1. Sand baking in 100 degrees for a few hours is hot enough to grow blisters on your feet, lesson learned
2. Two feet of water plus a two foot wave puts both my little ones in a little over their head, 206 tears later, we were back out in the water
3. I went body boarding for the first time in probably ten years, with a twist. I went blind, well, close enough, without my glasses. My depth perception suffers greatly with my naked eyes, I felt eight feet tall walking from the blanket to the water (need to do that more often, being not short was kind of neat). As the waves sucked in to topple over themselves, they looked like monsters with gaping mouths ready to swallow me and a body board with one gulp. Still, I let go of my fear and pushed with the power of nature towards the shore, probably with a pretty big grin
4. Is there an age where you finally say "I don't give a ____" and you realize that not all of the suntan lotion has rubbed in and you have white streaks all over and it's not a big deal? I think I've reached that age.
5. I pushed the limits of stamina at 3 hours in the hot sun and warm waters
6. Son, I'm sorry, but I don't think you will catch those little fish in the surf with a bucket
7. Don't leave the beach towels in the truck - stinky ride home
8. Or half eaten orders of chicken nuggets, a cooler full of water (that was once ice) and pork rinds (half eaten as well) - stinky truck after 6 days of sitting in the airport parking garage
9. Life's a beach, roll with the waves - they come crashing down regardless, ride them out, or drown
10. Off topic, I may have exposed and pushed a topic outside the scope of Just10Things too far tonight of which the consequences will be either loose a friend, or gain a better friend. Value friendship for friendship so that you can continue to look forward to something you look forward to.
#shortest just10things post that does nothing but wait
sudo shutdown -t 10800 -krf '' '1) on or off 2) one or zero 3) yes or no 4) black or white 5) true or false 6) full or empty 7) hot or cold 8) left or right 9) up or down 10) in or out'
1. Flashlight frog hunting
2. Drifting on the Hot Wheels down the driveway
3. Toy electric guitar concert on the tailgate of the pickup
5. Sound of crickets
6. Rocking chair front porch
7. Sounds of children laughing
8. It's a little bit cooler than the daytime triple digits
9. Totally laid back
10. That's the biggest frog I've seen around here
I no longer recall exactly when I started blogging. Most of the older posts are buried in some backup file on some computer sitting somewhere in the house. One of the things I was really good at was not writing regularly, so my blog moved from domain to domain and design to design and from topic to, well, not much. That was phase zero.
Phase one, I started blogging at work on our internal blog, and I did pretty good for awhile. Next, I decided to sanitize work blogs and go back to the public space, which also worked for some time. Phase one lasted maybe six months.
Phase 2. June of 2010 was my first vacation without... well, I'll be nice... it was my first vacation as a single man in his mid thirties. And it was nice. I spent a good deal of time sitting by the pool relaxing, the past 12 months had been full of crazy senseless interactions with a few people that I paid a pretty good hourly rate to, only to deal with the back and forth negotiations that just never seemed to gain any traction. I needed a break, and Vegas seemed like a good idea.
I don't know what exactly was going through my head, but I started spending hours writing feverishly, retelling the tales of my previous night's Vegas excursions. The Sahara, where I accepted flirtations from a beautiful young lady only to receive a slap in the face (from her long brown hair) when I wouldn't go home with her, to a silly crowd with English accents rattling on about Peach Schnapps and 7-Up. The guy sitting at the bar at MGM wearing silver ballet slippers to the swimsuit model at the hotel with the ignorant companion. I think Cleveland was my next trip where I continued these writings. Cleveland brought me stories of women that could not differentiate between red and white wine, and a drunken Englishman who swore cucumbers made gin taste less like pine trees. Chicago kept the story rolling with a lady puking out of a Mustang, buying a stranger a bottle of wine, and laughing hysterically at balled up paper on the sidewalk (which to this day, I'm not sure why it was so funny). All in all, I ended up with close to 100 pages of little recollections of life, some a half page, some two or three pages, most sprinkled with some amount of humor, and others made you gasp with some emotion or another.
After Vegas, Cleveland and Chicago, I went back in time to cover stories in Nashville, Chattanooga, Philly and New York, but all I did was mostly outline, very little meat, just gentle reminders to one day come back and fill in the details. Six months went by while I stared at this mess of a collection until I finally sent a very small subset (only eight pages) to a very dear friend.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, I started to notice a trend. Not the trend of me frequently checking in at airports and pubs, but the one where I was assembling little notes of 10 things I had learned that week. You see, I have always begged of my life to teach me at least one new thing every day. When this plan fails, I am no longer living life, I'm just existing in a space sucking up air, not really going anywhere, no direction, no future. This was becoming my checkpoint for whether I was on track, racing around the corners, inhaling each breath as it were new, and 10 things in a week was pushing me just a little over the edge of one new thing a day per week, by three.
And those three little things bred Just10Things late one evening while most likely drinking a Merlot.
It seemed a happy medium, forceful, yet attainable, and could blend topics seamlessly of what I do, and who I am. Most importantly, was that 10 things was achievable, on a regular basis.
Over time, Just10Things has become more writing and less 10 things, however, I have tried (with a few exceptions) to maintain the medium, just as an artist with oil paints. Over time, it has become easier to write. Over time, it has become more consistent. Over time, it has evolved, my Just10Things.
The question arises... you should write a novel, seriously!
The suggestion to write said novel has a side note attached. Herman Wouk's Don't Stop the Carnival was mentioned in the request and I promised I would read it. I promptly ordered a copy from Amazon and paid for 2 day shipping to ensure I could start the book on the plane on Monday. Arriving on Saturday, the book properly sat on my counter awaiting the packing rituals of Sunday night when my neighbor strolls in, notices the book and pulls a copy off my bookshelf. I had borrowed it from him a few months back and it was in queue for a reading. I honestly was at loss for words when I discovered this fact, and still at loss. Strange karma, coincidence, so many thoughts, no words. It's Tuesday, and I'm 3/4 done reading, love it!
Will Just10Things become more, will the island adventures become a twisted tale of life, a page turner, a memoir, a travel diary, I don't know. More than these sometimes daily, sometimes weekly posts, and I get feverish. I can commit to the islands, but can they commit to me? I can find interesting tales, they seem to welcome me. But it all has to be real, and be true, which means I need to immerse myself in the islands. For at least six months. At this moment in time, all I have is the inspiration to do so.
Should the time come, and the finances fairy align me, I know that I can lean on one individual that has already (unofficially, through suggestion only) committed to this journey for support and guidance (and threatens to crash my parties, yet has not followed through), and my dear friend that loans copy editor skills (and wonderful friendship) to me when I decide to post on the risque side (and edited my original 8 page subset of the beginnings of Just10Things).
I stepped outside for a soaking in the unbelievable heat and humidity that Indiana has to offer before I conclude this post. I found my 10 things as a woman walked outside and slipped on the pavement, blaming the water residue on her shoes from the pool. She then proceeded to open 4 doors and 1 trunk of her car to retrieve 5 bags of goodies from the outlet mall across from the hotel in the middle of nowhere, Indiana. 4+1+5=Just10Things, sleep well, my friends.
Coming off vacation is hard, but I found myself this week saying yes without hesitation, a bit more calm, and very relaxed. You want back to back meetings all afternoon, sure! Deadlines, OK. I wonder how long this hangover will last.
Bullshit is real! I have to tell this story...
Row 2 in a 737, I had the aisle seat on a 45 minute flight from Baltimore to Raleigh, sitting next to me was a 30 something female and occupying the window seat, a 30 something male. I was sunk deep in a book, but for some reason, I had one ear tuned into their conversation. The dialogue consisted of two halves which I will outline for you.
1. She hated flying, this was her third flight ever
2. She worked in the collections department
3. She was a single mom raising two boys age 9 and 16
4. She was on her way to Rocky Mount to visit her cousin
5. She grew up in Rocky Mount and moved to Indiana when she was 22
6. She travels regularly, 6 to 7 times a year
7. She works for DOD in a contract position
8. She is a single mom with three boys ages 5, 10 and 12
9. She is on her way to Charlotte to visit her best friend from college
10. She was born and raised in southern Alabama and moved to Indiana when she was 12
Now my assumption was that she was trying to pick up an apparently married young man on a flight to Raleigh, and I won't fault her for trying. But seriously, in 45 minutes, you have two extremely conflicting accounts of your life. I think he noticed about half way through the second half of the story as his replies turned into rhetorical questions eluding to the details outlined in the first half of her story.
The truth is so much easier, no need to "keep track" of your details from one moment to the next. Maybe the truth hurts, or maybe it's just uninteresting, but it will be much less painful in the end.
Keep it real!
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, 18° 4′ 0″ N, 63° 3′ 0″ W, West Indies, Lesser Antilles, Leeward Islands, half French, half Dutch, 100% island with diverse cultural roots.
1. As promised, my companion, Gizmo
2. Front Street in Phillipsburg, which runs parallel to Back Street. This bustling stretch in the Dutch capital is filled with shopping, food and bars. Parking is difficult here, but if you drive around long enough, something will open up. Just be sure you practice parallel parking first.
3. Oyster Pond, quiet calm waters and Orient Bay, French side, clothing optional.
4. This scene happened more often than not, which one is mine...
5. The blue waters of Anguilla
6. Sunset cruise on the Lambada. The little girl has a striking resemblance to the girl in Water World
7. The streets and cafes of Marigot, the French capital
8. My delicious Mahi
9. Back to Little Bay
10. The last sunset
I really need to invest in a better camera to capture the colors of the Caribbean, but I also like the "pocketableness" of my little Canon Powershot. These photographs give you a sense of what it was like, but nowhere near the experience. Until next time!
filled with shopping, food and bars. Parking is difficult here, but if you drive around long enough, something will open up. Just be sure you practice parallel parking first.
Whoa, that was close. I am usually pretty good about leaving enough gas in the truck to get home from the airport, oversight. By the way, I felt like I was driving a tank, or mom's old station wagon, compared to my super sub compact of the last week. Just a quick post as I get laundry completed before retiring only to be back at the airport in the morning.
I arrived at the airport in St Martin promptly at 11 for a 245 flight. Due to rum smuggling, I had to check my bag. Boy, if this works, I'll be amazed. Having not checked luggage in probably 3 years, I was nervous. Departure tax is $30, but most major airlines include this in their fares, so customs and immigration was pretty easy. I settled at a beach bar, minus the beach and add an airport with a direct view of the runway. There are some things I just don't believe in. The fact that an Airbus A340 can actually fly is one of those. I was proven wrong as I witnessed one take off, on a short runway, too. I struck up a conversation with a young couple next to me and learned that he was heading to North Carolina through Charlotte. We talked about other travel destinations and about me traveling alone. That's another post, my friends. We parted ways.
I soon learned that my outbound flight was delayed. No worries, used to it.
I did eventually get on the plane and sat in 10C, and as people boarded, I felt a strange feeling like I had done this before. I did sit in 10C on the way here, but something else felt odd. Just as I had 2 empty seats next to me until the majority of the plane boarded on the way here, I did again. And then up the aisle comes the same couple that I sat with just 8 days ago, in the same seats, again, me, little freaked out. So we shared stories of the week and I learn that this is their 6th time here. Of course I will be coming again, same time, same plane, same seats? We'll see!
Well, delayed... it was really delayed, to the extent that when we landed in PHL, I had exactly 17 minutes to go through immigration, get my checked bag, go through customs, recheck my bag, go through security, navigate from terminal A to B (which I think has terminal C stuck in between) and board an 830 connection. Sorry folks, but that just isn't going to happen, and it didn't. Luckily, I guess, this was not the last connecting flight of the evening. It seemed like half of the plane had connecting flights before 930, or at least the half within 5 rows of me as we exited the plane. Although I felt rushed and some little spark of hope in the way way back of my head said it could be done, I had pretty much accepted that I was not going to make it. I still tried, however, by the time I had retrieved my checked bag and was standing in line for customs, it was already 830. No problem, I'm in PHL, flights are always late. Nope, the airline had already rerouted me on the later flight, for once, a Philly flight was on time leaving and 1020 became my new departure time. Sure as you know what, new flight, delayed. Finally boarding the plane at 1130, I learn that Mariah, maybe 6 or so, has a seat up front and mine is right next to her mom, and she really wants the window seat that I'm in. I also learned that they were on the same inbound from paradise, and Mariah loved the beach and the other place they went with lots of pools and that she lives in Durham. Ok, I'll totally give up my seat for you!
So here I am, at 3am, waiting to flip the clothes so I can get a few hours of sleep. I'll leave you with a couple travel tips before I retire.
1. Rent a car, rent a car, rent a car... you cannot possibly experience this island without renting a car (am I being repetitive?)
2. Pen, simple little archaic instrument, do not go anywhere without one (immigration forms, directions, notes, etc)
3. Paper - I carry a small notebook, see #2
4. Explore, there are 37 beaches, all unique, I did not even hit 25%
5. When you do take the wrong turn out of Marigot (I learned this today on the way to the airport) you can pick the road back up to Phillipsburg if you go past the airport to the far end of the runway
6. Snorkel, I need to learn this one myself, from what I've heard, it's pretty good
7. Eat, 400 restaurants offering almost any cuisine
8. Bug spray, if you are off the beach in the morning or evening hours, you will need it
9. Most places are closed on Sunday, which makes it an ideal travel day
It's a different sun, a different air, a different water. It's a slow down to island time. Whether a day, a week, a month, you will feel different here. It's about sinking into crystal clear waters, it's about power under sail, it's about conch fritters and rum punch. It's about music and fun, good times and sun. It's a love affair.
I spent the greater part of yesterday soaking in UV rays that I probably didn't need, I'm sure that payback will come in time. Afterwards, I made my way to Simpson Bay for a sunset cruise on the Lambada. She sets sail from the Pelican which is fairly easy to find if you take a left at Hollywood Casino, parking however, is a challenge. I scored after two times asking the resort parking attendant where to park and she ended up letting me park in the guest lot.
Main sail hoisted and I sunk into not a care in the world. Perched topside on the forward port hull, my mind drifted. Two hours later, I really didn't want it to be over, my therapy session was done and I needed to return to my room. I've almost learned to navigate the island, at least the southern portions. This was my first time driving at night, though, and my regular landmarks were not quite as visible, but I managed to make it back.
Today was a return trip to Marigot, and I'm glad I did, the street was bustling with vendors selling local everything. I had two things in mind, rum and some good food. Maaya is the place to go for duty free in Marigot. My only advice is (as with any duty free I've found here) if you are using American Express, tell them that is all you have and they will most likely accept it. I had read some forums before arrival that AMex was not widely accepted, this is true, unless you present as your only method of payment. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Cash always talks! I found my rum, now for food.
It must have been cooked on a million degree grill, because the outside of my mahi steak was crunchy and the inside was moist and tender. Bistro de la mer filled my taste buds with deliciousness and a side of rice. Good food, check, time to head back. I made the same wrong turn as the other day, mental note, when leaving Marigot, it's a left on the roundy, for next time!
I experienced my first "I need gas" moment on the way back. First of all, everything is in liters, secondly, the pump attendant doesn't really pump your gas, just stands there to usher you expecting a tip. No worries, 22 liters (I think I read it right) and a three dollar tip later, my lawnmower tank is full.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent soaking in Caribbean waters as the sun sank deeper and deeper into the horizon. I left the soothing waters in time to climb back up to Fort Amsterdam armed with a camera. The wind atop the peninsula is pretty strong, but I had the best seat in the house for my last St Martin sunset. I did some experimenting with my cameras (I think I've actually figured it out) exposure settings and I think I got some good sunset photographs (to be posted later).
I'm hesitating right now to continue writing, or wrap it up, my mind is so at ease and relaxed that listing 10 things seems distant. Maybe I'll leave it with Just3Nights in Vegas and Just7Nights in St Martin and call out a vacation I have shared with you...
As the calypso rhythms echo across the bay, I wonder. I watch the mother next door dance with her baby boy, I miss my kids. I watch the couple on the beach slow dance, maybe next time we can dance, if I can muster up enough to ask you out.
Yeah, there's no 10 specifics tonight, just me, drinking a rum punch, listening to music, dreaming, and dancing....
Reflections my friends, cheers!
Wednesday and Thursday have been my lazy days. Aside from a trip to La Grande Marche for mid-week groceries, I've been relaxing in a beach chair not really doing a whole lot of anything. I had not planned on posting tonight, but after 8 failed attempts of uploading one picture to Facebook, I changed my mind. So here it is, the best sunset so far. I wish photographs could capture the feelings better as the sky burns red and orange with tints of pink. It's one thing to see it, it's another to experience it.
I forgot last night that, believe it or not, I'm fragile. In the process if climbing out onto a rock to photograph the sunset, my knee decided to fail and down I went. Initially, I escaped with only a small gash in my ankle, however when I woke this morning, I realized I had a pretty good sprain. I spent a good deal of time walking it off today when I was not soaking in the sun. Still a bit tender, but I'll live.
There really is something about this island, maybe it's the people, as friendly as I've ever met, and I'm sure it has something to do with the constant breeze and temperatures in the eighties. Message to my ex: put the kids on a plane to SXM and let me know what time they land, I'll pick them up... Message to my parents: please Fed-Ex my laptop and the rest of my clothes, sell the house and whatever else is left... Message to HR: please email me a change of address form...
1. Tomorrow I shall find a proper cat to sail on
2. Plenty of time to think
3. About where I am
4. And where I'm going
5. Do I really have to go to Indiana next week?
6. I have not touched email all week (with one slight exception) and it's been wonderful, but will probably be hell when vacation is over
7. No two sunsets are ever the same
8. I finally remembered to get bug spray, haha mosquitos, can't get me now
9. Next trip will need to be two weeks, I've only two days left and still lots to do
I'll justify this post by the fact that I left after I saw Just10Lizards. This is Fort Amsterdam, the oldest fort in the Dutch Caribbean and sits high on the cliffs between Little Bay and Great Bay, a short five minute walk from my room. It's a little on the cloudy side and trust me, pictures do not do justice to the true color of the water. Love to my Chi peeps, miss ya!