My 62nd Trip

Last month I began my 62nd trip around the sun. I think that the fact that I have been around this many times gives me the right to make observations that my less-traveled co-inhabitants of this rock may not have noticed. For example, I think that societies, as they mature, and technologically advanced, damage the environment all the more. Rome, for example, developed lead-pipe water systems, and look what that did for them!  The inhabitants of Easter island destroyed their tiny world to the point that very little life could live on it. Our community, which at this point in human development, would have to include the entire globe, is destroying its water supply, polluting its oceans, contaminating the very Earth we stand on and over populating at an exponential rate while doing all this with little concern for the ultimate results!
On another front, Thoreau found out that first-generation ideas often do not transmit to the following generation and so on.   Our founding fathers had great ideas which have enabled us to become the greatest nation in the history of the world, but is it sustainable?   Do we have to refresh the system every once in a while?  Jefferson believed that every couple of generations there should be a major upheaval to keep government fresh and responsive to the people. Based on the government we have today, it would be hard to argue with this concept.  As much as the Tea party scares me with its anti-abortion rhetoric and its church state ideas; they are invigorating to the political system because they are questioning what our government considers the norms. They are coloring outside the lines.
The last thing I have been thinking of is entitlements. Those that I am referring to are Medicare and Social Security. In this area I am emotionally torn and believe that many fellow Earthlings share the same concerns. To repeat, I am circling this planet for the 62nd time and I have to pinch myself every morning to make sure I am not dreaming. I have a retirement income that I earned for attending school 17 years, followed by teaching our youth for 30 years. I feel I worked hard to earn that income but historically I am in a very small window of time living at this level of comfort. Now I travel, work on projects that appeal to me, stay physically fit, read, write, occasionally work and generally do what I wish; it is the life many dreams of!   My concern arises when I question whether society can sustain my life-style for the remainder of my existence but certainly hope it can.  My experience has taught me that good times tend to have an inherent life span.

So those are my thoughts. I would write more but I am in Florida on another one of my walkabout visiting friends. I think I’ll go down to the beach.
Have a good day!

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The fishermen and the sea

I was always the guy you take fishing so you could catch two limits. I just never seemed to have a knack at fishing. Well that is all in the past now. Cecil and I took his boat and headed for the high seas, maybe not the high seas but the estuaries off of the Gulf of Mexico. We went to a place Cecil had seen a bunch of guys fishing on the previous day. After dropping our anchor we tossed our lines into the murky water. In a few moments I had my first catfish, about two pounds. We threw him back and continued to fish, catching several more cats between us. Cecil informed me it was time to move on to another fishing hole. We continued to catch catfish of which our count was up to about 20. Finally Cecil took me to his favorite fishing hole which I promised not to reveal to anyone. Not long after we dropped our lines in the water, Cecil caught an eight pound cat. Its head was almost five inches across and it was all his rod could do to pull that fat cat in. A short time later I felt  a pull of destiny on my fishing line. It quickly became apparent that there was something big at the end of my string as the clutch in the reel whirled in response to the pull of the submerged beast. Cecil coached me through the battle of wits which continued for several minutes. Finally we caught a glimpse of our prey as it dashed under the boat. Cecil readied the net and I negotiated my catch back to the side of the boat. With a quick jab into the water he netted the fish. It turned out to be a J ACK and weighed in at about eight pounds. I was now an official fisherman!   Check this monster out!

The next day we journeyed over to the Cypress Slough, which is a nature preserve in Fort Myers. We saw a mommy alligator and her cute little babies, lots of interesting birds and the destructive aftermath of wild pigs. Our guide, Jerry, a retired brain surgeon ( seriously), led us through the preserve with lots of New York humor and medical jokes. It was a good time.

Refections from the Cypress Slough

That night we drove down to the Naples pier to witness a spectacular sunset. Check these photos out.

Sometimes nature leaves you breathless
Cecil and Joyce before the sunset
Charlie and Sue waiting for the sunset

Time to hit the road again before we wear out our welcome.  Sue’s sister, Trish and brother-in-law Roger are renting a house on Sanibel Island, only one hour away so we packed up our gear and ventured over to spend a few more days in the glorious sun. Roger gave me several tours of the fantastic trails on Sanibel which are great for biking and hiking.  The beaches are some of the nicest beaches I have ever seen and the dolphins are everwhere.  Trish is recovering from knee surgery and is enjoying the warm weather, doing her exercises.

Trish cruising on her new bike

So here we sit, basking in the warm Florida weather, thinking of all our friends back in the dismal cold of West Virginia. On Saturday we will travel to Paul and Norma Weiss’s  and spend a few days there if things work out .  Paul and Norma have been under the weather so we are waiting to hear from them.

Sanibel's incredible beaches

Hope to see all our friends back home real soon.

Finally! 80 degrees

Saying good-by to Dr. Betsy

After leaving Betsy in St. Augustine we drove across Florida to the west coast and stopped at a little town called Dunedin, pronounced Duh-nee-din. We found a small mom and pop motel to spend the night. The great thing about the room was the fact that it had a large jacuzzi that Sue and I made full use of. Asking a few folks where a good place to eat was, we found our way to the Cafe Fresca which was truly a great eating experience. If you are ever in Dunedin, make sure you eat at the Cafe Fresca!

 

The next morning we loaded up our gear and made our way to Honeymoon Island, a small barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. Way back in the 30’s a man built small grass huts and advertised it as a honeymoon paradise; no running water, no doors, no bathrooms, just a grass hut, you and the ocean…sounds like real fun to me…

 

Then we boarded a 30 foot boat and went to another island called Caladesi Island in which you are only allowed four hours of time with no cars or bikes. We walked the beach for more than two hours looking for shells and then relaxed on the beach before boarding our launch back to our car. After finding a place to eat dinner we went back to our room for another long soak in the jacuzzi. The next morning we continued our journey south with our destination being Fort Myers where our good friends, Joyce and Cecil Tennant have a winter home. On our way we visited several lovely beaches where we spent some time in the sun.

Cecil taking us out to the Gulf

For some reason I did not get a good picture of Joyce but maybe tomorrow. Cecil took us out to the Gulf and then he took us to a large lake where all the manatees were hanging out.

Manatees near our boat

The temperature made it to 80 degrees today for the first time since we have been traveling…yip-pee! Tomorrow we are going to hang out with Joyce and Cecil and maybe hit the road on Saturday or Sunday. I will check in a few days. The forecast is for 80 degrees for the entire week!

The cold state of Florida

Blue Springs State Park

So here we are in northern Florida and guess what, its only 60 degrees. We will hang out here for a couple of days visiting with Betsy. Soon we will set our sites towards Fort Meyers. We heard about a high speed boat that travels from Fort Meyers to Key West and are thinking about taking the trip. It is a little pricey but sounds like a neat trip. I will let you know how that goes. Yesterday we traveled to Blue Springs and visited our old friends the Manatees. There were almost 200 Manatees at the spring.  They are such amazing and gentle creatures.  Today if it gets warm enough we are getting the bikes out and riding to the beach where we will ride on the beach.
Check out the photos.

Meet Mr. Armadillo
If you look carefully you can see the Manatees in the shadows

Heading south

While sitting in the house last winter during those long cold snowy days I decided that this year I would make sure I  was in a warmer climate. So, we have headed south and are making our way to Florida to visit a bunch of family/friends who either live there or are snow-birding. Tonight we are staying in Charlotte, NC with Sue’e sister and believe it or not it may snow tomorrow night. Time to head further south!  By the way that storm is heading right towards home in Hampshire County!   We left just in time!

On Thursday we will drive down to St Augustine Florida to see our daughter, Betsy. If it is cold there we will again head south. I told Sue we will drive  to the bottom of the Florida Keyes and if it is still cold, we will rent a boat and go to Cuba!

On another topic, the County Commission has formed a new committee to research and report back about the county’s authority and responsibilities in controlling Marcellus drilling in the county.  Believe it or not they have asked me to be on the committee.  This is my first step towards the 2012 election!  All the way with Cosmic Charley!

I will check in when we arrive in Florida. You all enjoy your huge snow storm heading your way!