Thursday, November 19, 2015


 Mid October we were kayaking five and a half miles down a beautiful crystal clear river with members of Vickie's family in temperatures in the mid 80's.  Water temp in the river is at 74 degrees year-around and the bottom of the river is pure white sand.

A couple weeks later we were in the air on our way to Colorado to see the newest addition of our family, a new grandson.  Of course the temperature was not in the mid 80's but was a perfect upper 60's - low 70's which provided the perfect break from the Florida heat.  There was fresh snow on the mountains and still some beautiful color in the trees.  We were there for a week and then headed back to Florida where we will be until the end of December.

On our return to Florida we made a short trip south of our RV park to do a little Christmas shopping.  What a strange feeling doing that kind of shopping with the thermometer reaching 91 degrees.  There was a nice breeze off the gulf but very little chance of snow.  Some stores were playing Christmas songs and had very nice holiday decorations but still seemed a bit out of place for us northerners.

Our Christmas shopping trip took us to Dunedin, FL where we found their version of our Loveland, CO hearts, dolphins.  They were purchased by different merchants and groups and were scattered around the city just like our hearts.  We did stop for lunch while we were there but as you can tell by the picture of Vickie and I we could still both easily fit in our "small lawn chair".

As we hit the road to head back north we noticed a sign posted, "Clearwater 3 miles"so we decided to take a short side trip.  Many years ago Vickie and I stayed in a hotel at Clearwater Beach while I was in Florida for a tradeshow for Duke Communication.  It was nice to go back and see where we had spent time but of course we had to do a little hunting as a few things had changed over the years.  We did find the expansive white sand beach and the old seaside restaurant where we sipped a glass of wine while watching the sun fall into the ocean.  The one thing that will never change is the feel of the sand on your toes, the smell of the salt air and the sense the whole world is at peace - if only that were true.

All-in-all the past few weeks have been wonderful as we enjoyed the birth of a new grandson, the beauty of the Colorado mountains
with family and friends and the warmth and beauty of sand and surf with family and friends far south.

We will be spending Thanksgiving with Vickie's family in New Port Richey, FL so we will raise a glass to all of you who we will be with in spirit.  Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to remove the meat from the B-Side of the turkey and unplug the crock pot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Birthday in the Sun

Sunday, October 11th was my wife's birthday and she was able to spend it with her brother for the first time in over 30 years.  We met Buzz (Vickie's brother) and his wife Nancy for a day in the Tarpon Springs, FL area and what a great day it was.  Tarpon Springs is the sponge diving capitol of the world and is full of great shops, great places to eat and some of the best white sand beaches in the region.

Every shop is run by Greeks as this is a complete community of immigrates from Greece so you know about every bargain and sale before you even get in the door.  Every shop is full of every kind of shell you can think of and of course all types of natural sponges.  The divers are mostly hard hat types as the sponges hang out in mighty deep water.  Another unique product at every shop is the hand-made soaps you find in every shape, size, color and fragrance.

The local beach is in Fred Howard Park at the end of a long causeway and is an island of pure white sand shaded by tons of huge palm trees and dunes covered with mangrove and sea oats.  We will be making many side trips back to that spot for some tropical style R & R.

We ate at a place called Rusty Belly, a local seaside favorite.  Vickie went the true southern route with an order of cheese grits with fresh shrimp and bacon.  She said it was one of the best shrimp dishes she ever put in her  mouth, in her words, "Amazing".  If you so desire you can also find some of the best Greek food in all of Florida.

We spent a big part of the afternoon setting at the beach watching several kite-surfers. I think it looks like it would be a blast as Buzz and I guessed they must be gliding across the ocean surface at 25-30 mph.  I also watched a seagull let a young girl know she was on his beach by pecking her on the head.  I have seen them come close in the past but never saw one let a tourist have it.  I must say it did get her attention big time.  One of the girls with the same group was so pale it made Vickie and I feel like we were quickly becoming well tanned natives.

If you are ever in the area of Hudson, FL on Hwy 19 you need to look for a little white block building that says "Taste of Philly".  Believe me it is definitely worth a stop for lunch or dinner.  It is the best Cheese Steak or Rubin sandwiches I have had this side of the Philly/NY area.  It looks a little B-Side from the road but it is a Top10 hit with the food.

Just a short drive north from Tarpon Springs on Hwy 19 you can find a waterfront local watering hole called Crab Shack right at the south edge of New Port Richey.  You have to hunt a bit for this one as it is in the shadow of a bridge at the end of a dead end road.  You weave through a few old buildings and some boat storage and there you are.  If you are looking for the true local Florida experience, this is the place you have been looking for.  We plan to make this one of our regular stops when we want to truly get away.

The park is starting to come alive as the migration from Canada is beginning to head south.  Golf carts are starting to  populate the RV resort streets and the Canadian flags are flying high.  About 50% of the snowbirds are from Canada but they can only be in the US for six month.  They therefore wait until the first of
November to arrive so they can stay south through April as it is still a bit chilly that time of year.  It will be a lot of fun getting to know all our new norther neighbors.

Hey, we are off to the pool but we will keep you updated on what's happening in this part of the world.  As always I will be looking for those great B-Side hot spots and I will stay Unplugged- especially near the water.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

From Bluegills to Grouper

From bluegill fishing on the beautiful lakes of northern Indiana with my Brother-in-law to the gulf waters of west-central Florida where grouper is king - our journey continues.  We are now at home in warm, sunny Hudson, FL just 50 miles north of Tampa and 2 miles from the white sands of Hudson Beach.

The summer in Indiana was great spending quality time with family and friends and visiting many of our old stomping grounds where we both spent the first 30 some years of our lives.  We caught so many fish in my few times out on the lakes that my sister, Bonnie set a limit on the number we could keep as their freezer was filling up fast.  Of course there was no way we could stop when the fish were biting so well.  Time on the lakes would have been enough but the great fishing was a great bonus.  My time for fishing was made possible during our stay with my sister, Bonnie and brother-in-law Tom Holloway for over a week while our RV was receiving needed repairs at the Open Range factory in Shipshewana, IN.  I'm not sure if I will be fishing in Florida but will be surf -fishing in Texas during our Jan - Mar stay in Rockport, TX on the gulf coast.

Here is Florida the grouper is the super star in most eating establishments as the price on the menu only states, "market price".  There are plenty of fresh shrimp, scallops and clam strips which go well with the local beverages.  We have been able to locate several good beach-side hide-a-ways by driving down many side roads to see what we could find.  Of course we had a little help from Vickie's brother, Buzz and his wife Nancy as they took us on a tour of the area and pointed out all the good spots.

The trip down went really well and I am starting to think I am a real pro at this RV towing business but I still have a ton to learn.  Thank goodness most of the other RVers and locals are willing to share their knowledge about what to try and what not to.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.  We have found the travel a bit more challenging after we arrived here.  For one, they should be able to run ads in the paper to sell their cars by stating, "1990 Chevy, 240,000 miles, turn signals never been used.  Also if you ever wondered what happened to all the bumper cars you use to ride at the local county fair - I found where they went.  Only this morning I received a light bump from the rear as I was waiting to turn left from a guy who said his foot must have slipped off the brake.  Luckily there was no damage.

Next week we will be taking a kayak float trip down a crystal clear river near here with several of Vickie's family.  I am really looking forward to the trip as most of the others have taken it before and after seeing the facebook pictures we were ready to go.  As a matter-of-fact we rented a 2-person kayak a few weeks back in Indiana just to make sure we would not come off looking like complete rookies.  I can't wait to showcase our stellar kayaking talents in front of family and friends.  The river is full of Manatees this time of year and will make for a trip of a lifetime.  You will have to stand by for the photos at a later date.

We will take you along as we search out new fun locations to eat, drink and lay in the sun.  As I set beneath a swaying palm sipping a - well you know the rest, I will sign off for now but

will visit with you soon.  We will be checking out the B-Side of life and remain forever Unplugged.  Cheers!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hoosier Summer Coming to an End

Well it is absolutely hard to believe but our first summer back in Indiana in 31 years is just about to come to a close.  This is the 2nd of Sept. (our daughter Gretchen's Birthday) and we will be leaving our RV home at Eby's Pines on the 15th.  We are dropping off our RV at the factory in Shipshewana, IN for warranty work and then heading for the sunny south on Sept. 25th.  We will be staying with my sister and brother-in-law during that time about an hour and a half south of here in Akron.  We will take that time to check out a few of the lake areas we have not made it to yet and maybe get in some last minute bluegill fishing.

This had been a busy summer filled with lots of fun activities, friends and family but it is time to head a bit further south as the signs of fall begin to show themselves here in the northern mid-west.  The only thing wrong
with the whole picture is the timing.  We are leaving here before the leaves turn and will be driving through the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains before that change as well.  The good news is we will be arriving on the west coast of central Florida just as the temps begin to cool and the sunsets are at there best.

We will be taking you along for the ride as we exchange the dog days of summer with sand in our flipflops and warm breezes off the Gulf of Mexico.  I hope you continue to ride shotgun as we head sout
h for we have many things to discover and many hidden gems yet to uncover.  Most of our postings will be on the B-Side of life and as always everyday will be completely Unplugged.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hard to Go Home Again

You grow up in Indiana, move to Colorado where you live for over 31 years and then come back to the place of your childhood.  I'm not sure what changed more; the old stomping grounds or the two people who returned.  Vickie and I went to the Kosciusko County Fair in Warsaw, IN and found very few things that stayed the same.  The highlight of the fair was missing - BINGO but at least they still have Elephant Ears.  This is fried dough the size and shape of an elephant's ear brushed with butter and covered with cinnamon and sugar.  There could most likely be nothing more harmful to your body but man are they good.

We walked around the fair for about two hours without seeing one person we knew but it may be because all of THEM got older and just didn't look the same.  Another shock came when we went to were the merchant's building use to be and only found a handful of businesses set up in a couple small tent.  Hang-on, the final blow came when we did not walk away from the fair with a flyswatter or a yardstick.

Now fast forward a couple weeks and you will find us taking a three hour drive to Fort Wayne, Indiana to the World Famous Coney Island Hotdog Stand.  This is a place you can come home to even after 31 years.  Vickie and her family have been going there since she was a kid.  They have not changed a thing since 1914 when they opened and it is still ran by the same family.  They sell over 2000 coney  dogs each day and the sauce is just as good as we remembered.

If you ever get to Indiana you have to stop on West Main St. in Fort Wayne and have a seat between the suits and the coveralls and enjoy a few minute of days gone by.

See you at the next stop along the road - you know, the places on the B-Side of life where you can be totally unplugged.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Everything is Coming Up (RED) Roses

Pictured here is what retirement is all about for me.  You check out the local stores, fine a completely new off the wall wine like this Red Guitar Sangria.  Then you set back with glass in hand and watch a red bird (Cardinal) feeding off your one of a kind red Hawaiian Shirt bird feeder.  Almost sounds a little Red Neck - oh well when in Rome - you know the rest.  This wine was a great find as it had a great taste and I got a history lesson about the guitar.  According the the bottle - Centuries ago, the Spanish added a sixth string to a little recognized instrument of the time, bringing to life what we now know as the guitar.  For countless generations, since that day, music, food and wine have been the fabric of the Spaniard's joyful and vivacious existence.  Put simply, la buena vida (the good life).

I would have had some really great photos for you to take a pick at but I did not follow the sage advice of my good camera toting friend, Don Reiley.  I would have had the greatest redneck shot last week if I had my camera at hand.  Parallel parked in front of the Silver Inn Bar & Grill in downtown Silver Lake, Indiana was a riding mower.  I guess there is more than one way to get to your local hangout when you lose your license.  Earlier that week I saw a Amish horse & buggy with a boat & motor on a trailer hitched to the back end.  I knew fishing was big in Indiana but had not seen this before.  Give a man a fish vs teach him to fish - again, you know the rest.  Anyone who tells you that retirement is boring have just not really looked at it the right way. Yes I still complain on Sunday afternoon about the weekend going too fast at which time my wife reminds me it doesn't matter anymore.  So far this has been a wild ride with dropping the 5th wheel on the back of the truck and a couple weeks later getting upfront and personal with one of the many Indiana deer.  It all worked out as I was able to get an estimate on the front end damage at the same time I was having the rear end fixed.  Good news, the middle of the truck still looks great.

We have only just begun as the song says but I would have to say to anyone I meet - don't be afraid to follow your dreams.  Actually be a little afraid if you don't go for it as you will always be asking yourself - what would it have been like.  Believe me it is worth the chance.  Until next time keep red birds in your dreams and red wine in your tummy.

Unplugged and out!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

At The Table

It has been great driving around northern Indiana seeing all the sights, including Amish buggies, lakes,  small towns full of unique shops but we also took time to eat.  Let me tell you the people in this part of the country do know how to cook and bake and fry and roast and smoke - well you get the picture.  Everywhere you go there are places to purchase hand-made cheeses, candies, canned and pickled vegetables and some of the best baked goods you have every put in you mouth.

There is a place called Rise & Roll Bakery just outside of Middlebury, Indiana where you walk in the door and want at least one of everything they have on display.  You can gain 5 lbs. just breathing the air inside.  Just down the road from them is the Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus Cheese Factory with over 20 kinds of hand-made cheeses that are all out of this world.  Believe me you will not go hungry around here.

In addition to what you can buy to take home there is a restaurant on every corner with home-made meals served family style.  Every meal is topped off with a large selection of pies, each better than the one you tried the last time.  Thank goodness there are also many bike and walking paths to counter-balance some of that great eating.  I just have to remember to do more of the walking and less of the eating.

Part of the walking has been through the woods to find the every allusive morel mushrooms, more commonly know as yellow sponge.  I am glad for friends and family who have shared some of their findings as I have logged over 12 hours in the woods and have found a whooping 7 mushrooms.  At least I can't be accused of hogging more than my share.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Farming Unplugged

If you have ever farmed or lived in a farming area you will appreciate all the work that goes in to doing everything with horses.  I could not believe how easily the Amish can handle a six or eight horse hitch and how much ground they can cover in one day.  It was fun to watch one field being plowed by a tractor with eight huge tires and a 24 row disk and across the road a 4 row disk pulled by eight horses.

I think the reduction in overhead is what makes them do what I showed them doing in a past blog - making a trip to Wells Fargo Bank.  It's good to have the men in the field as it gives the women time to do all the great cooking we have been sampling.

Until next time - Unplug and travel safe
Jim (unplugged)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Turn Back the Page

You don't need a time machine if you visit this part of Indiana.  My wife and I really enjoyed seeing all the horse and buggies darting everywhere but I am sure it would be different if you lived here all the time.  I did notice one thing that I found interesting, they still need Wells Fargo Bank to store all that money they tell you they don't have.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back Home Again in Indiana

Okay, we are completely setup and starting to enjoy the surrounding sights.  Yesterday we took a short drive to Napanee - the very heart of Amish Country.  A close friend told us about a place , Rentown where you can buy some of the best cheese in the world at some really, really cheap prices.  I may never go to the bathroom again if what my mom told be about cheese is true.  I'll do more research on that subject before I eat all the cheese.  In addition we picked up some homemade noodles which is just what we needed for the cool weather that has moved in.  My wife combined them with some white meat chicken, a little celery, carrots and some secret spices and my life warmed up to topical level.

We have dodged many horse and buggies on the highways and byways of the area.  It is so cool to go back to a simpler time and how uncomplicated life can be.  Then you see the buggy veer into the parking lot of your local Walmart or through the drive-thru at Arby's and pick up a beef & cheddar with curly fries to go.  It kind of punches a hole in the whole romantic view of the simpler times but at least they don't blow by with only the loud bass sounds rattling your side mirror. I will go out tomorrow with the camera and try to get some pictures of this unusual mode of transportation.  I say try as they are not big on getting their picture taken but for my followers I will put my life on the line.

As I had mentioned earlier it had turned a bit cold here and will be that way for the remainder of the week.  It was nearly 8o degrees over the week-end and last night we had the furnace running to keep our toes warm.  Still better than the snow we would have had if we would have been back in Colorado last week.  I need the sun to come out bright so I can find some morels (yellow sponge) mushrooms.  My wife and I have not had any for many, many years and I will spend days in the woods if needed to come up with these small treasures.

I'll be in touch soon with more B-side/Unplugged info - have great travels.  Jim (unplugged)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well after two overnight stops from Colorado to Indiana we made it to the Hoosier State without any problems at all until we got here.  We could not get the RV leveled the first day and no one was at the RV Park besides us so no one to give me the advise you always get from your camping friends.  It took us two days to get setup when it should have been about two hours.  As a final act we had the jaws on our fifth wheel hitch release before we had the front jacks completely down and let the RV rolls back.  The pin came out of the lock and the RV dropped down on the back of the truck putting a big dent in the bed rail and bent out the tailgate.  We will have the truck fixed and no one was hurt so it is forward with life.  Last night we even got a chance to set down in our new gravity chairs and have a beer.  Ain't retirement great.

We will start looking over the surrounding area tomorrow and I will be giving you some great B-side/Unplugged places to visit if you are ever it this area.  I will be snapping some photos of the local sites and giving you some insight of the Amish culture as we are smack in the middle of their country.

Until later I'm wishing you great travels and warm memories.

Jim (unplugged)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Snow to White Sand

This is the scene we will soon be leaving behind and heading for the sun.  I will keep you posted on where we will be, what we are doing and where we are going.  I will also give you some insight on why I chose the name of this blog.