Deer Island, Taveres, FL

Recently, Gretchen and decided to pull the trigger on a jaunt to Grandma and Grandpa Chapman’s down in O-Town. It had been a long while. We got to take out papa’s new canal cruiser and relax in the beauty of old Florida, from Apopka to Mt. Dora and Tavares. It was quiet, breezy and beautiful, and a welcomed change of scenery from our own backyard. I think the only things missing were our nephew, Blake, and a couple of his 7-pound bass he’s so good at catching.

Check out the third pic by the fence line. Happened to catch this Bigfoot out of the corner of my eye! Definitely squatchy country out here, and this thing had to be 8′ tall. Skunk Ape for sure! You could smell the musky odor from the boat. If my girls and all the cousins were there, we could have done a full proper investigation with footprints and hair samples. As it was, we’re just going to have to let the photo evidence tell the story.

Health News – Alive & Kicking

Recently (on June 15, 2024 – International Surf Day), I shared some news on my Instagram about my health. It had been 5 months since I had set foot in the ocean, and I wanted to offer an explanation and why my posting had slowed considerably since that time. Now that the news is out, I thought I probably needed to say something about it here, as well.


In February, I was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer. I’ve always enjoyed perfect health, then last August began having very unusual headaches. I went to the doctor and learned that my blood pressure was sky-high. Another test showed abnormal kidney scores. The doctors assumed this might be due to my heart. After many tests, they determined that my heart was extremely strong and that there were no circulatory or blockage issues; so they deemed it hypertension (which I thought was weird, because I’m not a high-stress guy).

They tried to control it with medication for months, to no avail. Finally, they took a closer look at my kidneys, and after viewing the test results, the cardiologist called me at home on a Sunday evening and told me to go to the ER, as I was nearing stage 4 kidney failure. As it turns out, there was cancer behind my abdominal wall, impeding some of my urological function. My kidneys were working fine, but the blockage was preventing everything to drain out completely, and little by little, it was backing up into my kidneys, damaging them. I ended up spending 27 days in the hospital from mid-February to mid-April. It was grueling. I had a stent placed in one kidney, which was subsequently removed, but now I have two temporary nephrostomy tubes that I will likely need to continue to use until late summer, keeping me out of the water until that time.

The specific cancer I have was determined not to be genetic in nature or due to any kind of faulty gene or familial pre-disposition (great news for my daughters), but rather from an external source, so it could be anything. I’ve always taken care of my yard with chemicals, had a side-gig doing epoxy garage floors, took three rounds of the (Pfizer) Covid vaccine, and of course, PFAS are everywhere, so it’s just hard to say where it came from and it really doesn’t matter. 

It is a very aggressive cancer, but its aggressiveness also makes it a great candidate for chemo. I am about to hit my 4th of 8 rounds, and am doing ok. I’ve lost 15+ pounds mostly due to the initial hospital stay.

They say this cancer is not curable, but manageable with chemo, for years. They approximated 5, although, because I am otherwise “young and healthy”, perhaps I could do better than that, and said there’s always a 1% chance of a miracle or other unknown. I say God is the only person who can put a timeline on my life and I fully expect Him to heal me completely. I have an incredible support network of family, friends and church, and especially my wife, Gretchen, who I could never navigate this without (God bless her!), and despite the shock of this all, I feel very blessed and nothing but gratitude.

I have chosen to avoid talking about this on my social channels beyond a basic explanation. I have a page on caringbridge.org for anyone who wants to follow my progress or hear more details. I won’t allow myself to be defined by cancer, this year, or any other. I have no fear of death, I never have,  and I am not putting any limits on my ability to overcome this. My intent is to keep going about the routine of my life in the ways I always have with perseverance, optimism and faith. I have already had a long life full of joy- one I intend to keep living and experiencing to the max, according to God’s plan for me.

I have always understood that life can, and does change on a dime, so while I am really surprised by all of this, I understand that’s how it goes sometimes. This is just like any other challenge or adversity that we all face at different times in our lives (and I’ve faced my fair share). They are experiences that help us grow, and make us stronger.

Times like these, while unfortunate and uncomfortable are actually rare moments of opportunity to demonstrate our true faith, and I believe in seizing on those. I’m on a positive path forward. I’m not looking behind, only ahead and looking forward to getting back into the ocean before the end of the year. Trust that I am still alive & kicking an plan to be out in the water again by Fall! Here’s some throwback pics to celebrate International Surfing day and a recent (mid-May) pic from my b-day ( it was a big ‘un, ya’ll!)

Peace, Love & Blessings!

The Church | “Under The Milky Way” at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall 11/17/23

I recently had the privilege to see the Australian alternative guitar rock band, The Church, live at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. They were so good! They were touring behind a new album but also played some of their old hits. Here’s one of their all-time tunes: “Under the Milky Way”.

So much of the Church’s music has a melancholic feeling, almost like Pink Floyd in some ways, just really interesting and great listening music. I think this song, which has a pop element to it, may be their most popular, ever. It still sounds just as fresh as it did 2-3 decades ago. Check out their new album, “The Hynogogue”. It is also fantastic! I haven’t been able to quit listening to them!

Fall Surf: Half-Day Off Friday!

I had a half-day off this past Friday and it was a great day to take it… a beautiful gray, fall morning with only one other person out! The sun popped out at around noon, just before I got out. I couldn’t find a barrel that stayed open, but there were a few fun ones out there, anyway!

Skating Sugar Mountain

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CwQ6qKDM1nS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

(You can click on the link above to see our fun Sugar Mountain skating video)

This past August, I went up to visit some buddies that I’ve known since elementary/middle school – just a great group of friends! We spent 4 days at the very top of Sugar Mountain where one of the guys has a place.

There are two things you do on mountains when there’s no snow:

You climb up them … and you skate down them.

This probably wasn’t the smartest thing we did during our meet-up, but when you get together a bunch of old guys swapping stories about their youthful stupidity until late at night, you can bet that the very next morning, they’ll be up bright and early doing things just as unwise to prove that their best days are not behind them! 😂 Good times! No broken bones, car crashes or life flights off the side of mountains were required! 😂

I took a shot at the end holding my iPhone to show you what we were seeing, which was a little tricky, trying to pay attention to the road and not look at the phone while holding it up properly. Surfing on most days is a safer bet!

More of This, Please

A GoPro shot from last summer… We made it through the June gloom and are now slogging through the typical July summer doldrums here in Florida. Thankfully, the heart of storm season, the best time to surf in Florida – late summer and early fall, are almost here! It’s been flat for way too long and I am just dying to catch some good waves. Pray for surf!

Nobody Listens to Turtle

Spotted this guy by the walkover on the way back from a beach run. Big ‘un! This dude is living the good life in the GTM Reserve, just cruising the dunes and stuffing his face full of flowers! Like a gated community for Gopher Tortoises and other wildlife over there! 

Surfboard Art

Kaelyn’s art exhibit at Bethel Gallery’s recent “Meet the Artist” event for their summer “Anything Goes” show in Ponte Vedra Beach. Her work included my Mike Whisnant surfboard that I broke in a large swell this past December. She salvaged and painted/repurposed it, turning it into a really cool piece of wall art. Here she is with a few of her other works.

Cutting the Cord

I recently came across this website – hotdog.com. Pretty interesting. If you’re looking to save some money by “cutting the cord” and moving to streaming services, but still want to be able to watch all of your favorite shows, sports, etc., and just aren’t sure how to go about it, they publish a really helpful, comprehensive guide that lays it all out for you. It has a streaming services overview, channel matrix and step-by-step instructions. They also provide information on numerous free streaming trials, so you can make sure that anything you decide you want, actually works for you. I’m a big sports fan and they have one section of their site dedicated to nothing but streaming sports. Anyway, nice resource, so thought I’d share: Read more at: https://hotdog.com/tv/stream/#sports-1.

Folly Beach, SC

We recently visited Charleston, SC recently and while we were there, we visted Folly Beach. Cool place, a lot like any East Coast beach town! Fun and funky with a mix of tourists and locals. Their new pier is pretty darn spectacular. We enjoyed tooling around the town and had some drinks up on a rooftop bar across the street from the pier.

Charleston, SC Getaway

My wife and I recently took a quick little trip up to Charleston, SC for my birthday! We bought tickets to see one of our favorite old bands – the Hoodoo Gurus, an Australian surf rock band. As luck would have it, Gretcehn’s aunt and uncle had recently bought a place up that way, and let us stay there. It was so beautiful! We had never been to Charleston and didn’t realize how (relatively) close it was – about 4 hours from Jax. It’s an awesome town, and we had a blast! We also went to Folly Beach (see next post). If you haven’t been to Charleston, put it on your to-visit list!!! Amazing food, beautiful historic architecture and laid-back people. It’s kind of like an upscale St. Augustine. Here’s some pics from the trip!

Billy Idol at the St. Augustine AMP

This empty nest stuff is turning out to be pretty fun! My wife and I are nearing the end of taking in 4 concerts in one month! We caught the return of our favorite Reggae artist, Mystic Dino and the Blazin’ Posse at Prohibition Kitchen in St. Augustine, FL a couple of weeks ago; then enjoyed VIP tix (Thank you, Darrell Chapman) to the Roscolusa Songwriters festival, held with 5,000 our closest friends in Nocatee last Saturday; then saw the one and only Billy Idol at the AMP in St. Augustine this past Tuesday night; and are rounding out our tour by heading up to Charleston, SC to see one of my all-time favorite Australian surf bands, the Hoodoo Gurus this coming Monday. The ringing in my ears is getting a little louder, but we’re having a lot of fun!

Here are some videos from Billy Idol’s show. I’ll post his opening number (Dancing with Myself), one from the middle of the show (Rebel Yell) and his closing segment, White Wedding. Billy was as good (and rebellious) and energetic as ever! Still sneering, fist-pumping and stripping off shirt deep into his 60s, proving one again that age is really an attitude! His voice sounded great, and the crowd was into it!

Date Night! Woot!

Freshie!

My new stick! A beautiful new freshie from Mike Whisnant: 6′ 1/2″, 12′ x 19″ x 14 3/4″ x 2 3/8″, 5 fin, all 4 oz. glass. This board rides so well, and I have not even tried it in surf that will be its sweet spot! It was made to be my everyday all-around, but as Mike knows, I don’t really like grovel waves and tend not to paddle out much in surf below 3′. At this time, that’s really all I’ve had the chance to ride it in. But it flows beautifully, is fast with great acceleration (have only ridden it as a quad at this point), loose and paddles easy. I cannot wait until we get into storm season and we get waves in the 3′ – 8′ + range! I feel like it is going to end up being one of my favorite boards, ever! Here’s a look at how it came together and the final product!

Surfboard Ressurection Art Project

My daughter, Kaelyn’s, latest art project! I was pretty bummed when I broke my 5’11” Whisnant this past December during the East Coast Atlantic “Super Swell” down in Central Florida (I’ve since gotten an awesome new board), but Kaelyn had an idea for the pieces of my old one. She resurrected my board, not to ride, but as art, saving the pieces from the landfill and repurposing them as a canvas. She then presented her art project along with a 10-page paper she wrote on the subject of surfboard toxicity, disposal, and reuse, for one of her college classes. The professor loved her paper and told Kaelyn she’d like for her to submit it to the school’s Undergraduate Research Journal for publication! She got a 100 on her project and I get to preserve my board-riding memories in a really cool new form! Here’s a look at the process. She removed the pieces of shredded fiberglass and used plaster to create a smooth new uniform surface for her artwork.

My Pics from the Dec. 2022 East Coast Megaswell

One wrong wave is all it takes. In the words of Turtle, “When the wave breaks here, don’t be there.”

I’d usually be sharing a few GoPro pics from such an incredible, historic swell like the one that hit the entire East Coast in mid-December. As it turned out, I captured only one pic from that swell (above).

I had so much fun surfing Central Florida during the earlier Ian swell earlier this summer, that I decided to try another strike mission to score the biggest surf I could find, once again, down in Satellite Beach (South Cocoa, actually) behind my buddy Mike Johnson’s condo. And once again, it was firing! The forecasts had been calling for 4′-6′ with OK winds at home in Jax, but 6′-9′ down there with good winds, and that’s exactly how it played out.

I had planned the surf the whole day with Mike and another good friend and Satellite local, Mike Wilhite (originally from Jax/OP). What you see in the photo happened the very first thing in the morning, when I was paddling out through the bombing high tide shore break. (See the image from Raw Surf – that’s the break and we were, just down to the south) I was a little worried about taking my beloved 5′ 11″ Whisnant out in this surf (I really needed to be using a step-up), but I’m a one-board guy, and it had held up nicely in Ian, Nicole, and other large hurricane/storm swells. But these waves were even bigger and stronger.

I was almost through it but got clipped by an insanely powerful wave that broke on top of me while I was duck diving and driving me further down under the surface. I had heard a loud “pop” as the wave broke and when I managed to get my head back above water, I noticed a 3″ crack on the left side of my board. I thought there was a good chance it had buckled and when I saw the gash, I knew I was right. I had just enough time to feel the underside of my board with my palm to confirm that it had indeed buckled before a second set wave exploded on me and finished the job on my board. The whole thing lasted just a few seconds.

With my board/floatation device now on either side of me in two pieces, that wave also held me down for a bit and left me sucking air when I surfaced, which hasn’t happened to me in a very long time. All of it just felt pretty sudden and violent.

Ultimately, however, it felt like I was only in the water for a total of about a minute. and unfortunately, that’s all it took. Mike Wilhite loaned me a 6′ 2″ Epoxy backup, so I was at least able to paddle back out but I was frazzled the rest of the day. Oh well, I had an awesome time seeing the boys and am currently working on getting myself a replacement board. I’ll be back down that way again the next time the waves get big. It is a fun spot that holds big waves well on the right tides.

A little context

Child of Love | We The Kingdom | Florida Theater

I’ll post a couple of more from the We The Kingdom concert live at the Florida Theater this week. This is the first half of one of their hits, “Child of Love”, maybe my favorite one that they sing. Their concert was a literal party! 🎉 Had to get this in two parts as the video accidentally shut off.

Child of Love Part 1
Child of Love Part 2

Holy Water | We The Kingdom | Florida Theater

Enjoyed a date night out at the Florida Theater with Gretchen Wednesday night (yes, smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Nicole)! But Holy Cow, We The Kingdom put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a ton of shows in every different genre you can think of. If you don’t know them, they are a contemporary Christian band with a rock/blues/soul musical style (think Hammond organ, heavy guitars), and a retro-70’s-feeling stage vibe. You may recognize a couple of their songs (Child of Love, Holy Water) which have been big crossover hits. They have what you would call some “epic” stadium-style songs, the kinds you can’t help but get out of your seat, clap, stomp, and sing along with. They are incredible vocalists, multi-instrument musicians, and performers that just kill it live. One of the things that is really interesting about this Dove and Grammy award-winning band is that it is composed of two brothers, and one of the brothers’ daughters, and his son, along with one of their good friends. So, it is a multi-generational family affair, which is just so unusual. Obviously, they all have that musical gene! Gretchen and I had such a great time. The Florida Theater was packed and it looked like they filmed much of the show. Here’s Holy Water.

Surfing Hurricane Fiona in Brevard County

In late September, we enjoyed a great stretch of surf during Hurricanes Danielle, Earl and Fiona. On one of the last days of the Fiona swell when the winds were set to be onshore here in NEFl, I made plans to head down to Brevard County (Cocoa / Sattelite Beach) area where the winds were expected to be offshore. This is the area where I spent much of time surfing while finishing school at UCF in the early 90s. It is one of my favorite places to surf and gets such great waves! In addition, I was able to catch up with two old friends, Mike Johnson and Mike Wilhite who both live or have places down there. Mike J. has a great break right behind his condo and that’s where we surfed. My buddy from work, Luis Sandoval joined me for the trip and what a great time we had. The waves were epic and the crowds, light! The winds were offshore, as expected and it was sloppy and onshore back at home. Successful strike mission. We scored! Here’s a few shots from that day.