Thursday, August 28, 2014

Waking up in Paradise

Like the song says - Waking up in Paradise.

You would think that coming from an urban area with all the activities and perks, and moving to a somewhat small town would be boring. That's what I hear but from people who are not willing to venture out into their own surroundings.

Not one of my problems. I travel back and forth every weekend and this particular weekend I decided to take in some local culture. I headed to Stuart's downtown to get a bite to eat on a hot Friday night and found myself enjoying great food, great bands, and a beer or two at the Dancin' in the Streets celebration. The 27th annual event is a huge fund raiser for the downtown events organizers and a huge fun raiser for me. Even more exciting to just stumble upon it.

The setting was perfect for this event. I had never noticed Memorial Park before. Takes a few seconds to drive by but it is much larger than I expected. They ran a temporary fence around and were charging around $18.00 to get in. There was a nice restaurant across the street but the long lines so early told me this was more like a place I wanted to check out.

Two stages kept the tunes cranking and a 2:00 am cutoff brought in the crowds. Then they did it all over again Saturday night. This party held thousands and when I was ready to pack it in near closing, it was hard to find the gate through the crowd. Unlike where I am coming from, the crowds were as polite and pleasant as the rest of this little town. I did a bit more exploring later this weekend but this was a great way to kick it off.


[click here] for more photos from the event. Not my best as I only had my cell phone.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Beginning and the End.

P1000220I have never liked living here. It's not so much that the area is not to my liking. It's that I despise the accumulation of circumstances that brought me to this place in utter defeat 10 years ago.

When I first arrived I was overwhelmed by the closeness of condo living. I still refer to my house as a box in a wall and as cold storage for my belongings. The one and only benefit I discovered was there is no porch and no yard. That tremendous disparity between what I wanted, what I was accustomed to, and what I was forced to endure, forever altered my mindset into believing the entire planet was my back yard.

Within a short walk (for me) I soon discovered a tiny oasis of preservation. The Pine Island Ridge. A minuscule strip of nature left natural among the thousands of Lego like dwellings linked by the manicured, denatured, uniformity of the golf course that meanders between them and the tamed landscaping all around.


When I first arrived this pathway was my only Solace. The beach seemed miles away. Thirteen to be exact. Boo hoo right? I had lived, like most people I knew, a very small life. Work, house, BBQ pit, pool, and beach. Month after month.

In recent years I have quite literally traveled the world. I have met hundreds of people and many of them I now call friend. As my time in this dreary place draws near to a close, I thought I would take one last walk just to see how it feels. A small acknowledgement to the end of this particular chapter in my life.

P1000143First off, if you have some strange, irrational fear of spiders, don't bother. This little guy is almost as big as my hand. They get a lot bigger and you can't walk two feet without spotting one. Or if you are a mosquito magnet, spray a little OFF before venturing down this path. I can sip Tabasco off a teaspoon. I like my food hot and spicy and my blood is approaching the level of pepper spray. I assume that's why I'm seldom bit these days.

I once lived in a place with alligators, rattle snakes, scorpions in my boots, a black widow spider that shorted out the phones, and spiders way bigger than my hand. The original Florida residents. None of those creatures really bother me. I am apparently alone on this in my current area.


As many times as I've walked these paths I've never seen another person. Not in the park by the lake, not at the picnic area. Especially not deep in the woods. I find it difficult to understand. When I lived on a 50 acre ranch I saw people all the time. They were called neighbors. Other than a few walkers, joggers, or golfers out by the road, the thousands of people I assume live in the area stay pretty much inside.

As I was walking the 2 mile forest path, I was struck by how little it had changed and how transformed I had become. I can remember when I first landed here years ago how lonely I was in a sea of invisible people. I could count my friends without using all my fingers and none really wanted to venture this far west. Now, just from blogging alone, I share life stories with friends as far away as Australia.

When I first walked this path I was angry at how small my world really was and I made the decision to enlarge it. My weekends were walk, read, TV, eat, sleep. My very first trips to break the cycle were London and Paris. I'm nothing if not extreme. I've also have done as much as I can locally for as cheaply as possible so that I am almost never trapped in my little box in the wall.

Ten years later I take this same path with the knowledge I did exactly what I intended. Much more adventure than I ever dreamed possible. I have no intention of stopping. Whether you take a short walk or an epic journey in your life, the choice is completely up to you.

For more photos [click here]



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stuart FL Bike Ride

Festivals, events, and conventions are a great way to add color and popularity to my photos but what I like to do is get out and experience some nature. Granted a lot of it in these photos has been paved over and drastically altered. These photos are from my first real bike ride at my new house.


In total I did about 36 leisurely miles on a beach cruiser.  I was looking for a sand beach to launch my kayaks. Sure I could have asked but whats the fun in that. I knew of three boat ramp locations so I thought I would check them out.


I actually went all the way to Downtown Stuart before I decided the weather was about to close in on me. My new Panasonic Lumix is waterproof so I was not desperate to get back but Florida summer rain storms can bring fireworks and I've already experienced lighting up close and personal. Why push my luck.


This is just day one and I have miles upon miles to explore.

The rest of this set can be found if you [click here]