The Thousand Islands, other than being a salad dressing, are a group of natural and man-made islands west of Cocoa Beach in the Banana River. When I was growing up I used to spend hours exploring these islands in my boat and on land. Since my return last year, Sammy and I have made several kayak trips into the islands south of the golf course / high school complex with kayaks owned by my brother Rick and my friend Robin & Kathy Turner. I am now gearing up to buy my own (which first involves getting a roof rack for my car) so I can expand my exploration both in Cocoa Beach as well as the hundreds of miles of lagoons in my backyard.
The 6th Annual Super Boat Grand Prix was held on Cocoa Beach on May 15 through 17th. I went with my friends Robin and Kathy Turner to the monthly block party in Cocoa Beach on Friday May 15 which featured the boats, music and other activities. On Sunday the 17th I watch the first heat of the race from Shepard Park at the end of the 520 causeway in Cocoa Beach. There were thousands of people watching the races (and otherwise!) on the beach. Later that day after I returned home I caught the final heat where one of the boats did a barrel roll. The seas were very rough so it provided some spectacular shots of the boats sailing through the air!
Sammy and I spent the last three weeks in Panama City visiting with my Mom, Brother Dave and Sister-in-Law Lisa. Mom celebrated her 87th birthday on April 7th and is still going strong! I am blessed that I work out of the house now and can spend this time with her. She just moved into a new house near my brother Dave. I helped him out with some construction, painting, furniture repair and helping her hang pictures in the house. I was able to go with her to Church and celebrate the Easter season which I enjoyed very much. I am looking forward to spending two or three weeks every couple of months up there with her.
Newly painted front porch
I am grateful to be able to see one of my all-time favorite guitarists Al Di Meola play at the Plaza Live theater in Orlando. I first saw him play 39 years ago with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever in Santa Barbara, California. Since I have seen him play with The Rites of Strings (Al, Stanley Clarke & Jean-Luc Ponty), the Return to Forever ‘Returns’ concert in 2008 and in 2010 with his own band.
After suffering from tinnitus from exposure to loud music (which we have in common), Al shifted away from the electric guitar to acoustic in the 1980s. He now enjoys playing electric music again but takes care to protect his hearing using ear plugs and sound barriers that you can in the photos above. Certainly the fastest guitar player I have ever seen – he has a unique sound and style that is all his own. He also seems to be a really great guy and had a blast playing – engaging the audience and expressing his gratitude for his fans that have stayed loyal over the past 40+ years.
My childhood friend Robin and I had a band in high school with our friend Marc Baldini. We were known by several names (mostly to us) but the one that stuck was Dark Star. In our senior year the three of us also formed the rhythm section of the high school stage band.
Fast forward 42 years later! When I moved back to Florida last summer Robin and I started practicing again with our eye to reform the band. We have been having fun playing songs by Yes, Allman Brothers, Steven Wilson, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath!
I am grateful that I was able to go to Steamboat Springs and Steamboat ski resort this year! I went with Myhra Tubridy and the NASA ski club. We spent 7 days at the Boat with 5 incredible days of skiing. After the driest January in history, it started to snow on the bus ride from the airport. It kept skiing through mid-week and the last two days were sunny and warm. The snow was perfect and I got many fresh tracks and freshly groomed cruizers. Other highlight including spending time with Myhra (my brother Rick’s wife), a trip to Strawberry Park – a natural hot springs in the woods outside of Steamboat Springs – and a western BBQ dinner & dance at Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the Gondola. I used to ski Steamboat regularly when I lived in Colorado in the 1990s – it was good to be back after 14 years!
I made reservations with my good friends Robin and Laura to ‘Cruise to the Edge‘ this November. We will leave out of Miami on a four night cruise listening to old and new progressive rock bands featuring my all-time favorite Yes.
I last saw them just last summer with Robin in Orlando. It’s a shame that lead singer Jon Anderson has left the band but the singer that they replaced him with Jon Davidson does a a great job as well as having the same first name!
My best buddy Sammy is 11 today! Happy birthday to my best fur-friend and constant companion.
Sammy (Songsten’s Loyal Companion Samwise) was born 11 years ago in Fort Meyers, Florida. Both mother and father were champions so he’s quite the specimen. He’s a Dhoki Apso – commonly called a Tibetan Terrier. There’s actually nothing at all Terrier about the breed and they were unknown outside of Tibet until a little over 100 years ago. As an ancient breed they live a good lifespan and I hope I’ll be fortunate enough to be with him for many years to come.
Sammy and I had a big year in 2014 moving to Florida after many years away (39 for me – 10 for him). He was previously with other dogs who tended to dominate the household for attention so Sammy was always a bit shortchanged in the attention area. Since moving here his personality has really blossomed which has been a delight to see.
He’s my constant companion and loves more than anything (other than eating) to ride in his car. He even sits in in when it’s parked in the garage hoping that I’ll take him somewhere. We get a couple of good long walks a day either to the beach or at our favorite park nearby where I swim in the mornings. I always take him on a long walk after my swim.
Happy birthday buddy!
Sammy & I spent nearly two weeks at Dave & Lisa’s house in Panama City. Mom has been staying with them since early 2014. Rick came up for New Years. I got to spend two days in the ER with kidney stones – no fun there. Other than that we had a great time!