Tuesday, July 28, 2009


...my wife probably described the sound best as being, "tiny windchimes," as each departing wave rushes back toward the depths of the Gulf. Tiny windchimes...millions of them.
...peak time is at mid-afternoon to just as the sun starts debating on it's nightly dismissal...as the tide begins easing toward the dunes of Nokomis, and bringing with it a hundred million tiny shells from the ocean's floor.
...while meandering along the shoreline, at it's most shallow point, where the salt water can stretch it's tentacles to no more than an inch or two before being pulled back to sea, you'll find yourself surrounded in tiny conk shells, less than a quarter inch in diameter. Some are able to roll about and find their way back to sea with the departing current. Others, the ones housing baby hermit crabs and other ocean life, burrow into the sand around your feet, leaving a collection of water bubbles popping in their wake. And still others simply find themselves stranded along the coastline, awaiting the higher tide's mighty embrace to reach out and pull them back home.
...the sound is generated from trickles of water flowing over these shells. When lowered to a sitting position in the sand, an ear tilted slightly forward, the sound of shallow water drumming through and around these tiny conk shells is one that won't soon be forgotten. It's the sound of a trickling brook along a wooded creek, magnified a million times over. An echo of miniature applause, from a grandstand seating countless spectators.
...windchimes, tiny ones, millions of them, thrumming in the breeze. The sounds of paradise.
...Beautiful Nokomis.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sesame Street...after dark

Bert: "Call me a homo one more time..."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tybee Island Mud Hole

...Tybee Island, Georgia carries with it the un-official title as being the most nostalgic beach north of Florida. Well...ok.
We visited Tybee as a way of passing the time while awaiting our dinner reservations at Paula Dean's famous eatery. Roughly two and a half hours on the best beach Georgia has to offer...
I came away with the following...
Ocean water the color of iced coffee...
Sand which can best be described as moistened Quikrete, which actually hardens on the skin if left unattended...
No seashells or shark teeth, but thousands of fossilized fragments of unrecognizable ocean debris, which washes ashore with each mocha-colored wave....
You are charged an hourly fee to park, which is strictly enforced...
The only changing rooms available are ancient, concrete stalls reeking of well-aged urine, and a rusty double sink, which failed to produce any water...
I kept experiencing flashbacks of Baylor Beach...a pond in Wilmot, Ohio...
While walking along the shoreline, one must keep an eye out for the oncoming skimmer, (watered down surfer punk riding a three foot long, concave board over two inches of water at twenty miles per hour,) and the inevitable collision...
I watched with mild amusement as a fellow nearby, having recently drained his last can of Schlitz from the twelve pack he'd been nursing on, laid down for a drunkened nap under the blazing sun with the temperature hovering around 92 degrees.
An hour or so later, having not moved a muscle, his mouth slightly agape, eyes melted shut, he was approached by a curious passerby who'd grown concerned.
Minutes later, lifeguards arrived to the scene and found the burnt lush to be unresponsive to their attempts at awakening him.
The police arrived...
A crowd gathered...
Empty cans of Schlitz began rolling away with the ocean breeze...
At last, having failed at all other attempts of hospitable ressurection, one of the police officers began kicking the man in the thigh...
I snuck in for a closer look, picture phone in hand...
It took between 5-8 healthy kicks from a policeman's boot before the gentleman rolled over onto his side, blindly swatted his arm through the air, and instructed the cops to, "F--- off!"
Of course at the time he didn't realize he was talking to police officers, since his eyelids were fused together from the sun's raging glare...
My family watched a gentleman, who could've played Patrick Swayze's character in a "Point Break" reunion movie--fifty-plus years old, flesh burnt to cedar, savagely receeding hair line, skimming the coastline with what can only be described as a home made, plywood table top. And he performed quite well. Spinning in circles at an insane rate of speed, while bulldozing over any man, woman and child in his path. I nicknamed him, "Table-Top Guy"...
My kids gathered around a boy who'd decided to bury himself in the Quikrete sand up to nostrils, not realizing the hardening strength that mortar possesses when exposed to the sun on a hot afternoon. We called him, "Mud-Boy." He may very well still be there. In the same spot, forever embedded in what the locals may call sand, but what the rest of us use to patch up cracks in driveways, or for properly securing mail box posts into the ground...
That's what I found on Tybee Island, prettiest beach in Georgia.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"His Dudeness..."

...while exploring the streets of historic Savannah, my family stumbled upon a rare and glorious sight.
Several blocks north of famous River Street, and while carousing through various gift shops and displays featuring southern antiques, I spotted a painting hanging outside a local gallery which nearly brought me to my knees.
My eyes widened in disbelief. My jaw dropped.
My son, noticing my reaction to the canvass, squeezed up to my side, studied the painting himself for moment, and asked, "Dad, is that Jesus?"
I placed my hand upon his shoulder, smiled and said, "No son, that's The Dude."
Year after year, countless movies are sent to theatres across the country. Some turn out to be box office successes, raking in countless millions and awarded with golden Oscars at year's end. Others manage to barely hold down a slot on the local theatre's lineup before dropping off the Hollywood spectrum and vanishing to the entertainment slushpile. And still others, while failing at the box office, find themselves reborn when their DVD hits the shelves at Wal-Mart, and soon become lifted to Cult-like status for generations to come.
"Office Space," "MallRats," and pretty much anything starring Charlie Sheen are a few examples of Big-Screen flubs, which later became DVD gems, with more Google hits than Jon and Kate's nasty tirades. And then there's my favorite..."The Big Lebowski."
Starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude, a philosophical soul-searcher with little time for such tedious travesties like holding down a job, or excersize, and who suffers from the occaisional acid-trip, is attacked by a fiendish band of mentally-challenged kidnappers who mistakenly identify him as Mr. Lebowski, multi-millionaire, and narrated by Sam Elliot...naturally.
With a plot simply too ignorant to be taken seriously, along with a steady dose of The Dude's keen awareness on life in general, sprinkled in with some of the funniest scenes I've ever witnessed, The Big Lebowski is a comic gem which has grown to cult-like status from coast to coast, and can even be found as the focal point of an artist's masterpiece in one of the most famed cities in the deep south.
While other iconic figures have in the past, attempted at using the conjunction "The" before their name as a glamorous title, they've failed at pulling off the maneuver where The Dude has stood the test of time.
The Donald?...sure he's got a lifetime of riches, but the hair, the crummy attitude...not even close.
A little closer to home, I give you The King. Yeah, LeBron James is a stud, but could he ever sit down in Lebowski attire and give a three hour speech on the glory of doing absolutely nothing, over a luke-warm Pabst, and while reclining in a ratty lawn chair from 1975? I think not.
And of course, let's not forget, The Dan, who's ignorant lifestyle actually finishes dangerously close in status to The Dude's, but only time will tell if he can master the longevity with which Lebowski can brag of. Personally, I have my doubts.
The painting I discovered along the fabled streets of Savannah carried with it an asking price of $2200...AND WAS SOLD. Cult status for The Dude? Oh I think so.
Also mentionable has to be the photogenic brilliance of my wife, who sensed a moment forthcoming, and managed to capture the above shot at just the right moment, as I was attempting to explain the iconic presense of The Dude to my son. The woman's amazing when armed with a camera.
In closing, watch "The Big Lebowski," laugh at will, and rest assured...The Dude abides.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caspersen Beach and The Adventures of Nut-Hugger Ned

Caspersen Beach is a little known stretch of Florida sand nestled quietly in between the more popular Venice and Nokomis Beaches along the Gulf.
While it'll never boast of bringing in Siesta Key's tourist numbers, it does provide it's visitors with something more impressive than any other beach I've stumbled across...and I've walked many.
Shark Teeth!
Hidden within it's rocky alcoves, and often times buried under several layers of sand, shark teeth by the hundreds can be found with minimal effort. Even more astonishing, if you manage to walk it's course shores following a storm, or when the tide starts rolling in, you can literally reach down and snag shark teeth right out of the water as it rushes by your feet.
The above picture shows roughly 2/3 of our collection we gathered over the course of a few days. Several measured over an inch wide, and one was so impressive, we had it wrapped in silver in order to be worn as a charm around one's neck.
Hunting shark teeth can be as addictive as drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, with far healthier results. By week's end, literally everything I spotted in the sand, regardless of what beach we were visiting, resembled a tooth in some form other.
In fact, many local Floridians spend their evenings scouring the sands of Caspersen in search of whatever treasures may lie only inches below the surface. And one such local, I'm sorry to say, is Nut-Hugger Ned.
We had arrived at Caspersen shortly after a heavy rainfall, with hopes of finding some monster teeth with the stormy tides. We weren't disappointed. In a half hour's time my family had managed to find several handfuls of shark teeth, when I decided to go back to the Dodge in order to get a bucket to hold our many findings.
As I approached a nearby dune, I neared an elderly gentleman, six foot three at least, with skin like tanned leather, and the physique of a flagpole. He may have weighed 110 soaking wet.
Just before he caught me completely off guard with his actions, I was able to notice that he was wearing khaki trousers and a matching collared shirt with "Caspersen Beach Patrol" stiched across it's lapel. With his handful of stringy bleached hair stretching to the rumbling clouds above, I figured him to be a runaway beach bum lucky enough to find employment on Florida's shores.
Then, the unthinkable.
Regarding me as if I weren't even there, he suddenly unbuttoned his pants and dropped them to the sand, exposing a maroon-colored G-String which just barely managed to cover his loin.
Acting as I would imagine most heterosexual men in my position would do if caught in such a predicament, I said something to the effect of, "Aagh!" and stumbled backwards in the sand.
Throwing me an irritative glance and mumbling something under his breath having to do with stupid northerners, Nut-Hugger Ned pulled off his shirt, slipped out of his shoes, and glided past me in nothing but a G-String, en route to the beach, where he began jogging along it's shore.
We later found out that Ned, which I'm sure isn't his real name, but one I found quite catchy, jogs the shores of Caspersen every night following his shift. I just happened to be the unlucky one to stumble upon him as he disrobed.
By week's end he actually tossed me a grin as he loped by my family...with his happy package bouncing to and fro under what can only be described as a modern day loincloth.
Ok, so I dramatized the scene a bit, but you get the point.
Out of fear of starting rumors, I failed to snatch a picture of Nut-Hugger Ned while jogging along Caspersen Beach. Perhaps in this case however, the memory of that account is more than enough.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And...We're back!

Nine days...roughly 2200 miles...through six states and five beaches...with three gaseous children, a collection of luggage, video games and whatever else which needs plugged into a cigarette lighter every two hours; heaps of snacks, and a now comotose and slightly dilusional wife, all crammed into a late model Dodge Durango...and I give you...The Family Vacation.

With heaps of information to share, but lacking the mental capacity needed for such a task, I'll throw a few points of interest out there, and continue to update the goods as my weary mind recovers.

In no random order, and off the top of my head...

...In the state of Georgia, the Highway Patrol equip their officers with coal-black, Dodge Chargers...with Hemi's.

...Ohio is the only state between here and Cuba without a speed limit of 70mph. Simply pathetic.

...After swearing that I'd never allow my oldest son to go with us on another trip following last year's disastrous journey to Disney World, I'm proud to announce that following some rather intense "Father/Son -Heart to Heart Combat Sessions" prior to departing...my soon to be teenager performed just shy of brilliant throughout the majority of our trip.

...This year I'm swearing to never allow my daughter to go with us on another adventure. She was comparable to a youthful Medusa all the way from southern Georgia to Nokomis, from Venice to Sarasota, and from Savannah to...well, my office. Never again. No way.

...The act of pulling someone over for any form of traffic violation in North Carolina is primarily done with two patrol cars at all times. Not that I was...I simply witnessed it nearly a dozen times.

...Coca-Cola carries with it the power to run it's course through the digestive system of a six year old girl and into the bladder region in roughly two hours and twelve minutes, thus demanding of immediate attention...parents beware.

...Positively everyone living in Georgia starts every sentence with the word, "Y'all." Even those "natives" who eventually admit to being formally from Buffallo, Boston, or St.Paul.

...Throughout the 75 minute jaunt through the hills of Virginia while heading north, the temperature dropped from 88 to 62 degrees by the time we crossed into W.V.

...Paula Dean's restaurant has three floors with a buffet on each level, heaping with the likes of which I've never experienced in all my years of gluttony. I willingly gained just short of nine pounds in two hours...and loved every minute of it.

...On the way home, upon fueling up the Dodge in Savannah, the cashier sent us on our way with a robust..."Y'all come back now, ya hear!?"

...Ten minutes north of Charlotte, North Carolina, the cashier bid me farewell with an enticing..."Have a good night, Sugar!"

...In Beckley, West Virginia, I was issued my way at a BP with a teeth-grinding/boot-scootin/twangy..."You'ins have a good'un now."

...And in Marietta, Ohio, where I topped off the tank in order to stagger on home, I was acknowledged with an ape-like..."Hmmph," and nod of her head.

...I guess that says it all.

...Pix will be sorted, memories filed, and stories of beaches, bodies and bedlum are on the agenda. I've got some good stuff, trust me.