Saturday, October 31, 2009

We're Thinking About It...

The Geezers are working on a bottle of red wine and pouring over the maps. We're thinking about another Geezer trek to the south this winter. Maybe west to New Orleans, maybe Key West, not Akron, though. Let us know if you have ideas for us to contemplate.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Geezer is home

No more sitting in the car behind motels to steal internet connections! Made it home about 4:00 today after a beautiful drive through PA and the Catskills. One funny thing, as soon as I hit the NY border it started to SNOW! Welcome home, Geezer!

The weather cleared shortly after and I've finished unpacking the car. The camper will have to wait til tomorrow, when I have a bit more energy.

2:00 AM Update

So the adventure is not totally over! Found a pub close to the hotel called McGraths with a good band, decent Guinness, Redbreast and a beautiful barmaid from Kilgannon. Came home with a headache, but happy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Going, Going, Gone Geezer

This will be mercifully short. The Geezer is staying at a motel (WTF!!!!) in Harrisburg, PA. Had a quiet morning at Mark & Beth's with a chance to chat with each of them before they left for work. Took I-85 to I-95 North - Super heavy traffic on 95 even an hour south of DC, so headed west and cut on back roads following my darling Jill's instructions through some very pretty country to Gettysburg, PA.

Home tomorrow - and the end of a saga (except for cleaning the (*&%$*(&*^)*&%$ camper out!

Thanks to all our followers - Geezer Al, Geezerette Kathy, all the folks we hooked up with over the past 5 weeks - all have made the trip great. I'll do a final blog post tomorrow, however stay tuned - geezers may return for other adventures - maybe south, maybe north, east or west, you never know!

Headed Home

Well, the Geezer has spent the past two days in the company of wonderful friends, Mark & Beth Thomson, seeing them for the first time in 23 years! Mike and Mark caught up on old rugby buddies and shared stories, once again proving the adage "The older we get, the better we were!"

The weather was warm and sunny so I popped the camper open to allow it to air out after 4 nights of rain.

They have a beautiful home in the Raleigh, NC area and the geezer got to sleep in a bed for the first time in a while! Yesterday, Mark and I headed to the Chapel Hill area for a walk around the campus and a stop at a great local pub for a burger and a pint of porter. OK, maybe it was TWO pints!
Libby, Mark & Beth's "Attack Dog"
This morning, I begin the trek home. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed. Over 6,000 miles so far with another thousand to go. While I'd really like to make it all the way back, I think I'll break up the trip and spend a night somewhere in maybe Maryland or Delaware. It's funny, once you make up your mind to go home, the trip becomes less of an adventure and more like work. You just want to get home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Paddy's Day

The Tallapoosa River is surely on my "ToDo" list for future Geezer adventures. Lex Brown and his family were great hosts and I really enjoyed their company. They even provided a "Moo - sical" alarm clock each morning.
Note the furry alarm clock in the background

Well, I rained a good part of the night, but by morning, the sun came out. I delayed departure trying to get the camper dry before packing it up for the trip North. About 10:00, I gave up and folded a semi-soggy camper and hit the road for the 7:00 hour trek to the Raliegh, NC area. Much of the trip was on Interstate Highways through Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, but at Mark's suggestion, I took a much more scenic (and direct) route from Charlotte to Cary, NC that was a welcome diversion.

Arrived in Cary about 7:30 PM and joined Mark for a bite to eat and a few beers at a local cafe, before turining in for the night. Being St. Paddy's day, we should have gone to an Irish pub, but they were all packed to the rafters with loud drunks and besides, the important task was catching up on 23 years of each other's lives. That was much easier in a quieter setting.

Beth got home from teaching one of her courses and we sat chatting til just a few minutes ago. Tomorrow, head for Chapel Hill and a little sightseeing.

March 16 - a washout!

Well, the planned paddle for today is off – it rained buckets all night long and is continuing today. The Tallapoosa River, which Lex assures me is beautiful, looks like chocolate milk in a blender! The normally class 1 water has gained a grade or two and is beyond my abilities, even if I wanted to paddle in a downpour.

As an alternative to a paddle, Lex suggested I might want to climb the highest mountain in Alabama, Cheaha mountain, about 20 miles away. Sounded good to me, but after a twisty mountain drive in the blinding rain and fog, I found myself in the parking lot of the Rangers station – wipers and defroster blasting looking at a spectacular view that approximates the inside of a milk bottle! So I did, the next best thing – stole an IP connection from the ranger and posted to the Geezer Blog! It’s really too bad, because the few quick glimpses of the scenery I did get were truly spectacular! Sounds like justification for another Geezer trip to Alabama.
The ONLY view of the scenery on the way to Cheaha Mountain.

This evening, some dinner and camper cleanout in prep for heading to North Carolina tomorrow and a long overdue (23 years) visit with Mark & Beth Thomson.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday and Sunday March 14 & 15 – in transit.

After leaving the “Big Easy”, I skirted the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain and the causeway by Lake Maurepas, through the Manchac and Joyce Wildlife management areas. Lots of water down here, folks! I went about 25 miles on raised highway before reaching the first stretch of road that was actually on land! About 4 hours later, I made it to the Roosevelt State Park in Morton, MS, about 30 miles east of Jackson. The rain followed my path most of the way, but the luck of the Irish still held and I had about a 1 hour window to get set up before the deluge began again. It rained pretty constantly till about 11:00 the following morning.

Despite the rain, I really liked this little campsite, situated around a lake surrounded by hills and a hardwood forest! Seemed very much like home – even the temperatures reminded me of home! BIG difference from the habitat and climate in Florida and the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast!

Tonight, I set up camp in the yard of a wooden canoe colleague, Lex Brown who runs Tallapoosa River Outfitters, a guide and equipment service on the Tallapoosa River in Heflin, Alabama. After looking at a couple of nice wooden canoes Lex is working on (a Thompson and a UCO (“Unidentified Canoe-like Object”), he invited me into his home for a nice, home-cooked meal with his wife, 6-week old son and his in-laws. What a nice treat for the geezer to sit and relax with real folks. Thanks, Lex, for taking in a wandering stranger.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll take a run down the river and see what northern Alabama looks like from the water.

March 13 & 14 – Nawlins, LA (That’s “New Orleans” for you Yankees)

Solo Geezer spent the morning exploring Bayou Segnette State Park. Very nice place with new facilities, big campsites and free laundry and internet connection. It has some nature trails and recreation areas, but is really quite urban/suburban in nature. It is close to New Orleans, if you are interested in a different kind of wildlife. You can drive into the city, but the park ranger advised me to drive about 6-7 miles to the west bank (which is actually on the east) and take the ferry west across the Mississippi river to the east bank (Don’t make me explain this – I’ll have to hurt you) The ferry takes you Canal Street, right at the start of the French Quarter. The ferry is free, frequent (1/2 hour schedule) and offers a great view of the city on the short ride in. Beats the heck out of trying to find a parking spot for under $25/day!
Bayou Segenette Campsite

I spent the afternoon taking in the culture of the French Quarter (No, really. I did. Honest.) There are some beautiful parks and cafés nestled in the narrow streets of the oldest part of town. It’s all accessible by foot or by taking the trolley or a horse drawn carriage. Quite nice. Of course, I did some souvenir shopping and had a great time looking at t-shirts with Katrina oriented messages on them. My favorites… “New Orleans, established 1769. Re-established August 29, 2005” and, “FEMA Evacuation Plan – Run, Bitch, Run!” After some shopping and touring, I hopped the ferry to bring packages back to the car, then caught the same ferry back again for dinner and socializing in the myriad bars and clubs on Bourbon Street. Fresh oysters and Cajun food at a place called Jesters seemed in order. Yum. Hit the street for some people watching and following a St. Patricks Day warm up party parade. Beer was flowing, music blasting, beads being thrown and thousands of drunks all combined for another case of sensory overload. I stopped in a couple of the quieter clubs to hear some good Dixieland, jazz and blues being played to an appreciative crowd, then headed to the ferry arriving at the campground before midnight. I know – yes, the geezer is getting old (or smart!) Jackson Park, NO

The next day brought rain – not just a drizzle, but a downpour for most of the morning. I donned a bathing suit and flip-flops to pack the car and get the camper ready for folding down. A brief break around 12:30 gave me time to wipe the water from the tent sections and fold up the camper for the trip northeast – yep, the geezer is headed home. Still have a few adventures along the way, but starting to look forward to seeing geezerette.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Katrina before & after #3

The fishing industry is looking much better.

September 2005

March 2009

More Katrina before & after #2

Small Businesses have also taken a hit.

September 2005

March 2009

The trash is gone, but so are the businesses

More Katrina before & after

Katrina touched so many people in Mississippi. These folks advised us not to "allow Katrina to Steal your Soul"
Unfortunately, they have not rebuilt, though their neighbors have.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Barbeque infidelity and the "Big Easy"

This Geezer has been a loyal and faithful fan of the Dinosaur Barbeque for ages. Well, move over T-Rex and go to the Shed. The Shed BBQ in St.Martin, MS was the finest I have ever had. Melt in your mouth BBQ, scrumptious side dishes and cold beer served with attitude! Just how the Geezer likes it. Please don't tell the Dinosaur - think of the kids!

I have to admit, I had a hard time leaving Jackson Co, MS today. Did a final drive around the area hit by Katrina and snapped a few more pics. I'll post some in the next day or so.

After about a 2 1/2 hour saunter West on Interstate 10, the Geezermobile made it to Bayou Segenette State Park, just south of New Orleans. After setting up camp, I decided to take the plunge and sample some of Bourbon Street's famous nightlife. Talk about sensory overload! After over 4 weeks of paddling, birdwatching and traveling around the quieter parts of the South, the French Quarter was like being thrown into the Debauchery Hall of Fame. (Debauchery was a French nobleman who came to America in search of plastic beads and loud music) Didn't partake of anything more sinful than 2 dozen Raw Oysters, but then again, I still have tomorrow!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

After the Storm #3

Of course, hundreds of people have had to live in the much lauded FEMA Houses (12'X24') Only slightly larger than the Geezer camper (7'X22')

After the Storm #2

Ocean Springs Yacht Club

September '05

March '09

After the Storm #1

Highway 90 bridge between Ocean Springs and Biloxi

September '05

March '09

WGEZ Radio!

Geezer Mike and Mississippi friend Kenny do a radio talkshow today. Doesn't the Geezer have a great face for Radio?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I'm sitting in Coastal Coin Laundry in Ocean Springs, MS reflecting on the trip and the people I've come across in the past 4 weeks. Ms. Mavis, the owner of the laundry is a great example. Though I'm a stranger who talks funny, she greeted me warmly and engaged in chit-chat while my clothes washed. When she found that I had been here following Katrina, she thanked me for coming down to help, assuring that I had a blessing coming to me.

This is the South that I like. Small towns, gentle people and the real southern hospitality that has become a cliche' elsewhere. The people of the small towns in Georgia, Florida and Mississippi are a tribute to a time that we have forgotten in our busy lives. You still hear business deals being discussed and agreed to at the lunch counter, people offering help to their neighbors and seeing little acts of kindness done without a second thought or expectation of re-payment.

If I do have a blessing coming to me, as Ms Mavis promised, it will hopefully be in the form of a return to a quiet, simple life like the folks down here.

This afternoon, Kenny & I are doing a radio talk show (the same one I did when here for Katrina). I'm going to tell people how lucky they are.

Guess I really sound like a geezer now.

Great Dinner with Ken & Jen

During Hurricane Katrina, I spent 3 weeks working with Kenny Flanagan, the Public Information Officer for Jackson County, Mississippi. Great guy and his wife Jennifer is fun to be with.

Deer Island

Look at how the trees were snapped off.

Some hard Paddling but worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hard Paddling and Easy Living

Well, this Geezer missed the moderating influence of Geezer Al. I launched the kayak for a "little paddle" this afternoon. When you are paddling alone, there are a few things you should never say to yourself...

1) This looks pretty simple, I don't need a map.
2) That island doesn't look that far.
3) I wonder if the tide is coming in or going out?
4) Those are just little whitecaps.

I launched from the national seashore and poked around Davis Bayou for a while. But I wanted to see some of the Katrina damage on the barrier islands and so struck out for Deer Island. Unfortunately, one of the problems Katrina caused is the formation of a silt island that has a little vegetation and little else right in line with the path to Deer Island. So... an extra half mile and a drag through the weeds finally got me to the bay.

The waves were at 1 to 2 feet and running 90 degrees to my path. Lots of weathervaning and more than a little cursing. The way out, I fought the waves and wind - but I also had the same problem on the way back! Deer Island is interesting. It still has trees on the Biloxi end, but as you go east, you can see where the trees were sheared off mid trunk due to the the force of the winds during the storm. A little farther out, the hurricane breached the island, clearing an area about 1/2 mile wide and opening water channels where there had been dry land. Pictures coming later.

After a 5 hour paddle in the hot sun and winds, I made it back to the campsite to have a quick shower and meet Ken Flanagan and his lovely bride Jennifer, for a dinner that was out of this world at a brand new seafood restaurant in Moss Point called Rachel's Widow Walk. Right on the water, it provided an excellent backdrop for lots of fun conversation with old friends and the occasional song or story from Sam, the owner of the restaurant.


March 9

The day dawned foggy and warm. Because it looked like rain, I skipped my planned paddle in Davis’s Bayou and went for a walk on one of the trails around the area. Birds abounded – Saw piliated, redbreasted and redheaded woodpeckers all on one tree. Redheadeds are common, probably saw 25 in a 2 mile walk. Saw a small (4-5’) gator sunning himself in the bayou.

In the afternoon, I visited Kenny Flanagan in his office. Kenny is the man I worked with following Hurricane Katrina and has become a good friend. He brought me up to speed on what has been happening since I was here 3 ½ years ago. Much has changed, though some areas have not been rebuilt. I’ll go on a tour over the next few days to see for myself.

The driving around I have been doing has been surreal. With every turn, I come upon a scene familiar, yet changed. I’ve found my way around mostly by memory and intuition. Kenny invited me to appear on a radio talk show on Wednesday, the same show I did the day before my departure in 2005. Should be interesting. The hurricane affected people deeply and even today, you can’t sit in a eatery or pub without hearing someone say “Katrina” within a few minutes. Everything here is BK or AK.
Drove around the old part of Ocean Springs and was surprised how well they have recovered. Had dinner at the Café New Orleans – Wonderful would not begin to describe it. I had a Cajun Sampler Platter with: Red Beans & Rice, File’ Gumbo, Ettoufee and Jambalaya with a salad, coleslaw, spicy hushpuppies and two pints of the local brew, Pecan Magnolia beer all for $15.

Maybe we should re-name the blog “GeezersEatTheSouth”

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In Mississippi

Just a quick note tonight.
Camped at the Gulf Islands Nation Seashore (part of the National Park Service) Nice campground and friendly people.

Had dinner tonight with Andrea S, a former co-worker from DEC who is attending an Air Force School at Keesler AFB in Biloxi (about 5 min away). Had a nice catfish & Shrimp dinner atAunt Jennies - good ole southern fried cooking. Was nice to see someone from home.

From what I can see so far, the area of MS I was in following Hurricane Katrina has recovered nicely (almost too nicely from the number of chains along the highway) More exploring tomorrow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Campsite at Florida Caverns

Great site, quiet, private and clean

The Florida Caverns

Saturday - A Lazy Day

Geezer Al left me with a little souvenir of his time in the south – the cold he had been nursing while we were together. Sore throat and stuffy head joined forces last night and by this morning I felt lower than a snakes belly button. Got up and decided a little car maintenance was in order and went off in search of an oil change and some breakfast. Found both in Marianna, FL the nearest “real town” to Florida Caverns State Park. Breakfast was at a local diner; Miss Betty’s Griddle, where I had the finest (and biggest) breakfast of the trip so far.
Got back to the campsite about 10:30, did a little cleanup and exploring and then headed to the caverns for a one hour tour, guided by a very knowledgeable and personable volunteer. In the afternoon, my plan was to paddle a little on the Chipola River which flows through the park, but following the example of the Curmudgeon, decided a little nap was in order. 2 ½ hours later, it was too late to paddle unfamiliar waters alone and I reverted to Plan B – read.
Headed out to find some dinner. I was in the mood for seafood, but the combination of the cold and the zinc tablets I've been taking meant that I needed something with a little more kick. I found it at Old Mexico, a new (and somewhat dingy) Mexican eatery where a 5 item combo plate and 2 Negra Modella beers cost lest than $18. The salsa was so hot I didn't even need to juice it up!

Next I'm headed out for a beer. I hear that the NASVIN (North American Society of Visually Impared Nymphomaniacs) is in town for their annual convention. Pulled a left-over pork chop out of the cooler to attract the guide dogs – maybe I’ll get lucky!

Next - Return to Mississippi!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Only in the South


Friday, March 6 - In search of a Fox Hat

Bill continued the course of Geezer training he started during our sailing adventure a couple of weeks ago with an invigorating 3 hour paddle on the lake chain near his house – complete with the obligatory nap in the mangrove and cyprus forest! That man really has a lot to teach a beginner like me! We got back to the house about 1:00 and I packed up to head north on the next leg of my journey. As I was getting into the car and saying goodbye and thanks to Bill and Lorraine, I mentioned that I was headed to a campground near Two Egg, Florida. The Curmudgeon said “Wear the fox hat” and I set off in search of one.

The trip up Route 19 was fascinating, you really get to see the way Florida was before the snowbird invasion and the rampant development that followed. Open land with dirt-scratch farms and ranches, scattered with small towns and villages full of real native Floridians. Confederate flags flew at county and town facilities.

The solo Geezer stopped for lunch at the Cyprus Grill, a small place near Cross City and had the best hot roast pork sandwich I have ever eaten! Everybody knew each other and their accent was so thick, I couldn’t catch half of the friendly banter between Earl, the cook, Joline my waitress and the 3 other guys sitting at the counter. Everyone said “yessir” when they spoke and it really seemed like it was a way of life, not just awkward politeness. The waitress’s T-shirt summed up the Geezer food philosophy perfectly – “Don’t get caught in a fast food rut - eat with us, it’s good for your gut.” Geezer heaven!

Hit Interstate 10 (which starts in Jacksonville FL and traverses the southern part of the US all the way to California) to bypass Tallahassee and found Florida Caverns State Park just as the sun set. Got the rig set up in about 40 minutes (not bad for solo and tired) wrote the Geezer blog and set off into town to steal an internet connection so I can share my ramblings with all you Geezer followers. I’ll be here for a couple of days, then on to Mississippi.

Signing off from Geezerland

(by the way – if you are still puzzled about the fox hat – search “wear the fox hat” on YouTube – you will soon be enlightened!)

Thursday, March 5 -

The day finally felt like Florida. Warm & sunny. Unfortunately it was also the day Kathy had to head home to the artic north. Bummer – Geezerette was really getting into the laid-back life style.
We went for a final kayak trip around the islands near the campsite and spotted a few dolphins and a ray. It was really amazing how shallow the water was throughout the bay by Sebastian’s Inlet. What a great little campsite Long Point was – launch the kayaks from the camper! As afternoon approached, we packed up camp and made the 2 hour trip to Orlando Airport for Kathy to fly home. Way, way too short!
Geezer Mike is now officially a solo act. How weird it was to drive away from the airport with an empty right seat. For the past three weeks, I have been no further than 3 feet in the car and 12 feet in the camper away from either Al or Kathy. Gonna take some getting used to.
Drove another 2 hours to Hernando, the home of Bill (the Old Curmudgeon) and Lorraine Whalen. After a few minutes of chat, Bill and I headed out in search of a burger and a beer. Found both, in fact many of the latter, as we patrolled all 5 pubs (including the Elks Club) in this bustling burg. After sufficiently drowning my sorrows at being a solo act, I slept in the first real bed in over three weeks – felt great.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tuesday & Wednesday March 3 & 4

My fears about Kathy not adapting to the Geezer lifestyle were unfounded. She fits in fine. Yesterdays move to Long Point went fine and after setting up on our waterfront site in the cold gale (high 50’s and 30 MPH winds) we went for a walk at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge – the first NWR in the U.S. Didn’t see anything worthy of note, but had fun anyway. In return for being a good sport, Mike made pork chops, rice and a salad for dinner. We had to cook inside the camper – damn winds kept blowing the stove out!

Wednesday dawned with a fair breeze and sunshine. After morning coffee & tea we ventured out in the kayaks for our first paddle of 2009. Geezerette was using Al’s kayak, a narrow sporty rocket compared to the tub that Kathy is used to paddling – no problem here either. After about 30 seconds, she discovered the joy of paddling a boat that is 25 pounds lighter and much sleeker than her kayak – she left Mike in the dust (or spray?). We explored the islands near the campsite and followed dolphins as they competed with pelicans for breakfast. After an hour or so, our own breakfast called and we headed to the local joint for an excellent brunch.

That afternoon, a little camp cleanup, laundry and another paddle before cleaning up to meet friends Don & Susan for dinner at a great local place called Captain Hirams for about 20 years of catching up! Great to see them and a fitting end to a relaxing day in Geezerland.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Monday, March 2 - Rat World

I’m gonna start right off by saying that I’m not a big fan of the Land of the Mutant Rat. There is something about having every detail of your visit carefully choreographed and sensory overload in abundance that just rubs the Geezer side of me the wrong way. Geezerette, however, loves the place; so, being the affable type (and not being able to afford a divorce lawyer) I went along with a visit to Epcot. Confession time – I liked it!

The day was cold and windy which I’m sure kept the crowds down. The longest wait we had was about 20 minutes for my favorite of the day, a ride called ‘Soaring” which takes you on a simulated hangglider ride around California. The seat moves, you feel wind in your face, smell the orange groves and all the high-def video is projected in a large bowl shaped screen below you! Very cool!

We had a great time in Future World, the front part of Epcot (rides and learning exhibits) in the morning, then spent the afternoon in the World Showcase visiting all the different countries exhibits and multi-media shows. We had a wonderful dinner at the Nine Dragons restaurant in China – one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve been to in a long time. After dinner, we had pastries in France and watched the Illuminations fireworks and laser light show, then back to a cold camper to defrost in bed and rest our tired feet!

Very un-Geezer like, but satisfying.

Next we move the Geezermobile and trailer back to Long Point county park on the east coast for Kathy’s final two days in sunny (but unseasonably cold) Florida. Maybe we’ll do some paddling.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday March 1 - Problems but fun!

Well they say it comes in threes - whoever the hell "they" are, I don't know, but I'd sure like to give them a good geezer talkin' to!

Came to the realization that the camper refrigerator, which has been anemic off and on throughout the voyage finally "bit the shed" late last night and had to make a run to Wally World for an ice chest and bag of ice to keep the beer cold.

The day dawned windy and cold (defined for you northeasterners as 60F) but since visiting my brother Gerry and his bride Carol in Winter Haven was the most energetic thing we were doing, it was no problem. We had a great visit and wonderful dinner.

Problem #2 came with a phone call from co-geezer Al who was back home and swung by our place for a quick check (and probably raid my booze - but that's allowed among geezers). Al reported that our house was colder than an nun's kiss and that the furnace didn't seem to be working. Being a resourceful and dedicated geezer - Al called the oil company and arranged for a service call. Things seem OK now. Keeping fingers crossed!

Getting ready to leave Gerry & Carols, I noticed a pool of fluid under the Geezermobile. Uh-Oh! I had seen a few spots in the gravel at Lake Louise State Park, but didn't think too much about it, but this was a bonafide lake of black stuff on Gerry's immaculately painted and textured Fighting Irish driveway. I crawled under the car and found that the oil filter was so loose, it took nearly 3 full turns to tighten it! Another trip to WallyWorld for oil and a little de-greaser, then a visit to the local car wash to clean the engine. Seems OK now - Keeping fingers crossed again!

Tomorrow we visit the lair of the mouse that ate Florida! Epcot at Disney World. Keep tuned (and fingers crossed, please)

Hard Days in Geezerville!

Kathy reads on Sunday Morning

Mike and Kathy, Debbie and "Big John"

Keeping up with the traditional "Geezer pace" we had an exhausting day yesterday. Got up around 8:00, had breakfast, swam in the heated pool (only good thing about a KOA vs. a state park is all the goodies) then took a walk around the campground to look at the oversized and quite magnificent rigs.
Later, Geezerette and I went to the Clearwater area to visit friends John & Debbie Doyle ("Big John" is son Thomas's godfather) where the pace quickened considerably. We drove to Woody's - a great little waterside pub for lunch and a drink and heard some guy play piano and sing. He was great. From there, we drove to Indian Rocks Beach for a stroll along the surf and a pre-dinner cocktail at Crabby Bills. Back to John & Debbies for a wonderful steak dinner and lots of catching up on the past XXX years (don't want to tell you how long!) It was really great seeing the two of them and we really enjoyed their hospitality.

Back to the campsite around midnight - Whew!
Today, a cold front is pushing through with high winds (30 mph+) and thunderstorms expected. I'm sitting in the camper as the canvas bellows and pops and the rain is beginning - but I just checked the Albany weather - and it's still better than home. So I guess we will relax in the camper for a while then make a long overdue visit to Mike's brother, Gerry and his lovely wife Carol.
That all from Geezerville for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Drop In Visitor

Thursday and Friday - 2/27-28

The day began with an unexpected drop-in visitor. A hot air ballon made an unexpected landing in Lake Louisa State Park!

One part of the Geezer journey is over, another begins. Al left today after a great two weeks paddling; birding and just acting Geezer-like (See the post on what defines a Geezer). Kathy arrived within an hour and a half of dropping Al at the airport – I didn’t even have time to get lonely!

Geezerette and I took a walk around one of the lakes at the campsite and then cleaned up for a great dinner at Devenneys Irish Pub where we had some wonderful beef & Guinness Pie, Potato and Leek soup, and Bangers and Mash. To top it off there was some very nice live Irish music by a husband & wife duo called “Shamrocks in the Wind”. Brought a tear to the old Geezer’s eye.

Today, (Friday) after a walk around the lake and a nice breakfast and some reading, we broke camp and moved to a KOA about 30 minutes away! Aside from the very expensive price tag ($60/night) it seems to be a nice place, heated pool, game room and actual trees! It has wireless internet throughout the campsite (I’m at the picnic table right now) and LOTS OF HUGE motorhomes – makes my 11 year old pop-up trailer look like a begger at the queens ball. Kinda like it that way, but that's the geezer in me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mike's Favorite Road

Al Turns Into Pumpkin Tomorrow

Geezers Composing Blog Updates

Geezers reluctantly packed up the trailer and departed Highlands Hammock, heading to the Orlando area. It's nearly the end for Geezer Al – flying back home tomorrow, back to the cold weather, but also the warm company of his wife, Char.

Paddling friend Pete Devitt sent a note to Al yesterday, and we hope he does not mind our sharing:

Hey Alan,

I've been following your blog.
I'm jealous.
There was freezing rain Sunday.
It was cold again today.
I saw a Robin today.
Dead and frozen.
You are paddling on salt water.
I'm paddling on chlorinated water.


Some thoughts...

Well, this have been a heck of a couple of weeks - 3,000 miles, lots of birds, many campgrounds, dive restaurants and a beer or two. The geezer co-pilot is leaving tomorrow - headed back north to the "Real World" My Geezerette is coming down for a while and I'm really looking forward to it, but I'll miss Al. A true friend for well over 30 years, companion on many adventures and mis-adventures, great kayaker, naturalist, and, as I said - friend.

You know how to tell the difference between a friend and a good friend? A friend will bail you out of jail. A true friend will be sitting in the cell besides you, saying "Man, that was fun!"

Yep - it was fun!

Watch for further updates as we continue through Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana then north.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Geezers Go to Duffer's

It was a laid-back day for the Geezers – actually, that's become the theme of the trip. After a leisurely morning, we got going around noon, walking some of the trails in the park. Walked a ½ mile trail; had lunch at the park restaurant/store; walked another 1 mile trail (complete with wild orange trees and a 1000 year-old live oak tree); returned to park store for wild orange ice cream and wild orange cake.

The evening meal was pizza at Duffer's Sports Bar – the Geezers like Duffer's! So far the only thing we've found wrong with Florida is the lack of good ales. The Geezers are concerned that we are developing a taste for Amber Bock by Michelob (ugh).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Posting From the Land of Small Chairs

The Geezers have been swiping Internet access while parked behind motels and next to coffee shops, but sometimes we go right into a public library and sit in comfort while posting the news. This evening, we are in the library in Frostfree, Florida where it's “Tax Night” and the place is mobbed with folks getting their taxes done by volunteers. The nice lady at the desk found a spot for us, though – the childrens room, where we got really well acquainted with our knees!

Small World, Again

After buttoning up the trailer electronics, we chat with kayak-builder Walt Clark of Binghamton, who stopped as he biked by our campsite, seeing the kayaks. Turns out that he's friends with Chuck Newland of Slingerlands who got Al started kayaking and he paddled the Susquehanna Sojourn with Al's friend Dan Mehlman. More small-world happenings.

The Geezers finally got going around noon (bright and early on Geezer birding time), heading a short way northeast to some of the wilder Florida scrub lands. The Avon Park Air Force Reserve recreation area was closed (apparently the open days are a military secret). Instead, we drove and hiked through some of the nearby Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. This is the highest ground in the state – 300+ feet in elevation. Our ears popped!

What a neat but dry and deserted place – pines, palmetto and live oak. Saw a few birds, but still no Florida Scrub Jays. Back to camp tonight for pasta and to try some “Land Shark” beer.

Electrical Problems Solved - DUH!

Like anything else in life, it is the little, simple things that screw you over royally! Adopting the attitude of "If I have a headache, it must be a brain tumor" the Geezers tackled the electrical problem by taking apart the converter box and trying to extract a circuit breaker! Failing at that, we tested the breakers with a continuity tester - OK that works... Follow the wires to the first outlet under the table... - Looks OK but continuity tester says there is a problem...HMMM?

OK - pull the outlet out of box and while doing so, discover that the outlet has a GFI breaker in it!!!! Push in the little button - BINGO - lights, camera and action!

KISS applies. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, Feb. 22 Paddling the Indian River

Mike at the Old Homestead - Long Pt. County Park

Pelicans dive for fish spooked by porpoises.

Mike decides that laundry is first priority for the morning, even though Al assures him that each pair of underwear should be good for several days. Weather is warm and sunny for a change – who knew that Florida could be like this? Al decides that paddling is much more important. We pack up the trailer and Mike gets to the laundry and joins Al in a paddle to Sebastian Inlet State Park, about 2 miles south. Porpoises, Brown Pelicans and Royal Terns accompany us as we cruise the shallow waters and cross the Inlet to the park beach. A bite of lunch and a return paddle. Porpoises swish around chasing fish and the pelicans dive for the scattering minnows. Now off to Highlands Hammock for the next three days.

Saturday, Feb 21 Merritt Island

Porpoise Fins and Shuttle - Mosquito Lagoon

Roseate Spoonbill, Tri-colored Heron and White Ibis feed together.

Geezers head north to Merritt Island Nat. Wildlife Refuge for some paddling on Mosquito Lagoon and a bit of birding. Water is too cold for Manatees – they are hanging out at power plants, where the discharge water is warm. Instead, we had Porpoises feeding around us and an Armadillo checking out our kayaks while we stopped to have some lunch.

After paddling, we birded along one of the refuge roads, eventually finding our main quarry, Roseate Spoonbill. Dinner in Titusville was at a Cuban restaurant we spotted along the way – great ropa vieja and dorrato tropical.

Friday, Feb. 20 Geezers Do Some Birding

Crested Caracaras doing some fancy flying.

Due to high winds on the coast, Geezers took a day for birding and drove inland to Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area, a huge water project in the headwaters of the St. John's River. We started to drive a dike road through a waterfowl management area, only to come upon a convertible dead in the road. The nice couple with the car were waiting for a replacement from the rental company. They told us of a good paddling spot in Merritt Island. As we spoke, Mike caught a glimpse of a pair of big birds flying fast – a pair of Crested Caracaras! These huge (wing span 4 feet+) falcon relatives are not easy to find, and this pair was swooping and wheeling with each other. We were later tossed out of the area by a biologist, impatient that we did not see the sign that says the area is open only Monday and Thursday – the sign was 100 feet off the road, the open days listed in the sixth paragraph of very dry, small text...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday Feb 19 - Much Better!

Chili, here we come!

Much better day, though not much activity. In the morning we discovered that the trailer lights (brake, turn etc.) were not working. After a little poking around, Mike found a loose screw (other than those in his head) and voila! Lights and some battery charging as we drive! Victory #1.

Only 2 minutes after packing up and getting on the road – a heavy rain started. Victory #2.

Driving through a very remote part of the state, we come across the ultimate in SansChain eating – A biker bar called the Eagles Nest with a sign boasting “Homemade Chili”. A quick U-turn and we are in this little joint with a gruff barmaid, bathrooms that could only entered from the outside (through the rain) and a huge bowl of some really great chili – once you added some hot sauce! Victory #3.

We beat the rain to Melbourne and set up in Long Point Park – and are greeted by Wood Storks (walking through the campground) and a spot to launch kayaks on the Indian River right at our site. Victory #4.

Friendly Wood Stork walks through campground

That evening we went to Vero Beach to meet up with Mike’s friend Don Croteau and attend a viewing of a documentary on the Tuskeegee Airmen of WW2 and hear from one of the legendary flyers himself! Great show and a good time with Don having some chicken wings and a bubbly beverage afterwards. Victory # 5.

Hey – 5 victories in a day is a record to be proud of – especially for geezers going south!