Saturday, July 31, 2010

South Carolina dawn

After a fitful night's sleep in a hotel near Savannah, we are back on the road.

The last leg of the trip back to the day-to-day grind and farther from vacation.

Yesterday we were snorkeling the warm Atlantic and today we are looking at a ribbon of highway in front of us.

Home is ahead of us and fantasy is behind as we travel the road through purgatory from one world to the other.

All good things end I guess to remind us that they are good things.

OK, I do miss my dog.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jupiter in my Rearview Mirror

Well we are on our way back to Maryland. Hard to believe. We are currently stuck in traffic north of Cocoa Beach due to an accident. We've lost about 20 minutes.

I can't believe my love affair with the ocean is now on hold for probably another year.

We just drove by the accident the had the road closed and it was on the other side of the road. Our lanes were closed for the medivac helo. It was a horrific two car accident. We said a prayer for those involved in the accident.

It put a real downer on my vacation's end. But we are going to drive a bit safer.

The image is of Jupiter Island beach this morning. A memory caught in an image.

Just Another Sunny Day in Paradise

Fundamentally, what is wrong with vacations is that they seem to end right when I begin having fun and am fully decompressed and can really enjoy the vacation the most.

The thought of returning to the grind of daily life begins to weigh heavily on me as I write this knowing that in less than 72 hours, I will have a tie around my neck, socks and shoes on my feet, and again be stuffed into a windowless room lighted with the harsh glow of florescent lights.

While this morning--my last on the beach for this vacation, I snorkeled for over two hours with Chris and we had a magnificent day. We played with birds and urchins on the beach, we saw a huge barracuda, and a 6 foot lemon shark and then had a manatee swim within 10 feet of us. Had my underwater camera not been toasted a few days ago, I would have images to match these memories--but alas, they are only memories.

Chris called it the best day snorkeling ever! I agree. I decided not to go diving so I could snorkel with Chris and God did not disappoint us with the diversity, size, and ferocity of the marine life we saw.

And so, as the packing out moves into a frenzy--I have fond memories of a great vacation which showed me so many different things and taught me about the fizz in my life as well and the constants. I'll write about the fizz soon.

Mostly, I got in touch with my real self again--if even for only a few moments on the beach mindlessly watching the waves.

I was mostly in the moment--not thinking about what was going to happen but just enjoying what was happening. I even got bothered when people asked me about the "plan." Ugh. Plan was in the future and I just wanted to enjoy the moment, or the bird, or the fish, turtle, manatee, or shark.

But even now, my mind is looking towards the trek back to Maryland and the life I have for 50 weeks a year.

It is a long trek--but I will ride spectacular memories of family, friends, and awe at God's creation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Turtle Whisperer

Just Hatched and Looking for the Ocean
Crawling Across the Beach
Off to the Deep Ocean
First Contact with the Surf

Missed the First Wave--Waiting for the Next One
She did it again this morning.

Found little turtle hatchlings on the beach after a nest had an eruption.

The Turtle Whisperer
The weather this morning was awesome--a second day in a row of pristine snorkeling conditions--but first, we had to rescue, or rather watch, some small turtles make their way to the ocean to begin the swim to the Sargasso Sea where they will grow and mature.

It really is amazing though--they dig themselves out of the nest, crawl across 50 yards of no easy to navigate beach and then into the ocean! But once they hit the water, they really begin to motor and these little guys can really motor!

One of the pictures here is of a hatchling just breaking the surface of the sand and the Turtle Whisperer was there to capture the moment.

we spent a long time this morning watching the turtles from at least three nests make their way to the surf. Sadly, the Turtle Whisperer could not save one hatchling which became caught in the sea grass drying on the beach and was plucked up as breakfast for a big black crow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mini-Lobster Season

Today, July 28th was the first day of the mini-lobster season here in Florida.

The pictures highlight the ending for one unlucky lobster--left dead on the beach after having its tail removed.

Spiny lobsters do not have claws like Maine lobsters do, but their tails are every as bit good to eat.

The ocean was alive today with boats, snorkelers, and divers looking for lobsters as private citizens get two days before the opening of the commercial lobster season.

We met a guy on the beach today who had a lobster in his bag and saw one out on the reef as we were snorkeling earlier in the day. If I had not destroyed my underwater camera I would have taken a picture of it--but alas, my camera suffered from unplanned exposure to sea water when the housing failed for some unknown reason.

I hate seeing the results of this type of harvesting--half a lobster washed up on the beach. I love to eat lobster, but seeing this really caused me to question why I continue to eat lobster since we use only a small portion of the total animal.

But, that is just the way it is--having a season protects them so they can reproduce and we do not take the species to extinction in over harvesting.

Usually, we hear of four or five divers who die lobstering--and those numbers aren't available yet.

But--it is a season like deer season in Pennsylvania and trout season in New York.

Lots of people took the day off from work to go hunting lobster.

I just wanted to take pictures of them--

But fish are food, not friends.

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Inception Movie Review

The movie Inception is a movie which while full of action, is not a mindless trip to the theater.

I am not a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but I found his acting to be stellar in this sci-fi movie which requires the movie goer to stay engaged and understand the movie.

Director Christopher Nolan has engineered a true thinking movie and at 2:28 running time it can get almost exhausting before it is over.

The plot is as follows: Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. Written by Warner Bros. Pictures

The cast seemed well suited to the task of pulling this complex plot off. DiCaprio gives an excellent performance as Cobb assisted by his close aid Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Michael Caine stops by to play Cobb's father-in-law and former professor.

The movie really moves along very nicely at time at almost a frantic pace--except for the end which begins to drag some as the pieces of the plot come together. Some of final scenes are just to long--I checked my watch during them as it just seemed to go on and on in a plodding sort of way. It seemed as if they spent a lot of money filming these scenes and decided they couldn't cut them down--but the length of the action and the violence begin to detract from the movie. They were out of character from the rest of the movie which is very crisp and focused.

The ending, no I'm not going to reveal anything, works on multiple levels and fostered spirited discussion among our friends as to the clues which were left in the ending to help the viewer determine what happened.

Be prepared to think and actively watch if you see this movie. The viewer will be lost if they are expecting the usual Hollywood fare of mindless action.

RECOMMENDATION: See this movie. There is violence (a lot of it). Probably not suited for the under 13 crowd who will not be able to follow the plot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bird Brained

Most everyone knows that flamingos are one of my favorite birds.

I don't know why--they just are.

I have a pink flamingo statue on my desk at work which greets people who come to visit me.

I just find them to be a very stately acting/looking bird.

I could watch them for hours--but alas, life keeps me moving all to quickly. The other day at Lion Country Safari, I was enjoying the flamingos and snapped a few images to remind me of the visit.

No--we do not have pink flamingo statues in our yard or gardens.

Yes, I do have a pretty unique pink flamingo wine bottle holder that I bought at the West Palm Beach airport twice! The first one got broken a few years ago and I replaced it.

Yes, by the way, the flamingo is drunk!

You Talking to Me?

Sometimes we take images that just scream out a caption and make me laugh, like this one.

We were driving through Lion Country Safari, and these water buffalo's were enjoying a dip on the start of another hot day. As we drove by this one looked right at us as if to ask:

"You talkin' to me?"

I think he could have made any response to my answer to his question stick, so we stayed silent and kept driving.

He remained cool and did not pursue.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Manatee Surprise

It seems that every day of this vacation is filled with some new unexpected surprise. Most of them good--except for the sunscreen failure we suffered.

Today we were treated to a very rare treat.

A herd of manatees chose to spend some time sunning themselves very close to us on the beach. It was a surprise as there were about 10 manatees in the herd. They had been playing about 100 yards offshore and when spooked by a boater who came too close and probably sis not see them. We had seen the herd playing out in the water and spent a lot of time trying to decide what type of animal it was.

Fortunately, they decided to come close--about 50 feet offshore onto the rocks near us and I was vindicated when everyone else saw they were manatees--which is what I had postulated.

They are huge!

Some had fresh wounds--although from what we do not know--it could have been the barnacles on the rocks or something else.

As close as they were, we really did not want to disturb the herd as it had definitely assembled for some purpose and stayed close together until their departure when they went in many different directions.

They continued to play off shore for a long while--separately. The herd had dissolved into a separate groups of single and paired manatees playing in the warm, late-July Atlantic Ocean.

It was really very cool to see these gentle giants playing together, just offshore.

We had read an article last week that the cold weather of the past winter had killed many manatees and so seeing this herd gather together was a good reminder that nature has a way of surviving.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Finally, Some Snorkeling

Well it took over a week for the water to calm enough to allow some snorkeling off my favorite Jupiter island beach, but this morning it did and I went out, armed with my camera, to see what I could see.

And did I ever see a lot--it was awesome. I suppose, if I had actually remembered to set my camera on the correct settings the pictures would have been better. As it was, I had to do some magic to make them as good as they are. I even found a free program to help reintegrate the red into the green and blue. Yes--I forgot to switch my camera from land to sea mode. Duh!

Once I got out from over the rocks, the water cleared and I found myself in a large school of the fish you see here. sadly, I left my fish identification book home and do not know what these schooled fish are, but there were a lot of them and they had a lot of company: snook, a jack, a couple barracuda, and a tarpon or two.

I was out there with them for a long time enjoying all of the fish and then occasionally, I'd head in over the rocks to view some of the sergeant majors, and an Atlantic spadefish among other fish that were there. The waves crashing on the rocks though, made them somewhat harder to both linger over and see the fish amongst.

I got a pretty good shot of the barracuda--there were actually two of them and they were pretty little guys, as barracuda go.

A couple of really cool shots happened when an especially big wave broke out over the more open water and it stirred up the bottom--you can see the sand rising in the picture. The school continued to swim over top of the cloud coming from the bottom and it gave the appearance of the fish swimming in the clouds.
I felt bad that Nicole and Mike left before the water got to the condition it was today, but even so, it was still too rough for Chris to trek out. The waves crashing on the rocks for the 100 yards between the edge of the rocks and the shore made for a rough transition and there was a strong current pulling down the beach. It took a lot to stay in one place.

But it felt good to finally be in the water with the fishes rather than just looking at or sailing upon the water.

Good things seem to be in store for the week ahead.

Romantic Evening Beach Walk

Moon over Carlin Park in Jupiter, FL
Last evening, after dinner and to help work off a scrumptious dinner, we went for a walk along the Atlantic at Carlin Park.

It was beautiful as the day was beginning to end and the waves were moderating just after high tide.

From where we stay it is a very short, less than 5 minute, walk to the beach.

And we were treated to a very beautiful evening along the near deserted beach. As the sun was setting, behind us of course since we are on the Atlantic side of Florida looking east, the colors of the sunset were reflected in the clouds.

We found a point of rocks and sat for a while watching the waves crash up into the air on the rocks and the colors of the day begin to deepen into those of the night.

And then, just to add the perfect exclamation point on a near perfect day, the moon appeared from behind a cloud the add the perfect ambiance.

We looked at the clouds and thought that the dark one to the left of the moon seemed to be a small dog jumping up to catch a ball (the moon).

Thanks to the magic of the iPhone, we actually were able to image the scene to help us remember the moment, the thought, and the emotion.

This is what vacations are all about after all--experiencing those things that we cannot regularly enjoy where we live, making memories we hope we never will forget, and recording them with cameras to help ensure that we really won't forget them.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Elvis has left the building

Really while I was at dinner. Elvis departed and walked by.

The power of the Storm

Yesterday I indicated that we would not be going to the beach because of Tropical Storm Bonnie--but as the weather would have it, shortly after I wrote that the skies over Jupiter cleared a bit and we decided to hit the beach and watch the power of the storm.

In a word--it was awesome.

It had been a long time since I was on a beach with the red flags flying.

The waves were powerful and rough.

The boys enjoyed playing in the rough surf--but we did not let them go deeper than their knees.

The power of the storm was magnificent--we watched one dark group of clouds come across the water towards us until it forced us off the beach with wind and waves.

We really had the beach pretty much to ourselves--there were very few other crazies out on the beach enjoying the oncoming storm.

As it was, Tropical Storm Bonnie stayed pretty much south of us--so we missed the true brunt of the storm but were in a great position to have patches of blue sky interspersed with the true power of a tropical storm.

Barnacles--who wants to play?

There always seems to be one of this kind on the playground. The one who is a little crusty--and while he/she may be nice--they are definitely unappreciated.

I took this picture a couple of days ago and remembered it yesterday morning while watching Tropical Storm Bonnie brew over top of us.

The barnacles were on a rock on the beach and provided a good reminder that walking on the rocks without foot protection was something that should not be attempted.

On this sunny day they were basking in the sun at low tide waiting for the life giving waters of the Atlantic to wash over them again soon, covering and protecting them.

They seemed a bit lonely as no one really wanted to play with them on this bright and sunny morning.

But, I guess that's the way they like it.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

One Green Turtle Saved

This tired little turtle lay exhausted on the beach the other day.

Baking in the near afternoon sun after probably struggling all night to make it to the ocean, he had given up and was waiting for death to come--either in the form of a predator or in the form of heat stroke and exhaustion.

But guess what--

He was found and rescued by Chris and Ethan. Placed in a cool bed of sand and kept out of the sun to recover a bit. A short time later--after a couple telephone calls he was delivered, alive and somewhat stronger, to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center of Juno Beach.

There they identified this little guy as a green turtle and took him to help him recover until he was strong enough to be motored about 8 miles out to sea and released in the area where the turtles go to grow into big turtles.

This guy is lucky actually. The survival rate to adulthood is about 1 in 1,000 and most are lost right after hatching when they are known, sadly, as the "cheerios of the sea."

We have a deep respect for the sea and our planet. Despite the odds and the probable outcome--we rescue those marine animals we come across who need help. This trip so far has seen us assist one green turtle, ten anchovies (yes strange as it seems), one crab, and three sea urchins to return to their environment and avoid an unpleasant death on the sandy beach.

Conversely, we love watching the pelicans and the osprey hunt for the animals just like the ones we just saved--kinda sick isn't it?
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Tropical Storm Bonnie

Experiencing all kinds of things on vacation is what it is all about right?

Well today we are on the northern edge of Tropical Storm Bonnie--sunny right over top of us on occasion and very grim to the south over West Palm Beach and further south to Miami.

The waves are rough--I'm glad we went fishing yesterday, we would all probably get sick today on the boat, even if they go out.

Chris and Nicole have gone to the beach to shoot some shots of the power of the storm as seen in the waves crashing on the beach. The image above was taken from the balcony of our condo looking south to the storm clouds.

So it is likely that i won't be getting any additional sun today--but that is good as I have had two days of sun screen failure and am a bit toasted--not bad, but for someone who prides himself on spending days in the sun and not getting burned it reminded me that I don't like sun burns.

So likely a quiet day--maybe I'll see a movie or something different. Diving is definitely out! I probably would be shaken apart trying to get out of the inlet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fishermen return

A moderately successful morning fishing and we are headed in to shore.

Most of the fish were bonitas which are not good to eat but I caught one snapper.

There is something in me that loves being in a small boat on a rough sea. E dawg, however, discovered sea sickness. Sadly. But he is recovering nicely as you can see.

Fishing on the Blue Heron

Seems to be an annual event to spend a morning drift fishing the reefs of the Gulf Stream from the decks of the Blue Heron.

Our intrepid fishermen me, Mike, Fran, and for his inaugural trip Ethan departed port about 8:40 am in search of dinner with about 30 of our new closest friends. We sailed from Rivera Beach because the Jupiter boat failed to get the minimum number of fishermen.

Ay maties. We've set sail for a morning adventure.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What Day is it Again?

It happened this morning. I am totally out of touch with what day of the week it is.

Someone had to tell me it is Wednesday the 21st of July.

Who knew?

Actually, that is what I strive for when I am on vacation. Total ignorance of the day of the week and any comparison to what I would "normally" be doing. And so it only took a week this year.

Of course--I do have to keep a wary eye on the end of the vacation to ensure I don't vacation beyond my allotted time. Wouldn't that be cool--to go off on vacation and never return? If I were perpetually on vacation, would it be a vacation?

Wow, that is way too deep a thought for this morning.

I'm much too shallow a person to entertain those kind of philosophic thoughts while on vacation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gators napping

If this is Florida it must be gator country.

They are napping in the noon-time shade.

What a great idea. I think I will soon do the same.

On Safari

This morning we skipped the beach to go on a safari.

The animals were active and fun to watch. Even the lions stopped lying around to give us a show.

And of course the zebras thought they owned the road, and they were right.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Musings - July 19, 2010

1. A bad day on the beach is better than a good day in the office.

2. I wonder what it would be like to be a sea urchin and live on the beach every day. This guy seemed happy to be living in the intertidal zone. It even had some bling on to blend in with the beachcombers.

3. Florida in the summer--some say it's too hot, but it was hotter in Maryland yesterday and I don't live this close to the beach.

4. Went to the beach this morning--one other person was on the entire beach. the tide was low and we had a great time.

5. BP says the oil is seeping somewhere--but they don't know where. As long as it's not into the Gulf of Mexico is it a real problem?

6. Interesting numbers:

16 -- the number of waves that hit the beach in one minute this morning. (I counted)

1 - the number of seconds it takes for the wind to destroy a beach umbrella.

2 - the number of inches a sea urchin moves in one minute.

3 - the number of games the Orioles have lost since the all-star break, unfortunately it also equals the number of games they have played since the break.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New AA-type organization Needed: ABAA

I don't play many video games--my friends and kids will tell you that.

I got addicted to Texas Hold em on my Blackberry some time ago--but wow, I need help new.

I am an Angry Birds addict.

And worst of all--it is always with me on my iPhone or iPod.

Everyone I know is playing Angry Birds--

I have completed all of the released levels (there are more coming) and now I am going back to get three stars on all the levels. One the most recent release--I worked each level till I got three stars.

It is addicting.

We need to start an Angry Birds Anonymous Association to help those of us who dream about over-sized cardinals being catapulted through the air to destroy buildings and eliminate green pigs to extract revenge on the pig forces for stealing their eggs.

Birds--with an attitude!

Boy am I glad I can't take my cell phone into work with me!

These birds are real home wreckers.

Sand and Beaches

Have you ever considered how many grains of sand are on the beach?

Not that it is important to know--but I figure that it is possible that each grain of sand represents a way that a child can have fun on the beach.

Adults, is seems, as we grow older reduce the numbers of ways we enjoy beaches to just a few--in the water, out of the water, and asleep with a good book, or something like that.

It is fun to watch the other people on the beach, too. People are mostly chillin' on the beach.

But kids find amazing ways to remind us of the diversity of the beach. From finding some new shell, or playing in the sand, or enjoying getting knocked over by a wave, or being spun around by Pop-pop in the waves. They always seem to find a way--and many different ways, to enjoy the beach and the sun.

Me, I like to enjoy their enthusiasm as it reminds me of those first times I went to the beach and saw the ocean.

I was older than E and Jax, so I remember considering the awesomeness of it all.

Maybe that is why I still love the beach and the ocean--I love the diversity, as it is different every day and yet all so familiar.

I like finding the new and the different, or the old and familiar, like watching a pelican fish for breakfast as we did this morning. Or watching a shore bird stalk crabs--for their next meal.

Everyday is a new adventure--the beach is different, the waves are different, the color of the water even seems different; it just takes a discriminating eye to notice the subtle differences and appreciate them from something that could so easily seem to be the same day in and out.

So how many grains of sand are there on the beach?

I'm not sure anyone really knows, but I know there are not enough.
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