Apartment Life Again

Megan and I arrived in Oviedo, FL mid-September, 2006 with most of our worldly possession remaining after yard sales, donations, and give-a ways to family and friends.  The rental truck arrived at our apartment covered from bumper to top with smashed  Love Bugs* collected crossing Lake Jessup** during our last 10 miles of the trip.  There to meet us were Darryl, Jim Spence (her business partner) and some of his family members to help schlep furniture up to the second floor apartment.  It was 90 degrees and I was complaining about the heat at which they all laughed and were thankful that the summer heat had just ‘broken’ to Fall temps.  It was going to be a while before I acclimated to the Florida weather.  

This first apartment was rather new and luxurious so we settled into the space, if not the exorbitant rent.  This whole situation was an adjustment for all three of us – apartment living again for Darryl and I, living with Megan and she with us and Darryl and I together again after 9 months apart.  As I recall, all went reasonably well.  I spent my days sightseeing, casually doing a job search and working out in the complex gym while Darryl and Megan went to work at Spence and Vaughn.  Megan and I also bought new cars on the same day from the same guy who sold Darryl her new red Mustang convertible.  That was fun!

I don’t seem to have a picture of Megan’s Ford Focus
By the summer of 2007 the three of us were moving again.  This time to Altamonte Springs and a more affordable apartment.  The new place was in a more scenic location and now we were in a villa-type apartment which means we were on the ground floor.  I was still missing NY, family and friends but we were developing a network of friends around Orlando.  Auditing work was now slowly trickling in and I had secured an ‘on-call’ position with a Florida-based environmental consulting company, ECT and a small local environmental auditing company called Credence Environmental Group.  It was slow but promising and I was becoming a regular at the Orlando airport.
During this time I started attending the many open mic blues jams in the area.  There is a vibrant blues scene in Orlando of welcoming musicians and multiple venues to get on stage.  It is a way to network and find forming bands that might need a singer.  It was during the jams that I met Steve and Jan Dakel.  Jan it turns out was another escapee from Western NY and Steve an accomplished guitarist.  He and bass player Gary Moore were forming a blues band and asked if I’d be interested – sure, why not.  So Swamp Box Willey was born with the addition of Mike Feher on saxophone and Steve Brown on drums.  Yeah, we thought about calling it Steve, Steve, Steve, Gary and Mike but it wouldn’t fit on posters.

Steve Dakel
Gary Moore
Mike Feher
Steve Brown
Swamp Box Willey – Virgin Records Gig at Downtown Disney
These are a great bunch of guys and we rehearsed hard but for whatever reason it just never came together that well.  Next came a call from a band that had just lost their singer to the effects of the 2008 recession  wanting to know if I was interested – sure, why not.  Now I was a member of Catfish Charlie (the band website is long gone but here is a profile I Googled).   This band included another Western NY escapee, Lee Lora (bass, vocals) formerly of Rochester.  Also, in this band were Tim Williams (guitar vocals), Frank Belaska (drums, herder of cats), Bob Markos (harmonica, vocals, comedian) and Perry Heard (keyboard, vocals).  Here are some shots from a benefit gig, Blues Soup 3 in Oviedo, FL.

As my ramblings often go, this really wasn’t so much about apartment living after all.  In May of 2008 we finally bought a place of our own.  Not a house but a townhouse, which is to say a large apartment with a mortgage.  Had we known that another cross-country move was a year away we might have reconsidered this purchase.  We still own it but that topic may be part of  more Florida adventures to come…

*Love Bugs are an invasive species rumored to have escaped from a lab at the University of Florida with no known predators.   They have mating flights in September and May, with the September event being much more prominent.  The name comes from the fact that when they are mating they fly around for some time joined at the posterior.  Unfortunately, they seem to be drawn to roadways in Central Florida so, of course, they are splattered all over vehicles.  This is a problem because, like ants, their bodies contain formic acid and their squished guts will wreck your paint job.  This is a boon to the many car washes in the area.

**Lake Jessup is a very shallow (even by Florida Standards) lake in the St. Johns River system that boasts the highest density of alligators in Florida, so I suppose in the world.

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