Dinner With Friends

Tonight, the wife and I had dinner with some dear friends.  I have just retired from the military after a quarter of a century.  Wow, saying it like that makes it seem like a eternity and in truth, it has been.  I joined the Army in 1993 and finished yesterday.  My final duty station has been in Jasper, Indiana and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect.  Tonight’s dinner was a celebration of my military career and a celebration of new friendships.

Southern Indiana was a mystery to me and certainly to my Canadian wife.  We didn’t know what to expect.  One of the most pleasant things that has happened to us has been developing a relationship with new friends.  Without question Peter and George have become our dearest friends and without them we wouldn’t have been able to assimilate into the small community of French Lick.

Let me explain, I worked in Jasper, Indiana but my wife found us a beautiful home in the small resort town of French Lick.  Look it up on the inter-webs and you’ll soon see why French Lick is a resort town.  It’s a gem nestled in the Hoosier National Forest and well worth the trip.  So, that’s why we’re here.  Now, how did we meet Peter and George?  In an attempt to immerse into the community my wife volunteered at the local museum in addition to managing events at the resort, and it just so happened our friends Peter and George are pretty big deal at the museum and the rest is developing into a great friendship.  Who are these two wonderful gentlemen?  Well, let me explain.

Peter and George are partners and have been sharing life experiences for a long time.  They have stories that could easily become Hollywood blockbusters (I mean, Shirley McClaine would be jealous of their stories).  They have seen and done it all.  Peter actually went to college with my father and they knew each other, which I think is amazing.  I love that part of our story with these two.  My favorite part of our friendship with these fantastic guys is that, we’re just friends.  That’s it.  They are successful retired guys who don’t want for anything and simply want to be friends.  We are equally interested in finding friends who only want to be friends.  No pretense.  No agenda.  Just people who enjoy each others company.  We have other friends like this but many of them live far away.  Of course, they treat us like their children which makes it hard to pay bill.  Every meal is a fight to determine who pays but they are incredibly creative in getting their credit cards to the waitress before we can.  It’s like dealing with Gandalf which isn’t easy.  We love these two and are lucky to consider ourselves their friends.

Now, back to dinner.  Ballard’s at the West Baden Resort is a great place to dine mid-week. It’s casual with a hint of sophistication and it provides a great opportunity to enjoy the atrium of this world-class resort.  Peter and I had the steak and frites while my wife enjoyed the salmon salad and George chose the airline chicken, worst name for a meal ever.  I mean, who associates good food with air travel and George was sure to let the server know, as well as the risotto.  Risotto in the Midwest can’t compare to the dish served in Italy and since George lived there for years as a model (I’m telling you, these guys have some amazing stories which I may get into in future blog posts, with their permission, of course). The evening was fantastic.  The food was very good and the desserts, decadent.  There were stories told, laughs had and plans for future travel, discussed.  Personally, I haven’t laughed and enjoyed my time that much in quite some time and I think my wife would agree.  Honestly and a bit selfishly, we needed this night.

Thank you to our friends and we look forward to many more nights like this and we hope to add some adventure to our story with these two great men.

I’m a lucky guy.  I have a fantastic wife and some really good friends.  Raise a glass and toast the future.  It’s going to be fun.

So This One Time, Part 2

The idea wasn’t mine. I swear! It was Mike’s. It was always Mike’s idea. No matter the adventure, no matter the risk, Mike was always scheming to have an adventure. Whether it be skirt chasing in Southeast Asia while doing God’s work, to protecting Moroccan virginity from the would be ravaging’s of a young ladies drunk uncle, Mike was up for a good adventure. No matter the adventure, no matter the location, if it meant a chance for fortune and glory, Mike and I were usually, all in. This night would be no different.

Mike and I were sitting at the restaurant at the Puerto Chico Marina in Fajardo. I think it was the marina. Could have been Puerto Del Rey Marina a little further down the road but I was drinking and all marina’s look the same after rum. Either way, our flip-flopped feet were propped up on the sea wall and we were kicked back, drinking rum while a beautiful local girl sang reggae tunes accompanied by her steel drum band. As we drifted away into the reggae music and Mike polished off another cigarette, a habit I was trying to quit, we began to share ideas about the big boat in the marina. The boat had no earthly place in this particular marina, or any marina along the east coast of Puerto Rico or anywhere else for that matter. It looked like a throw away boat. Something made and then left to sink to the bottom of the ocean once it was decided that it wasn’t what the builder had in mind, but there it was.

It was giant. Maybe 100 feet long and approximately 20 feet wide. The majority of the ship looked like a barge but it stood to high above the water to be a barge. It was rusted out and appeared as if it were set for demolition, perhaps to create an artificial reef off the coast. The only thing that stood out was the bow of the ship. It had been decorated in a way that would have made Robert Louis Stevenson proud (author of Treasure Island). There was a larger than life skeleton holding a spear, as if in anticipation of an attack, hanging from the bow. A figure head that was as ominous as it was enormous hung like a gargoyle from this rickety old craft. This ship made no sense. It looked like a pirate ship from the late 1700s had an affair with a salvage barge but it was strangely magnificent. Little did I know that by the end of the night, Mike and I would have quite the story to tell.

As the rum flowed the ship docked in the marina became the subject of conversation. At some point in the evening well before midnight, (I know this because the bar closed at midnight and when the story wraps up we were still able to order more rum before the bar closed. That’s how I tell time when I’ve been drinking) we had concocted a plan to get aboard that ghost ship and snap a few selfies. Why, you may be asking? Well, there is no good answer other than, we had to.

The plan was simple. Wade into the waters of the marina and commandeer another vessel to take us out to the ship, scurry up the rope ladder (yup, it had a rope ladder hanging off the side) and snap a couple of photos to include the always impressive, Leonardo and Kate, “I’m King of the world” scene from the movie Titanic. It wasn’t the best plan but it was simple and easy to remember. We did not, however, take into account any other variables that might disrupt our adventure and why should we? We were drunk, young and invincible. The fact that the ship was privately owned, didn’t matter. The fact that the anchor chain wasn’t properly fastened to the ship, didn’t matter and the fact that the current was attempting to pull the old ship out into the Caribbean, didn’t matter. It should have. IT ALL SHOULD HAVE. In our head the only thing that mattered was getting proof that we were on that ship. It would all fall on the success of phase one of our operation, boost a vessel (Boost in the slang dictionary means to steal). Without a way out to the ship the story couldn’t even start.

Mike was the first to make a move as he tossed his most recent cig into the water and set off down the beach. I quickly slammed my rum and followed him down the beach. After a few hundred feet we headed out to sea, and by “headed out to sea” I mean walk about twenty feet into waist deep water and board the first boat we can reach. Of course, the first boat we came to was a million years old and it appeared it had been used for fishing. It was about 20 feet long with a closed bow and covered, open stern. It was painted, many, many years ago in a very Caribbean yellow but had been worn by the sands of time. As Mike approached the steering wheel he slowly turned and looked over his shoulder with the grin I’ve seen several times and says, “Easier than I thought. Keys are in it.”

I reply, “The first part always works in our favor. It’s the second and third part that usually backfire and we end up trying to talk out way outta shit.”

And as slyly as his initial response was he retorts, “Hey! We’re off to a good start. Cut it out with those negative waves. Quick pull the anchor and get ready to make way.”

There was no way I was going to let that comment go, “Ready to make way? Calm down there Jack Sparrow. Twenty feet into the Caribbean and all of a sudden you’re a seasoned pirate of the high seas?”

To which he smiles, his crooked smile and simply responds, “Savvy?”

Mike can always make me laugh. He has been a friend since the turn of the century and while it’s been a bumpy friendship it has always been a good friendship. The story of Mike will be the next part of my story. I promise that it won’t take away from this story. It will only add to the humor and the almost mythological adventure that we have been thru during our time as friends.

So for now and until next time, we leave you, drunk on a random little fishing boat in a small marina on the east coast of Puerto Rico, planning the next step but at least, hey! The “keys are in it.”

So This One Time, Part One

My friend moved to Puerto Rico several years ago…fast forward all those years until present day (by present day I mean summer of 2013).  Him moving to Puerto Rico opened the doors to a world of Caribbean adventure.  I visited him often, well as often as I could which was about twice a year and on this particular trip the adventure came to us.

My friend, God love him, lives a bit of a pirates life.  He scrapes by on what he can, hustles a little here and there, drinks a little to much rum and chases the booty like a good pirate (pun intended).  He looks just like Matthew McConaughey, if Matthew never worked out, smoked way to much and hadn’t the slightest hint of health care.  No matter, he’s my friend and he’s never met a stranger.  He’d give you the shirt off his back and the flip-flops off his feet.

Everytime I journeyed to the island there was another story.  Another memory collected.  After all, that’s what life is; a collection of memories.   On this trip, like I stated above, the adventure came to us, which makes it much easier to talk yourself into.  You see, we were sitting in our favorite watering hole.  I should probably mention that my friend didn’t live any where near the tourist trap that is San Juan.  No, he lived about an hour East in a little town called Luquillo which wasn’t to far from Fahardo which is where our story takes place.  IF it helps, Fahardo is the real life town where the movie Captain Ron, starring Kurt Russell, was filmed back in 1992.

The evening in question was a non-descript, hot, Caribbean night and we were well sauced, as it were (Drunk. We were drunk).  Our bar was nesteled near a marina where several boats moored for the evening and on this particular evening a “prop” from a movie, being shot nearby, was anchored there too.  The “prop” in question was a pirate ship from the most recent installment of Pirates Of The Caribbean and it wasn’t a ship at all.  It was the top half of a century’s old pirate ship sitting on a barge, complete with rigging to accomodate several cameras and it was sitting only a stones throw away.  Of course we noticed it the moment we arrived and thought nothing of it but after several rum drinks we decided it would be a good idea to climb aboard that pirate ship and take some photos.  At the time it was the best idea ever and so simple.  What could possibly go wrong.

Join us next time as the tale of two idiots, a whole lot of rum and pirate ship continues.

Welcome To My Blog, My Life

The purpose of this blog is going to, at first, seem very similar to many blogs published before, but I promise, I will keep it fresh.  The sharing of experiences, ideas and adventure or what I refer to as, “Life” will be the main topic.  Perhaps as I create, I will shift my focus and Captain this blog on a different course but in the meantime  it’s full steam ahead.
I have been keeping a digital diary for years and while it’s rather random, it’s been primarily focused on things that bother me.  It is lovingly referred to as, “the things I hate” and I have been jotting down anything and everything that bothers me throughout my daily routine with the end goal of writing a book.  However, always looking for things that bother me hasn’t/isn’t good for my mental state so this blog will attempt to change the way I view the world around me.  In turn, I hope it helps you see things a bit different too.
I’ve decided to change.
I’m going to use this blog to report on things that I enjoy and things that I attempt to learn, places I go and later on down the road, people I meet.    In the beginning I don’t intend to tell much of a backstory or set the stage for the events that follow, however, I believe thru the post themselves, the reader will come to understand who I am and where I’ve been and where I want to go.
I will give a brief description of where life has taken me and who the key players are so that the reader doesn’t have to start blind and may want to come back.  My goal is to post once a week but we will see where life takes us.
I am at the beginning of a very big transition in life, one that scares the hell out of me but one that I am most eager to complete.  As you join my story, the horizon is a bit foggy but there is a definite heading and we are on course.  Enjoy the ride.

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

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