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Random Clips

September 10, 2009

I haven’t posted in a while and have a hadful of random things to talk about that have occurred the last month or so.

First is this video of my friend Tadd Maudlin, cruising on his sailboat off the coast of Belize, doing a dance that I used to do in college and most likely still do called “the Trimmer”.  I’m very jealous of him – bought a boat and is cruising on it indefinitely with his girlfriend, they are now in the Carribbean off Belize – follow them on their blog at http://lastknownposition.blogspot.com 

Speaking of boats, mine was broken for two long weeks – the motor went out while we were sailing, so we had to sail her into the can with pretty much no wind – super fun and challenging.  Then I tried a zillion differnet things to fix her, all to no avail and making it worse over about ten days.  Called a boat mechanic named Doug Pietz recommended by my boat neighbor.  He met me out on the boat and proceeded to tear into the motor fearlessly – fixing three problems, each of which could have been a major issue on its own, all in the span of under two hours.  A true professional and it was really amazing to watch him work.  I was very impressed with his skill and his pricing and efficiency and fun attitude.  If you need boat engine work done certainly call him at 847 533 9030, he is spectacular.

This past weekend I went to another lake house, also in Michigan and on the shore of Lake Michigan and its spectacular giant sand beaches – they are truly stunning if you have a chance to check out the west coast of the lower peninsula definitely do, they seriously rival many of the great beaches around the world in my opinion in the summer, and also very cool to experience in the wintertime.  Stretches a couple hundred miles up the coast.  Here’s a view from the kitchen:

 View of Lake Michigan from the west coast of Michigan

Took different crew sailing each day of the air and water show including Friday – very fun and gorgeous days.  Check the picture of the enormous American flag on a sailboat we saw. 

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

Went to Devil’s Lake one Sunday a couple weeks back to rock climb with some climbing friends, great time had by all.  Gorgeous, perfect day and terrific group of climbers. Devil's Lake near Upper Diagonal

This weekend we head to Lake Superior to kayak the Apostle Islands for five days, should be a great trip, sevn of us are going, really looking forward to it.

Went to a Purdue football game last Saturday, very fun to see all my old buddies and wander by my old apartment.   In college I managed to jump a car over the embankment shown below, they seem to have put up posts to stop this in the future.

Scene of trouble back in the day

Scene of trouble back in the day

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Fishing and the Beach in Wilmington, NC

May 10, 2009
Drove out onto the Beach in Wilmington NC

Drove out onto the Beach in Wilmington NC

We went to Wilmington North Carolina a couple weekends ago to visit my old buddy from age five and his family.  We had a blast and they were stellar hosts as always.  Did a bunch of fishing, one day hired a guide and fished up and down the Cape Fear River.  We caught three or four fish at the very first spot in the morning, but then managed to get skunked the whole rest of the day.  Still fun.  Next day we got up early and went fishing in the ocean with Spencer’s neighbor, very kind of him to take us.  Caught a bunch of Spanish Mackerel.  It was an interesting scene with tons of boats cruising around back and forth over this big man-made reef formed from old train cars and boats and such intentionally sunk there.   We learned the trick of holding the fish away from you at arms length towards the camera so they look much larger.

Spence and an enormous Mackerel

Spence and an enormous Mackerel

Went out to some very nice meals, explored the town, hung out on some riverside patios drinking beer and eating oysters.  

I was shocked by the general lack of sailboats – everybody had powerboats and few people had sailboats, and the ones we did see weren’t in use.  Very curious as just an hour or so

Lisa loves sushi

Lisa loves sushi

 north is Beaufort which is a huge sailing community.  Interesting.  My buddy who I grew up sailing with is getting a powerboat – very distressing!

We rented a boat another day and tooled up and down the ICW – was reminiscent of the trip my father and I took last summer for five days, from Virginia stopping in Beaufort.   It was fun to take the powerboat out to an uninhabited barrier island and picnic and play in the surf.  Big surfing community I discovered as well.

Sue on the barrier island

Sue on the barrier island

Me and Daley

Me and Daley

Another day we drove out onto a beach nearby.  Was very fun – bouncing through the sand in the truck.  Hundreds of other cars were lined up all up and down the beach.  Cool scene if not a bit red-neckish.
 
And the last day we got to go visit a WWII battleship they have docked there.  Incredible to be able to explore it and read about and see and experience life on the enormous ship.
 
In Front of the USS North Carolina

In Front of the USS North Carolina


Manuel Antonio, Costa RICA

November 12, 2008

What a country!  What a trip!  I love third world countries – Costa Rica has made so much progress since I was last there 20 years ago.  Fresh, drinkable tap water, enviable health care system, beautifully paved roads all the way from the capital to Manuel Antonio, social safety nets, thriving capitalism.  I was very impressed.

We went down to stay at my friend’s resort – the falls at Manuel Antonio.  What a gorgeous, amazing resort.  I couldn’t believe it.  Who would think I would know a guy that owns a stunning resort in the heart of that lush tropical paradise?  25 awesome, huge, immaculate rooms, great breakfasts, stunning garden with 140+ different plants and trees.  Yum breakfast, pool, hottub, waterfall, internet, bar…  Loved it.  We were going to stay two nights but stayed the whole time.  Right acrosse the street from “El Avion”, a bar/restaurant with a giant C-123 cargo plane left over from the Iran-Contra affair inside – massive place, all open-air, breathtaking view over the ocean and cliffs and beaches.  The weather was great, rain most days but not for long and never was inconvenient somehow.  Nearing the end of the green season.  Warm and wet is fine I always say, cold and wet isn’t so fun.

One day Richard, the owner (and my friend) went out to look at some property way back in the hills, took along three tico men and Lisa and I and we  went bombing way up into the mountains on this muddy two track, through rivers, around bridges that were out, up steep hills, through giant mudpuddles.  Got stuck at going around one steep uncompleted bridge for about 45 minutes, gradually enough villagers joined and we were able to push the landrover out after much futzing around moving rocks and gravel.  Took about seven tries to get it out, worrying about falling off down the steep waterfall to the right the whole time.

Walked through the jungle one day, had a guide, saw sloths, monkeys, leaf-cutter ants, deer, alligators, and a “Jesus Christ” lizard that can walk on water.  Gorgeous beaches and jungle, amazing.

Took a long bus ride the first day – goal was to spend under $300 to remind me of my 6 month trip around the world – and also to save money of course.  We went over budget but did pretty well I thought all in all.  Ate out at some very nice places, and also lunched at some ratty roadside grills, which I thought were equally delicious, if not better.  I love street food.  You can be pretty sure they aren’t loading it up with crap as you watch them make it.  Good times, love that stuff.  One of my most memorable street food experiences was in Cameroon Africa, in Yaounde, at about 11 at night we wandered to a main street and along the highway was an old lady who cooked little fish on a little grill for us and put them in newspaper – yum.

And the last day we surfed – so much fun!  And I sucked at it.  But tried and fell of repeatedly.  I for some reason always think I can surf – I used to live in Newort Beach and actually owned a surfboard…  and lived a half block from the beach… and I still suck.  Maybe one day I will be able to actually catch a wave.  Put it on the life goal list.  I left Lisa alone for about five minutes and immediately she had a Costa Rican out there helping her surf – I rented a board and got out there pretty quick to join her 🙂

We rented a car to drive back to San Jose.  Halfway there I was pulled over for speeding by a fellow standing in the road with a contraption that looked sort of like a hair dryer/flashlight combo.  He was acting very upset and told me I would get two tickets, one for no license and one for speeding.  He then told me I could pay him $40 right there or we could go somewhere and report it.  I told him “$40 es muy grande”.  He said, “twenty dollar ok”.  I said “Done!  Here you go!”  He was then very friendly and shook both our hands and was all smiles.  Off we went.


Triathlon with an Olympian, Nantucket Fish Haul, Mount Marcy Climb

July 9, 2008

Just took a week long vacation – haven’t done that in a few years.  It was action packed.  Started by flying into Boston and eating at Lisa’s folks – they always make amazing dinners – had pasta for us Saturday night in preparation for the Cohasset Triathlon on Sunday.  My good buddy from age five, Bill Burnett, puts it on, and what an amazing job he does.  This year Jarrod Shoemaker (representing the USA in the triathlon in Beijing!) and 900 other people raced it, including a number of elite competitors.  Jarrod beat me.  In just two years it’s become a huge deal in the northeast.  They had a giant stage and all sorts of gear and food available.  Super foggy and a heavy surf in the morning but they did the swim anyways, which added that much more difficulty to it.  I finished on a mountain bike, next year I’ll get a real bike, though I’ve said that for the last 8 triathlons I’ve done and never have.

Wayne and I before the Cohasset Triathlon

Wayne and I before the Cohasset Triathlon

The next day we left for Natucket to stay with my very close family friends the Carneys in their beautiful home in the town of Nantucket, overlooking the harbor – such a nice place.  But boo, it’s on the market, bummer.  My best bud Spencer was there with his kids, including new baby Cormac Thomas – named after me!  How cool is that?  2 months old, and amazing.  Also his older sister Daley, who at three is super fun to hang out with.  Went out to a super nice dinner at Orin Moore’s with Spence, Sue, Lisa and I, highlight was when the waiter brought a french press and pushed down on it at the table, spraying coffee and grounds all over the table and putting out the candle – we found it hilarious, the head waiter not so much.  Went sailing several times on their Rhodes 19 in Nantucket harbor and through the cut in the jetties to the open ocean, a little sketchy coming back in but fortunately the tide had shifted in our favor.  And a highlight was driving out on the beach on Coatue and surfcasting – we caught four huge bluefish!  I can never get over how you can stand on the beach up to your ankles in water and take this giant rod, cast out a huge lure, and reel in these 4 or 5 pound (guessing) fish.  Plus the added bonus of driving on the beach which is always a good time.  Letting the air out of the tires first so they are somewhat flat is fun too.

Fish in hand

Fish in hand

 

After Nantucket we went to Lisa’s grandparent’s place in upstate New York, on Indian Lake.  A terrific two houses they have, on the water next to each other, a bunch of waterfront  with docks, ski boat, swim platform, rowboat, kayaks, canoe, and sunfish.  And over the course of five days we used them all!  Taught Lisa to sail one day which I expect will do wonders for her confidence on my boat here in Chicago – so much easier to “get” sailing on a small boat.  Swam every day and showered and shaved zero days – just an “Adirondack shower” in the lake each day.  So fun.  For the 4th we went and climbed Mt Marcy – 3200 feet or so of elevation gain, 7.2 miles up and 7.2 miles down – it took us 4 hours up and I couldn’t believe it, but also four hours down.  Weird.  The last couple hours seemed to take forever.  The summit was really beautiful, above tree line so huge views, 360 degrees.  Count it as my 12th state high point! 

Nearing the Summit of Mt Marcy

Nearing the Summit of Mt Marcy

Actually quite incredible fireworks that night on the lake for such a small town – we took the rowboat and speedboat out to watch.  The next night I went on about an hour long mountain bike ride around Indian Lake, which is no small feat considering the trails are for snowmobiles not bikes – and are overgrown and mosquito infested and swampy in places.  Kevin, Lisa’s uncle, was in better shape and kicked my butt up the hills – one particularly long one – tough to train for that kind of stuff in Chicago.  Was a blast, and really cool and pretty.  A interesting aside – at one trail intersection in the middle of nowhere out in the woods there were advertisements on the trees for bars, hotels, restaurants, etc – for the snowmobilers.  Was something I’d never seen before.

Managed to chop a whole bunch of wood for Lisa’s grandfather, he appreciated it and I enjoyed the physical labor.  Small repayment for such incredible hospitality and relentlessly delicious meals, one after the other.

Got back late Monday night, tired but refreshed.  I need to figure out how to do more and longer trips!  Actually in a couple weeks we have the Mac race and then a few days sailing in the North Channel with my folks – so good stuff.


Back from the Islands, British colonialism

March 22, 2008

Great trip to Jamaica and Grand Cayman.  Terrific people and such a laid back atmoshpere.  Great to unwind for a bit on the beach.  Didn’t do much, some snorkeling, watched some beach volleyball, drank some mudslides, saw my very cool and fun cousin Megan on Grand Cayman where she lives.  Met her boyfriend.  He and I went to the local rugby pitch on Saturday to celebrate St Patty’s day with all the Irish, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, and Americans on the island, all living there and almost all doing some sort of financial work running or supporting hedge funds.  I always find the british colonies fascinating – so many countries have a british influence and it’s so interesting to see what has developed in each, in terms of sports, economies, governments, and education.  Seems many of the very successful economies were founded by the brits, including Hong Kong, America, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Grand Cayman, even India, whose national language is English and still runs a british system of education and democracy, who knew?  Jamaica too, was once heavily influenced by the brits, same with obviously the british Virgin Islands. 

Monday evening I returned to Jamaica from Cay-man (that’s how they say it down there), Tuesday I traded a bit from beside the pool and made enough to pay for the trip, had I actually paid for it and not my potential clients.  At 9:30 I started looking for a ride to climb the highest peak on the island, not possible, was a day and a half deal, so I settled on a drive up to Strawberry Hill, $90 with a Jamaican driver and included a ride to the airport.  Was a fun drive and an amazing resort/spa.  It is owned by music mogul Chris Blackwell who produced all of Bob Marley’s stuff as well as 8 of U2’s albums, Melissa Etheridge and many more.  Got lucky and a worker at the estate took us around and showed us the room that  Prince Charles had stayed in the previous weekend!  And all sorts of nooks and crannys that most don’t get to see.  The view was amazing and the ambience especially soothing.  Weather and temperature were perfect.  So relaxing.  See the video for a taste of this place:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ9rJKo-P5A

And a tour of the house Prince Charles of Wales stayed in last weekend in Jamaica: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yScpE2gCVt8

On Grand Cayman the highest point is actually the dump – so I improvised – here’s a shot of me on what could very well be the highest point:

Me on the high point of Grand Cayman

apparently in Hurricane Ivan a few years ago the entire island was underwater, I read a story of peoplle having to bail out their houses…  not sure that really makes sense, but that’s what the story said.  couple photos of myself, my cousin, and her South African boyfriend George on the beach.  Good times!  Favorite bar was Royal Palm, right on seven mile beach with a ton of beach chairs, good music, good bands, rocking day and night, or not rocking, but chill and cool and fun and not cheap.  Yummy mudslides.  Here’s some pics

Megan, George and I on Seven Mile beach

Meg and I


Winter Beach Hike ON Lake Michigan

February 24, 2008

Did a hike up and down the beach with my buddy Jason today.  It was so beautiful.  The ice was way way out into the lake – I’ve never seen it that far out.  We made our way as far out as we dared – felt like the pictures and documentaries I’ve seen of guys crossing the arctic – broken, jagged pieces of ice and snow we worked our way around and over.  We didn’t see any actual open water, but the ice was clearly thinner with no new snow on top of it.  Big icebergs were visible in the distance.  We walked up the beach about 3 miles, then back.  We started at a public access over a little north of New Buffalo.  Great way to spend a day, get some outdoors time.  See the pics below.

Myself and Jason on the ice

Jason on the Ice

Pretty shot from Shore