You call it paradise, we call it outside.

Some friends and I, a hand picked crew, intend to take to the boats next month and spend 4 or 5 days on Dog Island. I feel blessed to live here in North Florida, where a few nights in paradise is not too much to ask even in the face of unemployment or thieving politicians.

For a fat man who has to wear sunblock to go look at a full moon, I'm at my happiest in or next to my Gulf of Mexico. Oh, don't get me wrong - I'm scared to death of all that's lurking beneath the waves, unseeable especially with my glasses off to swim. But I was raised on the beach, in off season cottages and meandering state park coastlines and bars with walls open to the sea where I ate maraschino cherries in the afternoon while my dad played guitar.

This is what life on the island looks like.
In this case, a half dozen of us - old salts and new fish - will load up the coolers, the jugs of water, the playing cards and toilet paper and bump across the narrow space between land and strip. We'll drive wildly through the loose sand roads to keep from bogging down, and then we'll pile out and proceed to forget what day it is.

Aside from groceries and beer and a pair of clean drawers, my packing list:
- a lifetime of pirate adventure stories
- a broken in bandanna
- a brand new belt knife, in case of whittling or attack
- 50 years of friendship, combined, with my friends
- 1000 blank white cards
- 4 novels, 2 notebooks, and a fat handful of pens

Combined with rum and canned corned beef, that should get us through.