Summer’s Slip Slidin’ Away

This is the time of the year when I start to lament another summer “slip slidin’ away.” No, summer’s not over here in the Northernmost Caribbean… not by a long shot. But the signs are there. The days are shorter, and each day is a few degrees cooler. Mother Nature is signaling summer will end soon.

I know we only have just so many summers. So I always try making the most of them. For me, that means the warm weather, the beach, and warm water… snorkeling, SCUBA diving or just laying in the sun. Large amounts of sunscreen slathered on of course. It also means time spent laying on floaties in the pool… not really exerting much energy… just laying there sippin’ on a Margarita.

Almost empty beach, warm water, and magnificent sunset.

 I do everything I can to make summer last as long as possible. Today, I went over to the beach. I kicked off my flip-flops and Continue reading

Big Sunday Plans

Did you ever have one of those days where you planned to do lots of stuff? Sure you have. Today was one of those days for me.

First I was going to go for a bike ride… at least five miles. Then I was going write at least a chapter in the next book I’m working on. I also planned to edit a chapter of another book. Then I was going to wash and vacuum the car. To cap the day off I need to change the spark plugs and air filter on the Magic Bus.

Of course, it was Sunday. So you know where this ended up going. First, I was in serious need of coffee. Not just any coffee would do. I have become addicted to McDonald’s coffee. So once my eyes were clear enough, I went and got the coffee. The McDonald’s is just a few blocks down from me here on Kokomo Island, so I just walked.

I just got coffee, but Sgt Pepper wanted a Sausage & Egg McMuffin. Since they have a special on Sausage & Egg McMuffins (one for $3 or two for $4), I bought two. So much for my diet today. After wolfing down the McMuffin, I refilled the super-giant sized coffee and headed back to Casa Kokomo Man.

I should really call it “Shanty Kokomo Man.” It’s a giant cardboard box with a 67-inch big screen TV and a LazyBoy recliner. What more does a man need?

I sat down to sip my coffee and flipped on the TV. Sports was preempting my usual news. Tennis was on. It was the French Open. I thought to myself, I’ll drink a little coffee and then get to work. I spent the next hour and a half checking my eyelids for cracks. When I woke up again, Rafael Nadal had won the match.

I decided that I would just outline the next chapter in my book. But first, I wanted to check on any NASCAR news.

So I watched this show I had never seen before. It was a couple of people in Key West discussing NASCAR and interviewing some NASCAR personalities. I’m not making any of this up. A man and woman in Key West were the hosts of the show. I have no idea who the man and woman were. They seemed to have a little NASCAR knowledge, but then so do I. I guess this is just another of the little known Key West stuff.

After “Key West NASCAR,” the Fox Sports 1 pre-race show came on. Of course, I had to watch that to find out all the information on today’s upcoming race.

By this time I thought I would just edit the chapter already written and start work on the new chapter tomorrow. It turned out it was raining, so the race was being delayed. It would be an hour or so before the track could be dried.

Sgt Pepper chimed in:

“Barrraak – Sunny day… Time for the Beach – Barrrrak”

He was right. Since the race was delayed, and since it was such a nice day I decided Sunday wouldn’t be a day for working on any writing. I would spend some time on the beach and then do the work on the car and Magic Bus.

The beach really was nice. It was about 88 degrees, and the water temperature is about 83. I love living in the Northernmost Caribbean.

On the lookout for boobies

On the lookout for boobies

Sgt Pepper and I spent a couple of hours on the beach. I went for a swim… need the exercise, and Sgt Pepper talked with the sandpipers. More than anything else, we just hung out on the beach soaking in the warm sun and searching the horizon for boobies. NO!… not those kind of boobies…. seabird type boobies. Sgt Pepper likes to play with boobies.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I didn’t get anything useful done today. But you would be wrong. I got some work done on the car and Magic Bus. Well… ummmm…. errrrr… ok, it wasn’t much work. I got online and ordered the spark plugs and air filter. They will be here Wednesday.

But really… can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday.


The Northernmost Caribbean – Beach Daze

Today’s musings will be short. I want to mostly post a bunch of pics I took at the beach. But first… a bit about going to the beach.

I don’t care how old you are, a beach day makes you a teenager again… well, at least it does me. I want to go get a surfboard and wow everyone with my skills. ‘Cept I never had great surfer skills. I always went off to a secluded area where I could try to surf with no one watching. These days I look for a secluded area for different reasons… but that’s for another tale.

I got to be “OK” as a surfer, but never more than that. What was most important is that you were “cool” just carrying a surfboard… or “cool” sitting on the beach with a surfboard… or “cool” just driving around town with a surfboard. Maybe that’s what I’ll do now. I’ll get a surfboard to carry around to be cool. I’ll have to find a secluded beach to see if I can still even stand up on the surfboard…  of course knowing where a secluded beach is has other “advantages”.

In the past, part of the reason we all went to the beach was to get a tan. Today, going to the beach is vastly different for most folks… we are scared of bad things the sun can do to you. Everyone seems to slather SPF # ten-zillion all over themselves. Not me. I still go out and try to get “some sun”. I do carry Coppertone with me so that I don’t get sun burned, but protection isn’t the only reason for specifically using Coppertone… it’s because of the smell. Nothing says “Beach, Sun & Surf” to me more than the smell of Coppertone.

So… today I went down to the beach. I don’t have a surfboard, but I do have a “boogie board”. The surf is kinda flat in this region, so it’s about 50/50 if you would be able to go surfin’. But a “boogie board” is good about 90% of the time. The water was warm. I grabbed my “boogie board”…  flogged myself into the water… and I was a teenager again.

Surfin' USA

Surfin’ USA


A nice "ride"

A nice “ride”


Building castles

Building castles


A great day at the beach

A great day at the beach







Having a surfboard insures coolness.



Surfer Girl

Surfer Girl

I am amazed at what can be done with skimboards these days.

I am amazed at what can be done with skimboards these days.



Day's End

Day’s End




The Northenmost Caribbean – Apartment Hunting

It’s really hard to believe it’s already the well into June. The last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind. Wow… barely four weeks ago I was living in California and now I’m living in the Northernmost Caribbean. Yeah… it’s been quite a few weeks.

Finding a place to live here turned out to be a challenge. First I had to drag a U-Haul trailer, with all the stuff I would need for survival, all the way across the country. I arrived in Fort Walton Beach on the evening of the 20th. Almost as soon as I arrived I couldn’t help myself… I had to go to the beach. So trailer and all I went down to the “Boardwalk”. That’s my favorite place in Fort Walton Beach. I just had to go see the sugar white, powder soft sand of the Northernmost Caribbean. Oh… those luscious white mounds at the Fort Walton Beach. Errrr…. mounds of sand.

My first order of business was to find a place to live… that is, after visiting the beach. That turned out to harder than I thought. I really, really wanted to be within walking distance from the beach… and crawling distance from a local watering hole. When I was in Key West last year, I could stumble out of my place into any of several watering holes down on Duval Street. This year it didn’t look as if it was going to work out that way.

Trying to find a place at the beginning of summer isn’t a good plan. Every place I went seemed to be overburdened with folks looking for a place to rent but they all seemed to want durations ranging  from a week to a month or two. But… in Florida, anything less than six months is considered a “hotel” and is taxed at 10.5%. So most of the “regular” places… apartments and such… require at least seven month long leases. I knew this from the beginning, but it seemed that thousands of people have descended on the area not knowing anything about this. So all of the places I was looking at were plagued with people clogging up the offices.

To make a long story short… the place I really wanted to stay was full and the only thing I could do to get in there would be to get on a waiting list. Well, there was no way I could stay in a motel/hotel until some day in the future when something would be available. So, I expanded my search to other areas along the Emerald Coast.

Hummm…. the name, “Emerald Coast”, was dreamed up by the chambers of commerce all along the “Northernmost Caribbean”. They got together to come up with a name that would attract tourists. Before they came up with “Emerald Coast”, the only semi-official name was the “Miracle Strip”… and “Miracle Strip” was really only used for the area around Fort Walton Beach. The name people used a lot for the region and beaches along the ocean was the “Redneck Rivera”.

Well, the Chambers of Commerce couldn’t let it stay known as the “Redneck Rivera”. So, they went through a long campaign to make the name “Emerald Coast” stick. And the world “Emerald” does a good job of describing the color of the water just a few yards off the shore. So not only do we have those luscious white mounds… of sand, we also have the emerald water. Just the same, I like the “Northernmost Caribbean” better and that’s what I’ll use from now on.

Anyway… my search for a place to live went all along the Northernmost Caribbean from nearly Pensacola to the West and Panama City to the East. Finding a place to live was hard work so I had to stop in to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on.


A frozen concoction to help me hang on.

A frozen concoction to help me hang on.


Finally I found a place I could move into right away in Panama City Beach… the place where tens of thousands of college students flock every Spring Break. It meets all of my requirements… I can walk to the beach and crawl home from the nearby watering holes. I’m even close to a Margaritaville cafe… not close enough to crawl, but close enough to walk. Since they have live entertainment there every day, I suspect that I’ll be spending more than the occasional visit there to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on.

The place I ended up with is… well, paradise. This is my back yard. You can’t see it in this pic because it’s dark, but the tall buildings in this pic are right on the ocean.

My Backyard

My Backyard

I suspect I’ll have lots of visitors.

Northernmost Caribbean – Billy Bowlegs Attacks

NEWS FLASH – Avast! The dastardly pirate, Billy Bowlegs, be attacking the shores of the “Northernmost Caribbean” again. This year, like the fifty-eight years before, Billy and his krewe made their attack at the Fort Walton Beach Brooks Street Landing.

Billy was spotted off-shore early Friday evening. Rather than wait for the attack, the Honorable Mayor of Fort Walton Beach, Mike Anderson, decided to take matters in his own hands. He and the local militia surprised Capt’n Billy and captured him before any attack could begin. Bowlegs was put in a police car and taken away. However, most of the Bowlegs’ krewe escaped. The Mayor was worried that the krewe might spring him before he made it to the jail.

Arrrrgggghhhhh! Capt'n Morgan perhaps.

Arrrrgggghhhhh! Capt’n Morgan perhaps.

The Mayor had good reason to worry. Bowlegs was indeed “sprung” by the crew and there was a massive battle (aka fireworks) just a short ways off shore in the Santa Rosa Sound as Capt’n Billy made his escape. Then, on Saturday there was a massive attack and Bowlegs and his krewe came ashore in full force. It be hard to tell who won as “spirits” were high and everyone enjoyed the entertainment at hand. Arrrrggggghhhhh.

Dastardly pirates

Dastardly pirates

The local militia ready to defend the shores of Fort Walton Beach.

The local militia ready to defend the shores of Fort Walton Beach.

Ok… It’s kinda corny. The Billy Bowlegs festival has been going on for fifty-nine years. Each year it always proceeds in about the same way… pirates invade and are pushed back to sea… then pirates invade again and everyone joins the party. And what it really is… is something cooked up by the chamber of commerce to drum up business for local merchants. It is a little like a county fair… without being a county fair.

And there are bands providing entertainment through the day and evening… some pretty good and some… well, let’s say it is still fun. There are lots of vendors set up in the park to sell you all kinds of food. They cook it right there on the spot on barbecues and the like. This year I actually ate some for the first time… so far I have survived.

The festival grew out of a water skiing festival held in 1953. Looking for a way to increase revenues the Chamber of Commerce came up with the pirate theme centered around the “notorious pirate” William Augustus Bowels”. Legend has it that Bowels piracy extended throughout the region of the Northernmost Caribbean… but then the legend is of “controversial authenticity”. The festival has continued to grow over the years and is now a huge event.

This is my fifth or sixth time to the Bowlegs festival. I can’t tell you why I keep coming back. Maybe it’s the “down home” feeling you get when you are there… maybe it’s the friendly atmosphere… or most likely it’s just that people there are all having fun. It has certainly become a way to spend a couple of afternoons for lots of people here in the “Northernmost”.

One of the things that attract throngs of people is the fireworks display. Now I have seen some very fine fireworks displays… Disneyland & Disney World put on great fireworks shows. That said, the fireworks at Bowlegs this year may have been the best I have ever seen. Literally, thousands of fireworks are shot into the night sky and they are orchestrated to put on an awesome display.

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Of course, there is the pirate atmosphere. Lots of people dress up in some kind of pirate garb and somehow everything always seem to be more fun with pirate festivities.

Whatever it is I’ll be back again.