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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Back on The Forgotten Coast


With clean clothes I headed off Through Destin to Panama City and St Andrews SP where I will stay for five nights.  On the way, I stopped at Pensacola Bay Brewing where they were celebrating Great Danes. The Florida NW Great Dane rescue team were offering rescued Danes for adoption. There were about a dozen beautiful Danes along with a couple of Danes previously adopted visiting and supporting the program. These dogs are small ponies and one has to wonder how large a home has to be for them. The beer was good and I left with a wheat, IPA, and Stout. My next stop was an hour away, Props Brewery in Fort Walton. This is always a busy place. I had fish and chips for lunch while I tasted their beers. I took a Pumpkin Spice, IPA, and Winter Ale with me. Now I’m ready for St Andrews. This is a large SP with 176 campsites. I haven’t been here and took a site sight unseen. I did well as I pulled up to site 126, which was on the bay and insolated from my neighbors. My neighbors are the real snowbirds of the upper Midwest. The plates told me they were from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. I’m the only one from Maryland and have the smallest rig a 16-foot Scamp. And this is a state park not an RV resort, which there are so many and they are all filled with those giant trailers. The morning was filled with some chores. I went to the store and got a can of Easy Off so I could clean the filthy BBQ. It was so dirty I couldn’t handle it without gloves; otherwise I would get covered in grease. While the oven cleaner was having its way with the grill, I took a bag of wood, I bought two bundles of wood, and split it all once and once in a while a second time. I had lots of wood and cones. I made the fire, ready for the torch, and then covered it with a tarp because we were going to have rain one hundred percent. I battened down the hatches. After cleaning the stove, it looked new; I took a mountain bike around the campground to take in its size and to enjoy the plates of all the visitors. I found a beautiful beach, which I will visit when the weather changes after tonight’s rain and thunderstorms with tornado warnings.  In my view of the bay, I see a lovely sailboat that has floundered and is listing to its starboard and need help while so many other sailboats are gently bobbing on the waters of the bay. My next journey took me down the beach road to see how adequate it will be for my bike rides. The ride is fine and takes me by big condos on the Gulf and rows of houses on the bay side. Of course there is a Waffle House every 2 blocks and a couple of golf courses with cart crossings. This is a snowbird paradise. I didn’t find a raw bar but was told of a great place named J. Michaels, which I had passed on my way to Publix. I went and found they had the Apalachicola oysters and as seafood gumbo with a local IPA. It was very busy and very local. Properly satiated, I returned home, took in the towels off the line and retired inside for a nap. A thunderbolt and the pounding of the rain on the roof awakened me. I was so cozy, I broke into a smile. It poured and was windy. It lasted a few hours; I read and waited. At about ten it was over, the hissy fit done. I put the awning up to dissuade lingering showers. I fired up the grill for the red snapper and zuke. I sautéed my mushroom dah dah dish. I got the beach chair and table from the car and put them by the fire which I started before I plated my dinner. By the time I got to the fire with dinner, the fire was just pre blaze. Alas no moon tonight.  And then it appeared and the storm has passed.
I woke early to the sound of fish jumping in the bay. When I opened the door I saw a pelican dive for breakfast and come up victorious. I had breakfast and took off for a bike ride. I didn’t like the looks of the road outside the park and decided to lap the SP loop by the beaches. It is only two miles so I have to do lots to get my ride in. There are lots of walkers and I pass many of them many times as they, too, are doing laps.  It reminds me of doing laps in Central Park, especially the repeats up Harlem Hill and back around via 103rd St cut. I went back to J. Michaels for some oysters and to do some computer work. That done I returned home and headed to the beach. I put up the Umbrella and was able to sit in the sun in my bathing suit. Oiled myself and grabbed my book and started To The Lighthouse again. Pelicans everywhere, plovers, sandpipers, the beach is crawling with waterfowl. I cleared out at about 4:20 as it started getting cold. I had wanted to see the sunset so I was going to come back. I got home and got busy with this and that and bang the sun set while I was chopping wood. Oh well. I cooked my dinner, trout, potatoes, and asparagus. I set a fire and sat out listening the jumping fish and crackling fire watching the three quarter moon walk across the sky. The moon hadn’t set before the wood ran out, so I retired for the night. I woke about 5:30 when the heater went on. It was chilly outside, contrary to forecasts. I read some and then fell back to sleep until 8:30. By then the outside was more civilized and warm. The sun was toasting the outside. After breakfast I too another bike ride and then after showering headed to the beach and repeated my yesterday. At about 4 I headed home to prepare for the sunset. I returned to the beach at 5 for the 5:33 setting. While I was sitting there sipping on a beer a pair of pelicans flew by be, about two feet away from my feet, which were extended in front of me. I was sitting on the edge of the cliff of sand that drop ten feet down to the shore and water. The pelicans were following the edge to that cliff. The lead pelican’s wing was inches from the corner and that is why it came so close to me feet, which were also straddling the cliff’s edge. What a bizarre experience. I saw the colors of their beaks, which I never have seen before. The sunset was magnificent. A shrimp boat was going out and spreads its nets to the sunset. Not many were gathered to watch this spectacle. My Oklahoma neighbor is intrigued by the listing sailboat. He brought some binoculars over so I could read the license so he could find the owner and offer a hundred bucks for it. I’m wondering what a landlocked guy wants with a sailboat. Oh another joy I’m finding is listening to the local radio stations, it is an education. Sent out 40 postcards.
Thursday started out perfectly. I woke to no wind but instead a gentle warm breeze. I took an eighteen-mile lap ride and then greased up after a shower and headed to the beach with lunch and snacks. I spent the day enjoying the perfect beach day reading my novel a second time. I took a walk and went into the water up to my knees. It was still cold. The sunset was fabulous and there wasn’t any wind for the fire in the evening. A full day of sun and exercise had me going to bed early. It was the best day so far. Friday opened as it did yesterday. Today I was breaking camp so I could continue on to St Joseph Peninsula SP. I stop at The Shipwreck raw bar just outside Port St Joe for oysters and gumbo.  The bartender remembers me from last time I was here. I get my beer, oysters, and gumbo and speak with some locals. I’ve lost an hour since I have now moved from CST to EST. The change of time zones here is a popular conversation since so many people live in CST and work in EST or visa versa. One lady who lives in EST says her husband only thinks in CST since he works in CST. So I’m on the western part of EST and in the eastern part of CST. I moved on familiar roads to the park. I checked in, did a minor setup and headed to the beach for an hour of joy. I took a bike ride around the camp to view other camps. Three Scamps, two Castilas, and 2 other fiber trailers as well as a funky wooden custom trailer with Vermont plates, duhJ. Friendly folks mostly from northern Midwest: WI, MN, IL, MI predominantly. This is one of my favorite campsites on the Panhandle. The beach is walking distance from my camp, a great bike ride road, and not a largely peopled area. Good shopping, a great brewery, and excellent oysters as well. I walked to the beach for the sunset. It is an interesting time of day, since nearly every camper marches to the beach to watch the sunset and then when it is set, they turn and go. It is a ritual. The moon was up as I walked back to camp to prepare dinner and a fire. The evening was clear and glorious. I took the horse blanket and my Vietnam poncho liner down to the beach. I lay on the sand and took in the sky. I think I fell asleep because the Nam blanket was dew wet. I went back to camp and hung it up in the trailer and went to sleep. I woke to the sun rising as it comes right in the window at my feet and I left the curtains open to see it rise. After that event, I closed the curtains and went back to sleep until 8. After breakfast, which included fruit today, I took a twenty-mile ride. The beauty of this ride is I start out from camp and just ride down the entrance road to the peninsula road out ten miles and turn around and return. I’m on a bike path all the way. Easy peasy. Upon return, I shower, make lunch and then retire to the beach with book and chair and a Mt Gay and tonic. I read some, I drink some and then I take a nice long walk on the beach to let the sun do its thing on my body. Upon return to the chair, I head up to the Scamp for a refresher and a break before returning for the afternoon sun. The water is still too cold to swim in for me. I take another walk to kill the afternoon. It’s late afternoon and the wind is kicking up some so I return to camp and set up the hammock. I spend happy hour in the hammock and prepare dinner before going to see the sunset on the beach. When another miraculous sunset is seen, I return and cook dinner. After dinner, I head into Apalachicola for Saturday night. I go to the brewery but it was closing, which stunned me, and find out that music is at the Bowery Station, just two blocks away. I drive over and park, the place is easy to find, I just used my ears. The doors and windows are open and sweet music is escaping to call us all in. I follow the sound and find a funky bar, order a beer and find a seat by the peanut barrel. The duo is Wil(l) Squared, The singer, with a sweet voice is Will and the fine guitar player is Wil. They are from Georgia. I listen until they end at about 10:30 and then head home. It is a forty-five minute ride complicated by intense pea soup fog in places. I find myself driving about 20 miles an hour down the middle of the road using the middle lines as my guide. It gets real tough when a car comes at me. I get home and light the fire I had left ready to burn. I sit outside, watch the moon and sit by the fire relaxing, if I could get more relaxed before calling it a day. Sunday starts with a cloud cover, which turns out good for my bike ride. I cover the same twenty miles again, and return to a clear sky. I wash the bike clothes, hang them up, make an omelet, and then head for the beach. I read some and then take another walk. The beach is crowded today as I suspect more locals have come out today to the beach on this very fine beach day. Today there are some kids and adults swimming. Not me, though I’m tempted. I did swim here last December when I was first here. The clouds come back and signal it is time to leave the beach. I return to the hammock and read some before dinner and the Big Broadcast with a fire. Another pleasant evening as the moon eventually shows itself by about 10. No sunset or moonrise this full moon evening. After the show, I go to bed totally relaxed.
The birds about this place are amazing. As I lie in the hammock or at the table with snacks and cocktail, I watch six to eight different bird species come to eat some of the seed I have liberally spread on the ground around the camp. Another cool bird around is an owl or two. Last night I believe it to be a great horned owl was flying from a tree next to my camp across the marsh to another tree. It did this about three times. Each time it took off it made it’s piercing hooting and then swooped silently to the perch across the way. It was big and magnificent as it swooped over my head in each direction. I didn’t hear a thing and its color made it so stealth, I could barely see it. At about 4 in the morning, I heard it’s hoot and then very soon after the death screech of some prey it must have gotten with its talons. Sunday evening, while listening to the radio show, I heard it and saw it swooping from limb to limb around my camp. Again it was so stealth and quite. The birds around are so beautiful and noisy. Some of the biggest sounds come from small little things and barely audible from larger birds. I need more seed since I’ve run out. Monday will be a day to do some chores back in Port St Joe and perhaps some oysters for lunch. I spent the rest of the day on the beach and had another fine evening in front of a fire. We were supposed to get a big storm Tuesday evening, so I did a bike ride, spent some time on the beach and then went into Apalachicola for oysters at The Hole in the Wall raw bar next to the Oyster City Brewing Company. After oysters I headed next door and enjoyed some beer and took two growlers home with me. It was raining when I left for camp. It wasn’t raining at camp and in fact it was a bit windy but we got a surprise sunset. The wind was getting stronger and I did dinner and then broke camp before setting the last fire here. With everything stowed, I set a fire and enjoyed the wind and the new beer. I’m in a rather protected spot so not much wind on me, but around the camp things that weren’t put away are being driven around the camp, like beach chairs, rugs, and stuff ripped off clothes lines. During the middle of the night, the winds got so strong the trailer was rocking some. A little rain and then it calmed down. I woke to a steady strong breeze and all was well. I walked down to the beach and half the beach was gone and the waves were starting a thousand yards off shore and just rolled in. They had to be six foot easily. It was very impressive. I heard tornados touched down in Pensacola again. This is the second time they have been hit since I’ve been here. People died, too. I took my time leaving and just enjoyed the evacuation process of folks. I’m on my way to St George SP now.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hugging the Gulf


I left my daughter’s house at 9. My GPS told me I’d arrive at 1:30 CST. This is determined if I drove straight through and at the speed limit. I take rests. I stop to make lunch and eat it calmly and stretch. I take bathroom breaks. I take scenic stop breaks. If a brewery is on the way and off the main course, I take it and skew everything for GPS. I am constantly advised to make a U-Turn or to take the next right, then right, then left. Sometimes I am told aggressively to get to the route. I arrived at 3:30. It was an interesting drive along 85 South to 65 South to 113 to 31 to Gulf Coast Hwy. Kia, Hyundai manufacturing, past a car fire, vastness followed by a small abandoned village, then a prosperous stretch of nationally branded restaurants, stores, and shops in a long line, not in a mall. I set camp and then went to get wood. I was all set and had dinner: snapper, mushroom/reunion/spinach sautéed, and succotash. I chose to stay home and to listen to the Super Bowl on the radio. I brought my Bose system with three additional CD’s. I made a place for it above the foot of the bed. I am suspended the system on two gold chains holding a birch platform. It is very elegant. I decided to bring it since I was going to be in sites with electricity for six weeks. I also brought the hot air popcorn maker and the toaster. I enjoyed the radio. It was the best Super Bowl experience I have had. I have watched all other Super Bowls on TV. Okay, yes the commercials are important, but I don’t miss it since I can see them even before the Super Bowl on the Internet. Music is to be heard so the radio is ideal. The show itself, the visual, not necessary, since I’ve seen their acts. Once the game was over, mid fourth quarter, I switched to the Big Broadcast and heard the last hour and half. I was happy for Manning and Denver. They took care of business. They stopped the best offense and the MVP. The mantra, “This is for Peyton” worked.
I woke to the sun coming through the window. I rose slowly, south slow. Making breakfast took the chill off and the activity got me going. I opened the door and left it open. The bird sounds were everywhere. Some birds were coming in to eat the seed I sprinkled around. As I ate inside the Scamp I watched the ground birds feast. I had to do some chores: Valentine cards, water, propane for stove, beach towel, sleeping shirt. I should have brought my cashmere-sleeping sweater and I forgot the beach towels. When I got home, I prepared for a bike ride. I wore the fluorescent orange windbreaker for warmth as well as safety. I took a 14-mile ride along the Gulf past the entrance to Pensacola Naval Air Base. After my shower I had lunch and drove to the Gulf Islands National Seashore to walk on the Gulf in this very strong wind. The sand was blowing hard, almost in a sand blasting force. Very Assateague, very familiar. When I got home, I read some more of Mrs. Dalloway. I am loving the read. The style; the length of sentences; the detailing a reference; the illusions to Keats and Shakespeare, the style are entertaining me. I love her feminism and wish more young women in this country would read more Woolf. Young girls aren’t giving respect to their own. That’s too bad. But that’s an antediluvian scenario. I grilled a salmon steak and asparagus and steamed some potatoes for dinner. The wind has picked up and it looks like an indoor night, book and beer. The temperature also dropped and my furnace kicked in a couple of times throughout the night. While eating my breakfast, I watched a young cardinal play with the mirror on the passenger side of my car. He would land on the door handle and stare at himself in the mirror and window. He would peck at his image. Was he being narcissistic or hostile? He has done this for half an hour this and yesterday morning. Is this a pattern? I shall see. It is fascinating. This morning he seems more obsessive and intent with his image. I can hear his beak pounding against the mirror, which alerts me to his presence when I’m looking at the spectacle. I hope he doesn’t hurt himself. It is another windy but very sunny day. Those NW winds are causing the cold and the wind. Oh yeah, lots of Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota license plates on the camper’s vehicles. They know these winds, especially those near the Lakes, especially Lake Superior. The winds died down and I was outside all night, cooking, eating, and had a fire. There was a clear sky and the stars were out and the moon set early. The young cardinal is back with his lady friend, both ground feeding between his antics.
The next day was cool and windy. No bike ride. I couldn’t get warm. Made it a health day and went down early, no fire.
When I went outside the next morning, finally, the day was glorious. I woke early and read, the heater had come on. I had breakfast and then went outside. Glorious. I prepared for a bike ride. Today I was going to go left out of the park and ride down Innerarity Point Rd to the end. It was five and change so I knew I’d need to go past the Park and return. I set out into the wind, but was protect by the houses until I got to an open stretch the wind was steady, but not like the last few days. I was nicely warmed up by the time I hit the ten-mile mark by the Park and I then kicked it up many notches and rode like a mad man for two miles. I returned into a gentle wind and had a very good ride, finally. After my shower I prepared for the beach by packing lunch, beer, book, and other necessities. I arrived at the Gulf Islands National Seashore at 11:30 and go set up by noon. I set the SportBrella to shield the wind. I was set for the day. I left at 4. I got color and I got what I came for a day on this great beach. I prepared dinner of rockfish, carrots and peas, baked beans from last night, and zucchini. After dinner I had a grand fire and ended the beautiful day wonderfully. The wind kicked up again, but the day was warm as I woke early. I took an early morning bike ride after breakfast and then came back to finish Mrs. Dalloway, while sitting in the sun and protected from the wind by the shrubbery around my campsite, 68. When finished, I made lunch Grabbed To The Lighthouse and headed to the beach. Again windy, I used the umbrella and spent the afternoon reading and napping on the beach. It was as bright night the moon was finally making an impact as it lit the site. It is first quarter now. I had a great dinner and then made a blazing fire, being sure to leave enough wood for tomorrow night’s fire. I woke to a cool brisk day and the heater went on. Brrrr. It is colder up north. I heard it was going to be 24 degrees below zero in NYC. That was the wind chill prediction. COLD!!! I stayed in bed after breakfast reading and then finally got up to take a bike ride. It wasn’t as bad as earlier in the week. After the ride and a shower, I made an omelet and then crawled under the covers to read as the sun came in through the windows to warm the cabin and me.  I went to the beach for the afternoon. No wind and it was beautiful I stayed there for a few hours reading and napping. I had a good meal and listened to Prairie Home and then Jazz from WAMU online and had a wonderful fire. Early to bed and early to rise. I went shopping, washed the car, broke camp, took a shower, collected pinecones, and headed for the laundromat, where I watched the Spurs beat Man City and stay in second place, before moving on to a couple of breweries, Pensacola Brewing and Props, on my way to St Andrews SP. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is a classic I decided to bring with me as I played Snowbird this year. I haven’t read this novel since college. I did read Joyce’s Ulysses when I made a t trip to Dublin to see if I could follow Bloom’s route about Dublin. That Joyce and Woolf shared time as part of the Bloomsbury group allows for Woolf to employ the day in the life structure for her novel. I couldn’t be immune to the blatant allusions and irony of Woolf’s treatment to suicide in the novel with thoughts and ruminations on the topic in addition to an actual suicide in the novel.  And then how it is brought to the party and how Mrs. Dalloway ruminates over the actual facts of the suicide and relives parts of it, imagining herself in the same predicament.
Perhaps the most important symbol has to be Big Ben and Time. Time, on of the major themes of Shakespeare, who has a major role in this novel as does Keats with allusions to Truth and Beauty. We are always made aware of the time of the day.
“Remember my party to-night” A constant refrain from Clarissa as various people abandon her, always in a rush. It is after all the reason for the actions of the day, the denouement: the party. One is always awash of character development with Woolf and the use of “one.” My big question is who is Elizabeth’s father? Obviously Peter Walsh. He is Anglo-Indian. “One might weep if no one saw. It had been his undoing -- this susceptibility – in Anglo-Indian society; not weeping at the right time, or laughing either. “ She has a dark complexion and features not indigenous to Richard or Clarissa Dalloway. “She (Elizabeth) stood perfectly still. Was it that some Mongol had been wrecked on the coast of Norfolk (as Mrs. Hilbery said), had mixed with the Dalloway ladies, perhaps, a hundred years ago? For the Dalloways, in general, were fair-haired; blue-eyed; Elizabeth on the contrary, was dark; had Chinese eyes in a pale face; an Oriental mystery.” So many hints and clues: “Here is my Elizabeth,” said Clarissa, emotionally, histrionically, perhaps.”  Instead of our Elizabeth, which is what she wanted to say, not even just “Here’s Elizabeth.” The “my” was added last minute instead of “our.” I don’t think He suspects she is his daughter but I do think Clarissa knows. “But it would not have been a success, their (Peter and Clarissa) marriage. The other thing, after all, came so much more naturally. “ That other thing, the sex, a thing never spoken of.  
It gets very interesting when Sally Seton shows up at the party, uninvited, but welcome. She and Peter sit and reminisce about the past and much is learned about intimacies, being in love twice, and so many hints at so much. Watching Elizabeth with Richard becomes more than what it may or may not be. The vagueness, the properness of it, the intrigue, makes the notion all that more plausible.
It has been fun rereading this fine novel as I look forward to moving on to To The Lighthouse.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Wintering in Florida, Getting there


Today is Groundhog Day, 2016. Phil and Chuck both saw their shadows. Yesterday was grand. The day was glorious, t-shirt weather. Then to Burley to hear Brian Russo and sit with and chat with Paul. When I got home, I undertook final touches and cleaning and then went to bed. I rose early. I made breakfast, watched LSSC, closed out bathroom, then desk, and finally kitchen as I mopped my way out. Out at 830 AM. Instead of taking the direct route down 113, I went west on 50 to Grander Mountain for a new headlamp and shower. No shower, but I got a nifty headlamp. I continue heading south on 13 to Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I stop at Stingray’s and get a fried oyster sandwich with cole slaw.  I love this route across the Bay to Norfolk and down 58 via a convoluted path of highways that is not intuitive. Google Maps gets me through. I stop on the NC side of the NC-VA border to get a NC map. I’m 18 Miles from my campsite at Kerr Lake SRA. I find a wonderful site by the lake and am the only camper here.  I grab my gloves and head out to scavenge wood from the surrounding fire pits. I’m lucky since a trove is at my site and I’m able to collect enough for a fire all night long. The state has taken down some trees and left wood for us. After collecting the leftovers from the surrounding pits, I go to collect a worthy log. It is at least two feet in diameter and a proper sixteen-inch width. I roll this treasure home.
Since it was only a five hour ride, it is still light out. This is important. I can walk about the grounds, survey all and collect wood. The freezer is stocked with so much fish, steak, chicken, and vegetables; I have to think about what I will eat over the next three days and in which order so I can keep that food out. I select, a salmon steak, chicken thighs, and a buffalo tenderloin to be eaten in this order: dinner, dinner, breakfast. The sun is setting and it is time to start dinner. I start the succotash, prepare the last of the asparagus in an oil and herb marinade, and finally prepare the salmon steak. First I bathe it in lemon juice followed by a special spice concoction I have devised. It knocks my socks off!! After dinner I start the fire.
I start with a ball of newspaper, add a half dozen pine cones, and four sticks of wood in a crisscross fashion and heap the foundation with the scraps of the other fires by using a blowtorch to ignite the paper which ignites the cones and the previously scorched wood to create a glorious bonfire.
I love this camper. I took a quick shower. I couldn’t sleep with my dirty self. I love this camper. All of the wood is in the pit and burning very hotly. I get up from the log I’ve been using as a chair and roll it over to the fire and hoist it up onto the fire and leverage it with unburnt wood and sit back and watch it burn all night long so slowly. I love how this is just a one nightstand.
After a night of stars and a clear sky, the morning brought a cloud cover and foreboding. I was going west and into some horrendous thunderstorms coming east. They had done lots of damage in Alabama and Mississippi and NC was next in the path. As I cruised down 85 towards Asheville I could feel the wind and see the ominous clouds in the distance. The full force of the storm and I met just after Winston-Salem and was over by the time I got to Hickory. At one point I stopped under a bridge and waited it out. Cars were going off the road and I saw more accidents because of hydroplaning. Even on an occasion, my hazard warning went on, so I decided to pull over for a spell. The radio program I was listening to was interrupted twice to provide warnings and updates from the weather service. The drive from Hickory to Black Mountain was delightful and in the sun. My first stop was Lookout Brewery. I spoke to the owner a bit and showed him and his bartender the Scamp. I picked up a lovely stout, IPA, and a Pale Ale. My next stop, just down the road was Pisgah Brewing Co. They were closed because the place was flooded and needed to me mopped up and cleaned up. I was able to grab a six-pack of Greybeard IPA. I returned to 40 and proceeded to my camp in the Pisgah National Forest, about a half hour from downtown Asheville. I set camp, the only one here, and started dinner so I could have a good evening in town visiting some breweries. The drive into town was magnificent. The sky was a pastel red and blue, almost like those seen on Mallory Wharf in Key West. I found a great parking spot near Hi-Wire. My first stop was Burial where I grabbed a four pack of Scythe Rye Ale and tasted a Porter. Next I went around the corner to Green Man and sampled four stouts. I took a six-pack of their Forester Stout. I dropped my beers off at the car and went to Asheville Brewery for a pizza and some more samples of great stouts. I took the Baba with me, a nice winter warmer kind of stout with jalapeno. I closed out with a smoky stout at Hi-Wire. The drive back was smooth and I made a fire and drank a stout by the fire and closed out the evening in style. The rushing water of the river, which was swollen and roaring fast because of the recent rains, provided great background music. The road in was clear now. It had been flooded earlier and was now covered in red mud, which got the Scamp very dirty.
I woke before dawn and started reading Mrs. Dalloway.  The last time I read this book or any of Virginia Woolf’s books was in college. So for this trip I brought along Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, and The Waves for my reading pleasure and to reacquaint myself with this magnificent writer. I fell back to sleep after a while and woke at 8:30 as the sun came up over the mountains to my east and to the melodic and steady pulse of the swollen river still careening down its rocky path. I spent the morning exploring the area on my mountain bike. This is another gorgeous environment known as the Pisgah National Forest on the border with the Smokies. The National government did us proud with all these parks and saved lands. Of course we need regulation otherwise we have seen what corporations, people do to the land. Drive along any country road surrounding a pristine park and you find garbage, old cares, trash, and the waste of man surrounding those little hovels they call homes. The day was colder, considerably colder than yesterday. I got home, took a shower, had lunch and grabbed the book and settled in for a good read. Instead I had a little nap and woke refreshed for my jaunt into Asheville. I started at Wedge and had a lovely Alewife IPA and took an IPA of cans home. I’m such a beer whore, I always seem to take something home. I moved on to find a parking spot and then to visit a few more establishments of the purveyors of malted, hopped, and other beverages of beer. I followed a path that took me to Burial and Green Man again for they do have some great choices. Met fascinating people in both. Watched some soccer in Green Man, which is why I go there, I suspect, they always have soccer on. I went around the corner to Catawba and enjoyed their reds and stouts while writing postcards. I then dropped in at Twin Leaf and then Funkatorium, Wicked Weed’s other face. With my bounty I headed up to Jack of the Woods, a music house sponsored by Green Man. Inside was a chair at the bar facing the band of four lads: a banjo, mandolin, guitar, and big bass. They were four lads from four different bands, The Weary Travelers, who happen to play first Thursday of each month here. Reminded me of New Orleans and how the musicians there, too, are in many bands. They played two sets while I enjoyed their standard made by Green Man and had a wonderful Shepard’s Pie. Once again surrounded by good people and good conversation. They closed up at 9:30 and the drive home was delightful as the shy was clear, as were the roads. Got home, turned on the heater and set a fire. I had collected lots of wood from surrounding sites as they had been abandoned when the rains came. I had my cones and some good dry wood in the car so I had a rip roaring blaze listening to CCR and my Scottish music from the Red Hot Chili Pipers and enjoyed my selections of stouts. I had left the curtains open to watch the waning fire flicker away as I drifted into a sound sleep. The sun woke me at 6:30 and I closed the curtains and went back to sleep. I finally rolled out of bed at 8 and prepared a solid breakfast of steak, mushrooms/red onion/spinach sautéed and two fried eggs with tea and a large water. I will be heading to my daughter’s house in Marietta today via the breweries along 74 and the Smokies. I stopped at Boojum and collected a fun Porter and headed to Innovation. They didn’t have any smoked or rye beers so I took a sour for the beach. Back on the road I wound my way through Nantahalia National Forest along the rafting river on Rt 19. I stopped at a pullover along the river for lunch. I heated a can of pea soup and made a PBJ sandwich and washed it down with a YooHoo.  I connected with 575 and then 75 and went against al of the traffic and arrived at my daughter’s house at 5 without incident, easy peasy. Parked the Scamp and cleaned up stuff when my daughter arrived. She is seven months pregnant and looks beautiful. After her husband arrived home we sat and chatted and then prepared for dinner at Cooks and Soldiers, a second restaurant by Iberian Pig folks. The dinner was fabulous, everything ordered, tapas, was melt in your mouth delicious. I felt the baby boy move while at dinner, very exciting.  Early to bed for all of us. We woke early since they had to get to baby classes and I had some English soccer to watch. I helped the kids put together baby furniture and just enjoyed their joy and dreams and anticipations. Such a glorious and magical time.  We went to a very good Korean BBQ and then came home for a final evening. I left early Sunday morning for The Big Lagoon SP in FL.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick


The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick is another story about the 1980’s and about all of the excesses of Wall Street like Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short. As the title implies it is about the fall, the hubris, the vanity, the not paying attention, the curse within. In this tale we watch the rise and fall and variations on life of four young men. The usual material associated with Wall Street and its tenants abounds like large tips, expensive clothes, and outrageous doings. The background of the story is fun as we are back at Studio and Xenon, but no Roxy. A large section of the story involves AIDS, which is done well and is a gentle reminder of the mistakes our government led by Reagan, made in not acting fast or hard enough. Even a bit of discussion of 9/11 occurs as we learn about the fate of some of the characters. In all of these kinds of stories we have some interesting twists as again we come full circle in so many parts of the story.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scrapper by Matt Bell

Scrapper by Matt Bell is about a dead city, Detroit, and the exploits of Kelly, who goes from empty house to empty house salvaging what he can for money from the metal collectors. It is about the ghosts, the ghosts of those who lived there as seen in their writings on walls, notes left, tributes to the house and it meant to each scribe. It is a glimpse into the beginning of what could be considered a future for America. It is hauntingly beautiful as I sit ion my safe environment and scary as hell, because it could happen to us.