesn't know how to correct it. I add more ion drinks in lieu of the second ice.
I head back to the causeway, pay the toll and find a wonderful parking lot with signs posed that the parking spots are for the clients to the business from 10 AM to 6 PM or something like that. In other words, I can park by the water with a beach all night! And many are doing that, some fishing, some just hanging out. I hop out and survey the area. It seems good and friendly. I hop back in and lie down. It is very hot inside so I get a glass of ice water and set it out. Still can't sleep. Too hot. I open the doors and grab a men's magazine on how to get ripped abs. (Ha!) But it does have some good exercises in it which I plan to try. Finally I get back to bed and sleep.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I am up and ready to hit the beach! Parking at the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. As I enter the paring lot I see several semis parked and a guard at the Y in the road. What's going on? They are shooting the first episode of Charlie's Angles. Yes! This will be fun! But first I have to jog the beaches of Key Biscayne. And what lovely beaches they turn out to be. The sand is excellent and the beach widens out with lifeguard huts along the way. I go my exercises and start from the historic lighthouse. The sun is very hot this morning and I need to stop sooner than expected. I pull into a place and go to the bar and ask for a water. The young man is polite and give me one. We chat a little and I get another then tip him a buck. This turns out to be the Ritz-Carlton. I should have know! The folks are always friendly here. But a security guard starts to hover talking on his radio. I think he is unsure whether I am a guest or not. It is kind of fun to watch. The I go back to the beach and continue my jog.
The beach narrows down to just a strip of sand and finally I reach the end. I walk through the mangroves to see if the beach continues. There is a structure where a guy had bicycled to. It overlooks the water at the northern end of the island. I ask about further beaches and he says there are a few so I keep going. I find some and jog what is worth jogging and keep searching till I come to a stream and decide that this is all there is. So I walk back to the structure. The only way up he says is to climb a little 5-ft. tree and get over the railing. There are no steps! So, tired as I am in this heat I get up and have a rest.
I ask how to get out of there. I already know that there is a road and a bus stop but not sure about the trail. He tells me to follow the path and turn at the Y. I head out and find a little square with a covered area with benches underneath. There is another man sitting there, a foreigner I think. Come to find out he is from Ecuador. And he is complaining about the heat! I find this funny. He lives on the equator and he is complaining! Must really be hot today! He explains that Ecuador has variations in weather depending on where you are in the country. In the hills and mountains it is in the 60's and along the coast the 80's. I ask him what he likes. Somewhere in between. I ask about the trail to the road and he directs me.
I take off and soon find my self without a trail. Bush country here. Hope there are no snakes! I follow what looks like a path that peters out on me. Now what? I see some light for the road and a fence about 20 to 30 yards away. I go toward the find and worry about snakes because it is all bush and grass and I can't see the ground. I turn back and get a little confused. Shucks! I had back to the fence and finally get there. It is a chain link affair and too high for me to climb tired as I am and my shoes can't get a toe hold. I think about stacking bush and fallen limbs to make it so I can grab the top of the fence where the barbed wire is broken. I soon give up that idea and walk along the fence looking for a way through. I very soon discover a hole at the bottom of the fence in the tall grass just big enough for me to squeeze through. Hope no critter meets me on the other side! I get through and in a few more feet reach the road.
Now I walk to the bus stop, which happens to be about a half mile away and I am out of water,or almost. I always keep a little. II sit under a tree near the bus stop and wait. Then I call the transit folks and ask when it will arrive. They said at 12:15 I think. I have about 15 more minutes. The bus comes and I hope on. It costs two bucks and I put a buck in while asking if this bus goes all the way to the state park. The driver is a nice guy and says no, but the one coming shortly will take me there. This bus just goes to the downtown area and turns around. He see the look on my face and says not to pay. He will drop me off and I can catch the other bus. I hop off and head for the $4 a gallon gas station. I buy two Gatorade drinks and down one immediately and sip the other while waiting for the bus. It comes and I make it back to the state park and walk to my van. Now that was a jog!
I grab another drink head out to the Charlie's Angel's shoot. I am not sure how close I can get. The park officials are there talking to a guy whose job is to ensure the location is kept safe from the crew. He is a nice guy, George is his first name. He is Mexican and pronounces it that way. A Christian too! There are two boat in the water. One they are using for a fight scene and the other they will blow up tomorrow. I just might come back tomorrow to watch! I get right up to the crew on the dock and take a seat on the bench. So many people! It is a lot of fun watching all that is going on. Gee. Maybe I will get discovered! It is very hot but I sit there watching. They have several coolers filled with ice and soda pop but none is offered. That's okay. I am not working there. I talk to several of the folks and they are all pretty nice. Some yell "Rolling" and I make sure my phone is off. This is fun and I decide to spend the rest of the afternoon watching.
I go back to my van and wash up a little, get a bite to each and change into nicer clothes. As I head back to the shoot I see two guys siting down. I look at one and think he is a Mexican start I have seen in many movies. As I approach he gets up to get his picture taken with me. Cool. His friend and stunt double takes the picture. We chat. He see my USMC cap and shows me his tattoo USMC. He was in recon in Viet Nam. We have a good chat and I tell him I have a book of poems written by Marines in combat. I get it from my van and give it too him.
The I go back and watch the shoot. Still very hot. I ask if I can have some ice and put it undef my cap. Soon, others were doing the same. Then one or two just started dipping their hats into the ice periodically. It was fun to watch the progression. Later that day, I take a walk along the jetty and see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) checking the fish of some Latino fishermen. They evidently have the wrong size or kind of fish in their bucket. The is a FWC boat with a driver and a man on the jetty.
I walk past toward the lighthouse and find a nice little rope coiled and no one around at all. It looks like someone left it here. Normally I leave things lay, but this time I pick up and ake it back with me along the jetty. One of the young men see it and says it's his. I jokingly put it behind my back and ask him to tell me what color it is. He says white and it is. I give it to him. The officer asks him if he is going to thank me for giving it to him so he does. An SUV pulls up. Guess they are going to take the fish.
I head back to the shoot and say goodbye to a few folks I have met and take my leave.I call my friend Shawna who had invited me to stay with her and her husband while in Miami. I had spoken with her over the last few days on the Keys so she is expecting me. We met at a certification seminar in Chicago. It was good to see her again and meet her hubby. He has a successful business in Miami and they are wonderful hosts.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I go back down to the Rickenbacker Causeway and onto Virginia Key. There is a park there and they charge $5 to get in but no one is manning the gate. I must be too early I think. I get to the beach and read the historical marker. This used to be a colored each until segregation was outlawed and now it is a beach for all. I walk down to the water and survey my beach. I look across back at Key Biscayne and see a sight that always bothers me. A section of beach did not jog. So, I get my kayak out, take it to the beach and start to pump it up. It is a nice day and I have time so this should be fun.There is a lady there. She is a bus driver for the local schools and has brought some kids for a day camp at the park. She is Latino and wearing a Star of David necklace with a beautiful blue something in the middle. Later she says it is the Jewish word for 'life'. We chat a bit.
Her name is Elizabeth Lazaro Perez. When she was young she used to swim across to Key Biscayne, but now it is closed. Wow, it is far! She is Jewish. One of her grandfather was from Israel. I find that she is a Messianic Jew. She does trust in the Messiah. But she keeps her Jewish ways. One of the reasons is to make the Jews jealous so they too will accept the Messiah. Her ministry it towards the Jews. She speaks Hebrew, English and Spanish. Not bad for a 26-year veteran of over-the-road truck driving turned bus driver! And no accidents! Shalom, Elizabeth!
As I kayak across the channel I notice dark clouds gathering. I hope it holds off until I get back! I reach the shore and take off to the end and then jog the beach, hop in my boat and get back across. The clouds hold off. When I land I look for a place to wash off my kayak. There is a pavilion with a bunch of kids for day camp. There is a spigot there so I take my gear there and begin to clean it. Some boys come out and check it out. I let them touch it, etc. One likes kayaking and others find it really cool.
I give a little speech about doing what you love to do, etc. I ask who wants to carry my gear and they all raise their hands. I choose a few and they take them to the edge of the grass because their leader said they can't cross the street. With the leader's okay, I give one my card so he can follow me online. Now I jog this beach. I walk to the end and find myself near the dolphin/whale show called the Miami Seaquarium. I can see people on the veranda enjoying their meals. I do my exercises and begin the jog. There are many cement separators and I hop them. I reach the end and want to find a place to kayak to Fisher Island, supposedly the richest zip code in the United States.
I had been told that security if very tight there. While checking on the ferry to get across, I discover they they don't advertise. So, I have to kayak and hope I don't ruffle too many feathers. While looking for the best place to take off, I realize that I am in another park. I don't know how to get back to my van and ask a few people. They can't help me. I walk back a mile or two and then go out that park and walk to the other one and get my van. On the way past the gate I tell the money collector that I am in the other park and can I get a break on the entrance fee here. He tells me there is a service road connecting the parks and maybe I can take that. Now I have to come over to this park because I can't find the service road. As I enter the park I see an official car parked near the entrance. I hold out five dollars and the gent in the booth says sorry but management is watching. I tell him I understand. He is a nice guy from New Jersey it sounds like.I drive as far as I can to the end of the key and carry my gear about 50 yards to the beach.
The water is choppy and it is getting late, but I wanted to get Fisher Island done today. I hope I don't show up in the papers with one of those long faces, disheveled hair and holding a number! I take off and the water is bouncing me around pretty good, but by now I kind of enjoy it. As I get closed to Fisher Island the current becomes stronger around the rocks so I set a course way in front of the rocks. I time this one really well for a change. Now for the landing. As I pass the rocks and ride the waves towards the beach I do a bit of acting, pretending the water carried me there against my will. It is a resort and people are in lounge chars relaxing.
I pull the kayak up and jog that short beach. I talk to one the workers who hands out towels and water. I want to jog the other beaches. He say sure go ahead! So, I do. But I have to go around some property to get to the next beach. Actually I have to do this at least three times to finish the beach. And I do with no one coming to question me or stop me. I finish and see the jetty of South Beach! Awesome! I start walking back and meet a mother and her daughter. We chat and I want to take their picture but they decline. I make it back to the kayak,tip the guy a buck, and find that someone had pulled it up higher on the beach. I as the fellow who is taking care of the lounges and yes he did that. He said he thought it was the proper thing to do. So I tip him too.
I kayak across and kind of just sit in the water a few times, letting it bounce me around. Finally I make it back to the key and clean my gear and head out. It has been a good day. I spend the night at Shawna's again. We talk about how to promote the life coaching business successfully.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I do a little shopping and head to Starbucks to work on my website. No jogging today. I need a rest. That evening Shawna invites me on a appointment with her resume coach. It is somewhere near the beach around 67th St. Nice place and I have fun there. Also, I have a chance to purchase a couple of day passes for the bus system here.
Shawna and I talk and I offer to pay for each additional evening I stay. She thinks and nixes the idea. It is a small apartment and I am crimping their style a little. As a friend of my later said, "Laundry and guests should stay only three days, after that they begin to stink!" She is right! But I can stay in their parking lot. And that is fine with me! So I spend my last night there, much of it on the balcony of their 12th story appartment. The view is truly spectacular!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I leave a note of thanks and am on my way. I pull into Oleta River State Park which is about a half mile from their apartment. The place is very nice with many kayakers and bikers. I park near the office and get permission to leave my van their for the day. This will save me a mile or two of walking. I head out the entrance and walk across the bridge to catch a bus to South Beach. Bus 120 will take me there. I was just here a few weeks ago with my girlfriend and this brings back nice memories.
At South Beach I walk out onto the jetty and enjoy view. It is very beautiful! Then I decided to do my exercises up there. I actually do 50 push-ups for the first time in my life! Yes! I head down toward the corner where the jetty, sand and water meet and take off! Finally, I am on the final leg of my journey! It feels good to jog. But the sand is pretty soft so I keep looking for more solid places to step. It's going to be a long day.
The folks on the beach are okay. Many sunbathers,many families, especially Latino families. And old folks too. I wave at time and get almost no response. People here are very self-absorbed! The nicest folks on this stretch of beach are the Latinos. There culture is more open than the local scene and I appreciate it. Also, it is nice to see families together enjoying the beach. As I jog I see a lady a few years older than me jogig the beach. She isn't in the athletic shape most joggers her age are, but she is going at a very good clip. I compliment her.
I run out of water again and don't see anyone selling water for a buck like before. Bummer. I stop by some Latino teenagers with a mom siting there and ask to buy some water if they have extra. I don't like doing this, but I need to. They give me a bottle and I want to give them $2,but they refuse. Thanks! It really helped!
Finally I reach 75th Street and the Days Inn where we stayed. That was my goal for today and I am glad I reached it in such hot weather. I catch a bus and make my way to my van at the state park. That night I go to a nearby Starbucks that is open till 11 PM. When it closes many of us go outside to sit at the tables and chat or work online. I work online. Two Korean college girls are there and a fellow is trying to strike up a conversation with them. They answer briefly a few times but keep talking between themselves. He gives up, but stays there. The girls get up to leave and I say goodbye in Korea.
This floors them. They thought they were having a private conversation about the differences between our cultures. They stopped and talked. We chatted for over an hour. It was fun. Finally everyone left but a black couple with a baby. I think they were homeless. I head out and go back to the parking lot at Shawna's and crash there in the van.
Friday, July 29, 2011
I get up and go back to the state park, park my van and walk over the bridge to and catch a bus to 75th Street. I walk to the beach and stretch then take off down the beach. The day is sunny as usual. The sand is firm in areas and soft in areas. Just another day. I get to an inlet and jog across the bridge. On the other side there is a park. Many folks are having picnics. I stop at a nearby one and say hello. The folks are nice and offer some water and ice. Great! They are having a good time and I wish I could join them. But on I go.
I reach the nudist beach. (Sorry the rest of this part is classified.)
I jog just past the pier at Pier Park and stop. From there I can walk back to my van at the park. So, the jog is over and I go back and open that coconut I got at Bahia Honda State Park and try to open it without utensils. I do it! Except I use a pen to poke one of the eyes. The milk is very sweet and tasty. After I enjoy a meal and go to Starbucks.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I want to go to church. I drive around for over an hour looking for one. All I see is a Catholic church and I have been to one before so I prefer not to attend this one. I also see several Jewish buildings bustling with folks. I ask a few where a church is and they don't know either. I have never had a problem of finding a church before. I do, however, see a vast number of people out jogging, bicycling, walking, etc. But no churches. I guess they practice self-worship in the Miami area.
Finally I tell myself to forget it! I pull into a McDonald's and grab a $1 menu breakfast. While I am in line for my food a well-heeled woman with her child enter and get in line. I ask about any churches in the area and she gives me directions to one. So I will go there after I eat. As I walk to a table I see this table of two or three Latinos staring at me. I say, "Well, if you are going to look at me, you might as well say Hi." And they do! We all smile. Another table of two white guys are looking at me too. I say the same thing. They don't say hi.
I leave and follow her easy directions but find a side street and no church. I follow it all the way down and then return. On the way back I see a Latino couple and ask them. They get excited and tell me to wait. They get on their cell and had the phone to me. There is a church about 20 miles away that starts at noon. Great! I get directions and put them in my GPS. I find the church and see the lady who helped give me directions wave me down. The service is in Spanish and they provide an earpiece and translator by the name of Hector. Later, I find that he has been translating for many years. He is a nice guy. In fact I really enjoy the worship. It lasts a little longer than usual, but the folks are nice. It's called the International Charismatic Mission and is located in Cooper City, Florida. I say goodbye to Ephraim and Nubia the couple that got me to the church.
The sermon was filled with illustrations I have never heard before. For example. Getting a ride in a pickup truck and not putting one's bag down. Or talking about rent being due at the first of the month instead of talking about a house payment. A whole new cultural understanding. I like it!
After church we all chat some and I get a few pics. Then I take off.