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!

Monday, November 11, 2019

39th Annual Key West Offshore Racing World Championships

November 11, 2019

*Photo by TDC

39th Annual Key West Offshore Racing World Championships

This year marks the 39th time that Key West has hosted World Championship powerboat racing which allows falls in the schedule a couple of weeks after Fantasy Fest in early November. It is always the biggest annual sporting event held annually in Key West and draws crowds who line the shore to watch the slate of racing that is held each year on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday of powerboat week.




This year, I once again went down to the local VIP party held on Wednesday, the first day of racing. I arrived just after what was apparently a spectacular double boat accident which saw two of the powerboats collide and flip at the same time. Thankfully only a few minor injuries occurred to the boat pilots in what was a scary moment. I was bummed that I did not get a photo, but someone did and the photo below by an unknown photographer spread like wildfire on social media as it caught the boats mid-flight.

*photo by unknown

This year marks the first year that the powerboat races were organized by Race World Offshore, who won the contract from the city last fall. I must say that I was less than impressed. There just were not very many actual powerboats on hand and the races suffered for it. The top class only had three boats and many of the lower classes only had a single entry, meaning the term racing really did not apply.


The look and feel of the powerboat village and sundry events was pretty much the same, in fact the new organizers did a good job adding new twists like a victory podium celebration to the event, they just need more boats to enter. The races that had a decent number of boats were fairly interesting. The power and speed of the massive boats are pretty cool to see.



I only caught a couple of the races on Wednesday and skipped Friday due to my work schedule, but on Sunday I went to join my friends the Ford family at Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park. They always arrive early to snare a great viewing spot and set up a pop-up tent for shade and a number of beach chairs and make a day of it. They always have a plethora of food and drinks and it is always a great time hanging out with friends no matter if the races are all that exciting.





Unfortunately the races themselves were rather anticlimactic. Due to a shortage of boats in some classes they had to reduce the total number of races from the four scheduled down to just three and while the races that did go off were fairly interesting, I thought as a whole the event lacked energy and was kind of boring at times. Thankfully we had a great time in spite of all that. 


Just spending an afternoon at Ft. Zach is pretty awesome in itself. The weather was sunny and breezy, not quite as hot as some past years, but still pretty toasty especially in the direct sunlight. Having that pop-up tent was a necessity. There was a few cool iguanas lurking among the rocks along the shore that were almost as much fun to watch as the powerboats. People watching is also fun as a large contingent of fans is always on hand to watch the action. 

  * photo by Sheelman

Friday, November 08, 2019

All the Best Stories to Tell.

November 8, 2019

Frank Turner

All the Best Stories to Tell.

Last year, standing alone at the top of my annual list of best concerts of the year in my annual live music review, was a show from the summer of 2018 featuring Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls that I caught at the House of Blues in Orlando. Knowing that Turner playing Florida is something of a rarity, especially in South Florida, I was thrilled to see that he added a late addition to his Fall US tour by booking a show at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale.

It was a late addition/ tune up for the band’s joining this year’s Flogging Molly cruise ship, so it was very different from the quieter, acoustic sit down and play tour in support of his latest CD release “No Man’s Land”. This show would be a full on, rocking full band tour de force show as one is used to seeing the band play. While a bit disappointed that I would be missing the acoustic show, this is really the way that Turner is meant to be seen and it was more than worth the drive up to Lauderdale.

As a bonus, Turner was doing a free acoustic performance and meet and greet at Radioactive Records in Ft. Lauderdale in the early evening before the show, so I did get to experience some of his acoustic stylings in a very intimate setting in front of maybe 40 people. It is still amazing to me that a guy who is a superstar across Europe and sells out huge venues like Wembley Stadium is so relatively unknown in the US.

Watching him play a five song acoustic set and then hang out with the few people in attendance was an experience that many in Europe would kill for. While I certainly wish he was more popular here for his sake, I do feel a guilty pleasure of being among the few clued-in fans, who may not be as many as one would expect but make up for it with a cult-like fervor when it comes to Frank.

He is such a nice guy, so friendly and relatable and he was in an especially great mood as his wife of only a few months had flown over from England to join him and the band on the cruise just in time to catch the show. It is hard to really describe the experience of attending a Frank Turner gig, photos and video don’t really capture the crazy fun and energetic vibe.

Turner’s punk rock heritage is on full display, but his softer folkier side balances his performance out into something that is completely unique and altogether special. There is no one really to compare his live show, maybe a slightly edgier early Bruce Springsteen perhaps but it is something that you just have to (and should) experience first-hand.

Once again I was thrilled that I made the trip, was it the best show I have seen this year, certainly close, with maybe only Muse in the same realm, but it was truly spectacular and fun. There was a man about my age with his probably 15 year old son standing next to me. The son was attending his first ever rock concert and his Dad qualifies for the coolest Dad award. It was so fun to see the excitement and energy that this young kid had for his first concert, it brought back many memories of a lifetime of watching live music and reminded me that I still have that same 15 year olds passion to this day and age.

Frank and the band ripped through a litany of their most beloved songs, mostly skipping the new CD, so I was glad to have attended the meet and greet. The fervent crowd of Turner disciples sang along loudly and danced their way through every song. His fans are among the most devoted in Rock n Roll and never have I attended shows where more people join in singing the songs, even relative rarities are well known by his fans.

It was an absolutely incredible evening, I was just sad that Kathy was not along to join me. She has headed out West to our Colorado house for a nice ten day getaway and so she missed out on what was a truly awesome experience. I really can not wait to go see Frank Turner again, I would go again tonight if he was playing.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Back to Reality

November 6, 2019

Meg Cabot and Roz Brankenbury

Back to Reality

Coming down from the surreal experience that is Fantasy Fest week is always tough, for one I am always just simply exhausted from the sheer amount of hours out and about, rushing around town, trying to balance my work schedule with all the events that I attend until the very early hours of many mornings. I usually just want to cocoon away at home with Kathy and our pets and be lazy.

The thing is though is that Fantasy Fest, is actually just the beginning of what is a frenetic rollercoaster ride that is season in Key West. The busiest part of the year lie just ahead and the island begins to really shift into the high gear where there is always something, often multiple somethings going on all the time.

I begin this week with something that is actually coming to a close and that is the Key West High School football season. I attended almost all of the home games this year and it was a fun and moderately successful season as the Conchs finished 5-5 and made the playoffs (they face an early elimination against the #1 ranked team this Friday). I really had a good time watching them this year even though they faded somewhat down the stretch against some top quality opposition.

Logan and Tiffany

This week was one of the biggest at Key West High and for the city really as it was the annual Homecoming game. They really do homecoming up here and I was able to document this year’s ceremony from the opposing sideline where I always watch the games. It is all sorts of pageantry and excitement as the homecoming queen candidates are escorted by their father before being handed off to an escort for the ceremony.

I always see friends and their children at the game and this year was no exception, many of the kids that Kathy once taught at Key West Preschool Co-op are now (yikes) in high school and it is always cool to see what awesome young adults these kids have turned out to be. The same night as the game, I attended the opening of a wonderful new exhibit by the Key West Art and Historical Society at the Custom’s House about the Literary History of Key West.

Mark, Michael and Nan


Cori, Brewster and Lynn

It was an impressive exhibit highlighting the myriad of writers, authors and poets who have a strong Key West connection. The first art opening of the season was well-attended and a few of the featured writers were even on hand. My association with the Key West Literary Seminar has given me the opportunity to know personally many of the famed writers and I feel so fortunate for that. It is worth a visit to the Customs House and will be on display through January.


Meg Cabot

One of the authors featured in the exhibit, our friend Meg Cabot had a reading and book signing for her latest book, “No Judgements”, which is set in a fictional island community that very much resembles Key West as a hurricane approaches. Kathy and I and much of the literary community of Key West was on hand for the reading, which was wonderful. Meg is no only a talented writer, but a funny speaker and you should go see her if you get a chance, in the meantime just buy the book and try to figure out if you might know the real people the characters are based on.