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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.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Feb trip....

So....I've been thinking, what's going to be the theme for the Feb trip to Vieques?

Food....Not just any food, but good food.

There's so much chatter on TA about where to get food stuffs and what places to eat, What does it cost. Do I need to shop in SJU, yada yada.

So I'm thinking, as I set here eating my beet/grapefruit/spinach/pine nut salad, lets' do this same thing on Vieques. We usually do  it anyway, but don't film or document it. I mean, I eat this sheit every day. We can do this. I've cooked green curry chicken for Judy and Andre, we can do this.


Now the pressure is on Lorrie to develope the menu for this trip.


Friday, November 14, 2014

A change can do you good.....

I was sitting here thinking about the last couple days. For us it was a change, so that is what I decided todays post was about. Change. But coming up with  a clever way to segue from the above Sheryl Crow video to Sun Bay, didn't happen,  although the last couple days have been about change, albeit nothing like what she's talking about.

I don't like change. That's why we keep coming to Vieques. People ask "why don't you try something else?"  My standing reply is "we found something we like, why change it?" That's more or less the way I operate. If it works, why change, unless of course you're forced to and this trip has that has happened (thank you Navy). Oh, I was, and still do, pine for La Plata, but in the last couple of days we've acquired a new respect for Sun Bay. We were  sort of experiencing a  Caracas burnout, don't know why.  Two days ago I  suggested to Lorrie we try Sun Bay, maybe even check out Media Luna and Navio (both of which we have never been to in like 11 trips now.)  I had always written Sun Bay off as a boring "local" beach. We had been there for just a very few minutes on our first trip to the island. My initial impression was that is wasn't very wild looking, with the lifeguard stands and  clean beach and pruned palms. That impression had pretty much stuck for the last 4 years, that is until now.

We've spent the last two days at Sun Bay. Walked the entire length of it (which is just a tad over a mile) and decided it's a very nice beach, worth spending time at.

I hadn't, in my other visit to Sun Bay,  noticed just how nice the sand is. It's not nearly as white as Chiva or La Plata, but the consistency and slope make it an excellent beach to walk.

And then there are the horses. Sun Bay wouldn't be Sun Bay if the horses weren't out grazing on the large open fields as you drive in. Yesterday we became really good friends with a group of them. Lorrie noticed something behind her, as we were just sitting in the shade taking a break. When she turned there was this horse not 3 foot from her. 

Either they sensed we were not alarmed or they are just that used to people, but this lead horse must have given the "ok" to the rest because within minutes we found ourselves in the middle of a group of them. They were in front, behind, and on all sides. 

I even got some video of the encounter:

Other than our encounter with the horses Sun Bay was really quiet. We spent most of our time down on the east end of the beach. Great area to swim. Saw a couple of starfish, one of which was dinner plate size. Sun Bay has the clearest water we've seen on island this trip. A lot of the other beaches are still cloudy with seaweed. 

We did take the time to drive out to Media Luna and then hike to Navio. Both were totally covered in seaweed. The first two pictures are of Media Luna:

The hike to Navio is very doable. I've seen people ask about this on Tripadvisor. Other than having to navigate some monster puddles, akin to small inland lakes, it's not that bad. I have driven through some pretty tough spots on Vieques, but I would not take the chance driving back to Navio. Maybe it might be different in the very dry season of winter. I can see why some rental car companies tell you that the cars are not allowed out at that beach. 

As was the case with Media Luna, Navio was totally covered in thick seaweed:

The water on both beaches was turbid and dark. As we were leaving Navio I noticed some tracks in the sand. At first I thought maybe someone had drug something out into the ocean from onshore, but upon further inspection it looked a lot like turtles to me. I found three spots like this.

Up on shore, where the tracks end and near the vegetation line, we found holes dug in the sand. I was almost like the nests were dug up?

Having large slugs of time, without any attached commitments, gives one the opportunity to pursue things that we normally wouldn't. 

- Watching the sunrise, sunset
- Sitting for long uninterrupted periods (taking it all in)
- The esoteric study of noodleology


Yes, Noodleology. Finding the perfect spot for your noodle when you're in the water. Being veteran noodlers,we've  advanced to a higher level of this study. We now take out two noodles. The goal is to replicate your favorite easy chair, only in the warm Caribbean waters. So to that end I leave you with our latest foray into this emerging art form:

Tomorrow is our last day. I'm seeing that it's 16 degrees back home this morning. Maybe I better rethink this "change can do you good" mantra.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spelunking, sorta.....

Another great day. The weather has definitely changed and it feels more like what we're used to. Went back to Caracas, not much else to choose from. Was totally surprised by the lack of people. I guess everyone is coming later to Vieques. Probably topped out at maybe 30 people and a lot of them were locals. Strange, although I'm not complaining.

Quiet morning on the beach. Did yoga, took a long swim, then settled in to enjoy the day. The goal today was to hike over along the rock cliff, towards Playuela, and get some pictures of the cave I found last week. Thankfully the waves have subsided considerably which makes getting onto rocks from the water much easier. The rocks we walked over to get to the cave are very, very rough and sharp. We had on our diving boots.

Below is a close up of the yellow box above. There were lots of these along the coastline. I couldn't imagine getting thrown into these by some big wave. Deadly they are.

It's not a very long walk over to the cave and one might be able to just swim into it from the water line. I would definitely want a calm surf. Here's a google map of where we went:

There are a couple of sets of ropes to get one down into the cave. I didn't go down into it. It was much larger than I originally thought. I tried to take pictures down inside with flash, but they didn't come out very good.

The vistas from atop that cliff are nice. You can see all of Caracas.

Cave found and documented it was time to head back. Speaking of "back", I was given explicit instructions not to have in pictures of my better half's backside. So...you end up with this:

Got back to the cabana and chilled for a bit. Wasn't long until Bill and Joy showed up. Bill was nice enough to loan me a book he had been reading. I'll get it back to him in Feb. when we're all suppose to hook up for a lobster cookout. Yum!

We spent the afternoon hanging out with them, splitting the atom, so to speak. Today was their last day on island, always a bitter-sweet time (as we'll know all too well in just a few more days.)

In the end the no-see-ums took the beach back. 

Great day.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Anyone recognize this?......

No, I'm not asking someone to guess what morning shoreline this is. It was when I was out outside watching the sunrise that I remembered I had forgotten to include, in yesterdays post, a picture of a bush we had set up next to yesterday. It had a nice smell to it and was unusual as so many of the flowering shore plants around here seem to have no scent at all. I scoured the internet last night but couldn't come up with a type or name. Does anyone know what this is:


Monday, November 10, 2014

This is it...

"Today was a good day", that's what Lorrie just said to me as she was cooking some marinara and I was sipping on a drink thinking how I was going to lead into today's post.

She was right, today was a good day. Actually, today was a great day. One of those days that just fly by. Your getting things ready in the morning and BAM, it's evening.

Today was a good day. The sun was there all day long. Perfect Vieques weather. Almost like winter arrived today.

We were in need on a noodle, the house we're at only has one worth using. When we stopped by the Green store to get some ice they had one noodle left. Yes...a good day.

When we got to Caracas it was nearly empty? Ah yes a good day. Did yoga in the morning and took a nice long swim.  Yes a good day.

Having the new noodle, both of us were able to go, way, way out into the ocean. At one point Lorrie said "heck might as well just go over to the little island."  It was so nice out there, way out from everything. The wind was just right, the wave were just perfect. We stayed out there a long, long time.  Yes...a good day.

When we got back to shore we were met by Joy Keely, a friend of ours whom we met last year. We talked with Joy for a long time. Swapping Vieques stories, complaints and dreams. She and her husband Bill are so much like us, it's spooky. It was great hooking up with someone we knew. Yes...a good day.

Lorrie and I decided to take a walk along Caracas. Didn't matter that the beach was really filling up. Wasn't but a few hundred yards and we saw Officer Sanchez enjoying his day off with wife and son. He has been a great guy from the very first time I met him.  I shook his hand and we all talked for a bit. I was glad to see him and he reciprocated the same  feeling. Talked about the refuge and about his surfing. Yes a good day.

I went back to our cabana and grabbed a couple beers and the noodles. Lorrie and I walked down to the east end of Caracas and floated real slow down towards the other end. As we were floating along, we would stop and talk to different people. Everyone  just seemed to be in a great mood. Eventually we made it back to our cabana. I grabbed a couple more beers and we moseyed our way down to where Bill and Joy were. I had some news about the refuge to talk to them about. We ended up talking, laughing and just passing time for what was probably a couple hours. Just the four of us, enjoying the moment, enjoying the absolute perfect weather and watching a day long azure sky turn into that salmon evening that is the Caribbean. It was somewhere around this time that is hit me.  When this happens it's like  catching some ephemeral ghost out of the corner of your eye and it's a delicate balance, akin to walking a razors edge. You can't create it or even search for it. It just happens. I kind of stepped out of the box we four were sitting in, there in the sand, and tried to take it all in. Just the four of us, enjoying the moment. It was almost like I was participating but at the same time being an observer and I said to myself, "this is it." And it is, but I can't really quantify it.  Maybe it's the fact that people are more relaxed or that most of the identifiers that exist in our society get stripped away when you're on the beach with people. There's no pretense at all. At any rate, I saw it. I  said to Lorrie, Joy and Bill, somewhat interrupting their conversation, "You know, it just doesn't get any better than this."

Ok...that's the philosophical portion of this post. Now to the business side of things.  I can report that Playa Grande, Pata  Prieta, Media Luna, Navio and Garcia are all covered in some real stinky seaweed, and lots of it. We drove down to Pata Prieta before we ended up at Caracas today. They have done some work on the road going into Pata Prieta. It's much wider and they've hauled in some larger gravel, filling in the big holes. Much, much better. The beach, although was not really worth staying at.  I Have a picture of it I took this morning below:

Next picture is from Playa Grande, shot yesterday when this new wave began to come it. I could see big masses of it, out as far as you could see.

In other news, I've learned that Chiva has changed. So much so that I believe there's some sort of suit in the works against the contractor who was involved with the clean up. From what I was told an enormous amount of crab habitat was destroyed. This coincides with what I was heard early, namely that Chiva is unrecognizable due to all the dredging and cleanup. I was "unofficially" told that Nov 15 was the day for the reopening. But that's up to the Navy. I'm getting the feeling that the turn outs are not going to look the same.

Lorrie and I ended up closing down Caracas today. It "almost" felt like La Plata, but not quite.

Weather is supposed to be improving for the next four days. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Body surfing Caracas.....

Sitting here in the late afternoon sun (yes, we had sun today), I'm missing the other beaches. Up until now I hadn't really realized how much they are the reason we come to Vieques. We have  spent this first week at Caracas. The car we've got now would never make it to Pata Prieta, especially given all the rain we've had.  While  Caracas is a nice beach, some of the character and wildness that La Plata and even Playa Chiva exude doesn't exist, Maybe it's because of the amenities on Caracas (banos, shelters, the parking lot) that creates and underlying current that feels all too familiar. Not quite the gulf coast but something akin. Just my own jaded observation.

Caracas topped out around 50 people today. Surf has been building all day long and has been up all week. Lorrie and I got in for a while and did battle with some real big waves. Big enough to take me down more than once. This surf brought out a number of body surfers, some of which are pretty darn good. I got some video of them working the waves:

About the time we were watching the body surfers we saw a family come down,( father and 2 boys and 1 girl), and get in on the action. When they arrived I mentioned to Lorrie that I thought the girl was maybe too young to be in those waves. I mean, we just got out and it wiped us both out a number of times. It didn't take Dad long to make her go up on shore. He meanwhile stayed out with the two boys who seemed to be handling it all fine. We saw the young girl up on the beach not very happy with dad's decision. I whispered to Lorrie that she didn't look all to happy, but it was the right thing to do. She just wasn't quite as strong as the boys and she nearly got wiped out. She finally left that area of the beach and walked back down where mom and the other women were. Ah, but then not 10 minutes later mom came down with the young girl in tow. The two of them went into the water, hand in hand , out to the father and the two boys. Then it happened. First wave buries the young girl, mom too. As the young girl is trying to get up out of the water another, much bigger wave, just destroys her. When she comes up, she's crying, coughing and noticeably shaken. She's having some trouble due to all the water she just swallowed. Vomits a little.  Mom and her both head back to shore. I hated to see that happen to her. Got to respect the ocean when the surf is like that.

There's this sand crab that's set up house right next to my beach chair. Either that or I've set up house next to his abode. At any rate, he's not in the least bothered by me and is flinging sand out of his burrow sometimes landing on my foot.

This evening we had dinner at Tradewinds. In all our trips to Vieques we've never ate dinner there. I have to say it was one of the best we've had. We set out on the veranda and the breeze and ocean vista were the best. Lorrie and salmon with west indie spices, I had the pork mofongo. Both were great. I had a rum punch thing and Lorrie had two glasses of Merlot. Total was $70 before tip. We've ate breakfast there twice now this trip. Can't say enough good things about the Tradewinds restaurant.  be

Lastly, but most importantly, today marked Lorrie's 50th B-day. Sitting across from her at Tradewinds, with the evening sky, man ....makes you realize how lucky you are. 34 years I've been with this beautiful woman. Doesn't get any better.

We think we're headed to Playa Grande tomorrow.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Rainy, rainy day....

That has been the radar all day long. Also this has been the first time in 4 years that it has rained almost solid for a week. Yesterday we got  about 1/2 the day before the rain came in.

In beach news I can attest that Playuela is covered in stinky seaweed. I swam over there from Caracas yesterday. Found  a kewl cave on the rocky shoreline between Carcacas and Playuela. I'll have to get some video of it this weekend or next week.  Media Luna and Navio are both suppose to be covered in seaweed too. We opted yesterday to not try the drive down to Pata Prieta. The car we've got barely makes it as it is. 

So we've just been sitt'n back and chill'n today. Good thing my wife and I are such good buds. I could see how this my try some couples patience. Not us...just groov'n on a rainy day. 
(also one of the reasons we come for two weeks)


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cherish the day....

Oh yeah...you seeing that. Gonna be a beautiful day. 

House is open, breezes blowing in, sunlight (YES SUNLIGHT!) streaming in, little coffee going on with Sade singing in the background. Man I'm digg'n this. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Leap of faith....

By sometime around noon we  decided to take a chance and head out to the beach.  The radar still looked unfavorable, but we both were ready to get out of the house. Stopped by the Green store and picked up some ice and beer also bought some smoked gouda cheese that, is oh so good. That little gourmet fridg they have holds some real gems. If you haven't been to La Tienda Verde, check it out.  Bought two different German beers, one was a pilsner, the other a lager. The pilsner was Radeberger,  the other I can't remember the name of. Anyway, they both seemed to be decent beer. So I'm sitting here on the beach, thinking "why in the world are these beers available in Vieques?" We've bought 4 different types of German beer this trip. I even saw a couple of different Hefeweizen and these are in a little colmado that's the size of most mini marts back home.  It was only when I began reading the label that I might have stumbled upon why these are  available here.  All of the Radeberger I bought had expired dates, not that it really made any difference in the taste but I bet that's what's behind finding these beers. I'm going to keep track and see if this is the trend or not.

Only about 30 people or so on Caracas. Low numbers given the beach closures and the seaweed covered beaches around Esperanza.  Grey skies dominated and it really looked like it could rain anytime. I pushed on and  set up the cabana anyway. We settled in under gloomy skies.

 Wasn't long before someone came up and commented on the cabana. That lifted our mood. Not long after  a couple came by and ask if they could leave there car keys with us. They had a springer spaniel in tow and after talking with them we learned that the female of the two was to be the new postmaster of Vieques. She came down from Maine.  She decided, while walking in thigh deep show last year, that she'd had enough. They had only been on Vieques since Sunday.

Not long after meeting the new postmaster a young guy came up and ask if he could leave his backpack with us so that he and his girlfriend could swim out around towards Garcia. We said we'd be glad to. So even with the gloomy skies we now had purpose, even if it was keeping watch over others peoples belongings. When the couple got back from their swim, and they did swim over to Garica, we offered them a beer (I didn't tell them they were expired). During the course of our conversation we learned they were Stephan (from Hamburg Germany, maybe I impressed him with my cooler full of German beer) and Kristen from NYC. They both work for Lufthansa airlines. Stephan is a pilot in training. I grabbed a picture of the two. Good looking couple:

The good German beer and conversation was enough to entice Lorrie and I to finally check out the water. The beach was also clearing out by now. I think everyone else had given up on seeing some sunshine, so the whole place was nearly empty. We had forgotten, again, to bring the noodles with us. The surf was perfect for floating. 

It must have been sometime after 5pm and after our swim,  that a couple with two young kids showed up. Both of the children (boy and girl) were packing surf boards. I began watching as the gentleman (who I assumed was their father) began setting them up on the waves as they came in.  I couldn't believe how good they were, especially the young girl.

Watching those kids with their dad put a smile on my face. What a great way to spend and evening, even with gloomy grey skies. What I wasn't prepared for was what was going on behind me:

Yes, that's my 50 yr old wife preparing to do cartwheels.

Hard to tell from the pictures, but they had drawn two lines in the sand and where doing cartwheels one direction and the turning and heading back the other. Not sure what the object of the game was, but it sure ended in a lot of laughter.

So on a leap of faith we headed to the beach today under grey skies. By the end of the day Vieques had once again worked it magic. We ended the day laughing with people whom we had never met before and whom we never even got the names of.


Groundhog Day.....

No this is not yesterdays shot. This is from this morning. 

And this is not yesterdays radar image, it's from this morning.

Nope, Cornflake has moved since yesterday. I had to let her outside at about 2 am. She has, although, reclaimed our blue suitcase. 

So, by now you should be getting the picture.
I'm feeling a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

No beach day....

Yes boys and girls, the above picture is what a "no beach day" looks like on Vieques. It was thundering all night and when we awoke there was an ominous black southern horizon:

We lost power this morning for about 2 hours. It didn't seem to bother "Cornflake" who has declared our blue luggage bag her new bed:

We have been caring for her on the request of the owner.  The power loss didn't seem to bother Lorrie either. She, more or less, adopted the same mantra as Cornflake:

The rain has given me plenty of time to get caught up on picture and video editing. Plus I'm seeing a couple other things in the house that might need some fixing.