Stuff I learned last Friday

If one farts in a wet suit the air exits around the neck. With a hood it works its way to the face. Plan accordingly.

Observations on Quarry Diving

Dive 5 and 6.

The main purpose for this dive was to check out new equipment, and gain dive time for safety. Plus I had to see what fresh water diving was like.

It is not the Caribbean Sea but it is better than not diving. The visibility is 6 to 10 feet tops. But that is the way fresh water diving is I am told.

Suiting up for this dive is a chore. This is the first time I have worn a heavy wet suit, gloves, boots and hood. It took me 5 minutes to get suited out and I was soaking in sweat. Then I put on the tank and BCD. We waded in the water and put on our fins and masks.

The water felt good as we inflated our bouncy vests and moved to deeper water.

After our final checkout we deflated the BCD to dive.
I had 14 pounds of weight in my vest to compensate for all the air trapped in my wet suit. It was barely enough to get me down. Eventually at 10 feet the effort was over and I began to sink and equalize my ears.

In this murky water the best way to see and navigate is by staying close to a rope that marks a trail. The trail consists of sunken objects to observe.

At 20 feet it gets cold. At 35 feet it gets colder. At 56 feet it is in the 40’s and damn cold. My feet and lower back was cold. My face that was exposed between my hood and mask was very cold but the suit kept me from dangerous cold.

I enjoyed two dives with my dive buddy Bruce. The dives were not very long as we are both beginners on out first “grown up” dive on our own and rookies tend to gulp air in cold conditions. This shortens the dive time for obvious reasons.

Bruce saved me once when I took out my air regulator to smile for a picture. Then I couldn’t locate my air and he saw my need, grabbed my air and I was okay. Lesson learned was not to toss away the air regulator so casually,

Overall mission accomplished and the trip was worth it and I hope to dive there again.

Dive Weekend

I am going to scuba dive today at a rocky quarry with my dive buddy from class.

I spent much of the past few days securing protective clothing such as gloves, hoods and the thickest wetsuit I could rent.

Believe it or not this sport has become so popular that equipment was difficult to find this weekend. There are groups headed to the coast of NC to dive wrecks and tons of idiots like me going to the quarry to dive those icy waters.

So I will be wrapped in neoprene like a beer bottle in a koozie from head to toe with only an open place on my face for a mask and regulator. Kind of makes me claustrophobic thinking about this.

But you know….I am a hearty man not afraid to stare a catfish or brim right in the face.


I can’t believe it. My little buddy Duke woke up this morning and died.

We don’t know how old he was because he was a rescue. He was kind and gentle. He loved to herd and worked yesterday.

He had slowed down the past few weeks and stayed in most of yesterday.

Watch Chicken

Yesterday morning I stopped by the small engine repair shop to arrange for my lawn tractor to be serviced and was greeted by a very suspicious chicken. She ran up to my truck, paused, turned an eye to me a stared.

A guy in the parking lot laughed at the sighting of this watch chicken at work.

Turns out that this hen just showed up one day and made her self at home. They named her Henrietta.

I played golf yesterday and the heat was stifling.

When I got home Gigi showed me two Bougainvillea that she bought me. I love Bougainvillea. They are seen everywhere in St Croix. They flower all year down there and come in many spectacular colors. They are very drought resistant.

I will plant these and enjoy them this summer but like Hibiscus, Oleander and other tropical woody shrubs these will die in the winter.

The Truth

I find it strange that many of my liberal friends keep their eyes pealed on Fox News, while many of my conservative friends stay glued to MSNBC. Both want to keep an eye on the enemy thought patterns.

I watch World News Tonight for 30 minutes each day and that is all the TV news I take in. And yes I am quite able to discern political spin, but pictures of a flood, volcanoes, speeches, laws are what they are. Then I switch over to The Science Channel and learn things like octopus have beaks.

In a strange turn of events Gigi and I were told by several family members yesterday that the MIL is just fine, nothing out of the normal (even though she is still in a hospital and is described by the attending physician as confused and has a motion alarm attached to her for when she wonders at night). It was suggested several times that once we have this blissful thought correctly placed in our brains we should avoid contact with her by phone lest we get the unsettling feeling from her that something could be wrong. The problem with her is us and not her. Further communication with her will only make her worse so it is best not to answer the phone and maybe visit her once in a while. The less communication with family the better and neighbors should deal with her emotional outcries.

Okay…..that is one plan I’ll take under advisement. Gee thanks for the swell suggestion. Makes my life simple.


My wife and I have the same primary physician. She is having her annual checkup this afternoon.

I asked her, “Does Dr. Justus ask you about your sex life?”

Gigi, “He used too.”

Me, “Me too, but he doesn’t anymore.”

Gigi, “That’s sad.”

A Rare Afternoon Post

Have you noticed everyone is kind of angry lately? Just plain old negative thinking?

Why harbor anger over something that you have no control over? Taxes, the government, idiots, big business, weather, whatever.

It will kill you having all that rage streaming from your thoughts. It cultivates sinister behavior. Let it go just for a day.

Think your dog or cat is sitting around all pissed off and worried? Now who is wiser?

Now be nice, say something nice to someone. Smile.

Wramping Up The Learning Curve

Right now I am going through this huge absorption phase over diving and I like that.

Whatever I do, golf, RVing, boating, travel, Jeep restoration, chicken raising, beer making, tailgating or scuba, I do with intensity. It is my personality to gain as much knowledge about a new activity. I enjoy ramping up the learning curve.

And so the weather here has been rainy, Gigi is out of town, and I have bee reading everything I can online about scuba and diving from a safety and technical point of view….comparing equipment and seeing how the sport has progressed over the years.

I want to get in as much dive time as possible to become as comfortable and efficient and safe as possible underwater and realize all knowledge can’t be obtained from reading. I need underwater experience.

So when I go to Jekyll Island this summer I will be looking to dive at nearby sites off the Georgia and Florida coast. And much to my first negative thoughts I may have to dive some rock quarries here near my house.

Freshwater diving has its own problems like poor visibility, poor buoyancy, and it is damn cold. I had a friend do his open water dives yesterday in a quarry and it was 42 degrees at 35 feet. This doesn’t warm up much even in the summer. Plus there is nothing to see but catfish and brim and maybe an old school bus they tossed in to explore. But it is dive experience that can be applied when I get to great dive destinations like St Croix.

A Man Friday

The end of the week didn’t turn out at all like it was scheduled because Thursday and Friday I was supposed to be in Boston. In fact Teresa and I talked about meeting briefly until she pulled her back.

My MIL’s bizarre behavior took center stage so Gigi went down to the beach to check on her and I stayed back and watched the animals.
Turns out that nothing on the medical films can explain why her sudden conversion to bag lady-ism and her bizarre behavior. I am not sure what we are going to do except maybe change our phone numbers.

Yesterday morning I saw a Craig’s list ad repeat for the 3rd time and for the third time I researched all the items offered and figured it was time for me to act. This guy had almost a whole set of scuba gear for a great price. I made him a lowball offer and he came back at a discounted price.

So Cedie and I drove the Jeep to meet his wife at a gas station and the deal was done. I tool all the equipment over to a nearby dive shop to have everything tested and serviced. I even have an air tank.

I stick by my earlier comment that local dive shop operators are weird. This guy was pissed first of all that I had bought seemingly good name brand equipment from a stranger on Criag’s list. I would have paid 4 times as much in his shop. After the entire objective is to breath safely underwater.

Then I see a sign about a local dive club but it has very specific rules:
NO profanity
NO drinking
NO smoking
NO racist, sexist jokes / language

I don’t smoke. Guess I won’t be joining that dive club.

Finally I got a call from Thomas and an afternoon golf game ensued.

I came back, fed the critters, grilled a steak and concluded a good man day.

Attention to Details

That Direct TV commercial where everyone turns into a $100 bill Benjamin Franklin is kind of freaky. Much like the Burger King.

I know...this picture and post have nothing in common but I like both and it is all I had.

Need me to come to your house and Caribbeanize something of yours?

A Boring Post Yet A Post None-the-less

Yesterday I had to drive to the coast of NC and SC to visit some clients. I decided to take the Jeep top off after seeing the weather looked promising.

About 30 minutes into the trip I hit a cool ground fog that persisted until 10 AM.

Finally sunny weather for the last hour of the drive.

The beach was beautiful and the water was unusually clear by our coastal standards.

The weather promised clear and sunny inland with a 40% chance of thunderstorms on the coast around 7 PM.

I figured I’d take those odds since I wasn’t planning to linger around the coast and certainly would be gone from the area by 3 PM.

You guessed it…a lone cell of rain hit me about 5 miles inland. I pulled up the radar on my iPhone just to prove how unlucky I was. There was one tiny bright red dot and I was under it.

I manage to find a sizable gas station to take shelter and leisurely refuel while waiting out the storm.

Almost a BCD yesterday to begin my life as a scuba person.

Okay...Another Watch Dog

I’m sitting here sipping my morning coffee before I shower and head to the office. At my feet is my sweet little Cedie, pronounced Sadie.

She is the one who looks like an angel chinchilla, has three legs and epilepsy.

In my mind she is an angel and wouldn’t hurt a flea.

Yesterday she was lying on the deck sunning while the other dogs were busy herding the horses and chickens.

Our contractor dropped by between rain showers to do a little work. He had a question to ask Gigi, he walked to the back door opened it and began talking to Gigi.

Cedie bit him on the ass….three times.

Our contractor actually apologized because he knows dog behavior and he crossed the line in Cedie’s eyes. Gigi was shocked.

No skin was broken and in fact she mostly snapped at pants leg.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have Cedie down as a protective watch dog.

How Do I Keep Evil Spirits Out of My RV?

A Confession

Secretly to most folks, overtly to people that know me; my lifelong desire has been to operate a Hotdog cart at the beach.

If I ever do this consider me in my mind that I have arrived. I don’t need your stinking money and prestige.

I lust over hotdog carts I see on Craig’s list and eBay. I have almost bought several carts before but backed out at thoughts of practicality. I could justify a cart for tailgating but then I would be stuck eating hotdogs every week. Don’t get me wrong…I love a good messy hotdog.

Back in February I was at one of my favorite beaches in the entire world and there, next to the road was a middle aged woman operating a hotdog cart.

I approached her and said, “You know, you have my dream job,” to which she said, “I was thinking just now how much this job sucks.”

Well, there you have it…my secret desire.

Gotta run now and pick up some dogs and buns, some chili, onions, slaw, mustard, relish….


I got a call from the island this afternoon.

“This is bla bla with St Croix animal welfare. Did Sandy reach?”

My island translator has been off now for 48 plus hours. I ran it through the brain filter.

This lady was calling was from the St Croix humane society following up on my escort of the dog named Sandy. She wanted to know if Sandy had “reached her destination” without any problems.

“Oh yes, she was an angel”.

“I hope so…she is missed.”

It cost a lot of money and effort to get this little Pit Bull mix here. She will have a good life now.

Donate or volunteer a few hours to your shelter if you can in honor of Sandy.

A Fact!

Tis the time of year for a great convergence of fun….but before I continue did you know that an octopus has a beak? The size of the beak is the only obstacle keeping the octopus from assuming most any space between a crack or passage? And the beak is nasty and will bite you. So there.

The conversation came up the other night with dinner guests. I was fresh off a documentary from the science channel so I knew the subject matter.

My guests assumed this was some Wreggieism and demanded an accurate answer from a marine biologist. Just so happens Gigi has one on speed dial.

Her friend answered all confused that Gigi would be asking her this and confirmed that yes indeed an octopus has a beak.

So there you go…walk confidently knowing you know that an octopus has a beak.

I write about the great convergence of fun later.

Stuff I noticed II

I really missed my bed. As nice as that resort was it didn’t hold a candle to my memory foam mattress. I didn’t wake up once last night.

I drove to the drug store on the right side of the road and it felt natural. I did miss seeing mongoose scampering back and forth.

We escorted a sweet little dog back from St Croix and she will enter her life as a North Carolina dog now. She is in the Charlotte Humane Society shelter this morning.

I learned that 70 and 100 SPF sunscreen is available now. Up to now I was using 30 and 50.

I learned also once can get sunburned through a tee shirt.

I came back refreshed and motivated to work. I now want to study and get some advanced diving classes.

I have found another hot sauce I like called Island Fever. I brought back a few bottles.

And So It Ends

The end had to come. Today I travel back to Charlotte with a rescue dog in my checked baggage. He/she will find a new home in Charlotte.

Yesterday Gigi and I had breakfast out at The Golden Rail and did some shopping downtown.

By lunch time we headed back to the hotel.

Gigi stayed behind and I headed to Michael and Terry’s for a visit. I came upon Terry soaking wet with sweat keeping up the grounds of Sundog House.

They have done an incredible job upgrading and maintaining their vacation villa.

We soaked in their pool, had conversation and then Terry said she would make some bread fruit salad.

Bread fruit….the stuff of history lessons and Magellan.

The salad she made was much like a potato salad but strangely better. She added some hot sauces and olives with traditional potato salad fixings and presented it on a bed of lettuce. Damn good it was. I was one with Magellan.

I had a date to meet a woman about some new hot sauce I had found on the island. I didn’t meet up with her until 5 PM. A nap was involved between lunch and the sauce rendezvous.

By then we decided to get some picnic items and head back to the room for a quiet evening.

What a wonderful week

Another First

Chalk down another first on this trip.

Yesterday, after lunch at The Deep End, I lay down under a grove of coconut trees beneath a thatched roof beach hut and took a peaceful nap.

It was actually better than the now famous Jeep Nap of ’08 in the Pueblo parking lot.

Thus Far

Yesterday I accomplished something on my “Bucket List” if I had a bucket list and that was to become certified to dive.

It was a wonderful final dive, the stuff of a documentary on Discovery HD except I was seeing it for my own eyes.

Afterwards we celebrated with cold beers and a fantastic lunch.

Saturday was equally satisfying with multiple dives.

Previously I was on a boat at Buck Island with old friends and new friends snorkeling, and then drinking sparkling wine, toasting in Italian, listening to Italian classical music, enjoying pasta and various cheeses and salads. We laughed and talked the afternoon away pausing for a refreshing swim in the perfect waters.

Thursday I sat on the boardwalk and talked to new friends that knew some of my other friends and we knitted together any connections we may have sharing a few happy hour beers while Gigi shopped.

I have 2 and a half days ahead of me that are a blank slate except for dinner tonight with Michael and Terry at the Terrace to watch the sun set and the “city” of Christainsted light up.

Finally I don’t know if this is coincidental or a side effect of diving. Both nights after diving I have experienced vivid nightmares.

The Dives

Yesterday we got in three dives around the Frederiksted pier.

The weather was very hot and the water felt refreshing. So intense is the sun that my sunscreen at 50 barely keeps away the burn. My shoulders actually burned through my tee shirt. I thought the tee shirt barrier would be enough.

The Frederiksted pier is where cruise ships dock while in port. Divers can’t dive there for security reasons when ships are in port.

The area has a flat sanding bottom with a gradual slope toward the end. The pylons of the pier are host to lots of cool sea creatures.

We witnessed a school of herring that literally must have been hundreds of thousands of fish and they schooled for hours.

I am really enjoying the underwater calmness, the weightlessness, and quiet except for the life giving air that goes in and out of my lungs. I also wish I could exhaust the exhales further away from my face.

By the end of the day I was so tired that I showered and went to bed and slept 12 hours.

Today I am back in for my final dive and certification.

A Loss in The Family

It is with great sorrow that I tell my readers of the loss of one of my chickens. I now have 11 chickens.

This will throw off the loading of egg cartons.

We have decided to continue our vacation and will have a memorial service on our return.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you give any sympathy money to me.

Anatomy of a Vacation

I am staying at a resort that reminds me much like The Silverado near Napa, CA. This is an old quaint place, built in many phases and spread over a large area. It has tennis courts, a golf course, restaurants, beaches, a spa, shops and lots of service personal. It is well maintained.

Theoretically I could stay here the entire week, never leave the grounds and that would be my experience of the island.

I am not a resort person per se. Gigi is a resort person. She is enjoying the relaxation and convenience of the place.

Yesterday I went to Buck Island on an 80’s era sailboat. The owners have been renovating this boat starting with the motor and rigging and avionics. Now the process of wood restoration has begun with many coats of varnish.

The weather was iffy but seas were calm and the clouds broke by the time we launched.

A nice long snorkel reveals a lobster as big as an infant, an equally large flounder, a few barracuda, and lots of colorful fish.

We had lunch, drank champagne, and laughed.

I came home and took a long nap with Gigi then went out to forage for supper. I ended up with a large pizza from The Deep End. They really need to perfect pizza crust before they try and sell pizza.

Today…I dive.

Day II

Yesterday was a rest day. We slept in late.

I walked the property and eventually we headed to a beach restaurant beside our room.

Back for a nap when housekeeping knocked. We hung around and decided on a trip in town.

I headed to the brewpub and watched the day go by. Gigi shopped.

Dinner at The Pickled Greek and back home to an early bed.

Day One

We made it to the island not without some drama.

We left around 5:30 AM for the airport, got through security to a boarding jet.

I didn’t have time to pee.

The plane flight to Atlanta is short by most standards so it was up to 22,000 feet then descend. They turned off the seatbelt light.

Our connection was tight. Again the plane was boarding the tiny regional jet to St Croix. They would not allow our carry ons and packed them in the plane belly.

After a three hour twenty minute cramped flight with a hard landing we were safe on the island. ….minus two bags. Couldn’t be…I saw them put the bags in the underbelly.

Turns out the door to the cargo bin was stuck for almost 2 hours. The cargo included live animals.

Finally we got the rental car, bags, made supper plans with Terry and Michael and headed to the hotel.

This place is nicer than I expected and I have stayed at many fine hotels. Our room alone must be 1000 square feet. They put me in the honeymoon suite under the name of Wreggie Hunnicutt. I am not kidding.

This room runs about $800 a night during the high season. Wreggie got it for $148.

This morning I installed my reader lenses in my dive mask. It is darn handy to be able to read gauges when life and death depend on this.

Oh, and a wonderful dinner with old friends and new friends. The Cultured Pelican rocks. Thanks Nikki and Mitch and all the staff. The lobster was the cap of a long day.


Unless my plane went down I should touchdown on the island of St Croix about 1:35 PM. Either way I am at peace.

By 3 PM EDT expect me to be drinking a Carib with a slice of key lime looking at Tidy bowl blue water or a continuance of death from an airplane crash.

(Warning to thieves: I have a male house sitter at home watching my critters)

I will do my best to relax….I have promised my wife I will.

This weekend weather permitting and I am alive, I will do my open water dives and become certified.

Of course I will blog…blogging is life sustaining to me. Unless I’m dead.

Did You Know?

When a pig drinks beer she spreads her toes.

Help me Decide the Fate of Yellow Boys

I’m getting that urge to retire my old pal and swim truck referred to as yellow boys. Best I can recall they have made at least 16 trips to the Virgin Islands and I only recall one trip that they stayed behind.

Heck I wore them last weekend in the dive tank. We have seen a lot of good times together.

On the right column you can anonymously vote the fate of yellow boys.

Who is worthy enough to see my pools?

On St Croix there are a set of very remote tidal pools that for me are a natural thing of beauty and a calm oasis. Being there with a few companions and hearing the crashing waves against the rocks lets me know that I have arrived to my sanctuary. Money can’t buy a more pristine view.

The pools are well defended both from people and natural barriers and unsuspecting environmentalists who just as soon you not see them.

On foot one must get past the first barrier, a guard shack at the Carambola Resort. Here the guard listens to your intension and decides if you will park on the hill and hike to your hike or allow entry to park in the resort.

If you park on the hill expect to add a strenuous mile to your already strenuous hike. I have learned to lie and tell them I am having lunch at the resort. I get a pass and prime parking.

On the trail expect steep hills, exposed rocks and roots from foot traffic, thorned trees, an active bee hive, numerous but harmless hermit crabs and a poorly marked trail often leading to indecision about ¾ the way through the hike. As nasty as this sounds the forest is beautiful and the views are incredible.

Once there one must carefully move along the ragged sharp rock wall to enter the pool area.

Plan B is one can drive there on and equally challenging Jeep trail. This is where the local environmentalists come in. You see while nothing is said about driving to and from most anywhere on the island driving to the pools is considered an unforgivable sin. Driving this beautiful trail makes your vehicle dirtier and more harmful than any car on the planet.

The entrance to this trail is hidden; I had to find it on satellite photos from Google Earth. Not a local I know would reveal the entrance to me.

The drive is very slow, deliberate and gorgeous. I drove by several ruins and vistas that I plan to explore when I am down next week.

As before once there one must carefully move along the ragged sharp rock wall to enter the pool area.

What sets plan B apart is anyone who is physically challenged can now experience the beauty of the pools if they can climb the last barrier.

If you are able to hike the trail I strongly suggest it. If you are not physically able then take the Jeep trail.

In both cases respect the land.

Resorts and Hyperlinks

I am normally not a resort person. However I have always longed to stay at The Buccaneer Resort on St Croix.

I have passed the gates often while going to many of the rented villas in the Shoys section of St Croix.

Whenever I enquired about rooms, even in the off season the minimum was $400 a night. No way.

Introduce Skyauction and The Great Recession and I have seen rates budge to Wreggie standards.

Back in January I bid on a room…any room at The Buccaneer and won for a nightly rate taxes included for $148 a night. That is what a cheap room goes for off season at The Divi Resort on the south shore of St Croix.

So for a week I’ll be high styling with room service and breakfast in bed, maybe a round of golf on the resort course.

The fun begins Wednesday.