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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Doing a little sightseeing throughout Naples...

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On day three of my previous visit to Marco Island and after yet again dipping my toes into my friend's swimming pool on more than just a few ocassions, she suggested that we venture out of the house for a drive on up to Naples.

Well I certainly was feeling a bit restless after leisurely sipping on a pot of coffee and loitering about her house all morning long and some fresh air along with some bright sunshine would certainly do us both a bit of good.

Naples is but some fifteen miles north of Marco Island and I well remember sailing on past that community when I had previously sailed on down to Marco from Fort Myers Beach. Damned... that seems so long ago.

Besides, going for a nice relaxing car ride would suit me just fine after my memorable encounter of sorts with Skunk-Ape the previous day as described in my previous blog entry.

That unexpected encounter certainly was enough excitement for one weekend not that I expect anyone to believe me. So yeah... driving up to Naples to check out rich people's homes seemed to suit me just fine.

My friend had assured me that Naples was an exceedingly wealthy community and that I'd be marveling at all the opulent homes. Let me tell you right up front... my friend certainly wasn't exagerating... Naples reeks of wealth. There is no end to the opulence in that community.

If the Parker Brothers were still around and were to ever update their Monopoly board game, then I'm pretty sure that they'd rename the Boardwalk property as Naples... that's how opulent the place is.

There is so much wealth in Naples that one is much more likely to spot a Bentley than one is to spot a Chevrolet Lumina unless I were to happen to get lost and somehow find myself driving my beat-up car throughout town.

The streets and avenues throughout Naples are all fabulously landscaped and are even adorned with a few Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo statues on loan from Italian museums.

In any event I seem to recall a "Paul Harvey, and now you know the rest of the story" radio commentary from long ago of the town with the highest income per capita in the United States. Naples now holds that distinction. Never mind that it is alleged that a good many of the mob honchos all reside in Naples during the winter months because we all know that there is no such thing as the mob.

Besides, the newly governor-elect of Florida also happens to be a Naples resident who legitimately earned his fortune by having his corporation overbill the US government for fabricated health care services... and we all know that this fellow is a fine upstanding elected official of the Republican party and that this is the party of righteousness and of enviable moral values.

Who was it that once wrote, "Behind every great fortune made is a crime"?

In any event, Naples seemed a tad too austere and opulent for my taste. I felt as if there was a security camera at every street corner peering up my rear end the entire time my friend and I cruised that place.

Naples is a community of old fuddy-duddies and I'd prefer not to bother going back there... unless of course I were to earn a small fortune by legitimately overbilling the federal government for services that were never performed and purchase an ocean-front mansion.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Skunk-Ape... my new bar-buddy.

I happened to come across an "Everglades Skunk-Ape Research Field Guide" last time I visited my friend up in Marco Island. We had both gotten a bit restless after loitering around the house all morning and she had suggested that we go for a drive on out to the Skunk-Ape Research Center on the Tamiami Trail.

The research center is operated by some guy who has spent his entire life in the Everglades and whose family history can be traced all the way back to 1891. He claims to have spent the last thirty years investigating Skunk-Ape sightings, collecting data, and researching that elusive creature.

The center even has its own website... , if you still happen to have an interest in knowing more about this creature.

The field guide is but a sixteen page pamphlet and describes the Skunk-Ape in quite some detail insofar as its appearance and living habits. It also includes invaluable information on how best to plan a sighting expedition. Also included is a comprehensive expedition check list of things to do and not do and of items to bring along for the expedition.

Included in that check list is a pound of dry Lima beans to be used as bait which can be purchased at the Research Center.

Well I gotta tell you... all that information in that field guide seemed a bit too made up for my liking and had me thinking that it was all a load of crap.

Yeah... I'd seen this rodeo before. It seemed like a ploy to convince tourists to shell out some hard earned cash for a swamp expedition that had zero chance of sighting the so-called Skunk-Ape.

The whole concept of the Skunk-Ape had me thinking about the "Chupa-Cabra" back when I was living in Puerto Rico. That's all one ever heard about for months on end on that island. Every other day, a goat would be reported to have been found dead in the island countryside after having had all its blood sucked out of it.

Common sense somehow had me thinking that those dead goats had to be the result of a "Santeria" ritual.

In any event, I'm outside the Skunk-Ape Research Center waiting on my dear friend to get back from what I thought was the ladies room and finish whatever women do in there for hours on end. But instead she had been heavily engrossed in conversation with Dave Shealy who is world reknowned as the most knowledgable Skunk-Ape expert in the world.

Mr. Shealy was so convincing in describing the elusive Skunk-Ape that he even persuaded her to purchase all kinds of contraptions at inflated prices so that she could conduct her own search expedition.

All this while, I'm patiently waiting outside and find myself looking out over a nearby pond for alligators while sipping on a cold beer that I had pulled out of my ice-cooler.

It then happens that I'm suddenly smelling a gawd-awful stench coming up from behind me but before I can turn around to see where that stench might be coming from, some ape-like creature has gently placed his hand on my shoulder.

I've turned completely around now and find myself looking straight up into that creature's face. He's now motioning to my cooler and I'm so frightened that I don't hesitate to reach into that cooler for not just one, but two cold beers which I then promptly hand over to him.

With that the creature cradles both beers in one hand and stealthily ambles back into the swampy water. It's a shame that I was too scared to have the presence of mind to take a picture of the creature with my cell-phone camera before it had waded out of sight into the thick brush and trees.

I later told my friend of my encounter with what surely was a Skunk-Ape after I had helped her load up her SUV with the expedition gear that she had purchased at inflated prices.

Somehow I don't think that she quite believed me and that I was perhaps mocking all that gear that she had just purchased. She just kind of looked at me funny and asked whether there were any beers left in the cooler.

Like I mentioned's a shame that I didn't happen to take a picture of that thirsty creature. Surprisingly all it took was a couple of beers to lure that elusive Skunk-Ape out of its swampy habitat.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuning in to Radio Marti for a little Texas Rangers Baseball...

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It wasn't all that long ago when I'd be more inclined to admit to being a NASCAR fan before I'd publicly admit to being a fan of Texas Rangers baseball.

Say what???... Oh gawd... I'm lying... there ain't no way in hell I'd ever claim to like watching NASCAR. My apologies, I got carried away attempting to make a point about the Texas Rangers. In fact, I'll even go so far as to state that the only thing worse than having to watch NASCAR is having to listen to it.

Listening to NASCAR is cruel and unusual punishment and only the most heineous of criminals should be subjected to such hardship. But I digress... this blog entry ain't about rednecks carrying on about tire pressure and the confederacy. It's about baseball...

Baseball as in "beisbol"!!... as in the time former Rangers catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was once chastised by team management for not resting his knees in the off-season and of instead playing Winter League Baseball in Puerto Rico.

In response, Pudge was later quoted to have stated, "Some peeeple like to go feeeshingg... some peeeple like to go huuntinngg... I like to play BEISBOL!!!" . It was readily assumed that he was refering to fellow teammates prefering to go fishing and hunting in the offseason.

In any event, living aboard a sailboat implies having to do without a few creature comforts that almost everyone else takes for granted these days. Okay... perhaps more than just a few creature comforts.

Well you see... S/V Blondie-dog is as basic as it gets. For starters, I ain't got no TV onboard, nor do I have a VCR, or a microwave, fridge or even a flush toilet. I ain't even got someone to get up and fetch me a warm beer if I happen to be in need of one for that matter.

Onboard my boat insofar as electronics are concerned, is a cell phone for that random phone call and salacious text message, a handheld GPS for navigation, a VHF radio to plead for assistance when in distress at sea as well as a laptop with an ocassional internet connection, and lastly a CD player with a radio. Yes a radio.

Yeah dude... a radio. I'm sure you've heard of a radio before. It's an electronic device from way back in the day that precedes Ipods, CD players, cassette players, and even your dad's eight-track.

It's a device to let you tune into communications from some random distant radio tower. Nevermind that the communication these days is more often than not from some pompous, bombastic-lardass with an oxycontin addiction pontificating about so-called conservatism and moral values.

So yeah... I happen to be back on my boat and it's late in the evening and though the boat may be tied up to a mooring out in the harbor, I'm wanting to discretely tune in for some baseball. Not football mind you or preferably even NBA basketball but rather Texas Rangers baseball... as in the 2010 Baseball World Series!!... but please don't tell anybody... baseball just ain't cool.

However I've got one option for tuning in and that is to plug in my CD/Radio into an inverter and then plug that little device into a DC current power source. (feel free to google "inverter" and impress your geeky classmates next time you remember to attend science class)

Well I've got the radio plugged in and I'm ever so slowly twisting that radio nob up and down the dial searching for the ballgame. Surely somebody out in radio-land is broadcasting the 2010 Baseball World Series whether it be on the FM or AM dial.

I do eventually find a radio broadcast of the game. It is however in Spanish but heck... that's better than tuning in to some a college football game involving two teams no one has ever heard of before.

Besides, as a youngster, I use to tune the radio in to listen to los Cangrejeros de Santurce y los Senadores de San Juan battle it out at Bithorn Stadium all the time. The radio broadcasts were always in Spanish of course and I certainly had no issue with that back then so hell, I'll tune in and listen to the Texas Rangers play ball in Spanish.

I've got the radio dial set to Radio Marti and the fact that the broadcast is in Spanish is but an afterthought as I'm soon immersed in the ballgame but remember not to tell anybody that I said that because baseball just ain't cool.

Radio Marti for those of you who weren't around when the cold war with Russia was in full swing, is a radio station operating for the exclusive purpose of broadcasting news and commentary to the general population of Cuba. The station does not air any annoying radio commercials which can be thought of a good thing. Radio Marti is in all likelihood funded and operated by the CIA for all I know.

Incidentally, you should have heard those two radio announcers whine like malcontent little kids as the Texas Rangers were spanking the hated New York Yankees. Talk about a pair of crybabies.... muah, muah, muah.

Go Rangers!