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

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bahamas Diving

Eluthera Islands

I book another week on the Morning Star, a 60 foot sailboat that provides the opportunity to do up to 24 dives a week in the Bahamas. I do 15 dives, skipping the night dives. I've lost count of the number of times I've done this trip. I think it must be around seven. Carol used to go with me on this one back about 30 years ago.

One unusual dive is called the "Washing Machine".  The tide blows over a dip in a cut between two islands and tumbles you for about a minute. I fly up from about 50 feet to zero and back again a couple of times. Another dive is on a wreck where they feed sharks with a big chum ball and you get to watch them in a feeding frenzy for about 30 minutes.

The food on the trip is excellent. Last time I gained ten pounds. I skip breakfast and dinner this trip but gain two pounds anyway....It might be the barrel of rum punch they break out at night?

My dive buddy is Mike from up around Boston. I forgot my dive watch and compass. He does a good job of taking care of me so that I don't stay down too long or lose track of the boat.

The grog on Blackbeard's Cruises is all-inclusive. To get here you fly into Nassau, 52 minutes from Orlando. Most of the week is spent near the Eluthera Islands, about 50 miles east of Nassau.

The water temperature is 82 degrees. The other divers are all from up North. At first I'm the only one who doesn't struggle into a wet suit. They wear them all year in the great Lakes, I guess. After a few days they all shed their rubber suits and enjoy the clear, warm water.

We get some nice sunrises and sunsets. Will I do it again? Once more into the abyss? Should I do it again? Can I do it again? Only time will tell.

 It's astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes it's toll...
 But listen closely...
 Not for very much longer...
I've got to keep control.
I remember doing the Time Warp.
Drinking those moments when
 blackness would hit me.
and the void would be calling.
 Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
-Rocky Horror Picture Show

Friday, 9 October 2015

Back to the Future

The future is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

Who says time travel is impossible? On October 21, 2015, All of us, along with Marty McFly, are scheduled to arrive from 1985. Marty will be surprised, when he gets here, to see that the future has changed once again as the result of his constant meddling. In our future, the Chicago Cubs will not win the pennant. We have hover boards but they only work on magnetic levitation technology.

Somehow Biff has morphed into Donald Trump and lost some hair..

Business Interests claim that Mexicans are just taking the jobs that lazy American slackers don't really want.

Jaws 19 never got made, but video conferencing and handheld tablets are here. On the other hand, Pontiac dealers and  the future "Queen Diana" had their futures both sadly changed somewhere on this new timeline....cold fusion didn't make either...what else has gone wrong because of Marty's interference?

 The new hover board is priced at $10,000, but that will come down and stability will be improved in the future....

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Frolicking in the Surf

 West Palm Beach, Florida

 I decide to go diving and take advantage of one of the free hotel nights that we've earned over the last two years by booking though They give you a "free" night for every ten paid nights you book though them. The value they spring for is equal to the average cost of the ten paid nights.

We have enough credit to get an ocean view room with a king bed on the top floor at the Hilton on Singer Island in West Palm..

 The surf is fantastic and the water temperature is a perfect 84 degrees.

 Our room isn't quite ready at check in time so they give us complementary breakfasts and also comp the $18 resort fee which covers Mrs. Phred's Pinot Grigio habit.

The dive master gives the dive briefing, He says the bottom time on the 85 foot first dive will be 60 minutes. My dive table says 24 minutes, so I ask him WTF? He says "everyone" uses a dive computer which results in longer bottom times. However, I am not investing in a computer at my advanced age. The other five younger passengers are all using Nitrox, but I'm still breathing air.... The tables have worked for me since 1965 so I close my mouth and stick with my table (it's in Spanish but with Arabic numerals).

They've opened the locks on Lake Okeechobee and dumped the muck into the gulf stream, so this is the worst visibility dive I've ever experienced. We sink into murk and gloom with 5-10 feet of visibility. We do manage to hit the wreck. I find that with the darkness and my declining eyesight I can't read my watch, air gauge or depth gauge.  That makes me feel uncomfortable. After a while, the dive master leads the other divers off the wreck and then proceeds to become totally lost. I decline to follow him and surface after 15 minutes....this is no fun...I knew the visibility would be poor, but this was way beyond my expectations...The next dive on the trench by the Breaker's Hotel is a little better.

A selfie with Pinot Grigio while waiting to check in.

Dawn on the Atlantic Ocean.

We drove back to the West Coast after the belatedly occurs to me that I missed the chance to get the great sunset on the same day over the Gulf of Mexico....a lifelong ambition along with:
1. A week on the Thorfinn diving the Truk Lagoon in Micronesia.
2. Seeing the Aurora Borealis.
3. Seeing the Southern Cross (see #6).
4. Catching a salmon on the Kenai River...Wait! I did that in August. 
5. Experiencing one more total eclipse of the Sun in 2017.
6. Carnival in Rio (see #3).
7. Renting an apartment in Chiang Mai for a month.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Dijon Honey Pecan Crusted Salmon

Yet Another Salmon Recipe

1/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1.5 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 pound salmon
salt and pepper
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, and honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs and pecans.

Brush salmon with honey mustard mixture, and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the pecan/bread crumb mixture.

Bake salmon 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Painting the Rent House

 Sarasota, Florida

 We're back for at least six months in Sarasota. I have a week scheduled on a sailboat in November to dive the Bahamas, but that's about it for awhile. The last time I went on that trip in 2013 I gained ten pounds because of the great food and unlimited free rum....Yo.Ho.Ho!

We swooped across Oklahoma; spent a week in Conway, Arkansas and then another three days in Atlanta before coming back home. This dog belongs to Bruce and Felicia. .His name is Aloysious....Bruce is a highly decorated Navy SEAL Captain. We killed four bottles of Pusser's Rum over three days and he explained why a Poop Deck is called what it is....My favorite Aloysious is Aloysius Lilius (1510-1576)  doctor, astronomer, philosopher and chronologist; the "primary author" of the proposal that, after modifications, became the basis of the Gregorian Calendar reform of 1582.

 Aloysious proposed that every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is That pretty much straightened out the messy rotation of the Earth about the sun. However, every 40,000 years, we will have leap year on years divisible by 400 and that's close enough for awhile..

We had broasted chicken at the Buffalo River. The Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. The river changes  from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.

We spent a little time with some beautiful young friends in Conway who call us Uncle Bob and Aunt Carol. With any luck, they should be here to see some amazing changes in the 22nd century...

We took a dip in Norfork Lake up in Mountain Home, Arkansas. It's ridiculously overfilled at the moment.

The Buffalo has some very scenic carved cliffs.

Somehow this shot of our two oldest grandchildren on Hadrian's Wall in England made an appearance in my Conway Album.

So how did I end up spending a week painting a rent house? Jason and Carolyn are young professionals who have acquired ten of these since 2007. They rent then to University of Arkansas students and others (and they allow pets). This particular house had four bedrooms, a big living room, a long hallway and a complex kitchen. Apparently I have acquired a reputation as a frustrated house painter who grooves on covering ugly sins with a fresh coat of paint....this is not entirely untrue...the act of physically renewing and old structure is much more satisfying than building a clever database, lying about financial results or making a Citrix server relational database application available to 500 users...anyway...Jason asked me if I wanted to paint a rent house and so I said "sure" and sacrificed a t-shirt, shorts and some sneaks for five days of rolling beige...Carol also did some work on the house Jason and Carolyn are she is countersinking nails on woodwork before  painting trim in the new kitchen...

Friday, 28 August 2015

It's All Downhill from Here

Steamboat Lake to Cañon City, Colorado

We spent three nights at the Steamboat Lake State Park, 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs. We went into a store called "Go Ask Alice" in Steamboat Springs. The proprietor was friendly, but said said that he stopped selling nicotine juice for electronic cigarettes after recreational pot was legalized in Colorado. On the way out I asked him if he wanted me to turn the "closed" sign on the door around and he thanked me.

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high-
-John Denver

 I tried trout fishing for a couple of hours. I used Powerbait with a cheesehook and, later, a spoon. With a refrigerator still full of rockfish, I was relieved not to have to kill any more fish.

It's a lovely park. The campground was only about half full because Colorado schools went back into session a week ago.

We've been on the road or on the boat almost five months and we're both feeling a little travel fatigue and a strange yearning to return home for the winter.

 Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
  And the hunter home from the hill.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

We cross the Rockies again, towing the Honda. The V-10 in the RV drops down to first gear at times and winds up to about 6,000 RPM. So far we're returning home without much vehicular damage other than another broken windshield on the Honda from a passing rock truck.

Colorado has a lot of empty roads and meadows at 10,000 feet and above.

I never get tired of windshield photos. We'll probably be somewhere in Oklahoma this time tomorrow

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Moving East

Wendover, Nevada and Vernal, Utah

We stop again in Wendover on the Nevada/Utah border to see my brother. We have several meals together: breakfast in the Red Garter Casino, a barbecue he makes for us and I cook my rockfish royale for one evening meal.

Wendover is on the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats and Great Salt Lake. I take a walk with David and his dog at 6:30 AM up on Three Mile Mountain. It's an interesting place with many caverns that were gouged out when this high altitude place was sea bottom.

There's a lot to see in Wendover, including casinos, the abandoned air base where Col. Tibbets trained with his B-29, later named the Enola Gay after his mom....They have tennis courts, but we fail to take advantage this time.

A shot of one of the roads going to Wendover...

and the road out of Wendover.

We move on to stay for three nights in Vernal, Utah. The most interesting thing we did here was take a lonely desert hike up to the Moonshine Arch.

We carried water, sandwiches and a selfie stick out to the arch.

One day in Vernal, we drove 40 miles onto an isolated plateau and down a steep geological "hole" to a US Government fish hatchery miles from anywhere. They release about 2,000,000 trout a year into rivers, lakes and streams....This is my favorite government agency...hands second place is SEAL team six...

Our third day trip in Vernal is out to the McCormick Ranch to climb a rocky cliff and see the Indian petroglyphs.

We've seen more impressive petroglyphs, but never a more challenging climb to see them. I drop a fiver in the contribution box and thumbtack one of Mrs. Phred's cards in the sign-in shed.

Mrs Phred at the trout hatchery creek...

Moonshine Arch near Vernal.

Phred takes a selfie at Moonshine Arch.

Next stop...Steamboat Lake State Park in NW Colorado.