Sunday, April 12, 2015



Sitting here in what has become a ghost town within a ghost village trying to figure out how the hell four months slipped through my fingers so fast.
Well, almost four months, in just two weeks I will be hitching my wagon and heading up north. Hopefully way after the other snowbirds have completed their great migration North as well as the spring breakers.
I've made that trip home before in the middle of spring break caravans, it's took all the worth of spending a week in Clearwater away. Can't even imagine trying to make that journey hauling my home behind me.
My time here has had mixed results, mostly on the plus side. 
The one negative aspect would be going from having the entire area where I park at my home park all to myself, to having many fellow volunteers all around me. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed making friends with most of my comrades, but I am not used to the drama created by one or two misfits who have a need to create angst where none exists.
I don't do drama and I don't have time to waste one minute of my life on those who do.

On the positive side:
This has been the shortest winter I have ever lived through.

Also, I have for the longest time had a great interest in South Florida's geology, geography and history.
Every since my 2nd marriage went to hell I have had a fantasy of having my bike down here, spending months and getting to know south Florida and the Keys.
Now sitting here in the Industrial Area of the park, the park visitor numbers have definitely slowed to a trickle giving me time to debrief myself on what I was able to do and see this season.
It's safe to say I have left a lot on the table for next year and years after that.
January and February's weather was not conducive for long road trips on the bike (sorry, I don't ride in shit weather anymore). And the half-day schedule for 80 hours a month make stringing more then a few consecutive days together a bit of a challenge.
In all, I've made the trip to the Keys 3 times, two of those being to Key West where a great time was had by all.
The last time was when I went to Key Largo alone for some camping and scuba diving and a great time was had by me.
All those ventures to the Keys was by truck, not by bike. Even the trip I did to Key Largo by myself, the hauling of a hundred pounds of scuba gear made the bike impossible.
I guess I could have got geared up in my scuba attire, tanks, BCD, weights, dive mask, fins and all and rode the bike. Wouldn't that have broke the internet with people snapping pictures, creating memes and such?

I have made some nice short 250 mile runs on the bike though. Maybe not as grand as riding across Seven Mile Bridge while tracing Standard Oil and Florida East Coast Railroad baron Henry Flagler's "overseas railroad to Key West".
But I did get to ride to Lake Okeechobee, Everglade City and many little hole in the wall places in between.

I do have one last 3 day break coming up next week and I've got one more road trip in mind.
I would like (weather permitting) to ride to Palm Beach and tour the home and museum of the oil and railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler. He and his FEC railroad are responsible for bringing the masses and development that changed Florida forever.


I've just finished the book The Last Train To Paradise, it was a non-fiction about Henry Flagler and his vision for developing Florida's east coast via his intrepid railroad building prowess.
Powered by Standard Oil profits he created a network of swamp crossing rail and developed most of Florida's east coast paradise, including but not limited to, Palm Beach and Miami.
Then he set his aging sights in his "overseas railroad" to link the Keys to the mainland all the way down to the most happening to town in all of Florida, Key West.
I've always stole glances at what remains of the hurricane cursed sections of the railroad bridges that run along side the "overseas highway" while driving to Key West.
Before there was a Seven Mile Bridge for cars, there was a Seven Mile railroad bridge.
Much of the Roman style viaduct arches and spans are still standing giving testament to the the men who toiled like ants rebuilding an anthill over and over as hurricanes came and killed many and threw lengths of rail into the sea like Pickup Sticks.
The hurricanes that seemed hellbent on destroying Flagler's Key West pipe dream during construction in the early 1920's seemed to have offered Flagler an uneasy truce after completion.
That is until 1935, the Labor Day weekend hurricane made the others look like pikers.
A rescue train from Miami was sent to rescue hundreds of men who were building the overseas highway.
The train arrived to the first group of people just in time to get them loaded only to have the railroad cars ripped off the track by a 30 foot tidal wave.
Didn't matter to the Engine 447, the rail bed was mostly gone anyway.
The only saving grace, Henry Flagler was no longer around to see it. He also was no longer around to save it and to pour countless more millions into a project that never really ran in the black.
Though the "overseas railroad" may have hauled thousands of paying paradise seeking passengers, it never did haul much of the bigger revenue generating freight that Flagler envisioned.

But even though the Overseas Railroad never paid anywhere near the Standard Oil dividends, having that link to the Keys and all of the east coast of Florida made much of what the Sunshine State is today and Henry Flagler is credited for the development of Florida, and rightly so.


Now just two weeks out from the morning I will break camp and head to Indy I am beginning to feel that tug of homesickness. I miss my beautiful home park, my little hillbilly cracker house on the lake and Nashville Indiana itself. What a great little town I have adopted as my own.
But of course it goes without saying I miss my peeps the most.
Thank God and Steve Jobs for my Ipad and the FaceTime app, but seeing my grandson growing up without me on a tablet will just get you so far.
I miss all my family, well except for little sis, she and my buddy Bob her old man have been here just a 20 minute drive up the Tamiami Trail.
It's been lots of fun hanging out with them, not to mention all the free great meals I copped and free laundry service!

The friends I have had the most contact with since last May are my coworkers of the DNR persuasion.
Things will be different there with the loss of a friend who was a DNR employee. I got that message while on a road trip to Okeechobee.
He was a really good dude, he dropped dead of a heart attack in the shop, we were the same age.
It will be sad to not see Shawn any more but will be great working with my DNR pals again.
I feel really appreciated there and I'm proud of the work I've done for the park.
Nashville seems to be as much my hometown now as any place I've took up residence in my closing in on 60 years.
Left Loogootee as an infant, lived inner city Indy for the first 6 or 7 years, moved to the Greenwood area for my Wonder Years, got married and moved to my folks back yard. Got divorced..... Got married again and moved to Martinsville. Got divorced and moved back to Greenwood, then to Camby. Got married and moved to Indy, got divorced and moved to Grenwood again. Got a home in wheels and moved to Nashville. I guess my home still is in Nashville even though me and my home on wheels are here in SW Florida.
All the above locations save Florida are in my home state.
So I guess my one true home would have to be the entire state of Indiana.
Just not in the wintertime anymore.

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