Okeechobee Weekly

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back from the cold

We were in Pennsylvania for about a week, and I guess it was a good reminder of how cold it can be when you leave Florida. It may have been cold here in Okeechobee, but 5 - 10 degrees with much lower wind chills had me wondering what the heck are people doing, still living there? Bulky clothing, gloves, ice ... It's good to be back!

Now I can complete my story about our experience with a trip across the lake to Clewiston. It was a really windy day with big waves. Not the best conditions for a pontoon boat! We slowed to about 10-12 mph and the waves splashed over the boat continually, but Kim and I are adventurers so we just kept going. I used a small handheld GPS to point us toward the lock at Clewiston. After a half hour or so you couldn't see land anywhere, and we made it to Clewiston in about 2 1/2 hours.

That was the GOOD part. Our plan was to have an adventure, a nice dinner and a romantic evening with an over night stay. We had called for rooms at ROLAND & MARY ANN MARTINS, so that we could stay overnight. We called twice and offered to give a credit card for a reservation but were told there were plenty of rooms and we didn't need it. Of course when we got there we got "What, you don't have a reservation?" After a lengthy chat that belittled us for OUR lack of reservations, a room was assigned. Guess what? The place really had few people staying that night so I have no idea why we got a hard time checking in.

The "Restaurant" was also a big disappointment. It's actually like a snack bar, with no table service. You order and pick up at a window and take it to a table. If you use a credit card you have to take the bill two rooms away to the service desk to pay. Kind of takes the romance out of the whole"romantic by the water" dining idea :-)

To really cap off our totally negative opinion of this establishment, we were charged an additional $8.00 for parking the pontoon boat in their empty marina, on top of the $95 for the room ($68 shown on the internet has lots of conditions attached). We asked about mooring before we traveled and were told it was included. The arrogant people at the desk told us we were wrong and what's the big deal it's ONLY $8 !

The bottom line. There were some really big yachts and lots of people drinking at the "Tiki Bar" so they probably don't need to worry about minor little things like customer service. There were even more negatives like getting gas, that I won't go into, but needless to say I would go back to Clewiston but will NEVER stay at ROLAND & MARY Martins.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Crossing the Lake in a Pontoon boat - in a storm

Well it was an adventure, and I have a lot to say about it ... and lots of pictures ...and a story about Clewiston ... and some opinions about the marina and Motel.

My apologies for making this a "serial" story, however, Kim and I have had a sudden death in the family (a plane crash) so we'll be gone for a week, the site should take care of itself for awhile, and I'm sure by then we'll be in better shape to write an interesting account of our two day adventure crossing the lake from top to bottom and back.

thanks for coming back and reading our stories.

Jim n Kim

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Building a web - digital and living

I haven't had much time for this blog especially with some technical problems that crept in this week. I have lots of new ideas every day of new things to do and add to the enjoyment, usability, and practicality of this site. If only there were 40 or 50 hours in a day you'd probably see more of them showing up.

I'm putting together some of my video editing stuff and you should see some short videos before long. I am fascinated by birds. flying birds! pelicans gliding down the canal about a half inch from the water, or crashing headlong with a big splash and a satisfied gulp of real "sushi"! the vultures catching an updraft as they soar ever higher. I hope to capture some of that for you.

Captain Mike Shellen is also real busy this time of year but when things slow down I should be able to capture some shots of a big bass hitting one of his baits. With a little luck I'll be ready for the Perch Festival and the rodeo as well.

So every day as we live and work around Okeechobee I put together little "digital" bits and pieces of people, businesses, and places. But it turns out that the web that's getting built is more than just computer programs - more than the bits and bytes. We visit people and become involved, we learn about the people who make up this town. People like Captain Mike, Rolf at the Buckhead ridge Marina (and the waitress who's son is the bull rider in 'Photos'). Gary - The Sign Guy, The people we meet at the RV Parks, and stores; oh yeah and let's not forget the people who weren't quite sure what we were up to taking pictures of their Christmas decorations. Yep, that's another kind of web, a "people" web.

So I get to play geeky games, play wildlife adventurer, and even let a little bit of personality slip out once in a while as Kim and I build an Okeechobee web.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mud fest, Seminole casino, organic farm

In our efforts to give a real view of Okeechobee, Kim and I go and visit the places we feature in our blogs and on the website (Okeechobee360.com). So this week we went to the Brighton Seminole Casino. Among the many careers I've had, I was a dice (craps) dealer for the Las Vegas Hilton for 4 years.

While there is NO comparison with Las Vegas, I thought the slot machines were up to date and the Casino could be a lot of fun for the people here in this rural area. There is also a large "High Stakes" bingo hall, and a restaurant that had a lot of well priced specials. As we're vegetarians (I'll save that story for another day!) I don't have any comments on the food. The specials, as in most places, were "Filet Mignon" burgers, etc. Overall, if you're looking for something to do when you're in the area, it's worth taking a look.

Mud Fest. I had no clue what a "Mud Fest" was, but I noticed a lot of people were looking for it on the website. I checked it out and found a local landowner, twice a year, holds an event for people with ATV's, Jeeps, etc. to go crazy in the mud! I spoke with the sponsor, John Sales, and he told me he doesn't promote it too much as he can get too many people and that can cause problems. He did invite me to go ahead and put some info on the website, so I have some of the basics there now, and will add some more in the next few days.

VarriGreen Organic Farm. There is a local farmer that is growing organic veggies and he's having a tour of the farm on Saturday, January 13th from 10am to 4pm. They're expecting local press coverage and Kim and I will both be there and will have a report here next week.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Moved to Okeechobee a few months ago. Great place. Bought a boat - Pontoon boat - There's 1000's of them here. Lake doesn't get very rough, so a pontoon boat gives you lots of room, economical, easy to maintain.

My wife and I bought a home on a canal with easy access to the lake, although from what I've seen, most people don't go out on the lake much. There are plenty of canals and of course the "rim canal". good fishing all around.

I guess most of the boats here are for fishing. There are a fair number of bass boats around as well, and right now seems to be a good time for both bass and specks (speckled perch or crappie) the bass are mostly catch and release and the specks are mostly catch and eat!

There's lots to say about Okeechobee and it was hard to find out much about the place. I found most of the websites had little real information so I started www.okeechobee360.com to put up some photos, lists and a little more. Well it's getting to be a real project now and I believe it's already the best site for Okeechobee and I've only been working on it for two weeks.