Oasis

Waves of distortion hung low in the air as heat radiated up from the parched earth. A silhouette floated across as the soft crunching of footfalls broke the dead calm.  The man squinted his eyes beneath his wide brimmed hat in defense his late afternoon sun. His gaze finds the skeleton of a tree that draws him to it.

Crunch-crunch-crunch

Tucked in a bow, he finds a nest, poor and sloppily built. Inside of the nest sat three chicks, freshly molten from their baby fuzz.  Nude and hot, they look to the sky with open beaks.

The man reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle and straw. The man grimaces as he feels the weight of it.  Shaking the bottle, he heard the splash of remnants. Not much, but some. Dipping the straw into the bottle, he proceeded to quench their thirst, one by one.  Each chick was allowed three pulls all the water was gone.  The man looked up to see their mother sitting on a perch, staring down at him.  He noticed an insect caught in her beak.

Backing away, he nodded to the lady before putting away the bottle and straw. The bird flew to the nest as the man moved on.

Cheese in the Cabbage

It’s amazing what you can ignore in your own back yard.  Since my move to Florida, I’ve been to Orlando, Miami, South Beach, St. Augustine, Sebring, Tampa, and Key West.  Along the way I’ve hit Disney, Universal Studios, Bush Gardens, as well as botanical gardens, music concerts, book fairs, and other places of gathering.  And yet, for all this, I almost missed a major landmark and cultural icon.  Cabbage Key.  Heard of it?  No, you’re not sure?  Hmm. Ever hear the song “Cheeseburger in paradise” by Jimmy Buffett?  Yep!   That’s the one.  Cabbage Key and The Cabbage Key Inn are the inspiration for that song and have been featured heavily on many travel and food shows up and down the television channels.

So how did I not see this for so long?  One reason is that you can’t drive to Cabbage Key.  There are no bridges that cross over to the little island and no roads there once you’re on it.  That means travel is limited to boats and water planes.  (Ok. You could technically swim it, but with hammerheads, blacktips, and lemon sharks swimming the intracoastal, I wouldn’t advise it.)  The other reason is that I thought it was much further up the coast.  With a week off, it was a perfect time to correct this mistake.

Taking the King Fisher out of Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda.

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Carol and I enjoyed calm waters as we steamed leisurely up Charlotte Harbor.  Passing the Island of Boca Grande, a few dolphins swam up to join us.

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The First Mate explained to us that the dolphins were not swimming alongside the ship, but were actually surfing the wake.  Cheers and clapping encouraged the finned coupe to jump through the air as they surfed just under the surface.  They also enjoyed giving the closets viewers an unexpected shower as the splashed close by the side of the boat.

After stopping at Cayo Costa state park to let off some passengers for the day, we continued south for another twenty minutes before reaching our destination.

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I was surprised by my findings.  Cabbage Key is small!  I was expecting an island three times larger.  At only 100 acres, it holds five houses, the inn, a water tower, a maintenance shop and a quick nature trail.

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Cabbage Key Inn has wonderful views and the restaurant is covered in the most expensive wall paper I’ve ever seen!   Carol counted over four hundred dollars on the pole alone.

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The wall paper may be a dull green, but the drinks are vibrantly colored.  Carol enjoyed the sweetness of the Chambord Margarita while I indulged in the classic Golden Margarita.  It may have only been two in the afternoon, but why not?

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When you go to iconic places, you have to try the food they’re known for:  Lobster in Maine; Pulled pork bar-b-cue in South Carolina; Paczkis in Hamtramck. Likewise I just had to have a Cheeseburger in Paradise.  I was not disappointed.  Thick and juicy, this perfectly sized burger featured lettuce, tomato, onion, topped with gooey melted cheese, all on a toasted bun.  It doesn’t overload the bun but compliments it.

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There is one deterrent to island life though.  With such limited space, there are no fries with any meal.  In fact, nothing is fried at the restaurant.  There is no cost effective way to store the new and used oil as well as shipping it over to the mainland for proper disposal.  On the bright side, every ingredient is guaranteed fresh as it is brought over on a daily basis.

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After our lunch, Carol and I walked off some calories touring the nature trail.  Full and content, we relaxed as we rode the still water home.  Cabbage Key and the inn found a place in our hearts just as we left a little of us to mark our visit.

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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

Confessions: Why I have a dumb phone

Many of you know that I don’t have a smart phone.  In fact, some of you have even asked why.  It is hard to understand why a blogger would limit themselves by not having one.  I have missed out on some great pictures and having the ability to post on facebook wall at a moment’s notice would be a nice feature.  (If you haven’t seen it, stop by.  I post links to other blogs and fun pictures on it.)

You’d almost think I’m anti-technology.  That’s furthest from the truth.  I like cool old things, but I love gizmos just as much.

I even had an I-pod.  Once.  I really enjoyed it.  I’d scan around for free wifi to download podcasts or web surf. I added a bunch of apps.  All in all, I spent over $50 on shows, games, and other things for that pod.  I took that thing everywhere.

Then I accidentally killed it.

I was working by the pool and “BLOOP” down it went.  I was kinda luck as it landed in the ledge section of the pool, but it still was in enough water to bring the dreaded “White screen of death.”

I nursed it for two weeks and somehow got it to work.  Kinda.  It had become more susceptible to the high humidity and rain of summer Florida, but I could still listen to podcasts and watch “Tremors”.

And then one day it crashed onto the road.   “Crack!”  I was trying to slip it into my shirt pocket, but the pocket wasn’t open enough.

So much for that.

Picking up the dead metal carcass, I decided to go a little cheaper in replacing it.

I bought a Sansa Fuze.

No wifi, but I still got my podcasts and could download movies and shows.  I had that for about six months until it died… in the pool.

Ok.  Not the pool itself, but the filter tank.  It was my job to clean that thing out every week.  The filters used fossils called Diatomatious Earth.  It feels like soft sand, but is microscopically sharp.  The large cut version is sold as earth friendly insecticide at garden centers.  The stuff cuts the legs of insects as they walk through it.  A slurry of this stuff oozed its way into that Sansa and Fuzed itself into the electronics.

Dead.

I now have some MP3 player called a Trio.  It cost me $30.  I haven’t killed it so far, but I don’t do the pool anymore.  It is slowly dying though.  The screen gets these weird “snow” line through it when I have it connected to the computer and half the time the computer can read the player through the USB cable.  But it still works.

I think I’m on my third phone too.  In fact, it has to be.  I remember changing carriers.  The phones do seem to last longer.  The one I have now was bought roughly after the first time I tried to kill the I Pod.  It’s a cheap $15 phone that I don’t worry about.  If it goes, I just get another.

And that’s the crux.  I have no qualms about dropping $15 on a new phone if something happens, but $100 to $300 for a smart phone that might not last the year?  That’s hard to swallow.

I know that there are protective cases for the things, like the otter case, but that’s another $100!  Plus I just know how I would be if I had that thing on my smart phone, “What I forgot the hammer to stake this tree up?  Here, use my phone.  No, it’s ok.  The case is shock proof.” Or “Let’s play air hockey.  We’ll use my phone as the puck.  It’s alright.  It’s got that otter cover on it.”

How could I possibly inflict such horror to an innocent little smart phone.  It’s better if they didn’t know.

And that’s why I have a dumb phone.

Daybreak

The putt-putt sound of the motor keeps time with the small wave rolling on the bow.  Sunlight fragments and scatters all around the little boat as the cool sea breeze keeps the summer heat at bay.  Close to the shore, wave-runners dart and jump like the seagulls circling around in the air.  The buildings behind them fade into the earth as the trees tower over them.  A fish breaks the water in greeting.  The man smiles.  Maybe later he’ll do a little fishing, but for now the moment is perfect.Little Tug