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1990s Blogging Career Driving Geography Holidays Military Travel Weather

Destination: Saudi Arabia

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. For this first edition of 2023 – I look back at how my year started 32 years ago in 1991.

Just 5 days after returning home to Homestead Florida after driving for 18 hours and 43 minutes and 1,103 miles from McLean Virginia (on Christmas vacation with my family) – I was on my way to Syracuse New York with a small group of airmen from Homestead AFB. Once on the ground at Hancock Field we joined-up with airmen of the New York Air National Guard, as we awaited our flight over to the Saudi Arabian desert. We were delayed by a blizzard for a few days – January 02ND and 03RD.

We finally took off late on January 04TH, and we touched down on the runway at Al Kharj AB Saudi Arabia at 1204 local time (0404 U.S. East Coast time) on January 05TH 1991 – exactly 32 years ago this morning.

I was assigned my tent at “Tent City” – W-23 – and I quickly made 9 new friends who would also be my tentmates in war (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm).

I traveled a lot during the 10 days from December 27TH 1990 to January 05TH 1991. From Northern Virginia to South Florida by car – from South Florida to Central New York by plane – and from Central New York to near Riyadh Saudi Arabia by cargo plane. One thing was certain – I wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Everything else – was uncertain.

Next #TravelThursday let’s take a trip to PortMiami. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
1980s Animals Blogging Holidays Home Life Weather

The Legend Of Fluffy The Manx Cat

Today it’s a very special edition of #RetroFriday. It’s the return of a Christmas classic that’s been featured on my blog before in various forms. It’s the story of the greatest Christmas gift ever – the arrival of a cat.

It started out as a morning like any other, but just a few hours later it would become a morning that forever changed the lives of me and my little brother, and our Mom and Dad.

Exactly 39 years ago this morning on Friday December 23RD 1983 me (age 16½) and my little brother (age 8½) looked out our living room window at the snow and the ice on the ground of our backyard. It was a bitter cold morning in McLean Virginia 2 days before Christmas, and we were happy to be warm and comfortable inside.

But there was a creature stirring outside that was not warm and comfortable. It was a lonely young cat with no tail that was wandering around aimlessly on our ice-covered backyard patio deck, and it was shivering in misery. Me and my brother decided rather quickly that it did not belong in the harsh elements of the outside at that moment, so we opened the door and she walked right in to our more sheltered screened-in ‘Florida Room’.

We gave her some milk to drink. She loved us for it. We gave her some love. We heard a strange sound coming from her that we hadn’t heard before. It was the friendly and inviting sound of her purring. We let her in to our warm and comfortable home. She never looked back. In fact she refused to leave after that. We pretty much named her ‘Fluffy’ that day, and she instantly became an important part of our family – the missing link if you will.

That’s a young me in 1985 holding a young Fluffy. I was about 60 pounds lighter than I am today.

She was the 5TH member of our family, and she was the start of nearly 30 years of felines in our family. Fluffy loved us all, but she clearly adored me the most. During her younger years she anxiously awaited me to open the basement / laundry room door for her first thing in the morning so that she could run (and beat me) to my bedroom upstairs for a long round of petting and purring. During her later years in Jacksonville Florida when she was slowly dying she literally came back to life over and over again and jumped and loved on me and ran upstairs to my parents’ guest room whenever I arrived for a short visit. She lived a long, happy, and healthy life (until April of 2001), and she provided lots of love to our family starting with that very first Christmas of 1983.

There have been other cats and dogs within our family over the years since then. Fluffy eventually gained a feline roommate with Barney (also known as “the cat that never liked me”). After Fluffy’s death Barney eventually gained his own feline roommate with Pumpkin. Boots was my own loving cat and housemate for 12½ years here in Homestead Florida until his (expected) death on May 17TH 2007. He was the coolest cat that ever lived.

But it all started with “Fluffy The Manx Cat”. She was the Matriarch of all of our family pets (to this day). She was the Queen of her castle. She was the stability of our family. She was our family’s common denominator. She was the center of attention. She was the most lovable cat that ever lived.

Fun Fact: This WordPress blog is a spinoff of my former hit music based massivesmash.com web site that I created in 1995. That web site grew out of a previous web site known as “MANx On The Net”. That first web site was a spinoff of “MANx Cat BBS” (1993-1997) – a dial-up bulletin board system run via MS-DOS typical of its time that was inspired by and named after Fluffy.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Career Geography Holidays Home Life Military Travel Weather

35 Years In Homestead Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. After a 1-week hiatus last Thursday for the #Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.A. – I’m back for an all-new season of travel adventures every Thursday !

I recently spent 10 days with my family over in the Dallas Texas area. It was cold and rainy and dark and dreary for much of that time with 30s and 40s at night and in the mornings, and 40s and 50s in the afternoons. It was a bit unusual to be so cold and dreary for such an extended period of time in mid-to-late-November. I was prepared for the temperatures, as I’m a skilled weather forecaster – by hobby – not by occupation.

I returned back home to Homestead Florida last Friday November 25TH 2022, and the heatwave continues here in South Florida. Temperatures were approaching 90°F (low-30s Celsius) as I drove home from Miami International Airport. It’s been an unusually warm and humid November here, but that likely won’t continue much longer.

My favorite part of South Florida is indeed the weather. I want to live with this weather for the rest of my life. When I move away from here in 2023 I’ll still experience much of this weather – 3 hours north of here in Highlands County along the Lake Wales Ridge (“spine”) of Florida. Winters will be a bit cooler, and summers will be a bit warmer.

So today – the first of December – marks 35 years since I first arrived here during the early-morning hours of Tuesday December 01ST 1987. With the exception of nearly 19 months immediately after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew on August 24TH 1992 – I’ve been here ever since. I arrived here as a young 20½-year-old USAF Airman, and now I’m a soon-to-be-retired 55½-year old USAF Civil Servant.

I feel like I grew up in this city. During the first 18 years of my life – I lived in 5 homes in 5 towns in 3 states. I have no friends from those years – only memories of what could’ve been. I consider my 20s and my 30s as my “childhood” here in Homestead, and my 40s and my 50s as my “adulthood” here in Homestead. I’ve lived here in Homestead longer than most people have lived here in Homestead. (Most of the growth of the city and the surrounding area has occurred since 2002.)

It’s been a fun 35 years in this town. I’m looking forward to new sights and sounds in the new year. #2023

Next #TravelThursday I’ll hit the ice. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Driving Geography Military Nature Photography Travel Weather

Biscayne Bay Tourist Attractions

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. We’re in the dry season now here in South Florida. It started during the middle of last month, and it continues until the middle of May. It’s our 7-month “nice” season here – marked by abundant sunshine, not much rain, cooler temperatures, and lower humidity. We actually experienced a near-record cold day last month on the 19TH of October when a polar-origin cold front slammed through the area and dumped our temperatures down into the lower-60s with wind chills in the 50s from the early-afternoon through the next morning. It was also cloudy, gloomy, and drizzly for the entire day. It very much resembled one of those weird dark, cold, and raw January days that we get once or twice a year (if at all). It was quite the phenomenon to get it so early in the season on the 19TH of October !

So since it’s nice out, and my days remaining here in South Florida are limited – I need to visit some tourist attractions this season and write about them here on #TravelThursday.

I just read a very nice write-up on Biscayne National Park and some renovation work they have recently completed on one of their main walkways to the sea. I haven’t been out there – just 8½ miles away from my home – since May 2016. It’s time to visit again. It’s a nice place to relax and enjoy the scenery of the sea.

It’s been 3½ years since I’ve visited the Charles Deering Estate – also along Biscayne Bay. That’s a fun 2-to-3-hour visit. They do ranger-led boat tours of Biscayne National Park that leave from and return to the Deering Estate. That’s what I did 3½ years ago. I’d like to do it again.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is also along Biscayne Bay, and I haven’t been there since February 2018. As a U.S. military veteran – I get free admission year-round, so I respect that. I need to drive up the road (about 25 miles from home) and check it out again. There’s a lot of great photo opportunities there.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is also along Biscayne Bay, and it’s been 10½ years since my last visit there. I get in for free there too anytime I want. It’s just another 7 miles up the road from Fairchild, so maybe I can visit both Fairchild and Vizcaya on the same day – like maybe during the week when they are less crowded.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll trek across the sea over to England. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp