About Us

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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ravaged soles....

Presented with limited commentary.....


10 days ago I was doing this:


Today I was doing this.



10 weeks from now I'll be doing this.

:-)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Legislature OKs Vieques bridge vote



Presented without comment:

By CB Online Staff

cbnews@caribbeanbusinesspr.com

The island Legislature has approved a measure calling for a referendum among Vieques residents regarding the potential construction of a bridge between mainland Puerto Rico and the offshore island town.


The Senate passed the House bill in a voice vote on Monday. It authorizes the State Elections Commission to plan and hold the vote.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz acknowledged that voters could reject the bridge plan, but argued that their opinions on the matter should be heard.

Advocates say building a toll bridge between Ceiba and Vieques would cut travel time to and from the small island town that is now served by daily ferry runs.

A study estimated that a toll bridge that costs vehicles $5 each way could generate some $15 million annually. Ferry service run by the Maritime Transport Authority currently costs $2 each way.

House Government Committee Chairman Johnny Méndez has said such a toll bridge project would be a good candidate for a public-private partnership. He said the toll bridge could cut travel costs for Vieques residents by cutting out the need for them to use taxis and other forms of private transport. A bridge would reduce travel time as the ferry takes more than one hour each way.
The study contemplates the environmental impact of the proposed bridge and notes the concerns criticism from some Vieques residents about the potential surge of traffic and other issues.

Link to article:
http://www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com/news03.php?nt_id=64438&ct_id=1

Amex Gold Rewards losing it's luster...


Ok...here's the problem. Continental Airlines stopped accepting American Express Gold rewards points for miles in September of this year (I think that's when it happened). So now we have to use the points to either buy the junk they sell, use them on Amazon, or pay our charges with them. The only problem is the annual fee.  Last night, for the first time,  I  used the points to pay charges on our card. The annual fee was the first thing I paid. I then paid for a lunch Lorrie and I had in Charlotte, NC on our last trip to the island. Lastly I paid for a couple of trips to our local Walmart. All told it was 41k points worth or $251. So that was my reward. Take away the $175 annual fee and we netted about $76. Not a great return. We ended up getting basically .02% back (that's 2/10's of a percent). We're seriously considering another card now.

 The Continental OnePass Plus looks interesting. You see, we fly more with Continental because Cape Air is one of their partners. Our bags always check through, so it helps getting to the island. The OnePass give you 1 checked bag for free and 2 annual memberships to United Clubs.

Anyone else have any other ideas?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks....


Thoreau said "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Lorrie and I are both thankful that we have the opportunity to see some of  the beauty that Vieques has to offer. For us it's not a one time event, but a journey. Along the way we are making some great friends... and to that point we want to give a special thanks to Peter. The evening over at your place meant a lot to us, we continue to talk about it.


The transition back to the "real world" seemed harder this time for Lorrie and I. We didn't get to see any sunshine until yesterday. Weather here in Indiana has been mostly cloudy with lots of rain and highs in the 40's, but that's November in Indiana....gray days.

Thanksgiving in Indiana, and the Midwest in general, is a time of  hunting. Our property becomes a sort of sanctuary for deer this time of year.  Deer hunting season is in full swing and with the prairie grass and woods, our little place is an oasis. I used to hunt.  I've mentioned before I worked as hunting guide for over 7 years, so I understand the process. As I've gotten older the drive to hunt has slowly ebbed away and left me. The spearfishing I did in Vieques this last trip was the first kind of "hunting" I've done in years. Buddies can't believe I don't hunt anymore. I can't explain to them the reasons why...it just is.

Will try and work on compilation video over the holiday. Best to all our friends and family.

:-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scotch and Coconut Water.....


Today was our last full day on the island so we got an early start, arriving on Orchid about 8:30am. We were, of course, the first ones there. We began our morning ritual of walking up and down the beach seeing what designs had been left for us overnight in the sand.


Doesn't look like much in the picture, I know. It's one of those things, like the azure color of the water or the feel of the tradewinds while you on the beach, that you just can't communicate. It's nice to walk the beach in the morning when everything is fresh and the previous days events, at least what evidence that was in the sand, is gone forever. So...that's what we did first thing today. While we were walking we were asking each other when the first visitors would arrive. I said probably earlier today since it was Friday and people would be wanting to enjoy as much of the beach before departing Saturday.  It was while we were walking back along the beach that we heard the first car doors. It was 9:30 and it was a party of 4. Lorrie and I were surprised, just the day before we virtually had the place to ourselves. The party of 4 went down to the "Love Shack" and took up residence.

The water was relatively calm so I decided to head out one last time to try some spearfishing. I was out about an hour or so. No luck, didn't even fire a shot. Saw a lot of fish. Was also noticing all the new, young, brain coral. Little round globes of it. Nice to see. I saw one large snapper, but he saw me first. Lots of large parrot fish. Saw some squirrel fish, but not as large as the ones on Playa Chiva that Lorrie and I saw earlier in the week. Lots of grunts and jacks.  I then noticed that some other snorkelers were heading towards the reef, so I called it quits and headed back to shore.

By the time I got my gear off and put up  it was near 11am. I mentioned to Lorrie about what time it was and she was ready to head to the gate for some Sol Food.  While she's  gone another 6 people show up on Orchid.   Today being a very nice day  with partly cloudy skies and a nice breeze, I'm not too surprised.  Since I'm going to be by myself for a while I start people watching. You see, when you log as many hours  on the beach as Lorrie and I do, you naturally gravitate towards the fine art of people watching. My cabana is the perfect spot to watch things happening around us unobtrusively.  Lorrie and I make guesses as to where people are staying. There's a certain beach chair that we see the "dubyas" carry (if you don't understand...then never mind).  When it's windy we make bets as to how long people umbrellas stay up.  We watch people put on their fins, on the beach, and then duck walk into the water (just like we did when we first visited). We sit back and say "hah...couple of greenhorns" (like we're old hats at it or something). We watch people walk off the beach into the sand burrs, ouch! We watch older couples walking hand in hand along the beach and younger couples kissing in the water. I just don't understand what it is about the Caribbean waters, but young couples almost always end up kissing at about chest high water. Maybe a lot of them are on their honeymoon or something...I dunno. Lorrie says "it's sweet".

 About 45 mins later I hear a car door. It's time for some Sol food!


That's the Bob Marley, just in case you didn't know. Spicy chicken with some kind of pineapple goo on top. I had the lentil curry and guava iced tea. Man-oh-man, it's the best.


Lorrie had the pulled pork with psychedelic purple cabbage, no bun (what can I say, she's a groovy kinda carbohydrate conscience, chic). That's some sort vegetable pasta side. She had apricot sun tea. Bill for it all was $23.

Bellies full we decided to take a little walk around the south (right) side of Orchid towards Escondida.  We had  walked over there earlier in the week but somehow screwed up on the video we took. We had video of this kinda of cave or pool. It was making a really strange gurgling sound. We walked all the way over to where we could see Escondida, but couldn't find the pool.




There's this strange sort of geologic formations over on this side. I didn't have the camera with me, all I had was the video. But here's a still from the video of what I'm talking about below.


There's these little pockets that hold the darker colored rocks. Strange.


While I was over on that side of the beach I decided to balance a few rocks. I had yet to do any on that side of Orchid.




Got a shot of Lorrie in front of the finished pieces.


I like this shot the best. Can you see the approaching storm in the background. Hah...it sure looked like we just might need my little addition that I put on the cabana, after all. It began to sprinkle lightly so we headed back. It did begin to rain harder and the little my little addition did keep up dry. I have a short clip of the rain below.




The rain didn't last for long. Lorrie and I then headed down the beach to the other end. On our way down there, a couple says "your Curt". Yep....sure am.Then the husband says to me "Dude..your famous!" Lorrie and I both laughed.  We're glad other people are enjoying our little blog. That was the second couple that recognized us from the blog this trip. This second couple, Chris and Susie, were from New Hampshire.  We met so many different people on this trip.... a record producer, a fashion photographer, a physicist,  an engineer. Pretty kewl.

It wasn't long before there was only one other couple on Orchid. Things had made full circle back to the way it was this morning.  It was getting on about 4pm now and I ask Lorrie what she wanted to do? She said she wanted to stay longer since it was our last day. We sat in the cabana and I poured myself a scotch. I caught Lorrie starring out into the ocean...not saying anything, just taking it all in. I grabbed the video cam and managed to catch some of it:



We sat there for quite awhile. Lorrie ask me "aren't you sad we're leaving?" I told her yes...but we'll be back in 8 weeks. I told her I was going to head out into the water one last time and she joined me. When the water got about waist deep I put my arms around her and gave her a kiss. We hung out until the sun was getting really low on the horizon. I knew we were pressing our luck with the no-see-ums.

It was when we headed out of the water that I noticed another couple show up. "Boy...are they getting a late start" I told Lorrie. I was feeling kinda mellow from my scotch so I walked over to say hello/goodbye. His name was Jose and his wife was Anita. He was working on a project on the island. He was overseeing the installation of new water pumps out by Green Beach. I noticed that Jose had 4 young coconuts in his hand. I ask him if they were the right ones to try and open. He told me that these young ones were good for getting at the coconut water. Anita told me the water was good for your kidneys. Jose said it makes for a great scotch. He was a single malt scotch drinker...my kind of guy. We chatted for quite a long time. Super nice people. They live on the main island. Jose showed me how to open up the coconuts, the easy way. He gave one to me and then opened one for Lorrie. Anita raised her bottle of Heineken and said "Salute". We all toasted the moment.

We said goodbye and headed back to our cabana where I had to have a coconut water and scotch.



Hasta Luego Vieques...we'll see you again in about 9 weeks.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cleanup day.....




We slept in this morning after having gone into Isabel last night for Kathy's "November Birthday/Thanksgiving day party @ El Sombrero Viejo. Lorrie was one of the November birthdays. Some people we knew and  we also met a few more.

So like I said we got as late start. We had decided yesterday we were going to head to Orchid today and since it was nearly 10 am when we arrived I was surprised to find no one in our little cabana. It was windy today and the forecast was calling for a 40% chance of rain. I decided that we needed an addition to the cabana to protect us more, should the rain show up. As I was building I saw a storm coming. Lorrie and I could see the rain with it so I hurried to get things finished. Here's some pictures of it:






Lorrie was really worried about the approaching storm too, as you can tell in the above shot. I finally woke her up and said "Hey....you might want to check out what's coming at us."


It was really an impressive looking storm and it seems to be coming right for us.


So she got up, reluctantly I might add, and checked it out. I pointed out our new addition to the cabana and how we were now ready for when it hit. Here's another shot of it:




 

And then, it went right by us without even a drop of rain.

The skies became clear after that and stayed that way for the rest of the day. Lorrie went back to sun worshipping and I headed over to the Orchid Art gallery to balance a few more rocks. I took some pictures this time:






On the way back over to our camp I saw this piece of driftwood covered in these little snails. By now it was getting on towards afternoon  and that only means one thing....


Yes...Sol Food. Consistently the best performer on the island. We had the pulled pork sandwiches and the lentil curry. And I've got just one thing to say to you, Brandi....the lentil curry is "da bomb".  We now wish you wouldn't have told us about it because we CRAVE it.  Great recommendation Brandi...thanks.

Belly's full  it was time to just "chillax" (to quote my daughter). So that's what we did for most of the afternoon. Lorrie and I had the whole beach to ourselves for most all the day. One othe couple showed up, but didn't stay long. The wind stayed strong all day so there was really no use in trying to snorkel, besides we've been doing so much of it this trip, a break was nice. On about 3 or so I decided that Orchid was in dire need of some sprucing up. So I went about picking up all the garbage that was laying about the beach, mostly plastic jugs, with an occasionally sandal. After the first couple of bags Lorrie joined me and we did the whole thing. We ended up getting 8 piles about like the one in the picture below.



We can honestly say now that Orchid will look better than we found it. Tomorrow is our last full day on the island. We'll be heading back to Orchid for it.

Hasta Manana

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slow'n it down......

Water was perfect today on Playa Chiva.  Check out the video and you'll see what I mean.



We began the day early. Got to Playa Chiva about 8:40am and were delighted to find it crystal clear. I busied myself with building a cabana, yeah I know...another one.  Lorrie was a real trooper and did the beach combing for rope.


She also took quite a few shots of the construction of Casa Verde (we had a green flag on it and used green rope). Here's the process, as if you haven't seen it before:



He digs the holes.



He gathers the poles.


He builds the frame...



He gathers the fronds...


can't think of a rhyming word that corresponds.


Almost finished


Ta DA!


We used it all day...just kick'n back and taking things easy.

Left the beach about 4:30. Got home, ate and headed over to Peter and Rick's place. Peter had invited us over for drinks a day or so ago. This made our second visit and we really wanted to see how their construction had progressed. Peter was nice enough to allow us to take some pictures. The place is spectacular. I ask Peter if he ever pinches himself when he looks out his back door. What a view. A side benefit of visiting such a wonderful place like theirs is that I was able to get my "dog" fix. They've got 4 dogs and 2 cats (I think I have that right?) We love their pets and I had been missing Thorn, so it was nice.

And finally, here's some of the shots we took. It was later in the evening when we went over so the light was fading.





Last year when we were over they had what looked like a skateboard ramp in the area where the palm tree is. The palm trees were to be delivered the next day and the ramps were used to slide the palms into place.



See I told you there were dogs.


We love the downstairs of the house.


 What a great way to end a nice slow day. Thanks again Peter, we had a wonderful time. He makes the best Gin/tonics on the island.

Hasta Manana

Monday, November 14, 2011

Water Clarity improving....


Got an early start this morning. We wanted to have the time to move to other beaches if we couldn't find any clear water for snorkeling. We went to Playa Plata first (imagine that) and the winds were calm. There was a marked difference in the beach. It was beginning to look more like it did when we arrived over a week ago. It's taken about 5 days for things to start to clear up. I suppose this is regular process and we're just now starting to notice it. We camped out at the cabana I built over a week ago (hope someone is enjoying the one I built at Secret beach yesterday.) I headed out to do some spearfishing early since things looked better. This time I decided to try and film while I was spearfishing. Let me tell you...unless you have your camera mounted on your gun, it's all but impossible to do. I tried to make it happen but no luck. For one thing the depth I was seeing the larger fish at was too deep to film so I moved into the shallower part of the reef. Most of what happened looked like this clip:




I went out one other time later in the day, but once again, no luck. From now on the camera stays on the beach when I'm trying to fish.

Lorrie and I had the beach to ourselves for most of the day. Only two other couples showed up and neither of them stayed for any length of time. One of the last couples came up to our cabana and ask "Are you Curt?"  hmmm...I've had this happen before. Seems she is a member on TA (trip Advisor) and was reading some of my suggestions about visiting the island, she's also seen the blog. They had just gotten married on the island. We chatted with them for awhile. When we ask where they were staying they told us Quinta Jabali. Nice choice.

The last couple hours of the day Lorrie and I had the whole beach to ourselves...our own little paradise. We walked up and down the beach. Went over and checked out the "Orchid Art Gallery" (which I still haven't gotten pictures of yet.) Then we just sat in our beach chairs and watched the sun slowing drop towards the horizon. The "no-see-ums" once again told us it was time to leave. So we packed up and headed back to the casa.

On the way out of the refuge Lorrie counted all the "Lomos". There's 17 of them for anyone  interested.

Hasta Manana

;-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So why did the chicken cross the road?

You'll have to watch the video to find out. It's a short one, only 50 seconds long.





We first drove out to Orchid  but the surf was still too rough and visibility would be poor. Drove over to Escondida to check it out and it seemed worse. Playa Chiva wasn't much better. So we ended up spending the day down at Pata Prieta. There was a strong east wind today and it's somewhat sheltered. The waters were a lot calmer but visibility was still poor. Lorrie and I snorkeled out to the far left hand side (standing on the beach looking out) and didn't really see much. Weather was gorgeous today. So much so that the sun was kinda hot. We had initially set up camp under a tree on the beach. I have a shot of it below:



It really wasn't as comfortable as one of my cabanas. I decided to go scavenging for some rope. I went all over the beach and really couldn't find anything. Told Lorrie I would be unable to build a cabana. I had found some vines that I thought might work, I've built one with them before but it's much harder. It was when I was looking at the vines that I found one wad of rope. Voila! I was in business. I didn't know it but Lorrie took a shot of the structure while it was in progress:



While I was working on our little cabana Lorrie drove down to Sol Food for some lunch (cabana building can make a guy hungry.) While Lorrie was down at Sol Food she ran into John and Anna. We met them a couple days ago on Orchid beach. Great people from the big apple. By the time Lorrie returned with the food our casa was finished. Here's some shots of it:







and yes...it also had my patented cup holders.



Rest of the day was spent like this....



or like this....


We ended up leaving around 5pm. The "no-see-ums" were coming out for their evening feed. As a final note, just in case anyone is interested...the chicken crossed the road twice.



Can you believe we saw it up the hill in the parking area right next to our jeep!

:-)