Monday, November 16, 2009

Hemingway's Favorite CatHouse

Let's see a show of hands .... Has everyone read Hemingway? He's famous for a half dozen or so works plus short stories. Do you think THE OLD MAN & THE SEA was worthy of the Pulitzer Prize (1953) or the Nobel Prize (1954)? I count 'Papa' among my favorites, one notch below Steinbeck, so when I had the chance to visit his former home in Key West yesterday ... let's just say I was probably more stoked than I shoulda been. Thanks to Deb's pics, you can take a short tour.

 Here's Ernie's house. For all of its 'charm', & the hype that this was THE HOUSE, Hemingway didn't produce his best known work here. In fact, he was not a happy camper & was in the middle of a combative marital situation. The lame 'tour guide' (sloppy, I dress better when weeding the mulch beds) was less than enthusiastic & droned on about the marriage issue like a National Enquirer reporter. I abandoned the guide & went about my business apart from the group. Something smelled. I assumed it was the guide.

Hemingway had a separate writing annex. This is something all writers need. A separate building on one's property devoted entirely to writing, preferably overlooking a pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The dead animal heads mounted on the wall?  Wouldn't work for me - 'specially with their eyes staring accusingly at my desk.

I have a tough time believing that the typwriter in this picture is "THE" machine. Lame Tour Guide was doing his best to sell that bull... I mean bill of goods but get real. Hemingway lived in the Midwest, Paris, Canada, Spain, Cuba, yadda yadda yadda. There are probably at least 3 or 4 'museums' that have his original typewriter. On another note - That chair looks about as comfortable as an Iron Maiden. Maybe that explains his terse style. Mr. H was probably crampin' up & had to walk around every few minutes.

Had to include some pictures of Papa's bookcases. Naturally these are touted as being from his original collection. I suppose some of them could be, though there's no climate control so I wonder what the humidity does to these declared treasures. If you read about E.H. (beyond Wikipedia) you'll learn that the Cuban government actually confiscated his home in Cuba, including most of his personal belongings, several manuscripts, & a large "collection" of trophies and treasures. This occurred after his days in Key West, but before his final move to Idaho.

Guess I should attempt to sound writerly for a few sentences. (Clears throat) I prefer writing that's to the point as opposed to 'round about. Maybe that's why I like Hemingway. Most consider him a 'minimalist' - an easy conclusion to reach when taking into account his first employer's demands regarding the required (newspaper) writing style: "Use short sentences. Use short 1st paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."  Or maybe his style really was dictated by that comfy lookin' chair. Like short sentences? Read The Old Man & The Sea.

Now here's where my tour came off the tracks. I was diggin' most of the 'Whoa! The MAN lived here' until I walked into the master bedroom. Cat on the bed. Wanna freak me out? Let me see an animal of any kind on furniture - 'specially a bed. SKEEVED OUT! (My cat has NEVER been on the bed. EVER.) And that's when I figured out why the song THAT SMELL by Lynerd Skynerd kept blaring through my brain. Betcha I'm the first to incorporate Skynerd with Hemingway in the same paragraph of a blog post.

Seems Hemingway had a thing for cats. Six toed felines. There are currently 44 of 'em on the premises, & they have the run of the place, which, for me, explained that pungent smell of a giant litter box. Cheap box fans are strategically placed in all the rooms, adding to the visual charm, because, as Mr. Apparent Woman Hater Tour Guide explained, witchy wife #2 (or was it 3?) replaced all of the ceiling fans with chandeliers & therefore, the house was always hot, much to Papa's annoyance & discomfort. All  of these cats are supposedly descendants of the original Hemingway pets, but I didn't count their toes to verify that claim. Ivestigative reporting ain't my thing. Above is a pic of one of the outside "cat" houses. Shshsh ... it's supposed to look like the main house. It confuses the cats.

The kitty graveyard. This kinda takes pet devotion to a whole new level. As a construction guy, all I could think of was - How many yards of concrete has been poured over the course of 60+ years for this oddball burial ground? Think about it. "X" number of cats reproducing & kickin' the bucket over the course of 7 decades. Wonder if Stephen King was inspired by this when he wrote Pet Sematary? Notice the names & dates of the recently departed?

So overall, the visit to Hemingway's home was underwhelming while the smell of cat pee was, let me look up the antonym for that ... ah.... here it is .... ugh!!! Would I visit again? Maybe. If I had a respirator.

The Keys, in general, won't make the top 10 list of my favorite places visited, but, I picked up some cool stuff that might come in handy - some day. I'm thinkin' my next post will be about UGLY CHICKS. Key West is overrun with 'em.

Uh... What did you think I meant???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Procrastinate? Me?

Deb took this pic of a potential web consultant last weekend in Islamorada.
(Nice set o' legs!!!)

  I gotta get off my butt & get it done..... dreading it...  Can't procrastinate .... uh... much longer.....

Shoulda set it up before BAD LATITUDE came out .......definitely before RECKLESS ENDEAVOR hits the street.
(Yeah - That's me in the pic - reference leg comment above.)

Lots to do & bein' out of town ain't helpin'.....

Gotta stop day dreamin' & get this "stuff" done.....

Maybe I should stop hangin' out (Islamorada again)

Dunno if I wanna.

Home to St Augustine Friday night & then a quick trip to Key West Sunday....

Huh???  What???

Ya say I'd better get my priorities in order.?

(*sigh*) Okay, I'll try. Promise.

Where was I...... right.

Maybe run home to St Augustine Friday night & visit Key West Sunday.

Thanks for the pep talk y'all. Seriously, hafta get busy on that website..... right after .....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Motivated To Do It Again

Deb took this picture the day BAD LATITUDE was delivered. This was the first batch.

Funny I didn't think twice about reader reaction, even after these babies showed up. Never thought much about promotion or having to "talk the book up", or "create buzz" either. There were absolutely no goals or expectations with BL but that seems to have changed. With one under my belt & RECKLESS almost ready to go, reader acceptance somehow seems more important. Is that a good or bad thing?

Here's a copy & paste from FaceBook. I thought it was pretty cool.

Amy  ________  October 26 at 7:58pm

Trav started the book!! He stopped reading Harry Potter to start it and turns off the TV in his room, tells us to "keep quiet" so he can "be in the book" as he's reading. So cute. We're going to send it down after he's done and he's already started writing you a letter with questions. :) I also wanted to add that he never reads at home. He reads at school b/c he has to. So thank you for writing such an excellent story that captivates my kid more than the Disney channel ;) In a follow up comment Amy mentioned that Travis (after checking out pics on my FB pages) was surprised that my boat really is named Laffin' Gaff - same as Pop's boat in the book. Hah! Wish I had about half of "Pop's" money.

The kid in the picture is Travis (aka Trav). I've never met him, but I've known his mom since she was about sixteen. [She's a fan of author Harlan Coben, so she's got great taste in writers.] Time flies & I'm old. I asked permission to use her comment & the picture for my blog. (Amy bought the book on Amazon, so this isn't a polite response to receiving a gift. Had to add that clunky tidbit for the sake of credibility.) The bottom line, I think, is when something like this 'writing stuff' works out, &, for me it has (so far), & you get positive feedback from readers, you feel obligated to raise the bar. Expectations. Instant pressure. Now it matters. There are lots of ways to have a positive influence - getting kids to read is one of 'em. So maybe this writing gig is worthwhile after all. Maybe it's really more about the audience. Maybe this is why we write.

Now we'll have to see how the latest Rackham Adventure turns out as the kids travel the high seas aboard the 82 foot schooner RECKLESS ENDEAVOR - with old Calico Jack along for the ride. Not a big deal, 'cept the old pirate has been dead since 1720.

 Thanks Travis & Amy ....

Monday, October 26, 2009

That's What Hooks A Reader Author Pat Bertram

How cool is this! Pat Bertram is visiting The Haunted City Writer here in St Augustine Florida as part of her worldwide blog tour promoting her new release  DAUGHTER AM I
Welcome aboard Pat!

 Murdered grandparents? Octogenarian (former) mobsters? GOLD? Good Stuff! Read the excerpt & give it a test ride. Today Pat is going to post about what hooks a reader. Now pay attention. Don't slouch.

See y'all at the bottom of the page.

The age of writing long descriptive passages (or even short ones) at the beginning of a novel is long past. Today people want to be drawn immediately into the story without wading through unnecessary verbiage. An editor might look at the first five pages before tossing aside your manuscript, but potential customers will give you a mere twenty seconds to draw them in. Once you have caught their attention, they might read a little further, and perhaps they will even buy the book. They certainly will not wade through the first five, ten, fifty pages until they get to “the good part.”

That “good part” must be right up front, especially if you’re a first-time writer. That’s all you have going for you — the ability to get off to a fast start and capture the reader’s attention. Your name certainly won’t do it; no one knows who you are yet. Your credentials might help, but only to establish your credibility after a potential reader has been hooked. And they will never be hooked by your ability to turn a clever phrase.

So what will hook the reader? A character. Always a character. No one reads a book for a description of the weather, a place, or an issue. They don’t even want a description of the character. They want to meet him, to see life through his eyes, to bond with him. They want to know what he wants, what his driving force is. And they want to know who or what he’s in conflict with.

Without conflict, there is no story, but without a character for the reader to care about, there is no story either. Character and conflict are inextricably combined, and together they create the tension necessary to sustain a story. I know you think it’s okay to let the tension rise slowly, which it is, but the tension level at the beginning must be high enough to let the reader know something is going on.

A practiced writer knows how to adjust the tension by temporarily letting up on the main conflict and interjecting intermediate conflicts, or even adding inner conflicts to shadow the outer ones, but all conflicts must be somebody’s conflict. For example, you might be concerned about war, but seeing a specific soldier dealing with his experiences makes you care, maybe even makes you cry. And you will want to know what becomes of him.

That’s what hooks a reader.

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

Geez.... Now that's what I call a blog post.

Have a snappy, grab ya by the throat opening for a work in progress? Somethin' that's gonna make folks want to read more? Do you have a comment on this topic that you'd want to share to kick off some lively debate? Maybe some brave souls would include some ideas or examples in the reply section & we can all make fun of ya. Nah, wouldn't do that. Post a comment that's gonna make me want to give somethin' away this week. I do that sometimes - 'cause I'm JaxPop.

Thanks for stopping by. Now go buy Pat's book! Buy all of 'em!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

After The Writing Comes The Work

Colorado-based author Pat Bertram has just released a new
book called DAUGHTER AM I & will be a guest on my humble blog this week (27th).

So far I've read a substantial portion of this, her 3rd book, and it's really good. Really good. Not just sayin' that either so go buy it. Hurry up. Stop reading this post & go get it!

I've been following Pat's promo effort. Wow. This is the first time I've gotten up close & personal enough to pay attention to what goes into a book launch. Geez - it involves almost as much work as writing the book (the fun part).

I was in Chicago when my 1st book came out & sick for about 5 weeks soon after gettng home. It was out there for 3 months - no promotion. No chance of creating buzz that way. Even now, I rarely mention BAD LATITUDE. My book signings have been arranged by Deb &, as shy as she is, that's pretty incredible.

So I've been thinking (that's always dangerous) - How far do I want to go with this writing stuff? Book number 2, RECKLESS ENDEAVOR, is nearing the finish line, & a third is in the works. Promotion? Blog tours? Interviews? Getting Reviews? How the heck do I go about setting all of that up? Can I even fit this & the writing in with life, travel & my day job? (Anyone following this blog knows how crazy my life / schedule is.) Guess I'd better decide soon so I can get busy. Make that busier.

Good Luck Pat - I think you've written a hit. BTW - Check out her blog. It's very entertaining & informative. Lots of great stuff over there.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wingin' One (post) From The Road

We're outta town again - Delray Beach, for about a month this time. Nice place - plenty to do.
Here's Deb's view from our temporay "home".

I get to see it too - typically a little earlier each day .....


Got her camera goin' as usual......


Think we're gonna build an aviary at home. Deb's a big butterfly fan ......


.... and lover of strange flowers & plants - The ones that attract creatures like these......

.... noisy lil' finches....


..... tiny Hummingbirds.......


.... and Lorikeets, like the one I'm holding above. Birds are my favorite - butterflies are still just bugs ...




Okay... one more bird ..... an action photo of a thumb-sized Hummingbird....


So Deb's photography stuff is thriving while my writing is .... not. Drove 520 miles round trip (in part) to get one of my desk chairs (but not my big screen computer - sniff...) trying to get comfortable. No luck. Guess Mickey Muse wasn't up for this trip. The way the writin's goin' - this blog may become a pictorial, with a new host, I mean hostess. Guess I'll go hang out ..... here (& wait for Mickey).


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hall Monitors

Remember Archie & Edith singing "Those Were The Days"? Me too, but nostalgia ain't my thing.

Paging through my high school yearbook the other day made me think about how fast this life flies by. Actually, that's a total lie, I never thought any such thing - it was more like - 'geez, look at that mop of hair!'

Now it's my blog so I get to brag! Here goes:  I graduated in the top 10 of my HS class. Positively sure of it, 'cause there were only 13 of us, so the odds were stacked heavily in my favor. Here's the class photo, see if you can find me. (Hint: Row 2 third from left)

Okay. That wasn't really my class but below is a picture of me at 16 in all my polyester glory. No big deal but this is the the last photo ever taken of me without a beard. My school had a very strict dress code. See that hair? They wouldn't let me graduate 'til it was cut. Couldn't touch the eyebrows, ears or collar. No jeans. No sneakers. No stubble. I started growing my beard the day after graduation. I was 17.

My English teacher gave me a "D" 1st marking period junior year, even though I never scored anything lower than a "B". Thought my mother was gonna kill me. At the parent/teacher meeting, Miss Schwartzenbach explained, in her most condescending tone, that, while my results were worthy of a higher grade, "the effort wasn't." After that, instead of absorbing the info as it was doled out, which was my standard approach, I became more engaged in the process & English Lit, of all things, became my favorite subject, well, maybe it held 2nd place, a smidgeon lower than Phys Ed. At the end of the year, the grade was changed. It seems Miss S & Mrs E were in "cahoots."

There were no silver spoons in our household. The public school in my hometown had an awful reputation & my mom decided, when I was 7, that private school was a must. My dad didn't share her enthusiasm. To pay the tuition, she struck a deal. In exchange for working as the school janitor for zero pay, my tuition was waived & my education from then on came complete with my own personal hall monitor. On the plus side, I received a very good education. I can tell ya, I never got away with nothin'. Cut class? Yeah right. Study Halls? No way. Full load. Mom explained what she thought the word 'homework' meant, whereas she believed that study hall was a wasted 'social hour'. Okay, but geez, I played 3 sports, always had practice or games, had a job working most nights & weekends. Well, it didn't kill me, but gettin' whacked in the head with a broom wasn't much fun. No worries, Mom's only 4'10", no permanent damage &, by my senior year I'd learned to duck. Swooshing sounds still get my attention.

I've since learned how to tie a Windsor knot.   

Back to the school stuff & realtime bragging about someone that deserves it. My niece Valerie is in Washington DC this week as part of The National Young Leaders Conference & she's one of the youngest invitees, maybe even the youngest. Her grades make mine look pathetic. Can't say too much 'cause she gets embarrassed, wouldn't even let the newspaper interview her or use her name. The NYLC sends updates on the conference to teachers & guidance counselors involved with the participants. Uncle Dave, that's me, gets these updates, since Val included me, listing me as her "College & Career Counselor". Now that is cool.

When I was writing BAD LATITUDE, Val would read sample chapters & give me feedback. I made her one of my primary characters in both BAD LATITUDE & RECKLESS ENDEAVOR. One of these days, I'll be reading her work & then.... I guess I'll get nostalgic.

Here's a copy of part of today's email update about Val's day in DC. She's running around the halls of Congress meeting Senators & such. Congrats Val! Proud of ya kid!  

Dear Mr. Ebright,

Today's NYLC schedule afforded Valerie a special opportunity to interact with the lawmakers and staffers who determine our nation's legislative agenda on Capitol Hill! The day began with a welcome address delivered from the floor of the House of Representatives. Valerie and her fellow scholars sat in the actual chairs used by House members! After the House floor, Valerie proceeded to her congressional appointments. These meetings with representatives, senators or staffers gave Valerie a chance to challenge our nation's elected leaders with tough questions and get a firsthand view of life and work on Capitol Hill.

In the evening, Valerie switched her focus from legislative matters to judicial topics, engaging in the "Testing the Constitution" simulation. After reviewing yesterday's discussion of the role of the Supreme Court, a history of some of its most famous decisions and an introduction to legal reasoning and debate, Valerie jumped right into the simulation. With her fellow scholars members playing the roles of justices and attorneys for the petitioner and respondent, Valerie debated whether the constitution and case law favored a car passenger's Fourth Amendment right to privacy or a police officer's need for safety during a traffic stop. The details of this simulation were taken from the real-life case of Arizona v. Johnson.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Porpoise Driven Blog

Been pondering the purpose behind this whole Blogging thing.
It's hurtin' my brain.

Great post today on Copyblogger by Laura Roeder - I'll insert part of it here along with my own notes:

Lesson #1 - Find your blog's core purpose.

I've been searching - no answers yet.

Here’s a question that never seems to go away: what is a blog?

Feel free to answer this one for me.

 Is it a public journal? An online magazine? An extended way to connect with friends and family?

Good questions to which I offer all no answers

And the answer is . . . a blog is whatever your audience needs it to be.

Oh great! I don't know that I have an audience that needs anything from me!!! That's the problem!

Whatever your topic, you need to get crystal clear on why people are there.

Yay!!! Here we go again, back to square one. This is annoying.

Is it to read the hilarious details of your personal life?

My personal life stays pretty personal (though it's often hilarious).

Watch detailed how-to videos on watercolor painting?

I don't know how to add videos to the blog. Did place 1st for a watercolor that I did - in 10th grade!

Hear your latest celebrity rant?

Puhleeze - I avoid anything celebrity - I don't want to hear their self-important rants.

It doesn’t matter what it is, only that you know it ............

This is lookin' more like a circle. Toldja -  I don't know nuttin'!

I'm not the next Mark Twain, so me offering writing tips would be ( ____ ) fill in blank.

Don't know all there is to know about publishing or book sales - no help there.  

A daily/weekly infomercial on BAD LATITUDE or RECKLESS ENDEAVOR - THAT would be a drag.

So really - What's the _______________??? (hint below)

I've met some seriously awesome (& helpful) folks (now friends) through blogging, learned quite a bit, even sold some books, but I can visit & comment without actually posting (& needlessly torturing readers).

So.... when you stop by to visit JaxPop - Whaddya expectin' to find? What would y'all want to hear or (hah!) learn about? What would make it a worthwhile stop as a reader - besides Debs pictures?
(BTW - Today's pics are from the Internet.)

I dunno - so I'm throwin' these questions out there for feedback. Any ideas, complaints, suggestions???


Thursday, September 17, 2009

.... and the award goes to....

Sometimes, like right now, life gets totally outta control crazy. Not bad stuff - just too much to do, not enough time to do it. Trying to cram 32 hours into 24 with limited sleep. Having to make budget numbers work on a logistically impossible project, get ready for another out of town assignment (without knowing when I'll have to leave) all while keeping pace with Micky Muse, 'cause I'm havin' so much fun writing RECKLESS ENDEAVOR, the sequel to BAD LATITUDE.

Normally I'm pretty skilled at staying upbeat, or maybe I should say looking upbeat. Other than one week in Atlanta, I've been more or less trapped in the office, feeling rather confined, for most of the last three months. {Hint: I normally visit the office only once a month, every other if I can get away with it.} Tuesday I was in a kind of bummed out mood. Not grouchy, just kinda ... okay, grouchy. As I sat with my office door closed, wondering if an overdose of subcontractor stupidity could be fatal, I got an email from my friend, author Joylene Butler, saying she thought my blog deserved The Kreativ Blogger Award. Whoa! Really? I looked around to make sure Kanye West wasn't nearby to interrupt my acceptance click, then clicked onto Joylene's blog & BANG - there it was. Me myself & I - suddenly keeping company with Joylene Butler, Pat Bertram & Katherine Neff Perry. Know what? I wasn't grouchy after that. Instead I was totally humble, grateful & .... wondering what the heck was Joy thinkin' 'bout with this!!! I mean, really, Joy -You, Pat & Katt can flat out write. It's like I'm puttin' on my high school basketball uniform (keep dreamin' Dave) & runnin' onto the court with the Boston Celtics. Anyway - I'm flattered - though I think it's Deb's pics that draw the big crowds, all holding their lighters over their heads chanting 'Freebird'. 

So now it's my turn to pass the baton to a couple of way cool writing blogs, though I have no idea how to properly include links within a post without writing them out. Someday I'll learn. Maybe?

Rebecca Ramsey is the author of FRENCH BY HEART. It's the true story of the Ramsey clan, southerners to the core (with their barefoot savages), & their adventures living in France. It's a great read, very funny. I've wondered how the French language sounds mixed with a thick South Carolina accent. Becky's blog, Wonders Never Cease is one of the first blogs I followed regularly - & still do. It's very KREATIV & worth a visit (Caution: Habit Forming) as well as The KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD. (Aaagh... Becky's mongrel - Tanner the slobber dog just swiped the solid gold trophy & swallowed it. Oh well.) Congrats. Visit Becky at watch Andy Griffith 'cause her hometown reminds me of Mayberry.

Next is Cheryl Pickett @ She has a new book out called PUBLISHING POSSIBILITIES & has been running a series on her blog lately about publicity, marketing, & distribution. Cheryl has been a big help to me (& other writers). In fact, she gave me some great info that helped me avoid a HAYOOGE mistake. Thanks to her, I ended up working with some really great folks from Maine & my 1st book turned out exactly the way I envisioned (& is selling well, thank you very much). Her advice is always honest, practical & down to earth. Gotta go visit her blog & website. Thanks Cheryl!

So there you have it. Thanks again Joylene (author of DEAD WITNESS check it out ASAP & visit her all the way up in British Columbia at  where the weather is much cooler but, geez, she lives on a lake surrounded by bears & eagles.... )

PS - I probably won't post anything else 'til I return from Delray Beach - short trip early next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Oh By The Way"

Deb cringes anytime I start a conversation with "Oh By The Way" - Dunno why.

I have a project coming up in South Florida soon. Late this past Friday afternoon I decided to make a quick trip on Monday to check things out in person. Too many questions. Too much design guesswork & I needed answers. Unfortunately, I didn't think much about work once I left the office. Late Saturday, as my mind drifted into "idea mode", I hit Deb with "Oh By The Way", I gotta go check somethin' out. Wanna go with me on a quick road trip? C'mon let's pack a bag & get goin'." (I came up with 300 reasons why this was a totally brilliant idea. I keep a Rolodex of these things handy & Deb, after all these years, already knows I'm an impulsive, but good-natured, nutcase.)

Took about an hour to get everything ready to roll. No big deal. Really. (Hint: I don't do the packing.) I did collect the mail.

We jumped onto I-95, set the cruise control, shut off the cell phone & chatted our way south. Everything was going along swimmingly - 'til the A/C blitzed out.

Me - "Oh well, no big deal. Can't get it fixed on the weekend anyway so we'll hafta put the windows down."
Deb - "What about my hair?"
Me - "Put a hat on. I got a new Nike hat in the back seat."
Deb - "I'm not wearin' a stupid baseball hat."
Me - "Gonna be awfully hot. Already 92 degrees. Hey - is that sweat on your upper lip?" (Quickly pointed to the thingy that shows outside temp, direction & (gulp) gas mileage, while handing her the dark blue hat. The sweat comment clearly didn't have the desired effect.)
Deb - (Somewhat disgustedly) "This doesn't even match." (Duh. Pastels just ain't me.)
Me - (sigh) "Gonna be awfully hot. Up to 93 now. Still have 2 hours to go." I reach for the window button.
Deb - (Grumbling) "Okay okay, but don't put the windows down 'til I fix my hair & get this stupid hat on."
Me - "Fix your hair? Uh.... Never mind. Just tell me when. I can drip for a little while longer."

It only took 5 minutes for Deb to find the whatchamacallit for tying her hair back, fishing the "pony tail" through the hat & getting it placed just right. No big deal. Nothin' a coupla quarts of Gatorade couldn't fix, though the thought of an IV did cross my mind.

Finally, we cruised into Boca Raton to find our hotel.

We pulled into a small park along the intracoastal waterway so Deb could take some pictures. While she snapped away, I opened the hood & pretended to be looking for the A/C problem. (Like I could EVEN figure that out.) 10 minutes later, we were on the road again..... & the A/C was miraculously working.
Deb - "You fixed the air conditioning!"
Me - "Yep!"
Deb - "But how?"
Me - "Oh, I don't wanna go explainin' all that technical stuff - it's all kinda complicated. You know, all those hoses n' wires n' stuff." (I won't seem so heroic after Deb reads this, but, it was really cool being THE MAN.)

BTW - Nice back yards huh???

On the way home we cruised A1A. I blogged about A1A a few months back (go look it up!). If we stay on that road, it'll take us home, though we'd have to cross lots of bridges & causeways. The speed limits also tend to be annoying - no match for my driving style. This is Palm Beach. Big houses. Big money. Puny waves.

Wonder why they call it Palm Beach? Could it be the trees? Hope the bug guts don't show up in this picture. Tough doin' that windshield photography stuff while drivin', drinkin' Starbucks coffee, & talkin' on the phone. (Just kiddin' - Deb takes the pics for this blog.)

The highlight of our latest 'road trip' was a visit to Sebastian Inlet. The last time I visited this place I was 12 years old & I spent a whole week of my young life fishing & shrimping with my dad. That trip ranks as one of my top 10 childhood memories. [It was an emotional kind of visit - my dad passed away 6 years ago almost to the day of this trip.] But forget the nostalgic meanderings of an old guy - This place is awesome. Deb just about overloaded the memory card. Good thing she always carries more than one camera.

Now anyone that reads my stuff knows that the kids in my book(s) are surfers. Like these kids.

Ever see such a crowded beach?

Can't wait 'til my grandson Jack does this stuff. (Uh, my real-life grandson.)

He could get started now. Like this little guy. I could teach 'im in about 2 hours.

This lil' squirt went all the way out into the big surf with the older kids. Couldn't catch him riding - the light was fading.

When the scenery turned ugly - we headed for home. I don't know what these are, but they're ugly. Don't these birds make ya feel like eatin' a Vlasic Pickle?