Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
My latest adventure brought me to Alligator Creek at the Port Charlotte Environmental Center. It's unstaffed presently because no one in their right mind would slog through the flooded trails and mosquito inhabited salt marshes of this park in September. But flowers bloom, mushrooms grow and you never know what you'll see unless you get out and experience it and so I did.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Since a previous post had the baby making a "fiend" face - I felt I needed to put a nicer one. 2 1/2 year olds are fun and learn many bad things from uncles.
And just to come full circle - My final evening at Brian and Tara's before heading home where I was treated to the Boot Scootin Boogy.
Can't wait to come back. Can't wait for you to come down.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The Seminoles haven't always inhabited this area. They actually descended from several tribes belonging to the Creek Federation of tribes that traditionally lived in the Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia areas. During the early 1800's President Andrew Jackson used the Indian Removal Act, a shameful piece of legislation, to forcibly remove Native Americans from their tribal lands. While many Seminoles were forced to reservations in Oklahoma, hundreds fled into northern Florida where they were pursued by the US Army. Over the course of three Indian Wars (the last ending in 1858) the US Army spent many millions of dollars pursuing and battling Seminoles throughout the state. The US Army ceased hostilities, leaving them to starve in the swamps of the Everglades, with the expectation that the remaining 300 Indians would eventually become extinct.
They didn't. They survived, thrived, were the first tribe to have legal gambling in the US and just recently purchased the Hard Rock Cafes for 964 million dollars, becoming the first indigenous tribe in the world to buy a global corporation.
It's not outlandish to say they have on one hand been wildly successful and on the other hand suffered a culture crash all at once. Which brings me to my latest adventure in the middle of the Everglades. At work I am constantly reminded that the biggest, baddest and most adventurous trip you can take is at Billie Swamp Safari on the Big Cypress Reservation. So, on my trip home from Fort Lauderdale on Monday I drove 25 miles off of Alligator Alley to see what everyone is talking about. Over the course of the many years I have guided in the Everglades, I have created an elaborate Indian village in my head, with Cypress Swamps and Alligators surrounding the Chikee huts the natives live in. I was wrong. Instead I found what looked like a Fort Lauderdale suburb plopped in the middle of the swamp. Normal homes, ATVs and Hummers parked in the driveway. The swamp is not supposed to look like this! To assure the complete destruction of my image, I took my first Swamp Buggy ride. A Swamp Buggy is like a super-sized ATV for 20. It can go through 6 feet of water and mud and so we did, but what we encountered was far from the Everglades experience I expected.Our guide slowed the buggy and exclaimed with faux shock at the sight of a Red Deer from Europe!
Ironically, the caged animal is one of the few natives on display here at Billie Swamp Safari; the Florida Black Bear. It's not dancing because it's happy.
I'm now disenchanted. Where is the true culture of the Seminoles? Where is the true representation of the Everglades! This is what people are spending their money on! This is my competition! And they call this an Eco-tour! ACK!
Of course this is only a part of the reservation. I have yet to visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. Soon enough.
Not a very funny blog today. Hope you weren't disappointed. But what did you expect?
Sunday, September 9, 2007
My return home began as it started - with another "random" pat down, but this time I was entitled to enter the gas sniffing, air blowing Marilyn Monroe chamber in order to pass through security. They once again politely asked if I wouldn't mind stepping into the chamber; I, knowing full well that saying no only aides and comforts the terrorists. So I figured I'd try a new experience, but not before making a face full of disdain for this less than random process. I don't have a picture of me making that face, so I had my niece simulate one for me. I call it the Marilyn Monroe chamber because the machine blasts you with air from all directions and if I were wearing a dress I could do a fantastic MM imitation. Regardless, the Pfft Pfft Pfft blasts are great at removing powdered donut from my beard, but not so good if I'm trying to hide my full back Mr. T tattoo which I don't really have.
On the plane, I'm always appreciative/distressed by the level of honesty the airline pilots express when explaining things like: 1) why the cabin smells like camel (lightning hit the plane and it broke the ventilation!) 2) Why we're experiencing heavy turbulence (they decided at the last minute to fly over Tropical Storm Gabrielle!) 3) Why we're hurrying to our destination (the co-pilot is feeling under the weather!)
How much of this do I need to know? As a waiter I never explained the truth and people were grateful. Or at least they should have been. or would be if they knew. Just imagine! "I'm sorry your food is taking so long. The line cook's band aid from his flesh eating bacteria wound fell into the soup." Or "we're filtering your water a third time because of the high levels of fecal coliform."
Just don't tell me. Once I'm in the air, just make sure we touchdown safely.
I've never seen anyone taking pictures in flight. Maybe it's against the rules, but I took a few anyway. Click the photo for a larger view. I think it's cool.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
In question here is not if imps exist, but if Nathan "purportedly" used them or not. Even more unusual is that someone named Nathan would be a wizard. It just doesn't ring. I need to dig up more on this story. A simple sign does not do the story justice.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I don't mind the security at airports. It's absolutely necessary for the most part. But one I resent is the "random checks" they do when heading for your gate. As I traipsed through Southwest International Airport I was reminded repeatedly that we were in a "Code Orange". They never said what that means or why we were in it. Just "be on alert". And so I was, but if they had elevated the security alert to "Code Bananas" while I was there I might have freaked. As I passed through the security check point I was very politely asked to step aside so they could conduct a "random search" of me. They explained the process and despite being asked to do this the last three times I have flown, I acquiesced to what I deem a slightly humiliating pat down. They said it was my cargo shorts that triggered the random search, which makes it not so random. I guarantee it's my facial hair. All terrorists have facial hair right? That's what I get for looking "jungly". I was thanked and sent on my way.
On the plane I was lucky enough to sit next to a teenage boy who sneezed on me as he slept. Gross, but the main trouble with flying for me now is that I met Captain Kritcher recently, father of friend Kate and during that visit I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to hear the tales of a veteran commercial airline pilot. I put my trust in pilots. You have no choice but to have faith, but after talking with the 30+ year captain I have a greater appreciation for what they must endure flying to different destinations. Crosswinds, tailwinds, short runways, altitude, auroras, alcohol levels (not his), terrorism, pretzel depletion and on and on. So as we approached Logan Airport and the landing gear came down and then was retracted and then came down again I couldn't help but think of the Tales of Captain Kritcher and what our captain was steering us through right then. I fear few things, but my blood was flowing at that moment. Apparently the landing gear was momentarily stuck. It was an ugly landing, but any landing you walk away from is a good one.
From Fort Myers to Boston I started and finished The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success co-authored by Linda Fechter (mom of VINS campers). It was a great book about endurance runner David J. McGillivray who ran from Oregon to Boston in 80 days. I can't believe this isn't a movie yet!
Arriving in Boston, the PA passively reminded travelers that we were in a Code Lobster. All things normal.