I’ve gotten a few Emails from my J-land friends and even a phone call from my pal Ken reminding me that I promised to post day two of my vacation over a week ago and still have not done so. My apologies to all and my thanks to those who expressed concern on my behalf.
If you remember, I went to visit my friend Ken in Vero Beach, Florida. I was to stay six days and nights. On the first morning after my arrival Hurricane Wilma was predicted to pass over this area and they were calling for the evacuation of the Florida Keys. We went boating and fishing that first day and would make the decision on what I would do that night after we returned.
I did not want to get caught in the massive traffic jams heading north if a major evacuation was called. I decided I would leave early or ride the storm out with Ken and Joyce. A call home to Paulette settled that issue. I would leave for home on Thursday, giving me one more full day to enjoy before I bugged out.
We had planned on Ken’s dad, Tom, fishing with us that first day but something came up and he was not able to join us. We decided to do a repeat of the previous day’s activities since that was my favorite routine, only this time Ken’s dad would be able to come with us.
I’ve known Tom and the rest of Ken’s family almost as long as I’ve known Ken. I’ve become part of that family through the years and when I talked with one of Ken’s sons over the phone during my visit he still called me Uncle Sam. It was going to be great having Tom along.
Here’s a picture of the bait house where we started our day.
There is a public boat launch across the street, next to what was once The Flagship Marina and Restaurant. The building is still standing but the docks that were once filled to capacity with boats are now just a bunch of pilings thanks to Hurricane Jeanne that swept through this area last year. An ominous reminder of the force of the storm predicted to come this way in just a few short days.
As we headed out from the public boat ramp, the sky to the south showed the first hints of the rain bands that would make their way here as a result of Wilma heading this way. These bands were predicted to pass us to the south and we would have fair but partly cloudy weather for the day.
Ken is a director of information and technology for a major manufacturer in Vero Beach. His department would carry the weight of getting all the communications and computing capabilities back up and running in the event of a major storm. The corporation was holding an emergency-planning meeting that morning and Ken would join the meeting from the boat via a conference call using his Blackberry Palm type computer/cell phone. That’s Ken’s dad, Tom, fishing behind him while he’s on the conference call.
As the meeting ended, I caught the first fish of the day and was off to a good start to win almost all categories in our never-ending personal fishing tournament. Even though Ken won yesterday, this would not sit well with my competitive friend.
Then Tom caught an unusual inshore catch, a Scamp. It’s part of the grouper family.
While we fished, an Osprey circled overhead for the longest time fishing the same area we were. He was there so long I was able to snap this picture. Ospreys are fish hawks and are excellent at catching fish for their sustenance. They are truly magnificent creatures and I love to watch them any chance I get.
I went on to catch this mangrove snapper, otherwise known as a gray snapper. Another unusual inshore catch to round the day out.
We knocked off fishing and went back to the Wabasso State Park beach where Ken and I swam the day before. I was able to get a picture of the wood storks that live in and around the parking lot there. The birds are interesting to look at and to watch the social behavior within the flock.
After our swim, it was back to Captain Hirams for lunch and some adult beverages. The bartended was kind enough to take this shot of the three of us.
We didn’t have the same bartender as the day before, but she was every bit as friendly and eager to keep those margaritas flowing.
After lunch, we went to explore one of the islands that dot this part of the waterway. I think Tom wants to come back and live like Robinson Carusoe on this one. I don’t blame him; it was really a neat place.
On the backside of the island, a line of trees was still in the same position they landed when Jeanne came through here last year and knocked them down.
The root systems were huge and we enjoyed playing and having pictures taken in them.
Ken reads this journal regularly and he really enjoyed the Horizons game I played a while back. He wanted to do a horizons type picture for this entry so, here is Ken standing at a point on the horizon.
I waded out and handed Ken the camera and he turned the camera back to show you were I was standing to take the horizon shot.
I had a final beer as I waded around and soaked in the ambience and the friendship. I counted my blessing. Even though I would have to cut this trip short, I had more fun and relaxation in those two days than I had had in years. To be back in the company of my best friend and his family was an experience I will have to always remember and I am thankful.
I left the next morning and beat the bumper to bumper traffic that would follow me the next day. Hurricane Wilma passed over this area on Monday instead of Sunday as was originally predicted and hit Vero Beach with sustained winds even more powerful than Jeanne the previous year.
I finally got through to Ken on his Blackberry Tuesday night and learned that the family made it through okay with only minor damage to his house. The company that he works for sustained significant damage and Ken would be working around the clock for many days to come to restore communications and computer networks.
We had those two days and, for a while, we were transported back to a time when we fished every week and explored Islands every weekend.