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, October 19, 2018

Rock, Paper, Scissors

October 17, 2018

Kathy and Jack

Rock, Paper, Scissors

There was a little more than a week between the time I returned from Austin until the real beginning of what is the rollercoaster that we jump on each fall season here in Key West as Fantasy Fest kicks off and things jump in to high gear. You might think this would be a good time to relax and take it easy in anticipation of all the craziness that is coming, but that is just not my style. There is too much stuff going on and too many things to do to keep us occupied.

The first thing that I had to deal with on my return was a brief scare from Hurricane Michael, which formed south of Cuba and made its way north into the Gulf of Mexico. We were very fortunate as, the Keys were barely brushed by the outlying feeder bands which created a lot of wind and some cool rough surf conditions here, but no real damage. Sadly that cannot be said for our friends in the Florida panhandle who got slammed with a very strong Category 4 storm that devastated many small beachfront communities. Knowing what it is like to experience and have to recover from a catastrophic storm, our hearts go out to all those impacted by this storm. Our good fortune is sadly once again someone else’s misery.

It did make for some fun walks along White Street Pier and Higgs Beach and Kathy and I took Jack down to watch the wind and waves a few times a day while we were getting blasted. He really was energized by the activity and there were plenty of people out enjoying the surf. We even saw surfers at Higgs Beach, which is an exceedingly rare sight. There were plenty of kite boarders enjoying the action as well as the wind was whipping.

It calmed down enough so that Books and Books did not have to cancel or postpone their reading and booksigning with noted author Kwame Alexander. Alexander has written 21 books, mostly for young adult readers and his book “The Crossover” won the coveted Newberry Award as that year’s most distinguished contribution to children’s literature.

Kwame Alexander

Since many of his books have a basis or setting around sports, I wanted to check him out as a potential panelist for the 2020 Key West Literary Seminar, which will focus on sports in literature. He was fantastic and performed to a packed house along with a talented musician friend, Randy Preston in a musical/literature evening of entertainment. The best news is that he has already tentatively agreed to come back in 2020 for the seminar.

Randy Preston

As Fantasy Fest gets closer, things are starting to pick up in town. In anticipation of the increase in business, my new favorite bar, General Horseplay, which has been open for a couple of months, has finally completed the renovation of their outdoor courtyard area and they hosted a grand opening party of sorts by hosting their first ever Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament. It is just the sort of wacky event that the now shuttered Porch once offered which is not surprising as many of the same principals are involved.

There were close to twenty entrants in the event, which was hosted by my buddy Landon, who is damn hysterical. Strangely enough, bar owner and friend Chris Schultz won the single elimination tourney, there was no home field advantage either, he legitimately won every round to capture the first championship. It was a fun night and great to see the bar already doing well.


Scott and Chaka

Kristyn and Landon

I conclude this blog entry with some pretty tragic news, an acquaintance of mine, Kelsey Quayle was murdered in a random shooting as she was driving in Atlanta. She had recently moved there in search of better opportunities to pursue her modeling career. I only met her a few times at various race tracks as she was one of the UFD girls who represented the sponsor of my favorite driver, James Hinchcliffe. She was always sweet and kind and I got to know her a little at the track and we became friends on facebook. She had moved on from UFD to even bigger and better modeling gigs and it was fun watching her success and progression as she pursued her career. Sadly it was all cut short in a senseless, random tragedy. Our deepest sympathy to all of Kelsey’s family and friends. Another beautiful soul gone way too soon.

Mario Andretti and Kelsey


Wednesday, October 17, 2018


October 10, 2018


With the exception of brief stops at DFW airport, I had never visited Dallas, Texas. It just has never been on the top of my to-do list and it just happens to be one city that I had never felt much time or inclination to visit. Not that there is not plenty of things to see and do there, it just never seemed to happen. Now with my visit to the Texas State Fair, which is held in Dallas each year, I was there with some extra time on my hands. I looked at what there was to do there and determined that there were two spots that I really wanted to see. The first was the Dallas Zoo and the second was Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963.

I hit the zoo first.  The Dallas Zoo is located in Marsalis Park, which is three miles south of downtown Dallas. It is the oldest and largest zoological park in the state of Texas, having been established in 1888. The 106 acre park is home to over 2,000 animals representing 406 species, and while it has been around for ages, features modern state of the art animal enclosures that are as good as any zoo I have been to.

The park is basically divided into two larger areas, ZooNorth and the impressive Wilds of Africa section. The Africa section is especially impressive as it features a long walkway that winds through the wide-ranging exhibit that features African animals grouped together as much as possible in large free range enclosures that offer the animals plenty of room to roam. There is a monorail that circles the area as well, allowing close-up views of the various animals from above.

ZooNorth is the original and oldest section of the zoo. The Wilds of Africa region was constructed seventy-eight years after ZooNorth and is accessed from ZooNorth via a tunnel beneath Clarendon Drive. It includes Giants of the Savanna, which was opened in 2010.

One of the coolest areas of the zoo is the Tiger exhibit. A glass viewing area and pathways allow the visitor to observe Sumatran tigers and Malayan tigers. The tigers' lush exhibits feature sun and shade, shallow pools with deep channels, running streams with hot rocks, perching rocks, and climbing/clawing trees.

The Giants of the Savannahs portion of the zoo features four female African elephants, a large herd of reticulated giraffes African lions, South African cheetahs, impala, Grant's zebras, ostriches, guineafowl, warthogs, and red river hogs. The elephants have a huge space and a welcoming watering hole where they can swim and cool off.

After a nice visit to the zoo, I drove in to downtown Dallas to check out a place that as morbid as it may sound, I have always wanted to visit, Dealey Plaza the site where JFK was killed in November of 1963. Like many Americans, I have read countless books about the assassination and seen movies, documentaries and other coverage of the sad but historic event.

The site has of course become a popular tourist destination and as expected there were crowds of people there who shared my own curiosity. I was surprised by two things initially, one was how little has changed since that fateful day. The plaza and area around it have had very little development or changes since 1963 and the layout is exactly as it was then. Secondly is how small and compact the area was. Perhaps it had seemed larger than life in my historical understanding, but the entire scene is smaller and more compact than I had imagined.

The former Texas Book Depository building, the Grassy Knoll, the Triple Underpass, all looks remarkably similar to images from that time. I was too late on a Sunday afternoon to make it up to the sixth floor perch where Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly fired the fatal shots, but I climbed over the Grassy Knoll, walked over the X on the street that marked the spot where the fatal shots hit the President and got a good overall sense of the place.

The Grassy Knoll

Personally I have always believed that Oswald acted alone and have given little credence to the many, many conspiracy theories. There were a number of people on the site pushing various conspiracies while I was there, but after reading Gerald Posner’s excellent book, “Case Closed”, I feel that it was a lone gunman job- that is unfortunately the American way. After seeing the sightlines from the Sixth floor of the Book Depository Building it seems even more likely to me. Unlike some conspiracy theorists claim, the distance is not that far and most experienced marksmen could have easily made the shot.

Dealey Plaza in 1963

The city of Dallas was smart to build a memorial to Kennedy a couple of blocks away from the actual site, rather choosing to leave the area pretty much as it was then. The memorial is impressive and nice but would have been a strange distraction if it had been built in Dealey Plaza itself.