Florida

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – The End!

This is the last of the Thanksgiving week series. Links to the rest of the series;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

So our trip to Maggie Valley has come to an end, and it’s time to head home to Daytona Beach. We will miss our time in the mountains and the amazing sights we saw.

Here are a few of the pictures I didn’t post on the other days in no particular order.

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Just to prove that I’m not the only terrible photographer in the family, Wifey managed to get this shot of me on Chimney Rock with my face in the shadow of a tree.

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Some random waterfall we passed on the road. We just stopped, rolled down the window took a picture and drove off. Because that’s what tourists do!

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The tasting menu at Sierra Nevada Brewery. 

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I’ll bet Louis XVI wished he had a chandelier of Sierra Nevada bottles like this one. 

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See? I told you Wifey kept taking pictures of my butt.

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Wifey waited for over 15 minutes for this guy to get off of Pulpit Rock. She finally gave up and just took the picture anyway.  Thanks, random guy!

We, or at least I was, somewhat spoiled by the light traffic we experienced during this vacation.  Even on our trips over to Asheville traffic was not bad at all. Of course, it is the off-season for Maggie Valley, but Asheville is a large enough city to have traffic year round.  Such was not the case on the trip home. Our basic route was I26 east to I95 south. Sounds simple enough.

In my Army years, we did two tours at Fort Bragg just outside of Fayetteville, NC, for a total of 6 years or so. During this time we made many trips up and down I95, to Miami and back, at all times of the year and over just about every holiday you can think of. We have never had the traffic problems we had on this trip.  From the I26/I95 interchange to the Georgia line (about 86 miles) took us over three hours.  I have never been so frustrated in traffic in my life. Regular readers of this blog know how much I hate traffic (you can catch my thoughts on the “Elon Musk Are You Listening?” post).  The only thing that kept me sane was Wifey® finding the RV Trader website and reading me the various RVs she found.  We want to find us an RV in the next two years so we can travel more.

I’d like to give some love to a couple of places we stopped at while were in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.

First, The Buttered Biscuit.  We ate breakfast there three times. Nothing spectacular, just good food, served with a smile from very friendly folks.  Ask for Oliva if you happen to stop in. Not sure if they’re in Maggie Valley or Waynesville, as they’re at the intersection of US19 and US276. Basically on the border of each town.  (And like most restaurants in the valley, they’re closed on Tuesday. The oddest thing to me.)

One of our favorite little shops is Seven Silver Seas. Located right on US19 in Maggie Valley.  They have lots of handmade, free trade gift items from around the world at very fair prices. But be warned, it is a very “fragrant” shop. I don’t know if they have incense burning or just a heavy-duty perfume spray, but it gave Wifey® a migraine the first day we stopped in.  The second stop was a quick in and out to avoid the fragrance problem.

I have posted reviews on almost every place we stopped, ate or otherwise visited on Trip Advisor, look for “BeachDaze58” for my reviews.

And since this is the end of this series, and I haven’t played a single video yet, I thought this one would be fitting.

Enjoy! And please leave me a comment. Maybe a suggestion of another place to visit.

Peace,
B

Odds & Ends

I haven’t written anything in a while, not that anything is wrong, just haven’t had much to say.  Life has been quiet. So today I’ll throw out a few odds and ends on what’s been on mine and Wifey’s® minds.

Last night we were driving to the gym when a commercial for one of the big cruise ship lines came on. Doesn’t matter which one, because they all do it.  It may only make sense to those of us in Florida, or folks who like to cruise. But this is my blog, so I’m going to tell the story anyway.

The commercial will always say; “Sailing from Miami, Tampa, (sometimes Ft. Lauderdale is added here), and Orlando”.  Has anybody in the marketing departments of these cruise lines ever looked at a Florida map? Maybe they all use a marketing firm from Nebraska or another land locked state.  But in any case, here is a simple map of Florida for you to follow along with.

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You will notice that Miami and Tampa are on the coast, which is good when you’re trying to dock a big assed cruise ship. Now granted if you’re in Florida you cannot be more than 80 miles from the coast (either the Atlantic or the Gulf). So where does that leave Orlando? Pretty much dead center of the state. I guess if you had a really, really good boat captain with updated charts, you may be able to sail a small, 12 foot or so, boat from somewhere on the east coast to the Orlando area. Not very likely, but just maybe. But a cruise ship? Not a chance.

So where do you sail from if you’re not really sailing from Orlando? Well, Port Canaveral of course. Even though Canaveral has the Kennedy Space Center with the astronaut hall of fame, it doesn’t have the draw that Orlando has with Disney and Universal theme parks. (You know why the Orlando airport is designated “MCO”? It stands for “Mickey Controls Orlando”).

So in truth, the cruise lines are dumbing us down by making folks think they can sail out of Orlando, which is physically impossible. Just more corporate America hoping you’ll buy into their ideas.

Next point. Something that I have hated since the Rolling Stones sold out and let Micro$oft use “Start Me Up” in a commercial for Windows 95. That’s the use of popular music in advertising. Yes, it’s been going on for ages, but it didn’t bother me until “my music” started being used. My music meaning what is generally termed “Classic Rock”, or in my day “AOR” or Album Oriented Radio.

This year’s major defiler of good music is Wal-Mart (a corporation I despise anyway). It started with their use of The Who’s “Who Are You” advertising for Halloween costumes.  It was bad enough when the “CSI” shows used that same song. Now Wal-mart is using “Get Together” by Jesse Colin Young & The Youngbloods for a Thanksgiving ad. The biggest problem? The songs fit perfectly with the ads!  DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!!!@! I want to yell and scream that they messed it up, but I can’t!

Also for all us Southeastern USA folks, the grocery store Publix used The Allman Brother’s “Jessica” as background music in their commercials for years. Guess there’s not much I (or any of us) can do about it.  Except DVR everything and skip the damn commercials.

Last thing, I promise.  And yes it’s more commercials (I hate them). Have you noticed all the medical stuff, the new medications in particular?  I love how they list all the possible side effects from hair loss, to death and everything in between. Then they tell you not to take it if you have any of the following conditions, which goes on forever. One of which is usually a very specific type of cancer or other major disease. But then comes the kicker, “Do not take if you are allergic to <insert medication they are advertising for here>.  Now how in the hell are you supposed to know if you’re allergic to it if it’s so new you’ve never taken it? I remember my days as a paramedic working in ERs and having to ask questions about drug allergies. But that was so we didn’t give the patient something they knew they were allergic to.

I can only imagine a conversation like this;

Doctor:  You have <this> condition I want to give you this brand new drug, “XYZ”, it was just released yesterday. Do you know if you are allergic to “XYZ?”

Patient: How would I know? I’ve never tried it before!

Doctor: Are you sure you’re not allergic to “XYZ”? I don’t want to get sued”.

Whatev’

That’s enough…. Let me go find a video to calm us (me) down.  This has nothing to do with the post but it’s one of “my girl’s” (Wifey® and the granddaughters – which is an awesome band name) favorites.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

 

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Ok, so it’s only been two days or so of rain. But there are areas in Central Florida that still have high water from Hurricane Irma. I realize we’re in much better shape than Texas and Puerto Rico but it still isn’t easy.

So here’s a video just because I want to…

Peace,
B

EDIT:  It’s now 1210 EDT and Wifey® informs me the sun is out! Guess this little post did its job! (As if I could influence the weather.)

Long Ago On Twitter

There was a time when big corporations paid attention to their Twitter accounts. Some years ago I found a bag of rather old Fritos stuffed away behind some stuff in the pantry. I randomly tweeted that “I hope they wouldn’t kill me.”  Within minutes I had a response from Frito Lay on how to replace the bag at no cost to me. Despite the fact that they were well beyond their expiration date. They didn’t care. They wanted to help.

Another time I asked on Twitter how to remove White Out from a pair of pants. The “Goo-Gone” folks replied that their product would do it. Sadly it didn’t, but at least they reached out.

But things have changed. In recent time Wifey® and I have reached to AT&T (see here), we have tried not only on this blog, but Twitter and Facebook without a single damn response. And now in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I cannot get our utility company (Florida Power & Light) to answer me. I have sleep apena, as such I need a CPAP machine to help me breathe at night. Couple that with my asthma/emphysema, the possibility of my stopping breathing in my sleep is greatly increased. Not to mention how hard it is to get up when the alarm goes off, provided of course that I’m not already up doing nothing but trying to get my head around me and breathe.

So what was once a great way to reach out to someone in a large corporation has turned to shit. They don’t care. Helping people in need does nothing for their bottom line, so they turn a blind eye and ear.

I feel very let down by this turn of events. I didn’t spend 20 years of my life defending this country in the military to be treated like this.  Not that my congressman cares either. His office staff has been AWOL for a week or more.

So all-in-all, I say “fuck it”.  I’m gonna drink my craftbeer as long as I have gas for my generator to keep the fridges running and money to buy it.

For those of you not in the paths of Hurricane Harvey or Irma, peace to you. Be thankful of what you have. For those that, like I, have been affected by either storm, best of luck. I’m ready to call it quits.

Just how hard is it to emmigrate to Scotland anyway?

Peace,
B

The Case Of The Missing Office Staff

The above picture is the door to the local office of Congressman Ron DeSantis (R- FL) here in the Port Orange city hall. It has been dark and locked for a very long time. The last I remember seeing any of the staff was more than a week ago. I understand they were off Monday September 4th for Labor Day (so was I). I vaguely remembering someone being there for half a day either Tuesday the 5th or Wednesday the 6th.  But I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since.

Maybe they evacuated for the hurricane, or sustained major damage, I don’t know.  But why isn’t there a sign on the door stating why they aren’t there and how to contact someone if help is needed? Even if they can’t get in to post the sign they could reach out to our city manager’s office and we’d place the sign for them.

I ask, is this any way to run a government? I have had to advise two folks today that they have not been around for a week or so. I can’t really place blame on Rep. DeSantis, but is this how his office treats his constituents?

Sadly, I voted for Rep. DeSantis in November since he is supposedly strong in veteran’s affairs, and I am a veteran. I now regret that vote (the only Republican vote I cast too). And not for this, as there may be extenuating circumstances I am not aware of.  After all one can’t expect our elected representatives in DC to come running home for every little thing (even though the hurricane was a little bit more than a “little thing”), it’s his staff that’s AWOL.

I’ve worked 9 straight days now. My house still has minor damage, my yard is still littered with debris (although Wifey® has done more than her share in cleaning up stuff while her offfice was closed) and we still have no power. I see no reason, barring life threatening injuries, that the office should not be open. As a public servant, the office is there to support and help the public. Or at the very least, a posting with alternative contact information.

You would think a veteran would know this.  I say vote him out and let’s put someone who cares about the local people in his place.

Peace,
B

Days Without Power….

Our local power company, FP&L expects to have the power back on NLT 2345 hrs, 17 September (that’s 11:45 PM, Sunday September 17 for those non-military types). That’s 5 days away..  Please send gasoline for the generator and craftbeer to keep me sane….

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I can shower with only the light from a flashlight, or even in the dark, but I’m not going to shave in those conditions. Not to mention that “No power = No CPAP = No sleep”. My co-workers are going to hate me.

Here’s a video to enjoy.

Peace,
B

Hurricane Irma & Others

And Florida has once again survived yet another “killer” hurricane. Hurricane Irma was a storm you only see every 500 years, but it came just days after Hurricane Harvey which was a storm you only see every 500 years.  So either something has gone terribly bad with the space-time-continuum, or Mother Earth is really pissed at us humans right now.

Watching the weather reports as I sat at the Port Orange EOC (Emergency Operations Center), I saw the devastation that the Caribbean Islands received. Having cruised to some of those islands, I was heart-broken to see the damage. South Florida, where I grew up was hit very hard. Lots of flooding. My older brother and I were texting back and forth (he’s in the Atlanta area now) about past hurricanes. We lived about 10 – 15 miles from the coast in Miami when Donna hit in 1960. I wasn’t even two yet, so I don’t remember it.  He told me we had about 3 – 4 of water in the yard from storm surge. That’s pretty bad.

Since I’ve retired from the Army and moved back to Florida, we’ve had a fair number of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. In 2004 we had three in rapid succession. Charlie did a great deal of damage to the Daytona Beach area. I remember driving with my younger son (older son was out with his National Guard unit doing hurricane recovery) trying to find a chain saw. A neighbor’s tree fell into our yard taking out our power lines and blocking the door of the shed. Which, of course was where my chain saw was. So we needed to buy a chain saw to get to our chain saw. Nobody had a chainsaw to sell, but we did pick up a nice 5Kw generator that we use to this day. Which was good, since we were without power for ten days.

The next storm was Frances, but she wasn’t too bad. But the third storm, Jeanne seem to sit on top of us for days, just dumping water. Our street was flooded, but it didn’t reach the house so all was OK.

Last year we had Hurricane Matthew. Since Matthew went straight up the east coast of Florida without really making any landfall in our area, there was a lot of wind and rain, but not too bad as we were on the west side of the storm. I spent one night in the EOC working to keep the IT infrastructure running. Then went home and cleaned the yard of all the oak tree debris.

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The calm before the storm. COPO EOC.

This year was Irma. She couldn’t make up her mind where she wanted to go. She was going to follow Matthew’s course and go up the east coast between Florida and the Bahamas. Then she started shifting more west. At one time she was going to go straight up the middle of the state, basically targeting Disney World, and head towards Tennessee where my granddaughters evacuated to. Next morning, she was going up the west coast, leaving Daytona out of harms way.  Finally she made landfall in the Big Marco Island area of the west coast, looking like she was going to ride the coast line. Nope, turned easterly and headed back to Disney. Maybe she doesn’t like the rat (Mickey Mouse) anymore that I do.

So my brother and I are texting back and forth, while I’m in the EOC, he’s in Atlanta, his wife and mother-in-law are just outside of Orlando and it looks like they’re going to take a direct hit. The only good thing is that Irma is now “only” a category 2 storm. Not the major category 4 it was at first landfall. But now the track also takes it straight to Atlanta! And since it’s moved more easterly, Daytona is gonna get hid hard again. We just couldn’t avoid this storm no matter where we were.

But, since I lived to tell the tale, all is well. I did my three shifts in the EOC, the house survived with only minor damage, lots of debris in the yard, and the apparent loss of our papaya tree.

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Only damage to the house. One piece of fascia was blown off.

And while I was doing my work at the EOC, Wifey® put on her Wonder Woman outfit and went to work. She not only cleaned up the major debris from our yard, she did it for the elderly lady next door who is the process of moving out and selling the house. Pretty big pile she made too.

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Debris Pile.

She says that there’s one branch she can’t move by herself. But all in all, she did wonderfully. I absolutely love how she’s not afraid to jump in and get stuff done when it needs to be done.  Thanks babe!  Love ya!

Now we wait for FP&L to get our power back on. It usually takes days for us, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s property value.  Take care of the guys in the higher tax brackets before fixing the peons.

But what do I know?

Hope you all made it through the storms OK.

Peace,
B