Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ZZZZZZIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiippppp!

I’m sure my loyal readers have been waiting with baited breath for another of my St. Lucian vacation posts. Well, you need wait no more, my friends!!!

Since we had no children to contend with and plan our days around, we decided to just get up one morning and go to the rainforest. (Yes, the real thing; not some contrived Disney style set with Styrofoam trees, animated talking macaques, and the like…)

But what might we do in a rain forest on an island far from home you ask? Well, you would zip through the trees on cables! What else??

After a harrowing, twisting, turning, speeding, pass on the left, pass on the right, motion sickness inducing van ride, we were harnessed up and put on the uber-sexy helmets. Fortunately, I had worn my ball cap due to the recommendation of one of the guides who said that for “sanitary reasons” I would need a “lunch lady” hair-net otherwise. Mmmmmm…sounds good…



The harness and pulley equipment were so over done, not that I am complaining, that you could have hung a small car from it without issue. Needless to say, the “fear” of sliding down the wires was quite unnecessary as a result.


The lines were set up that you would zip from one platform high up in a tree to another. In the process, we were traveling hundreds of feet suspended above the forest floor. At most, we were 40-50 feet above the ground and were treated to zipping over rivers, gorges, and viewing the mountains and trees from a very unusual vantage point. The tree limbs were sometimes so close you felt you had to pull your legs in to keep from hitting them.

After riding a few times, I decided to attach my little camera to the harness and try videoing the rides. Below are a couple of these recordings. I will apologize now for my ineptitude at motion pictures. I had to drop the camera at the end of the ride in order to focus on…well…stopping and getting onto the platform. The end of the videos are a little uncoordinated as a result, but you can get a sense of what we were experiencing.

video

This last video was the longest of the lines at 800 feet. The scenery was flying by quickly, so I tried to get as much as I could in the short timeframe I had. I admit I was looking other places than where the camera was pointed, so things may be a little shaky on the recording.

Just remember, I was doing my best for your benefit! At no other silly family blog will you get great footage like this! Unless the blogger is talented, and travels a lot, and has better equipment, and is more coordinated, etc…


Enjoy!


video

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hmmm...Who to Vote For?


(Thanks to Chan Lowe)
Presidents can do little to impact economic cycles aside from ride on the coat-tails of good times (Clinton with his "balanced budget") or slide into the economic abyss with bad times (Both Bushes). I'm not commenting on the other things that the second Bush has done for and to the country, this is purely commentary on how little the presidents actually impact the economy.
I thought this cartoon pretty much summed it up on several levels. I fear for the next 4 years under either of these two... Taxes, programs that help a paltry few, growing government that will collect more and more of this country's resources and channel them into the most inefficient wealth redistribution engine created, and spending. Loads and loads of spending.
Ask yourself, would you run your household finances the way the government runs the country's?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fathers Day 2008

What a weekend. As usual it was busy, but loads of fun. I was able to ride obscene mileage on my bike on both days, for which I must thank Brenna because she was then very busy with the kids while I was out enjoying myself. I rode 80 on Saturday and 50 on Sunday, and I feel somewhat tired now…hmmmm.

But riding bikes, albeit a wonderful activity, doesn’t compare to hanging out with friends and the kids. The highlight activity of the weekend was most certainly getting a pair of Bryce and Ansley’s friends over to camp out!

Paul and I set up the Taj Mahal of tents in the back yard. Seriously, that tent was great. Thanks Paul! It was erected on something of a slope, but at least none of us slid out into the grass while sleeping!



After a huge meal of hotdogs, burgers and bratwurst (mmmmm….tasty), we had the campfire in the fire pit and made s’mores. Of course, the younger campers didn’t seem to have the patience for s’mores. They would quickly set their marshmallows ablaze, and once the flames were extinguished, shove them in their mouths. The rest of the s’mores ingredients were then requested with a “Cun uh huff sum choklutin a very mouth-full- of-warm-sticky-marshmallowy-goodness kind of way…

The kids ventured out and caught several fireflies and wanted to hang the cage in the tent to act as a nightlight or perhaps a bioluminescent disco ball. We convinced them that it wasn’t the best idea, and once they were in bed, all the fireflies “escaped” back into the wild. Yes…that is exactly how it happened, and I’m sticking to that story!

We sat around the campfire for story time and our funny stories ended up “degrading” into silliness, or based on your opinion of kid bathroom humor, being “elevated” to the highest form of verbal eloquence possible. The kids basically took over the story telling and each story ended with some variant of “and he said BooYaa, pulled off his/her shirt…and then a flying monkey landed on his/her face and peed on him/her”…ahem.

I do realize that as inappropriate bathroom humor may be, you could be reading the phonebook and as long as you ended your reading with something involving bodily functions, you would get laughs. Not from me of course. I’m far to high-brow for such coarse humor…pee-poop-toot...giggle…

Naturally, after enough sugar to give a horse cardiac palpitations, they went to bed quite easily!



Riiiiiight… You can see from the photo that the flashlights were shining and spinning all around the tent's interior, but the photograph's long exposure time made really neat lines when the flashlights moved. Needless to say, Paul and I were concerned that the tent may not survive all the wiggling and giggling going on inside.

When Paul and I finally climbed into the tent, the kids were all fast asleep, but not in the normal fashion. They were literally piled on top of each other like so many puppies. We had to extract our respective children from the tangled mess of arms, legs, and sleeping bags and then try to get some sleep. Ah, the joy of sleeping out doors with 4 kids and two adults in a tent. Never mind that our kids sleep like small windmills ever spinning.

After getting a foot, elbow, hair, and another foot in my face repeatedly, I thought that we should try to hook up some sort of generator to them at night to harness the un-ending motion. Think of the pseudo-clean energy source that has been under our noses since parenting began! Forget trying to save the world with nuclear energy or getting hydrogen from water! Kid Power!

In the end, the camping event was a huge success, but I think I am going to hold off doing it again until fall!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Hero for the Average Guy

(Thanks to Kinnaird/Getty Images)

During the U. S. Open, of which I watched an inordinate number of hours, a simple but wonderful golf hero has been found.

Now, you may or may not have followed golf to know about Rocco Mediate, but if you watched the U.S. Open this year, you know about him now! Rocco took on the world’s best golfers and through a grueling 90 holes, he held his own. He wasn’t a big winner that was invited to play. He had to qualify just to show up for the tournament. Now, that’s not to say that he isn’t a good player. In fact, he is one of the rare few people on Earth that can play golf to that level. He had to take on a field of other fine players that, to his own comments, hit the ball 50 yards further than he during the qualifying tournaments. In the end, he beat them all to earn a slot in the tournament.

Once in the Open, he plugged away hitting his relatively short drives effectively, smartly approaching the greens, putting well enough, and keeping himself out of trouble on a tough course. He played without the dazzle and drama that was displayed by an injured Tiger Woods. He just kept going ala the energizer bunny. Not to mention talking…endlessly. Rocco’s chattiness was funny because the interviewers couldn’t get a word in edgewise. They had to practically butt in to pose the next question to him. I can hear Bob Costas now, “Does this guy ever take a breath?”

My point isn’t to re-cap the U.S. Open, but to relate to you my thoughts on this new hero for all of us regular folk.

Rocco is not the advertisers dream. He doesn’t have the athlete’s body, the model’s face, nor is he a power hitter driving the ball to the moon or anything of the sort. He has been plagued with back trouble so he has an odd gait and doesn’t have the worlds classic golf swing. In essence he is a little goofy, but he is also humble and real. He is, from what I can tell in his interviews, an honestly happy guy who is truly ecstatic to be doing what he loves for a living. He is also supremely positive, which is pretty much the antithesis of me on a golf course. Sorry…again…to all that have to put up with me fussing during rounds.

At the end of 4 days of grueling golf, Rocco and Tiger were tied, so they had to play another 18 hole playoff on Monday.

In discussions of what Rocco could do to beat the “unbeatable” Tiger, we felt that talking him to death would be a viable option. Rocco should just start chatting up the stoic Tiger in the club house and continue for the next 5-6 hours straight. When Tiger wouldn’t respond to Rocco’s friendly banter, Rocco should then answer himself just to keep it going. We figured that Tiger would eventually snap and run screaming down the fairway yelling “HE DOESEN’T EVER TAKE A BREATH! HOW CAN HE KEEP TALKING?!?!?” And in doing so, he would forfeit the tournament to Rocco.

By the way, doesn’t “Rocco vs. Tiger” sound like more of a prize fight than a golf match?
At the end of that playoff, guess what! The goofy and happily chatty Rocco was still tied with Tiger. Alas, Tiger finally won on the first sudden death hole of the play-off’s play-off. This was truly one of the best finishes to a golf tournament I have seen. It had great golf, drama, and a kind of goofy normal person versus perhaps the greatest golfer of all time.

The winner may be the fans because many of us, who are also without the looks, bodies, perfect athletic prowess, and youth, that the marketing machine would want, had the best underdog to cheer for.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Atlanta Riding at Dawn


I must say that I dread riding in Atlanta. It's not that the town isn't great, if you can call a place with 7mm people and 21mm cars a "town". I love Atlanta. It's the fact that I like to ride a bike...a lot. My wife uses the term excessively rather than the "a lot" phrase, but hey... At least it's safer than skydiving...right?

I was helping my brother in law (outlaws as we fondly refer to each other) move recently, and I needed to ride a few miles on the highways to keep up with my hack cycle training program. I hopped up at 5:30am...which was 4:30am to my central standard tuned internal clock. To more accurately describe my state of alertness and mood at the time, I should have used the phrase "slowly, begrudgingly, grumbling, and half asleep fell out of bed" instead of "hopped". Ah semantics..

I downed a cup of coffee and went out for a 2 hour ride. The traffic at that time of the morning was tolerable, and I felt comfortable that I wasn't going to be killed by motorists who were on cell phones, putting on makeup, reading a Tolstoy novel, yelling over their shoulders at the kids, and "driving" with a knee, simultaneously.

The weather was warm and it was still the twilight of the early morning, and as I rode across the Chattahoochee river, I had to stop and take a moment to look at the peaceful scene that we usually overlook due to all the hubbub around us.

Be sure that you take note of the scenes around you during the busy schedules we all keep. Like your mother always said, "Do it...It's good for you."

2008 - A Squid Odyssey

I will go ahead and apologize (although it may be too late already) for the terrible story and the pathetic attempts at undersea humor. I'm Sorry. I'm so sorry...

Once upon a time in St. Lucia, there was a squid. We'll call him Squiddy for lack of any other creative name that isn't copyrighted by Spongebob Squarepants.

Squiddy led a happy life swimming about the reef. Things were simple. The water was warm. Food was easy to find. In total, life was good.

One day his Mom swam up and said that he would have to go to the Squid Academy. He didn’t want to go, he just wanted to play all day with his friends on the reef. He told his mother his feelings toward going to school and learning to read and write, but his mother sternly said that he would have to. “It may save your life one day!” she told him.

Naturally he didn’t believe her, but he wasn’t old enough to join the Barnacle & Baleen Circus and hadn’t practiced enough to get signed by the Squirts, which were his favorite Pro-Synchronized Swimming team, so he resigned himself to going to school.

Then one fateful day, Squiddy was out playing and saw a tempting morsel of food hanging from a hook. Now being that he was young, had a brain smaller than a pea, and hungry, he grabbed it and thought immediately, “Uh Oh…”

Whoosh! Up he went to the surface!

Terrified, he was dumped unceremoniously into a bucket with several other squid, and little did they know they were destined for an Italian restaurant. He wondered, as much as a squid is capable of wondering, how he was going to get out of this.

At last he formulated a plan. It had little chance of working, but at least he had a plan. He would try to stay away from the chef’s knife whenever the waitress yelled for an order of Calamari.

In the coming days, he found his true talent, and that was evading the chef's hand when he reached into the bucket to fetch the main ingredient of this horrific calamari. He managed to avoid the chef to the point of annoying him. When the Chef finally got a hand on him and tried to turn him into a good appetizer, the Chef ended up cutting his own finger.

Grumbling under his breath, the Chef turned his back and went to tend to his cut finger.

Squiddy seized the moment and squirmed, wiggled, flipped, and flopped onto the only thing he had ever seen leave the kitchen in the hopes that he would have a chance to jump into the ocean. It was a plate. He wiggled up under some vegetables in an attempt to hide until the right moment for his jump over the rail and into the sea. After a few moments of hiding in the vegetable medley, he realized that he couldn’t hold what little water he had left in his gills much longer. Hurriedly, he spelled out a message to the restaurant patrons. All the while, he thanked his mother for insisting that he go to Squid Academy instead of trying out for amateur synchronized swimming teams.

What was that message you might ask?


Well??? What else would a squid spell from vegetables?

The waitress, realizing what was happening as she set the plate before a customer, who was suffering from a somewhat excessive fit of laughing, snatched up the little squid, and flung him far into the ocean.

Squiddy is now a Senior Fellow at the Squid Academy, and heads up many Out-Tentacle Programs to get inner-reef squid to attend school instead of falling into the trap of doing synchronized swimming.

Ouch...if you thought that post was painful to read, imagine typing it...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In or Out of our Element – SCUBA


SCUBA has been something that Brenna and I have done together for a number of years now. She has been spoiled after getting certified in the dark and scummy waters of South Carolina Lakes and subsequently taken to fantastic destinations like Key West, Cozumel and now St. Lucia.

You never know about the quality of a dive shop in another country, but the Sandals crew were very thorough and even made us “prove it” when we had dive cards but no log books. We had to assemble our gear in front of an instructor, and then he threw the gear in the pool. The task was easy, but I liked the fact that they would test people that may have been less than accurate in recounting their SCUBA experience. We had to jump in, put the gear on, take our masks off and put them back on and clear them, naturally, prior to coming up to the top. Honestly, it was no big deal, but it would have been tough for someone that didn’t know how to dive to pull it off effectively enough to fool an instructor.

Even though I did like the fact that they would make sure we knew what we were doing, I did think it was a bit much with the fact that I have an Advanced Diver certification from 1990 and quite a few dives, and Brenna has been certified for a decade now, but hey…

We took a 25 minute boat ride on a very nice dive boat viewing the amazing blue of the water and the equally blue sky parted only by the lush greenery of the mountains that descended into the ocean.


We dove on two reefs at about 30-40 feet in depth. The first thing I saw was squid dancing and flickering together in the shallow water. I nearly spit out my regulator when I saw them. The reason why, which I still laugh about, will be discussed in another post…

Our paths traced in and out through the valleys between coral ridges where thousands of fish schooled. We saw an octopus at one point. It didn’t look like much since it had wisely fit itself into a tiny space in the coral for protection, but on my future dives, I know what to look for to find them.

And at no cost to you I will offer up this knowledge. Aren’t you just thrilled???

Look for a pile of opened shells of a similar type where there aren’t too many others like them near a protected area. An octopus will eat and fling the “wrappers” away just outside their hiding place. Much like my kids leave the detritus of Cheerios, Teddy Graham wrappers, and juice cups around the couch while watching TV. Brenna may have another…uh…litter bug to add to that list, but I couldn’t imagine who…Trust me I’m not going to ask her to waste her time in an attempt to improve upon the perfection that is the description above.

We also dove on a small cargo ship that had been sunk to build a reef. The vessel was 117 feet long and had a large area in the center of the deck that was safe to enter and explore. It is always amazing that even small ocean going vessels are enormous when you get to see them from the base of their hull to the top reaches of the bridge. Then you have perspective of how large a cruise ship and even larger still the mammoth size of oil tankers can be. So rarely do we have a chance to see ships in their entirety because so much of the larger ships is hidden from view below the water line.

The ship was teeming with life from tiny shrimp, sea stars, fish of all kinds and a few Eels that snaked their way in and out of view through the holes in the hull. Sea Fans and other new coral structures hung from the sides of the ship displaying all sorts of great colors. You could hear the snap crackle pop of the coral and other life around in the water. It was wonderful just to float by and look at things that I rarely get to see.
I had been worried about the dives being a cheesy tourist spot where they take all the big sunburned tourists, but this place was really quite good and the Captain and dive masters made sure that everyone had a fine time.

And another fine day came to a close.


Tomorrow: The Tragic Tale of Squidward (I sense a best seller coming on here...)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Romantic Dreams & Foolish Thoughts

I have always loved being outside seeing the world. I satisfy the need for exploration most often in a solo capacity which explains the sports I tend to enjoy like endurance cycling, mountain biking, and long distance running. The latter of which is pretty much long gone with the miles really taking a toll on my knees.


I have, of late, become infatuated with the idea of a new toy, the R1200 GS motorcycle.


No... not the redneck limousine behind the bike...yes I like pickups, but...





As for some background, I have ridden motorcycles since my father, wisely or unwisely depending on your viewpoint, bought a Honda 200 back when I was 15 or so. Unfortunately, I haven’t found one that really fit me or what I wanted to do enough to warrant me getting one. Dramatic pause...Until Now!

I sense that Brenna, my parents, and the inlaws just had an involuntary shudder as I typed those words in...

Bryce on the other hand just had a fit of joy and is probably dreaming of picking out a matching helmet in his size...Holy Cow...That thought just gave the older generation another shudder... Ok, I'll stop now.

As for the many styles of bikes:

I love the look, power and handling of street/sport bikes, but I don’t really need the speed that they provide because I know I would foolishly go and use it…as often as possible. Plus its hard to see the scenery as it blurs by you at 125mph.

Score one for me making a smart move!


I also like the look and history behind the Harley bikes, not the mechanical issues of course though... In the end I have shied away from buying one because I am not old enough, rough looking enough, and more importantly wealthy enough to go and purchase one of those overpriced things.

Score two for me deciding to not look like a young-educated-really-out-of-place-Wannabe-Hell’s Angel.

But the enduro styling (very funky) and the utilitarian approach BMW has put into the GS is wonderful. What I would really like to do on a bike would be to cover long distances with the potential for riding on more than just the smooth tarmac of interstates. (i.e. really bad roads) I don’t want the big heavy Goldwing styling of the luxury touring bikes. The GS would accomodate the comfort needed to ride a long way with much more panache, and let me know when anyone would take the Goldwing off on a bad gravel road to avoid taking major interstates all the time?

Also, I am intrigued by the endurance elements of riding in lousy conditions with rain suits, cold weather gear, a tent (maybe), moron motorists that find motorcycles the perfect invisibility cloak (definitely), and all the rest. That’s about the same as the pedaling around I do even now. This would just be an extension of that.

I do want to make sure, for Brenna’s sake mostly, that there is a reason I called this post Romantic Dreams.

I never buy stuff on credit if I can help it, and that eliminates the potential for an “impulse purchase” of something expensive like this. In following with my really boring policy of not pushing the family finances off a cliff to have instant gratification, I will have a couple of years to save up for this. During which time, the uber-cool Minivan will die, the car with need some type of major repair, and something else will come up before I can even get close to pulling the trigger on buying a toy like this.


This is just a dream that is fun to think about, and I get the added benefit of actively saving for it which feels like I am actually going to have a chance to do it. Of course, in the end, I will just have a supply of cash to buy or repair something practical for the family instead. The reality of what will be bought with the savings is kind of a let down, but it’s good to dream some.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Best Wife Ever!!!

Yeah, I know the title of this post may be somewhat debatable by some, but it’s my blog, and for once in my life, what I say goes. Pfft!


As anniversary presents go, I thought I got my lovely spouse a good one, but Brenna surprised me with something I wouldn’t have ever bought myself. I guess that’s the definition of a good gift, right? I had always wanted to do something like this, but price, time, and the number of children we have made it just an epic adventure of a dream for “someday” in the very distant future. I must have said something to get the ball rolling (perhaps I mentioned it... a lot…I dunno…)

I opened up the gift bag to find brochures for a mountain biking trip to Moab Utah! One of the most beautiful and unusual places on the planet geographically is also one of the best places to ride bikes. What a great combination!! I get to ride until I can’t stand up and couple that with stunning vistas, sandstone arches, and other scenery that would be a once in a lifetime experience for a boy from the deep south.


This will seriously be the most amazing trip for epic mountain bike riding that I could come up with. I can imagine the vast distances, the wild terrain, and drinking about 300oz of water a day…it’s a desert for crying out loud. Camping under the stars sounds like a great idea too, but I would also imagine that sleeping in a real bed at a nice inn might greatly enhance the quality of my riding after the first day’s adventures.

Heh heh… We will see, nothing is set in sandstone yet…


There are so many trails to ride to and explore. I imagine I might have to get a few more batteries and a couple more memory cards for the trusty Olympus camera.

Another great feature of this gift is that Rick, my partner in many adventures over the past number of years, has already signed on to come out too! The more the merrier! If any of my loyal readers want to join up and abuse themselves on two knobby tires for a 4-5 days, feel free. I think riding 25-30 miles a day in the parks around Moab will be the equivalent of 60 miles a day around our homes. I have heard this from folks I trust, so being in decent form fitness wise is essential.

Check out this link for some of the places we may end up riding around. It’s a pretty vast place, so I will imagine that we won’t get to a tenth (if that) of the amazing things that are there, but I am going to try to take in everything I can!

Thanks Brenna!

Hmmm...I can feel the collective jealousy of my fellow cyclist readers. Well, I as I said before, I think the more the merrier, so start saving and come along!

This trip will probably fall into March or April of 2009 since I can't travel during the latter half of the year due to that whole "Work Thing" that I have to do... Drop me a comment if you are interested, and I will get you in on the email loop for details.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Invasion of the Sea Kayaking Tourists!


On one of the early days in the trip, Paul and I went out in Sea Kayaks. Ah, the beauty of "All Inclusive" resorts is that all the stuff you get charged for at other places is already a foregone cost, so all of us used these fairly regularly during the week to explore the shoreline.

We paddled out around one of the nearby points, and I stopped to talk to a man who was out fishing the reef. Make a note of his “boat”.


You get a feel for the poverty that we saw outside of the resort area. That boat is actually half of a shipping container of some sort, and he is fishing with a spool of monofilament line without a pole. (ala The Old Man and the Sea) Although, the man in the Hemingway novella wasn’t using monofilament to catch Parrot fish.

One of the nice things about the island was that everyone spoke English, so there wasn’t the uncomfortable side of a language barrier when you talked with people outside of the resort. All the people I talked with were very friendly and outgoing.

Here are some of the caves worn into the cliffs by the waves.
My partner Paul. I must give him the award for being far and away more Adventurous than that Croc-hunter guy...



I tested out how waterproof my Olympus camera was by dunking it, and getting a shot of the sea urchins that were thriving near the surface. The camera survived and continued to produce some great shots for being a point-and-shoot style camera. For a small camera that is quite durable, waterproof to some reasonable depth without a housing, and from what I can tell bomb-proof so far (oops. I just jinxed it), I would highly recommend getting one. Well, if you don't say stuff that would jinx the equipment like I just did, I would highly recommend the camera.


When we made it back we got in trouble for going out and around the point. They couldn’t see us, and I suppose from a liability standpoint they were worried that we were going to get hurt or maybe there is a big problem with pirates raiding tourists in kayaks for their extra sunscreen, sunglasses, and dirty ball caps... Aaarrrgh May-tee!

The quote from the staff was something like "If something happened to you, it would be bad for us." I was thinking…BAD FOR YOU? WHAT ABOUT REALLY BAD FOR US???

It wasn’t that big a deal of course. The water was very calm and aside from getting sea urchin spines in our feet, we would make it to shore in the worst case scenario of something actually happening.


I thought it was funny that I got in trouble with the staff every time I went out in the kayaks. The complaints ranged from you went too far, you took too much time, we’re closing the water-sports area and we want our boat back…etc. They even sent the little motorboat out after Brenna and me. I am sure they were getting tired of the Mabry/Wiggins Adventure Seekers by the end of the week.



Look at how calm that water is in the last picture. It's like a lake out there, and that area is pretty well exposed to anything coming for about 900 miles north so it isn't like it's a real protected cove. It was just that nice and calm.

Later in the week, I wouldn’t have gone out in a kayak, but that is a subject for another post!

Monday, June 2, 2008

St. Lucia: Stories and Sunsets

I must admit that I was pretty exited about seeing a new place in the world, and St. Lucia definitely fit the bill. We have been counting down the days for this trip since August last year. Something that is anticipated for that long sometimes will let you down when the actual experience come to pass, but this absolutely did not. It was a fantastic trip, and it is a destination that everyone should try to see.


St. Lucia, the island itself, is very mountainous and has cliffs coming down straight into the sea. There were probably 2 roads on the whole island that traversed it’s length, and it took us an hour and a half to drive the 27 miles to the resort. That trip was accomplished with a white-knuckle experience of riding in a mid 1980’s euro-style-van driven like a Ferrari through the winding mountain roads. Some of the grades were so steep that it looked like 1st gear wasn’t going to get some vehicles up them. I’ll bet the shops that work on brakes and clutches have a pretty strong year round business.

The main export, bananas, were being grown everywhere. These farms weren’t the normal thing we think of in the States. They were up and down the steep mountain slopes as well as anywhere else you could tuck a few plants. There literally was no truly flat ground to put a typical farm. The island goes from sea level to over 3,000 feet at the top at Mount Gimie (Jimmy) where all the Rastafarians live.



There were old volcanic “plugs” all over the island if you looked for them. These form when the magma that fills the volcano is a harder rock than the surrounding material that actually made up the mountain. The elements eventually erode away the softer materials and leave this wild looking spike of rock. The most photographed of these, are The Piton’s , but they were unfortunately on the other end of the island. We were hoping to get a shot of them from the airplane on the way in, and of course they were on the other side of the plane. Then our hopes were dashed again on our departure as we didn't even rate enough to have a window! Thanks Delta!


We stayed at a Sandals resort, which didn’t allow children. This was a wonderful thing for a 10 year anniversary but probably not when you were on the receiving end of caring for the kids. Brenna and I got to remember what it was like to date and to go and do things on the spur of the moment. I must thank the family that looked after the little ones during our time away. We probably won’t ever be able to thank you enough. Secretly, we know how much work 3 kids can be, and having them dropped on you rather than easing into the task is a shock.


After a long post, here is another sunset shot taken from the sea wall overlooking the beach at the resort. That is one well fed Dove...