Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Greetings From the Littler Latitudes

The Year 2013 was a historic year in many ways.  Probably the most memorable thing that happened this year (other than my daughter's wedding of course) was that the Pittsburgh Pirates made it to the play offs for the first time since 1992!  Long considered the Chicago Cubs of the Allegheny River the Pirates who do their spring training just up the road at Pirate City in Bradenton kicked ass, took names, and made it to the post-season.  They didn’t get beyond the first round but they made it.  And the naysayers out there need to keep an eye on them because 2014 is going to be even better.  No speculation there….pure fact.

Long before the Bucs dominated the National League Central Division I was scurrying around on my latest Buffett mission.  I saw Jimmy in back to back shows in February; one night in Pensacola and the next night in Jacksonville.  These were my 36th and 37th Buffett shows.  As part of the trip I stopped by the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola Beach, then the Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi and from there to his birthplace in Biloxi before (all in the same day) having lunch at his sister's restaurant in Gulf Shores Alabama before getting to the Pensacola show that night.   Later in the year I visited new Margaritaville Cafe's in Panama City, Panama, Bossier City (Shreveport) Louisiana, Cincinnati Ohio, Myrtle Beach South Carolina and sailed by cruise ship to the Cafe on Grand Turk island.  At years end I also made it to the new one in Falmouth, Jamaica, mon.  Needless to say it was a very Parrothead-like year. 

2013 saw the publication of not one but three recent books of mine.  Those included “Continental Drifting” and “Sojourn to South Africa” which are both travel books and “Minor League Heckler,” a baseball novel set locally at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.  By years end “Slices of America’s Pie” a travel book about my successful quest to visit every county in the 50 states had been accepted by a publisher and is now slated to be published in early 2014.  Not wasting any time I finished writing yet another travel book “Following the Sun” about travel south of the Equator.  I am putting the final touches on “A Dozen Random Islands” another travel book that looks into why I have this unquenchable passion for islands.  I still occasionally work on “The Phosphate Pupfish” an environmental novel that blasts the phosphate mining industry in Florida, but only when I’m not distracted by writing about travel.  One of these days it will be final also.

Personal travel this year took me to 20 different states but to only 8 different countries (Panama, Jamaica, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, United Kingdom, The Gambia, Senegal).  Two of them, The Gambia and Senegal for my annual birthday present to myself, were new for my travel list and were the 110th and 111th countries visited.  Most domestic travel was to watch minor league baseball games in new stadiums or to add new Margaritaville Café’s to my growing list.  I’ve now been to 31 of the 36 existing Cafes and have plans for several new ones next year. 

My oldest daughter Jennifer was married in a ceremony in her mother’s yard in northern Minnesota in June.  I made the trek north to witness this exciting event and quickly understood why I simply cannot take cold weather any longer.  I took my first cruise in October (Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands) and enjoyed it so much I’m going on another one in December.  Warm Florida summer nights were generally filled with some serious heckling of the 11 hapless minor league baseball teams that played against my home town Bradenton Marauders.

A major milestone this year was turning 62 years old and I am not taking that reality well because I am now legally a senior citizen!!   My body is telling me I’m 62 and my brain is saying I’m 26 and therein is a hellacious conflict.  On my 50th birthday I began counting backward so I’m actually 38 again now and with luck I’ll be checking out at 20 or so.

Here’s hoping that you and yours have a happy and healthy holiday season and that 2014 is even more productive than was 2013.  As for me in 2014 my only plans at the moment are to nibble on sponge cake and watch the sunbake and rejoice in the fact that every day is Saturday.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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