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, August 30, 2019

Go Down to the Honkytonk

August 28, 2019

Go Down to the Honkytonk

Jake Owen


Trevor, Brenda, Nadene and Charlie

2018 FF King Larry 

The end of August and the approach of Labor Day means that the summer is officially over, kids are heading back to school and in Key West, it means the start of the official run-up to Fantasy Fest with the annual announcement party where the candidates for Fantasy Fest King and Queen are announced. The event has been held for the past few years at the Southernmost House and it begins eight weeks of fundraising events for AH Monroe.


The crowning of King and Queen seems to have lost some luster from the good old days when it was just a huge undertaking and this year, as has been the case the past few years, it looks as if they have had trouble finding candidates to participate. While the quantity of the candidates has gone down, perhaps the quality has gone up as the four candidates from last year still managed to raise $175,000.00 to benefit AH which is by far their largest fundraising opportunity of the year.


This year there are two candidates for each, King and Queen and they seem to be as enthusiastic as ever in their plans to compete for the coveted crowns, the candidates in each category who raise the most funds leading up to Fantasy Fest will wear the crowns which will be given out at the Royal Coronation party the Friday evening before Fantasy Fest week in October.


This event was the official introduction of the candidates and gave the public their first glimpse of the four candidates who will be dominating the social scene in Key West for the following two months. Each candidate gives a brief introduction and performs a brief skit to entertain the crowd to kick-off their candidacy. It makes for a zany and fun evening as the candidates put their best foot forward and try to launch their campaigns with good momentum.

Living in Key West has a lot of obvious benefits, but thanks to my friend Nadene, I was able to score a coveted free pass to one of the cool rare things that happen here. Budweiser beer sponsored a Nationwide contest where the winners got a free trip to Key West on a private cruise ship that they called the Budlight Getaway. As part of the winner’s prize package, Budlight hosted a private concert at the Key West Amphitheater featuring Country star Jake Owen.

Kyle, Charlie and Trevor 

Budlight rented out the amphitheater and set up a beautiful festival like atmosphere for the relatively small crowd of 1400 winners. They must have spent a ton, because they brought in all sorts of cool stuff like huge swings, Adirondack Chairs, a complete selection of picnic tables and umbrellas and more for the event. Nadene had helped the organizers out and had some free passes for the concert which was held at midday on a Saturday.

Penny and Rich 

It was hot, but really nice, especially since we found our way to the VIP tenet which had huge electric misters and was quite comfortable. I was largely unfamiliar with Jake Owen, though I had seen him once previously some years ago when he played the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. 

This time he was back with his full band and played a fantastic 90 minute set, that featured all of his hits, songs from his most recent release and a few cool covers including a Jimmy Buffet cover, “A Pirate Looks at 40.” The show was really great. He was really seeming to have a great time and has a magnetic personality that really came across in front of the small but enthusiastic crowd of contest winners, who seemed to appreciate the rare, intimate experience they were having.

I know that I certainly did, it was a truly great show and the ability to walk right up to just about the front of the stage with ease was really nice, as was the free food and beer and the company that I was with, Nadene and her husband Trevor and our friend Brenda. It capped off a great weekend and a nice start to the run-up to what is the busiest time of the year here in Key West.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hi Ho Harry!

August 24, 2019


Hi Ho Harry!

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon does remarkable work. Founded in 1986 by my friend Richie Moretti who turned his Marathon hotel at the time into a full scale sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility that he dubbed the Turtle Hospital.  Moretti’s Turtle Hospital was among the first of its kind in the world. In one building is the operating room where turtles are repaired. It’s where tumors caused by the mysterious fibropapilloma virus are cut away, where broken shells are patched with fiberglass and plastic debris is removed from turtle stomachs.


From there recovering turtles are placed in small holding tanks until they grow strong enough to eat on their own. Next they go to slightly larger tanks shared with other turtles. After that they are moved into a 100,000-gallon saltwater pool where they can easily swim and gather their strength for the final step months later – the day Richie and his staff release them back into the wild. Over the years Richie has saved more than 1,500 turtles from death.

The Sea Turtle Hospital is so well known in the Keys that fishermen now bring him injured and sick turtles. But when they can’t, Richie sends out one of his two turtle ambulances. They’re equipped with kayaks and netting (in case a technician has to chase down an ailing turtle). Over the years I have known Richie I have attended maybe 25 of his turtle release, both from the shore and from beaches nearby where the turtles were rescued.

I always love the releases, though they can sometimes be quite the spectacle as they are often very public affairs. So I was thrilled to learn that The Turtle Hospital in conjunction with the Key West Sea Turtle Club was going to be doing a release of a turtle only a few blocks from our house at Higgs Beach behind Salute.

Harry an olive ridley sea turtle was rescued about six miles offshore of the Keys in early February. While olive ridley turtles are the most abundant sea turtle species in the world, they typically aren’t found in the United States. Harry was found floating and entangled in a massive “ghost” fishing net. Unfortunately, ghost nets and fishing gear are the greatest threat olive ridleys face.


Harry was rescued and transported in the turtle ambulance to the Turtle Hospital for treatment. Harry was emaciated with life threateningly low blood values and suffered entanglement injuries on all four flippers. Treatment at the Turtle Hospital included broad spectrum antibiotics, IV nutrition, class 4 laser therapy, wound treatment, vitamins and a healthy diet of fish, shrimp and squid. Harry made a miraculous recovery and was ready to be returned to the wild with the public release.

A tracking device has been affixed to Harry’s back and you can track his movements using the link below. The beach was packed with people for the release, hundreds of members of the public, turtle volunteers and even school groups visiting on a field trip were on hand to wish Harry well and watch his return to the wild. Since he was so small and was released very close to the water’s edge, some people may have had trouble seeing the actual release. I found a spot in the water to try and get a good vantage point.

Richie always allows for a few minutes for children to come up before the release and get a close look at the animal and while it may seem to stress them out a bit, in the long run, the educational value in letting the kids get up close and personal and learn about the turtle’s plight is a small price to pay for a couple of minutes of discomfort prior to being free again.

It always brings great joy to see the turtles returned to their natural habitat and I applaud all of the staff and volunteers at the Turtle Hospital for making it possible. They truly are environmental heroes. Here’s wishing Harry a safe, full and happy life.