December 23, 2012

Quinceañera in Arroyo Seco Thursday and we bring the cerveza

ARROYO SECO, Jalisco, Mexico - The quinceañera Thursday of our amiga Brianda (the daughter of our friends and neighbors Chena and Chon) has been a much-anticipated event for the last year.

For Mexicans, this party is a combination debutante ball and birthday party with a lot of trappings that Americans are more used to seeing at very expensive weddings.

And in our village, everybody pitches in, helping with preparations or simply paying for things. Someone lined up the band(s), a video person, a photographer, and arranged for food preparation, cleaning the town square and - of course - purchasing enough beer for a party in a village of 300 people.

Yes, 300 people. Many of them are children, but still. Watch for Corona stock to soar later this week.

Adm. Fox and I got tapped to bring down the cerveza, perhaps a comment on how much alcohol I usually bring and/or consume when in town. But it means we will be stopping at Costco Wednesday on our way south to load up. There are times when having a one-ton Toyota Tundra pickup really has its advantages.

Christmas tourists flooding the beaches
Besides being the bearers of beer, Adm. Fox and I have been enjoying the beach each day, going down mid-afternoon, often staying until sunset. With Christmas two days away, our beach is suddenly full of vacationistas, many of them from inland Mexico. Lots of gringos, too, with pale white skin one day, lobster-like appearances the next. Ouch.

Regardless, they all love the beach. And the sound of all the children splashing and laughing is great.

We heard the sound of granddaughter Sasha laughing a lot today. We met her at the mall with her mother for a two-hour visit. Between bites of pizza and scoops of ice cream, she and Sylvia did origami and played with toys, including a giraffe hand puppet.

For the record, the pizza was consumed by Sasha, not Sylvia or me. (Damn it looked good though...) But yes, the ice cream was shared by all.

Here's a brief video of our close encounter with granddaughter Sasha. She has learned a piece of Spanglish that we now use in place of goodbye when we leave - Hasta Pasta... Watch for it.

December 21, 2012

A happy start with a new Mayan calendar and new epoch

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - We had a scare yesterday as the new day began on Tonga.

We lost the Internet here in Mexico - and thus our electronic link with our amigos there. If the doomsday predictions were right, the apocalypse would be heading our way, hitting Tonga first.

Tonga, you see, is the first place on earth to see the new day, tucked just over the International Dateline. It is already Dec. 22 there and Tongans are out at the Tongan malls doing their Christmas shopping, busy buying shirts in XXXXXXXXL sizes and other gifts.

OK, they're not shopping at malls (there really aren't any) and Christmas is a religious holiday, not a secular-buy-more-today fiesta like the U.S. (and increasingly Mexico). And even Tongans aren't that big.

Here in Nuevo Vallarta the dawn broke beautifully and it is another day of writing (this counts towards that) boogie boarding and, well, that's all I have planned for today.

Adm. Fox already taught her Zumba class which drew close to 30 people today, all shaking it on the beach right in front of the Bahia del Sol condos where we live this winter.

And we just had breakfast at Moon and the Stars Cafe in the Paradise Mall (where the Internet is still working)
Not half bad as they say in Minnesota. Not half bad.

The cartoon below has been making the rounds of Facebook and other places. And as it references tequila, it is particularly significant to those of us south of the border.

Happy Dec. 21, y'all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

December 17, 2012

Beach music and Star Trek technology all mixed up

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Sunday was one of those days that mixed the old with the new in the kind of weird juxtapositions we take for granted in 2012.

Adm. Fox and I took a trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle where we went to the market to pick up a few items that are hard to get around here: fresh eggplant, homemade pickles and fabulous fruits.

There are also booths selling jewelery, hats, clothing and dozens of other handmade items.

Adm. Fox checks out some exquisite hand-made glass
Comfort food for gringos... not many takers

The market has a requirement that any items sold there must be handmade - merchants can't go to Wal-Mart and load up on crap to sell.

Because of that, all the art stuff, clothing and food is great - if occasionally a little pricey.

We wisely ate a big breakfast before we went. The various booths selling pastas, sandwiches, fresh vegetable stir fries, and some concoction simply labeled Arabian Food all looked and smelled delicious.

That afternoon we were treated to a short concert on the beach played by a quartet of Huichol Indians. The Huichols are natives of Mexico and produce excellent beaded artwork (some of which was for sale at the La Cruz market).

But I have never run into Huichol musicians before. An amiga from Canada caught the whole affair on her camera and passed along this video.

After this musical interlude, we walked to our condo (100 yards away) for a Skype date with daughter Anne and granddaughters Sami and Kami in Sacramento.

We had a great, clear connection and it was fabulous (as always) to be able to chat over thousands of miles and be able to actually see everyone. We were attired in our beach wear. The girls had sweaters even inside the house.

We only tortured them for a few moments with live video of the surf breaking and of our pool, right below the window. I can hear passport applications being filled out even now.

Here's a short video of that conversation. Very Star Trek.

December 11, 2012

A motorcycle and busy oceanside daze in Nuevo Vallarta

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I have been keeping our usual chaotic schedules but last night took time to go to show at the Vallarta Yacht Club put on by a Vallarta-based performer named Kassiano.

What a character this guy is.

He pulled people out of the audience to sing with him, belted out tunes from Sinatra to the latest music and by the end of his show, had virtually everyone in the room on their feet dancing. As you might suspect, we were right in the thick of things.

Rockin' with Kassiano at the Vallarta Yacht Club
On a break from dancing
We were the guests of Bob and Karen O'Hara who helped make the arrangements to bring Kassiano to the yacht club for a special performance.

When Bob and Karen saw him at a theater in downtown Vallarta, he had his full band with him. Last night it was he, a musician amiga and a guy running a sound board. They sounded like a whole orchestra to me.

At one point the dancing he had the crowd jumping up into the air. I don't know the condition of the knees of the other people dancing, but mine are sore today from the impact on tile floor.

Outside of dancing parties, our days here have settled into a sort-of routine. It's sort of, because if something interesting suddenly pops up, well, there goes the routine.

For Sylvia, Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday's at 8 a.m. she's on the beach right in front of our condo (Bahia del Sol) teaching a Zumba class. Today she added a Tuesday-Thursday conversational Spanish class.

For me, I do my dancing on the computer keys, writing for a few hours (or more) while she is out and about. Or I keep writing until my brain overheats. That happened last week - twice. Or was it three times?

Afternoons we usually hit the beach where the boogie boarding and swimming has been awesome.

On the way to the store
The new additions to our vehicle fleet are getting lots of use, too.

We brought up our bicycles from Arroyo Seco and after some serious wrassling with the Mexican Department of Motor Vehicles, got our Honda motor scooter licensed. Now it's the favored vehicle for all errands, particular for Adm. Fox.

And by the way, there is a helmet law in Mexico. I am not kidding. In a nation where you can legally drive around with an open container of beer in your car, you have to wear a helmet.

Dios mio.

December 4, 2012

Yelapa, Nuevo Vallarta and Sayulita - on the road again

SAYULITA, Nayarit, Mexico - Adm. Fox and I took a sojourn up the highway to the beautiful surfing village of Sayulita today. Last February, when we were there with Mike and Karen Schamel of Hector, NY, the streets were all torn up and the place was, well, a fookin' mess. (Pardon my Irish.)

Today the village streets are all back together and because it is very early in the season, relatively quiet. The streets are not any wider though and the Toyota Tundra almost acts like a snowplow in spots, pushing everything out of its way.

The beach, as always, was fabulous.
Sayulita beach

On the way home we stopped by our storage unit where the day before, Adm. Fox and our new amiga Shania had stopped to put a few things into the locker.

Scorpions beware
They were greeted by a granddaddy-sized scorpion, which they dispatched rather quickly, according to their account of the encounter.

But today Adm. Fox told the front desk people about the critter who had taken up residence (and been evicted) and before you can say scorpion in Spanish (alacran), they were sending over an exterminator to give the place the once over with poison.

He waded in with a tank on his back and started blasting away like Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry movie.

I'm pretty sure the unit will be alacran free in no time. But to be safe, I plan on staying out of the place for the next few weeks at least.

We had a few other adventures this past week, including catching a power boat ride on Banderas Bay with Elizabeth and Doug.

We went south to Yelapa and then ran along the coast coming back, spotting lots of wildlife, including a whale, dolphins and some wildly colored fish that came to the surface when we tossed out some bread.

We also stopped by the fuel dock to fill up on our way back to Paradise Village. I was reminded why my only power boat these days has a 35 hp Mercury outboard that sips gasoline nearly as slow as a teetotaler imbibes beer at a frat party.

Here's some photos from that round-the-bay expedition:
Yelapa waterfront

More sourdough bread please...     

Las Animas beach and restaurants

November 25, 2012

Arroyo Seco Express does a 2-day turnaround from Nuevo and back

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I did a light-speed trip from Nuevo Vallarta to Arroyo Seco and back, leaving Friday at 1 p.m. and pulling back into our condo here by 4 today. (Sunday).

Palm trees in front provide great cover now
In between that we opened up the Pink Flamingo, had dinner with Julian, Sondrine, Jim and Vickie in Zapata, rode both beaches on the Honda quad (it started without hestitation) all by noon on Saturday.

But then the adventures began to turn into misadventures.

I will let Admiral Fox detail all that out on her blog

But the highlights included finding a few thousand ants in our bed when we wanted to leave for lunch, having to use a toxic bug spray and then not being able to find a restaurant open in Arroyo Seco Saturday night to go to for dinner.

That was especially bad as it was the Admiral's birthday.

Big ouch.

On the plus side, we are back safe with both bicycles, our barbecue, our flat-screen tv and... drum roll please - my Honda motorscooter, for which we will finally get a license so we can motorscoot around Nuevo Vallarta. And on Saturday afternoon - while waiting for the ants to, well, decamp from the bed of our trailer, we went to Palapa Joe's in La Manzanilla, had a great lunch and even caught up with La Manzanilla's Lois Lane (AKA Jane Gorby) still glowing from the winning score of the Ohio State football game.

Our next sojourn to Arroyo Seco will be in December for the holidays.

Here's a few photos from the Pink Flamingo, snapped while waiting for the mist from the ant poison to clear.

The putting green in the center - with Laura's car parked under the roof

Palm trees provide a nice screen to the driveway

Banos and showers all working fine...

November 22, 2012

A fabulous Thanksgiving dinner on a boat near Paradise

PARADISE VILLAGE, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico - Adm. Fox and I had a fabulous dinner on board Sea Gnome, a sailboat owned by amiga Elizabeth kept at the marina in Nuevo Vallarta. Sea Gnome is berthed across the channel from Paradise Village Marina (where we kept Sabbatical for several years) and all of the food - served in the cockpit, was great!

Elizabeth (driving) Tim (center) and Devon arrive for dinner
Besides Elizabeth, Sylvia and I, we had two other folks on board, Tim and Devon, who helped chow down on the turkey and fixings Elizabeth had prepared in her tiny galley.

Adm. Fox provided a pasta salad, bread and probably something else that I am forgetting at the moment.

I will know as soon as she reads this. I should be forgiven though, because I have to keep focused - her birthday is Saturday... Saturday... focus...

After dinner, we took a brief tour (in a beautiful Boston Whaler) up the channel past the Fajita Republic restaurant and back.

I have many great memories of that channel.

I used to take my rowing dinghy up there after dark with a spotlight to 'spot' crocodiles snoozing on the muddy banks.

The crocs were not amused but I am here to tell the tale anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving - today, tomorrow and to infinity and beyond!

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - A year ago on this holiday Adm. Fox and I were sitting in the spacious dining room in Sacramento of Pam DiTomasso and Steve Lovotti who had graciously handed over their house to us for the afternoon so we could have a Thanksgiving family dinner.

It was one of those rare convergences of timing and people. It was as much family reunion as Thanksgiving Day dinner. And it was Sylvia's birthday, too.

All our children and grandchildren - except for Sasha who lives in Mexico with her mother - were there. Jason from Colorado, Anne from Sacramento, Dustin from Connecticut, Dylan from Berkeley along with grandchildren Samantha and Kamryn. Added to that we had Adm. Fox and I, Anne and Jason's mom Kay and Kay's mother, Mavis, Sami and Kami's grandmother.

One year later Adm. Fox and I are in a seaside condo getting ready to head out to the Banderas Bay beach for a Thanksgiving afternoon that will include swimming, boogie-boarding, a margarita or two and possibly a big fish dinner on someone's boat this evening.

Not exactly traditional, but the spirit of Thanksgiving is still here, big time.

Thanksgiving is the one day that as a nation we seem to recognize that we have a lot to be thankful for.

Me? As I wake up every morning my first thoughts are about how lucky I am. Truly lucky and truly blessed with a great family and great friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to y'all. 
Today, tomorrow and to infinity and beyond!

November 18, 2012

In the new office - at Bahia del Sol, Nuevo Vallarta

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I have set up shop here in Nuevo Vallarta, this year splitting our time between here and Arroyo Seco until sometime in April.

I have a book - and other writing projects - with deadlines looming; Adm. Fox has her Zumba to teach, language classes to take and enough other things to keep her so busy it would wear out a teenager. Wait, isn't she a teenager?

Plus, our granddaughter Sasha Fox is right here, who we hope we will get to see. A lot. A lot...

Today we headed out to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle to the Sunday farmer's and artisan market, held where once there was just a beach. Now there is a marina, restaurants and a thriving mercantile economy. More than a few gringo property owners lost their beach rights in the process, but it is Mexico.

And boy, can we relate to their plight. !Tenacatita libre!

We had wanted to have lunch at the famous Philo's but he was closed. Next week he will be open seven days a week. 

Musicians entertain at La Cruz Market

Market on the waterfront, tres cool

 In the meantime, I had occasion to revisit the video Adm. Fox and I produced last fall about this time, Saving Perro Morro. It has stood the test of time. Now we just have to get up the courage and go see if Morro is still alive at his tienda home. I hope so.

If you have a spare few minutes, it's worth taking a peek at. 

November 16, 2012

In Mexico, but right here it feels more like San Diego

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Admiral Fox and I stopped by the Paradise Mall to do a load of laundry before heading back to our nearby Bahia del Sol condo on Banderas Bay.

We are moving into our semi-permanent condo digs Saturday a.m. and decided a drawer full of clean clothes was better than dragging a basket full of dirty laundry across the parking lot and up the stairs.

But here in the Paradise Mall - which has a good (if expensive) grocery story and some neat (if expensive) shops, there is also some not-so-good and not-so-neat (but cheap) food among more traditional restaurants.

I suspect even though the sign is obscured, it's pretty easy to figure out I am sitting near the outlets of an American fast-food icon.

Ah, the smell of grease in the air!

Away from this part of the mall, however, this area is fabulous and we have been busy as cats covering, well, what cats cover so industriously since arriving last Sunday afternoon.

Among other things we had dinner the first night we were here with amigos Bill Meagher and Cindy Bader from Marin County. They were taking a mini-vacation in La Cruz. Then Monday we went to a storage unit, picked up the clothes we left here last spring and followed it with a Costco trip.

Chilean wine is very inexpensive - and good.

Admiral Fox is taking a Spanish class several days a week, leaving me home to work on several writing projects. And pretty soon, she will be teaching Zumba on the beach right in front of our condos.

Watch this blog for some photos of that next week.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

October 29, 2012

The wind is definitely up, and it's raining horizontally

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - Admiral Fox and I did a quick, early afternoon spin around the town to check on the rain and wind.

We found both.

The forecast has been right on the mark with building winds and lots of rain. Not sure how long we will have power. Everyone keeps announcing that it is likely to go out - and stay out, perhaps for a day or more.

At Village Marine, we were pleased to see that almost all the boats were out of the water - including amigos Eric and Tina Hazlitt's vessel.

The remain boats were rocking and rolling - and the wind is just getting started.

We shot a short video that is already up at the Elmira Star-Gazette website:

LINK: Village Marina, 2 p.m. today

And - we'll shoot another one about 5 p.m. just as we lose daylight - provided we go back out!

October 28, 2012

Sorting Tonga photos and video - while waiting for the big storm

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The predictions and precautions are all dire and serious as the Northeastern U.S. braces for the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, churning her way up the Atlantic Ocean, expected to turn towards land tonight or tomorrow or maybe never.

Maybe never would be my preference.
A Regatta Vava'u race committee boat, Race III

Schools have been cancelled for tomorrow and people are stocking up on flashlights, candles while also checking to see if they will have any heat if the electricity gets wiped out for a few days.

I checked our wine cellar. Looks like we will be fine.

In and among this though, Adm. Fox and I are pulling together photos and video for a presentation in a little over a week at the Hector Wine Company (LINK: Hector Wine Company) about our Tonga adventure. Going back through the photos - while looking out my New York window at rain, wind and temperatures in the low 40s - sure makes me miss Regatta Vava'u. (LINK: Regatta Home Page)

We took thousands of still photos and I thought we had about six hours of video. I was wrong. More like eight hours I think, especially when combined with what Adm. Fox shot on her Canon SLR. That's a lot of stuff to condense into a half-hour.

Below are two shots that I have set aside to use/show: the top one of a Chatham's plane we did not fly on, though it would have been a great adventure.

The second is of the dock and beach at Eueiki where our amigos Mark and Veronica own and operate and eco-resort. That's a resort that's has a strong ecology theme, not one where you shout and hear your voice boomerang back.

Did I really write that? Better get to the wine cellar and double-check those emergency hurricane supplies.

A Chatham's DC3 - still flying in inter-island service
Eueiki Island, Vava'u group, Kingdom of Tonga

October 27, 2012

A Halloween party at the Hector Wine Company - hoo-boy!

HECTOR, New York, USA - Buford and his band belted out tunes, wine and beer flowed like, well, wine and beer as the Hector Wine Company celebrated its second anniversary.

Live long and prosper
Because Halloween is just a few days away, it was a Halloween party, too, with about half the folks there dressed up in some sort of costume-like garb.

Eric Hazlitt and I toast
Admiral Fox sported a very stylish-looking Native American outfit. I alternated between a Star Trek uniform and a customized shirt (altered expertly by Adm. Fox).

It was nice party but when the music stopped at 7 p.m., a lot of the monsters wanted the show to go on. Buford and his amigos seemed pretty tired, however, after playing for two hours.

Many of the folks there trundled north to other parties up the highway. Adm. Fox and I headed south to the Seneca Lodge where Ithaca's Robin Burnett was playing and Salty Dog Rescue was having a benefit.

I now have a new Salty Dog Rescue shirt to wear to Mexico in a few weeks.

Here's a few photos of from the Hector Wine Company party.
Maggie and Dave

Sylvia and Jesse


Roger and Brett


October 22, 2012

A quiet Sunday ends with great music at Two Goats Brewery

HECTOR, New York, USA - Adm. Fox talked me into getting up off the napping couch Sunday afternoon for a drive north to Hector and Two Goats Brewing.

The drive wasn't just for the beer - which was excellent - it was to hear some music.

It wasn't just some music.

Scott Adams, Eric Aceto and cousin Brett Beardslee had a packed house dancing and singing. Singing was easier than dancing - there were a lot of people packed in.

Here's a brief video by subject2change Media of some of the sounds.

October 21, 2012

Hiking to where the elk go a-roaming near Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - My plans for a second day of kayaking were thwarted this afternoon by high winds - really high winds - and some cooler-than-expected temperatures. But as a consolation, Adm. Fox and I took a longish hike up through the cemetery next to the famous Watkins Glen, then all the way to the top of the hill and back around past an animal park where elk roam.

Yup, elk.

Thar be elk inside of this place
On the gateway side of the road, workmen were planting and digging and doing a variety of maintenance projects across a large pond. But across the street, in a huge fenced off area, a trio of elk were taking a break along the edge of the fence. Even at a distance, these animals are huge.

We would have done our usual enquiring journalists thing to ask more about the park, but the workmen were way off in the distance and there wasn't anyone tending to the animals to chat with.
Not camera shy

It is October, though, and tourists are pretty much a fond memory except at the wineries and brewpubs which are still doing a land office business.

We will likely head to Two Goats Brewery ourselves later today to help boost the economy.

Walks in the fall are quite spectacular, particularly now as the trees are either completely turned to color or about to. A few species have already shed their leaves, though they are in the minority.

Our sojourn past the elk park showed me that we actually live only about a mile away - close enough to go chat with the herd anytime I feel like it.

And on our walk down that last mile, we got a glimpse of Seneca Lake and the village park from a different angle than our house, a really spectacular view right now, especially with the colors.

It still looks too windy to kayak though.
View from the highway near the Elk Park

October 20, 2012

Hard aground - in a kayak - near the Watkins Glen boat ramp

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA -  By 3 p.m., today both the front and back lawns at the cottage were mowed. The hot tub and its circulating pump stowed safely. The shade/rain structure used to shelter the hot tub folded up neatly. The solar lights were put away for the season. And the Crimson Tide sailboat is sporting a new tarp to keep the leaves and debris off it for the winter.

It had been a busy morning and afternoon and so I considered simply collapsing on the couch when I got home to North Glen Avenue. Just mowing the lawn had proved daunting. It hadn't been touched since before Labor Day and had grown to about five inches tall in spots.

But the 20-knot cool breezes that had kept me cool up the lake suddenly let up here in Watkins Glen, making a quick kayak voyage seem like it might be in order.

Watkins Glen creek, approaching the channel
And it was a spectacular fall trip.

I paddled south, into a light breeze, following a flock of ducks who led me straight onto a sandbar where I experienced a kayaking first for me.

I ran hard aground with a crunch that had I been in a fiberglass boat, I would have been concerned.

Normally it's easy to rock my kayak off the bottom and simply back out. But oh no!!!!! Not this time. These wily quackers had lured me up onto some kind of ridge and it was only with a lot of effort, muttering and saying a string of magic words like these: (^^#*$^(*^&()%)) that I was able to get free.

I was not going to wade to get the kayak floating again. Well, not if I didn't absolutely have to. The water is very cold already.

In my paddling, I saw that the marinas are all emptying quickly with only a few holdouts left in their berths in the canal off the lake. Some of the holdouts were aboard their vessels as I paddled by, heaters running and cups of grog in their hands. No grog was offered to me however, even after several folks witnessed my encounter with the ducks and the sandbar.
Not many yachties left at the Watkins Glen Yacht Club
The weather forecast for Sunday is good enough that I left my kayak in the truck, all ready for another expedition. That probably guarantees precipitation.

But I'm going to risk it anyway. I'm too tired to haul the kayak out of my truck.

October 18, 2012

Seneca Lake days are over, packing for Mexico gets underway

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - Adm. Fox and I pulled the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat out of the water Wednesday, a harrowing affair in 15-20 knots of crosswind at a shallow launch ramp.

But after three tries, I finally drove the boat up onto the trailer (risky business, indeed) and summer officially was over for the Valois Point Yacht Club.

Doug Hazlitt offers a Heineken salute
At Village Marina we found Eric and Tina Hazlitt just about to head out for a final summer sail and were lucky enough to jump aboard for a few hours of sailing. Eric's cousin Doug Hazlitt was out and about on his newly built sailboat and, well, of course we raced!

 No need to dwell on results here, except to say it was a lot of fun in some pretty stiff breezes. It was so windy I could barely hang onto my wine glass as we tacked back and forth heading back into the dock.

We left the Spirit of Louise in the Village Marina parking lot overnight and will take the ship down to brother Dan's shop in Big Flats today where it winters under some heavy tarps.
At the helm with Tina Hazlitt tending the jib sheets
Getting the pontoon boat out of the water means it's time to get serious about packing for Mexico as well as ramping up our efforts on preparing stories and photos about our trip to Tonga and the Regatta Vava'u.

Adm. Fox set a date of Nov. 8 for us to put on a show-and-tell slide/video show at the Hector Wine Company about the trip. Gulp. Where did I put all those video chips?

And in the midst of all this, granddaughter Samantha turned 15 yesterday. Fifteen. Jaysus! Happy Birthday, Sami... We'll Skype tonight.

October 10, 2012

Heading to NY after 4 weeks on the road, in the air, and on water

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Admiral Fox and I head back to Watkins Glen this afternoon after a month-long sojourn that included stops in Sacramento, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga.

We had fun everyplace we went but it will be really good to be home. Plus, we have several thousand photos to look at, hours of video to compile and edit and stories to write for several magazines and newspapers.

I just got very tired.

Tonga - more specifically the island group of Vava'u - and the Regatta Vava'u was what launched this whole trip. I was sorting through some photos last night of the Pub Crawl. Gawd was it fun. The regatta was so full of interesting stuff I filled two notebooks with almost-legible scrawl that I now have to decipher.

The Pub Crawl notes seem the most hard to read. Go figure.

Here in Sacramento, we had a great time, too, staying with Pam DiTomasso and her husband Steve Lovotti in their gorgeous home on 46th Street. We also had some drive-by visits with amigos Sanders and Pat Lamont in Murphys, Calif. and Jen and Scott Noble in Elk Grove. We need to be cloned so we can see all these people and our amigos in New York and Vava'u now, too.

Last night - as a great capper to the whole month - we celebrated granddaughter Samantha Rose Allen's 15th birthday. Her 5-year-old sister Kami tried to steal the show, as usual. There was a lot of loose talk about Sami, Kami and mom Anne coming to visit us in New York - or even Mexico.

Woo-hoo! We're ready for the visit.

Here's pix of the birthday girl with her mom and me getting a hug from Kami.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

October 1, 2012

Last night on the beach in Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga

VAVA'U, Kingdom of Tonga - We are sitting in on of our favorite haunts here, The Aquarium, after a whirlwind last full day.

First we had a windy, slightly soggy ride in from The Reef Resort, then a great lunch with Regatta Vava'u organizers (and new friends) Ben and Lisa. We capped it with film interviews with Billy and the star of his theatre production, a fellow named Augustine.

Watch for an announcement on YouTube when that video goes up.

Tomorrow we board a plane at 8:15 for the main island of Tongatapu, then it's off to Fiji and parts east (like LA and Sacramento).

We have literally thousands of photos, hours of video, and pages and pages of notes to turn into stories, photo essays and rockumentaries.

Sad to leave here, but can't wait to start pulling this stuff all together.

At Treasure Island, I shot the photo below of one of the island guys (Rusty, a retired Canadian firefighter) getting his haircut from Vickie, a young lady who hails from Australia.

More on life on Treasure Island when I am back where the blogging program can do justice to these photos...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

September 30, 2012

Last days of Vava'u and Tonga adventures

THE REEF RESORT, Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga - We spent the day yesterday (and most of today) at Treasure Island Resort with new amigos Mark and Veronica who own the island paradise.

It's a stunning place - so stunning that I told Admiral Fox that after spending just a few hours there, my "Awe Meter" pegged at 100 percent and then broke.

Incredible doesn't describe it.

I will later, of course, and with it, with photos that are all trapped on various cameras, hard drives, SD cards and even on this iPad.

But our internet connection makes two tin cans and a string looked like fiber optic cable by comparison so it's crazy to even try to post anything bigger than a text file.

That said, of course I have to try... So below, tin cans and string willing, is a photo of our photo boat captains, Lisa Danger and John LeDoux.

Tomorrow we will be back in Neiafu, the main village, where the Internet can be a challenge, but we can usually overcome any obstacles.

Tuesday a.m. we fly out for the main island of Tonga, then Fiji, then LA, the Sacramento...

Home in Watkins Glen and Hector will be a week after that...

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September 28, 2012

A move from 'downtown' out to Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND, Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga - There are no coincidences.

Yesterday morning, desperate for a cab to haul all of our stuff down to the third race in the Regatta Vava'u, Adm. Fox spied a woman sitting in a cab at The Hilltop Hotel.

It turned out Veronica and her husband Mark own the Treasure Island Resort. And, AND, Veronica is originally from Mexico and we ended up not only sharing the cab, but having breakfast with she and Mark.

We have swapping tales of Mexico and Tonga ever since then.

The island resort was a few hundred yards from where we went whale watching/swimming last week.

Above is the pier we used when we arrived with on a boat that was full of food for the resort.

Below are two outside shots, one of the small restaurant where we just had rice and stir fried vegetables.

A heavenly lunch in a paradise setting.

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