Why I didn’t go camping this summer.

Summer is a great time of year for camping, unless you live in Florida.  With a mix of high temperatures and high humidity, storms come on almost a daily basis.  Unfortunately, this year, they not only came, they stuck around.  The rain this year seemed non-stop since June and made any thoughts of camping an exercise in futility.

I was lucky enough to get one half decent hike in, but that too was cut short due to lightning flashing in the sky and no practical safe spot to hang around in.

Hopefully the rainy season will come to an end soon.  The air felt wonderfully drier than it has in weeks.  A night under the stars sounds so good right now.  But until then, a glimpse of what held me back.

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Ketchup With Us #26 Making a scene

picture provided by celebsview.info

Michele and Mel have asked one of the best questions ever. “If you could do a scene in a movie, what would it be?”  This question is so personal that you can’t help but show yourself in the answer.  From the genre you pic, to the character, to the moment.  Everything there is a small part of you and your perspective.

With this in mind, I was able to narrow it down to a few.

Should I pick the philosopher full of life’s experience?

Should I pick the classic hero?

Maybe a dramatic nature scene?

I’d throw in the romantic artist from “Titanic” but that would throw in the sticky question of whom would I be sketching.  Ow!  Of course it’s you, my wife, I couldn’t think of anyone else. Ow!  Stop!

Of course, there is at least one scene I’d never want to do.

But of all the choices available there’s one scene that would fulfill two dreams in the same moment.

What scene would you choose?


Swimming with the sharks and other zany ideas.

picture from tumblr

One of my favorite blogs is Lesley Carter’s “Bucket List Publication.”  Last year she helped my cross off ghost hunting in St. Augustine from my list.  Well, she’s at it again, offering readers to help out with their bucket list.  This time though, it’s a little intense.

She literally wants you to swim with the sharks.  That’s right.  If you’ve ever dreamed of looking ole Bruce in the eye now is your chance.  Lesley wants to hear what extreme wish you’d like to have come true.  So do I.  I can’t make them happen like she can, but I’d love to hear what wild dream you’d like to have come true.

Of course, I can’t ask you to open up ad share your extreme dreams without sharing mine so, drum roll please.

Badda dadada dah!

Gene’s Extreme Dreams

Take a ride on Virgin Galactic.

picture by dailytech.com

It’s too early to go to the moon or Mars, so this will have to do.  Besides, it’s space!  Who wouldn’t want to go?

Explore Baja in search of the King.

Picture from The Turtle Expedition

Four Wheeler was a major influence on me as a kid and the three most notable things about the magazine at the time were, The Turtle Expedition, Granville King, and Baja Mexico.  The Turtle Expedition is still going strong and is touring Europe as it heads its way towards The Silk Road.  Granville Kind was an editorial writer for Four Wheeler and lived in a remote area of Baja.  It would be a great way to say thank you to them by exploring the one place they both wrote so much about.

Do a week long or two week long extreme camping trip.

picture from american-state-parks.com

It wouldn’t be as crazy as “Naked and Afraid” or “Dual Survival” but I’d love to be dropped off in the middle of the deep woods or on a deserted island with just my basic camping gear and some food and water to stop starvation.  Think of it as rustic 1800s camping.

Fly a Piper Cherokee.

Picture from c74.net

I first learned about these little planes when I visited a hobby shop.  It’s a single engine prop plane that seats four.  I thought the plane had great lines and always wanted to fly one.  Oh, and just for fun, make it one made back in 1969.  That’ll make it interesting.

Ride from Florida to the Arctic circle… on a motorcycle.

picture from ya-goo.com

This is the one that is most likely to get me killed.  Mainly by my wife if she found out I was going to do this.  Now it can’t be just any motorcycle for this adventure.  No.  There are so many good machines out there right now that they could handle it no problem.  Where’s the challenge in that? Nope. If this extreme challenge is going to be done, it has to be done right.  I want a Suzuki TU250X as my steed on this adventure.

picture from popular mechanics

That’s right, a lowly 250cc engine, entry level, standard motorcycle.  The guys over at Top Gear rode smaller bikes on their Vietnam special, so this would fit right in with their challenge.  But I get to deal with severe weather changes that they didn’t.  I’ll have to adapt from hot and sticky Florida weather to ungodly evil frigid and blustery weather of the Arctic Circle.  Plus there is the little matter of 500 miles of sharp gravel road and heavy hauling semis flying down the road, pitching out gravel to anyone unlucky enough to be behind them. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve never ridden a motorcycle before?  Yep.  This would be extreme.

So there you have it.  My extreme bucket list dreams, some of which should actually be on a “coffin list”; you know, thinks that will get you killed.

I showed you mine, tell me yours.  And don’t forget to pass them on over at Bucket List Publications.  Who knows?  Yours might come true.

The Celtic Ray – more authentic than I ever knew.


Sometimes it takes going to another country to find out how good a place is.  That was the case with The Celtic Ray.

My wife and I have been going there for many years for their tasty food and warm atmosphere.  When relatives visit and want a good Irish pub, The Celtic Ray is the only choice.  I always got a kick taking my brother and his wife there for dinner.

“I can’t believe I have to come to Florida for authentic Irish/English food.”  I’d hear on the ride back.

I got a kick out of hearing that since they visit England regularly.  Being that the owner is Irish, I expected authentic cooking.  It never occurred to me that the authenticity was complete.002

That was until my wife and I went to Ireland last year.  The experience  of visiting multiple cities and all the pubs in them, showed us how The Celtic Ray is an Irish pub.  In fact, it is so authentically Irish that if you picked it up and dropped in off in Killkenny, Dublin, or Gallway that people wouldn’t even notice that it was of U.S. origin.


It’s done well in Punta Gorda.  So well in fact, that it has tripled in size.  Don’t let that fool you.  When The Celtic Ray first started, it was so small that it defined the word intimate.  If I had to throw out a figure on its size back then, I’d say the dining area and bar were maybe 500 square feet tops.  Now The Celtic Ray has branched out into the building next door, offering more bar space, dining room both upstairs and down as well as a stage for live music.


The music was good the night we were there.  The singer mixed Irish folk tunes with American ones.  The audience must’ve been regulars for they sang along with every song.  The entire event brought me back to Ireland.


I have to admit though, that there is one major difference between The Celtic Ray and all the pubs in Ireland.  The Celtic Ray does not serve Budweiser.  In fact, they do not serve any common domestic beer.  If you want Bud, Miller, Busch, Mic, or any other usual big brand beer, go to a usual bar.  If you want beer with flavor and body, go to The Ray.  The beer is hearty and memorable.


The food is also hearty and memorable.  There are choices of both Irish and English food and many is it good.  It is the only place I will go to get a rack of lamb and their pasties are out of this world!


The food is so good that even after working outside in 98 degree heat with 80+ percent humidity, you still crave what would be considered a heavy meal.  If you want something familiar, go with the traditional fish and chips.  It’s so good it would make John Oliver weep for joy.  He would feel right at home.


And that’s what I had to leave the United States to figure out.  If I had never visited Ireland, I would’ve never known how authentic The Celtic Ray truly is.  I would’ve thought it was just an American bar with a good Irish feel to it.  Now I know it is a true Irish Pub.  If you’re ever down in Southwest Florida you should come to The Celtic Ray in Punta Gorda and see for yourself.  You’ll be amazed.

Passing on a moment

Photo from nowiknow.com


It was raining again today in Florida as it has since June.  My coworker was standing outside staring down into a large puddle. I watched him as he stared mesmerized by the rhythmic splashing of rain dancing on the water.

“Do you see that little drop of rain?”  I asked.  “That is our moment in time on the planet.”

He watched silently as another drop splashed into the shallow water.

“Do you see that large ring created by the raindrop?  That is the influence you have in the world through your words and actions.”

He smiled in understanding as his ride pulled up.

Photo from farm8-flickr