Posts Tagged ‘Adventures’

Bioluminescence in St. Croix

February 2, 2011

Last night was one of those old fashioned nights which started with cooking S’mores over an open fire at Altona Lagoon. People were fishing for shrimp which were jumping all over the Lagoon and were being harvested by the bucket full. Then it was off to explore the Sea of Fire with Brice of “Sea – Thru Kayaks VI”. Seems that Vieques is not the only place in the Caribbean with a bioluminescence Lagoon and our own effort in St. Croix is really incredibly impressive.

From the bridge where the fishermen and campers gather, you must paddle to the other end by the Buccaneer Gate being careful to avoid the shrimp jumping into your Kayak and the iguana poop from the trees above but once you reach the other end, the experience is fantastic. As a matter of fact, Kayaking in the dark was pretty impressive on it’s own. When you reach the end and put your hand in the water and swirl it around, it looks like the sea is on fire with a bright blue-white light. Every time you paddle, the sea lights up and if you take a handfuls and sprinkle it on your legs, it looks like the Milky way is on your thigh.

This stuff is totally non toxic and safe to eat or drink and if you care to drink any water from the lagoon at all, it won’t be this stuff that kills you. Our guide Brice loves to talk and knows all about this stuff and it’s medical uses. He loves, nature and his job and was fun to spend a couple of hours with. Despite his love of his see through Kayaks, it is more Brice’s knowledge that enhances the experience than anything else. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to photograph but the memories are there.

Actually, I knew this stuff was there because my friend Chino and I used to take a six pack down to the Lagoon and swim on the sea side of the bridge to the Lagoon on moonless nights when the tide was going out. This blue stuff would cling to plants and other floating stuff and swirl around you. It is kind of a cool effect.


The Dear of St. Croix

December 4, 2010

I guess that when my wife was alive I still talked to all the other dears in my life. Now that she is dead, it is ironic that this is the only deer that listens to me and doesn’t run when I talk to her and tell her how beautiful she is. Without further comment, I present my new dear.

This is my back yard and she is about 50 feet away and I took her picture and talked to her for about a half hour I used to do this when Dolores was alive and she thought I was nuts back then. I guess nothing much has changed. I am starting to see my dear on a daily basis..

The Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Zachary H

December 2, 2010

On my recent vacation, I had the opportunity to explore the great island of St. Croix in the Caribbean Sea. Before I embarked on any great adventures, my skills of survival were to be tested although my great Uncle John differed with that description. His point was if there is no failure allowed, there can be no test so we settled on describing my meeting each challenge as a right of passage.

The Artifical Wall

The first adventure was the artificial rock wall which was easy despite having no safety harness.

Hand over Hand

Then it was hand over hand across the drop.


Until you returned to the starting point by way of the fire poll.

At The Fire Poll

After that the challenges got increasingly dangerous as I climbed a real cliff to the top of the mountain without safety harness and with loose stones everywhere. I was only the fifth person to achieve this feat and the other four were grownups.

Climbing a Real Cliff

The next challenge was my favorite as I crossed the ravine on a zip slide, once again there was no safety harness or mats to either stop or cushion a fall but which never happened as I held on for the ride.

The Zip Slide

After all that work I became famished and decided to cook some Mac and Cheese from Scratch.

Mac & Cheese from Scratch

Of course a real explorer uses what ever tools are at his disposal and I used my Uncles’ coffeepot as he is prone to do.

Coffeepot Mac & Cheese

That afternoon I decided to do battle with Poseidon and went into the rough surf somewhat reluctantly while my father and Uncle charged in. The next day I was the one to charge into the sea as my Uncle gingerly entered because he said it was cold. I told him it was his Karma to be punished for teasing me the day before about my reluctance to enter the rough and dangerous sea.

Ras Lumumba & Zack

There were other adventures and places visited but one of my favorites was a trip to the Rain forest where I met a Rastafarian Ras Lumumba) who taught me about his beliefs and about all the plants and insects of the forest.

On The Great Swing

Along the 4 mile hike, I climbed the tree house and the huge swing.

Helping to Hoist the Main Sail

Another of my favorites was a trip on the Roseway where I helped the crew hoist the sales.

Captain of My Destiny

After that I took the helm and assumed my position as Captain of my own Destiny.

My apologies to Zack as this is really his Uncle,  Poppa John who is living vicariously through the eyes of his 10 year old Nephew.  It was a great vacation for all.

Hey Zack, I hope I didn’t misrepresent any thing you said or did.

Cooking Adventures with my Grandaughters!

August 29, 2010

While on vacation with me, my Granddaughters love to cook during quiet time. I enjoy it because once they choose the recipe and cook the meal, they eat it without argument. For the most part, they choose meals that are weird and fun to make so we may end up eating various forms of chicken for six days in a row. The only limits I make on the selection process is that it must be real food that I like and we can’t have the same meal every night. The only concessions I make are that I leave out the scotch bonnet pepper and if Cayla chooses a recipe that is really spicy, I may make an alternate meal for Ana.

Pot Roasted Chicken, Ready to Serve!

They prefer the coffeepot for both the weird factor and the convenience. Once the pot is stuffed and turned on, we can go to the beach or do what ever else we want.  One of their favorites and mine is Coffee Pot – Pot Roasted Chicken.

Rot Roasted Chicken Ingredients

The most amazing part is that all of the ingredients actually fit into the coffeepot.

All In The Pot

The chicken is actually a Cornish hen and the onion, garlic and celery mixture is stuffed inside, but it even amazes me that it fits and the girls are fascinated. And yes, if the original recipe calls for Cruzan Rum, I cook with it.

The Girls Checking the Pot, Again

Of course, they ate every single piece of chicken and potatoes and they know that their Mom always saves the juice to make soup so of course they wanted to make soup for the next day so they could make the dumplings. Now no matter how many times I carefully pre-measure the water and tell them to slowly add it to the flour to avoid a sticky mess, they always dump it in and play and I have to help in the end. I cant complain, their dumplings always come out perfect even if the process is a little messy.

Fun Making Dumplings

Of course this had to be done on the stove top to get it hot enough to cook dumplings and, I had to add more chicken, potatoes, broth and the dumplings to build a full pot of soup which only lasted the one day. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention and get a picture of Cayla making a rue to thicken the gravy. I doubt that many of her friends know what a rue is.

Rasta Pasta and Chicken

Another smash hit was Rasta Pasta which has summer squash and green bell peppers and I used Wacky Mac veggie pasta. When I described the meal to a friend, he asked for a sample and there was nothing left. They had it for dinner and then lunch the next day and finished all the pasta and sauce. I am not sure if I agree with purely vegetarian meals for young people because my Mother swore more than a half a century ago that protein was essential for brain development so I still make sure the kids get a portion of meat for dinner and they can eat their nutritionally worthless cereal and jelly bread sandwiches the rest of the day.

Is My Daughter a Chick Magnet?

July 3, 2010

I went to to confirm the current usage of “chick magnet” only to find that young hip people have it all wrong. Contemporary usage seems to imply that it’s a hot car or really good looking well built guy that just seems to attract all the woman.

I can tell you it is definitely not a hot car. It scares the crap out of most of my dates when I speed and over- drive my Toyota MR 2. The only woman I know who enjoy the power are my daughter, my niece and my former wife Dolores. As a matter of fact, Dolores’ self image had her drive a 4 wheel drive Jeep, but when we went out, she wanted me to take the MR-2, drop her at the entrance and go park the car. Now this could hardly be called a chick magnet as it’s all family even though Dolores encouraged me to have sporty cars from when we were first dating and before kids.

The reason that the new definition leaves me cold is that there is nothing much I can do about my age and looks to become a contemporary chick magnet so I have to assume the definition is wrong or give up on women flocking to me. However, in my youth, the concept of chick magnet was something a man could control and is still apparent to this day.

A man with a baby strolling through the mall always attracts attention and some women with the biological urge to reproduce just can’t help walking up to touch the baby or comment on the child. You don’t have to beg for an introduction, the women come to you. Unfortunately, I don’t do babies until they are out of diapers and toilet trained and by the time they are three, babies have lost the chick magnet appeal and may be more a chick repellent as young women are forced to ponder the inevitable end result to a close sexual relationship.

Another popular chick magnet is those cute little dogs with fluffy hair that are not much bigger than a cat or a rat. Once again this ploy wouldn’t work for me as I think animals are not to be seen in public places but to be eaten. I would rather be celibate than to be seen walking a little rat dog around the mall pathetically seeking solace from young women.

Thank God I have discovered the concept of success breeds success. I really try to never fight with ex-girlfriends as they or I move on in life and since I seem to have the luck to be with attractive, intelligent wonderful woman, there is no reason not to go out and be seen with them and just have fun when the romance is out of the relationship. One ex-girlfriend is the life of the party that many want to be like and get to know. If I notice someone who is attractive to me hanging around the edge of my ex’s circle of friends, I check with the ex and if she agrees, I invite both out for drinks.

I have never been turned down and half the time it ends up in the Hot Tub. My ex is my best advertisement and link to new friends. Of course, I have other ex’s who would do everything to sabotage future relationships and keep me celibate.

I have a young friend who has the body of a Greek God and the personality of a TV star. Unfortunately, she has no personal interest in me whatsoever and in general she is living a life of celibacy. It’s almost a total waste except that if I take her to a place like Hooters everyday for a week and then go alone inevitably a waitress will come ask me about my friend and breaking up and start a conversation about relationships etc. It seems the waitress wants to know what I have that allows me to date young attractive people and how can she get some of whatever good is there.

This curiosity runs to me and my daughter and in a weird sort of way she is a much better magnet than my celibate friend or ex-girlfriends. Seems my daughter actually cares about whether I live or die and am happy or not and is not just there for a drinks or a free meal. When she notices an unduly interested waitress, she draws them out in an unnatural fashion and I hear the darnedest things. “Oh, he’s your father, I was wondering what made him special” at which point my daughter actually pitched my virtues to someone half my age.

My daughter the Chick Magnet, you got to love her.

StarLite Adventure with Dagny

July 2, 2010

Dagny asked where I wanted to go for Dinner on her last day here. We were not cooking in the hotel room because she was poor, we were doing it for the adventure. Since food and money were not really issues as I am still trying to lose weight, I opted for a 2 ½ hour Smooth Jazz Lunch aboard the StarLite. This moderately priced adventure features “Ken and Barbie” singing and playing guitar music that occasionally sounded like jazz but was really closer to piano bar pleasant.

Dagny & Dad Start our Cruise

The ship left from Clearwater Beach which is a pristine, clean. Florida beach (at least until, BP and a Hurricane make land). The ship loaded on time and left on time and the waitress started tanking her orders from patrons. Of course, we disrupted the flow by having our picture taken and she didn’t mind at all.

The cruise along the inland water way was fairly typical for the genera pointing out housing occupied by philanthropists and the rich and shameless. We skipped desert and headed to the Ca pain’s Wheel House and started to walk in and say hello. The first door was locked but that didn’t deter Dagny as she went around to the other side of the cabin and knocked on the door and we were admitted. Of course, I had to take a picture to prove our presence and Captain Mark approved.

Dagny & Captain Mark

Actually the welcoming speech had invited everyone up to say hello to the Captain but we seemed to be the only ones who actually went. Their was only one other person who was acting like she owned the boat and that was a teenage girl who had moved a chair to the upper deck rail and was lounging with her feet on the rail watching the tide, time and boats pass by.

I totally approved and hope she has a life of adventure. I mean what’s the point of spending $10 on a cruise if you don’t act like you own the ship.

My Serious Daughter

I captured this picture of my daughter at the start of the cruise. She makes me laugh and we have a great time but when required she can be very intelligently serious. I am not sure what had her so attentive but would like to believe she was describing her fathers virtues to a sweet young waitress.

Tarpon Springs Adventures

July 1, 2010

Tarpon Springs is North of Clearwater with a population less than 25,000. It is notable for having the highest percentage of Greek-Americans of any city in the US. In size, the community is less than 20 square miles with about half under water. The first Greek immigrants arrived to this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry. Like most fishing communities, there are good years and bad based on the whim of mother nature.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where the sponges were sold, into tourist attractions. And somebody was bright enough to put a silly plastic Turtle in the middle of the town square. While logic would dictate that it should have been a tarpon, a ninja turtle is definitely more huggable than a Tarpon which is best described as a pugnacious, smelly, inedible, cold-blooded fish.

The first time Dolores and I saw the Turtle was probably 1999. I had always kept in touch with Carol since the day I first met her. When we both married and had kids we kept in touch and our families visited each other in New Jersey, Santo Domingo, St. Croix, Florida and watched each other raise families and pass through life’s transitions. We had comforted each other from afar on the passing of our respective spouses.

Lunch at Hellas with Tracey and Carol

Carol is a gracious hostess and when I was here in May to get probed by aliens. Tracy and I went to visit and have lunch at Hellas a Greek restaurant.

John, Tracey & Turtle

Naturally everybody laughed, had fun and told jokes with an awful lot at my expense. And as we were leaving, I insisted on pictures of us with the turtle. First it was Tracey and I and then it was Carol and I.

John, Carol & Turtle

On Fathers Day, Carol had me join her family for a fantastic feast. I have know her father for over 50 years and he is still earning spending money by betting on his skeet shooting skills and constantly winning. He travels as far as Ohio where he finds people who bet against him because they see an old man on the line. They soon find out he has the eyes of a hawk, reflexes of a bat and nerves of steel as he wins most bets. George is pushing 90 and his family gave him books on sports memorabilia to read for his birthday and Fathers Day. My mom gave up on reading in her late 80’s because it was too tiring so it’s nice to see George keep going.

I told George, I wanted to be just like him when I grow up as we caught up on old times. Carol’s daughter Tara was there with her husband as was Carol’s boy friend. I have know Tara all her life and everybody just adsorbed me into the family. Carol asked to see my daughter when she came to care for me and even though Saturday was my most painful day, we kept our date.

I am glad we did as the walking and company took my mind off pain and I instantly felt better. At lunch, I toasted the special 50th anniversary of our first kiss and Carol asked how I could possibly remember such trivia. Then her eyes lit up as she told me I made up the anniversary story because the first kiss was more than 50 years ago. It made me laugh and smile because she also remembered. Unfortunately, she also remembers all the pranks and tricks that she played on me based on my teenage insecurity and raging hormones which is why we never made it past that kiss..

Dagny and Poppa John

When we were leaving Tarpon Springs, I reminded Carol of my need to capture the Day with pictures of the Turtle. She pointed out that there is far more complexity to the culture of Tarpon Springs than the Turtle. I reminded her that when Dolores and I first came to Tarpon Springs with her, we all did the Turtle thing and if I searched for them, I would find those pictures. I also pointed out that I am not running from her memory because after 43 years of marriage, there is no way to even dream of erasing Dolores from my life. Besides, I believe that she was there both days enjoying the outing as she knew everybody including Carol’s family and Tracey and never missed a pleasant social event.

Dagny, Carol & the Tarpon Springs Turtle

The worst part of the day was thinking about what BP and a hurricane could do to the town. This is not about money, because the cost to relocate 25,000 people is nothing compared to the cost of disrupting all of the population of the Gulf Coast. But once a town like Tarpon Springs is gone, not even Disney could resurrect the authentic version.

As they say in the islands;

“God spare life”, I will live to see Tarpon Springs in a decade, just the way it is.

Adventures with Dagny

June 30, 2010

Evans Road

When Dagny told her friends about the family trip to Space Camp, one of her friends asked if we always went on adventures. Dagny explained that we didn’t always have money for things like space camp, hot air ballooning, and white water rafting but there were always adventures large and small.

At 18 months Dagny wanted to join Andy and I on a Camping trip on our Island and I explained that she couldn’t go because she was too young and no one ever took pampers on a camping trip. She declared she was done with pampers and was trained and she really was. She went and the weekend was full of adventures for both of us.

The first big adventure was when Andy came yelling that Dagny was floating down the river in her life preserver which we had made her wear for safety reasons. When I finally found her she was “happy as could be” just floating down the river and didn’t even get the concept that she had been rescued as we probably didn’t bother explaining it to the happy contented child.

The next big adventure was mine and it occurred when we went to bed. Seems that Dagny declared herself a grown-up and wanted a bunk to herself just like everyone else. I had not planned on this but as she stubbornly kicked me in the back and pushed me, I finally yielded and slept on the floor of the lean-to without blanket or mattress.

We spent a lot of time on the river fishing, floating in tubes, camping and soaking on hot nights. When we first moved to St. Croix, we had little or no money and Andy became Andrew as he gave up on adventures to play man. Meanwhile Dagny and I would wander wherever and whenever we liked. We would head to the beach or a walk in town, stop by a friends house or go to a beach bar where I could get a beer. We had no idea what we were going to do when we left home on an errand and I believe that Dolores would send us on a mission just to get rid of us so she could have quiet time.

With Dagny and I everything was an adventure. Thank God, now that Andrew has Pippa, he is engaging in building Castles, Fighting Dragons and putting out fires. All are credible solid adventures for 3 year old Pippa.

Now the night before they cut my throat, Dagny and I decided that a pleasant “Last Supper” would be in order and we headed to Red Lobster because Dagny had never been and I was in the mood for seafood. It was a pleasant meal with a few glasses of wine and when the waiter found out the purpose of the celebratory feast, he declared us both nuts: Me for drinking and eating prior to major surgery and Dagny for celebrating with her Dad. Regardless, no one at Largo Medical Center cared about our antics because I was done eating at 6:30 pm and done drinking by 9 pm well within their guidelines for preoperative behavior.

Dagny knows that I almost always have a camera in my pocket and that was the basis of the challenge. We had discovered that the road north of the read lobster was called Evans Road and that her daughters would appreciate a picture. Could I make my cheap camera shoot a credible picture in bad light from a few hundred yards away that would be good enough to show my granddaughters.

I really didn’t know the answer because telephoto and electronic enhancement is always a challenge with all the things that can go wrong such as shaky hands, poor contrast, etc. But then who cares because with the electronic cameras working on memory cards, if you don’t like it don’t print it.

I would not know until after I left the hospital because as we completed our mini adventure, I promptly put my camera aside and was operated on the very next morning and forgot all about it.

The purpose of little adventures and taking the time to do weird things is the joy of doing it, not the outcome.