Southwest Florida Road-Trip

This past U.S. holiday weekend I enjoyed a 3-day / 3-county / 360-mile Florida road-trip to and from Fort Myers. It was my first visit to the region since last July. I always enjoy visiting Southwest Florida (Collier and Lee County). Usually I venture over there to see a concert at the Hertz Arena, and this trip was no exception.

My first stop though after crossing the Everglades via the Tamiami Trail was the flagship branch of the multi-site Collier County Museum in East Naples. It was my first visit since June 2012. Back then I thought it was my first visit ever – until I saw some of the exhibits outside – and then I realized that I had been there years earlier.

At the end of my 90-minute visit I picked-up a brochure for a nearby place that I never knew existed – the Naples Museum Of Military History – at the main terminal of the Naples Airport. So I went there, and I immersed myself in all of the awesome displays there. They were overflowing at the seams in the two rooms that they occupy there. They need more space, and hopefully they get it.

After that I took a ride out to the country and into the woods for another first-time visit ever – the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. What a wonderful and beautiful place this was – especially on a sunny and coolish day. I’m sure that it would be a miserable place to be during our 9-month bug season and especially our 5-month rainy season, but that was truly a great day to be outdoors strolling the 2.25-mile elevated boardwalk absorbing nature’s beauty – created by my Almighty God.

By the way all of the above was Day 1 of my road-trip !  Day 2 started in Fort Myers at probably their # 1 tourist attraction – the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. It was my first visit since April 2011. I love this place. I could work and have fun at this place after I retire from my military / civil service career. I took the 1-hour and 15-minute guided tour which was a lot of fun (even though I had done it before). I’d do it again !

On Sunday night I went to the Hertz Arena to see Franklin Graham conclude his recent tour of Florida. He led us in prayer for our nation and our leaders, and then he preached a classic Billy Graham Crusade sermon on Repentance & Salvation. That’s a topic that I’m quite familiar with, as many of my sermons are about the same. Jeremy Camp opened and closed for Franklin, as he performed 7 of his greatest hits. I’ll be seeing Jeremy Camp perform again at this very same arena in 6 weeks, as he opens for MercyMe.

Day 3 of 3 started back in East Naples at the Naples Botanical Garden – yet another first-time visit. I walked well over 3 miles for 2 hours at this fun place on a chilly and overcast morning.

I’ve got over 80 photos of this fun road-trip to and from Southwest Florida – also known as Florida’s Paradise Coast. At least 60 of those 80 photos will probably be uploaded and captioned on my Flickr site over the next few weeks. But I’ll close this blog post with a sneak-peek. It’s a photo of the chalkboard at the start of the boardwalk at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where visitors can write-down what they’ve seen along their walk on the boardwalk. A little less than 90 minutes later – there were more sightings documented on the chalkboard.

IMG_4407

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Christmas In Okeechobee

Merry Day After Christmas my friends. I hope that you got to spend some quality time with loved ones, or you got to do something that you love.

For the 2ND Christmas in a row I embarked on a Florida road-trip to and from just a few hours to the north of where I live. This time I drove 355 miles round-trip to West Palm Beach, and then over to Okeechobee. It was a 4-day road-trip. I returned home yesterday (Christmas Day) morning.

Over in West Palm Beach I saw Jim Gaffigan LIVE in concert at the Kravis Center For The Performing Arts. He’s my favorite comedian today. I last saw him in 2010. Ryan Hamilton opened for Jim. He was very funny. He reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld. The next morning I spent a couple of hours at the historic Palm Beach Zoo. I got in for free as a military veteran. It was my first visit since 2010.

A few times each year I visit a town in Florida that I’ve never been to before, I haven’t visited in many years, or I’ve only driven through – in order to determine whether or not I wish to move there in a few years after I retire. I selected Okeechobee several months ago, and I spent a couple of days and nights there leading up to Christmas Day. It’s on the northern side of the big Lake Okeechobee.

While in Okeechobee I visited the main attraction – the big Lake ‘O’. I walked a couple of miles high atop the dike / levee known as the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. If you were to walk completely around the lake then it would take you a few days to do so – because it’s 109 miles around the lake !  I also ate at a couple of family-owned restaurants “where the locals eat”, and I toured the town’s old historic downtown district. It was a fun visit, but I don’t think I’d want to move there after I retire. Its location is a bit secluded from other towns. I’ll visit again though. It’s got small-town charm.

I ended up taking over 110 photos of my excursions on this Florida road-trip. 3 of them are up above, and I’ll probably post about half of the remaining photos over on my Flickr site in the weeks and months to come.

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Weekend Kickoff Mini-Thoughts

Let’s try this again – a rapid-fire session of thoughts on my mind right this minute:

  • I went on a short weekend getaway last weekend.
  • I left at dawn last Friday, and I returned late this past Monday morning.
  • It was a 76-hour vacation away from home.
  • I drove about 140 miles away from home, so not too far.
  • Once upon a time I’d announce my vacations away from home on social media.
  • I’m much smarter nowadays, as I now reveal vacations after-the-fact.
  • So I drove to Fort Myers Florida on Friday.
  • I ate Breakfast at Perkins along the way in Naples.
  • I like Perkins. I wish we had those here at home.
  • I enjoyed a late Lunch / early Dinner at Outback Steakhouse.
  • I can’t remember the last time I ate there (maybe over 10 years ?)
  • We don’t have one close to home, but we have Longhorn & Texas here.
  • I love to eat steak !
  • I saw longtime comedian Brian Regan LIVE in concert that night.
  • He packed-in a lot of laughs in 55 minutes.
  • I wish he had performed for 90 minutes.
  • He left us wanting more, so he did his job as a comedian.
  • He had an opening act too – a comedian that made us laugh for 15 minutes.
  • The next morning I headed over to Fort Myers Beach.
  • I visited “The Island” (as the natives refer to it) 7 times from 2011 to 2015.
  • It was love at first sight at the end of April of 2011.
  • I thought I had found my future retirement town.
  • On subsequent visits I discovered the “seedier” side of town.
  • I decided not to retire there.
  • I decided to stop visiting there.
  • So this was my 8TH visit, but 1ST visit in a little over 4 years.
  • It’s still a fun place to visit.
  • I’ll visit for a 9TH time sooner rather than later.
  • I did considerable research on churches on the island beforehand.
  • There are a lot of churches along its narrow 7-mile length.
  • A friend suggested a specific church to visit.
  • I watched the previous Sunday sermon from the Pastor.
  • I didn’t care for his style. He was too Jimmy Buffett-like.
  • He acted too silly for me.
  • His use of Scripture was mighty thin too.
  • I like a Pastor with a sense of humor, but this dude was over-the-top.
  • I ended-up watching a LIVE Facebook feed of my own Pastor back home.
  • I like his style.
  • Later on Sunday night I took a fun 3-hour boat cruise that I pre-booked.
  • It was billed as a “Dolphin & Shelling Sunset Cruise“.
  • There were 38 of us including the Captain & Skipper.
  • Both narrated portions of the cruise.
  • We saw lots of birds at play on the various islands.
  • Dolphins jumped all around us at the rear of the boat.
  • Those dolphins know how to get from Point A to Point B quicker.
  • They simply ride the waves created by the boat.
  • I didn’t get any pictures of the dolphins because there were lots of kids too.
  • They blocked my view, but it’s all good.
  • The sunset was beautiful too, but again my line-of-sight was blocked.
  • I did manage to get one reasonably good photo of the sunset.

Sunset (Cruise)

  • You’re lookin’ good Fort Myers Beach !

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My Top 5 Hits RETRO – 2004

Every Friday night I post the Top 5 of one of my classic hit music charts based on personal preference and influenced by radio airplay from either 10, 15, 20, or 30 years ago this weekend (rotating each week).

It’s the 2ND Friday of the month, so I go back 15 years ago. Here it is – for the week ending Sunday July 11TH 2004:

  1. “Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard
  2. “Meant To Live” – Switchfoot
  3. “The Reason” – Hoobastank
  4. “Hey Mama” – The Black Eyed Peas
  5. “Pieces Of Me” – Ashlee Simpson

15 years ago this weekend seems so long ago. I had recently flipped away from electronic dance music and returned to my roots in calmer pop music. I actually don’t remember much about 2004, and I really choose to not remember much about that year. It was a forgettable year. I wasn’t happy at work, and I wasn’t particularly happy at home either. I came home to my cat every afternoon, and he adored me. He was my best friend at the time. I still miss him over 12 years after his passing. #Boots

It’s interesting what I discover when I review old E-Mails. 15 years ago TODAY – the 12TH of July of 2004 (a Monday) I drove about 650 miles from a hotel very near Walt Disney World (like a mile away) to a suburb south of New Orleans. I was TDY (military term = temporary duty) at NAS JRB New Orleans during that week. According to my extensive records I filled-up with gas twice that day during my drive westward, and I paid $1.959 and $1.919 per gallon for gas.

It’s halftime my friends. I’ll be back on Sunday afternoon and Monday night with two more blog posts for this weekend. Enjoy your Saturday. Thanks for going RETRO with me !

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My Little Buddy Boots

Boots On Guest Bed

This was my little feline buddy ‘Boots’. I met him in 1994, and we officially became housemates on New Year’s Day 1995. Over the years Boots developed my personality in a cat’s body. He was the smartest cat I’ve ever met. I talked to him, and he understood me and responded to me.

Boots’ favorite hobbies included greeting me at the front door all the time, following me everywhere I went, watching my every move, eating with me, sleeping with me, and (for fun) pushing geckos off the back porch screen in order to “save my life”. If Boots saw a gecko climbing on the outside of the screen it would only take him mere seconds to jump up and push that gecko off the screen and tumbling 15 feet to the ground below. Once he did that he’d look back at me for my instant approval (which I always granted).

Boots was with me for 12½ years – the toughest 12½ years of my adult life. Exactly 12 years ago tonight on May 16TH 2007 was a horrible night for Boots and I. He was in agonizing pain (due to the effects of various diseases), and he could no longer hide it. He was screaming all night long. He could no longer walk. He lost the ability to purr. I knew that was his last night of life.

The next morning I made the ultimate decision to put him to sleep to end his terminal pain and suffering that he was enduring. I was with him at the very end, and he meowed at me one last time as if to thank me for loving him for all of those years. His eyes slowly closed after that, and I cried.

His doctor said it was my final good deed for him, and that he probably lived much longer than he should have – due to the love that I provided to him over the years.

Boots On The Couch

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Home Sweet Homestead

I’m back from vacation !  My 6-day / 590-mile / 14-county Florida road-trip has come to a close. My trek started in deep South Miami-Dade County (where my home is), and it continued northward through Broward, Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades, Highlands, and Polk Counties, westward into Hillsborough County (Tampa), southward through Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties, and then back into Miami-Dade County. I also came within a few feet of touching (mainland) Monroe County for a second.

It was a fun trip. I saw a couple of current movies, I did a little bit of shopping (didn’t buy anything), I ate a lot of good food, I walked over 60,000 steps (to burn-off that good food), I did a lot of sightseeing, I visited some historical museums and animal-based tourist attractions, I went to two Christian music concerts, and I spent a lot of time at the beach.

I saw and I did things that I had never seen or done before in my life. This was a classic vacation. I get to spend the near future reminiscing about the times I enjoyed via the 140+ photos and 1 video I captured during all of the fun.

The 1 video I captured is a spectacular 3½-minute video of this past Tuesday night’s sunset on Venice Beach Florida. The video captures the 3 minutes leading up to the sun dropping below the horizon at sea as well as the 30 seconds right after that moment. I intended to post that video in its entirety here on my blog, but I realized that I can’t upload videos on here with my current WordPress plan. The video is also about 1:10 too long for Twitter, so I’ll have to figure out how to trim it down to 2:20 for Twitter.

In the meantime here’s Monday night’s sunset at 8:05 PM EDT on Venice Beach.

Sunset

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets – the name of the LORD is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3 NIV)

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Remembering Barney & Fluffy

WELCOME to an all-new weekend of blogging !  This weekend I’m remembering Barney and Fluffy. They passed away during this same week of April 5 years apart in 2001 (Fluffy) and 2006 (Barney). They were the childhood cats of me and my brother (8 years younger than me), but I should clarify that a bit.

We found Fluffy (a Manx) outside on our elevated patio deck on a bitter cold and icy Northern Virginia morning on the 23RD of December in 1983. We brought her in, gave her some milk to drink, loved on her, and then she refused to leave. She remained with us (our family) for over 17 years – until 2001 – long after me and my brother had become adults and moved on with our respective lives.

Barney arrived about 4½ years later in 1988 while I was living here in Homestead Florida (where I’m still living today). My brother was still living at home. I’m not sure where exactly we got Barney, but it may have been from a coworker of our Mom. Barney remained with our family for about 18 years – until 2006.

Both cats lived long, fat, and happy lives. Fluffy was the most lovable feline I have ever known in my entire life. I had never heard a purr in my life until I heard it from her. Barney was simply “the cat that didn’t like me” – although during his last year (of perhaps senility) he came over to me and purred on me as if to ask me for my forgiveness for all of those years in which he didn’t care for me. Barney loved my brother more than anyone else.

Here are some classic photos of Barney and Fluffy. The first one has a date imprinted on the back of it of ‘APR 89’; however, I suspect that the photo was actually taken around Christmas-time of 1988. That would make Fluffy about 5½ to 6 years old and Barney less than a year old. The second photo was taken several years later well into the 1990s. Same wall and location – different couch.

Barney & Fluffy - Christmas-Time 1988
Barney & Fluffy – Christmas-Time 1988
Barney & Fluffy - Mid-1990s
Barney & Fluffy – Mid-1990s

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries