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.

IMG_2976
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.

Continue reading “More Critters in My Florida Backyard”

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.

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.

Continue reading “Splinters in the Dock, My Boating Instruction Experiences”

Discovering the Critters in My Backyard

IMG_1395 (1)
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.

Continue reading “Discovering the Critters in My Backyard”

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.

Continue reading “Enjoying Mediocrity with Coconut Pete at the Turtle Races”

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

IMG_3728
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.

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

“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!”

Continue reading ““No Nudie in Hospital””

Exploration at Aquincum – a Roman Empire Outpost

IMG_3100
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.

Continue reading “Exploration at Aquincum – a Roman Empire Outpost”

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.”

Continue reading “Asheville, North Carolina – The Weird City Wannabe”

Images of Love on Valentine’s Day

IMG_9256
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.

Continue reading “Images of Love on Valentine’s Day”