It’s hard to express how proud I am of Michael right now (and I can feel my Dad grinning from ear to ear). When he told me this summer he wanted to join JROTC when he went to High School this Fall I wasn’t sure how he would take to it. Well, he jumped head first and committed himself 100%. So much so that he was tapped very early by the First Sargent to be the squad commander of all the “Let 1’s” (the first-year cadets) for basic drill team. He took this responsibility very seriously, practicing his commands as well as his execution for the drill every day for the past six weeks.
Today was the Charlotte Metro Area drill meet where all 20 schools in the district assembled their drill teams from the 4,000+ JROTC cadets and they had to execute a roughly five-minute routine under the scrutiny of several judges. Michael led his squad out and commanded a nearly flawless execution of their drill – netting them 2nd place for the Squad Basic competition and helping his entire High School to the 2nd place overall honor for the whole district.
His Mother and I are extremely proud but seeing the respect and admiration of his fellow cadets – both those he commanded in his Let 1 squad and his superiors – was really something. One of the judges came over after their routine and congratulated Michael personally on such a great effort. This was before any scores had been tabulated or the winners known.
Here is their whole drill under the command of (about to be promoted to) Corporal Michael Reed.
(Hit the full screen button for best viewing)
Congratulations Michael. Hooah!
The kids and I are near the end of a nice visit with my Dad and his clan in Rockport. Even Aunt Cyndee was here again for a bit – which always means fun .
We haven’t been able to do too much fishing because we’ve been just hanging out and the wind has been howling but we got out today and had a blast. We caught trout, drum, lady fish, Spanish mackerel and a couple other things. But the highlight was our new fishing buddy. Check him out in the video…
Well, we’re back home after our latest adventure.
On the second day, between thunderstorms, we managed to get out and catch a few more trout and one small red.
BTW – the little place we stayed in Oriental was really neat. It was right on a small marina with a balcony overlooking the Tiki bar, pool and a little local restaurant. Perfect little spot for us.
On the third day we checked out of the hotel early and put the boat in the water back up near where the guide had taken us the first day. We caught a few more trout (one nice keeper which we did this time) but then got cut short when we went out to rescue some folks who had backed into a crab trap in shallow water.
After towing them back in to their dock, we loaded up the boat and took the ferry across the river (really more of a bay) and then down to Beaufort where we had a late lunch. Then we dropped the boat back in the water down there near Moorehead city and tried again. After trying several spots in a 20-25 knot wind, we finally rested on a spot under a large bridge where we proceeded to catch a whole menagerie of species including shark, ribbon fish, lizard fish one really nice flounder that Allison snared (more food).
By sunset we were tired and out of bait so I pulled the boat and cleaned the fish on the dock. We drove out a bit to Havelock and found an inexpensive (but really nice) place to stay the night. Then, after a breakfast that included pancakes from an automatic pancake machine, we checked out the little military historical site there by the hotel and drove on home. I’m off now to cook the flounder and trout for dinner. One more adventure in the books.
Apparently we couldn’t stand just sitting at home and not fishing.
So here we are in Oriental, NC – about 5 1/2 hours from home on the “inner banks”. We’re having to dodge thunderstorms and some wind, but having a great time and CATCHING FISH!
Tonight we say farewell to Islamorada again.
I’m always a little sad when I leave this place. As Jimmy said, this is my “One Particular Harbor”. But, I really could not live here. I love NC and actually being here all the time would certainly nullify some of the magic of returning each year.
We figured out that, in Michael’s almost 14 years he has been here now 9 times. Allison 7 times in her 10 years (as of this Wed). I’ve built some wonderful memories with my kids in this place – some of the best times I’ve had with them. Probably because, when we are here, we are completely together 24/7 and doing things that we all love to do together. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
So, tomorrow we will pull away again and I will wonder if we will get the chance to come back – or, even if we do, will it really be the same? I sometimes feel like this time I have with the kids is slipping away from me at an increasingly rapid pace. But I know we will always have these memories and we will build more. They may be different or just more of the same but I’m pretty sure they will continue to be wonderful.
Goodbye, Islamorada. We will miss you.
Over the past several days we’ve done a ton of stuff but it has also been very relaxing and a general great time. We have cracked a fresh coconut, caught dolphin (mahi), chased flying fish, met dolphin (mammals) on the open ocean, caught snapper, jacks, ladyfish, trout and barracuda, cooked fresh fish that was swimming that day and watched lots of sunsets. Just another week in paradise…
The wind has kicked up to 20mph+ and the forecast is for rain tomorrow so we may head on up to Delray Beach a day early. We are meeting my sister and several of her offspring up there for another four or five days of fun in the sun!
Today was a nice calm day on the ocean so, in between dolphin fishing, we stopped for lunch and a snorkel at Alligator Reef. This is a popular place in the area as it is an 8-10 foot deep reef surrounded by 30-80 foot water about three miles off the keys.
Wind still up today so a relaxed schedule. We took it easy and then went to Robbie’s to feed the tarpon. Followed by lunch at the Hungry Tarpon next door (on the patio – the wind at least makes it bearable outside). Then a little fun fishing close to home and out of the wind. We topped off the day with dinner at Wahoo’s.
A successful first full day. The wind kicked up on us a bit making us have to change plans a bit but we still got out to fish and then ended the day at my favorite evening spot down here – Lorelei on the Beach. Beautiful sunset and delicious crab legs for all. As she was finishing off her crab, Allison said “Dad, this is the good part of Florida.” I asked her “what’s the bad part?” She replied “Nothing!”.
On the way to dinner we saw something I must share. I have spent a lot of time on the water in a lot of different places and witnessed a lot of cool wildlife events. What we saw this evening ranks right up there with the coolest.
As we were driving down a part of the road that runs right by the water I noticed a huge commotion about seven or eight hundred yards offshore. I stopped the car and we got to watch a HUGE hammerhead shark chase down and devour what looked to me like a permit of probably 30+ lbs. There is no way to truly gauge it because it was so far away but the dorsal fin on this thing stuck about two feet out of the water and the distance between the dorsal and tail (also thrashing above the water) was at least 6-8 feet. It had to be a 14-16 foot shark if not bigger. It was a spectacular show that went on for several minutes with other drivers stopping to see as well. Not so cool for the fish being eaten but something you just don’t get to see every day (or ever).
It was so far away I didn’t even attempt to take video but here is an account of most of the rest of our day.
We arrived today about 4:15 and got right to one of our regular spots – The Islamorada Fish Company. By boat, of course…