Wednesday, April 30, 2014


There are some choices in life: blondes or brunettes? Mac or PC? Cat or dog? Nikon or Canon?  Ginger or MaryAnn?

In the wooden acoustic guitar world, it is: Taylor or Martin? Oh, sure there are other manufacturers (hey, I have a Gibson, too). But, I get the whole Taylor thing... I like how they sound. The neck feels like home. The woods, the finish... Taylor just makes some great guitars.

A couple times a year, I pick up a Martin when I'm in a guitar shop... it just isn't the same. I know there are a lot of Martin players out there who are on the other side of this.

When I bought the RainSong Shorty last year, I appreciated it for its own sound. Didn't hurt that the size is really close to a Taylor 812 12-fret.

Sometimes you just feel the need to change things up. Oh, I am Elixir string guy, too. Last time I was buying strings, I had the guy toss in a set of Martin SPs, too. See? That's me livin' on the edge. I thought I'd put those strings on my 814... just to give 'em a try. Hey, I put some D'addarios on the GSmini, and it sounds good.

I don't know what I was thinking, but I put those Martin SPs on my RainSong. That crisp tone with lots of sustain was gone. I thought I perhaps just needed to let my ears adjust to the difference? Nope.  That sweet guitar sounded dull.

I put a set of Elixir 80/20 bronze nanowebs on the Shorty today... ahhhhhh! Nice to have that crisp tone back! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pretty water...

With no pressing tasks to check off the list today, we took the scoots across the causeway for lunch at Blackbeard's on South Padre Island.  The wind had picked up a little from this morning, but nothing like the weekend.  Another warm one, something you notice when at a stoplight on the scoots.  Running across the causeway, the water was that pretty turquoise we haven't seen in a while.

Lunch was tasty, then back across the causeway...

A little bopping around to pick up a package at the Post Office... the last of the stuff we need for servicing the boat when we get to Anacortes.

The traffic was light, another nice change from the weekend.  Only one minivan that thought they should be in my lane, and one old gal in her Mercedes on our island who apparently suffers from the inability to turn her head... almost carefree.  ;-)

Where do you mount the fishing poles??

It was 78º and calm when I got up this morning.  Humid.  It is supposed to be another warm one today; thought I'd take advantage of the no-wind situation and get some paddling in.  The canal looked like a mirror... it's been a while since I've seen that.

Towards the end of our canal, two guys came out on an overlooking deck... "I didn't hear a motor on that - had to come see what it is."

"No," I said, "You might hear my heart pounding, but no motor."

"Is that a pretty good work out?"

"Yeah - but it is an interesting way to do it."

"Where do you put fishing poles on that thing?"

I chuckled to myself... if there is any kind of water conveyance down here, local folks automatically assume you must be fishing with it.  It took a couple years for neighbors to stop asking me, "What'd you catch?" when we came in from a day of sailing.  ;-)

I told him, "I've seen these things rigged for fishing - not for me, though.  I'm working as hard as I can to just stay upright."

Here's an example...

Notice, those guys have a cooler to sit on, though.  I'm not a fishing kinda guy, but I could just see myself falling onto a bunch of hooks!

I finished my "laps," then went to work cleaning the board and the inflatable dinghy.  With the nasty wind we had over the weekend, both of those things looked brown instead of white.  They look nice now!

Joan went to the store while I was out on the board.  She said, "Town is back to normal - not much traffic."  Over the weekend, the traffic was thick - in town, across the causeway, and on SPI.  We found out there was a kite surfing expo going on; they had plenty of wind.  And heat.

Record heat in the Valley on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in many places... 15º cooler here on the coast.  Mid to upper 80s here, over 100º inland.  Normal temp for us this time of year is about 80º.

Water temp is in the mid-70s... nice for paddling.

Monday, April 28, 2014

State your case...

The wind finally let up.  Warm and humid start to the day, but an easterly shifting light wind helped with the humidity.  Good thing, because it gave us the chance to finish up two more projects in the cargo trailer.

As I was putting tools away, the brown truck rolled up.  It looked like he was bringing me a new guitar... but the guitar box held a new gig bag.  I have been looking for a gig bag for the RainSong Shorty (the carbon fiber guitar with the sharks on the fretboard) since I bought that guitar last year.  The Shorty came with a very nice hardshell case... but it is a heavy beast.  We have stopped in quite a few guitar shops in our travels, always on the hunt for a "hard bag" for the Shorty.  That may sound like an oxymoron, since a bag implies that it is soft.

I have a Taylor guitar that came with a perfect hard bag.  I was never much of a gig bag kinda guy,
preferring a hardshell case for my guitars... until I got that Taylor GSmini and that great hard bag.
It took me months, but I found out who designed that Taylor hard bag and ordered a gig bag made by that company, Access.

Great case; very similar to the case for the Mini.  Lightweight, but good protection.  Quality materials, with a nylon denier exterior.  And - this was the hard part - it fits my RainSong.  It's even black, like the RainSong.  Backpack straps make it easy and convenient to carry.

Just in time for a road trip!  ;-)

Another wellness visit...

Little Izzy's turn this morning.  Honestly, she gets better patient service that her human companions.  Izzy's appointment was 9:00 this morning.  As usual, we were 10 minutes early.  The receptionist, Melissa (who was so compassionate when we lost Molly) greeted us with a big smile and showed us right into an examination room.

Dr. Julie's assistant came in, weighed Iz and took her temperature; asked the usual "How is she doing?" questions and petted Izzy and said how good she was doing.  For the record, Izzy gained a half pound - her first weight change in 3 years.  She is still supermodel svelte, but I was glad to see this.

Dr. Julie came in, examined Izzy, said she looks very healthy, and gave her two immunizations.  She asked about our travels.

Back out to the reception desk, where Melissa was printing out the receipt and had Izzy's flea and tick stuff ready.

The whole thing took less than 20 minutes.  Everyone was friendly and kind.  Efficient.  Izzy wasn't happy about being poked and prodded, but we're all pleased with the process.

Human wellness visits should be so easy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dad? Dad? Dad?

"Hi!  Are you taking a nap?  It's probably time to feed me, huh?"

"Soon, Izzy... soon."

With the ugly dirt in the wind (gusting to 39 mph currently), I was feeling just a bit of cabin fever...

It is a clear day - no overcast.  That is dirt blowing in the air.  We could use some rain here to settle things down, but that isn't in the forecast.

We decided to go to the movies this afternoon.  I must be a real candy-ass... I didn't think there would be anyone out and about today.  Yep, wrong again.  The road through town was full of cars.  Plenty of traffic across the causeway.  It is warm here today, about 85º... but it is in the upper 90s in the Valley.  The Valley folks have come to the island to get away from the heat.  A few small boats out, but the excursion boats had business.  Two foot close waves in 7' of water doesn't sound like fun to me.  Nor getting "sand blasted."  Plenty of people at the restaurants, beach shops, and hotels (judging by the cars).  I guess if you live here and don't have to go to work on Monday, you get more selective about when to be out in this stuff?

Not a big crowd at the theater, but more than I expected.  We saw The Other Woman... probably not a spoiler alert here, if you've seen any previews: the guy is a sleazebag and the wife, the girlfriend, and the other girlfriend get together to pay him back.  Predictable, but funny.  Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann are funny.  Kate Upton is curvy.  It was good casting.  Joan and I both gave it a thumbs up.

Of course, being inside, in air-conditioned comfort, eating popcorn... well, that beats being outside in the blowing dirt any ol' day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is that fog?

The visibility is down today.  Wind is blowing out of the southeast like a blue stink... yes, that is worse than just a stink.  The humidity is high, but the dew point is about 10º lower than the current temperature... that ain't fog.

We made another trip to our local home supply place again... the red truck looks more brown than red.  That low visibility: dirt in the air.  The temp is warm, a high of 83º here today, but you don't want to be out in this crap.

Yes, I know much of the middle part of the country is getting awful weather: thunderstorms, tornadoes, nasty straight line winds, hail... the instability fueling that is coming off the Gulf: these winds (and winds aloft) are pushing moist air right into the middle of that ugly weather.


What does one do on a day like today?  Well, I got a pass on any projects that involve being outdoors.  We recently replaced our VuQube (for satellite TV) with the more up-to-date Tailgater and a receiver capable of giving us HD and a selection of Pay-per-View movies.  We had never seen Wolf of Wall Street, so we took care of that today.  Neither of us wanted to go over to the island to go to the theater.  Wolf was good, but predictable.  We closed the blinds, turned up the Bose, and had our own "movie experience" with the new equipment.  Plus, we can record stuff with this receiver.  Yes, I know you've all been doing that for years... we haven't recorded anything since the days of VHS tapes.

We are not technology luddites - just never felt the need to record stuff.  We would have stayed with the VuQube if All American Direct (the supplier of Distant Networks) had stayed in business.  In order to get the 4 main networks via satellite, we needed to update the dish.  So, now we can rent a movie without leaving the house... or the RV... or the boat.  What'll they think of next?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Like trying to find a buggy whip...

Why would you whip a buggy?  No, it was used on the horses that pull the bu... it was a metaphor.

I am working on a small project in the cargo trailer.  The key word there is: small.  I'm using 2x6 boards to build a carrier (mount) for the outboard for the dinghy.  I'd rather not carry it on its side.  Straightforward enough: attach 2x6s to the trailer wall, brace those with 2x6s across the front of that (and provide a place for the motor to attach). 

I had the home supply place cut the 2x6s to size, so all I have to do is assemble it all and attach it.  I thought the wait for the guy there to cut my big purchase of one board would be the longest part of the project.  I thought wrong.

This morning, board pieces and tools in hand, I went to assemble it all in the trailer.  The battery for the drill died after a few minutes.  The second battery for the drill was tired going in - didn't last any time at all.  Joan lent me the battery from her hand vac (yes, we bought it because it uses the same batteries)... a couple more minutes.  I put batteries on two chargers, hoping I could get a few minutes on each and swap.  Umm... nope.

Drilling into the metal uprights in the trailer takes some torque.  After going as far as my old bones could do by hand, we decided to run into town to pick up a corded drill.

Getting the scooters ready to roll, we were greeted by the new neighbors who are renting kitty-corner from us.  We have some friends in common, and visited for a bit.  He asked where we were heading, and I explained.  He asked, "Can you even buy a corded drill anymore?"

"I sure hope so."

Turns out he had a valid point.  Apparently, corded drills have gone the way of the buggy whip; no luck finding one.  Now, before anyone says, "Try Harbor Freight or Northern Tools," remember we live in a small town.  Wal-Mart or Sutherlands (home supply) - that's about it.

Frustrated, 'cause I was about half way through the project.  Joan suggested we go home and make some lunch, and maybe the batteries would have enough charge on them by the time we were done.  Things always look brighter after a chili cheeseburger.

Lunch done, I gave one of the batteries a try... enough juice to finish what I had started!  Oh, happy day!

Not fancy, but it is solid... I put my weight on it and it didn't budge... should be OK for a 41 pound motor, going down the road.

One project per day.  That's the plan.  I'm hoping we run out of projects before we run out of days.  ;-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tropical Morning...

Before we retired, we would treat ourselves to a week or two or three in Hawaii, as a celebration of completing another busy season.  When we discovered the Tropical Tip of Texas, our perspective changed somewhat: more like Mexico than Hawaii, but (depending on the season) tropical breezes, swaying palm trees, an island attitude, and the best part for us: you could get to it by RV.

It may sound simple, but one of the things I really appreciate here is being able to step out the door in the morning, and having the weather be a delight.  Granted, it isn't always that way.  But today was glorious.

I started the morning with some time on the paddleboard.  The tide was lower (getting away from the spring tides around the full moon), making it easy to just step onto the board in a standing position and paddle away...

Part of the reason for an early start: the weather weasels were calling for wind "10 to 35 mph"... you have to laugh at that range - it offers NO usable information, but it does cover their butts.  Our temperatures generally don't vary more than 10 to 12 degrees from day to night this time of year, and it was a beautiful 70º not long after the sun came up.

The wind was light, but blowing right down the canal; it was a good workout paddling against the wind... and delightfully easy paddling back... good when your muscles are tired from the upwind work.

The tide was just right to be able to come up to the dock and just... sit down on it.  I like it when a plan comes together.  I like it when it looks like you have a plan.

While I was hosing off the board and putting stuff away, Joan asked if I wanted my fruit plate outside on the deck... "Well, sure."  We eat fruit almost every morning, but it tastes better when you eat it outside.  ;-)  Then, breakfast out on the deck, too.

Little Izzy likes to be out on the deck, as well...

Working on this post...

Aloha!  Buenos dias!  Goodmorning!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'd like to be... under the sea...

In an Octopus's garden in the shade.

If you said, "The Beatles," you get 50 bonus points.  If you said, "Ringo is singing on this one," give yourself another 50 bonus points.

We hauled the cargo trailer into Harlingen to get new tires for it.  The tires on it have plenty of tread left, but they are about 4 1/2 years old... time to change 'em out.  Our neighbor asked where we were going so early; when I told him about the tires, he suggested we "run 'em 'till they run out of tread."

He has obviously never had a trailer tire blow out in the middle of nowhere.

We are "regulars" at Discount Tire.  Easy to deal with - you can check on-line to see that any particular shop has what you need and the price.  We rolled in shortly after they opened this morning, and my new best friend, Daniel, told us the job would be done in a half hour.  Before we were done with breakfast at the Denny's next door, they called - "It's done."


We had some other running to do, including a stop at one of my favorite shopping places: Bass Pro Shop.  They have an overhead display that looks like you are viewing the surface of the water from below...

We got what we needed, and as we were walking back to the truck...

Field trip!  Three buses full of elementary school kids were unloading.  Good timing on our part.  Good marketing for Bass Pro - start 'em young!  ;-)

We drove to our storage unit to check on the 5th wheel and put a few things away.  Then, heading back to the house.

We re-parked the trailer and brought in the stuff we bought.  Little Izzy was particularly interested in this...

"Is that for me?  You probably want me to eat that right now, huh?"

Another beautiful day in the Tropical Tip... would have been a great day to play with a paddleboard, a kayak, or the dinghy.  Alas (and how often do you get to say, "Alas"??), stuff to get done... the clock is ticking on our departure.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Scenic cruise...

Well, sorta.  I was looking to exercise the motor, so while Joan went to the store, I took the dinghy out for a scenic cruise... and the opportunity to put a GPS on it to get an idea of how fast it actually goes.

Turns out, the speed would best be considered: leisurely.  ;-)  About 2 knots at just above idle, all the way up to 4 1/2 knots as you twist the throttle.  Beyond that, it makes more noise and squats a bit, but the speed doesn't change much... maybe I had the current against me?

Heading out the canal...

A bit breezy again - the dinghy handles MUCH better with two of us onboard... balancing the weight from side to side.  By myself, the term that best describes it: snake wake.

I came out of our canal and into the ICW.  Just in time to come face to face with a Coast Guard boat.  I looked at the faces onboard as they looked back at me... apparently looking for registration numbers.  I had a life jacket, a throwable, a sound device, and the proper paperwork onboard.  Oh, and the dinghy handles wake just fine.  They were on their way to the fuel dock, and apparently decided I wasn't worth the time delay.

I turned towards the old shrimp basin - so named because it is where the shrimp boats used to tie off when that industry was in its prime.  Not many boats there anymore.  This one looks like it could use some attention...

Some other boats that seem to be perpetually being worked on...

The marina on the other side of the channel...

And some shrimpers that are in better condition...

It was just nice to be out and about on the water.  Since we knew we wouldn't be here much this season, we left Wild Blue in the Pacific Northwest.  I thought I wouldn't miss having her here... I was wrong.

I made my way down the ICW aways, then turned back into our canals.  You can tell from the photos, it was a beautiful day.  Shorts and a t-shirt kinda day.  Back at our dock, this beats bottom paint...


For inquiring minds: the motor started on the second pull and ran smooth... well, as smooth as you'd expect from a small, single cylinder motor.  ;-)

I stopped a couple times along the way - it started on the first pull.  Makes my heart soar like an eagle... not to be confused with my shoulder, which is so sore it should be illegal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's OK to play with your dinghy...

After the last few days of paddling, I was ready for something different today.  Since the new dinghy motor hadn't been run in 3 months, we figured today would be a good day to take that out.

Of course, to use an inflatable dinghy, you have to... yep, inflate it.  This is a much lower psi than the paddleboard, and it uses a foot pump... kinda like marching in place for 15 minutes.  Nowhere near the workout of inflating the paddleboard.

Joan helped me ease the boat into the water.  I tied it off, then brought the motor out to mount it.  At the edge of the dock, Joan took over the motor, I got into the dinghy, then she lowered the motor down to me.  I snugged it onto the transom.  Checked oil.  Opened the fuel valve.  Opened the fuel vent.  Double checked that the runaway key is in place.  Pulled out the choke, and pulled the starting cable.

I would like to announce that it fired on the first pull.

Yep, I would really like to announce that.  But... it didn't.  Not on the second.  Or the fifteenth.  Or the hundred and forty-seventh.  Holy crap, this was WAY more of a workout than messing with a paddleboard!  My shoulders were screaming, my arms were like wet noodles.

You are probably thinking I was inventing new swear words.  Surprisingly - no.  I asked Joan to get us a fresh gallon of gas, while I continued to pull.  And pull.

When I put the motor away in January, I drained the carb after running Sta-bil through it.  I knew it would going to take a few pulls to get the fuel to the carb, but this was ridiculous.

Shortly after Joan left, the engine sputtered... threatened to run for a few seconds... then died.  I had been trying it with the choke in, the choke out, the throttle barely cracked, the throttle half open... but now I knew this thing would fire.  Two more pulls, and it popped off with a steady beat.


Of course, now I was too tired to take the dinghy out.  Yeah, I'm kidding.  When Joan got back, we put the life-jackets, a throwable cushion, the dinghy bag (waterproof bag with registration, camera, phones, etc), and some water onboard... and shoved off.

I'd like to announce the motor ran like a champ.  Really - it did.  Joan had dinner in the oven, and this process took longer than planned, so we took a short trip through a few of our canals...

Check out the palm trees behind the Blonde - while I was wrestling with the motor, the wind had kicked up from less than 10 to between 15 and 20 mph.  The water is pretty protected in our canals...

We poked out into the ICW, turned west, and went to the last canal, then back south to get to our canal...

Not a long excursion, but it was fun to be out on the water.


Before going out to play with the dinghy, Izzy let us know she was ready for a "concert"...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

And that's Uncle Joe, he's a movin' kinda slow...

At the junction.  Uncle Jim is moving even slower today.

Still, I thought I should get back on that board this morning.  A beautiful day, sunny, almost no wind... yeah, I should get back out there.

I put on some swim trunks and started gathering everything up.  The board still feels solid, but I thought it would be a good idea to check the air pressure - just to be sure.  I put the line with the gauge on the pump and carefully inserted into the valve on the board...


Well, I'm sure the air pressure is a bit low, now.  I was very careful putting the line into the valve... apparently the other end of the line wasn't snug.  The pressure was down to 9 psi; 10 to 11 is where they recommend.  It's the last couple pounds per square inch that take the most pressure when pumping... so, I got in another good workout before putting the board in the water.

Standing up on the board, I could feel a teensy ache in my feet, legs, shoulders, and stomach... and by teensy, I mean: damn, I should get off this board and go take a nap.

I paddled on.

Up the canal a bit, a young woman was on a balcony overlooking the canal.  I heard her say, "Look at this!"  When I slowly turned (pretty much everything I do on that board is slowly  Wink), she was shooting a video with her phone of me paddling.

I haven't seen anyone else stand up paddling around in the canals, but you see it in the bay frequently.  I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't get out much? 

I didn't cover as much ground (water?) today as yesterday.  It's important to pace yourself.

Roll Eyes

Friday, April 18, 2014

Honda PCX questions...

This post is another "archive" from my response to many questions about the PCX.  Seems that people get on the scooter forums, hoping to find out that the scooter they are looking at will do everything a bike that is bigger, heavier, and more powerful will do.

Most often they want to know about "real world top speed."

I'm saving this here for easy reference.


We have two PCX 150s, his and hers. They seem to pull the same, but I do outweigh my wife (by a pound or 20 or 50) - she gets better MPG than I do, but they seem to have the same top speed: 65 to 67 mph.

We get a lot of questions about the bikes when we're out and about... the most frequent: how fast and how much? This is my take on the top speed question...

I would not run ANY vehicle at its max top speed for a lengthy time. If you need to do 65 to 70 mph regularly (like in a highway commute), you should be looking at a scooter that can top out at 85 to 90 (even though you won't likely run at that speed) so you have some reserve. It is my opinion that you will shorten the life of any engine by running it at max speed all the time, AND you have no reserve. There are times that you need a short burst of speed to make a maneuver... if you are running at max speed, you have lost that safety advantage. Think: car switching lanes or a dog running at you from the side of the road.

The PCX is in its element as an urban bike or having fun in the twisties (to a point). Hills will slow it down. Extra passenger weight will slow it down.

We have owned a lot of bikes over the years (Harleys, Goldwings, BMWs and more); most were very capable road bikes. We ate up a lot of miles on long trips. Some of those are a beast in a short run to the store, and especially in the parking lot. The key is finding the right "tool for the job."

The PCX does a LOT of things exceptionally well. High speed highway running... while loaded up with rider/passenger weight... up steep hills - those would NOT be what this bike is all about.

It would be great if a bike this size, this weight, at this price point, and that gets 100 mpg, could go 70 mph all day and haul a load... but, the laws of physics and mechanics still apply.

For us, the best thing about these scoots is the ease - they are light enough to easily move around in the driveway or a parking lot. They are peppy enough to stay up with (or even ahead of) city traffic. Great fuel mileage. Stylish looking (perspective). Quiet. Reasonably comfortable.

That light weight that is so great at slow speeds becomes a liability at higher speeds. The PCX is comfortable up to about 55 mph, then starts showing its light weight after that. Yes, the bike can do 65 (with my weight on the seat), but it isn't comfortable nor solid-feeling. That engine that is engineered to get such great gas mileage around town is working its heart out at 65 mph.

You can't have it all.

We analyzed the type of riding we were doing, and decided that the PCX hits about 95% of what we like to do these days. We really enjoy these little bikes. If we were looking to do long distance riding at highway speeds, I'd be trading these off for something made for that.

In the US, we have big spaces, big cars, big trucks, and plenty of big bikes. 80 mph speed limits in some states. A small bike like the PCX won't keep up with that speed... and will get blown around by passing trucks and crosswinds. Give me a Harley Ultra dresser for that kind of travel. 45 mph on secondary roads, occasionally stop and go traffic, stops for errands - the PCX is ideal! The right tool for the job.

That is my "real world" evaluation/review... based on 46 years of riding, 25 motorcycles, and a couple hundred thousand miles on two wheels.

We should be more like this kid...

Perspective, once again.

I got out earlier on my paddleboard today - overcast, but no thunderstorms.  Izzy wasn't concerned because it was 2 hours from her next feeding time.  Joan didn't come out of the house with a camera.  I guess it's old hat now.

I launched the board and shoved away from the dock.  The wind was light, maybe 2 or 3 mph.  I felt more confident upright.  The end of our canal didn't look as far away.  I wound up covering about 4 times the distance of my previous outings.  I'm sure I'll feel it in my shoulders and stomach later, but the only thing that felt overworked: my toes... from trying to grip right through my water shoes to hold on tight to the board!  I kept telling myself: "Self, relax your stance... bend your knees... keep your eyes up and ahead... quit gripping with your toes... no, seriously, self, knock it off with the toes thing!"

The past outings, a neighbor or two has said something.  Today, you would think it was a parade: "Hey - you're getting better on that thing!" (Never saw that lady looking before)... "Look at you go!" (I was traveling at the speed of a land-based leisurely stroll)... "That looks like a good workout - what does one of those things cost?" (That was from a guy who I've never seen out of his chair on his deck)... "Didja get wet, yet?" (I smiled and said, "Not yet" - no sense poking at karma).

I decided to push it and take a third "lap"

I wound up paddling between two guys who were having a conversation across the canal...
"Did you hear about Don?" (Not the real name)

"No, what about him?"

"He had a heart attack yesterday - he's dead."

"That's too bad.  How old was he?"


"75?  I'll be 75 in two months!"

"Yeah.  Maybe we need to get more exercise - like this kid here."

I looked around to see who they were talking about... he was pointing at me.  Kid? 

The wind was starting to build... from 2 or 3, up to about 8 to 10.  8 to 10 here is pretty much considered "calm."  Nevertheless, I decided to head for home.

I paddled by a guy getting his boat ready to take his two grandsons out fishing... "Hey, mister, that sure looks like fun!"

"It is!"  I didn't tell him that I was running out of steam.

As I got close to our place, Joan came to the edge of the deck.  She asked how it was going, we were visiting, I stopped paddling... I didn't fall in, but I went quickly to my knees as I lost my balance and braced myself with my hands towards the front of the board.  The nose dipped in, and I was suddenly up to my elbows in water.  Felt like I was going to go over the front of the board... but, it paused for a moment, then settled back to reasonably level.  Joan said, "Did I distract you?"

"No.  Well, maybe.  I was going to get on my knees to come up to the dock - it just happened a bit soon than I planned."

I took a few moments at the dock before cleaning up the equipment... time spent trying to uncurl my toes.  ;-)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't leave!! OK, if you're going to leave, don't die!!

Izzy can be dramatic.

After the thunderstorm rolled through, the winds were near calm.  I decided to toss the paddleboard in and get some practice.

Heading away from the dock...

It was close to Izzy's lunch time when I shoved off.  Her reaction...

"Don't go!  Don't go!  You haven't fed me, yet!  Oh my goodness, what if you die on that stupid board?  Momma doesn't feed me as good as you do - I'll starve!!  Don't gooooooooooo!!"

Yep - just a bit dramatic.  ;-)

The paddling went well.  I did a couple laps up and down the canal... and lived... to tell the tale AND feed the cat...

Back to the dock...

Joan asked why I don't make my arrival standing up, then just step up onto the dock.  Yeah, I'm going to have to get more solid on that whole standing thing before I consider lifting one foot off the board.  ;-)


After I cleaned up, we went out for a late lunch at our favorite local Italian place.  Great food and some left over for supper tonight.

After lunch, Joan wanted to pick up a few things at the store.  "Don't you think it will be kinda crazy there?" I asked (Holy Week).

It was.  The parking lot looked like the weekend before Christmas.  Almost all the cars had Mexican license plates.  The store was packed... at the risk of not being politically correct, they drive shopping carts the way they drive cars... mayhem!  Kids running all over the place.  Carts left in the middle of aisles... sideways.  Joan went on ahead... "Throw me the bread, I'm going long!"

I think we were the only ones in the store that didn't have a cart that was overflowing - I expected the checkout to take forever, but a checker saw our measly bit in the cart and said, "I'll open this express lane, if you're ready."

"Yes, ma'am!"

Traffic going through town was more like spring break.  And Izzy was worried about me making it back on the paddleboard??


Not my belly.

We laid in bed this morning, listening to thunder rumble across the sky.  I was going to go out for a paddle this morning.  Maybe not.

While surfing this morning, I came across this link...

I like those floating houses; not really "boats" the way I think of 'em.

(file photo from last summer - in Victoria)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dinner and a movie (and a blast from the past)...

Well, more like lunch and a matinee.

This is "Holy Week" - one last tourism push on South Padre Island before the summer season begins.  This is a holiday week for many in Mexico.  Quite a few condos on the island are owned by Mexican nationals.  There is an influx of Mexican visitors this week.

We thought it would be a good time to take in a movie, before the traffic gets thicker on the island.  Lunch at BurgerFi!  Joan wanted to see Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner.  The movie is about the behind the scenes happenings of the NFL draft.  We both enjoyed the movie; Costner is believable and charismatic as the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns... the last minute trades and negotiations were fun to watch.

Two thumbs up from us.  Two thumbs up for the lunch, too.  ;-)

We stopped at a surf shop on the way home to pick up a leash for the paddleboard.  In the parking lot of the surf shop, we came across this...

Yes, that is a genuine 1964 Honda 150 Dream.  Same year and model of the first motorcycle I owned.  In my mind, it was bigger back then... maybe it just seemed bigger, compared to all the Honda and Suzuki 90s that were popular back then?  Maybe I was smaller back then?  When she saw it, Joan said, "Goodness that is little-bitty."  Yeah, that's exactly how I'd describe it.

Turns out, the bike is newly acquired by one of the guys in the surf shop.  Not in pristine condition, but it still runs.  Not bad for a 50 year old motorcycle.  A fun little blast from the past.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oh, sure - NOW it's clear...

Full moon tonight, no clouds.  No "blood moon," no eclipse.  Still pretty...

Didn't get mooned...

I was looking forward to the red moon and the lunar eclipse last night.  I got up at 2:45... cloudy.  Windy.  Cold.

I made up for it with a nap this afternoon.  ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Here it comes...

20 minutes ago, it was calm.  Joan just got back from the grocery store and said it is starting to sprinkle on the other side of town.  Then, the gust front hit...

If that doesn't work for you, here's a YouTube link...

Temperature is dropping fast.  It was in the 80s, heading to a predicted low around 50º.  In April.  If Mother Nature has a facebook page, I'm NOT clicking "like." ;-)

Glad I got in the maiden voyage of the paddleboard earlier.

Baby steps...

Well, maybe that should be: baby strokes?

When I got up this morning, there was a light breeze; already in the 70s and really humid.  Overcast.  I checked weather: current conditions was showing the wind at 10 mph.  The hourly predictions were showing it was going to increase.  A Wind Advisory for this afternoon, with winds from 30 to 50 mph!  A good chance of thunderstorms.

But, right now, it was light.  I debated - should I toss that board in the water?  A few minutes later, I looked at the trees across the canal... those are my anemometer... it was calm.


I put on some swim trunks and went out to get the dock ready: I put a piece of carpet at the edge of the dock and tied a line with some hand-holds tied in to an upright.  I put the fin on the paddleboard, assembled the paddle, tied a short line with a loop to the front D-ring on the board.  I put on a pfd and plunked the board in the water!

Now what?

I have been looking at YouTube videos - they said to start in the kneeling position.  Getting from the dock to the board was easy...

I didn't know Joan was out there with a camera.  After the fact, I am glad she took these.  I paddled away...

I went down the canal a ways, practicing what I had seen in the videos.  Yep, I can turn; can even paddle reasonably straight.  I was pleasantly surprised that balancing in the kneeling position felt pretty stable.  On my way back to the dock, I saw the Blonde with the camera...

"Hi!  Look - I'm paddling!"  (reference to Bob, tied to the mast, in the movie "What About Bob?"

I made a 180º turn and pulled up to the dock.  "How was it?" Joan asked.

"Well, with a whole 10 minutes into it - not bad!"  The tide was good for being able to reach out and pull myself onto our dock.  We visited for a bit, while I worked up the nerve to try standing.  I stood by the dock... wobbled... sat back down at the dock.  Thinking to myself, "Self, this is probably not a good idea, standing by the dock... if I fall, I am likely going to whack myself on the dock."  I sat back down on the dock.

The videos said you will be more stable when standing with your paddle in the water.  I positioned my feet again, gave a little push off from the dock and stood up... not sure how it looked, but I felt like a baby giraffe right after it is born - there was some weaving and wobbling.  But, I remained standing...

The wind was coming up again... probably 4 mph, gusting to 5.  It felt like the gale-force they are predicting for later today.  I paddled down the canal...

I practiced some turns.  Tried going straight.  Tried to "look out" like the video tutorials said to do, but found myself looking at the blade of the paddle and where it was going into the water.  I tried to "feel it" - using my core instead of just my arms.  Oh yeah - I feel that in my stomach.  I went down the canal aways, did my best 180º turn... felt like I was flying... I'm sure I was zipping through the water at 1, maybe 1.2 knots.  I may have to put off racing until my next time out.  ;-)

Kidding aside, I was happy just to not be swimming around in that canal.  Heading back to our dock...

You can see by the big rooster-tail behind me that I am really flying!  Or, not.  One more big decision before I came up to the dock: approaching it standing or kneeling?  I decided to gracefully drop to my knees...

What was that loud noise?  Ohhh... that was me, plopping down... maybe it wasn't as graceful as I thought?  BUT, I was down and reasonably dry!  Well, except for the sweat pouring out of me... humid, warm, not much breeze (are you sure?), and a bit of fear.  Back in our skiing days, the saying used to be: if you aren't falling once in a while, you aren't pushing it.

I go with a different saying these days: it takes longer to heal - try not to fall, dumbass!

I made it back to the dock without incident and pulled the board out of the water.

All in all, I'm calling this a successful first outing: I wasn't sure I was even going to try standing, so I exceeded my initial goal (of not drowning).  Didn't break anything (equipment or bones).

After some rest time, I do feel like I been doing sit-ups... and I can assure you, that is not the case.  This may turn out to be good exercise.


(Thanks to Joan for bringing out the camera!)