August 25, 2008

Sasha Elena Fox joins the family in Mexico, U.S. & Romania

PUERTO VALLARTA, Jalisco, Mexico - Sasha Elena Fox was born today in Mexico to son Dustin and daughter-in-law Cami.

Sasha is our third granddaughter, joining Sami and Kami Allen in Sacramento, daughters of Anne and Steve. With the rate the family is having girls, an all-girls, all-family softball team may be in the future.

Admiral Fox did a fabulous video, stitching together stills, her video and video shot by Dustin.

Here's the link that will take you to her blog and video:

  • Admiral's Log

  • Cami, Sasha & Dustin
    Cami, Sasha and Dustin today

    August 24, 2008

    Last days on the lake - que lastima, quelle dommage!

    SENECA LAKE, Valois, New York, USA - Nephew Nate and I spent the last full pontoon-boat day on the lake Sunday, checking for wildlife and enjoying 85 degree-temperatures and light southerly winds.

    Sunday evening, a much-needed thunderstorm crashed in, with temperatures plummeting last night with a mild cold front. Seventy degrees is about as warm as it is supposed to be today, a perfect day to pull the Spirit of Louise out of the water and take it to Morgan Marine in Penn Yan for storage, except that the wind is already up to 15 mph, not ideal for pulling the boat out at an unsheltered launch ramp.

    Manana, perhaps, manana.

    Sunday was an odd day on the lake, as very few of our boating friends could be found - they were all out themselves, probably going by our dock wondering, 'Where are those guys?'

    We did see plenty of dock denizens, though.

    At the dock two
    Enjoying the afternoon on the dock

    On the dock three
    Ready to jump in

    At one point we were passed by a 1950s vintage Chris-Craft, an old woodie with an engine that sounded a little like it had been tuned up well beyond what boats could do back in those days.

    It cut a beautiful wake as it roared down the lake. It made me almost nostalgic for all the varnishing I did on our sailboat, Sabbatical.


    Classic Chris-Craft
    Chris-Craft roars down the lake

    But the highlight of the day - at least for nephew Nate Schwartz - was taking a jet ski out for a ride in front at cousin Roger's. After he took a 15-minute tour around the lake in front of the dock, Nate announced that he would reallllllly like one next summer - and because he is working, he just might be able to afford it.

    I suggested that he get in touch with his cousin (and my son) Dylan, who wants one also.

    They can buy it, I'll maintain it and keep it on our beach here in Valois, using it only to make sure it is running in tip-top shape. And we know that a good mechanic should test drive such a vehicle at least a few times a week. Perhaps daily when the temperature is in the 80s.

    Sounds like a really fair deal to me.


    A lakeside benefit gets the dancers out on the floor

    WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - Saturdays are always pretty wild around Watkins in the summer. Yesterday, in addition to the usual boating madness, a benefit for a local youth - who is recovering from multiple organ failure - had several hundred people tapping their toes to music, munching down barbecued chicken and, of course, drinking draft beer.

    A lot of draft beer.

    The benefit was held outside at the Village Marina, owned by the Schamel family, who in addition to running their usual restaurant crowd through the place, also handled the barbecue - and there were a lot of chickens who sacrificed their lives.

    We arrived at the benefit in style - via Cousin Roger's ski boat which got us down the lake much faster than the Spirit of Louise would have.

    At one point early in the benefit, one of the organizers told me that they had already taken in more than $700 - just on the raffle. And given that the draft beers were $3, with $1 of that going to the family, well, the benefit took in a lot of money. Cousin Roger and I contributed quite heavily to all components.

    Roger's son Brett Beardslee was front and center, playing his own set of songs and also jamming with other local musicians. Dancing started, early, too and went on well into the night.

    And the weather? Perfect end of August temperatures.

    Canines at play
    Even the canines enjoyed the music

    Note the beer cups
    Enjoying the sun and afternoon

    Roger, Nancy and Nate have dinner
    Roger, Nancy and nephew Nate

    August 20, 2008

    A Peachy Dandy sailboat race, and summer is almost over

    HAZLITT'S BEACH, Hector, New York, USA - The weeks have flown by since I went fishing with John Bills.

    But a summer highlight was racing in the Peachy Dandy sailboat race last Saturday, skippering Cousin Roger's sailboat, the Andalé. Last summer I missed the race and party completely. I was recovering from a nasty flu I picked up in New York.

    This summer - thanks to Airborne and lots of vitamin B complex - I seem to have escaped most illnesses, except those self-inflicted by having too much fun.

    I don't have any great race photos of the boat or crew for two reasons: First, I steered the entire race, except for a couple of relief moments to, well, get relief. Second, the only great racing shot I think I could have gotten was being second over the starting line, in a field of maybe 20 boats.

    It was all downhill (Or would it be down-lake?) after that.

    Hula girl pours a Peachy
    Hula girl pours a Peachy Dandy

    The wind was blowing pretty hard as we prepped the boat for the race and I advised Cousin Roger that we should not put on a much larger jib. I was worried about being overpowered.

    That proved to be a gross blunder as we came in a solid last, even though the wind stayed steady. Sometimes bigger clearly is better.

    But the pre-race party, followed by the post-race party were both great fun, sipping a frozen concoction of peaches, limeade, ice and rum. Lots of rum. And following a brief awards ceremony (to which the crew of the Andalé was a tad late), a great barbecue was served by a group of volunteers, who only asked that their Peachy Dandy glasses were kept full.

    Cutting up the peaches
    Cutting up peaches for the drinks

    So who did win the race? Jim and Sue Hazlitt, who have put on the party for some years and who in last year's race, pitchpoled their Hobie Cat sending them into the water. This year the race went without mishap for them. Close to them in order of finishing was Jim's son Eric and his wife Tina who were co-hosts of the event and who sail a very fast Yankee Dolphin 24 that I have been considering purchasing. I know how fast it is because I beat them at the start line by a quarter mile, only to have them smoke by us before the first mark.

    Roger at Peachy Dandy
    Cousin Roger and amigos at the pre-race party

    Post race party
    Post-race festivities

    With the Peachy Dandy party behind me, and the Admiral safely in Puerto Vallarta waiting for the birth of granddaughter Sasha Fox, life is mostly about cleaning up/closing up the house, cabin and beach, though with 85-degree days forecast for the rest of the week, it could be I should take out the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat for a few last runs up and down the lake to search for wildlife along the shore.

    I do have two cases of beer left. Just might make be able to keep up my fluids until August 29.

    August 4, 2008

    Going fishing with the Bear out on Seneca Lake

    LODI POINT, Schuyler County, New York, USA - After my fishing triumph at Ballard Pond a couple of weeks ago, (when I caught a 17 1/2 inch bass) I was more than receptive when John Bills (AKA the Bear) suggested that we do some Seneca Lake fishing.

    And so one morning last week at 5:30 a.m. Yes, 5:30 a.m., we set out from John's house in Hector with his daughter Jen's boyfriend Karl half-asleep in the truck and John's nice bass fishing boat in tow for a morning of chasing the elusive small mouth bass out on the lake.

    The emphasis here is on elusive.

    We launched at Lodi Point State Park, heading up the lake to some shallow areas that are supposed to be prime small mouth bass territory.

    The emphasis here is on supposed to be.

    Karl and I had been warned that summer isn't the best season on the lake. But we had a fine morning anyway on the water, with the only fish boated by John, and barely a nibble otherwise. The small mouth bass he did land was below the 12-inch New York State minimum and so we popped him back in the water so he can grow up to be legal.

    We'll do another fishing trip with the Bear this summer, I think. But in the meantime, I think I am going to take my container of worms back up to the farm ponds in the hills for some sedentary fishing from the banks for the not-quite-as-elusive large mouth bass.

    And it's quite likely I will take my gear to the ponds at 5:30 p.m, than 5:30 a.m.

    A dock-to-dock wedding party at Seneca Lake

    RUTH BILLS' COTTAGE, Hector, NY, USA - Before we made our trip down the highway to New York and New Jersey, we spent a not-very-quiet Thursday afternoon at Ruth and John Bills' cottage dock, helping out (and enjoying, ok...) a dock-to-dock wedding party, one of many events that took place as part of a wedding last Saturday.

    The group went in two pontoon boats, hitting five docks, each with a nation as a theme.

    Of course, the dock we were on was Mexico, and so I got to hand out Cuba Libres, mixed up to the exact specifications that Willie in Palapa Joe's in La Manzanilla uses. OK, maybe I made them a little stronger than Willie does (is that possible?), but these were mostly all 25-30 year olds with livers of iron.

    At least for now.

    We said "Viva!" a lot, as well as 'bienvenido,' and the food prepared by Ruth was a huge hit. Good thing, considering that we were the third one-hour stop of the group, with two more docks to hit.

    After us, the two boats stopped at a dock whose theme was Ireland.

    I'm not too sure about mixing tequila and rum with blended Irish Whiskey, but we heard that the boats finished their tour with all passengers and crews aboard, intact, and in some cases, asleep.

    Admiral helps with the buffet table
    Admiral helps out at the buffet table

    Corona sign
    Corona sign welcomes guests

    From the South Pacific dock
    From the South Pacific

    Hula girl
    Hula girl

    Bride and Groom, dressed casually
    Bride and groom in casual attire

    Ready for departure
    Ready to depart for the next dock

    A quick drive to New York & New Jersey for family visits

    HEWLETT, New York, USA - We highballed down the highway Friday to visit with my brother Tony and his family and my sister Anne and her clan.

    Tony lives in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, Anne in Hewlett, NY, only a little over an hour apart, except for traffic.

    And traffic there was.

    NY traffic jam
    New York on a good day

    But Friday we arrived at Tony and Marion's in time for lunch (thanks to a new GPS, more on that another time). We had a great visit with a lot of their family, shooting a little bit of video of my nephew Michael's children bounding into the pool at the beach club where the family congregates during summer.

    That night Michael cooked up a fantastic dinner - Mexican food, of course - which was great and shared by several of his brothers and their families. The evening reminded me of Mexico, too, with the temperature just comfortable and the smell of ocean air. No tequila, no Cuba libres, but plenty of beer and wine, too.

    Saturday, after one of those lo-cal, eggs, potatoes, sausage and toast breakfasts at a seaside restaurant, we battled with a few thousand (maybe more than a few thousand) people headed out to Long Island and the beaches. It's likely the torrential rainstorms kept a few people off the road, but it also made driving hazardous.

    New York doesn't have the best roadway drains.

    At Anne's we had a visit with nieces Jeanne and Anne Jr. followed by dinner at a local seafood restaurant where we were waited on by Anne and Bill's granddaughter who gave such good service, the other tables were starting to complain. Personally, I think they were jealous of the great lobster dinner that Bill inhaled, er, ate.

    Now, back at Seneca Lake, it's countdown to Sasha Fox time. Cami is due to deliver the baby in Puerto Vallarta at the end of the month and Admiral Fox is frantically trying to get everything ready to fly down for the birth in case the August 30 date gets moved up - a likelihood the doctor has started to mention.

    We had a little betting pool going on this, which if I am right, the Admiral will leave in just a few days.

    Below is a short bit of video (with a couple of stills) from our muy rapido motoring adventure.