Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winning, Losing, or Playing

General George S. Patton
It is reported that General George S. Patton, a flamboyant and effective World War II U.S. general,  once said, "Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn't give a hoot and hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor ever lose a war."

Vince Lombardi, the legendary NFL football coach for whom the Super Bowl Trophy in named, remarked that “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.”

I've considered these thoughts in my racquetball exploits and in other areas of my life. I keep the Vince Lombardi speech about winning in a frame on the wall of my office--why? Because I need to know that making the effort is the important thing. 
Vince Lombardi on Time Magazine

More and more though, I have come to realize that I need to be smart and pick my battles. Some battles are not important enough to expend a lot of emotional energy "tilting at windmills." I have found that playing cards translates well into life by providing experience in trying to make the best of a bad situation and knowing how to translate a losing hand into a draw or even a win.It is the part of winning that makes me smart enough to know when I have a losing position and determining how to get the best possible outcome for the cards which have been dealt. 

Winning is great, losing sucks--but being on the field with the opportunity to play the game is even best. Before I can either win or lose, I need to be on the field to play the game. Remembering that playing is primary and winning or losing is an outcome helps me keep things in perspective.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Out the Condo Window - Jupiter, Florida

From our Bella Vista on the Park Condo
OK, this entry may be a bit late, given that I am already home and vacation is ended. But, I wanted to continue my look at life out of the window. The condo in Florida provided many more windows to choose from than a hotel room does--and so I chose this view because it contains water! A water view!

The water is a large pond (or is it a small lake) at the complex in which we stay while in Florida. Over the years I have watched the life surging around the pond, but this year I was disappointed to find the the friendly (or not so friendly) ducks and geese that used to live along the banks have been relocated. I like the thought of relocation better than the other option.

From this vantage point, which is really on the balcony, which if it were on the other side of the building would have an "ocean" view, I can see the heavy concrete tiles which form the hurricane resistant roof and I can remember looking down into the parking lot at our vehicle Cleo that in previous years would have been parked under a now removed palm tree.

Life goes on, I guess. Storms move through and it has been three years since we last stayed at this condo. I found many things have not changed--although I wish they would have changed. The condo internet connection is still DSL and it retains it charming Japanese decor including a kimono on the framed on the wall in one bedroom as well as a sign urging people to remove their shoes when the enter. Removing shoes is not a problem for me--I dislike wearing shoes anyway, preferring bare feet even during the winter season.

Most importantly in this image though are the palm trees. I love palm trees and want to plant one in Maryland. I noticed, during my last visit to Ocean City, MD, that one hotel had significantly large palm trees outside their beach entrance and I have surmised that the trees can survive if planted and not retained in pots. I think it would be awesome to line my drive with palms so I can have a perpetual Florida state of mind.

Through my pictures, and the as yet work in progress photo book, my vacation will live on. Soon though, it will be just a memory rather than something I did last week.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Musings - July 29, 2013

1. Get over it! Just because vacation is over doesn't mean that summer has ended. There is still al to of time to do a lot of fun, outdoors activities and enjoy the best season of the year.

2. It takes a lot of work to get things back in order around a house after a three week absence.

3. Being greeted by a mountain of mail is not the best way to end a vacation.

4. There is something unsettling about returning to work after a lengthy absence. It should be fun and interesting today.

5. I cannot believe that July is almost complete. Wow, time passes quickly when I'm having fun.

6. Interesting piece of trivia: on this date in 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana. And now, their son has a son.

7. Even better than the previous entry--on this date in 1958 NASA was created.

8. Is it good to be home? That is a tough one. Is it better to be on vacation in someplace that I love knowing that I have a home to return to, or is it better to be at home with the memories of a great vacation?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vacation Reflections 2013

Lobster Hiding at Carlin Park the Day After Lobster Mini-Season
Arriving home last evening about 7PM was thankfully uneventful. The house was in great shape, thanks to our family watching it and Makayla was there to greet us, having been returned from spending three weeks with her cousin Chewbacca a few hours earlier. I missed my dog and it was good to see her.

The trip from Florida, nominally a 15 hour drive too 17 hour due to heavy traffic between Richmond, VA, and home. My traffic alert in the car was going off every few minutes to advise me of a new accident or traffic jam. It was torturous to see our arrival time slip from 5PM, to 5:30PM and so on until we finally arrived home when we did. I have got to figure a better way to drive from Richmond to avoid all of the continual traffic nonsense--or plan to drive through during the wee hours or late hours of the day as we do when departing.

As they say, it is over, but at least the memories remain (and almost 900 pictures that Chris and I took). I love digital imagery--shoot until you get it right!

Sand Castle 
The new vehicle performed perfectly on the highway. I especially appreciated the internet connection for traffic updates and the detour/rerouting that the navigation system offers. We used that on a couple of occasions yesterday--but then at one point we needed a detour while on the detour. We finally decided to just slog it out on I-95.

One of the most memorable things I did during the vacation was build a sand castle with Ethan, Jax, and Chris. I have not engaged in sand castle building in a number of years, and I have grown a bit rusty. But our creation was significant. I was sad that I did not return to that beach the next day to see how the wind and waves had returned it to sandy beach.

We have already mostly decided that we will likely not return to Jupiter next year. but will instead venture off to some other location--maybe not even a beach.

But, that is for another day to decide.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, July 27, 2013

On the Road Home

Somewhere on I-95 in North Carolina
We departed promptly at 0200 this morning and had exited Florida before dawn. Coming up on noon we are slogging through North Carolina in moderate to heavy traffic.

The rain yesterday morning and evening did not dampen our final beach visit, but I did liken the drops to the tears of the Seminole's as they were pursued and subsequently lost their lands.

We dined with our friends at the Juno Beach Fish House, our last supper in Florida.

We are hoping to be home for a late happy hour.

--Bob Doan, writing from I-95 somewhere in North Carolina

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bird of the Day -- Juvenile Reddish Egret Finding Breakfast

Juvenile Reddish Egret
There is something fascinating about watching animals hunt--especially when they are successful and I have a camera there to record it. I tracked this bird for quite a few minutes as it moved from tidal pool to tidal pool as it stalked dinner. And then, success! It came quickly, but probably not quickly enough for the small fish which was invited to be breakfast.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Endings turing into Beginnings

The Flattest Atlantic Ocean of the Vacation
IT is here. My three plus week vacation is at an end. This morning will be my last sojourn to my favorite Florida beach for quite some time. There is some sadness when vacations draw to a close--but it isn't over yet!

Right. I still have a fifteen hour drive ahead of me to return to Maryland. That drive will begin during the wee hours of the morning and culminate, hopefully, with a triumphant return into the my driveway sometime during the late afternoon tomorrow. 

I have not missed much about being away, except for my dog, Makayla. Someday, I would like to bring her on vacation with me--but I will need to find a dog friendly place to rent. I have appreciated all of the help back home that those who could not join us here in Florida have done to keep things running, especially the struggles with the hot weather and the pool! Thanks guys for staying on top of that. I hope the cats got fed.
Sand Castle Creation

Today will be filled with beach followed by packing and car loading in preparation for departure. I fear we have accumulated more stuff than there is room for in the vehicle.

Yesterday's snorkeling was fabulous, as was the day before. Unfortunately it was the lobster mini season and there were a lot of other people in the water which drove many of the fish away, I think. I did run across two large barracuda and finally found one of the nurse sharks that I had been seeking. Actually, Nicole found it as we were cruising along the outer edges of the rocks. It was very well hidden. Why no pictures? I forgot to charge the battery on my underwater camera.

We even enjoyed a group effort sand castle building experience. With the help of Chris and I, Ethan and Jax created a fabulous sand castle on the beach. It was even reinforced with shells to repel attacking ghost crabs. We will look for the remains of the castle when we visit the beach today. 

 Last Happy Hour on the Beach with Nicole
Even so, during the late evening, we enjoyed our final Happy Hour together with Nicole, Mike, Ethan, and Jax on the beach. It was an idyllic evening with light winds, the flattest ocean of the entire vacation, and relaxed fun. The only reason we left the beach was because the parking lot closes promptly at sunset. 

The memories are fantastic. The sights have been grand. What more could I ask for, really? If I was on vacation every day it would not be a vacation, right?  OK--it might be called retirement!  Mmmmm, there is a thought.

Nah. It will be here soon enough and I need to do more preparation to make retirement as much fun as possible.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bird of the Day -- Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
We had the opportunity to watch this bird hunt for quite a while. It was clearly hunting ghost crabs in the dry sandy part of the beach--well away from the water. I am not sure how successful it was given that I never saw it actually get anything to eat.

This image shows the bird ruffling its plumage while wandering down the beach.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Climbing into History at the Jupiter Lighthouse

Jupiter Lighthouse
I am fascinated by lighthouses. What a great concept to assist sailors in safely navigating along the coastlines.

Chris and I atop the Jupiter Lighthouse
Yesterday, after visiting this area nearly every year for at least the past ten years, I finally took some time to climb to the top of the Jupiter Lighthouse. It is, after all, the structure that defines Jupiter for me. I probably have taken dozens of pictures of it during my many visits here--and yet, for some reason, never took the time to visit the museum and climb the lighthouse.

I was very happy to have taken the time to visit. Not only was the view fabulous, but the insight into local history regarding the Seminoles was revealing. I continue to be amazed at the ruthlessness displayed by the Federal government in dealing with the native peoples to include the treachery involved in the capture of the war chief Osceola. I have begun to understand why so many streets are named Osceola. There is even an Osceola County.
Looking Down in the Square Grouper and the Blue Heron Dock

But, back to the lighthouse--I was fascinated to find that it was a military construction project built by George G. Meade in consultation with Robert E. Lee. The lighthouse was first lit on July 10, 1860 and less than three years later the two military men would be commanding opposing armies at Gettysburg.

The lighthouse sits on an active Coast Guard installation. There site has a lot of history and artifacts to offer and so it is much more than just a lighthouse tour.

I enjoyed sitting under a huge, 77 year old banyan tree at the base of the lighthouse. I wish banyan trees would grow in Maryland--I'd put one in my backyard.

The lighthouse is remains active. Every night its light helps identify the location of the Jupiter Inlet for sailors. I'm sure that if I was on the ocean at night the light from the lighthouse would be a welcome sight--even though I was probably using a gps to navigate.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bird of the Day -- Sand Cranes

Sand Cranes in Tequesta
A trio of sand cranes announced their presence the other evening while we were dining with friends. Of course, we did not arrive at dinner with our best camera, so the images are from my phone. I am never without a camera of some kind it seems.

They are good sized birds and are really beautiful in flight. These birds cruise the neighborhood looking for scraps and seeds. They were not disappointed.

The boys were fascinated by their size.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

A Disney Success Story in July

Add caption
As part of the vacation we ventured to the Magic Kingdom to spend quality time together and with Mickey Mouse and his friends.  

A day at Disney in July? Yup. Crazy. But, as it turned out it was a good decision. 

The day was mostly overcast with  about an hourlong rainstorm in the middle of the day. Why was this good?  It meant we did not bake in the sun! The temperatures were more than moderate. No sunburn, no stifling July heat. Sweet. 

We also had a good plan. Four rides during the first hour and smart use of the fast pass system for the rest of the day. No hurry.  We opened the park and left after the fireworks. 
Ready for Thunder Mountain Railroad
Was it a long day? You bet!

Was it fun? Yup!

Hear are some random thoughts:

Get there early and plan to stay late

Sit down for dinner

Don't wear a watch, that way what time it is or how long something took doesn't matter. I got on Disney time and the day flew by. 

Thunder Mountain railroad has been slowed down and is no longer a thrill ride. 

It's a Small World is as bad as I remember. 
Beating the Rain
Don't let a little rain dampen your spirits. 

The new Be Our Guest lunch and the Beast's Castle are must do's. 

Don't do souvenir shopping at the end of the day when everyone else is doing it. 

Don't do souvenir shopping during the day so that you have to carry stuff around. 

There is no good time for souvenir shopping.  

The transportation to and from the parking lots needs work. Especially when everyone is leaving. 

There were a lot more cast members yelling at me to move along than i remember, especially in some of the attractions. 
You Will Get Wet
You will get wet on Splash Mountain, get over it. 

The  Magic Kingdom is a lot more fun with my grandsons than i remember it being with my kids. 

Crowds are a fact of life. 

The Dole pineapple ice cream float is a must do!

Ibuprofen saved the day when my back started hurting. 

Thanks Nicole and Mike for letting us tag along.

- Bob Doan, Writing from Florida's Turnpike (no, I am not driving)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best Day so Far

Pork Fish off the Beach
I finally got a great day of snorkeling yesterday--which resulted in my being in the water for over 1.5 hours snorkeling and snapping images of the marine life. I write marine life because the animals that I saw included a loggerhead turtle, a green turtle, a barracuda, and an assortment of other fish and crabs.

It was the day that I had been waiting for for over two weeks. The day was complete with sun, blue skies, mild waves and clear water--something that I have not been able to get all together since I have been in Florida.

Green Turtle off Jupiter Island
Chasing down the green turtle was exciting. It was swimming fairly quickly and allowed me only a few moments of access before turning sharply and heading off into the deeper water. The barracuda was significant, but far enough away on the edge of visibility that the picture did not come out. I knew it was a stretch at the time.

The real excitement of the day though was Ethan's first ocean snorkeling adventure. He performed fabulously and had a great time--even in the deeper water. We were able to finally fit him with a mask that kept the water out and he snorkeled for almost an hour. It was a huge accomplishment and it was great to have him along to begin to see and appreciate the life in and under the water.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trusty underwater camera.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bird of the Day - Osprey Finds Dinner

Osprey with Dinner

It happened so quickly as we arrived at the beach Sunday afternoon for some enjoyment and Happy Hour. We saw the osprey soaring low over head, right above us and were awed by its appearance. Quickly, as the camera was being taken out of its bag and set to snap some great shots of the bird overhead, it dove to the water and surfaced with a fish--a good sized fish.

It was awesome!

Osprey in the Water after Dive

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Monday Musings - July 22, 2013

1. During this week in 1969, two men from the United States became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Sadly, that is a feat we cannot replicate today. The U.S. is no longer capable of putting men into space, let alone sending them to the moon and returning them safely. How far we have fallen!

2. When you take a new car to the beach, the beach always remains in the new car afterwards. Your should see out new Highlander--and we have vacuumed it religiously.

3. Sunny afternoons and happy hour on the sandy beaches--what could be better?

4. When vacations end, they become fond memories of what could have been.

5. I continue to be amazed at the reaction to the Zimmerman verdict--it seems that some people in America would prefer vigilante justice to the rule of law and juries. Just because we may not agree with the verdict does not mean that the finding was wrong.

6. I saw the movie Red 2 -- Liked it a lot. Review coming later in the week.

7. What if you survived the crash of an airplane, but were subsequently killed by a first responder fire truck? That is just tragic.

8. Where is the happiest place on Earth? Some say Disney. I'll let you know, later in the week.

-- Bob Doan, writing form Jupiter, FL

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bird of the Day - Egret View 2

What are you looking at?

I know I have already offered an image of an egret as the bird of the day, but I just love the way this one was captured, looking at me as I snapped its image almost as if to say "What are you looking at?"

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the egret hunt the tidal pools at low tide and occasionally find some morsel as a meal.

-- Bob Doan, Writing from Jupiter, FL

From Beach to Turtle Center

Ethan and Jax Scouring the Shore for Treasure
What can I say about another day on vacation in Florida with the sun, the clouds, the passing rain storms and the excitement of life along the Atlantic Ocean? I love it!

Yesterday began with another beach experience. We rescued our second loggerhead turtle hatchling in two days, making four distressed hatchlings for the trip. This one required the assistance of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center as it was on the beach, exhausted and not able to swim strongly enough to overcome the waves crashing onto the beach.
Loggerhead Turtle Hatchling on the Beach

The good news is that we took it to the center where it will be allowed to recover and then released. The bad news is that it abruptly ended the beach experience for the day. But the entire family got into the idea of rescuing the small turtle which clearly was not going to make it on its own.

Nearly Full Grown Loggerhead Turtle at the Turtle Center
Although initially we just dropped the young turtle off to the welcoming staff, we did return to the Center later in the day to get more educated about turtles and their rescue efforts. We got to see nearly full grown loggerhead turtles recovering from injuries and many juvenile green turtles also recovering from illness. It seems that power station water exhaust channels are especially dangerous for turtles as that is where many of the ones recovering in the center were found.

Jax and Ethan received certificates for rescuing the small, helpless loggerhead hatchling. Upon examination, the turtle appeared to have suffered injuries during a probable scuffle with a predator. Hopefully, the small turtle they rescued will be one of the lucky ones who did not become a meal or escape only to die on the beach and will grow to become an adult turtle.

Just another great day in Florida!!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bird of the Day -- Black Backed Gull

Gull Along the Beach
This image was taken by Chris of a gull flying along the shore the other day. It is fun to try to catch birds in flight.

I still wish that I could fly--like a bird or a bat.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Turning it up a Notch

Ethan and Jackson Discovering a Nine-Legged Starfish
The arrival of grandsons to coincide with the start of my last week of vacation has been like adding spice to a recipe. Days on the beach have taken on added dimensions as the discoveries of turtles, yes we found another loggerhead turtle hatchling yesterday, shells, ghost crabs, and even a nine armed starfish have sparked questions and generated enthusiasm.

Ethan Getting Air
Watching Ethan try to get as much air a possible while jumping off a sand dune into the ocean kept my attention much longer than watching a ghost crab try to determine whether I was watching it or not--I was, by the way watching it. It was fun to see them having fun. Much like the missing ingredient in a recipe.

The day was beautiful--for the first day in over a week there was no rain and the temperatures remained mild. There were two separate trips to the beach--while visiting three beaches provided hours of enjoyment and discovery.

There was also a snorkeling expedition into the calm waters of the inter-coastal  to familiarize everyone with their gear in non-swimming pool conditions.
Jax and Ethan Heading out to Boogie

But there was also a boogie boarding for some fun in the not so huge afternoon waves.

But the best part of all of it? It was Friday and I wasn't at work! On top of that, it was a great transition into my last week of vacation.

Whoo hoo!

Did I mention Happy Hour on the beach? It's always five o'clock somewhere, right?

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bird of the Day - Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone on Jupiter Island Beach
Found this bird on the beach yesterday. It is a fairly common looking bird, but I haven't seen one before. It is also more commonly known as a sandpiper. OK, Chris won that one after I found the real name.

I have not seen many of these birds on the beaches we frequent here in Jupiter and so it was worthy of a few pictures.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Endless Summer Vineyard and Winery -- Review

Endless Summer Vineyard and Winery Entrance
Yes, I found a winery in Florida that actually grows grapes and makes wine. That, of course, deserved a visit to check out the wines and help drive away the blues of a rainy day.

The Endless Summer Vineyard and Winery in Fort Pierce, Florida is roughly a 45 minute drive from Jupiter. The winery is just a short two miles off the interstate and has a nice tasting room adorned with a beach theme. The winery is striving to develop serious Florida wines that will appeal to many people.
Palms and Grapes

Entering the tasting room provides a great introduction to the winery. Surf boards and beach items adorn the walls. We were met be a very nice and wine savvy hostess who helped us to understand the wines and the grapes used to make the wine for this vineyard. The tasting room has been open for only a year and the vines are only four years old--so they are using juice from other vineyards to make their wine. But, next year they are expecting to produce  their first home grown vintage.

The winery provided my first introduction to the muscadine grape, which is the only one that will grow in this part of Florida. I was amazed to find that there are over 300 varieties of muscadine grape. The grape is very light and sweet. I found that it smells a lot like the niagara grape grown in upstate NY. Likewise, the wines made from this grape smell like grapes and not berries like those made from the other wine making grapes. The grape nose is in every wine that the winery offered. Some of the wines are blended with merlot and chardonnay sourced from, of all places, Arkansas. One wine blended with a mango wine.
Endless Summer Vineyards

The wines that Endless Summer wines have very creative names: I found Marlin Monroe and Rated Arrr to be the best. All of the wines are on the sweeter side and all have the pronounced grape nose. These wines are good for drinking around the pool. This winery represents the furthest south in Florida that grapes are grown for the purpose of making wines. There is another winery further south, but they do not make wine from grapes.

Driving by the vineyards, it is clear the the vines are very young--but that does not dampen my enthusiasm for this winery. I am very impressed with the location, the concept, and the idea that they are going to produce the best possible wines from the grapes they can grow.

RECOMMENDATION: A must visit if you are in this part of Florida. The whites are the best and the reds are light, summery offerings.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bird of the Day - Egret on the Beach

Egret, probable juvenile
Chris and I have been taking many, many, many (read over three hundred) pictures of birds while on vacation.

So we have decided to publish a few of the better ones--OK, we are getting one better one per 300 images taken. Thank goodness for digital imagery!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

The Lone Ranger - A Review

I had the opportunity to view The Lone Ranger the other day.

Despite the poor attendance and dismal reviews, I liked this movie. It was far deeper and more complex than I imagined it would be. The interaction between Johnny Depp (the Ranger) and Armie Hammer (Tonto) was complex, funny and serious.

The story is set in the late 1800's but told as a narrative by Tonto to a young boy named Will during a fair in San Francisco during the 1930's. This narrative setting worked well and Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto is fantastic. The story is about how the Lone Ranger came to be "Lone" and I admit that I never knew the back story behind the larger than life hero portrayed by Clayton Moore for so many years on television. The relationship between The Lone Ranger and Tonto was an portrayed in the movie uneasy one which developed over time. I had expected a campy, corny, fun movie and saw instead movie about genocide, treachery, murder, and human trafficking to in the pursuit of greed and fortune. There are many very difficult scenes to watch in the movie which, in retrospect, I am not sure really needed to be part of the plot or story line.

The movie is a serious endeavor with humor often juxtaposed to help the audience overcome the depth of the tragedy just witnessed. The plot if deep with many twists and turns. The acting is very good, although there are no Oscar worthy performances. The villains are villainous, and the heroes are larger than life. I especially enjoyed the antics of the white horse--which eventually was named Silver in keeping with the history of the story. At one point Tonto utters that there is something not quite right about that horse. It is fun to watch the horse. It was also fun to watch the interplay between Depp and Hammer--they reminded me of the the interaction between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes. I admit though, for the closing scenes hearing the familiar Lone Ranger Theme (William Tell Overture) was a blast from the past and provided the spectacular movie ending that I had come in search of--but it remained a serious ending to a difficult movie because of its tough and often graphic reality.

I read a fair and even review of the movie that carefully lays out the positives and negatives of the film in   The Nerdist. I found it to be very accurate and I generally agree with it.

RECOMMENDATION: I liked the movie. The movie is not suitable for the pre-teen group due to its graphic nature and difficult subject matter which includes inferences of prostitution based in a western setting in addition to a particularly disturbing murder scene. One reviewer suggested that it was the most generous PG-13 rating in a long time. I agree! Based upon the violence and the subject matter an R rating might be more applicable.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Leatherback Turtles: Saving Hatchlings

Leatherback Turtle Hatchling on Jupiter Island Beach
Another rainy day is in store and Chris and I headed off to the beach earlier than normal to try to grab some beach time before the afternoon rains become oppressive.

I attempted snorkeling in the too rough waters, only to realize after about 15 minutes that my attempts to see or do anything meaningful were futile. So I wandered the beach, which we had all to ourselves, looking for shells and taking pictures, until the battery on the camera expired, of birds and critters.
Second Leatherback Hatchling of the Day

We relaxed on the beach for a few hours before another couple appeared on the beach. They appeared intently interested in something on the beach and we considered the possibility of a turtle nest eruption, whereby a couple of dozen turtle hatchlings make the mad dash for the ocean and begin swimming for the deep water to begin their lives, providing they do not become a snack for some predator.

As we wandered over, it was apparent that something was indeed happening. Chris was in the lead and upon arriving at their location she began emphatically motioning for me to hurry.

Arriving at the scene, it was not an eruption underway, but rather one lone straggler that had become entangled in fishing line on the beach and unable to make its way to the surf with its nest mates. AND, it was a leatherback. The first leatherback that either Chris or I had seen in the wild. For a hatchling, it was big compared to the green turtles and loggerhead turtles that we had watched make their way into the ocean on other occasions.

Leatherback Turtles are the fourth largest modern reptiles. And interesting fact that I didn't know until I did some research for this article. I know that they are rare in the wild and I have never seen an adult leatherback. Their food of choice is jellyfish--which helps to keep the jellyfish population under control.

This hatchling needed help. Chris knew what to do. I proposed carrying it into the surf to let it get on its way. That turned out to be a bad idea as we learned later its probability of survival was near zero. The better idea was to take it to the Loggerhead Marine Wildlife Center--a few miles down the road. And so converting a dive mask container into a turtle transport device we headed off. The staff at the Center was elated to receive the leatherback hatchling.

Chris was rewarded with a nice certificate for her efforts and we learned that we should not transport the hatchlings in sand covered with water, but rather, just damp sand.  That was important because we decided to return to the beach and scour the debris to see if any other leatherback hatchlings were similarly entangled.

As it turns out, upon returning to the beach and scouring the other debris we indeed found another ensnared hatchling which appeared to have given up hope of making it to the sea. We scoured the area thoroughly and were reasonably convinced that no other hatchlings remained on the beach. I counted 20 sets of tracks that ended at the waters edge--and with these two, the nest produced about 22 turtles. I am not sure how many of the other 20 will survive, but I know these two have a great chance of making it because they both arrived at the rescue center where they will be boated out to the deep water and will skip the feeding frenzy off the beach that the other 20 had to endure to make it to the relative safety of the deeper water.

Chris is a hero--at least for these two turtles, well, and of course to me.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Faces of the Sea

Rough Seas and Blue Skies

Stuck in the house due to the torrential rains that blew in from the Bahamas, I was thinking about the many faces of the ocean that I have seen during the roughly week and a half that I have been in Florida.

Calm Seas and Dark Skies
Chris and I spent parts of both Monday and Tuesday mornings chasing the sun, visiting multiple beaches per day as the storms descended. We were actually chased off one due to the crash of thunder occurring within moments of the flash of light from the lightening. Ugh! I mean, we get wet on a beach so a little bit of rain isn't a problem. Torrential rain, however, is a different story. And throw in lightening within less than a second's worth of distance (roughly 1,126 feet) and that is too close. When that happens it is time to race off the beach and into the car.
Wild Seas under Gray Skies

The different seas we have experienced this week are dramatic. From rough to wild to smooth.

Wow. As for snorkeling--only twice. Ugh!

Rough seas, water with too much junk in them, thunder storms, chasing the sun to find a beach. What a couple of weeks it has been.

It should only get better.

I hope. I have a lot more snorkeling to do.

Let the sun shine.

--Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Out to the Sea

Morning Sky heading out to the Ocean
Fishing the ocean in a small boat on a rough day with storms not only on the horizon, but nearly on top of the intrepid fishermen may seem crazy--but, it was a great way to spend the better part of the day.

Leaving before dawn from a park near Stuart, Florida, to be on the water as the sun arose provided a fantastic start to the day. Dawn is one of my favorite times of the day, and I was not disappointed even though the clouds were heavy with rain.
Turtle Tracks along an Abandoned Boat

It was a beautiful morning though, trolling along the coast for tarpon or other big fish. Sadly, we didn't see any. But, it was enjoyable trolling along the long sandy beach seeing the turtle tracks from the egg laying during the night before. It is reassuring to see so many turtles crawling up the beach to continue their species.
My First Snook

But, there were fish to be had. Deciding that the big tarpon were not in the area despite an abundance of potential breakfast food (read bait fish) we headed to another area to fish for snook--which although out of season to keep are a lot of fun to catch and release. We caught a few of these fairly significant fish and it was nice to see them up close and personal. I did smell like fish for the rest of the day, though. I'm not sure what I was thinking about to have such a serious look on my face--I really didn't want to hurt the fish anymore than hooking it had already done.

Francis and the Snook
Francis also landed two snook during our expedition--here he is holding the second one of the day--we kinda dropped the first one back into the water before I could snap the picture which was good for the fish, but not so good for posterity.

Bill, the owner and captain of the boat can be seen in the background of both pictures. He clearly knew not only where to go for fish but when to be there for the best opportunity of success. I learned a lot about fishing and fish and while I had a lot of nibbles on my bait--I didn't land too many more.

It was a great morning of fishing despite foreboding weather which never materialized.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musings - July 15, 2013

1. If I stayed on vacation forever then it wouldn't be a vacation, right? It might be considered retired though!

2. Onto the ocean in a small boat chasing big fish--it is right up there with some of the best ways to spend a day. Catching a big fish and then releasing it is also right up there on the list!

3. How to spend a day when it is raining is one of the great questions I have been wrestling with lately. What a good problem to have.

4. I enjoyed celebrating Bastille Day yesterday. It is, after all, my second favorite foreign holiday. Everyone then asks me what my favorite foreign holiday is, and it is Cinco deMayo of course! Check out the linked Wikipedia article on Bastille Day. There reportedly is a celebration in Baltimore that I have, for some strange reason, never attended.

5. It is amazing how quickly important issues fall from the consciousness of the populace--take the Federal government sequester for instance. A lot of people are suffering simply because our elected representatives cannot do their jobs. The same thing happened over student loan rates when they could not act to precent a rate doubling.

6. It is the MLB All Star Break. The Orioles are hanging tough playing 10 games over .500 and only 1.5 games out of the wild card with the division clearly in their sights for the second almost half of the season. Home Run Derby tonight--will Chris Davis become the fourth Orioles player (Ripken, Anderson, Tejada) to win? Actually, I hope not, it could hurt him during the second part of the season.

7. Regarding the Zimmerman acquittal verdict--the jury has spoken. It appears that we are forgetting that in this country people are innocent until proven guilty of crimes and that the standard of proof is set high to preclude innocent people from being wrongly convicted and imprisoned. Despite all of the issues surrounding the cased which tried to cloud the issues, the jury still rendered its verdict and the system still works despite what any of us would believe otherwise.

8. With two weeks remaining on vacation, I am amazed at how much time has already passed. I was asked, what has been the highlight of the vacation? After thinking for a minute of all of the great things I have done, I think the highlight is getting up every day, assessing the weather and asking--so what do I want to do today with no preconditions or plans already made.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Flying into the Clouds

The flight of pelicans seemed on a journey into the clouds the other day as Chris snapped this image. Almost as if they were flying into the Twilight Zone.

I love the way the pelicans patrol the beach, keeping all in order.

They soar together--seeking food and companionship.

They also provide something to watch and marvel at on beach days.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Jupiter, FL
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