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!

Friday, March 04, 2016

Disney Days

February 23, 2016

Disney Days

“Oh, reality, it's not for me
And it makes me laugh
Oh, fantasy world and Disney girls
I'm coming back”- The Beach Boys

I know it is a touristy cliché and that I should not love it as much as I do, but I just can’t help myself, I just love going to Walt Disney World and I try to go there every chance I get. This year I had an annual pass that expired on February 21st, and seeing that I was going to be in the area on my way to attend the Daytona 500, I thought I would get use of the final two days that I had left before my pass expired and visit Disney, yet again.

I started at my all-time favorite amusement park, Epcot, where I have been countless times since it opened in 1982. I love it there, and I just cannot seem to get enough of it, especially the World Showcase area where they have pavilions representing various countries around the world including Mexico, Norway, China, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Japan, France, England and Canada. Each country is staffed by natives from that locale and features food, cultural entertainment, shopping and occasional 360 degree films or rides that focus on the country.

Epcot is divided into two sections the World Showcase and Future World, which is the first area you enter through the main gate. The centerpiece of Future World is the iconic geodesic sphere known as Spaceship Earth which features a ride inside of the sphere itself. Future World has more ride-type attractions though the park does not feature the traditional rollercoasters and other thrill rides found at most amusement parks. All of the Epcot attractions were designed to educate rather than thrill park guests, though they have added more adventurous rides such as Test Track and Mission Space since first opening.

Traditional attractions such as Innovations, World of Energy, The Seas, Living With the Land, and Journey into Imagination are all still there and though some have changed and been updated over the years, the basic premise of Epcot has remained mostly unchanged over the years. Even though I have visited these attractions countless times, I still enjoy them again and again. The ride inside the Spaceship Earth, the boat ride through the Living with the Land ride, and even going to the 3D Michael Jackson film, Captain Eo, I love them all.

Of course while Epcot is my favorite Disney park, the pass I had allowed for park hopping meaning that I could go to whichever park I wanted to and on this trip I decided to go to Disney’s Holllywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom as well. The Animal Kingdom I had been to on my most recent visit and I think the Hollywood Studios is the park that I spend the least amount of time in. The Magic Kingdom is always fun, and always packed with families and kids, which while understandable often keeps me away from there due to the massive crowds and screetching children.

The Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Hollywood Studios) is my least favorite of the Disney Parks, but even it has its charms. I love the Haunted Tower of Terror Ride, The Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster, the backstage studio tour and Star Tours, the Star Wars based ride. Ground has been broken on what is planned as a huge Star Wars based expansion and that will be sure to raise the profile of this park that was obviously designed to compete with Universal Studios but still falls somewhat short in my opinion.

The Magic Kingdom was the first and is no doubt the most popular and iconic of all the Walt Disney World parks. It is billed as the Happiest Place on Earth and stepping into the Main Street corridor you are immediately overwhelmed by the Disney experience. The only park that had the direct influence of Walt Disney himself, the Magic Kingdom captures the Disney experience better than anyplace else and if you love that experience then this is the place to be. I have plenty of friends who just do not get my fascination with Disney, and I get that, it isn’t for everyone, it is commercial and a far cry from a natural experience that many enjoy, but I say so what. I love the outdoors, but I also love the magic that I really feel at Disney World. Call it nostalgia or foolishness or whatever, but I just can’t help it.

I enjoyed an amazing and fun two days exploring Disney once again and then I was ready to make the short drive over to Daytona Beach where I was set to attend my second Daytona 500. My pass has expired so who knows when I may be back at Disney, but my guess it won’t be too terribly long.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


February 19, 2016

Brandon and Julio

The Ford family

Michael and Henk

Brooke and Henk


Last year a series of short plays were presented at the Key West Theater under the collective name of Bones & Pie. It was an evening of short 10-15 minute plays which while all enjoyable, had one truly remarkable piece written by Michael Marrero and acted by Brandon Beach and Landon Bradbury. The piece was called Locura and after seeing the searing performance of the beautifully written piece I wrote that it was the finest piece of theatre that I had ever seen on a Key West stage, it was mesmerizing and amazing and I left the theater that night wishing I could see it again. Well I was not the only one who felt that way and Marrero went right to work transforming his vision in to a full length play that featured the same two characters and was their expanded story.

Effie and Caitlin

The premier of the full-length show, Locura, premiered at the Key West Theater and Kathy and I had our standard seats in the front row along with our friends the Ford family, Effie, Caitlin, Greta and Tom as well as our friend Lea and her boyfriend and my friends Jenny and Ashley. The expanded play saw the return of Brandon Beach as Chumpi, but Landon was replaced by an actor from Ney York named Julio Trinidad who played the character Octavio. Landon just could not commit the time needed for the production and as awesome as he was, Trinidad is a veteran actor who brings a wealth of experience to the role.

Jenny, Lyndsay Faye, Mark, Ashley and Nancy

Emily, Effie, Lea and Greta

I was a little concerned if the intensity could possibly be maintained over a full ninety minutes, but if anything it was even greater and this show is now the finest piece of Theatre that I have ever seen in Key West. The play is about a time before the gentrification and tourist invasion struck Key West, a rough and tumble period during the late 70s and early 80s that was totally different than what is found here today. The play features a Key West born Cuban Conch and his uncle who was born in Cuba and is all that is left of the younger man’s family. The lifestyle of the time featuring violence, corruption, heavy drinking, chasing loose women, gambling and fighting is the backdrop for the characters journey from the cock fights on Rockland Key, to Monkey Island to No Name Key and eventually home to Key West.

All the settings and events of the play are based on real places and things that actually happened back in the day, and Marrero is a masterful storyteller. The acting is literally enthralling and the play is simply fantastic. Anyone who appreciates Key West, its history or learning about a culture that has long since been assimilated into today’s much more sterile Key West will love this show. It is a must see for Conchs and it will be running at the Key West Theater through March 18 before traveling to New York for some performances and then to Havana where the same gifted actors will perform the show speaking only Spanish as part of a cultural exchange program with Cuba.

Ironically during the same week that I attended the show that celebrates the islands colorful past over the tourist imbued place that it is today, I spent the majority of my week this week pretty much playing tourist as my buddy Henk and his daughter Brooke were in town visiting from Cincinnati. I have known Henk and his family for well over 35 years as we grew up in the same neighborhood and I worked throughout high school with him, his brothers and sister at Hamaker Pharmacy in Indianapolis.



It was a pleasure having them back in town again, they also visited two years ago. This year we did even more tourist stuff, wondering around downtown, going to the Key West Aquarium and Historic Shipwreck Museum, climbing the tower that features fantastic views of the harbor and downtown Key West. We even managed to sneak in a bar or two including Captain Tony’s and the Porch. Sometimes it is just fun to play tourist, visiting places that I would never generally go unless we had out of town guests.

Henk and Brooke

They were here for a few days as part of a larger trip to Florida and when it came time for them to depart, I drove them up to Ft. Lauderdale where we were to see the Bruce Springsteen concert and also spend part of the day and afternoon the next day before their departure at Ft. Lauderdale Beach. We had lunch at one of the many bistros that line the beach and hung out for some time at the beach itself before heading to the airport, where I dropped them off. Sadly to Brooke’s dismay we did not have sufficient time to do adequate shopping before their departure, hopefully that means they will just have to come back. Otherwise I hope to see them in May around the time of the 100th Indy 500.