Cape Lookout off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina in October, 2008.
Let me tell you about swimming with barracuda. Barracuda are a gorgeous fish. Their appearance is famously fearsome, they are incredibly fast, and can grow to almost 6ft. in length.
Generally speaking men have little to fear from barracuda. It is wise to be cautious when swimming with them but so long as you follow a few rules, they’ll more than likely never do anything other then stare at you. (If looks could kill though, phew.)
On October 12th of this year, I broke all of those rules.
In the waters off a very small island in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a few stone throws away from Grand Turk itself, I was snorkeling during an excursion from our Bahamas cruise. I love snorkeling. I’m a decent swimmer. So naturally I was swimming nearly all by myself a few hundred feet offshore.
That is when I was greeted by the above barracuda. We’ll refer to him as Henry. Henry was far more curious of me than I was of him, I assure you. I usually take my waterproof camera with me when I’m snorkeling and having a barracuda nice and close (about 10ft. away) was nice for the shot I got above.
I went on my way. Further out into the ocean to a nearby cluster of coral to see what I could see, as they say. Henry followed. About those rules. General rules of thumb when snorkeling – no matter where you are in the world – is to not wear anything shiny that could attract predators. You see the sides of fish are also shiny. Fish, in general, have poor eye sight. So they need to get nice and close to see if whatever is shining in the water is their food. Or, if it is a wedding ring. In my case it was my wedding ring, my watch, and my camera that attracted Henry.
Besides poor eyesight fish have a fairly good sense of smell (especially predatory fish). Five minutes before I hopped into the water to snorkel I was feeding fish-bits to sting rays. So my hands, shorts, and whatever else touched the fish-bits smelled, no doubt, of Henry’s favorite meal.
So there I was, smelling like chum, shining from every extremity, 10ft from a hungry 4-5ft. barracuda that can reach speeds of up to 28mph in the water. I’m no good at math so we’ll just say that Henry could have closed the gap between us in about as long as it takes me to blink. And that he did, a few times.
The above image isn’t a great photograph but it gives you a fairly good idea of how close Henry got to me on several occasions. In the upper-left hand side of the photo you’ll notice Henry. Unfortunately this photograph does not give a very good idea of scale but the way I figure it, Henry was slightly longer than my leg from nose to tail fin.
I know this because Henry bit my flipper. I don’t have a photo of that moment because I was screaming like a little school girl who just scrapped her knee when chasing her boyfriend around the playground. Bloody. Murder. I was screaming to our “guide” at the time because I had never had a barracuda act this way. I’ve swam with barracuda in the past and I have never, ever had an experience with one the way I did with Henry. The guide was surprised too but had little advice besides swim back to him and the others. Henry followed me, of course.
After I got back to the group, calmed down, and got my senses I was very surprised at how I reacted. I had been in situations underwater that had gotten me nervous before but never had I had trouble breathing, taking on water, looking for help, etc.
In retrospect I should have remained calm and kept about my business. Henry only nibbled on my fin once and he was probably seeing if I was actually some fish he wanted to eat. I smelled and shined like one. I can’t blame him. He didn’t act aggressively towards me after that. Maybe if he had gotten a bit of flesh from my hand or leg it would have been a different story though.
Next time I’m going to be sure I don’t have anything shiny on, I’m not going to smell like fish, and I’m going to do my best to remain calm. Yeah right.
Lady Chancery trolls by our “secret” cove where Andrew and I did some snorkeling. Today we had planned to head out either Sand Dollar Island or Shackleford Banks to do some snorkeling, shell finding, or seeing if we could locate some wild horses.
Instead we ended up snorkeling off of Radio Island. When we arrived to Beaufort, North Carolina to hit a ferry ride to one of the islands, Captain Don let us know that the tide was in and that visibility would be extremely low. He did mention that there would be 3ft. black tip sharks – and that made Andrew and I want to go more – but he said we wouldn’t be able to see them in the water.
You see, North Carolina just recently got an incredible amount of rain due to Tropical Storm Kyle. All of that rain washes out the marshes and stirs up silt from the rivers that feed into the ocean. All of this extra sediment and junk floating in the water made it pretty murky.
Captain Don then told us of a free, safe spot to do a little snorkeling. It was off of Radio Island, beyond a Yacht Club. So that is where we went and ended up saving $60 and having a pretty good time to boot.
We managed to sneak a peak of quite a few fishes, crabs, and snails in their multi-colored shells. A great time. Looking forward to trying to find more of these little-known areas on the Crystal Coast.
I knew this wouldn’t be a week for loss and I thought it’d actually be a week for gain, but it turned out that even after taking a weekend vacation and eating whatever I wanted – I was able to just about maintain my weight from last week (186.6).
This past weekend Eliza and I and a few friends headed to the Finger Lakes region in New York to try and buy some wine. As is typical with vacations my “diet” went from eating specific amounts of specific foods to eating “whatever was available” in quantities that were chosen for me. With most of our meals the food was delicious – in fact – I did want to make sure I mentioned that if you ever have the chance to eat at the Seneca Harbor Station, do it. Every single dish that we ordered (of which there were seven of us), was excellent.
We managed to play a bit of frisbee, football, and the age-old classic hacky sack while we were in New York so that helped a bit with burning off a few of the calories from the food and wine.
All in all a good week – and I’m looking forward to getting back on track and getting to my goal.
[tags]diet, weigh-in, the-diet, finger lakes, vacation, new york[/tags]
Short answer: Vacation.
Had some family visiting – which obviously completely knocked me off my diet and exercise routine. I’m really looking forward to getting back into routine, starting today, but I’m not going to weigh in today because I don’t feel it would do too much good.
Only two results would come of weighing in after so long of being off routine. 1) I’m within a pound or so of my last weigh in. 2) I’ve gained a few pounds. Neither would surprise me. But my weigh ins of late are more for the purpose of keeping myself “on track” and not deviate from my goals – I know I deviated and I know I made little or no progress towards my goals. Weigh in = not needed this week.
So, hopefully next week – after getting back onto routine – will show that I leveled out and am back in stride to reach my overall goals on the scale as well as in the weight room and on the court.
2007 huh? Incredible.
[tags]family, vacation, diet, weigh-in, the-diet, goals, gym, scale, routine[/tags]
In June 2003 Eliza, Chris, and I went to Niagara Falls. We had a great time even though I didn’t write about it anywhere. Though, I did post a few photos on Flickr about a year after we went (which just happened to be the very first month I uploaded photos to Flickr). However, a few photos did not make the cut.
I do the patented move [compare]
Now remember this was in 2003, and somehow I managed to not only do the patented move, but somehow Eliza managed to take a photo of it!
Here are a few more photos of the finger puppets from Niagara Falls in 2003 (though I think a complete write up of our trip is in order).
I found it pretty funny that one of the first patents I found was of these finger puppets that we enjoyed so much in Niagara Falls. I also like the fact that you can link directly into each page of patent documentation. Well done Google, and well done Hobart Ford (the inventor of the finger puppets).
I’ve wanted to visit New Zealand for awhile. Its been a long time goal of mine, but some of the photos I’ve seen lately (since I’m subscribed), is starting to make me want to get the heck out there sooner rather than later.
[tags]photos, flickr, new zealand, vacation[/tags]
Food, wine, shopping, white water rafting, friends, kids, family, and sun is what made up what will most likely be one of our last (if not the last) weekends of the summer. What I mean be “last” is that the rest of our summer weekends are jammed full of mostly indoor activities, and by the time we get those out of the way fall will be quickly upon us.
Not that fall is a bad thing since Pennsylvania has some of the prettiest falls I’ve seen anywhere, I just hate seeing summer fade into fall because that means winter is coming.
Ethan almost smiling
On Saturday we went to a “Cars” party at my sister Nettie’s house. She invited a few parents and their children – oh and Eliza and I too but we don’t have any children besides our cats who never saw Cars and don’t like cake so they weren’t invited.
It is definitely nice to go to a party full of kids every now and then. Being able to watch as kids make a mess of their clothes, tear lighting fixtures out of the ground, drink chlorinated water, complain that another kid “touched their hamburger”, and tip over every cup that contains liquid within arms reach – and then getting in our car and driving away without one of our own is sort of liberating. Though I love kids and hope to have a few of my own one day.
All the kids seemed to have a great time
We enjoyed their company, had a small bite to eat, and were on our way to Ivan and Andrea’s for the rest of the weekend where we had a great time with Ivan, Andrea, Ava, Giana, and Chris (yes, the very same people we camped with at Keenlake).
Once we arrived Andrea prepared a really great dinner. After dinner we watched a few episodes of Lost to get in the mood for Season 3 which begins on the first Wednesday in October.
Andrea and Eliza made breakfast for a pretty large crew being that some guests stopped by early to drop off Ava. My guess is that including children there was about 10 of us – so they did a great job making breakfast for everyone. I’m sure Chris will mention the scrapple.
After breakfast Ivan, Chris, Ava, and I headed for the river. We started our trip down river at Jim Thorpe and rafted down to Bowmanstown. We spent about two and a half hours on the river total hitting about a dozen or so rapids. Being only a class 2 at best, we had a good time without risking life and limb and being able to take Ava with us. Rafting really solidified to me how beautiful a state Pennsylvania is. Living here really has made me take that fact for granted. Although a shame that we don’t have any photos of the event, I really didn’t want to chance ruining one of our digital cameras, so you will have to live without them.
After rafting (and Chris forgetting his keys in the car about 10 miles up river and needing to call AAA to unlock the doors), we headed to Galen Glen winery for a tasting. Some of the wines were really good – though I thought they tasted a bit young. Eliza and I ended up making three selections and getting a bottle of each. I think I might end up writing up the Silver Vidal Blanc we got, as I think that it had the most potential out of any of the wines I tasted (we were allowed six).
Galen Glen panorama – [zoom in]
I managed to shoot a pretty slick panorama that I used Photoshop’s photomerge to stitch together. I have to remember to do more of these when we go places, as I think it gives you a fairly good feel for the area. Beautiful rolling hills each filled with grape vines that reach about as far as the eye can see. Beyond that maple trees that extend until the curvature of the Earth takes over. Great location.
Group photo at Galen Glen winery
Eliza, Colin, Chris, Ivan, Andrea, Giana, and Ava
After downing a bottle of wine while overlooking the scenic vista, we headed to Platz’s for dinner. We’ve gone here twice so far and I really like the feel of the place. A homemade menu with a pub feel. I had crab cakes that made me extremely full.
I really can’t say enough about having great weather in the middle of September on a weekend filled with friends and being outdoors. I suppose you could say that this weekend would represent my favorite types of weekends. I’m definitely going to miss the summer, but hopefully we can figure out how to make some even better weekends in the fall and winter to come.
Update: Eliza posted a few more photos from the weekend.
[tags]weekend, vacation, summer, wine, winery, galen glen, jim thorpe, rafting, photos, kids, rosarios, chris fehnel, colin devroe, eliza devroe, kids, party, cars, platz’s, vineyard, food, ivan, andrea, ava, giana, ethan[/tags]
The below is written incrementally during a trip the Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in the state of New York. Eliza, Chris, Andrew, and I are going to be enjoying some wine and food while we’re up there, so you might as well enjoy it right along with us. I had so much fun doing it the last time, that I figured I’d do it again.
12:00pm – Just finishing up on some work before we head out. We’re hoping to leave around 3:00pm from here, so we’ll see how that goes.
7:30pm – We left on time, and had a nice drive up. We stopped at a Wendy’s to get some energy before arriving at our hotel. Some guy, clearly on crack, checked us in. We’re probably going to watch the rest of the Cavalier’s and Piston’s game before finding something to do.
8:00am – The Mavericks should have won, but as we all know nothing comes easy in the playoffs this year.
We’re heading out to breakfast somewhere, then hitting our first vineyard around 10:30 I’d think. I’ll try to take as many notes about each vineyard while we are here and either incorporate them into this post, or create a post all on Seneca Lake. Something I wish that I had done the last time when we came up and went to Cayuga.
1:00am – Not having Internet access makes it much harder to do updates, but at least we’re having a great time here. We got to at least 7 vineyards today, and ended up buying around 3 cases (12 bottles each). The main regret both Eliza and I had from last year was that we didn’t buy enough wine – hopefully we won’t say the same thing this year.
Although the weather forecast was supposed to be cold and rain all day, it was pretty nice out and never rained on us, so we were all pretty happy that we didn’t have to run from the buildings to the car every time.
9:00am – We’re back home. As I said before, not having Internet (and having what seemed like no cafés with such), makes it pretty much impossible to do good live blogging.
I think I am going to end up writing a new post on what I thought of this trip, and what we did, and so on – but here are some pictures until then.
[tags]vacation, wine, finger lakes, new york, wendy’s[/tags]