Update from Jekyll

It has been a whirlwind vacation so far.

We got here Friday to the lovely Jekyll Island GA and met my nephew Jay Gray and his lovely bride and daughter along with my sister Etta and her husband Al.

Since then it has been boating, meals, thunderstorms of biblical proportions….then repeat boating, meals, thunderstorms of biblical proportions. Mix in some beers to taste.

Yesterday I mixed it up a bit and ate some gasoline pretzels. I’ve got to say they were awful.

Jay Gray and I bought this bag of pretzels the other day and never opened them. Somehow some fuel from my outboard got not only on the bag but in the bag.

I got out of the boat and was starving so I tore into the pretzels. I noticed they had a strong smell and tasted like 89 octane gas. Quite nasty, so I set the bag on the front seat. The whole truck smell of gasoline so I threw the bag away.

Last night raccoons took the bag out of the garbage and scattered them around. Not even a raccoon would eat the darn things.

I feel fine though and my viscosity seems better today.

Post from a day or two ago....

We made it 150 miles late yesterday towing the RV to the racing town of Darlington, SC.

This little campground is just off I-95 and was a convenient place to stop, plug in, and go to bed.

Most of the residents here are either highway stopovers like us, or full timers living life as inexpensively as possible in a variety of travel trailers and 5th wheels. Some of the RVs look like they haven’t been moved in years.

It’s funny in a way; these full timers in their RVs are not much different than the glamorous life of live aboards in their sailboats I see at the harbors of St Croix.

I envy those folks aboard their sailboats when I am standing on shore. I would imagine their living arrangements are much less comfortable than mine in this RV. Their quarters are more cramped, electricity is less abundant to provide comforts of AC and other appliances, but I envy them just the same.

The plan calls for shoving off at 9 AM today and arriving at Jekyll Island around 3 PM this afternoon.

I’ll post this when I get connectivity.

Tiny Distractions

We made it to Southport last night on the first leg on our journey to Jekyll.

We powered up the RV and settled down to a makeshift supper of wine and chicken wings from the wing place across the street.

Today I started around 6 AM packing and moving stuff to get ready to travel. I washed the RV exterior and finished up about 12:30.

One thing was irritating as hell. My hose nozzle kept trickling down my arm, down my back, and down my butt crack. I changed arms and it did the same on the other side. That water was cold and determined.

This afternoon we hope to pull out and get 150 miles or so under our belt before we drive 250 more to Jekyll Island. We have a reservation at some highway RV place near Florence, SC for tonight.

Oh the Agony...

My next “scheduled” trip to St Croix is the first part of February. By then I am sick as hell of winter and the brief week down in the tropics gives me the needed respite both mentally and physically.

This year presents a quandary on scheduling.

Typically we like to book so that we can be there for The Super Bowl which is February 1, 2009 this season. We also like to be there for Jump Up which is the Friday before Valentines Day.

This year the two events are scheduled so far apart that one week will not encompass both events.

I have opted to be there for Jump Up and will watch the Super Bowl from home like 99.9% of the rest of you do.

I pause at making the final reservation until I see that Jump Up is actually on the 13th of February. Just because the 13th is the logical and traditional time doesn’t mean that it will actually fall on that particular Friday.

I have contacted Anna Holley at www.gotostcroix.com and she assured me that I was correct in my assumption and assures me that she would check with the powers that be because it would be like them to schedule the event another Friday.

So here I sit with my finger on the flight schedule and finger on the villa schedule with thousands of tourists’ dollars hanging on the decision of the Merchant Association of St Croix.

4th of July Vacation Eve...

It is hot as Ned’s ass outside. It only shows 88 degrees but the humidity is thick and the air is stagnate. It feels a lot hotter.

I got a haircut after lunch and decided to knock off for the day and do some chores.

I ended up talking myself into a nap. I kept having this leaf blower wake me up and I realized about the fifth time that it was me snoring. A 45 minute nap was enough anyway.

A little yard cleanup was in order since we had that vicious storm the other night. I got out the wheelbarrow and began the clean up and sweat dripping.

After a while these little pecker gnats kept buzzing around my eyes and one landed right on my eyeball. Have you ever noticed a gnat on your bare eyeball is cold?

I got a heaping load and the yards look better.

Now I need to start packing the truck for the trip tomorrow afternoon.

Just in case you thought I was a big liar….

A free swimming shark and this isn’t a sweet nurse shark. Can any of you marine types identify this shark species? Maybe a reef shark?

Here is that pesky barracuda that kept stalking me. Do you think he wanted my yellow swim trunks?

My nephew scuba diving off Cane Bay riding a big sea horse.

Doilies Again....

Yesterday Peach Pod came by for supper and a stopover while she was traveling from WV to St Simons.

Peach Pod and her man Peach Pit gave me the loveliest assortment of doilies for my birthday. They are wonderful.

I don’t possess a gay bone in me but could understand the suspicion by the doily obsession. Plus I wear two bracelets on my right wrist. Maybe I should be tested for gayness.

I used a large doily this morning on a small serving tray I teefed from the Divi last week. It looked damn nice serving Gigi her coke in bed.

Summer is in Full Swing

Today is my oldest Border collie’s birthday. Peaches is 12 today and she started my love affair with this quirky herding breed of canine.

My birthday was yesterday.

Peaches and I plan to celebrate together quietly at home. We both requested grilled chicken and then the meal takes a doggie turn with pig ears and Alpo. I’ll have a salad and corn on the cob with my chicken.

Today I begin preparing for our annual mandatory vacation to Jekyll Island, GA.

Before you start judging and complaining, “What? Another vacation?” realize please that this is a normally scheduled vacation that has occurred every 4th of July holiday since 1993.

The Rest of the Story.....

Damn…I got notice today that my $300,000 term life insurance policy is expiring.

It was 15 years ago when I bought this policy and I was denied life insurance because I had a badly inflamed liver.

It turned out that the medicine I was taking for epilepsy had by liver function and reading way off the chart. No one would insure me because I was going to be a dead man soon.

Well in a few shorts weeks I had the medicine changed and the issue was resolved. I didn’t die.

Realistically contemplating death at 36 changed my life.

At 36 I was a workaholic. I never took time off. I hated weekends and holidays because it kept me from the office.

I had been fired for insubordination just a year earlier so I had something to prove to myself.

But after the death scare I thought about my life thus far, I knew I was not ready or prepared to die. There was so much I wanted to see and do.

That year we took our first vacation as a married couple. I mean the first grown up not tagging along with the parents vacation. I rented a cottage at the beach and Gigi and I spent a week relaxing and playing.

Soon afterwards I bought a travel trailer so we could go about exploring the south. We would go out once a month to some new destination and we loved it. We visited about every coastal and mountain town within a 6 hour drive of Charlotte.

In 1997 we drove up to Maine and leisurely worked our way back down. We actually drove up I-95 on the way up. You could see New York skyline and Boscoe and Peaches saw the twin towers.

My work began involving air travel and I would take Gigi along. Soon we were exploring great cities like San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, Washington, Albuquerque, and Dallas.

Then one day in early 2003 I took a trip with some other couples to St Croix and my love affair with the island began.

So now you know why I’m always mentally on vacation. Life is short. Go out and explore your world, meet friends and love each other.

Now let me see about replacing that policy……

I Hate When This Happens....

I hate this when it happens; just this morning I am damn near skipping into work, happy as a lark when I get just the slightest amount of my own slobber down the wrong pipe.

I started coughing uncontrollably like I was drowning, my eyes staring watering and bugging out over a tiny bit of well placed spit.

Folks started looking at me like I was coking on a ham sandwich while a waved to them that I was okay.

It’s embarrassing! It doesn’t happen often thank goodness.

Redneck Calamari

A Lucid Moment with Gigi…..

Me “Honey, I found my Coleman lantern. Now we can go on the water in the boat and watch fireworks on the 4th from all directions.”

Gigi “Great, just what I want to do is get in that tiny boat, in the dark, and sit amongst sharks and alligators.”

Blue Bloods

I hate island snobs. I actually don’t hate them but they irritate me.

I go to a blue blood dentist in the blue blood side of town. It represents old Charlotte money, little sense of humor and membership to clubs I couldn’t afford or would never be invited to join. The only thing I have in common with these people maybe is the love of doilies and good wine.

The guy is a good dentist though so I keep going although I about dropped my teeth at the $180 bill today for a cleaning and x-rays.

Anyway a new woman was scrapping the old choppers and she asked if I had done any traveling this summer. I’m sure she was expecting me to go on about how poor the help is in the Hampton’s this time of year or how chilly is still is at Martha’s Vineyard.

“Well, as a matter of fact I just got back from St Croix.”

I felt smug in my expected acceptance of luxury leisure travel.

She looked at me like, poor thing.

She said, “Oh we always go to (some island I had never heard of). I went to St Croix….once….many years ago.”

You could tell she had rejected my island and she thought her island was superior.

Bitch, ho. Don’t like my fishes and friends? Hose bag.

Two Completely Unrelated Tings....

I have run into two cell phone zombies in just two days and they annoy the shit out of me.

I define a cell phone zombie as a person on a cell phone oblivious to others in the area that insists on pacing the floor while talking on the phone without regard to the positions of other bodies in the room.

So I’m in an elevator lobby yesterday and this guy is pacing and I have to dodge him twice. There ain’t going to be a third time because he has threatened my manhood sort of by heading into my space.

Now let me comment on gay marriage in CA. Good for states rights. I don’t give a crap what the law is; a state has the right in this case to make their own damn law without the oversight of the federal government. The same should be true for abortion. Let the state make the call like the constitution stipulates.

I will not argue the moral or ethical value of either law but from a constitutional perspective CA got it right even though a judge actually tilted the scales on this and reversed the law.

Small Details....

I found my old machete in the garage just a moment ago. The next time I have checked luggage to the island I’m taking it along so I will have my own coconut opener there. I have borrowed Michaels several times.

The machete I have is dirty, a bit rusty, the blade is dull, and the handle could use maybe a few wraps of tape to strengthen it. I can clean it, sharpen it, and have a very fit coconut opener of my own.

I forget just how hot it gets here in the summer. I just finished some simple chores in the yard and I am wringing wet.

Wring is another stupid word with a silent “w” like wrench, wrangler and Wreggie.

I wish I knew someone named Ned or Nate and I would encourage them to put a “g” in front of their name like gnat.

I reserved the URL www.wreggie.com and might just make it my blog URL.

I am driving less with the fuel prices being what they are. I need some chain for my anchor. Normally I would hop in the Jeep and drive to Home Depot to get it. But I’ll pass HD on the way to work in the morning so I’ll wait until then and save $5 in fuel.

I never really knew why boaters recommended a chain on an anchor until I could see the effects first hand in the clear waters around Buck Island. So I am getting a chain and learning how to tie a proper knot so I can keep the next anchor.

I have suddenly gone from being very active on vacation to moderately active at best. I miss all the fun exercise.

Last week we were about to board a small boat and I decided to walk/swim down to the end of the pier where it is waist deep to pee. Terry noticed and announced loudly in the direction of the yacht club, “Everybody! Reggie is peeing at the end of the pier!”

There is a dingy at the waterfront in Christiansted that is always there and always makes me laugh. On the back of the boat it says, “Sit Down Shut Up.”

I ordered vinyl letters this morning saying the same thing for the back of my little boat.

Kinda Neat and Strange...What Are The Odds...

I went scuba diving last week. To me, snorkeling is just about as good for reef watching and scuba is a whole lot more trouble and risky.

I wanted to give my 11 year old nephew the experience of scuba diving so we both signed up for the discovery scuba dive. Basically they instruct you, make you prove you can do a few “what if this goes wrong” operations like, what if your mouthpiece falling out 40 feet under water.

The instructor then told us about a few plants to stay away from and we were off on our adventure.

After 30 minutes or so I got distracted watching some cool features/creatures on a reef when something grabbed me violently from behind and started shaking me. I turned around and my instructor was motioning me to move away from my position and he pointed to one of the forbidden stinging creatures that I was now wallowing on.

I did feel a stinging on my right elbow but figured it was a scratch. Oh well.

Some where in that shaking and escape from the stinging creature I managed to loose the disposable underwater camera that I had in my left pocket. So somewhere at Cane Bay, 30 feet under water was a lost camera.

The next day we were hiking to the tidal pools a mile or so down from Cane Bay when Michael reached down in the pool and said, “Look, someone lost their camera.”

It was our camera that I lost the day before under water a mile away and it had somehow ended up where we were going the next day.

Queue the Twilight Zone music…..

To Each His Own When It Comes to Current Events

I keep up with current events probably to a fault. I need news, sports and weather up to the minute. Hell, I’m looking at a radar right now following afternoon thunder storms.

On this last trip to St Croix I was really unplugged for most of the week. Normally I don’t like this, but this time was different.

I forgot about the Presidential race and all the mud slinging and politics. I was immune from all the bad weather in the states, what could I do about the weather anyway? The financial markets…who cares, and it doesn’t matter. Diesel at $4.80…who cares. Did the Carolina Panthers trade anyone? All the local murders, traffic congestion, code orange pollution alerts, and local politics were 1800 miles away.

My nephew had taken over the only TV for video games so we didn’t even watch a minute of TV.

Broad band or dial up was non existent where I was. I checked my email once. The world kept turning without me.

I dropped my cell phone in the water. No worries, I didn’t really need to talk to anyone unless I was standing in front of them.

I couldn’t listen to my regular Charlotte News and Talk radio station.

I was completely and totally disconnected from all of my regular news sources that concerned me.

What is ironic is many island folks brag about their isolation and their insulation to the stress and worries in the states. They pretend to live in a blissful world unaffected by current events and sometimes even hold out our worldly worries as silly.

I have become keenly aware however that news related stress is necessary wherever you live.

Down on the island the passionate talk is of WAPA (Water and Power Authority), the development of land for casinos, the corruption in local government, crime, pollution, etc. All of the local island news is discussed with the same passion and concerns of my local, national news, and financial news.

The news topics in St Croix are different but the stress is the same, maybe more. So does current event stress need to be generated for the human spirit no matter where you live? Even on a tropical island?

I am back home now and the worries of the island are back on the island.

Let me open my paper… CONCORD -- Police were continuing the search Friday night for a man who fatally shot two people at the Sun Drop Bottling Co. in Concord in what may have been a botched robbery. Hey…that is just down the road from me.

Howto Video from Wreggie

Coconut water mixes well with gin. Recipe:

Cut open coconut. Pour in gin. Insert straw and enjoy!

I Am Home…For True

Once again a great vacation goes down in the record books for my favorite Caribbean island of St Croix.

I did more hiking and snorkeling than ever this time. I had my first visits to the isolated beaches and fantastic snorkeling of Isaac’s Bay and Jack’s Bay. It is a hilly hike through the dessert to some of the beast beaches on earth. For as far as you can see there are no people or buildings.

Then I took a forested hike to the tidal pools near Carembola. The terrain could have passed for any hike in the mountains of North Carolina. Once there, we swam in the natural pools, had a picnic, and sipped rum together. Again, thanks to my wonderful friends and hosts/tour friends….I run out of adjectives, Michael and Terry.

Tree times I ate at the Pickled Greek mon. I love what Peter has done and food and atmosphere he has created all with close friends and family nearby helping out. Love you Nikki and Peter.

I enjoyed the company of my 11 year old nephew and his enthusiasm for the island. I taught him to snorkel, respect for the island, talked about the limited recourses of power and water, and taught him to care for the reefs and beaches. Several times he called me down on my own rules. Turn off the AC Uncle Reggie if you aren’t in the room, we need to save electricity.

Overall, it was one of the best trips ever. Give St Croix a visit in June. It is not crowded, the weather is in the 80’s, the water is crystal clear, and the people and food are fantastic.

Now for a few photos…

Richard on the board walk. I see Richard every trip. He is an excellent percussionist and nice guy who lives on the street. I give him a few dollars and talk to him at every opportunity. He said, “All this is yours man, enjoy.”

Gigi and Peach Pod sharing a laugh.

This is our villa from the beach.

This is me early one morning negotiating with fishermen for dibs on some lobster.

At the Montpellier Domino Club and Jungle Bar, Home of the world famous beer drinking pigs. This is a tourist spot that I have avoided, but now had an excuse to visit with my nephew.

This is a wonder woman we shared the flight down with. She is from Haiti.

Getting ready to board for Buck Island.

This is the boat moored just off our shore that several fishermen used daily.

Shopping in the market for sugar cane….like I needed sugar cane for some reason.

Playing ball at Buck Island with Troubles and Sailer. The water is so blue and clear that it looks fake.

Standing around trying to make a decision.

Cutting up with Gigi.

We Made It

Hello from St Croix!

Let me work from now back as the memories surface.

I am sitting by a huge bar separating the kitchen from passive living space that leads out to a big veranda that is but maybe 30 yards from the ocean.

Right now both of my ankles are slightly sprained from many hours of snorkeling. Behind me my cell phone will recover from being dropped in the ocean but it may not be the phone I once knew.

Yesterday at Buck Island, Monkey Boy, Michael and I were snorkeling when we immediately came up on a sizable nurse shark lying on the floor and just a few yards away a much larger shark was spotted of unknown type. We couldn’t see his head so it was difficult to identify.

Then I heard Michael lecturing Monkey Boy about how animals could sense fear and I sensed that something worse was in the water. Sure enough a big shark was circling nearby and a barracuda was watching us. All ended well.

The day before we snorkeled Jacks and Isaac’s Bay accessible only by foot over bramble covered hills. Not a soul or house was in sight except for the four of us.

The first day we snorkeled off the east reef ridge from Buck Island. We saw a ray about the size of a king size mattress. The ray passed below me. I looked up to see Monkey Boy flailing toward the boat and he drove over the side like a trick dolphin. He was sure the ray had it in for him.

I can’t seem to put on and reapply enough sun screen in this place. I swam with a shirt yesterday to protect my skin.

For Tomorrow, I Shall be in Paradise

No I’m not dying. At 6:09 AM I fly out of here to St Croix for a week.

Have you noticed I haven’t been blubbering daily about my excitement and anticipation?

I am damn excited. I think maybe I may, or will try a relaxing vacation.

I may not post my blog…okay, I’m feeling stress about not posting but I may give myself a bit of a sabbatical. That’s fancy talk preachers and professors use to say they may just be out of touch for a while.

I plan to spend some time on the beach with my best friend Gigi, do some research into the causes of sea glass, drink some beer with lime, and snorkel until I can’t walk.

By next Thursday I expect to have had many belly laughs, good meals with good friends, too much sun, and most likely bloated ankles.

I love my leisure and I love this island and my friends there and friends yet to be discovered there.

You guys have a wonderful weekend and week on the mainland. I’m going to be a middle aged island boy for a while.

This Doesn't Sound Right

A friend mentioned at lunch that the democrats had managed to turn back the hands of time and reintroduce Jim Crow laws in Florida and Michigan where a man or woman is only a half person, and so their vote only counts 50% of my vote.

I guess being a half person is better than being a no person and your vote counts zero.

Why is it always Florida involved in the inability to get voting correct?

Oh, I about forgot. I heard on the local TV WSOC this morning that a lot of folks are running out of gas because they are not filling their tanks anymore. They said, “Experts say to fill your tank when it gets down to ¼ of a tank.”

We have gas tank experts out there? Where are they and how much do they make and who pays them?

Field of Dreams

For most of last night I kept dreaming I was playing softball on the most beautiful field overlooking some cliffs that dropped off to the ocean.

The weather was perfect, the women were beautiful and yes, all the guys looked like models. What I was doing out there is anyone’s guess.

I never play softball, I never did play softball unless forced to play in school. A spherical ball that isn’t very soft hurling at me at incalculable speeds forcing me to react quickly (stressful) to avoid a collision (forget about catching it) is not my idea of fun.

Last night I was playing short stop. I counted five line drives directly at me and all five times I caught the ball bare handed.

Basketball in real life was very similar for me except the ball was bigger and softer. I remember quite a few times someone going to the basket and seeing me open (who would bother to guard me) and at the last minute they would dump off the ball to me only for the ball to hit me in the forehead or chest as it went out of bounds.

Finesse is not an attribute of mine.

Football was my game until I stopped growing vertical somewhere around 12 or 13. A lineman can only go so far in football at 5’ 7’ish, give or take a half.

Anyhow I woke up all refreshed at my accomplishments from last night. Does that count as my workout today?