Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I've made a decision. I'm cutting out sugar. 

OK. Not all sugar. I love my Newman's Own Pineapple Salsa. I'm sure there is sugar in there. But I'm not going to ADD any sugar to anything. Not a thing.

Not even my tea.    GASP!!

I LIVE on sweet tea. I have spent my children's college education on McD's sweet teas.

BUT - no more. 


Wish me luck.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

according to me, the Peaceful Pirate. No one twisted my arm, keel hauled, or lightly suggested I mention any of these choices. They are strictly my opinion. 

in no particular order:

1)  St. George Street

      Unique shops, nice people, great food

2)  Side Streets

      Don't forget to peruse the side streets. There are more wonderful stores and eateries around the corners.

3)  Flagler College

      Asheville, NC has the Biltmore House. St. Augustine has the Ponce de Leon Hotel - now known as Flagler College. Absolutely breathtaking. Including the largest private collection of Tiffany Glass.

4)   Lightner Museum (in the Alcazar Hotel)

       An eclectic collection of any thing and everything. Talk to the volunteers - they are very knowledgable! And take a listen to the large collection of music boxes - it's not what you think!

5)  Cafe Alcazar

       Hungry for  delicious spanakopitas or maybe homemade french onion soup? How 'bout having it served in what was once the deep end of the world's largest pool at the turn of the 20th century? If you look up you may just see the remains of the original rope trapeze that once entertained guests!

6)   Castillo de San Marcos

        My personal favorite. So much history. And the gun deck has arguably the best view in St. Augustine.

7)   Fort Mose

        The very first legally free black settlement in what would become America. 120+ years before the Civil War. And if you have never heard of Francisco Menendez -you should. Absolutely amazing man.

8)   St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

        The largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts in the world. Under one roof. And I happen to know a tour guide there. Say hey to Mad Marie if you see her. :)

9)    Pizzalleys

       I love their pizza. It makes me happy.

10)  Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

         This is where it all began. Not Jamestown in my native Virginia. Right here where archaeologists found evidence of Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles' original settlement. In fact, after visiting here - check out the First Colony exhibit at the Government House off King Street. Here you will find many of the artifacts found on the FOY property.

OKAY - there you have it. These are some of my favorites. What are yours?? Please leave them in the comments! I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It is better to give - unless no one wants to receive it!

A few years ago, our Captain was unemployed and we were struggling to make ends meet. We were feeling pretty low.

One of the coldest snaps was whipping through these parts for a few nights - some of the coldest on record. So the family and I visited a thrift store to buy some old blankets to distribute to any unlucky souls we found without a warm bed. Surely that would raise our spirits.

We drove to an overpass of our local highway - I had often seen a few homeless gathering under that bridge. We had hand warmers, blankets, and gloves to hand out.

We took the exit ramp off the highway and stopped at the traffic light. My first mate rolled down the window and called out to the freezing strangers "Would you like a blanket?".

The loud traffic noise was too much and all the strangers could respond was "WHAT??". Just then the light turned green and we drove off to circle around again. After a few minutes, we were again back to the red light. "WOULD YOU LIKE A BLANKET???". One of the homeless gentlemen trotted over with his hand up to his ear as if to say "can't hear you". Our light turned green - we were off again.

After a fourth time of screaming out the window with only a confused response, we finally threw two blankets and warmers out the window and sped off.

We drove around to find two more homeless who refused our blankets.  It was getting very late and we were all very hungry. We had one more blanket and the Captain ordered "We will not eat until the last blanket has been given away".

We must have driven for over two hours - until finally, on a sidewalk downtown, we saw a gentleman laying flat on his back. We drove around trying to find a place to park with no luck - finally the Captain ordered his first mate to drive around the block while he jumped ship to give the blanket to the gentleman. 

The Captain ran off into the darkness as the steam from a street grate obscured our view. When we drove back around to rendezvous , the Captain ran out of the steamy fog and jumped into our vehicle - his mood having soured. 

It seems the homeless gentleman was a passed out drunk. So he threw the blanket over him and left him. I asked "did you tuck it under him so it wouldn't blow off?" 

  "Yes!" he sarcastically replied, "and I sang him a lullaby!!".

OK - so this night did not leave us feeling warm and fuzzy. And we all drove home hungry and irritable. 

But since then, we have shared that story with many friends. And we've laughed harder each time we tell it. And the most important part is: our kids have asked to do it again. Now I'm sure that if they remembered how they felt that night - they certainly would not ask! 

But its how we REMEMBER events, that make all the difference. Now it is remembered as one of the funniest nights we have ever had together. And, truth be told, if every thing had gone right that night - the good feeling may have lasted a day or two. But nothing to blog about!

There is something to be said for one bad night - finding the funny parts and sharing the memory of it can make many ordinary nights... awesome!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This borders on braggin' - and that is certainly not my intent. 

But I wanted to share a little joy with you. I stood in line behind an older couple the other day. After checking out, the gentleman noticed a harmonica by the register. He regretted not seeing it sooner and, as the cashier was bagging their items,  regaled me with stories of how his father could make a harmonica "talk". 

I suggested he buy it and give it a shot. He briefly considered it, but, like we all do, thought of every reason why he shouldn't and followed his wife out the door.

 As I handed my purchases to the cashier, I decided to throw that harmonica in there. As soon as she rang it up, I threw it to one of my crew members and he hastily chased down the gentleman and handed it to him. 

There were a thousand reasons why I shouldn't have done that, but sometimes you just have to give in to a whim and not think about it.

 So in your travels, if you see an elderly gentleman making a harmonica talk - make sure you stop and listen. And give in to those positive whims!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Did I ever tell you how much I love people?? I mean, really, really enjoy them?

It's a good thing since some of my best crew are people. 

I recently met Elaine and Josh - at the Grist Mill Gifts store on St George Street in St Augustine. Elaine has had that store for 27 years! One day I'll have to ask if she'll sit down with me and regale me with stories about everyone she's met. 

Down the street I found Mik and Chris Medley - two brothers who own a great shop called Surf Culture! I've often thought about learning how to surf - maybe, just maybe. Actually kite boarding would be cool. Hmmmm...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More of my latest travels.....

We are just leaving The Seychelles, a group of beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean.  The beaches are white sand, but it's the water that is especially stunning - all the marine colors you can imagine:  green, blue, aqua, aquamarine, purple.  And so clear you can easily see the fish swimming around the coral.  And the fish, too, come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Here is where the giant coco de mere palm tree grows.  The huge nut that is shaped like - now do NOT giggle - butt cheeks is actually an inedible double coconut seed.  It grows nowhere else in the world and we were thrilled to see so many of the trees which are now protected by the government.   We also gaped at the giant tortoises, friendly big beasts whose shells are about 3 feet long.  I fed them grass and palm leaves and patted their very rough shells.  When he looks at you the tortoise seems very wistful.
And we saw fruit bats!  These are real bats, but they look like crows when you see them flying high above you.  Like the coco de mer and the tortoise, they're huge!
In order to get up to the best viewing spot on the capital island of Mahe and on another island named Praslin, we had to drive up some very high hills with some very winding and tortuous switchbacks.  When one looked out the window, all that could be seen was the water far below.  But what a spectacular view when we got to the top!!
Off Mahe they are reclaiming land from the sea and "building" a new island, a very expensive island with unbelievably expensive houses. More later...

Friday, December 9, 2011

My travels! From Dubai to India.

Hello Crew!

Your friendly captain is sailing from Dubai to India. Please enjoy my latest Ships Log entry!

Just to share with you what a great time we're having, I'll give you a few highlights:
In Dubai I took the world's fastest elevator to the observation deck of the world's tallest building.  It was an unbelievably smooth ride.  And the view was outstanding.  At the Mall of the Emirates I saw the indoor ski slopes.  Seriously, people were taking the ski lift up and skiing down on man-made snowl.  There was even a sledding slope for kids.  The crew and I watched from a window in the restaurant, and it was like staring at a Christmas card!
We wondered why virtually all the houses in Oman were painted a brilliant white.  It turns out that it's the law!  If you want to paint your house a different color you have to pay a very high tax.  Our guide says it would cost him $700. to get permission to paint his house a different color.  It does make for a pretty picture and it seems to cool things down a bit.

In Mumbai, India, we stared at the Outdoor Laundry.  This is a huge area, as big as 10 football fields, that has dozens of huge laundry vats (enormous sinks) and probably 1,000 clotheslines.  Hospitals, hotels, restaurants send their linens and uniforms to be washed there by hundreds of men who do them all by hand!  Then they hang the pieces out to dry in the hot sun.  It's an amazing sight:  thousands of tablecloths, sheets, pillow cases, and shirts all fluttering in the breeze.

The traffic in Goa, India, is unbelievable!  It's heart-stopping to watch the way the cars and trucks pass one another, with barely an inch to spare.  The roads here are very windy, and when you look ahead and see a truck bearing down on your bus in the same lane, it's pretty scary!  Fortunately we've had great drivers!

The ship is holding up well thanks to this remarkable crew! We're having a marvelous adventure. Will report more tomorrow!