Happy Birthday Chuck

Nat and I were invited to Daytona Beach for our friend Chuck’s birthday. Not just any birthday though; this one was designed to be a surprise. Chuck’s girlfriend devised a distraction to get him away from the house. While he was away folks gathered at his house.

He’s not here yet?

While we were waiting for Chuck this guy stopped by for a minute. Chuck wasn’t there yet so he left.

Chuck takes in the size of the crowd

While the gang waited watching the gate to the yard Chuck naturally went inside first. He was steered out onto his deck for the surprise. At this point he’s just noticing how many folks are in his back yard.

Very surprised guy
Still grasping the magnitude of the surprise perpetrated on him

About now he’s begun spotting faces in the crowd he never expected to see. Look closely and you’ll notice a tear.

A brotherly hug

In a matter of seconds he appears in the crowd and begins hugging. Friends, family, spouses, anybody in reach got hugged. This is one happy guy.

One of Chuck’s high school buddies gets a hug
Time for a hug from an old friend’s wife.

See what I mean? He’s not done though…

stunned look
Looking stunned and seeking another hugger
Daughter one gets a hug
Hugging his youngest daughter

The two daughters helped plan this. Clearly Chuck has forgiven them for surprising him.

people on deck
Catching up with some old friends

Chuck has finally gotten his fill of  hugging for now and is settled into eating and chatting.

People in yard
Some folks may have started drinking early
cake being set on table
Setting down the cake while we butcher happy birthday

Okay we may not sing well but the cake is another cool surprise. It’s in the shape of his business logo. Luckily nobody tried to put 60 candles on it. Unfortunately the only candles around were trick candles that light themselves.

Chuck looks like he recognizes that fish

Time to make a wish.

fish shaped birthday cake with some lit candles
Chuck makes his wish before snuffing the candles

Much visiting, reminiscing, and some drinking and eating ensues.

Next day we hit the beach to walk down to the Ocean Deck for a drink and a snack.

group walking on the beach
Chuck, his daughters, girlfriends, and my wife
window onto beach
Looking out at the beach while we ate at Ocean Deck
sign advising no alcohol beyond this point
Only one way to take alcohol on the beach.

Daytona Beach has rules about open alcohol containers on the beach. Ocean Deck is responsible in letting you know about the rules and (if you read the fine print) a quick happy solution to the problem.

Happy Birthday Chuck! We had fun watching you have fun.

Smokin in a Brinkman vertical smoker



I bought a cheap(ish) smoker on Craigslist and set it up to smoke a Boston Butt. This one runs on charcoal and I tossed plenty of hickory chips into the pan with the charcoal. Turns out maintaining a temperature is harder than it should be with this model. It didn’t help that it was cold and rainy out.

After 9 hours in this smoker I gave up and tossed it into the oven to finish. The smoky flavor is pretty good but I’ve done better with my propane grill.