In the 1960’s there was a popular television series called The Beverly Hillbillies. In it Uncle Jed, a poor mountaineer, lived a peaceful, mediocre life in the mountains before striking it rich one day. That day was when “Texas Tea” bubbled up from his ground when he was shootin’ at some food. On moving to “Californy”, he and his family found a whole new world of swimmin’ pools and movie stars.
Similar to the Hillbillies, my good friend “Coconut Pete” moved to Florida where he found a whole new life in which he could go back in time to a simpler way of living the way Florida used to be.
One of his favorite hangouts is “Bert’s Bar and Grill” in Matlacha where every Saturday evening turtle races are held. This is my story about Coconut Pete’s favorite saying “enjoying mediocrity” and the turtle races at Bert’s.
Bert’s isn’t a fancy place. I suppose you would say it is an “authentic” Florida joint. But it is charming and famous for all kinds of Florida seafood treats. I especially like eating Grouper there. It is an icon in Matlacha with a bar, a dock, dockside seating with a view (including dolphins), and live music.
A song has been written about Bert’s and you can hear it here. It is a place where men a hearty and many of the women, heartier! And the Saturday evening turtle races bring in the returning locals as well as the visiting tourists. My friend, “Coconut Pete” helps run the turtle races at Bert’s.
So why the name “Coconut Pete?” Jimmy Buffett calls singers who sing his songs not too well, “Coconut Petes.” So my friend adopted the name “Coconut Pete” as he enjoys the good lifestyle of mediocrity. He describes enjoying mediocrity as not being exceptional at any particular thing but to just enjoy living.
As in Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, the turtle races at Bert’s have an air of competition. For the turtles, it is like a horse race to see which can cross the finish line ahead of the others. To my surprise, my #4 turtle won his race! Winning the race is not a guarantee of a prize. I chose to try for big bucks but walked away with nothing more than a good time.
Below are photos from the turtle race as “they’re off,” the winner posing and fans encouraging their turtle on. Since I will soon be relocating to Florida as a Winter snowbird, there will be more stories coming about additional adventures in the Sunshine State.