No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Holiday Kick-Off

December 6, 2016

Holiday Kick-Off

As soon as the Thanksgiving holiday is past, Key West goes into high gear preparing for Christmas. The city decorations go up, including beautiful displays at Bayview Park and at the Key West Bight and lights begin appearing on houses throughout the city. Our house is no exception as Kathy has once again added a good number of lights to our annual display and most of the week, she (with a little help from me), was busy hanging lights and covering our property with all manner of Christmas lights.

Each year we enter the city’s annual holiday lights contest sponsored by Historic Tours and City Electric and each year in spite of our best efforts we do not win the competition. This isn’t to say that we do not give it our best effort, but speaks to just how amazing the competition is (and as Kathy surmises the fact that we don’t know any of the judges).

Whatever the case, we don’t care and hang the lights to please the many trolleys, trains and others that pass by our house each night during December. It is fun to sit in the yard and greet the many who pass by. The Island holiday party always gets started with the annual City of Key West Holiday Parade which is held the first Saturday evening of December each year. The parade which this year featured more than double the number of entries of the Fantasy Fest parade, was especially good this year.

With more than 60 entries ranging from School groups and bands to civic organizations, local business entries as well as various churches and religious organizations participating, the parade is a true measure of the wonder and diversity of our community. The floats are a wonderful mix featuring everything from drag queens to Santa Claus and feature a number of the various members of our religious community with entries from all manner of churches and even the local synagogue. All views and people are well represented and the large crowd of families and community members who line the route seem to enjoy it all.

Kids are especially happy as most of the entries toss out candy to the kids who eagerly await holding bags that are often more full at parade’s end than a typical Halloween haul. The parade is one of the coolest things that the city sponsors all year and we really love attending. As is our tradition, we once again stopped at a pre-parade party at the home of our friends Holly and Craig. This family friendly party is a great way to gear up for the parade as many of our friends and their kids gather in advance of the festivities to eat, drink and enjoy the holiday cheer.

Just as the parade was starting, the party crowd moved to the Truman Street parade route to secure a good spot among the thousands of others on hand to watch the parade and catch the candy that each parade entry flung towards the children lining the street. We watched the parade from that spot for about a third of the time before heading down Truman through the crowd to The Conch House B & B, where owner Sam Holland was hosting his annual parade watching party and where each year we see a large number of friends enjoying the start of the holiday season.

The Conch House

The Conch House party is always a great time, so many of our friends attend each year and all are in the holiday spirit that is the perfect entrée into the crazy month of December and all the events that fill up the calendar this time of year. It is just one massive and quick burst until the New Year. 2016 has been a difficult year for many, with the loss of so many talented artists, a brutal election season that divided our Nation and created a malaise that continues to linger over much of our collective consciousness, hopefully the Holiday season and New Year will lead to better things, some healing and respect among our fellow citizens.

Friday, December 02, 2016


November 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders

Dakota, Kathy and Andy

Nadene and Meredith


The Thanksgiving holiday always starts for us the weekend prior to Thanksgiving when the annual Miami Book Fair is held on the campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami. We have been going for years and this year was probably around my 20th visit to the amazing event. This year, I again had to fly directly from Las Vegas where I had been attending the DEMA (Dive Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) annual conference for work. I flew on an early morning flight out of Vegas to Atlanta where I met my sister Michele who was coming to Miami for the weekend to attend her very first Miami Book Fair. Kathy drove up from Key West that day and met us at the Holiday Inn Bayfront where we always book a suite due to its proximity to the fair.

Terry McMillan

Janna Levin

Michele and Michael

Having not seen Michele since May, it was great to be able to spend some time with her and to introduce her into what is generally regarded as the best book fair in the country. The fair features literally hundreds of authors who make presentations in about a dozen different locations around the MDC campus. The campus streets are filled with a huge collection of vendors including book sellers, periodicals, non-profit organizations, local produce, numerous food vendors and more. There is a huge area for kids and a stage which feature live entertainment and music.

Dave Barry

The highlight is of course the many writers who attend and this year was no exception. We started our morning Saturday attending a session that featured Pamela Paul of the “New York Times” interviewing four successful writers including Jay McInerney, Dave Barry, Terry McMillan and Maria Semple about what literature they read and what influenced them to become writers. It was pretty fascinating to hear them share both their current selections as well as those that really helped forge their interest in the written word. After we all attended the initial session, we split up to enjoy our individual author sessions, crossing paths occasionally in the room set aside for donors where food and drinks were available.

Bernie and Mitch Kaplan

Michele and Jane Alexander

The Property Brothers

Curt Richter

National Book Award Finalists for Poetry

To pinpoint the highlights of an amazing two day at the Book Fair would be next to impossible. The appearance by Senator Bernie Sanders was the hottest ticket and most anticipated presentation of the weekend and he did not disappoint with his talk about the recent Presidential election in which he stressed that, “Despair is Not an Option”. Aside from Bernie there were countless fantastic sessions including the likes of Actress, Author and Environmentalist Jane Alexander, writers such as Dave Barry, Brad Meltzer, Canmpbell McGrath, Joyce Carol Oates, Padma Lakshmi, Dana Perino, Janna Levin, Nathan Hill, Joyce Maynard, Jane Hamilton, T.C. Boyle, Irvine Welsh, Tommy Hilfiger, Kevin Young, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky and many, many more.


Colson Whitehead

Of course no book fair would be complete without seeing a couple of personal friends who were presenting authors, this year both Diana Abu-Jaber and Jim Gleick were featured presenters and Jim even packed the largest room (Chapman) in the place. Kudos to both of them and all of the authors who were there this year. Perhaps my favorite was NY based author Colson Whitehead, fresh off winning the National Book Award for Fiction. I am so happy for him and have been a fan since his very first novel, going so far as to actively promote him to be invited to the Key West Literary Seminar a few year ago when most of the committee members had never heard of him.

Michele and Kathy

Bonnie and Mike

Michele flew back to Indianapolis early Monday morning from Miami and by that time Kathy and I were back in Key West and preparing for a busy Thanksgiving week. Our friend Dakota, whose wedding we recently attended in Vermont arrived on Monday to spend Thanksgiving with us, her husband Andy arrived on Wednesday evening for his first ever visit to Key West. It was so great to be able to spend some quality time with them, the wedding was great, but far too hectic for them and this visit allowed us all time to hang out and relax.


Thanksgiving was a fun day of spending time with good friends. We started the day going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brunch at our friend’s Nadene and Trevor. They hosted a number of people to watch the annual parade and enjoy a huge spread of food. It was especially fun to see so many young kids running around, while the parade was shown. The Macy’s parade has always been on our wish list to actually attend one day, but watching it this way surrounded by good friends was a fine substitute.

Effie, Tom, Caitlin and Greta

Trevor and Meredith

In the afternoon, we headed over to our friends, The Fords for Thanksgiving dinner. I have known and been friends with members of the Ford family since I first moved here in 1991 and have had the pleasure to call three generations of the family my friends. Tom and Greta hosted the dinner at their home and we joined their family and friends for yet another Thanksgiving feast. It was so nice to be invited to their family celebration and we all had a great time enjoying the wonderful food and hospitality. If that wasn’t enough fun for the week, on Black Friday evening, Kathy and I hosted a Black Friday Craft Beer Happy Hour. Our beer fridge was literally packed completely full and we needed to create some space by inviting about 30 friends to the house for a small party. It was a great evening/night with great friends and great beer and was a perfect way to wrap up the Holiday week.

Dakota and Andy

On the weekend after Thanksgiving, Kathy and I played tourist a little with Dakota and Andy, heading over to the Casa Marina resort for the annual Sand Art Competition. Six sand artists from around the world were on hand to create beautiful works of art using only sand and water and the results were impressive. These temporary yet beautiful sculptures were carefully crafted and created over the week with great care by skilled artisans for judging on Sunday afternoon before being left to fade away in the elements.