"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, July 03, 2015

Diving Grand Cayman - The Glo Light

One night Bob took our grandson on a Glo Light dive. This is a special dive that's on a shallow dive spot where ultra violet lights are shone down from the boat and everything takes on a different color. Most of the pictures didn't come out because the Go Pro wouldn't pick up the light right or else Bob needed to have a different lens but there were two that came out nicely.

Spotted eel in the Glo Light.
The boys said the anemones lit up nicely.
And then there were more from the natural sunlight the next day. Are you tired of dive pictures yet? I hoe not.

Lobster. . .dinner?

These little shrimp are hard to spot but so pretty.

Spotted eel in the sunlight.

One of several turtles.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Through Bob's Lens - Diving Grand Cayman

We were diving in Grand Cayman with our grandson the past ten days. Bob has a new lens and new approach for using the GoPro underwater. It's been a little trial and error with the new fish-eye lens and setting the camera up to take multiple shots but as you'll see, some of the pictures came out quite good.

His third year and over 30 dives.

Camera stand off.


Trunk fish

Lion fish.

Flamingo tongues - inside out snails.

So pretty when the sun shines through to 40 feet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Wild Animal Is A Wild Animal

A few months after returning from our safari outing while on our world cruise, I was a little unnerved by the report of a woman who died after being mauled by a lion in an African park. She was in a car. We were in an open sided land rover. The difference was the type of park and that we had guides and we followed the rules they set.

There have been other encounters with wildlife on our travels. In Australia, we fed kangaroos and emus. While they seem safe and are very used to people, they still are wild animals and can be unpredictable. There are safety guidelines probably the most important being if the animal wants to move away, let it. And it goes without saying that any animal that feels cornered will defend itself. Kangaroos have powerful legs that can do a lot of damage.

While I've never been in the water with a manatee, we have been on the water in a kayak and had some close encounters. We had one youngster that pushed our kayak a bit like we were a water toy. We suspect that some kayakers, against Florida wild life regulations are encouraging the encounters by giving them fresh water from bottles. There are manatee encounters through some tour operators in Florida. If you opt for that, be sure to pick a reputable one.

Probably one of the most exciting encounters we had was diving with dolphins. Two trained dolphins followed our boat out to water about 40 feet deep and, after a little training for us, performed several behaviors with us including a kiss on the cheek. The amazing thing was one moment the dolphin had its nose against my hand demonstrating its strength by propelling me in a circle and the next it was gently brushing against my cheek.

But each encounter held a risk. A wild animal is a wild animal and unless you follow the directions of reputable people who have worked with the animals, you leave yourself open to a very bad situation. Enjoy the encounters but do your research, find a good tour operator and then follow their direction. The results will be well worth it.

Monday, June 29, 2015


On occasion, we have stayed at the Hampton Inn in Homestead, Florida. The last few visits have found us watching a small group of ducks wander about the outdoor premises looking for handouts and generally going about as though they own the place. Perhaps they will become as famous as the ducks at the Peabody Ducks.

In Memphis back in the 1930s, the general manager of the Peabody Hotel and a friend returned from a hunting trip to Arkansas and thought, after some Jack Daniels was involved, that it would be fun to put their live decoys in the Peabody's lobby fountain. Back then, it was common and not illegal to use live ducks as decoys.

Three small English call ducks were the first to swim the fountain but were soon replaced by mallards. By 1940, a bellman and former circus animal trainer offered to deliver the ducks each day to the fountain. Edward Pembroke taught them the now famous Peabody Duck March. He trained and took care of the ducks for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.

Of course the original ducks are gone but the new crew still marches at 11 AM and 5 PM daily.

One of the fun facts at the Peabody site is:

Duck is not served anywhere at The Peabody, and has not been seen on the hotel's menus since its 1981 reopening, quite possibly making Chez Philippe the only French restaurant in the world that does not serve duck.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fattening Foods From Around The World

In light of the US government clamping down on the use of trans fats all together and the fact that I've been trying to diet, Smarter Travel's article on fattening foods around the world caught my eye. A couple of times on our world cruise the chefs served churros which, after having them in Barcelona, Spain, were a great disappointment. In Spain, the deep fried treat coated in sugar and cinnamon is served fresh and with the richest hot chocolate ever put in a cup. You dip the churros in it and drink any chocolate that's left. I need to move on. I'm drooling. In the cash box of calories though--cha ching!

While crepes in France are often served with a variety of other ingredients the most popular for us chocolate lovers is the Nutella crepe. Chocolate being made from hazelnuts may sound healthy but just two tablespoons has 200 calories and then there's the crepe, a sweet thin pancake rolled with the Nutella filling and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They aren't small and they are oh, so good!

While the pizzas in Italy look nothing like the ones at home in the US, the calzones are a different story. The first time we had a pizza in Rome I was surprised to find that it was cracker thin (not fun for a carb lover) and with just a few vegetables with only the slightest hint of any sauce. If there was cheese, it was lightly sprinkled and hard to find. We never had a calzone in Italy but I read that they contain as much dough as in a full pizza and of course are filled with all sorts of tomatoes, cheese, etc. that make it a meal and a half. The calzone originated in the Campania region of Italy and our travels have not touched that area. We'll have to fix that.

The last one in the Smarter Travel list of foods surprised me. Ramen from Japan. I didn't think there was much in Japanese food stuffs that was really fattening. We've been to the Cup Noodle museum in Yokohama but I didn't pay attention to any calorie counts. Apparently the ramen the article talks about is a traditional Japanese dish of soup with noodles and topped with meats, eggs and vegetables. The problem comes in that the soup base is often made of beef, lard, and oil. Kudos to my daughter-in-law though. I've never seen her cook with that.

The one thing that wasn't mentioned is the thing we love to get when visiting other countries. French fries! They are cooked in that really bad stuff that makes them really crispy and really good. Ah, well. Guess I save my calories for the next trip.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Can Travel Make You A Better Person?

Travel does expand your horizons, to use a cliched phrase, but can it make you a better person? I ran across a headline from Smarter Travel that said "10 Trips That Will Make You A Better Person." I couldn't resist. I thought they would all be volunteer-type trips where you volunteer your services and get to see that part of a country as well. We've take several of those including a trip to Paris to work on renovating an old movie theater into a church.

All of the trips mentioned were not just volunteer labor although helping Haiti or an orphanage in Viet Nam would be very self-rewarding as well as providing some relief to those organization and would certainly be worthwhile no matter what your motivation. We certainly enjoyed our recent venture of planting trees in a New Zealand preserve for penguins.

There were also trips that were taken to improve mind, body and/or spirit. A hiking and wellness trip in Peru or a spiritual growth trip for women in Israel.

The one that caught my eye though was the tour to Whitmuir Farms in Scotland which shows you everything from farming techniques to cooking secrets to get the most out of your produce. Apparently Lily the sheepdog leads you along the trails that go through the 300 year old farm and you can meet the sheep and pigs and have a meal at the restaurant. There is supposed to be a Food School but I wasn't able to locate information on the Farms' website. Ah, well, it's hard to teach an old cook new tricks anyway.
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