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Departing Sub, Port Canaveral, 5/30/09

Departing Sub, Port Canaveral, 5/30/09

We spent three nights last weekend camping at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. It may seem odd to go camping just 20 minutes or so from the house but it was a nice break from our normal routine and we actually got onto the beach for awhile. Although we live 7 miles as the crow flies from the ocean, we rarely actually walk on the beach, much less go in the water. Hey, we’re locals.

Jetty Park is the farthest north you can go on the beach before the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station/Kennedy Space Center complex. It is part of Port Canaveral and used to be a favorite spot for watching Space Shuttle launches. One of the “things to do” is to watch the traffic arrive and depart from the port. Commercial fishing boats and ocean-going cargo vessels are common sights. Just across the channel is a berth for submarines — boomers — that stage out of here when they utilize the missile test range off the coast. On a previous visit we saw one heading out to sea. However, a daily sight are the comings and goings of the cruise ships. Every afternoon, starting about 4:30 or 5:00, these huge floating pleasure palaces float on by with thousands of partiers on board. Or in the case of the Disney ships, a whole bunch of relaxing parents and wired kids. Whatever. A “thing to do” is to gather on the side of the channel to watch these hotels of the sea head out. It’s a bit of a party atmosphere. The impression you can’t help but take away is that damn, those things are HUGE!

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

The thought of spending a ton of money to cruise to nowhere while spending even more money every time we want an adult beverage is not our idea of a great time, but hey, whatever floats your boat (pun intended). Our idea of cruising is a week or two in the BVIs (or Tahiti, hint hint) on a catamaran that’s well stocked with rum. The photos included here are of the Carnival Dream heading out last Saturday evening. As I type this, the Carnival folks have just announced that they will gladly fly ALL of the passengers, 4300 of them, back home from St. Maarten where the vessel is currently docked. They had a generator failure and are stuck at the dock. Passengers are reportedly not being let off the boat despite reports of, um, “unsanitary” conditions aboard.

Good times.

CruiseShip_1

Port Canaveral, FL, 3/9/13

Finally: below is my first ever youtube upload. It’s the view from the picnic table at our campsite. If you get bored, skip to 1:30, then go to 2:00. (And note the people in the tubular water slide.)

Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Ready to go.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Since the “Cardiac Event”, almost a year ago, I have been trying to get more exercise into my life. As soon as I felt healed enough, Patti and I went out and bought a couple of nice hybrid bikes. I’ve been attempting to get out several times a week and get some miles under my belt, but last weekend we decided that we’d go out to the Moccasin Island Tract out in the flats near the St. Johns River. (Aside: understand that the term “Flats” is totally redundant in an area where the largest elevation change we are likely to experience are the causeways going over the lagoon between our house and the beach.) So we threw the bikes on the back of the truck and headed out. Things started out well. It was a windy day but not a problem as we followed the track. We were following a GPS track that a local guy had posted with the comment that it was frequented by hikers and bikers. This turned out to be partly true. This was major cattle country located in the vast St. Johns floodplain, wide open and exposed. We would never think of coming out here in the summer due to bugs and, more importantly, the oppressive heat of a Florida summer. Now, in early February, it was totally comfortable in shorts and t-shirts. And, yes, we were thinking of our family members in less hospitable climates. A little.

Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Where we shouldn’t be.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

After a few miles we came to a bridge over a canal where, according to the track, we were to hang a left alongside the southern bank of the canal and head west to the river and a view of Moccasin Island. Again, no problem. We had to dodge some souvenirs left by the cattle, not always successfully, and the track was narrower and bumpier than before, but it was still pretty (in a flat, grassy, open kinda way) and we were trucking along. The track finally hung a left for the last bit towards the river, got very narrow in a field of tall grass, and then disappeared. We were close enough to walk out of the grass to the river, but we soon picked up the bikes and got out of there. (I didn’t mention the snake that slipped across the path as we walked back to the bikes.) Sounds easy, but getting a bike started when you’re in grass over your waist is a non-trivial activity. Once out, we discovered that a) the wind had picked up, with gusts well over 20mph, and b) we would be heading into it for the entire trip back. Despite these minor obstacles we had a really good time. We got outdoors, got some exercise, saw some niceness and learned some lessons. We’ll go back there soon, but this time we’ll look a bit farther ahead and not blindly follow in someone else’s footsteps. Addendum from the other half: John got much closer to the river due to the fact that he was able to pedal through the ass-high grass, whereas I just … stopped. No going forward for me. And when we turned around to go back, we were directly into the 20 mph wind. I walked the bike through the tall grass until we reached the slightly shorter grass and the rut that served as a track appeared and I could successfully pedal without falling over like some Monty Python skit. I’m such a weakling. When we got back to the gate, we saw a small group of cyclists heading down a much nicer path on the other side of the canal. We’ll follow those footsteps next time we go out there. Meanwhile, my legs need some time to get over this assault – uh – exercise.

We went down the left side of the canal. Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

We went down the left side of the canal.
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Road HazardMoccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

Road Hazard
Moccasin Island Tract, Brevard County, FL, 2/9/13

A typical bookshelf in our house.

Both of us are heavy readers. I have had books in progress for the vast majority of my life, usually at least two of them at a time. My sister is like that. My daughters are like that. My youngest once spent a couple of weeks crying herself to sleep. She could see her sister lying in her own room with a book and she was so frustrated that she couldn’t yet read. It’s an addiction with as strong a pull as any other. The Utah contingent of this family travels with a large bag of books. And an even larger bag of shoes, but that’s a subject for a later post.

Which leads us to the problem shared by bibliophiles all over the world: what to do with all of these damn books? All of our shelves are at least two levels deep in both directions: up & out. We have boxes of books in storage. They’re everywhere. We try to weed them out by donating to the local library sale, but that doesn’t always work out. I once bought a book at the sale, only to get home and quickly realize that I had already read it. That, in fact, I had donated that very copy.

Which leads me to LibraryThing. It’s a site that catalogs and organizes your library. You enter your books and you have a record of your library. It generates statistics. (How many science fiction? How many by Neal Stephenson?) You can review/comment/rate your books. How many others share your interests? Lots and lots of different ways to look at your library. Most importantly, you can see what you’ve read and what you want to read. And it’s cheap. It’s free for the first 200 books and only $25 for a lifetime unlimited membership.

They sell a cheap bar code scanner ($15) that just lets you scan the ISBN and it adds the book to your library. For 15 bucks it makes the data entry task for a library of our size trivial. I’m totally there. After less than a week with the scanner I have 84 books entered. The vast majority of these are from one bookshelf, and they were the ones that were on top of, or in front of, the other books. It may not help us physically organize our collection, but at least we’ll know what we’ve got.

To see our library, go here.

(BTW: I had a problem when I ordered my membership due to operator error. I contacted their customer support and they rock! Quick response and they fixed my screw-up in short order. I love these guys.)