It’s Raining Iguanas in Florida

IMG_3157“The sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little. Well, not quite the sky falling but here in Southwest Florida there is a unique twist when it gets cold.

Iguanas are cold blooded reptiles that have invaded Florida. They are quite at home when it is hot. But when it is cold below 50°F (10°C), they get lethargic and fall out of trees!

This unique situation is even forecast by the National Weather Service in the United States!

This can be as critical as a hail storm (or maybe more so) as some male iguanas are up to 7 feet (213 cm) long and weigh up to 17 pounds  (7.7 kg)!

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Anchors Aweigh – A Christmas Boating Adventure

A surreal night-time image at the Christmas boat parade at Matlacha

Last evening I experienced my first Christmas boat parade. It was off Matlacha Island in the “Sunshine State” of Florida in the USA.

Previously, I have written blog stories about Coconut Pete and the Turtle Races, and the Parade of Mermaids which originate from this speck of land (population 620) just off Florida’s southwest coast.

Not quite in the Gulf of Mexico, this small, one stop light village of Matlacha continues to warm ones heart with innovative slices of local lore, tradition, and Americana. This story is about my experience at Matlacha’s Christmas boat parade.

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More Critters in My Florida Backyard

Almost a year ago I wrote a story “Discovering the Critters in My Backyard.” It is about the famous “Burrowing Owl,” the official bird of the city of Cape Coral in Florida, USA. I now live in a new place in Cape Coral which is adjacent to a canal and a new critter has now shown up.

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Green Iguana in my Backyard

There are many canals in this community and in them one can routinely see fish jumping and occasionally a larger creature such as a Manatee! Two days ago I discovered a Green Iguana sunning himself on the seawall in my backyard outside the screened pool area.

This story is about the Iguanas which are now found throughout Southwest Florida.

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My Blueberry Popsicle Memory

To me it seems that childhood experiences often feel different as I age. By that I am not necessarily referring to things just being relative to my size. More so, I have a realization that memories I have as youngster are often similar, but different, in reality than what I experience in the same circumstances as an adult.

While growing up in Somerset, Pennsylvania, there were always many nearby places of significance to me such as Forbes Field, Carnegie Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Fort Necessity, our family cabin at the farm, and the Somerset Little League baseball field.

And today there are newer places of significance such as the somber Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville.

Flight 93 Memorial (c) LaurelHighlands.org

Just as my perspective of memories has changed somewhat, I am certain that young people visiting these and other places in Western Pennsylvania will see them differently than their memories as they grow older.

One such memory forever etched in my mind appears to be very similar to reality today. My father had a fascination with going to Kooser State Park which is about 15 miles from Somerset. Kooser is located in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, not very far from Seven Springs Resort. Dad loved having outdoor picnics there and occasionally we stayed in a rented rustic cabin in the state park. A blazing fire in the fireplace was always part of going anywhere with my Dad.

Kooser State Park Beach
(c) LaurelHighlands.org

The park also has a small sandy beach (pictured) which seemed larger in the day. Spooky, dank, smelly outhouses were available to relieve oneself and have since been replaced with more modern facilities. The memory I have most is that the mountain spring water that flowed into the swimming area was on the “Polar Bear plunge” side of cold! I speculated it to be a few degrees above freezing although I am certain it is more.

On exiting the water at Kooser in my younger days, my brother Dave was often light blue as he shivered to shore, reminding me of a blueberry popsicle. The only respite for relief from the cold while in the water was when someone left a warm spot and quickly moved away as to say “not me!”

As interesting as I find this memory and others, I know my readers have similar stories of how they recall experiences from their childhood differently as adults. As in other stories I encourage each of you to document a recollection so your thoughts not only bring a smile to your face but also to others.

My Adventure at “Ford’s Garage”

IMG_2543American industrialist Henry Ford was the founder of the “motor car” company which today bears his name. During the cold winter months in Michigan he lived in his estate in Fort Myers, Florida. Not far from his Winter home is one of a few pub-style automotive restaurants known as “Ford’s Garage.”

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Splinters in the Dock, My Boating Instruction Experiences

A few months ago while visiting my friend Coconut Pete in Cape Coral, Florida, I decided that I wanted to learn how to operate a motor boat. I also decided that I would tackle this bucket list item on the Florida coast rather than a mountain lake near my apartment in Asheville, North Carolina.

My friend Pete owns a boat. This story is about my adventure learning to captain his twin engine Hurricane.

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My Safari Exploits… A Jungle Journey

IMG_2705A few days ago I scoured the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina on safari. Passing by lumbering black bears and the garbage-fattened raccoons, my quarry remained elusive. How could this be in the United States?

The places my quarry always dwelled were void of its presence, without a hint of its flushing past. Yes, the shelves were empty and no toilet paper could be found.

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The Conch Horn Sounds at the Mermaid Parade

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Young and Old Dress in Their Costumes 

Even on the darkest of days one can find amusement and a smile in Matlacha Island,  Florida, USA.

I have found little amusements around the world. In Portland, Oregon, “Voodoo Donut” contributes to “America’s Capital of Weird” and in Panhans, Lower Austria, “Nude in the Sauna” creates a totally unexpected surprise.

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More Local Onlookers Dressed for the Mermaid Parade

Recently, I have written about Coconut Pete and the Turtle Races which also provides a lot of laughs on Saturday evenings at Bert’s Bar and Grill in Matlacha, Florida.

Yesterday, I ventured to Bert’s to once more watch the turtle races only to find they had been cancelled because across the street the “Parade of Mermaids” was taking place.

This story is about the fun, annual costume contest featuring contestants as well as onlookers in Matlacha.

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Discovering the Critters in My Backyard

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Cape Coral Burrowing Owl

As a youngster growing up in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania, seeing “critters” in the backyard such as rabbits, squirrels and occasionally a deer was commonplace. It just seemed to me that almost everyone had critters of some sort in their backyard.

Having traveled many places in the world and observing different animals, I developed an appreciation for the diversity of wildlife on every continent. Few animals are the same around the world. But they certainly are interesting. Everywhere there are new critters to discover and enjoy. This story is about discovering the Cape Coral Burrowing Owl.

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Enjoying Mediocrity with Coconut Pete at the Turtle Races

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.

IMG_0906Similar 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.

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