Happy birthday Nancy

Saturday was another great day. We went to Cocoa to celebrate Nancy’s birthday. Joey and Mark had given us show tickets to a live performance of the Christmas Carol followed by dinner. I wasn’t all that thrilled about seeing a bunch of local Cocoa kids doing there rendition of a show I’d seem maybe 8 million times before. To be honest, I wouldn’t have been too thrilled to see the Christmas Carol by a full Broadway cast. But Nancy was hyped and of course it was her birthday present. I also wasn’t too excited about the choice for a restaurant. It was one of those dress-up kind of places where the waiters wear black and have white towels over their arms; speak with an accent (not southern); and have names like Andre’. I know they won’t have mac and cheese as a side for the meatloaf, blackened grouper, or buffalo shrimp sandwiches – instead there will be micro portions of who knows what covered with sauce.

I admit it, I was wrong all around. While we were waiting outside the theatre I was struck by the fact that the last time I had been in this theatre was very close to 50 years ago. Not sure if I was a junior or a senior in High School but most likely it was in 1956. Standing in line I wondered if we had seats in the balcony. We weren’t allowed in the balcony in 1956 – that was reserved for blacks – and all of us white teenagers wanted badly to sit in the balcony. The theatre was restored very nicely. I remember it being a bit seedy but now it was almost “elegant” and had that old classic theatre look. Certainly not as nice as the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake but for sure a nice facility. It turned out that the production was a musical and I prefer musicals in general so that was an uptick. It wasn’t Broadway but it was well above high school level and enjoyable. The sets and costumes were surprisingly good with people flying overhead in one scene. I was also surprised that it had a small, live orchestra. Most small time musicals use a recording setup for the music but this was the real thing. All in all, an enjoyable production.

We were about a half hour away from our dinner reservations so we squeezed in a wine tasting at Murdock’s new gourmet shop. Joey plans to use this shop to cater his new dinner cruises so we had to pass judgement on that and it was thoughtful of him to arrange a wine tasting. Nancy and I picked up a basket load of sauces, pastas, and condiments that sounded exotic. One I remember was a spicy, chipolte barbecue sauce. It was all on the pricey side but specialty stuff that you just wanted to try. Off to the restaurant.

The restaurant was as elegant as I expected. Most impressive was the 10 page wine list which Joey scrutinized with due diligence and the right murmers. When the wine waiter came by, they had a small discussion about which side of the vinyard in a particular field in a certain valley produced the perfect grape and the somnelier agreed with Joey’s selection as pure genius. Fred, move over. Oh, the wine guy’s name was Andre’ and he had the required south Bronx French accent. Another waitress brought the main menu and described the specials. Joey and I opted for the special which was a “melange” of fish – blackened grouper, Salmon, and Mahi mahi – each with a different sauce. Nancy went for the Long Island Duckling; Mark had filet tips over pasta. We started with a tomato bisque soup which turned out to be the best tomato bisque soup I’ve ever had. Even if it was the only tomato bisque I’ve ever had, it ranked high as one of the best soups I’ve ever had. It was brought to us, as was the salad, by another waiter. I think the entree was brought by yet another. I was wrong, wrong, wrong about the portions. It was a struggle to finish all the food, a very small dab of mashed potatos, and three really nice size pieces of fish. We managed to finish but honestly I couldn’t have handled one more bite and Nancy actually left some of the duck. They brought around great looking desserts but we couldn’t have even split one four ways.

We had a great day.

Beach vacation


We spent last week on Flagler Beach – I mean literally on the beach. We rented a place right on the ocean with the back door probably 200′ from the surf. It so much reminded me of my teenage life on Patrick where, except for school, I think I spent the rest of my time on the beach – fishing, swimming and doing all those beach things.

The place is located about 5 miles north of SR100 on A1A. It’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bath place with a nice kitchen and living room. It was totally complete with everything needed,even satellite TV in the living room and main bedroom. We actually brought more than we needed and next time will scale back. Turns out there’s nice Publix about 5 miles down the road and enough restaurants to eat every meal out and not repeat. We never turned on the stove or the microwave and the only thing we ate in was cereal a couple mornings and some fruit on the beach purchased from a local farmer’s market.

I fished every day and had some “interesting” catches. Over the week I caught all the expected stuff – whiting, bluefish, and pompano – so if we had wanted to eat our catch we could have had the fresh stuff every day. On the “interesting” side – on the first day I hooked into something that nearly stripped all the line off my reel. My surf fishing tackle is major equipment with a big league reel loaded with 300 yds of 30 pound test line. In the past year of surf fishing a couple days a week, I think maybe I’ve had fish that pulled out as much as 10 yds off the reel. So you can imagine my surprise when I set the hook and see the line just peeling off the reel. I have 200 yds of one color line and the last 100 yds another so I can tell that the first 200 yds was gone in maybe a minute and I’m working on the backing. I tighten the drag down to the point where I’m being pulled off the beach into the surf myself and can see the end of my spool coming up when he finally turned. Luckily he started swimming parallel to the beach instead of straight out to sea. I ran along to catch up on my line and retrieved about half of it. It was kind of a standoff because he was just steadily pulling me down the beach and I couldn’t gain line but could move along fast enough to keep him from taking more. After 20 minutes of this tug of war, I’m maybe 300 yards down the beach from where I started and he got off. I never saw what it was so it might have been a submarine. My best guess is a large shark but it seemed too fast for that so perhaps a very large Jack or Permit. In the ocean, you can never tell what’s going to bite.

The next day I had a near repeat but this time I saw the fish. I have witnesses to this one – Joey, Mark, Nancy and the next door neighbor. I hooked a giant manta ray. This guy had a wing span of maybe 6′ and probably weighed over 100 pounds. Rays jump. and jump and jump so you have no doubts whatsoever as to what it is. The neighbor hooked one that cost him about 300 yards of line and I just figured this was going to be the same with mine. But luckily he got off – as it turns out he straightened out a stainless steel hook. About a half hour later we’re sitting on the beach chatting when an Osprey dives on bait right in the surf about 20′ in front of us. Now that’s unusual. Even more unusual is that when he flew away, he flew right into my line and about jerked my rod out of the sandspike. He crashed into the surf entangled in my line, maybe 50′ out. He was in big trouble but not caught with the hook so there was some hope. On his own he managed to swim to the beach but was clearly stressed. Joey managed to get behind him and cut the line while I distracted. Ospreys are really fierce birds and you sure couldn’t get too close without risk of serious damage. He regained his composure in a few minutes and flew off. So within a very short period we had a manta ray and an osprey experience. “Interesting”.

The next day Nancy and I were fishing and I hooked another manta ray, about as big as the day before. He was on the rod that had snagged the osprey so it was already short some line and he managed to get away with another 50 yds of my line.

The rest of the week was nominally normal fishing but I can tell you on a couple occasions I pulled in my line when I spotted either a big shark, another ray, and one time a manatee. This week was a huge tackle test and I found myself coming out short in several cases. I need some serious upgrades – or to go back fishing in my old haunts. Guess which I am planning!

For me it was all about the fishing; for Nancy it was working on quilts on the beach, watching satellite TV, and eating seafood. One night she had a lobster stuffed with crab meat; another night she had a “boil”at TJ’s Fish Shack, That’s a large platter of crab, shrimp, shellfish, corn on the cob, whole potatos, and sausage all boiled together. The funniest one was on the way home from St. Augustine. We had planned to eat at a really unique place called Saltwater Cowboy’s. Turns out it’s not open for lunch but without a doubt we’ll hit that one. It had us written all over it. But when we left we headed south on A1A and spotted a dive called The c
Crabshack and Bakery. It must have just turned over ownership and the staff was fairly inexperienced. I ordered the gumbo which turned out to be the best I’ve ever had. Nancy ordered the low country “boil”. I think not too many people had ordered the boil before. It took a long time coming but when it came it was unbelievable. It had the regular snow crab legs, shrimp, and corn on the cob. But in addition it had crawfish and 3 blue crabs. A monster platter that the cook brought it out himself. He said he wasn’t sure what all went in the boil so he just loaded it up. Nancy feasted on that bad boy for about an hour. We had breakfast most mornings at a beach side place called the Java Hut and a monster 3/4 pound burger at the Turtle Cafe. I’d say we hit maybe half the spots on this trip but sighted quite a few for the future.

And the future is the last week of April.


Did you hear or read the latest scare story from the scientists? This week a prestigious group from England came out with a report that says the oceans will be fished out within 50 years and there will be no fish left – totally destroying the oceans. Last week another prestigious group from England came out with a report describing the costs of global warming which basically said we will be totally broke by 2100, living on a dry planet.

At my advanced age I have two advantages over you younger folk. First and most obvious is that I won’t be around to experience all these disasters. Second, and maybe more reassuring to you, I’ve heard it all before. I was in college when I was exposed to my first “world ending” prediction from groups of prestigious scientists – the earth was entering a period of global cooling and we were at the front end of another ice age. There were many articles with maps showing how the glaciers would come down from Canada all the way into the plains. The northern part of the country would be under hundreds of feet of ice. Much of the water in the ocean would be caught up in icebergs so that the water level would dramatically drop. In Florida the coast line would move 100 miles out from where it was and it would snow every winter. That really bothered me because at the time we lived right on the beach and I just couldn’t imagine that instead I’d be 100 miles from the beach and it would be too cold to swim in anyway. I just bet that if any of them are alive, those same prestigious scientists are on the global warming side. I like global warming way better than ice ages.

The next disaster predicted by a group of prestigious scientists was that the population of the earth was growing so fast that within 50 years – so that would be now – there woudl be worldwide famine. It was technically impossible to grow enough food to feed the masses – there simply wasn’t enough land. India and China would suffer first but eventually we would all simply run out of resources. The big movement was called ZPG for Zero Population Growth. I can remember my cousin Joan coming to my dorm to warn me to take it seriously. She was a med student so she knew much more about it than I did and she was concerned that I just wasn’t worried enough. I guess we know now that she took it very seriously since neither she nor anyone in that family had any kids. How interesting to find that not only is there no worldwide famine – but India and China are both now exporting food and one of the large worldwide economic issues of the day is the protection of farmers from cheaper imports. All over the world land is being taken out of agriculture because there’s too much food available.

Later in the 60’s we worried about “nuclear winter”. This group of prestigious scientists said we were certain to have a nuclear accident or event that would trigger chain reactions and massive explosions. So big, in fact, that a cloud of dirt and dust would completely cover the earth and block out the sun. The temperatures would drop and we would all be dead in short order – either from a lack of sun or radioactive fallout. I was never sure which would happen first.

At some point in the 70’s we (earthlings) were being barraged by ion blasts or something from explosions on the sun. It seems that the sun is just a continous series of hydrogen bomb kind of explosions which generated something called solar flares that reach out jillions of miles from the surface of the sun. These ions would totally wipe out the electrical systems around the world so there would be no power, no radio, no TV. I think it was also predicted to reverse the magnetic field of the earth so I guess compasses would all work backwards. And that was about the time we learned that there are huge asteroids drifting around out in space that would some day crash into earth, totally destroying it.

And didn’t we have Avian Flu last year. Remember this was to be a globe cleaning pandemic that would kill jillions of people. There wasn’t enough antibiotic on earth to stop it. Every newscast had reports of dead ducks in Taiwan or a dead goose turning up in Holland. Plenty of maps showing the migratory patterns of birds and how the flu would travel around the world. First we’d lose all the birds in the world and then the virus would learn to transfer from birds to people. What I wonder is how this could go from something that was going to impact the globe and basically deplete the population of the earth to a non event and there be no follow up news about what a bunch of crap it was. I wonder where these jillions of doses of antibiotic are??

I guess the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how all these dire predictions just sort of drift off into oblivion and the prestigious scientists just keep coming up with more dire, world ending predictions. Now they have large supercomputers to support their nonsense and wall to wall media to spread it. The scariest thing to me is the possibility that Nancy Pelosi could become Speaker of the House – that’s third in line for the presidency. Now that’s scary.