Venice Beach

Wow. So the trip to meet the Greenwell descendants went really well. They’re super-nice, down-to-earth and friendly people. And ice-cream maniacs! And guess what? They owned a 1978 Ford Van at one point, just like us! How weird is that? It got destroyed, though, many years back — when a gigantic flood took out not only the van, but a number of the tools that Doug (head of the household) uses for his livelihood – shipbuilding.
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Saw a pretty incredible sunset on the way back from Stuart and was back home by 8:30.
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Thinking Cam and Melissa might be there, and because the night was still young, Mom, Dad, Neil and I jumped in the pool. We’re all such party animals, we got kicked out by a cop (it may have also had something to do with the pool closing for the night).
Today we headed down to Venice Beach with Cam & Melissa. Had my first experience wearing fins! I’m telling you, that’s gonna take some getting used to. I was flopping around like a fish out of water. Also, at one point, I flipped-out when I realized how far from the bottom I was (15 feet). I don’t fare so well in deep water. Getting better though! Using a mask and a snorkel can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Many thanks to Melissa and Cam for my family’s use of their gear. Mucho appreciated.
Venice Beach is well-known for having shark teeth wash up on its shores, so I spent a good deal of time searching for them. Cam bought a scoop from a local store to help sift through the shell-gravel. Found a tiny one using it. While we were onshore enjoying the sun, a diver emerged from the water and gave us a whole handful! Kinda took the fun out of the whole beachcombing thing! Heh. He told us there’s a guy who regularly brings back 30 pounds of them PER DAY! Nice.
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Neil in front of Venice beach.
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That’s me wandering the shore in yellow and dark blue shorts. Come on shark teeth!
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Cam joins in on the fun.
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Dad: but a speck! The water’s 30 celcius.
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Me, Dad and Melissa scour the waterfront. Melissa’s using the scoop here.
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So now, my back is burnt, Mom’s making dinner for us, and I’m relaxing, to a PvD mix after a cool shower. And I don’t go back to work until Wednesday! Ah, life is good.
[edit Jul 9: Added pictures and captions.]

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Fireworks/Epic Greenwell Event

So the fireworks were pretty fantastic! That is, after they got going. They were about an hour late getting started (just after 10pm). A few people nearby pointed out Bradenton’s fireworks, just visible to the north between the waterfront hotels on the bay. We knew things were getting started though. They made it pretty dramatically obvious by killing the power to all the park lights at once. It was very cool.
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A sign walked around by the Sarasota County Green Party during the fireworks show. They had an interesting flyer dicussing the Patriot Act — which stands to potentially erode the US Bill Of Rights (this will likely be the subject of a future post).
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A father and son play with sparklers.
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The same shot as the one above this one, this time using the night mode of my camera. In the foreground, that’s Dad on the left, Neil on the on right.
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The group went crazy with sparklers while waiting for the show to start. It was actually hard to breathe there was so much smoke.
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Glowing rings! 2 for $3!
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One of two dozen or so VERY LOUD fireworks which started the show.
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The finale. Quite impressive, from a pyrotechnical point of view. Often there were five or six fireworks exploding in the same second.
The main section lasted about 45 minutes and ended with a the whole sky getting lit up at once. Pretty great. I say “main section” because it got a bit funny near the end there. Most people thought they were over, but after about two minutes of silent skies, they lit off a few more for a minute, then two minutes of silence, then a few more. Dad thought something was messed up with their “fireworks computer”. I think there’s still a guy running around lighting these things off, and that they were staggering the end to control traffic. Less dramatic, yeah, but I bet it works well.
And so tomorrow marks the beginning of what I expect to be a two-day trip (it’s four hours, one way) to Stuart, FL. The Greenwell family came over to North America from England around five or six centuries ago. According to Dad’s research, tomorrow will mark the first time a North American Greenwell has contacted a Greenwell descendant who was born in England. So it’s a big event, from a genealogical point of view. Since I wasn’t/didn’t get involved in the research which lead to this meeting, it kinda feels like I’m driving four hours to meet a stranger at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Which is, I guess, exactly what I’m doing. But it’s definitely going to be enlightening. Probably going to learn a lot about Greenwell history. Neat!
[Corrections, Jul 8: well, turns out the Greenwell family moved to North America in the 1800s, not ìfive or six centuries agoî, as stated above. Also, this was the first time Dad was meeting a Greenwell descendant from England. My original statement may well have been true, but we donít have a way to verify it just yet. 😀 Still, it was a pretty amazing experience nonetheless.]
[Edit, Jul 9: Added pictures and comments.].

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Independence Whut!

So not only did today NOT start at 9, but we blew right by 10:30 too. 🙂 Try noon. But we had good intentions! We bbq’ed the eggplant and tomato, and were munching on the (extremely tasty) end result by 1:30.
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Mom makes a batch of roti on a using makeshift wire rack to puff them up.
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Fried onions, mmmm…..
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That red speck near the center of the photo is Neil, taking care of the BBQ. I’m standing on the bridge walkway which leads from my place over the lake to the pool.
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Neil gets things going. Don’t think he was expecting me here. 🙂
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Three eggplant and a giant ugly ripe tomato! You can’t tell, but that grill is HOT.
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Those “Match Light” briquettes are great. Lit the whole bunch in one try!
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Dad manning the grill.
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In the shot above this one, walk forward, past Dad, fifteen meters or so, turn 90 degrees counter-clockwise and you’ll find yourself here. This would be a nice bench if the ducks didn’t poop on it!
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Here I’m leaning over rail of the walkway. These guys are great. I think they all expect me to feed them.
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My apartment complex is named “Heron’s Run”. And here, we have…
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Mom combines the grilled eggplant, garlic, tomato and onions. Mmmmmmm, this stuff is /so/ good.
Then it was off to downtown to watch.. and you really won’t believe this until you see it: bed racing. Yeah. That’s right. Mattress, sheets, and wheels. The winner won a silver bedpan.
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The bed racers — two teams of Publix (like a Safeway) employees. The starting gun was just fired.
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Hustling up the street.
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Almost there!
Met up with Cam and Melissa while watching, then it was down to Siesta Key Beach, where we /think/ some sort of fashion magazine was shooting a swimsuit issue… or something. End result were three early 20-something girls in string bikinis. Mom took a picture of the whole thing just to show people back home “what people in Florida are like”, haha.
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Not much to say here!
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The clouds rolled in, forcing us to leave early. Dig the change in light and the size of those drops.
Now it’s off to meet up with Cam & Melissa to go watch the Independence Day fireworks! Maybe the Texan guy who screamed “Hell Yeah!” between each explosion and sip of Bud Lite last year will be there again!
Hell yeah!
[Edited July 9: Added pictures and captions.]

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Adventure abound

Wowee… had a great day. Started off with getting up and organized. That took about three hours in the morning, hee hee. Then, at noon it was off to Myakka for a visit to the park. Yes, the one. And yes, we did see an alligator. Or two. Heh. Pictures to come.
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The foliage was pretty exotic. This vine extended far past the field of view.
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The water level fluxuates dramatically during the course of the year. Here’s a shot of the Myakka State Park forest floor recently.
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There were tasty morsels all about!
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Mom and Dad!
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Not sure what these things are, but they look like grapes.
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The convoy explores new territory.
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This guy was wandering across the road when we found him. Tiny little guy!
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A salamander!
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That’s Mom. We think there was something hiding under the bridge.
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Mom insisted we take a picture of these — found ’em just as we were leaving the park.
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Drinking and driving.
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The front entrance to my former place of residence, the Sun-N-Fun RV park.
After getting back, mom insisted on making dinner! Eventually, after some arm twisting I complied, and Mom made eggplant/tomato/garlic and pita (or “baigan choka” as we call it back home). Mmmm, soo good, I must learn how to make it. Talk about your comfort food.
And guess what? I can’t believe it, Mom Dad and Neil agreed to come watch me play ultimate! Three hours of disc-passing excitement — and Dad caught a ton of it on video! We won our first game tonight, and won it by a landslide too, 15-7 was the final score. That was our 7th (and second to last) game of the season. We’re definitely getting better. Extra cool, Jeff from work came out to watch too! Glad we won that game. 🙂
Afterwards it was off to the Wing Machine where a group of us (some from “Dos Manos”, our competition tonight) demolished 100 wings! Neil ate wings at a spectacular rate, more than Rex (captain of Dos Manos) and I combined. Quote of the night: “It’s all just mind over matter”. — Neil, upon eating some atomically hot wings. Ha.
Then it was downtown for a preview of the area before it gets overloaded with folks for tomorrow’s Independence Day festivities. There’s apparently a boat parade that goes right down Main street. Cool! Rob, my coworker and a local to the area is going to show up three hours early just to secure a spot, to give you something of an idea of how popular it’s going to be. Woot!
Ran into Hugo in the parking lot as we arrived back home. That was a neat coincidence! So now, Mom Dad & Neil just need to meet Alex, Cam and Carlos. 🙂 Looking forward to tomorrow’s festivities. Going to start it off with a charcoal BBQ at 9am (though I’m guessing a more realistic start time is 10:30.).
Hope you had a fantastic day!
[edited July 9th, added pictures and captions]

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Family arrives

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I spotted them before they spotted me!
Picked up Mom, Dad and Neil today at the Tampa airport! After a HUGE shopping trip, I made them a big dinner (grilled veggie burgers and chips for mom and dad, my signature fajitas for Neil and I) with chocolate chip premium vanilla ice-cream with chocolate fudge and tea for dessert. Mmmmmm! Hee hee. And plenty of fajitastuffs leftover for tomorrow. 🙂 Big day tomorrow, going to sleep now. Dad has been up now for more than 24 hrs!
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Neil and Dad looking East at Tampa Bay. Thatís the Sunshine Skyway bridge in the distance. Thereís a dollar toll to go over it, which is understandable since at 200 feet up, itís probably the highest point Iíve seen in Florida.
[edited July 8: added pictures and captions]

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