Stepping Out of Character

This morning we followed the recommendation of so many comments and had breakfast at Blue Heaven.  From the moment we walked in to the courtyard and saw chickens running wild I knew we were in for a treat.  The restaurant was very unique with walls covered in original artwork, creatively painted tables, and mismatched china.  Shannon and I decided to split one of their notorious specials; the surf n’ turf eggs benedict.  This is a combination of steak, caribbean lobster, and eggs benedict on an english muffin covered in hollandaise sauce.  Wow, it was outstanding!  Over breakfast, Keith surprised Shannon and I by making us unofficial members of the Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion and presented us with the official T-shirts.

Blue Heaven

Surf n Turf

Wild Chickens

FTPI Unofficial Member

Next, we stopped at the Earnest Hemingway House.  The house was incredible; quite a life.  However, I must admit, I’ve never been one for guided tours or crowded museums.  I learn best through interaction, and quickly get frustrated by someone talking at me for long periods of time.  Shannon and I broke from the tour and found a nice bench to rest on near Hemingway’s pool.  The tour eventually landed right in front of us where the guide explained the story behind the pool.  Hemingway’s wife purchased the pool while he was out of town for $20,000 during the great depression.  To put this in perspective, the cost of the original house was $8,000.  Frustrated, Hemingway grabbed a coin from his pocket, tossed it in the air, and told his wife to take his last red cent.  Most of Shannon and my disputes have centered on the same topic; I could completely relate to his frustration.  Therefore, we decided it appropriate to have our picture taken in this spot.

Hemingway House

My Last Red Cent

Afterward, I was feeling unusually dizzy and fatigued.  I have these type of symptoms occasionally and I never know if it is the result of inadequate sleep, or my disease.  We went back to the hotel and I crashed for several hours.  Finally, I awoke around dinner time feeling much better.  We scoped out several restaurants for dinner, and ended up at the Hog’s Breath Saloon.  Nothing overly special, but the low key atmosphere worked out well.  I had a couple of cans of Miller Light with my famous Hog Dog; not bad.

Hog's Breath Saloon

Now back to the tattoo!  John, who instigated the tattoo, would unfortunately be leaving in the morning.  If we were to get tattoos together it would have to be tonight,  I really wanted to make it happen.  I arrived at Paradise Tattoo and started working through some designs.  I decided I wanted a couple of slogans that mean a lot to me these days printed on my forearms; a place where I can see them while riding: “Ride in a good direction” and “Today is my best day.”  Eric, this is the closest I will ever come to sleeves.  John joined me and got one himself, a V-twin engine with the phrase “Ride in a good direction” written above it.  Most meaningful was that he had surprisingly had the initials BH written in the engine.  John, you’ve been an amazing friend and I don’t know how to thank you for everything you’ve done for me.

Getting Some Ink

Nice Work Lou

This is Permanent Mom

Get Ready John

Johnny Z Getting Inked

The Completed Masterpiece

Once tattooed, it was time for some drinks.  We started with some celebratory drinks at the Green Parrot.  Then, we eventually made our way to a house party Kieth had invited us to held by some of his pirate friends.  Definitely a unique crew, but also the nicest and most welcoming hosts.  Scarlet Jay and Dead Eye tried teaching me how to sword fight.  I need a lot more practice; they killed me several times, but I’m resilient!

Celebratory Shots at the Green Parrot

Day 11


Ben, thanks for your comments; they mean a lot to me.  Love the idea of sharing some background info.  I thought I would start with one of my most defining stories, the day I met my wife Shannon.  We were both freshman at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.  I was headed to the dining hall with my good friend and roommate Thomas.  As I collected that days fried protein (aye, the south), I ran into my friend Raj, who invited Thomas and I to join him and a friend.  I sat down across the table from a true southerner, named Shannon.  I was enthralled by her deep southern accent and stories of a childhood on a tobacco farm; I resisted, but I couldn’t help poking some fun.  She had a great sense of humor and played back.  The conversation eventually turned to school; I told Shannon that I was in the School of Design, and she was quick to tell me about some water color paintings she was working on in her room.  She invited me to come up to her room sometime to check them out.  It didn’t take me long, a sure violation of the three-day rule.  Shannon shared her paintings, and they were breath-taking; the most amazing paint by number cards I have ever seen (literally).  We started hanging out quite a bit after that.  We dated for ten years before we finally got married on July 28th, 2007.  We both have the same goofy sense of humor that draws us together – we’re perfect for each other.  Who else would go along with saying wic-a-wic-a-Wegmans as if she was scratching a record every time she wants to stop at Wegmans grocery store!  It really makes me think that things do happen for a reason.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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28 Responses to Stepping Out of Character

  1. Mike Gratz says:

    Awesome tattoo!

  2. Aimee Bergvall says:

    love the tattoos! great job guys. thanks for sharing your story. 10 years of dating makes me not feel so crazy at 5!

  3. Dan Dean says:

    Bret, Shannon, you’ve actually split a dish ???
    I’ll alert the media.
    Eric is here & he’s impressed 🙂

  4. Eric says:

    Love the Tats Bret. I thought i would never see the day you would get one!

  5. Terry Concessi (F) says:

    love the tattoos!!!
    glad to see you didn’t get one that said “this side up”
    again love the blog, first thing i read in the morning!

  6. Michelle says:

    Love the tattoo!!! And the stories- keep em coming!!

  7. Wade Weber says:

    Nice hussle on the ink! They suit you well. Johnny Z’s is awesome with that Vtwin and the BH. The story of you meeting Shannon was sweet, and you two are a perfect match!

    That surf and turf looked pretty good. Has Keith turned you into pirates yet?

  8. Jeff says:

    She’s a butte, Bret! She’s a butte!

  9. Jlag says:

    Right on, Bret…great art! So nice to hear stories of you and Shan. I know you mean the world to each other and I am so happy that you are getting to share some good time together along this journey. Love you guys. =*

  10. Ryan says:

    RE: “Once tattooed, it was time for some drinks.”

    Doesn’t it usually go the other way around?

  11. lisa says:

    love the tatoos!!! and your blogging, i look forward to it every morning!

  12. Aaron King says:

    Love the “This is Permanent Mom!” Id say the same thing!

  13. Debbie says:

    Greetings ROAD Warriors!
    (And please excuse my French–but)–HELL TO THE YEAH, BRET!
    You got inked and it looks good!! Everytime you’re tooling down the road, you’ll see those inspiring words and it’ll give you that little amp of excitement to keep your day going.

    I want to know –Where is Shannon’s tat? Hmmm–gonna have to fix that.

    I knew you guys would love the Keys–like I said, one of my most fav places in the entire world. Nothing like the Conch Republic. Speaking of conch–make sure you get yourself some conch fritters, they’re like hushpuppies and they are divine.

    And I must say–I’m digging the beard too, Bret. Makes you look like a bonified Harley rider! Now–just to get you into some more leather and you’ll be set.

    Missing you guys so much! LOVE YOU!! And as always–I’m with you every single mile.


  14. JoEllen (Fahy) Schubmehl says:

    Great tatoos! I also enjoyed hearing the story of how you two met…I for one, do believe things happen for a reason.

    Hope you continue to feel well!

  15. Dan Piedmonte says:

    I don’t think I could have split that sandwich, that sounded great. In our house, a sandwich that good is called a sangwich (that’s how Michelle’s grandmother pronounces sandwich and she makes some amazing food).

    After hearing wic a wic a wegmans, I thought who wouldn’t want to say that every time they go to Wegmans.

  16. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Bret and Shan,
    Glad to see you got to have breakfast at Blue Heaven – what a unique eatery and a unique breakfast combo! That surf and turf eggs benedict looked pretty amazing!

    Perfect choice on the tattoo, Bret – that says it all! And John…. what a special friend!

    Love the picture of Shannon contemplating how she can spend your last red cent! Shan, you’d better watch out now that he is practicing sword fighting! Ha, ha,!However Bret, you definitely stepped out of character to pose with that grimace on your face! 🙂 Love yours and Shannon’s love story -Yes, you two are perfect for each other!

    Take care of your self and we pray you feel well and energized everyday from all the love that surrounds you. May each day continue to be filled with many beautiful, new adventures. Sending hugs to you all and lots of love!

    P.S. I have a message Uncle Lee wanted to send – just from him. I’m just being his secreatry here as I type it.

    “You have been surprising me since the day I saw you break my triple jump record – over 40 feet – WOW! The surprises go on everyday we read your blog. Keep the surprises coming!”
    Love ya,
    Uncle Lee

  17. Carolina DeHond says:

    Ouchhh.. the tattoo looked like it hurts 😦 What great phrases!!!
    REALLY enjoyed your story on how you and Shannon met 🙂
    Hope to hear more stories!!
    We are wishing you more happy memories with your friends and family!!
    Carolina and Craig

  18. Emily says:

    Love the tattoo Bret! And the story of you and Shannon .. inviting you up to see her paintings .. love it!

    Keep on keeping on!


  19. Aunt Bo says:

    Bret, you inspire me in so many ways…Today is my best day…what a statement to live one’s life by. Two thoughts went through my absolutely crazy and one not crazy at all. First I have a better understanding of why anyone would get a tattoo (the not so crazy thought) and then I started to think I want a tattoo..”Today is my best day” (very crazy thought for me). Wasn’t quite sure where I was going to put it…..but loved the idea of being reminded every day ”Today is my best day” . Do not worry Katie and Mark…Mom is not getting a was just a weak moment.
    So in the end…love the tattoo{both of them} and thanks as always for all the inspirations. I am going to find another way to remind myself to live for today.

  20. Carter says:

    Love the tatt, One tattoo ends up being 2 or 3 more before you know it .

  21. Danielle says:

    Nice tats, Bret!

    Even though you and I travel on different types of horse power, I can appreciate your mantra of “Ride in a good direction”. It’ll be my new motto whenever I’m in the saddle.

    Thanks for the continued inspiration. I hope your adventures are bringing you everything you hoped they would and more!


  22. Larry Mike from Ginna says:

    Hey Bret, this is Larry Mike from Ginna. The first interaction I had with you was when you were still an engineer and I was a half qualified AO. 4 years ago, you were trying to fix a problem with the GEBetz trucks, and we were in the middle of an outage and in desperate need of water. I remember thinking, “What an idiot! Of all the times to start troubleshooting!”

    I am sorry about that and I am also sorry to say that I judged and characterized you by that sole encounter. In fact, I tend to pigeon hole most people I don’t know under the category of “If I don’t know you, I don’t like you.”

    I realize that shedding light on my ignorance is not the intent of blog, but after reading it every day it has become painfully obvious to me how lazy and incredibly stupid I have been with not only you, but most of the people I encounter.

    Thank you for sharing your stories. They are truly inspiring. Through them, I have realized that I sold you incredibly short. Again, I apologize for that. I will try not to repeat this short sighted mistake again.

    Thank you,

  23. Pat Gratz says:

    Great slogans for your tatoos Bret! Sounds like you are having a terrific time. If you haven’t visited Jimy in Mallory Square at the Hyatt for his famous Mojitos I still recommend it. You won’t be sorry. Please consider our offer to stop by in South Gulf Cove on your way back to Orlando. Warmer weather for tomorrow—-enjoy it – it isn’t going to last long.

  24. Red cents, sword fights, and good friends
    Wic-a-wic wegmans

    tattoos, pools, and V-twin engines
    wic-a-wic wegmans

  25. Jose Salazar says:

    Wow…I love reading all these stories. You amaze me with everything you are doing, keep it up man!!!Jose

  26. Timpla says:

    Congrats on the Tatts! You really are a biker…

    All our love…
    Timpla & Porter

  27. Jessica says:

    Tattoos! Holy smokes! You know, some people just have idealistic mantras that they quote when convenient – you are really living yours and taking us all along with you. What a great ride and a wonderful example you set for all of us…

    By the way – I guess ink makes you an “official biker dude” now. Pretty cool. The last thing you need is a leather busiter for Shannon… I think that might be a tough sell, though!

    Ride safely!

  28. Pingback: Giving the Journey Heart and Soul | Bret Hoefen – My CCS Story

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