20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Neoprene & Velcro, Oh My!

Did you hear the one about the old guy who decided to buy a wet suit? No? Well, sit back and relax. This is gonna take awhile.

Earlier this month when the temperature was hovering between the 40s and 50s (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) and the ocean was even cooler, John announced he wanted to buy a wet suit. So, off we headed to the nearest surf shop. The fair-haired attendant was maybe twenty-years old. IF.

Anyway, John explained what he wanted and the kid handed him four different wet suits to try on. As well as a plastic bag. Yup. A regular ole' plastic bag you get while grocery shopping or going to Walmart. Apparently it makes getting into a wet suit easier.

I sat outside the change room, all the while listening to the squeaky sound of neoprene rub against human flesh. It's so UN-natural, made all the more so by John's grunts and groans. 

After what seemed an eternity, he exited the change room. Proudly wearing the wet suit...sort of. He'd pulled it up as high on his chest as possible, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out how to get his right arm inside the sleeve. For whatever reason it was blocked at the shoulder. 

Kiddo kept his game face on as he explained it was a cell phone pouch. After shoving the flap aside, he helped John pull the suit up and over his head. Then, he fastened the Velcro neck closure with a couple of solid yanks.

Within seconds John's face turned bright red. He looked like a volcano ready to erupt. "The top half," he squeaked, his palm covering his heart, "is too tight!"

"Try the next suit," Blondie suggested, as he released the Velcro neck strap. (He had to release it because despite numerous attempts neither John nor I could. I know I'm a weakling, but John isn't. What gives?)

Back inside the change room the battle against neoprene and human continued. Sadly, the suits won. While the bottom half of each suit fit, the top half was too snug. John explained the problem once more, and what did the kid do?

Diddly squat. He just stood there with a goofy look on his face. 

Somewhat frustrated, we left. Sans wet suit. 

On the drive back to the condo I wondered if perhaps we were too harsh on the kid. "Look at it from his point of view," I told John. "To him we're old. He sees gray hair and thinks you shouldn't even be getting in a kayak at your age. In fact, he's probably thinking you should trade up for a coffin."

After we shared a good laugh, John sat at his computer and ordered the bottom half of the wet suit and booties online. The gear arrived four days later and wearing it and a long sleeve shirt under his PFD (personal flotation device) John was all set.

So, off he went in his kayak. Warm and protected from the harsh Florida elements. (Insert violin music here.) On the way to Shell Island he spotted Captain Charlie's Life Bait Barge.

  Then, he saw this sandcastle. (Notice Emily's name in front. He did this for you, Emily!!)

Meanwhile in the park, they were doing some controlled burning that lasted three or four days.

How does this story end? The mercury shot up almost as soon as John got his wet suit. I think he's worn it twice, but hey, now he's prepared for anything. 

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Monday, 28 January 2013

Lucky Enough

A few weeks ago I spotted this sign...

How true! The mercury is rising to the mid-70F. I'm able to sip my morning coffee on the balcony, and go for long walks on the beach. John? He's lazing about. 

Life is good. And yes, we're lucky enough!

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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Florida Drudgery

A few of you have commented via email lately that I have no right to complain about cold temperatures because, well, it IS winter and besides, I'm here and you're there

'There' being the Great White North where the mercury made headlines this week by dropping to OMG-talk-about-freeze-the-body-parts-off-a-brass-monkey record lows. 

Meanwhile, here in PCB, John and I were forced to trade in our shorts for jeans. We also opted to wear tee-shirts with long rather than short sleeves. Worse, we did this two days in a row. 

Yeah. I know. Brutal!

All kidding aside, there's still a lot of action on the far end of the beach. Panama City proper is a port and we often see container ships coming and going. Maintaining the port for ocean going vessels is important and that's where the "Florida Drudgery" post title comes into play.

This huge machine (above) sucks up the sand from the bottom of the bay and sprays it onto the shore vial these pipes (below).

From there, bulldozers spread the sand around. In this short video they're extending the beach in St. Andrews State Park.

Oh, and just for the record,it's currently 68F, and while I'm wearing shorts, I still have my long sleeve tee on. The sun, however, is shining, and strong winds offer lots of waves for surfers. Check out the wipe-out! 

Until next time, keep warm and keep smiling. There's only 7 more days until January ends!

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Econfina Creek

Saturday morning John suggested we go for a drive. I suspected something was up because his ideas usually include a kayak, but since it wasn't perched on top of the van I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

We drove north, passing through Panama City to our destination of Econfina Creek. The first place we stopped was a "canoe launch". See? A canoe is practically a kayak. It carries a person atop water. Anyway, I felt as if I'd traveled a gazillion miles from the beach. This was a wooded area with dirt roads. (And a port-a-potty. Shiver!)

While I'm silently screaming "for the love of God get me out of here," John's smile continues to widen until his face almost cracks. The guy's in heaven, and I swear I could almost see the wheels spinning inside his head as he looked left...

and then right...and pictured himself in his kayak ON this river!

On the opposite side it was a little more civilized. There were boardwalks...

and natural springs lined with maple, American Holly...

and palm trees. There are two in this photo. One in the middle and one to the right.

Then, John found THE perfect place to launch his kayak. (Look carefully and you'll see those wheels spinning.) I could almost hear him contemplating how to place his kayak in the water at exactly the right angle to compensate for the swift current, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

I wasn't as eager to embrace our surroundings. I mean, come on, there were bugs, creepy crawlers, and sink holes. SINK holes - as in MORE than one. Thus the need for the boardwalks. Sheesh!

I feigned a smile and did my best to remain calm and collect. I strolled along the trails, even when I felt like running back to the safely of the inside of our van. I even snapped some photos and found this vine wrapping around the tree sort of cool. Creepy, but cool.

I know John well enough to know we'll return with the kayak. There's no way he'll miss out on an opportunity to paddle down this river. Me? I'm staying in the van. :)

Stay tuned for the gruesome details!

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Works of Art - Boston Style

December 26th isn't a holiday in the US as it is in Canada or Britain, so while our daughter worked John and I visited the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

It's an impressive building both inside and out. Next to the first floor Shapiro Family Courtyard cafe (had a great lunch there, btw) is a 42-foot tall plant like glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly called "Lime Green Icicle Tower".

This is a close-up...

One of the current exhibits pays tribute to Mario Testino's photographs. I didn't recognize the name, but his haute couture images in Vogue magazine and his portraits of the Royal family were familiar. My favorite is this one of Princes Charles, William and Harry. In one of the videos that accompanied the exhibit Testino mentions how relaxed and happy they were together while he photographed them. It's evident in their smiles.

But there was so much more to see. Everything from tapestries and exquisite furniture...

to contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Along with works by American masters such as Niagara Falls From Table Rock by Samuel Morse.

I particularly liked this painting of Paul Revere. It's intriguing for a number of reasons. One, it was painted by John Singleton Copley who has a square and subway station named after him in Boston (and I did not know that before I visited the museum). Plus, there's a definite cheekiness going on here. I have to wonder if having Revere hold a tea pot (in reference to the Boston Tea Party) could be an 18th-century version of giving someone the finger!

Another favorite of mine is this impressionist painting by Childe Hassam entitled Boston Common at Twilight. The park itself hasn't changed all that much in a century and is a focal point of downtown Boston.

Another treat was this painting by Lawren Harris entitled Lake Superior Hill XV. 

What other pieces of work did I see at the Museum of Fine Arts? Here's a hint...

If you're ever in Boston, I highly recommend setting aside a day to tour the Museum of Fine Arts. It has something for everyone from the ancient world to Africa, Oceania and Europe. Minus, of course, the one piece of work above! :)

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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy 2013!

Although we opted to celebrate the beginning of a new year at Latitude 30 in a decidedly quiet fashion, there was plenty of excitement next door at Schooners.

A pyrotechnics crew arrived around 8 AM on Dec. 31st to stake out a section of the beach directly in front of the restaurant. It took eight men approximately five hours to set up the fireworks. After they cordoned off the area with yellow tape, one unfortunate guy had to stand watch until midnight. Then, the magic began.

We had front row seats from our balcony and while I did my best to capture it all on video, the fireworks lasted longer than the camera's batteries! My apologies for being a newbie, but this is my first ever video and my first ever attempt at uploading to YouTube. I'm sure a ten-year old could do it better, still, I tried!

If you'd like to see more fireworks, click HERE. What's amazing is I didn't capture the finale, but it was amazing. You'll have to take my word on it! 

From Latitude 30 John and I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. Cheers!

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