Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Sunday, 26 December 2010

White Christmas

Raleigh, North Carolina

It's beautiful outside. The bare trees have a new suit of snow.

The TV talking heads say that there is an accumulation of 5 to 6 inches. We go to target and buy the basketball backboard that was out of stock electronically and save $100 on shipping.  The toboggan I refinished serves nicely to transport the backboard down the icy driveway.

The dog surprised one of the Guinea hens, who (which?) took to the trees minus a few tail feathers,

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Driving North

Sarasota, Florida

We are going to see the grandchildren for Christmas again. Maybe it will snow.

The day is spent in last minute preparations: filling the gas tank on the old Ford van, buying M&Ms, wrapping presents, hitting the storage unit to drop off the SCUBA gear, packing suitcases.

The van is now ten years old. It should hit 100,000 miles on this trip. If we can finish emptying the storage unit, I may sell it to cut our insurance and maintenance costs a little next year. 

I leave the van gas cap at the gas station and have to drive back. Then I get a call from the bank telling me that I left my checkbook on the counter. I go back there too.

Anyway, Merry Christmas (Christmas eve is our 44th anniversary) and a prosperous New Year....  Three more months and we're out of here and on a grand adventure...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Good Day for Parrot Fish

Cozumel, Mexico

The Mexican Divemaster asks how many dives I've done and I tell him probably over 1,000. He's about four feet tall and almost as wide. A few minutes later he catches me trying to put on my wet suit backwards and hoots and threatens to inspect my C-card. He's been diving two years and he tells me he has done about 80 dives. I started diving in 1964 (before air pressure and depth gauges or buoyancy vests).

It's getting harder as I approach 70. My age and extra weight, the strokes and the joint pains are all starting to add up. Strapping on 80 pounds of dive equipment and climbing back on the boat requires a lot more effort.

The first dive at 80 feet is on the Pallancar Caves. We swim in and out of caves formed by towering coral heads for forty minutes. Back on the boat we have a surface interval of an hour and then do a second drift dive along a lovely wall formation for another forty minutes at 40 to 60 feet. I see turtles and beautiful parrot fish and a grouper.

We were definitely bottom fishing on the Norwegian Dawn out of Miami. We got a 60% discount on the five day cruise. The cost per person was less than $50 a day before taxes, port fees, tips and drinks. The thing I liked the least was the ship's library which was only open three hours a day. I've had better food on other cruise lines. Notwithstanding, if I never dive again, this was a good way to end it.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Walking About

Sarasota, Florida

These are some of the things I see on the 5.2 mile walking route I take in the morning.

This is one of the pit bulls that runs up to the fence barking at me. His tail is not wagging.

Snapping turtle.

The gator is always sleeping in the same place. He has lots of ducks and waterbirds to eat.

The pink birds are actually Spoonbills, not Flamingos. Both of them are pink.

This big boy has his lunch.

You can see why they're called Spoonbills.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Alice's Restaurant

We're going to Alice's for Thanksgiving dinner....which reminds me...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Flamingos and Pit Bulls

Sarasota, Florida

The last couple of days I've had packs of pit bulls charging me on my walks.

So far they've stopped at the fences. There is a certain redneck mentality that keeps these vicious beasts for whatever reason.

I think I'll start carrying my banana knife on my walks. Without a competent weapon I'm just a another soft-skinned human and no match for three or four crazed pit bulls.

On my 5.5 mile walk today, besides the pit bulls, I also saw a flock of flamingos, a bunch of camels, a big snapping turtle, two alligators, horses and cows and a bunch of exotic waterbirds that I didn't recognize.

All the cows I saw today were accompanied by a flocks of about 40 white Egrets. I'm not sure why the white Egrets like cows. Maybe the cows stir up insects?

In dealing with a pack of pit bulls, I'd rather carry my assault rifle with the 50 round clip than a banana knife, but you can't just walk around rural Sarasota with a serious weapon.

After you leave New Orleans, there is a peninsula going south about 100 miles that is full of wetlands and bayous. Before Katrina, the Cajuns who lived there were very friendly to tourists and offered exceptional cusine.

Roy's was a Route 66 landmark. Now it stands empty with traffic rerouted to the interstate. Nearby is a small recent volcano. The locals like to make jokes by burning tires in the crater at the summit.


 A Mexican beach at dawn in the Gulf of Cortez.

Sedona...worth another visit this summer.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Walk It Off!

Sarasota, Florida

I splurged on some new walking shoes today. Apparently they no longer make the New Balance 926 models so I bought a new pair of 927s.

We visited the New Balance factory in Skowhegan, Maine this summer on the way back from the Canadian maritime provinces.We missed the big annual tent sale by three days.

The main thing to remember on my daily walkabouts is the little MP3 player. I have ten Pink Floyd albums, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Byrne, The Violent Femmes, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, Alvin Lee and two Santana albums. It's only about half full with 15 or so albums.

I've been creating walking routes outside the park. One goes past the big cat rescue center about a mile and a half to the south. You can hear the lions roar every morning from our RV about dawn.

A hundred yards north of us is a little farm that sells eggs and milk. It's about a three mile walk to cover the hundred yards. We'll probably try some of their stuff this week.

I've been taking a lightweight backpack on my walks. I throw in my wallet, cell phone, pipe, lighter, tobacco and a bottle of water. So far, I've only needed the water.

Maybe I'll throw the camera in the backpack tomorrow. You never know what you'll see beside the road.

I have a six mile route in the morning. The four miles today didn't seem like quite enough.

How can you have any pudding if you don't clean your teeth?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Mind's Eye

Sarasota, Florida

The Washer/Dryer in the RV is an Italian make. It has three plastic paddles on a steel drum that keep failing and shearing off.

We order new paddles periodically from the manufacturer. We talked to one guy at the factory who suggested using JB Weld epoxy to fix the problem once and for all. That resonated we me. I love the stuff.

I read about one guy who saved his company $20,000 by using JB Weld to fix a cracked block on a D-8 Caterpillar bulldozer. Another guy used it to fix his broken dentures. Once I used it to fix a bad crack in my motorcycle gas tank. So today I epoxied the paddles once and for all.

We went up to Zephyhills today for an early Thanksgiving with Mom and my sister and all Sister's children and grandchildren. As usual, Jay did most of the cooking. I really enjoyed the collard greens from his garden.

Sometimes you don't have a camera when you need one but your mind snaps a picture that just gets better as time goes by.

You might be in between pink and purple cotton candy cloud layers at 8,000 feet as dawn breaks over the Pribiloff the Bering Sea.

Or you might catch a glimpse of a golden temple on the takeoff out of Bangkok.

 You could see a waterfall flooded with red Autumn maple leaves only to find that your camera batteries are dead.

 It doesn't matter. The camera in your head always works just fine until it doesn't anymore.

Mrs. Phred has a bad case of "puppy belly" from eating too much turkey and pumpkin pie. I, on the other hand, exercised severe restraint and mostly snacked on salads, collard greens and fruit.

I've been doing 4 to 6 mile walks every morning and watching my diet. I'm hoping to lose 20 pounds by December 12 before the dive trip to the Grand Caymans and Cozumel. So far I'm down five.

The boat leaves from Miami, so maybe I can find time take our friends to Joe's Stone Crab on South Beach.

We have a party of six signed up for the dive trip.

All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say
All that you eat
Everyone you meet
All that you slight
Everyone you fight
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune

Pink Floyd

Friday, 19 November 2010

Random Thoughts

Sarasota, Florida

When you're 15, you can write your name in the snow from 10 feet away, especially if you have a short name like Bob, instead of something like Alexander...

In your late 60s you might be visiting a urologist to help go with the flow and writing your name may become a long, drawn out would have to move around a lot slowly dribbling your name...

I'm dreaming about a trip though the Florida Panhandle seafood restaurants and on to see the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. My last gambling "gris-gris" charm from Madame Trouseau is wearing out.

I'd like to spend some time in the Southwest again and then shoot up the East side of the California Cascades and cross over to the redwoods.

After that we'll work our way up the coast of Oregon and Washington and then head up the West Coast of Canada to Skagway.

We should be able to spend July and August in Alaska, fishing for King Salmon and 100 pound Halibut and then come back down the Alcan to hit the big mall in Edmonton.

The last leg will be the Great Lakes and Autumn in New England.

We've been doing this gypsy thing for just over five years now. I have 22,000 photos in 33 gigabytes and 755 folders...The photos here are a few randomly chosen happy travel memories.

Mrs. Phred in the middle of a 300 mile motorcycle ride in the Big Bend desert. Am I a lucky guy or what?

Grand Canyon. Point and click.

Crater Lake in May.

 It's time to think happy thoughts...even if they ARE random..