Monday, August 29, 2011

Beautiful Trouble in Paradise

The Caribbean in the summertime can be a volatile place. At least as far as the weather goes.
A storm blew through almost every day. I guess heat plus water equals rain.
Below, are pictures Pearl took of an amazing sight--a waterspout.
It's funny, 'waterspout' sounds so innocuous, so innocent.
What it really is, is a tornado at sea.
Tornado equals destruction and death, if you happen to be nearby.
This one looked to be about 5 miles out, so Pearl, along with everyone else on the beach just snapped pictures.















Thursday, August 25, 2011

For Posterity

How to Hang an Outdoor Thermometer Without Nailsthumbnail

It's official.
It is the hottest summer on record in Austin, TX.
They started keeping records in the mid 1800's.
Yesterday, we hit 70 days above 100*

The former record was set in 1925.
Sixty-nine days.
Turns out that record is in question because the surrounding towns didn't log temperatures nearly that high.
Austin has always been an overachiever.
Or a great story teller.
Either way, it's hot.

I think I should whip up some t-shirts that say,
"I survived the summer of 2011" or "Member of the 100* Club".
Folks would buy them.

Anyway, looks like day 70 was just hitting it's stride. We have at the very least, two more weeks of this weather.
Some folks are just wishing for 100 days above 100*, just to make it look nice in the record books and on t-shirts.
Might as well. What's one more month of this stuff?
We're tough.
We're Texans.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Grand Vacation


Let me preface this post with a fact: These pictures are wildly out of order. Pearl and I both took pictures on different cameras. We both uploaded our pictures into iPhoto.
In addition, Blogger only lets me upload 5 pictures at one time, in reverse order, just to make it more confusing.

Also, this trip would not have been possible if Grandma and Grandpa had stayed at our house to look after the grandpets!
Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Onward.

Our flight left Austin at 0'dark-thirty. We changed planes in Dallas. We changed planes in Miami. We finally got off the plane in Grand Cayman about 3pm.
The airport is so tiny in Grand Cayman that you get off your plane on the tarmac and walk into the building. Quick run through customs, claim bags and we were on our way.

We walked across the street to a tiny building to get our rental car. Five seatbelts and cold air conditioning--that's all we required.
We followed the directions the lady at the rental car place gave us to get to our hotel. We got lost anyway. Turns out, they don't much bother with cross-street signs. Oh well, we drove around until we found it. The island is only 20 miles by 8 miles and things go in circles.

And so begins the out of order picture rundown of a lovely vacation.

Cool sign in one of the many gardens outside our hotel.

The only picture we took of the hotel, and it only captures a microscopic amount of the building. It's the Marriot Beach Resort. Very, very clean. Not a hint of mildew/ocean smell anywhere, even though it's right on the beach.

James---ready for snorkeling.

A red-legged honeycreeper at the Turtle Farm.

Three day old green sea turtle at the Turtle Farm.

One year old green sea turtle. Why are they called that? They aren't green.
Turns out their fat is very green because they eat only plant matter.

Smith's Cove.
A very popular area to snorkel. That day, the surf was wild and it made it impossible to see anything in the water. We were in for about 20 minutes, fought the waves and 'cloudy' water and then got out. A day-trip that failed. No problem, the kids were cool with it. We'd just alter our plans.
Someone altered them for us.

The locks had been popped on the rental car. Our purses (in the trunk) were most presumably stolen. Lee got on the phone, called 911, and then called our credit card company and bank.
A policeman showed up and couldn't get in the car either. Lee said he was very nice and very sorry that it had happened. He called our rental car place for us and a man from the rental place showed up with a new car and something to get the trunk open.
Glory be, our purses were still in the trunk!!! Since we were parked in a very public place, in broad daylight, the would-be thieves gave it one shot and gave up.
Cold air conditioning and 5 seat belts. We were good to go.

Boys entertaining themselves in the hotel room.

One of Tom's many dream cars. This car tempted him every time we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. I'm guessing an employee owns it. An employee named Lee.

Some sort of curly tailed lizard. The tiny version of this lizard has a tail so tightly wound that it reminded me of the tail of a pug dog.


The island was swarming with feral chickens. When Lee and I were there 23 years ago, there was nary a chicken to be found. This hen appeared on our 4th day there with brand new babies. They were sitting, quite happily in the shade of the hotel driveway. The sprinkler system has just finished up, and the chicks were drinking water that was still sitting in the cracks of the drive. Momma was quite unconcerned with Pearl taking pictures and cars driving around her.

Lee, me, Tom and James, waiting to leave the dock. Obviously, Pearl is the photographer. :)
We are headed out to Stingray City to snorkel with and feed, wild stingrays.

More silliness with the boys.
Stingray city is located 5 miles off the island on a sandbar. It's crazy to be that far away from land and be standing in 3 feet of water.

Pearl captures one of the beautiful sunsets.

Just to show you how badly these pictures are out of order---this picture was taken on our first night there. Pearl, being our marine biology girl, was in her suit immediately and in the water. The rest of us settled with just getting our feet wet.

Proof that Lee was on our vacation. He's usually the one behind the camera.

Fresh water turtle posing for us in the hotel pond.

A rooster, hiding in the palms. More feral chickens. :)

A beautiful turtle at the turtle farm.

More turtles.

This cutie is the Cayman parrot. They are the "state bird" if that's what you'd call them. There are over 2,000 nesting on the island right now. The website I've linked says they used to be common household pets, but now it's illegal to capture and keep one.

Funny story. We visited a Car Museum and this story was attached to one of the cars. It turns out that when the first vehicle arrived in Cayman, no one knew it was coming. There had been several 'revival' sorts of preachers on the island recently and folks were ready for Jesus to come for the second coming. The car made such a racket and scared so many people, that they thought Jesus had come in this strange contraption. The article goes on to say that folks were relieved when it wasn't Jesus, as they didn't feel they were ready and wouldn't have been taken in the second coming. They didn't have their personal affairs in order. :)

Out of order again.
This is a newly hatched baby sea turtle at the turtle farm. In the wild, turtles bury their eggs THREE FEET under the surface of the beach. How these tiny, leathery creatures climb straight up through 3 ft. of sand and survive is beyond me. Here, in the education center, they show you a man-made nest and you can see the babies struggling to the surface. This tiny baby had just emerged.

A blue and gold macaw. Not indigenous to the island. They were pets at the turtle farm.

Pearl taking a picture of me, while I took a picture of her. :)
James enjoying the shade and a soda.

I don't know if you can see it, but the only "injury" anyone suffered on the trip to Stingray City was a stingray hickey. Pearl got swarmed by a group when trying to feed them. A large on sucked onto her leg while searching for the snack she was providing. She got the giggles, as it's really like being covered in puppies as far as she's concerned.

Lee, as we wait in the new rental car after our old rental car had the locks broken. We had to take it back to the garage because one of the tires needed to be changed before we could officially have it. Still, awfully nice of them to come rescue us from Smith's Cove.

My crazy kids. Waiting in the back seat for the tire to be changed. My, how I love their silliness!

Isn't he beautiful.? A green iguana that claimed the tree outside our hotel room.

One of many, many beautiful cars at the car museum. If you're ever in Grand Cayman and tired of the beach, this is most definitely a place to get out of the sun and enjoy one man's collection of amazing cars.


The end.
Not really, but I'll post more later.
Thanks for putting up with the mishmash of pictures.
I'll gush on how much I loved our vacation in the next set of pictures. Pictures Pearl took of a spectacular natural phenomenon that took place a couple miles outside our hotel in the ocean--a waterspout. It went on for over 10 minutes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday!

My birthday wishes for my dear mother-in-love are belated because we were out of town for her birthday on the 10th.
Technically, we were flying home on the 10th, but I don't think birthdays should be celebrated late in the evening when the birthday girl should be in bed.
In other words, we got home too late to celebrate with her.

I made her a blueberry pie on Saturday night.
We took her to Threadgill's on Sunday after church and then home for pie and ice cream.

Thanks mom, for sharing another birthday with us and for making it possible to have pie and ice cream.
I love you skyfulls!

Sunday, August 14, 2011