Blue Ridge Parkway, Christmas Day 2018

Four hundred and sixty nine miles of rugged terrain sit upon the short yet sturdy hills of the lower Adirondack trail. It feels very close to you, because it is very close — you and the road are in it.

Winding roads do not detract from the smooth ease of the venture upwards, and then downwards, it adds to the feeling. The feeling of being into a mountain and coming out the back end, a light form of modern day, hustle and bustle expedition.

Of the many words I set aside to describe the drive, ‘Diversity’ is the one that comes most often to mind. Diversity of nature more specifically, what you see in December is not what what you will see in May nor will September show you any February.


Stoners Pizza Dude



Over thirteen hundred reviews on YELP later and now I’m thinking “have I reviewed food that has reached me by delivery?” And I can not say for sure that I am completely certain that I have or certain that I have not.

Pecking in my choices of size, bread, sauce and toppings and tip into my phone was quite seamless. And now the clock starts and they’ve projected for me a ten minute window, thirty five minutes out. Forty minutes later, there was a jingle at my door. Super friendly fellow, represented his company and himself very well.

The pepperoni ring pattern of round and round around the pizza we go can be your laying technique, but the look to me is damaging — I prefer a more random and rustic look myself. Extra cheese is just the darnedest extra topping to add because you never really get it, you always get charged and no recourse for them possibly cheating you out of it, but I do it anyway.

The crust sagged a bit, the cheese wasn’t exactly of the quality I’d had thought they would use. The sauce just kinda sat in the background and lingered like the last party guest that isn’t leaving and isn’t getting the picture that it’s time. There is just so little to say.

Hurricane Florence – the build up


Driving back to South Carolina, the storm had not yet begun to make the NEWS and until a few days after my arrival, nobody was talking about it. The dogs and I had just returned to Charleston after a week in New York, working out another chapter of a writing project I have been collaborating on and have built an odd sense of affection for.

Early in the morning of September 10th, a report came across my bathroom radio — something to the effect of “A tropical storm developing off the coast of Africa”. “It is our first storm of the season and could be a big one”. So upon arrival, we had quickly taken up shelter and saught out immediate residence at a motel, some ten northeasterly miles inland off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. My rental home just did not feel safe enough for us to return…

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Hurricane Florence – the build up


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Driving back to South Carolina, the storm had not yet begun to make the NEWS and until a few days after my arrival, nobody was talking about it. The dogs and I had just returned to Charleston after a week in New York, working out another chapter of a writing project I have been collaborating on and have built an odd sense of affection for.

Early in the morning of September 10th, a report came across my bathroom radio — something to the effect of “A tropical storm developing off the coast of Africa”. “It is our first storm of the season and could be a big one”. So upon arrival, we had quickly taken up shelter and saught out immediate residence at a motel, some ten northeasterly miles inland off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. My rental home just did not feel safe enough for us to return to and welcome this unknown storms potential wrath within. I soon felt this was the right decision as it was about this time that I heard Governor McMaster voice come across the airwaves calling for a “mandatory evacuation” for the coastal area beginning the very next day at noon. Over three hundred and fifty thousand South Carolina residents have been evacuated and headed away from the projected path of Hurricane Florence inland toward Columbia, some eighty miles northwest of our position.

But with nowhere to go and no reason to get anywhere more unfamilia, I decided to stay put and request a second floor room. I immediately scoffed at the initial designation for a first floor room as quickly as I had heard it assigned to us.

Once inside, I turned quickly and looked directly behind me to the horizon, I stood there for a few moments and looked to the sky for a hint, a clue, yet nothing was telling about the impending storm that is set to arrive tomorrow on Friday in the early morning. Florence seems to be moving more slowly now than when it started – today being Wednesday the 12th.

Meteorologists electronic highlighters show a multitude of potential paths upon the screen, more lines than not seem to indicate a turn southeast toward where we are, they think it is coming to where we are after it makes landfall.

I dialed a friend to ask of his preparedness or evacuation position, and he told me that he and his dog are staying. He lives on James Island and is far more likely to endure higher winds, more rain, harsher conditions and a better likelihood of losing power. Assuming that the storm doesn’t cycle back south like a backwards letter ‘C’ and loom for a while, which is some folks opinion, I am not in the path at all. I would consider myself safe and years later tell of it, I’ll speak like I am weather tested, like I survived a natural disaster – “this is not my first storm’ I’d tell them pridefully “of course I stayed and did not evacuate”. I actually wont tell such tall tales, but in a pinch it is the makings of decent conversation.

Waiting for a hurricane is an odd feeling of which I cannot recall having ever had prior, we had hurricanes in New York but we didn’t prepare much and we didn’t even hear a breath about evacuation plans. My window foe evacuation here and now, is within four hours — noon time — however I respectfully continue to dismiss with a swift flick from the back of my hand — “To that I say pish posh” and decline. Off to the store for some essentials and as the storm inches nearer, I hear a distant exhausted thunder rumble, I realize that I should use the money wisely and I quickly scribble out a list. As the roads began to look to ease from their typical mumble and rumble of cars and trains, I drove back with what one would consider my camping food cuisine of canned dry goods and having really only camped once. It then occurred to me it was not clear what would work together to provide more meal verities than the six different ingredients than I have and sunk into canned menu creation depression.

Update: Signs are now appearing, I think to myself that an immediate flash of shock from a weather emergency might be easier to endure mentally, you have less time to think about the random outcomes of hardship – I have already created about five. Just after having thought that thought, there is a sound. It isn’t a howl, it’s more like a roar. I close my eyes and outstretch my arms in the middle of the motels parking lot and I can hear the gentle sights of the wind. A deeper and much less subtle sound than its whistle I heard a half an hour before. Then there is silence. No birds, no bees, no crickets — no sound. Nature went on mute for a moment — then remained for another three minutes. It ws a weird experience when everything seems to just stop, to be stuck in time. Something is changing, whisky grey low lying clouds are beginning to gather together and move with the wind above. The weather is now happening — the little creatures always know it first.

Jack and St. Croix


Perched upon a well backed bar stool, it wasn’t the bar I was wanting to eat — because, as lore has it, sometimes the bar eats you.

Candice (Red) took to a powerful and passionate verbal onslaught of what St. James is about from the kitchen on forward. With the emphasis on original recipes, batters, breading and non-frozen foods, such as seafood dishes, that are not subject to the deep freeze. I listened intently, as its been ages since such a delivery was put to me, her eight years of service is a testament to how wonderful my dinner at St. James was.

The St. Croix Ribeye was Red’s soft and subtle suggestion, pineapple and other native tropical fruits created a uniquely bright, and very pleasing marinade. It has personality, it had kick and bite yet didn’t give away the steaks presences, it wasn’t a mask, it was a food relationship I’ve not known prior.

The loaded mashed potatoes and my Jack were along for the ride, sitting in the passengers seats as the St. Croix Rib-eye grabbed the wheel and punched the gas on a culinary expeditionary journey to Deliciousland.


Watch “NY 2 SC, 1st bit of southern driving range time.” on YouTube

Machine gunning 8iron

James Islands Local Coffee Shop Vibe


A pillar of strength and consistency for many years, serving the early morning caffeine needing commuters. Unfortunately not structurally built for a drive thru, but finding fast parking is a cinch.

As I approached, a landscaper was wacking, trimming and bagging the grounds from, making the outdoor seating look that much more appealing.

Inside feels right, coffee-house calm — a tap on a keyboard the flip of a page all within the surrounding rich jazz notes of Miles Davis.

The coffee comes quick to the counter, quicker from Counter Culture as roasted coffee beans life span lasts about one week.

I loved my triple shot espresso from the Italian made La Marzocco machine, it had the perfect tamp pressure, the first sip to the final left me fully encompassed in the moment. That moment of the morning before the world attacks.

Gettin’ Loose at The Tattooed Moose

The House Burger & The Duck Fries.





“If the parking lot is any indication of what is to be inside — we’re not getting seated for a while”, were my pre-hostess thoughts. Luckily a group of eight were just leaving as we entered — four two tops were separated and readied.

Not five minutes later, the live music fires up, I’m directly infront of it, the lighting is rather low for 3:00 Saturday afternoon — bad weather played a role.
Point being — I struggled a bit reading the menu and struggled a tad more hearing complete sentences.
Grade of ‘B+’ to have such good live music playing so early.

Moosehead was allegedly on tap, excited –we both ordered pints, but they came to us tasting off. We both knew it was not Moosehead, and tasted like a skunky Miller, significant disappointment there. Transitioning into Pabst Blue Ribbon 16’s, the cans were frosted, but the beer was sort of coolish in temperature, that did not thrill us either. The less modest beer prices are excelkent!
Many craft beers are available that I shall try next go round.
A grade of ‘C-‘ for the beer thus far.

If I hear that “I Must Order the Duck Fries” one more time, I’m gonna scream, it’s all heard when Tatooed Moose is mentioned. The fries were on the soft side, very pliable, the garlic and cheese pour-on masked this a bit, not to me. A grade of ‘C-‘ for the fries.

I thought to keep the main course as free from complications for myself, the menu had some very interesting looming items, most of all that I intend on eating, I went ‘ole reliable’ — house burger it is. (Tatooed Moose Burger) with a runny egg on top. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Once it arrived, grabbing for the phone to photo, didn’t cross my mind and once I had the double patties (standard) hoisted high, I went in. Conversation is still rattling, the band is still jamming, people are enjoying — I was in my own little world eating this wonderfully prepared hamburger.
A grade of ‘B+’ for the house burger.

The service deserves so much more than a simple one liner, yet it encapsulates the entire experience as I found it to be.

All who pitched in at our table, perhaps five in total, checking in, clearing, smiling all the way — You all stole the show.

Better service — I do not believe we could have had.

Segments of Times Past. Part 1.



Religion, Faith, Chocolate and Treats.

“You Can Never Go Home” ~Thomas Wolfe

The first segment of times past in the story’s history takes place in town just over ten miles from Manhattan named Forest Hills, in the county of Queens — New York 11375

Forest Hills is split onto a few sections, most notably, for non residents was the north side and south side divide of Forest Hills which is separated by Queens Blvd — a large east west road stretching from Jamaica to Long Island City.
The northern section of Forest Hills contained three sub sections clearly defined by the sizes of the homes and the families that lived within them,
1. The Forest Hills Gardens: A private community that features some of the most expensive residential properties in Queens County,
2. Van Court: A less prestigious and less affluent section, yet with substantial homes as well, just not close to the size and beauty of the homes in the Gardens.
3: The A Frames: An unofficial title of the smallest homes on the north side of Forest Hills, this is where I grew up.

As a child growing into his teenage years, my neighborhood had it all, one needent leave his or her own block to enjoy play time with friends of our exact age. There were so many children that were around of ages above and below, and we all played well together. The bulk of play time was spent after school these were the years of 1976 thru 1984.

Myself, my sister and the handful of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic school kids always had to take a bit of extra time to change out of our classroom uniforms — for the boys it was jackets, dress pants, ties and dress shoes and quickly change into play clothes.

Once back outside, we played games such as Ring a Leveio, Red Light Green Light 123, Hot Peas and Butter, SPIT, Kill the Man With the Ball, Stoopball, Roller Hockey, Slapball and other urban street games.
We all played until dinner time, and all families ate between six PM and seven PM. We sat and ate with our family for thirty minutes, returning outside to commence playing till dusk came and the street lights were turned on, this was the sign that it was time to get home for the night, there was no returning back outside, there never was any reason to.

My sister I and were subjected to (I say that in jest as I really did enjoy the school) a private school experience at Our Lady of Mercy a Roman Catholic institute, not exactly a jewel in the crown of the Parochial school world, but a responsible education none the less. The public and private schools that all children in the neighborhood were sent to were separated by one intersection, even sharing the same street name. The private education was explained to us, to be far better than the public schools, but it seemed obvious the difference was that public school is run like a state school and private is a rich snobby religious schools not run by the state. What really separated the two learning institutions, from my point of view at the time, was the religion classes we sat through, uniforms we had to fashion ourselves in daily, and the nun’s we were rough and would crack you with a ruler in the blink of an eye.
To be quite candid, I can not say that I learned as much as I believe I should have in eight years of schooling in an effort to prepare me for high school, but in reality all school was to all of us was an extended day of fooling around and mischief.

All in all, it hasn’t made much of a difference except that he’s has more elitist tendencies and most of us didn’t have to work as hard to get into the necessary high school to advance into an excellent college Part of me always felt that because the school I attended was private, school administrators in concert with the OLM Roman Catholic Church papacy that was adjacent to the elementary school, would encourage whatever curriculum they wanted. The R.C. Church operates the world’s largest non-governmental school system and these education ministries taught a full curriculum in secular subjects, and a variety of extracurricular activities

One day while sitting in theology class I remember hearing Sister Terrance aka: Terrible Terrance say that “Homosexuality is a sin and it’s a conscious choice”. I internally questioned the topic being taught to us, as to its attempt to dissuade or more likely, influence a pupil’s future lifestyle. At our tender ages, this seemed like a topic that we were ill-equipped to grapple with. The issues of animal/human cloning were not yet in the works, but topics such as euthanasia and alike would have served the class better than countless hours of practicing for the May Crowning. Now, twenty years later on in life, I consider myself a person with a humanistic, pragmatic, secular and philosophical outlook on most matters. I have been content to use reasoning and science to help me solve most of my problems.

My parents were religious, not the fire and brimstone type where they believed in promoting eternal damnation to encourage repentance based on our choices. They believed they made the right decision in sending us to a private school; quite obviously, they were looking out for our education. It is my opinion that family values and engagement with your child matter most during school years.

Queens had its share of really rough public schools so my parents wanted me away from the horror stories they knew about regarding violence and illegal behavior. I know that’s part of the reason why they sent us to private/catholic school, I think they would’ve preferred me to be pushed into religion than pushed into drugs and sex at a young age. Can I say for sure if the education is much better, much worse, or equivalent, no I can not. What I can say is just that I had issue (still do) with the curriculum they feed you, based on their biased fundamentalist beliefs.

God alone created the world
God keeps all created things in existence God was moved by His Goodness to create the world.
The world was created for the Glorification of God.

For a young mind to be taught in this manner, seemed to be that even in science evolution was it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory. We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory
The process itself is rational. Catholic parents whose children are in public schools should ensure that their children are also receiving appropriate catechesis at home and in the parish on God as Creator. Students should be able to leave their biology classes, and their courses in religious instruction, with an integrated understanding of the means God chose to make us who we are.

The Chocolate Bars:
Once a year the school handed out as many boxed of chocolate as each child thought they could sell to friends, family and neighbors. All chocolate bars that were unsold from the chocolate fund-raiser drives, had to be returned in issuing condition, Catholic school fund-raisers were quite common and we had a full catholic school fund-raising brochures. Fundraising for your catholic school or religion-based school is a never-ending process, whether it’s for school trips, sports teams, benefits, playgrounds, school dances, proms, talent night events. Our school must have earned easily up to 75% profits with their chocolate fund-raising products.
If I recall correctly, the price per bar was $1.00 and we were all given about fifty bars to sell. Just the other day while I was sitting at home working on my ever mounting stack of paperwork a middle-aged girl appeared at my door selling chocolates. The rate per bar was amazingly $1.00. I was selling these in the late 1970’s when a Hershey bar in the store was less than fifty cents. My problem was I had not been able to keep my fingers out of the chocolate box that we used to carry the bars around in and consuming these chocolate bars was overtaking my ability to sell them. The bar is about six inches in length and two inches across. I found this bar enjoyable. It had a nice taste, it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter, at least for me. It had good creamy texture; I like how it melted in my mouth, more so than any bar at the candy stores.
Well, I sold about six to my family and next door neighbor and ate about thirty of them myself. Once the time came to turn in the money and if available, surplus product, I was told I owed thirty something dollars. This shocked me for some reason, clearly it was not the math equation portion, but how was I going to come up with the money to satisfy the owed money? Reality was closing in on me and I had to come clean and have my parents bail me out of this jam and they did. But I had a new revised chore list that would keep me working through the next few weekends to cover the payment they had made on my behalf.
The consumption, availability and varieties of candy and chocolate played a huge role in my life growing up, as the options were endless and it was the only affordable, consumable I could purchase without financial assistance. Just lift the sofa cushions every other week, the piggy bank always held a few extra coins and if not my sisters usually did. I was unable to repay what I had owed based upon my personal consumption, I felt terrible and from that day forward remained hesitant about debt.

The Candy Truck:
There was a dedicated candy truck that came around every day after school to sell all of the school kids his delectable, sugar filled items. Everything from Apple Heads, Boston Baked Beans, Bubble Gum Cigarettes, Bubble Gum Cigars, Candy Cigarettes, Charms Sweet & Sour Pops, Cherry Heads, Fizzies, Freshen Up Gum, Giant Smarties, Hot Tamales, Jolly Rancher Sticks, Laffy Taffy, Licorice Pipes, Pixy Sticks, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Sugar Daddy Pops, Sweetarts, Wax Lips, Zotz, Atomic Fireballs, Bazooka, Candy Necklace, Jaw Breakers, Lemonheads, Necco Assorted Wafers & Now & Laters. At the time it was a wonderful world to live in. Little did I know within 2 years all would be upside down? Sweethearts became shooting stars LSD and M&M’s would be substituted for Mescaline.