Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Charlottesville Vineyards - An Overview

I reviewed the activities of this past weekend and noted that I visited seven vineyards and Monticello between 7:30AM Saturday morning and 1PM Sunday afternoon.

I had no ideas that we had fulfilled such an aggressive schedule.
Grapes Ripening at Prince Michel Vineyards

The wineries were:

Prince Michel
King Family
White Hall

Drinkable wines were found at each of the vineyards and were I especially impressed by my first ever visit to White Hall Vineyard. Stinson Vineyard was another winery I visited for the first time as well.

Wine is a great hobby. And it is a hobby that is easily enjoyed with friends and family. It can be contagious and there is something for everyone.

I still have this irrational idea that I want to write a guide to the vineyards of the Monticello wine making region. I seem to visit a lot of the wineries and enjoy meeting the owners and wine makers and discussing the grapes and the wines.

Do I have my favorites? Certainly. But my favorites can vary significantly from someone else. I prefer nice, complex red wines--but many of the vineyards are producing exceptional white wines, which I also appreciate.

The 30 wineries and vineyards which comprise the Monticello Appellation of Virginia are divided into trails. Prince Michel is considered to be one of the Northern Gateway vineyards. King Family, White Hall, and Stinson are part of the Northern Trail along with a few other wineries. Keswick and Barboursville are part of the Eastern Trail while Jefferson is part of the Southern Trail. In my mind, it is possible to comfortable visit all of the wineries on one trail in a day.

I never seem to do anything the easy way however. I like to jump around during the limited time that I have to ensure that I visit my favorites--which of course are not all on the same trail.

It it just fun to get out and see the "wine on the vine" and realize that the vineyards are not just growing grapes--they are in the business of producing wines. And tasting the end result of the growing and the wine making is often like experiencing a piece of art.

Each winemaker places their own personal stamp on the wines and that is the great fun of visiting multiple wineries--to find winemakers who produce wines that I enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Musings - July 30, 2012

1. Heard as part of a discussion about what is wrong with the state of politics in America: "The problem is that one party is all about helping the rich and sticking it to the middle class, while the other is all about helping out the poor and sticking it to the middle class."

2. The political season is getting worse--it seems that both candidates for president want us to believe that the only vision we need is that we don't want the other guy.
Monticello, July 29, 2012
Taken by Mike Haslup 

3. Every time I visit Monticello, I gain new respect for Jefferson and learn some really interesting fact. This time I noticed for the first time the clock on a shelf above the foot of his bed. So he could see the time as soon as the room was light enough from the sun to see the clock's hands.

4. Doctor it hurts when I do this. Don't do that, then.

5. Mike took a fantastic image of Monticello on his phone--here it is for you to enjoy as well. The reflection in the pool was just priceless. And notice how many people are hanging around.

6. Olympics and nationalism seem to go together.

7. Who else noticed that two of the biggest sports in the US are not in the Olympics: Baseball and Football? For that matter, neither is Racquetball.

8. July is ending and hopefully the O's will begin to win more than they are losing.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Charlottesville; Wine, History

In Charlottesville, Virginia, again this weekend I am reminded of how much history is packaged into the area alongside all of the wine makers that we enjoy.

We drove past a roadside marker yesterday proclaiming the birthplace of Meriwether Lewis. Who? We began trying to connect the name with historical significance. Well, it was obvious after a few moments. Charlottesville, Jefferson, Louisiana Purchase--aha moment!

Lewis and Clark of course. Who knew he even had a first name.

And of course, most people think that Clark's first name is Lewis, right? It is really William.

And then there is the wine, Jefferson is very connected to wine and was always trying to introduce European wine stock into America, unsuccessfully. But nonetheless, the historical connection of wine to Jefferson cannot be ignored.

And then there is the wine. Two more wineries that we visited for the first time that I will be writing about in the near future. Part of the Monticello Western Trail: Stinson and White Hall.

What could be better than a weekend trip?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

My Youngest Child

For this mornings post I am going to tell the world about my youngest child. Man that kid is great. He is without a doubt the best looking of all my children. Seriously, where did he come from? He is so much better looking than I am, sometimes I doubt how he could possibly be mine. Intelligence? Oh he has that in SPADES. Every time that I come across something truly perplexing I turn to him. Typically he figures these things out within seconds. Sometimes when I leave my blog logged in he handles that for me too. That kids got moxie!
Oh also that typical stuff about loving life and my other children. Yeah they are okay too...I guess.

(guest written by Patrick!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sliding into Another Hot Summer Weekend

Yeah, I made it to another Saturday.

Friday was long and at times difficult. Fridays can be like that. Ask the Orioles who blew a ninth inning lead for the first time this season and lost.

But at the threshold of the weekend, everything seemed better--at least for a while. Friends and wine were the words of the evening. Even so, I have a busy weekend planned--heading out of town.

I watched some of the opening ceremony of the Olympics last evening--it was really fantastic. A spectacle, they call it. A planned in excess of 5800 hours of television coverage.

So for the next ten days or so there will always be sports to watch and medals to be awarded.

But for this weekend--it is off to the history and wine country of Virginia. Jefferson and wine--a great combination. Call it a presidential combination.

We will see how it all goes as we head off to the Monticello region and some fun.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics: Sport, Politics, and Mistakes

The official opening ceremonies are scheduled tonight for the 2012 London Olympics and already the world has been treated to a series of sporting events (soccer or football depending upon which side of the ocean you reside) and some poorly timed mistakes all highlighting the increasing political overtones to a game which is supposed to transcend politics.

Many of the problems are detailed in an ABC News article titled: On World Stage, Olympic Culture Clashes Inevitable, but one of them is particularly interesting to me:

Already, the International Olympic Committee and Prime Minister David Cameron have apologized profusely for the most blatant mistake to date: displaying South Korea's flag rather than North Korea's on a giant screen ahead of Pyongyang's inaugural women's soccer match Wednesday night. The flap sent the North's team off the pitch for an hour in protest.

I am happy that the soccer team returned after a short protest. They won the match 2-0 over the Colombian women's team.

The series of problem highlights how difficult it is to get thousands of moving parts to synchronize for this huge event. If everyone remains focused upon the sport and international goodwill, then the games will proceed successfully despite the unintended gaffes.

But--we are living in a tit for tat world where every transgression demands recompense rather than forgiveness.

I know, I'd really be upset if the US flag were displayed upside down or our athletes were credited to some other country--like Puerto Rico. But while there is a high degree of national pride evident in the games, they are really dedicated to competition across all of the political, regional, social, and religious boundaries which divide and separate the people of this planet.

The more we know each other, the more we can appreciate what they have accomplished to be on the worldwide stage for their few moments of fame and glory. And not fame and glory to the country they represent, but to the sport and athletic excellence.

Let the games begin (oh, they already have begun)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aurora, Guns, and Common Sense

I read a report that gun sales are surging in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, because people are concerned that new restrictions that key be placed on gun ownership.  The article published by CBS News can be read at the link.

In contrast to this, Maryland is about to loosen restrictions on concealed gun carrying. The court just ruled that the Maryland laws are too restrictive.

I have become a fan of concealed handgun carrying in the wake of the Aurora theater shootings. We the people have for too long been viewed as sheep to be slaughtered by terrorists and wackos. If more Americans exercised their concealed carry rights, which are legal in 49 states, perhaps the terrorists and wackos would rethink their plans.

What if--in that theater last Friday morning some of the movie goers had weapons on them and could have defended themselves against the insanity which walked in through the side door and started shooting? Less people probably would have died or been injured AND we would not have been subjected to a lengthy and expensive trial complete with news media coverage of every small lead and innuendo.
.357 Magnum

Instead of limiting gun sales, legislators need to ensure that citizens are encouraged to carry concealed weapons to assist law enforcement in defending the peace and ensuring wackos and terrorists think twice before plotting to kill Americans. I know this is in direct contrast to the mayor of New York's view on the issue who believes that less guns are better.

Common Sense thought: I just have to believe that if we, the intended victims of violence had the ability to defend ourselves in kind, then we would all be safer. If the criminal with the weapon had to think twice about the possibility of facing someone with the same kind of firepower--and who could probably use it, too, then perhaps there would be less crime. Just a thought.

So in closing, I read a story that is close to my opinion on the matter. It is titled: The Difference between a  Liberal, a Conservative . . .  and a Redneck.

Nice grouping!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Football vs Baseball

It is that time of the year. The Boys of Summer (who play 162 games) have to share the airwaves and fan interest with the behemoths of autumn who play 16, 20 counting pre-season, games per season. Football training camp is starting.

OK--it is true--I love baseball.

This year is different for those of us in Baltimore. The baseball season is not effectively over. Baltimore has a team with a winning record and contending for a post season wildcard playoff berth. While I fear the annual July-August Orioles meltdown, I hope fervently that this year is different and that the team grows stronger, rather than weaker as the season begins to draw to a decisive conclusion.

And then there are the Ravens (or the Steelers, or the Redskins) who are beginning training camps and trying to monopolize the sports interest in a manner only the overpaid football players can do. Football is the king of the autumn, but it is still summer and our Boys of Summer are still in the hunt.

This week begins some important series which will definitely shape the Orioles post-season aspirations. They face the Tampa Bay Rays, the Oakland Athletics and then head off to New York to face the (I hate to even write the name) Yankees. Our small budget team can turn some heads by winning these series. I will be at the Thursday afternoon game against the Rays.

The Ravens (as well as the other football teams) will still be on the sidelines during these pivotal series, but the sports media will be all over ever practice snap of the ball. It is like a soap opera with a gangland style ending.

Baltimore is a baseball town. Don't forget that. Having a winner again is awesome. While I enjoy having a great football team and experiencing the intense rivalries of the AFC North, the Orioles are in the AL East, perhaps the toughest division in all of baseball--and they are still alive.

And if the Boys of Summer can keep the football teams on the sidelines for a few extra weeks--all the better. Autumn needn't come too quickly this year.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Can't Take it With Me

Closet cleaning this weekend brought me face to face with a harsh reality--I have too much stuff, I need to downsize, and I can't take it with me when I go.

The good news is that I won't need it--but right now I still feel the need to surround myself with things that represent the trophies I have accumulated during my live.

But there a just some things that I don't need to hang on to--like the tee shirt from someplace that I visited that I never intend to return to.

And there is the five year rule--a corollary to the one year rule, that says if it hasn't been touched in five years then I probably don't need it. I have stuff that hasn't been touched since we moved in twelve years ago--I wonder if that qualifies. Yet, like the big game hunters of last century, it is hard to part with the trophies of expeditions past. Surrounding myself with stuff helps provide a sense of security. I'm not sure what the stuff is protecting me from--but it does make me feel better.

I have a lot of stuff related to hobbies I've done in the past. Fortunately, one of them helped me accumulate a number of tools which I still use to complete projects around the house. But as for being a clock repairer/restorer, I'm not sure that I will return to that hobby anytime soon. Maybe I need to sell some of the numerous clocks that I have to help with the downsizing. There is something wrong when the under bed storage spaces are filled with clocks which have not been running in, let's say conservatively, twelve years. There just isn't anymore room on the walls--and I already decorate with clocks.

So, as the cleaning continues--or moves to the really serious spaces crammed with stuff like the attic--some difficult decisions are going to be made.

Fortunately--probably not until another rainy Saturday and maybe not even then. Just because I don't need it and can't take it with me doesn't mean I have to get rid of it now!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Musings - July 23, 2012

1. Prayers for the victims, families, friends, and communities affected by the senseless movie theater attack in Aurora, Colorado.

2. It made me laugh about the guy who stripped naked at a TSA checkpoint to protest invasive search procedures and later was quoted as saying:"I was aware of the irony of removing my clothes to protect my privacy." He was found not guilty of indecent exposure by a judge in Oregon.

3. Rainy days can result in significant positive activity.

4. I was saddened that the statue of Joe Paterno was removed from in front of the stadium at Penn State--I'm not sure that due diligence has been done in the rush to judgement on his knowledge and culpability in the crimes that were committed on the campus.

5. Writing of Penn State, the rumor of yesterday was that the NCAA is preparing significant sanctions against the sports programs. While I believe something needs to be done to ensure that similar crimes cannot again be committed, punishing those who are currently there and in no way connected to the travesties does not seem either fair nor equitable. The civil and criminal court processes will likely exact a measure of deterrence in in the form of significant fines and convictions--it does not seem to me to be a sports issue for the NCAA.

6. It has been a week since I returned from vacation--and it hardly seems as if I was away at all.

7. I have to replace the motor on the pool pump later today. I was amazed at how quickly the water cooled with all of the rain and moderate temperatures we have been experiencing.

8. Another Mars landing is getting closer as the US probe Curiosity prepares for an August 5th landing.

9. Ready, set, OLYMPICS! Anyone know where the US soccer team will get together to watch the games?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rainy Day Activity -- Closet Cleaning

The rain fell all day yesterday. Despite the weather report which indicated that the showers would end during the afternoon--they didn't. I wonder how weathermen could get it so wrong.

Don't get me wrong--we needed the rain, but rainy Saturdays are a real downer.

There were so many things that needed to be done and what did I wind up doing? Cleaning and rearranging closets.

By the end of the day, every closet in the house was touched, cleaned, and rearranged. Hidden in there somewhere was a trip to Goodwill to donate the no longer needed items.

At one point, the house was in complete disarray because this was not just a individual closet cleaning, but rather, it was total restructuring of the closets in the house. There was even some minor construction involved as we realigned the storage and shelving in the master bedroom closet.

The project was finally completed just after 7pm. About the same time that the rain stopped.

Exhausted, we sat for a moment before beginning work on dinner and a bottle of wine followed by a movie.

I hope I do no have to suffer through another rainy Saturday again soon. Although I won't have to spend the day in the closet, it could be worse--the attic or the garage.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weather Change

I am sitting this morning on the screened porch enjoying the 63 degree temperature with rain falling to begin the gray cloud overcast day.

OK--I am not really enjoying it. I am a bit chilled after the 100 degree plus days of the recent weeks. We went to a local restaurant last evening for happy hour and dinner, choosing to sit outside, and by the time we left--it was down right chilly. I went into the air conditioned restaurant to warm up.

The rain is frustrating.

The motor on my pool pump burned out during the heat wave--a new one will not be here until Monday. That means I can't even lower the rising water level in my pool--which I suppose I should consider a blessing.

But we need the rain--I haven't mowed in three weeks and the lawn still looks good--except for the leaves which have fallen from the heat stressed sycamore and tulip poplar trees that surround my yard.

The birds are awake. I hear them in the trees, along with the sound of the rain falling on the leaves and the babbling of the over-filled stream that runs behind the house.

If this were September, I'd be ecstatic. But, alas, it is July--and worse, it is the dog days when the weather is supposed to be extra hot and sultry.

Makayla just began barking at a deer who happened to decide to cross the lawn. They are so quiet. And graceful. I am happy that we are within a fence so that Makayla can't chase after the deer. I do not enjoy cleaning her coat after she romps through the wooded area next to the house and crashes through the stream in a futile effort to run with so fleet a creature as a deer. Robert Frost wrote about good fences making good neighbors in Mending Wall. They are also good for keeping dogs within their boundaries.

I suppose that I will not be working on the still unfinished stairs to my deck today. They are so close to completion--too close it seems. Just a few hours more and a few more boards and balusters.

The rain is still falling--one of those light, soaking rains which should restore the trees to the browned trees and lawns. That will be a nice way to slide into August--with renewed, springtime-like greens.

I just looked at all of the vegetation around me and realized that I am happy to live in so green a place.

It is going to be a great day. I am sure of it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, July 20, 2012

NDPH--a question and an update

I received a question through the blog the other day regarding my NDPH. I realized that I had not written about my affliction since October last year after being diagnosed with the syndrome during September last year.

I was afraid to write about it.

NDPH is new daily persistent headache. It is a headache which is always there and varies in intensity from annoying to incapacitating.

I was blessed with the more annoying part of the spectrum of NDPH. Most days I could function at near 95 percent capacity. I was learning to live with it and trying not to let it affect my life. I chose not to make my blog a litany of things that NDPH prevented me from doing or ways my life and relationships were impacted by the affliction.

I did a lot of research on the web and read about many of the sufferers of NDPH who were incapacitated by the affliction--and I thanked God for being one of the luckier ones.

When I received the "official" diagnosis from the neurologist, he believed that my symptoms would likely go away at some point. Whether they would return was an unanswerable question.

I began watching my diet to determine what aggravated the headaches--chocolate seemed to help and wine deadened the pain.  I began getting regular massages--which I still continue. But I never found a magical direct link.

And then--one day during December, I woke up and noticed that my headaches were gone and had been gone for a couple of days. While I clearly remember when the headache came upon me it is funny that it took a day or two for me to realize it was gone.

I was, as I wrote, afraid.

Afraid it would return--so I didn't tell anyone. But funny thing, the important people in my life--Chris, my wife; my family; and co-workers all noticed and asked me if the headaches were gone. While  I had believed that they were not affecting me much, clearly, they were since so many people noticed the change.

As I write this, I continue to be cautiously optimistic.  My NDPH remains in remission. I don't know why except that I have been richly blessed. My heart goes out to all of those who continue to suffer and while I never had to bear the burden that many of them do, I know that they are truly suffering and that it is easy to run out of hope--because the headache is always there.

Thank you, Hilary, whoever you are for asking the question in my blog two days ago. You have helped to remind me how richly blessed I have been and I pray that you too, find relief from the persistent headache. I wish that I could give you some formula for success--but as you probably already know--there isn't one.

I thank God for my healing.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Palm Trees on my Mind

Palm in Turtle Bay, Tequesta, Florida
I love palm trees. Just being in an area where the palm trees grow makes me happy.

One morning last week, near the end of our vacation, Chris and I walked through the neighborhood where we were staying and happened upon a palm tree standing tall with gathering storm clouds behind it. It seemed defiant in its anthropomorphic attitude.

Palms are defiant by nature. They stand against the worst weather that hurricanes can throw at them and, for the most part, remain standing when the storm has passed. They may not be unscathed and have lost some fonds--but they remain tall in the storm's aftermath.

I wish I still had that much defiance in me. The storms of life continually attempt to batter me into submission--like the walnut tree which fell into my yard a few years ago. The storms finally tore it out of the ground by its roots. It took me weeks, and a new chain saw, to clean up that mess.

But palm trees stand--often alone, weathering the worst storms. And after the fury has passed--they remain.

I often remark when I am traveling--usually as we cross the South Carolina border, that once I can see palm trees I know that I am far enough south.

Palm trees are not just another pretty face in the crowd--they are strong and ready to face the worst weather imaginable.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bats and Mosquitoes

Sitting outside last evening as night fell, covered with bug repellant, I marveled at the efficiency of the many bats which were feasting on the burgeoning mosquito population.

They flew in tight turns clearing the sky of the swarms which seemed to be aimed directly at my legs. I am the definition of a mosquito magnet. Any mosquito within an acre of me will make an express run to sample my blood. I would like to think it is my sweet personality--but I am sure that cannot possibly be the truth.

The bats, however, are my defenders. They make it almost enjoyable for me to be out experiencing the evening. I enjoy watching the bats at dusk. Sometimes the pass low over the pool--or make a sudden turn over my head all while dining on the attacking hoards.

I still serve as a meal for some. And executioner for others.

So there I was, watching the bats fly closer to me and swatting bugs.

Was I having a good time? No, not really. But the other option was to head inside and we only have a few months of the year to enjoy our yard and pool--so I stick it out, covered with spray, counting the stars appearing in the lightly clouded sky, and cheering on the bats.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More taxes for people, less taxes for Casinos

There is a funny thing happening in Maryland. I wish that I understood the math behind it--but I don't.

The state is considering lowering the taxes on casinos while at the same time raising personal income taxes on a large percentage of the population.


Whose bright idea is this?

I am becoming a huge fan of a flat tax. I believe that every segment of the population should bear the burden for providing services and funding the government equally. Everyone--regardless of income should pay the same percentage with no exemptions.

This will never happen because politicians make great points with low income voters by persecuting the higher income earners. This is neither fair nor equitable.

Implementing a flat tax will make it harder to hide inefficiencies and waste because everyone will have an even stake in ensuring that government is run efficiently.

Lower income voter who are in a net get more from tax payers than they pay will now be more interested in supporting efficient government.

Rich voters will be encouraged to earn more and thereby fuel the economy even more rather than trying to find ways to evade the oppressive tax rates which when federal, state, and local bites are added together can exceed 50 percent.

Every American should support the government equally. Every American should expect the same protections ad services.

Therefore a flat tax seems the most reasonable approach. Oh--and keep the taxes high on casinos--they are just stealing money from people legally.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Musings - July 16, 2012

1. The return home from vacation was a smooth trip except for the portion from north of Richmond to DC where we lost an hour and a half due to traffic, weather, and a particularly ugly accident.

2. I am taking today as the last official day of vacation to get some stuff done around the house before immersing myself back into life full bore.

3. I was amazed at one car on the road yesterday--a Bentley, which kept weaving in and out of traffic trying trying to move forward, they wound up behind me. I guess sometimes the harder we try to get ahead, the further off the pace we wind up.

4. The Presidential election is getting really ugly. I am sure one of the candidates will soon be proposing a way to end the drought in the midwest.

5. I highly recommend the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

6. Has any one noticed that Pluto--once the ninth planet in our solar system but lately relegated to sub-planet status, now has five moons? Or is it a binary planet with one of its moons Charon? Inquiring minds want to know.

7. Why is the Higgs boson nicknamed the God particle?

8. If this is July, the Orioles must be posting a losing record.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good morning from the road

We said our goodbyes to the beach yesterday followed by our last supper in Florida. The car was loaded and ready when we hit the road about 0216 this morning.

I have just finished my driving shift and we are half way home somewhere near mile marker 82 in South Carolina. Traffic is light but our hearts are heavy leaving the beach and our friends behind.

The day is sunny so far. We had escaped the heat by going to Florida. Now it is back to reality and life. I am left with good memories and lots of pictures.

The gps says we'll be home by 4:30pm.

That would be awesome. I'm sure traffic around DC will slow us significantly.

-- Bob Doan, on the road in SC
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Unraveling Days--Nearing Vacation's End

The days left in my vacation are quickly drawing to zero. Tomorrow I must begin my roughly 15 hour sojourn back to Maryland. Today is effectively my last day in the paradise that I consider Florida.

Yesterday was a day devoted to shopping and happy hour on the beach. We enjoyed a quiet day and a spectacular evening alongside the waves of Jupiter Island. The waves were the roughest that they have been since we arrived. I am always amazed at the many faces that the ocean takes on--from placid and friendly to rough and foreboding.

I did not go out in search of the sharks, but we did see about a 4 foot one racing along the shore in the rough surf presumably in search of dinner. Chris took the cool image of the day. It was an osprey just clearing the water after snagging dinner--a fish. I took some nice images of the osprey in flight as it posed overhead for me--but the fish and the bird are more interesting.

The bird was just beautiful. And as I sat on the beach contemplating the meaning of life, I was fascinated watching such a majestic bird flying and fishing so close to me.

I guess I survived Friday the 13th. And now for my second favorite foreign holiday--Bastille Day which is today. Vive la France!

I do love the beach though.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Week, Already?

As I was sunning myself on the beach yesterday, I realized that I have been on vacation for a week already. Amazing! And OMG it is almost over.

We headed off to the beach a bit earlier than normal--I wanted to get there before low tide--hoping for some better images of the sharks and other creatures. Although the water still had only about 10 foot visibility--I was rewarded by some good images.

The storms over the ocean were kicking up the sand a bit. But the clouds were magnificent. They were fun to look at and watch off in the distance. The sun came and went and the water became more choppy as the day went on.

We had a visit from a relatively large sand crab--who walked right by me and stopped for a bit to have its picture taken. If it wasn't such a crab, it would have been cute. And I took this with my underwater camera.

I conducted my obligatory shark quest and ran across two at different times during the day. The bigger shark was later in the day, but the water was so cloudy by then I didn't even try to take a picture.

The exciting animal of the day was the squirrel fish I found hanging out near the bottom of a rock ledge. They don't normally visit waters this shallow, so it was a real find. It was nice that it wasn't moving around too much, so I was able to work the shot a bit.

When I am not in the water, I am reading two books--one is about a World War II B-24 crew member that survived over thirty days at sea in a life raft and then was sent to a Japanese concentration camp. The book is named, Unbroken<\i>. The other is about the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier. Both are very interesting. The reason I am reading two is because one is electronic, and I can't read it on the beach--the other is a traditional book.

Nothing is better than a good read for vacation.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What I've Seen in Jupiter, Florida, 2012

The beach, the animals on the shore, and those in the water--it has been awesome again this year to get away and check out nature and its magnificence. I had fun getting the picture of this sand crab--he was very tough to catch.

I realized the other day why I love getting into the water so much to see the marine animals--they let me get closer to them than the creatures which live on land. I have almost lost count of how many times that I have been within ten feet of a seven foot nurse shark, or for that matter three sharks. I keep looking for them hoping for a really good image--which so far has escaped me.

On Tuesday when I was snorkeling and the visibility was particularly poor, it wan not until I did some processing on the image that I took of the big shark that I realized that there were really two sharks watching me watch them. The visibility was getting rather poor--but I now clearly see two nurse sharks in the image. Ugh! I really hate those kinds of surprises.

I had a fun experience on the shore when a sheltie walking with its owner along the beach decided to come visit relax for a while. She was a beautiful dog, Katie, who just wanted a few minutes out of the sun under my umbrella. We exchanged some conversation with her owner only to discover that this beautiful, 13-year old dog had just been diagnosed with bladder cancer. The ravages of cancer, it seems, are everywhere.

And then again yesterday, as we took an off the beach day due to bad weather, we happened upon the sand cranes again. They were chilling and wandering around--but ever mindful of our presence.

In addition to the wildlife, there is just the calming of the ocean waves hitting the beach. On any given day, what really is better than this?

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Evening at the Square Grouper Revisted

One of our favorite watering holes in Jupiter is a riverside bar called the Square Grouper. It sits along the river/inlet offering a fabulous view of the water activities ranging from pleasure craft to working boats. This year, the Grouper upgraded its sitting area with a canopy of palm trees to keep the sun away.

Most important though are the views the spot offers. Waterfowl abound in the area along with a stunning view of the famous Jupiter Lighthouse.

As the sun sets, there are few places more enjoyable to relax and enjoy the coming evening. Of course, being there with friends for engaging conversation really helps, too.

Parking can be a bit of a problem on busy nights, but the views and ambiance are well worth the effort. I have written about the Square Grouper before--and this spot continues to be one of the truly great locations in all of Jupiter, Florida.

That is why I seem to always go back, one more time.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Friends in Low Places

It is amazing the different animals we can see if we just keep our eyes open.

While walking the area the other day I happened upon some sand cranes eating on the corner. They let me get pretty close for a picture. And they were just hanging out in the neighborhood along with the suicidal squirrels.

Snorkeling yesterday, I ran across three nurse sharks and one really cool eel. One of the nurse sharks was about 7 feet long. I did get one image of all three together, but it is really difficult to see all three in the image. Trust me--they are there.

I also ran across a spotted eel--with its entire body exposed laying on the bottom showing me his teeth. Yeah.

A really awesome day in the water and on the beach.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back to the Ocean

After taking a day off to let my back repair and also to buy some shirts with significant UV properties, it was back into the water yesterday.

John B. MacArthur State Park on Singer Island was the location chosen for our day in the sun and water. It is a wide long beach with a small rock reef that teems with life.

I did run across a hot woman on the beach and we hooked up for the day. I have a picture of here right here. She is a real looker, too! I especially liked the Orioles hat on her head. Fortunately for me, we are married to each other and I get to spend every day with her!

The beach was a bit crowded--it was Sunday after all. The water was calm and relatively clear--maybe 15 foot visibility.

Highlights of the day included a lobster who didn't want to be messed with--he was camped out in a bad spot and had this been lobster mini-season he would have been boiling in someone's pot before the end of the day.

We ran across some pork fish and other fairly common fish near the reef. There were just too many people around to fully enjoy the reef, so we only stayed out near it for a short while--OK, maybe an hour.

I did run across one fish that I can't name yet. The spotted one following the pork fish in the image.

All in all another great vacation day topped off by an awesome dinner at the Juno Fish House.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lounge Lizard Revival

Well, I overdid the sun on Friday--actually I missed a covering a large portion of my back with sun screen, so I needed an out of the sun day yesterday.

Instead of heading off to the beach, we did some shopping and a movie--we saw Men in Black 3. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and tolerated the shopping. I even found some shirts and shorts while shopping. My exciting purchase of the day was a harmonica--no, I do not know how to play the harmonica. Chris will have to suffer with it, but I have wanted a harmonica for a while. I don't really know why.

Some of what I saw, while shopping, made me retch at the thought of wearing it and sent me on a time machine back to the 70's and the leisure suit era. A period of men's clothing I had hoped to forget. I was so shocked by one combination that I took a picture of it for posterity.

I also realized the age demographic that the stores are displaying clothes for is a lot older than I am. Trust me, it looks better in the image than it did in real life.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sand, Sea, and Sun

The beach was fantastic and the marine life was there for us to enjoy. It was a fabulous day and although Maryland was baking with over 100 degree temperatures, we were enjoying the sand and sun in about 90 degree weather and a cooling ocean breeze.

The beach was uncrowded--not at all like Ocean City. And while there were waves, the ocean provided good visibility for my snorkeling adventures. I still need to color correct the images--but a green turtle and a nurse shark provided the snorkeling image highlights of the day.

The green turtle was sleeping when we happened upon it--and sadly we spooked it a bit although we tried not to bother it. It swam away and we followed for a short while, but it swam fairly quickly. It did circle back around later in the day when we were on the shore.

One of the highlights of the day was finding a nurse shark under a rocky outcropping. The shark was just laying around chilling. Maybe it was on vacation like I was. I did catch it moving--which was nice.

Later in the day I happened upon three lemon sharks, but sadly my camera lens had fogged over because I let it lay in the sun, so I couldn't get a picture of them. They were definitely exciting to see and to demonstrate my common sense, I did leave that area to them a decided to snorkel in another part of the ocean. After all, the ocean is certainly big enough for all of us!

A great day in the water though with the hopes of many more.

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Friday, July 6, 2012

Florida 2012 - Arrival

Yesterday we crossed the Florida state line before 2 PM enroute to a record breaking total trip time of 14 hours and 45 minutes. We normally dawdle on the highway for an additional hour. I think we stopped fewer times on this trip than during a 6 hour trip to upstate NY. Traffic was light and the weather was awesome.

Nevertheless, this morning I am awake in Florida and preparing for my first, hopefully of many, sojourn to the beach. The smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore appeals to me in so many ways and on so many levels.

It is good to get away. I'm not sure I could survive a stay-cation. Although
I do enjoy hanging out around the pool.

But driving into Jupiter yesterday afternoon felt a lot like coming home. It has been two years since we last stayed here and enjoyed the area.

Now it is time to get to work--vacationing. I want to come home exhausted form strenuous vacationing!

-- Bob Doan, Jupiter, FL

Thursday, July 5, 2012

South of the Border

At 9:13 am we cruised past South of the Border. Just over one-third the journey past. A ribbon of highway remains stretched out in front of us.

South of the Border

As the day dawns

As dawn broke this morning I was speeding through Richmond headed south at the beginning of another journey. 

I still love driving at dawn as the day begins. It is exciting to be there as the first rays of light illuminate the landscape. The open road ahead and miles already behind at the start of a too  long trip. 

Why didn't I fly?

Oh yeah. Rental cars were out of sight expensive. 

- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th, 2012

Although John Adams thought the celebration should have been on July 2nd, happy Independence Day.

Our nation remains the best place to live in the world--despite its warts. We can at least talk about them without fear of retribution.

I hope that wherever you are that you can pause for a moment and celebrate this country and our collective achievements.

Pause also and give thanks to our military men and women who are on the front lines and the their families who support them.

God bless America!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sleep Wars

Funny things sometimes happen while attempting to get a good night's sleep in a bed occupied by two people who prefer somewhat different sleeping environments.

Lately, we have been experiencing challenges which have resulted in experiments related to using different bed spreads and duvets to find the right combination of room temperature and covers.

The other night resulted in a classic battle between hot and cold.

At one point, Chris decided that she was cold and summarily made off with all of the covers that I had been using. Result: I was awake trying to figure out where everything was. Moments later she was too hot and all of the covers came sailing back my way.

The funniest thing happened at one point when the pillow I was wrapped around suddenly was removed and replaced with her body--now that is not a bad thing in and of itself--but it is only temporary until my body heat warms the area and she becomes too hot again and moves off leaving me without both her and my pillow.

Last night was better--we opted for heavier covers and a fan. I don't like the fan but we arrange it so that it does not blow on me.

Still--the sleep challenges can result in a less than restful night.

And I am often the innocent bystander in the war on sleep.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Musings - July 2, 2012

1. The number of people still without electricity throughout the region is astounding in the wake of the Friday night storms. We were very lucky to have lost electricity for only a short while.

2. I noted that branches torn from living trees are very heavy when compared to the branches from dead trees or dead branches which often fall during storms.

3. I forgot to include an image of the pool on the morning after the storm--so here it is. Overall, not too bad--only a couple hours work to get fully back into shape.

4. I am happy to report that the news is good from Colorado Springs--the fire spared the house of my brother-in-law. But I mourn with those who lost everything.

5. Vacation in looming. An escape from the routine for a few days. It will be shorter this year than most--but no less enjoyable.

6. I am excited about the upcoming holiday--family, food, and fireworks--what could be better?

7. Now why does this not make sense? I just read that 2,800 elementary students will need to be redistricted for the 2013 school year to accommodate the new 600 seat school opening in my neighborhood where the 10 acre forest once stood. Maybe they built the school in the wrong place?

8. Four weeks ago today I had my elbow surgery. It is mostly healed--but the doctor still wants me to refrain from heavy use--like racquetball for about two more weeks. There are areas still tender to the touch so I know this is probably a good thing.

9. Since she has been in the news lately, it was on July 2, 1937, that Amelia Earhart disappeared in the Central Pacific.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July Already?

What really happened to June? It is gone and we are standing on the first day of July and into the deep part of the summer.

I was lucky enough to say good-bye to June by spending a few hours in the freshly cleaned of debris pool yesterday accompanied by my three grandsons.

We were hosting an overnight which grew into a much larger affair due to the lack of electricity that brought two more people and their dogs into the house for the night.

We at least had power and air conditioning and were happy to share the comfort.

What an interesting way to start the deep summer in the wake of storms which still have over 300,000 in Maryland without power and suffering in 100 degree temperatures.

Summer, pool and hot!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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