Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, October 31, 2011

The "Silhouette Rendezvous" Story

4It was an ordinary day. Sunning, fishing, water skiing, just really enjoying myself. Every year we travel to the Chesapeake Bay with our friends Gary and Sandy and their three kids. Their kids are just about the same age as our kids and everyone gets along so good. Supper is the highlight of the day along the Elk River. Meal of burgers and dogs, Gary’s baked beans, a bushel of roasting ears (corn on the cob for those that don’t know), salad, and Sandy’s dirt for dessert. Don’t know the recipe for “dirt”, but it is fantastic. Like a vanilla pudding with ground up Oreo cookies on the top and bottom. A trip usually follows as we all jump in Gary’s minivan and drive around the back roads of Maryland looking for deer as they feed in the twilight. After that we may sit in the van by the garbage cans and wait for the raccoons to arrive for their evening meal. Great entertainment and it's free! Sound like fun yet. Then the evening game or movie. THIS IS VACATION!! Vacation as vacation was meant to be. By 10:00 the kids are dead to the world. The four guys bunk together and the two girls share a room. Then the fun really starts. For years, after everyone is in bed, including our friends Gary and Sandy, Carol and I sneak out the door and head to the water. Our evening dip. All by ourselves. In the dark. Scary, you bet. Have no idea what lurks in the water of the bay at night. Could be the large channel catfish or the slimy eels. Doesn't matter though, since it is OUR time and a TRADITION. Wrap a towel around you, sneak out the door, head to the water and go skinny-dippin’. Our annual tradition. At least it was for half a dozen years until the kids got wind of what we did and started watching from their windows to see if we really did it. Well, we didn’t disappoint them the first year, but after looking towards the house and seeing the silhouettes in the bedroom windows, we called an end to the skinny dippin‘ rendezvous. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The "Concorde Experience" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting in the 4th row of 25 on the Concorde jet watching a movie. Yep! On our recent trip to Barbados we visited Grantley Adams International Airport to see one of the surviving seven Concorde jet planes that were owned by British Airways. The name 'Concorde' was decided upon by the British and French governments who developed the plane. The French word 'concorde' and the English word 'concord' both meant agreement, harmony and union. Thus, the final name. On Friday, October 24, 2003 Concorde made her last flight into Heathrow, England. More that 2.5 million passengers have flown supersonically on British Airways' Concorde since she entered service in 1976, and after twenty-seven years of flying at 1,350 mph. Since that time the British Airways fleet have gone to their final resting places around the world. One of those places was Barbados in the West Indies. The plane was flown to the island and a building was built around the plane. The Concorde measured 204 ft. in length - stretching between six to ten inches during flight due to the heating of the airframe. I was amazed by the size, but wasn't as large as I expected. Plane could only hold 100 passengers during flight. The white paint that is on the surface of the plane is a specially developed paint to accommodate the heat changes and to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight. The wing span is 83 ft, 8 inches, much less than conventional aircraft, since the Concorde used "Vortex Lift" to achieve her exceptional performance. The height is 37 feet, 1 inch and the nose of the plane droops lower to improve the pilot's visibility during take-off and landing The Concorde takes off at 250 mph rather than the traditional 190 mph. It cruises at 1350 mph, more than twice the speed of sound. When traveling to Barbados, with the five-hour time difference, she arrived before she left! Cost for the flight was $8,000 US dollars. Made over 50,000 flights during its years of service. The plane suffered only one fatal crash. On July 25, 2000, an AirFrance Concorde jet crashed in Gonesse, France during take-off killing all 100 passengers, the crew of 9 and 4 people on the ground. According to the official investigation conducted by the French accident investigation bureau, the crash was caused by a titanium strip that fell from a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off minutes earlier. This metal fragment punctured a tire on Concorde's left main wheel bogie during takeoff. The tire exploded, a piece of rubber hit the fuel tank, and while the fuel tank was not punctured, the impact caused a shock-wave which caused one of the fuel valves in the wing to burst open. This caused a major fuel leak from the tank, which then ignited due to sparking electrical landing gear wiring severed by another piece of the same tire. The crew shut down engine number 2 in response to a fire warning, and with engine number 1 surging and producing little power, the aircraft was unable to gain height or speed. The aircraft entered a rapid pitch-up then a violent descent, rolling left and crashing tail-low into the Hotelissimo Hotel in Gonesse. On the 6th of December 2010, Continental Airlines and John Taylor, one of their mechanics, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Getting back to my story, we entered the museum, paid for our boarding passes and listened to our guide tell us the history of the plane. Then, we were ushered aboard the jet to view the interior. Pretty neat! Very plush, but surprisingly very little leg room. Not anymore than the AA plane I flew to Barbados on a few days before. Got to see the cockpit where the three pilots sat. The overall experience was enhanced by the music and the lighting in the museum. Felt like you were actually preparing for flight on the supersonic jet. Remembered years ago when my family doctor, Dr. Martin, told me about his round-the-world trip on the Condorde. I was impressed! But, not as much as when I found out today that the trip cost him $32,000 for the airfare!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from the top are: outside of the museum at the airport in Barbados, my boarding pass, majestic view of the Concorde as I entered, colorful lighting during a video presentation which took place on the side of the Concorde, my entrance into the Corcorde, interior of the cabin, the cockpit of the plane, colorful exterior as we left the museum.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The "Family Affair" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting sideways in the middle of the back seat of an extremely small car, on my way with my wife, Carol, and friends Jerry and Just Sue, to the waterfront docks in Bridgetown, Barbados. Our driver is the beautiful Sharon who we find out will be one of our crew members for the evening. Going on a sunset cocktail cruise on the west coast of the island. The cost of the cruise included pick-up at your hotel or condo, but didn't tell us we would be shoe-horned into the vehicle during our drive through heavy traffic on a road that needed repairs years ago. But, we eventually made it to our destination, the "Ocean Mist" which is a 60 foot power catamaran. We found out about the "Ocean Mist" from a flyer we picked up at a store near our condo. They described our evening as: "Experience our sunset cruise, swim and snorkel with the sea turtles and tropical fish, enjoy our evening buffet with cocktails, and take in the picturesque beauty of a Barbados sunset while you relax ondeck." Three years ago we visited Barbados and took a cruise on the Tiami, a similar boat. I had emailed the Tiami asking for information, but never got a response. Wow, where we lucky they never responded! We ended up having the best evening of our vacation!! And, there were only the four of us and a young couple from Trinidad on the boat which could hold 60 passengers. We first met the crew, Shawn (native of Vermont) and Sharon (our driver) who were husband and wife and their sons Jack and Jordan as well as the boat's captain Brian. We're given information about the life jackets and safety features of the boat and off we went to our first destination, snorkeling over a shallow shipwreck and reef. 15 year-old Jack and 10 year-old Jordan directed us while in the water and supplied a life preserver if needed. The two boys swim as if they are fish, diving down to past through passageways on the sunken ship and coming out windows on the other side. All this with only a snorkel. I WAS IMPRESSED! Next stop, swimming with the turtles. Jack was first in the water again and searched for the huge green sea turtles. He enticed one with food to our boat so we could all swim with him. The turtle looked to be about three foot across and at least four foot long, but so graceful as he maneuvered around us, looking for food. Most of my photos I took were of different parts of his body, since he was so close to me. Actually kept bumping and rubbing against me. Truly "swimming with the turtles". We then headed north, up the western coast, and took in a fantastic sunset as we motored slowly along. Shortly after sunset we anchored off the coast and Shawn put supper on the gas grill on the rear deck. Dolphin fish, BBQ chicken, rice, salad, the whole works. Then he told us he just started this new adventure in early September. Before that he ran a restaurant for a few years. Knew right then that we were in for a great meal, and he didn't disappoint. Great meal, drinks and conversation as we watched the sky darken and the lights of Barbados come alive. We arrived back at the dock about 7:30 PM and said our farewells to the crew and Sharon returned us to our home away from home. Later that evening, as we reflected about our cruise, we all agreed that it was probably one of the best evenings we have had while vacationing in the Caribbean. It truly seemed like a "Family Affair" and we were part of the family for a few hours. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Photo of the 60 foot Ocean Mist.

Introduction of the crew of the Ocean Mist. Jack, Shawn, Brian and Sharon.

West coast of Barbados from the Ocean Mist.

Ship wreck we got to explore.

Jack, feeding the green turtle. What a brave guy!

Shot of the green turtle as he approaches me. Smilin' at me.

Carol searching for the sea turtles.

My wife's a sweetheart! She actually took a photo of me I like.

Jordan sharing his book on diving with me.

Carol and I enjoying the ride.

Another Barbados sunset.

Jordan doing his unique dives for me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The "Un-Terror Alert!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Last day of our vacation to beautiful Barbados in the Caribbean Sea. Actually one side of the island is in the Caribbean Sea, while the other side is in the Atlantic Ocean. Anyway, that's another story. Off to the Grantley Adams International airport in Barbados for our 3:10 PM flight to Miami before we finally reach our final destination, Philadelphia International Airport. Always enjoy the island airports, since you get more personalized service than in the big US city airports. Friendly taxi drivers, friendly check-in people, and even friendly airport security. Never even weighed our suitcases, since we are spending our money on the island and they are hoping they will weigh heavier than when we arrived. The waiting area at the gates is very comfortable. Food court and a large variety of stores line the area hoping that you will spend your last dime before you leave the island. Off to Miami! Plane is almost half empty for our return trip so we get to spread out and gain more leg room. Upon arrival in Miami, I am greeted with a wheelchair for my journey through Immigration, luggage pick-up, customs, security again, and a lengthy trip to our next gate. I had asked for the chair, knowing that the long distances might hurt my back which I had surgery on a few weeks ago. But, the first chair only took us a short distance to a waiting area with others who were in need of transportation. OK, time to wait for another chair. I sat down in a corner next to a couple from Boston who were waiting for a chair for the woman. We got to talking and then I noticed a black plastic bag against the wall, in the corner, between myself and the man. Asked him if it belonged to him and he said no. Now I'm getting a little suspicious. Finally the other guy called an airline attendant who was monitoring the waiting area. She told us not to touch it and immediately called for airport police. Within a minute two heavily armed policemen arrived and examined the bag. The smaller of the two reached down and grabbed the package. I almost expected an explosion, but was relieved when none occurred. He quickly took it away from us to an airport cart about twenty feet away and sat it on the cart. He then proceeded to open the plastic bag. No way would I have done what he did. I would have called for the bomb squad by now. But then, maybe he was the bomb squad! Someone grabbed their camera (not me) and were warned to put it away or it would be taken. The policeman extracted a glass bottle about the size of a large mayonnaise jar from the bag and sat it on the cart next to the empty bag, then proceeded to open it slowly. The clear jar had a liquid in it that had a slightly greenish color to it. A rather heavy mixture, but definitely a liquid. Slid the top slowly to the side while the other policeman watched. All of a sudden the other cop yelled, "Put the cover back on," as he was putting his hand over his face. Now I'm worried. Didn't take long for the smell to get to us. PUKE! As in vomit, throw up, upchuck, gut soup, ralphing, or barf. Yep, someone puked a whole bunch in a mayonnaise jar, put the top back on, put it in a black plastic bag and stuck it in the corner where I was sitting. And dumb me saw it! I knew every one's eyes would be trained on the adventurous cops and what they were doing so I slowly grabbed my old camera from my pocket and shot a photo from my waist. Didn't take time to set it, didn't take time to look in the view finder and was hoping the flash didn't go off. Photo that I posted here shows the policeman as he is about to remove the top. Didn't chance any more photos after that. Everything worked out, but we could have experienced a "Terror Alert" had the puke exploded!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The "America's Most Wanted" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just finished reading an interesting story in Lancaster's Sunday News titled "Still Missing". About people who have been missing for a short time as well as those who have been missing for years. Hundreds of adults are reported missing every day in the USA, but most all are located in short order. Some people disappear on purpose. Some flee money problems or an abusive spouse. Some suffer with mental health problems. Some just may want to start over and disappear with a new identity in an new location. Some actually fake abductions. One woman from Lancaster County, missing for two years, is perhaps missing because of foul play, but her close friends believe she is still alive. After she was reported missing, the police quickly located her, but she never appeared back in Lancaster. The police believe it is "personal". A private investigator was hired, "pro bono" and has reported that she has received more than 100 calls from people who claim to have seen the woman in this vicinity and the area around where she was last reportedly seen. The investigator believes that the woman, who has bipolar disorder, is now hooked on drugs and has become part of a human trafficking operation. The police still keep the case open. Then, I started reading a companion article about a Lorrie John Trites and it hit me all of a sudden! Wow, that's the guy who in 1998, while coaching several swimming teams, videotaped young girls in the Franklin and Marshall College locker room. He was caught, denied he did it, but fled the area. Guy was 6'7" and weighed 300 pounds. Can't be hard to find someone like that! Was sighted in Florida and immediately was put on the FBI's most wanted list for unlawful flight across state lines. Right before he fled he withdrew a large amount of money from his bank account and grabbed his passport. Left everything else behind including his wife, his car, credit cards, lap-top computer, and his home at 41............. Wait a minute! That's my son's address. Then I started to remember the case a little better. The wife decided to sell the house and sold it to someone who "flipped" houses. He upgraded the house and put it back on the market. My cousin Sue, who is a real estate agent, showed the house to my oldest son, who eventually bought it. We talked and he eventually searched the house thoroughly from attic to basement to see if Trites had left any tapes behind. Guess the police and "flipper" had done that already, since he couldn't locate any. Over 10 years has passed and Lorrie John Trites has never been found and is still featured occasionally on America's Most Wanted. If you see the guy pictured here, call the local police or the FBI and help catch one of Lancaster County's most famous criminals. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The "Joint" Story

It was an ordinary day. Getting bored sitting on the beach. Left my Kindle in the condo. So, I grab the camera and head down the beach for some shots of "boogie" boarders, surfers and even a few bikinis stuffed with someone. Catch a few pixs of a game of "Dominos" between four young guys who slap their domino piece down on the plywood game table with such force that it shakes. Then decide it's time to head back to the chair for a nap. As I pass a few islanders sitting under an umbrella I see what I know will be a really neat photo. Young guy with dreadlocks sitting facing parallel with the water. Neat silhouette photo. I walk over and ask him if he minds if I take his photo. "Are you with the CIA," he asks me. "Do I look like I am?" I respond. "Nah man, but just checking." So I take a few steps back so I can get a side view of him under the umbrella with the water in the background. When I turn around he is lighting a cigarette. And in a few seconds, when the sweet smell hits me, I realize it is one of his own. And an illegal one. His friends all laugh at him and tell him he's nuts letting me take his photo with a joint in his mouth. I shoot a few shots, walk over and thank him. He tells me he will find me tomorrow and give me his business card so I can email him a copy. Then he holds up the cigarette and offers it to me. "Nah, never know if there might be a CIA guy around.". It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Vacation Vignettes" Story

It was an ordinary day. Remembering a few of the interesting an unusual small events and happenings from our vacation to the island of Barbados. Some are humorous while others are just ....... well judge for yourself:

The Cat Lady - a local merchant sells used books that are given to her and uses the proceeds to buy food for the stray cats of the island.

The Sea Fan - while sitting on our condo balcony I noticed the bottom of the blades on the ceiling fan reflected the azure color of the Caribbean Sea as they turned lazily around.

Oven Time - no matter how hard we tried to to set the clocks on the combo microwave and stove, they never kept the same time. One ran on regular time while the other ran on island time.

Croaking Away - in the evening, when the sun goes down and darkness arrives, little frogs called tree frogs start their evening serenade. They are the size of your fingernail, but their voices are the size of your heart. My hearing, as documented in other stories, is not always the best, but I have no trouble hearing their island song.

Beach Patrol - topless bathing is against the law in Barbados, but that doesn't stop people from trying. A very well endowed bather sitting near us shed her top to get rid of tan lines. A short time later the beach patrol stopped to tell her to cover up. She complied, but removed the top as they worked their way down the beach. The male friend she was with kept a close watch for a return trip by the patrol.

Almond Joy - as I sat reading my novel, I felt something hitting me. Looked around on all sides, but nothing, so I went back to reading. And then it hit me again. Looked skyward and there was the culprit. Bird peeling the cover off an almond was dropping the remnants on top of me.

Stories could go on and on, but enough for now! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The "A dip, a nap, otherwise you're missing the point" Story

It was an ordinary day. Basking in the sun on a beautiful beach by the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Sitting on my $2.50 a day rental chair reading a Michael Crichton novel while sipping an exotic drink. What more can I say. Isn't this what you're supposed to do on vacation? Now I'm actually doing a bit more than what I described. I do grab the camera from time to time to take photos that I can use in my vacation slide show that I bore my friends and relatives with as well as to submit to iStock to see if I can make any money off of them. I also watch the planes that fly overhead and check to see how many jet engines they have, and sometimes wave to them. And, I feed the birds that gather near my chair hoping for a few crumbs from my can of Pringles. Oh yeah, from time to time I also take a dip and then a nap, otherwise I would be missing the point of vacation. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Prison Condos" Story

It was an ordinary day. Trying to get the d@#m door open. We have been on the Caribbean island of Barbados for a little over a week now and have heard it more than once. The beautiful and three-year-old condos that we are staying at are known as "The Prison" because of all the locks in the place. Here goes: lock on the front door, lock on the 1st floor bedroom door, lock on the door leading to the 2nd floor, lock on the 2nd floor bedroom, lock on the door from the 2nd floor bedroom onto the balcony, lock on the door of the 2nd floor porch that overlooks the ocean, lock on the door to the lobby area leading to the pool, lock on the door at the other end of lobby leading out onto the pool deck, lock on the big gate leading from the pool to the beach and a lock on the gate leading to the street in front of the condo. And .... they have multiple full-time security guards who walk around making sure that everyone locks every lock after they walk through it. There is a five foot concrete wall around the condo, but a criminal could scale it in a minute if they wanted to. I could probably scale it if necessary and I just had back surgery. When I rented a car recently and had it delivered, the gentleman had a terrible time trying to get in for the delivery. Luckily I walked out to the curb to find out why he was late, and found him shaking the front gate. Then I realized I had to open the large gate to get the car onto the complex. I guess I feel safer knowing the place has security, but makes me wonder how safe it is to travel around the island if we need all the locks to stay safe in our condo. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The "A Conversation with a Jolly Old Bloke" Story

It was an ordinary day. Standing in the water in the afternoon sun talking with my new friend from England. Bloke's (guy's) name is Derek. He and his wife Pearl are on Holiday (vacation) in Barbados as are Carol and I and our friends Jerry and Just Sue. Met he and his wife a few days ago while in the Caribbean Sea, escaping the hot sun. Didn't take long before we were like old friends. Derek and Pearl live on the Isle of Wight, a country and the largest island of England. It is located in the English Channel, about two miles off the southern coast. Has a very rich maritime history. Both Derek and his wife are retired teachers, she being an elementary teacher and he a high school geography and history teacher. His teaching career includes stops in England, 3 years in Barbados, 1 in Saudi Arabia, then stops in Belgium, Scotland, and finally retiring in England. We spent endless hours in the water both cooling off as well as telling each other our life's stories. Needless to say, his seemed more interesting than mine; at least to me. Took me about an hour before I could understand his English accent or dialect. Told me about his days in the British Navy and playing futbol (soccer) until he was 54 years old. The futbol league constantly made him get his doctor's permission, since he was playing with guys more than half his age. Endured 7 knee operations and finally both knees replaced because of his futbol career. We had a great discussion about the English health care system and both he and his wife can't believe President Obama can't convince our population that we need something similar. Most European countries have government run health care systems and love it. Spent last evening enjoying dinner and an evening of steel drum music with them at a nearby resort. Seems that no matter where we travel, we always meet the most interesting people. Makes our travels as much a history lesson as a vacation. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The "Fable of the Sea Snake" Story

It was an ordinary day. The sun was in the Eastern sky and starting to get hot. We are sitting along Dover Beach in our beach chairs wondering if it is time to get wet. Slightly to our left a throng of beach goers is growing at water's edge. Someone is pointing towards the water. I watch from my chair whilst the crowd grows. Some are grabbing their infant children and pulling them back. My interest has grown and I walk towards the people. Weave my way to the front by the water and hear the talk about the huge sea snake. I look and see what appears to be a slithering snake about four or five inches in diameter about twenty yards offshore. Nobody knows what to do. I told them I would go in and see what it is. Most discouraged me, but I was determined to see what it was. I remembered a song by the Merrymen from Barbados and how they would use a big rock for almost anything. I yelled for someone to get me a big rock and shortly I was ready. The sea was angry that day my friends, but I headed toward the green thirty-foot long mass. As I got close in the waist-deep water, I stopped, raised the big rock above my head and thrust it at the head of the snake. No movement, so I reached down and grabbed the head and pulled it out of the water, triumphantly above my head as the throng of beachgoers cheered. The "HERO" of Dover Beach. OK ....... you know that this has to be a fable. Start my story over again. When you reach the part about wondering if is time to get wet, you can resume here. Not as dramatic, but still exciting, nonetheless. Carol and I headed toward the water. She asked me what that thing was in the water right off shore. Wasn't getting unless she knew. Told me it looked like some kind of snake. I waded in up to my waist and studied the long narrow green thing before I realized it was a large gauge chain with a hook on the end and totally covered with seaweed. I was being warned at the shore to be careful. Grabbed the hook and held it up for all to see. Ah, the "HERO" of Dover Beach. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The "Little Known Caribbean Facts" Story

It was an ordinary day. Bored out of my mind so I decided to spend some time on the computer. Searching for some little known facts about my favorite vacation spot. How do you pronounce "Caribbean"? Do you say "CARE-UH-BEE-UN" or maybe "KUH-RIB-EE-UN". And does it really matter? Nah! Well, I found some pretty neat facts and would like to share them with you. Here goes:

• Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach is only 5 1/2 miles long.

• Only one in 1,000 green sea turtles will survive birds, fish, and other perils on the way from the birthing nest to adulthood.

• The largest brain coral in the Caribbean can be found in Little Tobago. It is 10 feet by 16

feet, or about 1,200 times the size of your brain.

• The movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" had only 2 scenes filmed in the Caribbean while the rest of the movie

was filmed in Hawaii.

• The closest thing to snowfall in the Caribbean was a mix of snow and rain in Grand Bahamas in 1977.

• There are approximately 7,000 islands in the Caribbean, but only 2 percent are inhabited.

• The parrotfish can produce two tons of sand in one year. The grains are undigested coral that it excretes.

• One of the most popular styles of music in the Caribbean is pan music a

nd is played on steel tins or drums.

• The Caribbean lies on the Caribbean Plate and was predicted to have a major earthquake 20 years ago. I guess the recent earthquake in Haiti was what was predicted.

• There is a species of oyster in the Caribbean that can climb the mangrove trees.

More ships cruise the Caribbean than any other region in the world.

• The only "drive-thru volcano" in the world in in St. Lucia.

• It is very rare for any island in the Caribbean to reach a temperature of 100 degrees.

• Boiling Lake on the island of Dominica has a water temperature consistently over 200 degrees.

• The name Caribbean originated from the name of an ethnic group from Lesser Antilles, the Carib.

The list could go on and on, but most of the facts can also be related to other areas of the world. Interesting place, the Caribbean, no matter how you pronounce it. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The "Many Women Of Chicken George" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting on Accra Beach in Barbados. Though we'd try a different beach today, since we got our rental car delivered this morning. Lather up, put my towel over the back of my rental chair and relax in the sun. An hour later .... OK, enough of this. Hop off the chair, put my yellow cap emblazoned with "Aruba" on my head and start down the beach. Life guards are training down the beach so I secretly snap a few of them performing CPR on each other. Then I head back to where the food and beach bars are located. There in the parking lot is this really neat colorful little truck with the largest rear cab on it. Cab is painted with beach scenes on both sides, rear and area above the windshield. Two inch letters on the sides welcome tourists to Barbados for the great sunshine, sea and local food. On the top of the windshield reads: "Help me Lord to do thy will each day I pray." According to the name on the truck, it belongs to "Chicken George". Ah, as I turn around I see his stand. Head up the ramp to his beach bar. Standing at the top of ramp is an old man with an Old Navy hat on his head. "Could you be George?" I ask. "And who wants to know?" he responds. Stick my hand out and say, "LDub." Tells me about his truck, family business and how the Lord has been good to him. Has blessed him with 18 children. And then he adds: to 17 different women! And, he never married any of them!! Said that he liked the one good enough to have two kids with her. Wow, guess the letters on his windshield weren't meant for him! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos are George's truck and him pouring me a drink as we talk.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The "Goin' Chinese" Story

It was an ordinary day. Heading out to supper on the island of Barbados. Being it's the off-season and we have no rental car yet, our choices are somewhat limited. We have tried every restaurant except one. Tonight we are heading there. CHINESE!! My least favorite, but my wife and two traveling companions enjoy it, so I will suffer through it. Place called "Oriental Dining". Very original! Up the stairs and we are greeted by our server Ben. Ben is the best part of the evening!! He came to Barbados a few months ago from Shanghi, China knowing zero English. Has a 7 month visa before he must decide to return or renew the visa. We had a great time with the language thing. And, Ben enjoyed the experience, also, I think. Drink orders started with the other three ordering bottles of Lemon Twist, a Banks Beer product. I decided I just wanted a Coke, since I had just finished two Twists before we left for the restaurant. After he had written it down, I changed and asked him for a Piña Colada. "Scratch the Coke?" he said. "Yes, please," I said. So he scatted the Coke and wrote my new choice. Then, much to everyone's dismay, I said, "No, make that a rum and Coke." Again he said, "Scratch the Piña Colada?" I nodded yes. Drinks arrived quickly and mine was 2/3 full; and it tasted like rum only. Carol ordered for me, since I have no idea about Chinese food. We both had sweet and sour chicken with a huge plate of white rice to share. Just Sue ordered the same, but with chow mein instead of rice. Jerry had shrimp and mushrooms. And, did he pay!! Ate a forkful and smoke came out his ears and nose. Now, he loves hot food, but he could only eat half. Lips, tongue, throat and every other part of his digestive system was either numb or on fire. Ben was enjoying watching, since we were his only customers. See, I'm not the only one who doesn't like Chinese. Jerry downed a quick glass of ice water, but didn't relieve the burning. Ben brought styrofoam trays for all, but Jerry. No more for him. Jerry and Just Sue decided they each wanted an extra bottle of Twist to take home with them and asked Ben for two more with the tops still on. Shortly he brought our checks and the caps from their empty bottles. He laughed with us as he returned for two more. He was a great waiter as well as a fine young guy and stood for a photo with me. For me, he was the best part of the meal. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - while visiting Barbados I am using my iPad2 and am not able to crop photos or change fonts in Blogger.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The "Monkeying Around" Story

It was an ordinary day. Waiting for the guy with the monkey to show. Saw him a few days ago on Dover Beach and didn't get to speak to him and his monkey. Later that evening in the town of Oistens we saw him again and stopped to talk with them. Monkey was an 8 week old green monkey named Youngmon and like a puppy, wanted to play and jump on everyone. And, I forgot to mention that he liked to nibble on you with his sharp teeth. Lunged for me and scampered up my arm and put his arms around my neck and grabbed my neck with his teeth. 'Just playing'! But, it hurt. Finally his owner pulled him back from me. Wanted a photo of the two of them so made arrangements to meet them on the beach in a few days. Here they come. Grab the camera and take a shot. Hand the camera to my wife Carol and see if he will come to me again. Oh, yeah! Up my arm onto my shoulder. With no hair to play with, he grabs my ear and starts to nibble. Carol shoots away. "Hey, that's the ear that I already lost the top of." He finally retreats to his owner and I grab the camera for some shots of the two of them. Youngmon grabs an almond off the tree above him and starts to remove the outer shell. We had seen many green monkeys on a previous trip to Barbados, but never got to interact with them as today. Not quite sure how long he will remain friendly, but really had a great visit today. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The "Another Photo Contest" Story

It was an ordinary day. Checking the entries into SXM Travel Forum that started two weeks ago. The theme was beaches of St. Martin, Anguilla and Pinel Island. I enter the maximum five photos and thought I would look at some of the other entries. Some pretty nice photos to compete against. Not quite sure what the prize is for winning, but that doesn't really matter. Gives me a chance to share my hobby with others. The last contest that the website sponsored I was lucky enough to win a set of coasters from St. Martin. The voting will start very soon and a winner will be picked shortly after. I have included the five entries that I put on the site so you can see what I have entered. I have also pulled off the site some of the entries from other people so you can see what my competition will be. Hope you enjoy my photos as well as the other entries. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

First 5 are my entries .....
Great Bay Beach, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Pinel Island Beach

Pinel Island

Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

Kali's Beach Bar on Friars' Bay Beach

And a few of the competition is :

Friday, October 14, 2011

The "Flyin' Fish" Story

It was an ordinary day. Heading across the street to try and catch a bus to Oistins for supper. Oistins is in Christ Church Parish, Barbados, and is home to the world famous Friday night fish fry. A few years ago, when we visited Barbados for the first time, we received a booklet of coupons upon arrival at "The Divi", our resort for our two week stay. One coupon gave us two free meals at the Oistins' Fish Fry. Hey, anything free, we definitely had to do it! Had a fantastic evening eating flying fish, macaroni pie, slaw, and rice and peas. If you're wondering about the flying fish, they are common to tropical seas andare found in the warm waters surrounding the island of Barbados. Just like birds, they break the water’s surface, and fly distances of up to 100 yards at about 30 miles per hour. Flying Fish do not actually fly the same way as birds, because birds vibrate their wings during flight. This fish gets its power and speed from its tail fin, which it moves from side to side with powerful strokes.It is much easier to move through the air than it is through the water, (there is less resistance in air), and the Flying Fish launch themselves from the water like rockets. Really neat to see them skim the water in front of you when you are swimming. Historically, the country of Barbados was nicknamed "land of the flying fish", where today it is the official national fish. And, once again, we are heading to the Friday night fish fry in Oistins. Seems like the entire island is joining us as we walk up and down the waterfront, looking at all the stands and what they have to offer. Banks beer naturally is the choice of drink, since it is brewed on the island. Oistins is a no frills experience, the food is cheap - around $8 for a plate of food and seating is on picnic tables spread around the waterfront. At one end of the waterfront is a band shelter where music plays most of the evening. At times they have an open mike for those willing to give it a try. After your meal, you can wonder through a few of the many craft stalls and see the local goods and jewelry. Fun evening in an environment that is truly a Bajan experience. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos show the flying fish, our meal at Oistins, and one of the stands. Below is a chance to see Oistins in action.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The "Longest Day" Story

It was an ordinary day. Arose at 3:00 AM and were headed to the Philadelphia airport with our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue by 4:00 AM. Stayed at a hotel near the airport to make our traveling time a few hours less. On the plane and headed to Miami by 6:00 AM. Off the plane and on the next one to Barbados by 10:00 AM. Arrival by 2:00 PM at our island destination. After immigration and luggage stops, we headed through customs. Quick cab trip and we were at the Sapphire Beach Condominiums on St. Lawrence Gap which is located on Dover Beach. Beautiful ocean view from our 2nd floor porch. After unpacking we put our suits on and headed for the warm Caribbean Sea. Showers and we were ready for our first island meal. Wow! Everything is closed. We knew it was the off-season, but this wasn't expected. Finally asked a store owner if there was a restaurant open on "The Gap." "Little place down the road on the right called Scotty's," Mr. T., the store owner told us. 5 minutes later we were in front of the glass deli case at the restaurant. What a choice! Macaroni pie, salad, ribs (not sure from what animal), BBQ chicken, fried fish, jerk pork, turkey leg, rice, chow mein, lettuce salad, fish soup and I'm sure I missed a few other items. Had a hard time deciding! And then, out of no where appears this small island man. Had to tell us all about the good food. Though he worked there. Not so! He helped us with our selections, our drinks and to a picnic table in front of the place. Then he asked for money to buy some rum. Now to describe him to you: Trini was about 5'2", 125 lbs. soaking wet, toothless in the front, dark sun-leathered skin (make that real dark), talked with an unusual accent and was so proud he had a card showing he was retired and now 65 years old. Maybe because he had few teeth in the front. And then, he became a pest. Make that a real pest! Told us he had to be at work soon. Worked as a security guard at the funeral home down the street. Yeah, right! Took all our scraps and put them in a bag and walked away. Told us he would be right back. Then started fingering through Sue's unfinished meal. How do we get rid of this nusiance? Ah! Leave! Warning to visitor to Barbados: if you see the guy in the photo below between LDub and Carol, keep going! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The "Wounded Warriors" Story

It was an ordinary day. Having withdrawal. Tough when your team is supposed to be the best and they lose in the first round of the playoffs. But, I guess they have an excuse. Was reading today about all the operations that some of the players will have in the offseason. Now I could have guessed that Ryan Howard was going to need an operation after seeing him grimacing in pain after he made the final out of the playoff against St. Louis. He tore his Achilles tendon on his final swing of the season. Will take at least six months before he will be back and he can't even have the operation to repair the tear until all the swelling goes down. Wonder if all the cortisone shots they gave him the last couple of weeks so he could keep on playing weakened the tendon to the point that it eventually tore. Left-hander Cole Hamels will have loose bodies removed from his left elbow soon and another surgery a week later to repair a hernia. Not quite sure what loose bodies are, but sounds pretty neat. I'm sure I must have some of them somewhere in my body. Right fielder Hunter Pence and second baseman Placido Polanco will both have MRIs to evaluate their hernias. Polanco probably will have surgery soon, but Pence may be able to wait. Wait until when? A week after the season starts. They know he has son, so shy not repair it now. I had 2 hernias repaired and not once did they give me the option of waiting. Said it could pop through the wall of my abdomen and become entangled and I could die. Beware, Hunter! Oh, yeah - there is Ross Gload who needs arthroscopic surgery on his right hip. Maybe it was best that the Phils lost. Would there be anyone left to play the next series? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The "Eyes Wide Open" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just finished reading Andrew Gross' novel titled "Eyes Wide Open." I thought it would be interesting to read one of his novels, since he had co-authored a few books with James Patterson and James Patterson is one of my favorite fiction writers. Book is about a 25 year old boy who is mentally disturbed and climbs to the top of Morrow Bay Rock in California and allegedly commits suicide. His uncle, a doctor from New York heads to California to comfort his brother and sister-in-law, only to find a web of mystery surrounding the death as well as his brother's past life. I cannot tell you more about the novel in case you plan to read it, but I can tell you that as I was reading the Author's notes at the end of the book, I was taken aback by his comments. Seems it was a true story and his 25 year old nephew Alex-bipolar and severely troubled for most of his life-was found on the rocks at the bottom of the six-hundred-foot Morro Bay Rock. All the circumstances in his novel were the same as the real like story he is describing in his Author's notes. If you want to read more you can go to alexwemissyou.com for the story. You may not want to visit this site if you plan to ever read the book. His book is dedicated to Michael and Suzanne whom I assume are his brother and sister-in-law. I enjoyed the book, but after the notes at the end, I was saddened when I realized that it was the author's grief and sorrow that he was expressing by writing the book. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from the top are: Author Andrew Gross, Morror Bay Rock, and Alex, the 25 year old nephew of Andrew.