Monday, April 28, 2014
ATLANTIS, TRUTH OR FICTION?
Somehow I had the impression this grouper was having a chuckle peering at the throngs of tourists who had paid $45 a pop for the privilege of wandering through its aquarium home; a very nice display in the Atlantis complex, Nassau, Bahamas.
Our tour guide proclaimed folks could rent an overnight suite, "...up there in the archway between the towers for $2,500 per night--four night minimum!."
The attraction is opulent indeed, evidently prepared to meet the most critical demands of a pampered public with sufficient means for such things. Guests arriving through the main entrance are treated to this
massive and ornate entry:
I suspect some shrink would find my tipsy composition of the entry a reflection of my mood; knowing full-well this incredibly ostentatious complex is really attempting to capitalize on a fiction born in the writings of Plato about 300 years BC.
The story of Atlantis begins quite literally with two of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. These accounts are the only known written records which refer specifically to a lost civilization called Atlantis. In other words, the compelling story of this lost city is purely a fiction, regardless of presentations posing as factual, such as this massive creation residing on Paradise Island, Nassau.
Mythology is marvelous but I have a problem with folks presenting fiction as fact in the raw pursuit of profit.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
'ENCHANTMENT OF THE SEAS'
A Cruise Ship of Royal Caribbean International
The massive vessel dwarfs Sue at the mooring in Nassau, Bahamas mid-way through our 4 night, 5 day cruise in this British island chain off the east coast of south Florida. The cruise originated in Port Canaveral, FL just north of our winter digs.
The first stop was a day-long visit to a Coco Cay (a small island) owned by the cruise line where there were lots of activities and amusements for the passsengers.
They were ferried by a tender from the ship anchored
close off-shore. One of those tenders, which rotated ships to shore all day, makes its way back to our ship which has been joined by one of it's sister ships of the Royal Caribbean line.
My main activity ashore was finding my first International Geocache which was located near the grave--well sort'a--of Blackbeard the pirate. The famous pirate was not actually buried here; just part of the fictional charm of the island. The ruins in the background of the grave photo are real, however, thought to be built by slaves in the 1700s.
Sue, Dee and Dick Weeks, cruisemates and friends from Syracuse, NY, (below) are pondering a visit to the "Atlantis" attraction (background, orange hue) located on Paradise Island. Nassau. We'll wander over there for a visit in the next installment.
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Remember, for the really curious, you can click on any image for a larger view.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
AT SEA AT NIGHT--
Our cruise ship sliced through the calm, night sea recently, somewhere northwest of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island as I leaned on the ship's rail and savored the boat deck's solitude. The four-day party had moved inside from the pool deck and took its noisy exuberance with it.
Stars splashed their merriment through partly cloudy sky as one other couple, far aft of me, appeared to be treasuring the moment as young lovers do in such sublime circumstances.
My camera tugged at my shoulder strap reminding me it had some work to do as I pondered the water's hissing flow along the hull.
I steadied the camera on the rail, pointed down at the frothy water rolling its way in the gentle sea, and made this four second exposure. Water travels quite a distance in that time and the camera records that movement as a silken flow.
In a burst of creative exuberance I massaged the image through editing software and a "chrome" filter--among other things--metamorphosed the image thusly:
Some highlights of our cruise involved my first international geocaching, a visit to Nassau's Atlantis attraction, some towel sculpture delights by our terrific cabin attendant Pedro, a photography interlude as dusk caressed the ship on that last night, and maybe a miscellaneous thing or two.
We'll tell you about that stuff over the next week or so. Hope you stay tuned!
Saturday, April 12, 2014
THIS AIN'T A ZOO--
and I learned hearing aids won't float
I was third in a flotilla of 3 kayaks rounding a sharp left turn in the river when I noticed this very, very near-by resident sunning on the bank of the south branch of the St. Lucie in southern Florida.
My heart skipped a couple of beats as I gently broke eye-contact and continued to paddle quietly down stream hoping I wouldn't hear the splish-splash of him sliding into the river close behind me.
I could envision me accelerating my little boat to water-skiing speed knowing full well who was likely to win that contest.
I was rewarded with silence in my feared pursuit then, at a safe distance, did a slow turn around and positioned myself for the above photo substantially further away from where this episode began moments before.
I was thankful for both a powerful lens on my DSLR camera and a critter that merely yawned at my slender anatomy.
Turns out we saw lots more of his/her pals on our 8 mile geocaching journey including several loitering in sight of cautious residents living along the short, inhabited stretch of our route.
One fellow leaning on the railing of his dock told us he had to throw stones at the gators to discourage their approach to this human occupied territory.
It was a toss-up as to whether we saw more gators or turtles as our little boats slid silently through their
Once clear of a short stretch of human habitation the highway sounds diminished and then there was only the blissful melody of things natural.
The river narrowed and meandered and the foliage canopy would open then close as things tend to do. In eight miles we saw one other group of 3 kayakers and a hiker here or there.
My 1,999th geocache was found on an island where we had to float past the cache location until we found a place to beach our boats. Then we had about 500 feet of bushwhacking to penetrate the intervening flora. Long pants were a wise choice for that challenging interlude.
That's Greg's view of Betty and I tussling through the vines and barbs of
countless local wild plant varieties that seemed to prefer we find our amusements elsewhere.
With that cache dutifully logged we beat our way back, relaunched our boats and went looking for the milestone of my 2,000th geocache find, this before the end of my second year in this marvelous hobby.
We found it a bit further upstream; a shiny, little waterproof tube hanging on a tree leaning into the edge of the river and reachable right from my boat's seat. It's visible under my left paddle in the photo below. Shortly after logging that cache I was fiddling in my water-tight container for the cell phone and its handy-dandy camera to record this memorable event--and promptly caused one of my hearing aids to sail over the side and plop into the river.
When I told Greg I could see my appliance in the shallow water he eased his boat alongside and deftly hoisted that little critter above the surface where I clutched it into a plastic baggie Betty provided and secured it carefully--doubting it ever would function again.
Our delightful outing consumed the better part of the day and did manage to cover the 8 miles mentioned above, the last couple of which reminded me there is a good reason most folks my age seek less strenuous activity.
Nah! While the upper body pain feels like the onset of rigor mortise I am confident it will pass long before the next temptation for such an adventure arises.
Amazingly too, the hearing aid, after spending a night incubating in a little container designed to eliminate moisture, returned to life and continues to function. Amazing!
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Greg is Greg Cornett who winters in Vero Beach with his delightful wife Leslie. They are from the Columbus, OH area. Betty is Betty Maus from a small town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate NY. She also winters in Vero B. Leslie was out of town tending to family business while I enjoyed this outing in her kayak. Thanks Leslie!
Betty fills in for my lady Sue who likes neither water sports nor the creepy-crawly-critters (her definition) who often live in such environments.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
ECLIPSE FROM A CONTROLLED BURN--
On yet another otherwise delightful day of geocaching
We noticed this huge wall of smoke to the east as we approached the Middleton Fish Camp on Blue Cyprus Lake near Vero Beach, FL and were relieved when the camp owners verified it was indeed "controlled". "Our home is right over there," she smiled reassuringly.
With the winds arriving from a dangerous direction and "Florida Snow"* showering the area this is no place to be without such reassurance.
*(Dark and gray ash from such fires blowing on the wind.)
It was a large fire indeed, but quite a distance away with the huge lake between us and the brushy inferno.
Caching partner Greg Cornett and I quickly scored a cache located in the fish camp, took a look at another and decided kayaks might be the best way to approach that one, then headed south to work on a string of hides bordering the long access road to the camp from SR 60.
This hide was called "Swamp Trail" and we hoofed it from the camp's parking area a half-mile or so down the road then along a diked trail through the palmetto under canopy. Greg, being also an
accomplished birder, kept a close eye and often his binoculars, on avian critters flitting through the canopy.
Sometimes the birds were difficult to find visually but Greg could identify an amazing number of them by their call. This cache also became our day's first of four "First to Finds"--a special treat for geocachers who win that oftentimes race to make the first find after a cache is published.
After making this grab we made our way back to the car and headed south along the access road, nabbing seven more caches and the remaining 3 FTFs, sliding out from under the ominous smoke and quietly celebrating a fine start to our cachin/birding outing.
Hope you can tune in again next week when Greg, Betty Maus and I load up the kayaks and head to the southeast branch of the St. Lucie River for a tranquil glide on that pristine waterway--and some more geocaching, of course.