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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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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Going “Hog-Wild” at North Carolina’s Lexington Barbecue Festival

Festival Sand Sculpture

As a recent Yankee transplant to North Carolina, I have learned about the loyalty people of the “Tar Heel State” have for their preferred brand of slow cooked pork barbecue.

There are two primary variations of North Carolina barbecue. “Lexington Style” (sometimes referred to as “Piedmont Style”) claims to be the best barbecue in the world.

North Carolinians living along the Atlantic coastal areas eat more “Eastern Style” pork barbecue. And they have a different point of view about this “world’s best” claim.

My story, however, is not to draw distinction to barbecue preferences but rather is about my recent visit to the 35th Annual Barbecue Festival held in Lexington, NC… the legendary world capital of slow cooked barbecue.

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“No Nudie in Hospital”

I was recently hospitalized for four weeks in Budapest for a serious emergency surgery. There were numerous experiences to record in my blog during this time but because of the remnant effects of the anesthesia, it is often difficult for me to determine reality from my vivid imagination. One, though, is certain when my nurse Etta required me to wear pajamas citing in easily understandable English “No nudie in hospital!”

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Exploration at Aquincum – a Roman Empire Outpost

Nemesis, Goddess of Fate

In a few months I will have lived in various places in Europe for four years. My explorations have spanned geography from the Iberian peninsula in the west to the mountains of Transylvania in the east. One thing is consistent in every location, the Romans have been there.

The vastness of the Roman Empire is difficult for me to comprehend. In the history of mankind, their story is relatively recent. Even so, I find it to be more than a simple curiosity. And such it has been in my exploration of Aquincum, the Roman provincial capital of Pannonia Inferior. Aquincum is a treasure trove of antiquities such as the limestone statue of Nemesis, the goddess of fate, created in the 2nd century.

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Asheville, North Carolina – The Weird City Wannabe

Recently I and my brother and his wife visited Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a beautiful “Southern” city situated on the edge of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the western part of the state. There are aspects of Asheville that are quirky or strange. However, I don’t think it has yet demonstrated sufficient quirky qualities to truly be considered “weird.”

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Images of Love on Valentine’s Day

Vienna, Austria

Over the past few years I have traveled throughout several countries in Europe. Along the way I have been snapping photos of those showing their affection. My plan was in contemplation of posting the photos for Valentine’s Day… the day we think of love, whether good, bad or none at all.

This story is about the photos… those sharing their love in public. I did ask for people to let me take their photo (and use it in the blog) and once I explained what I was doing, almost everyone agreed.

I hope you like seeing the photos and that they bring nice thoughts for you and a smile to your face.

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My Roman Wall Exploration in Lugo, Galicia, España

Segment of the Roman Wall in Lugo, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Having lived in Andalusia in the southern part of Spain, I was aware of history of Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, historical events related to the Reconquest, etc…. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when traveling north to the Galician city of Lugo.


Journeying all day by train, olive trees gave way to evergreens and flat land became more extreme with high hills, small snow-capped mountains, and very rocky terrain. My observations, although interesting, were not my motivation to go to Lugo, however.

I had learned about the 1700 year old, completely intact, Roman city wall constructed in Lugo. The wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was my principle attraction to the city.

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Exploring Phoenicians, Romans and Other Civilizations in Cádiz, España

IMG_1553I find it fascinating that through remnants of past civilizations, archaeologists, sociologists, and historians can piece together, interpret, and explain how our ancient ancestors lived and impacted present civilization. Today we record so much about our history and what’s happening in our lives. But in many cases in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea we still seek to reveal the mysteries of great ancient civilizations.

Throughout my explorations in Europe it has been easy to see that the Romans have been there! And I have only scratched the surface with my stories about Pula in Croatia, Tuln in Austria, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Cluj-Napoca in Romania, Cordoba in Spain, and in Malta.

I was delighted that I found not only remnants of Roman society from the 1st century BC in Cadiz but also excellent artifacts left by ancient Phoenicians beginning in the 6th and 7th centuries BC. This story is about my memories of the Phoenician settlement of “Gadir,” the Roman town of “Gades,” the Moor city “Qādis” (Arabic from which the name Cadiz is derived) and “Old Town” Cadiz.

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