... Add to that acuity the steep, winding, poorly paved mountain roads on the island, add in the local's love to fight with machetes and firearms, and add in the fact that we drive on the left side of the road in left-drive cars, and you add to that recipe a ton of trauma. Then there are the cruise ship passengers... don't even get me started there!
All in all? Check back in a month or so. We will reexamine whether or not the pirate's life is enough fun to balance out the uggghhh of going to work in this ER the other half of the time (yeah, we do 7 day pay periods, so no 3-on/4-off joy here).
...And, to continue the rant below...
Having said all that, I do have to say that I like the people I work with. Mostly, it is other travel nurses and doctors, like myself, and I think we all recognize that we are on the very edge of ER medicine here. The result is that we all try to work together as well as possible, and, for the most part, we really do. The local patients are amazing people: Polite without fail, generous with a smile, and mostly understanding of their long (2 - 4 hours on average) wait to actually see the doctor, and the long (many times 6 - 8 hours) time to discharge or admission. I am coming to really love the islanders, with their relaxed grace and "no worries" attitude towards time. It's just weird to apply this way of thinking to my job as an ER nurse.
We do get a lot of high-acuity patients. The islanders are healthy for the most part (more so than in Hawaii, certainly), but they do have their inherent issues. Continued...
All right. I've been posting lots of fun stuff on here. Indulge me for a moment because the word "work" is in the title of this blog.
Work here is tough. I have never worked in 6:1 patient to nurse ratios before. In itself, its not that big a thing, but when you have a couple of intubated ICU patients that turn into holds (almost every shift, because there are never enough ICU beds), those other four patients start to take a toll. And, no, they do not drop the ratio when you have ICU patients. You just work a lot harder. The staff is good. I like the people I work with, but there is just complete disorganization here. Nothing where you need it... lack of equipment, supplies, etc... most times it's hard to get your patient on a monitor. There are no "door to" times. Our CT has been down for two weeks now (waiting on repairs), and the back-up CT overheated the other day, for about 24 hours, because the air conditioning just doesn't keep it cool enough.
6 days ago
Hiked out to the very tip of the peninsula at Petersborg. Amazing rock formations, tide pools, sunset, and company for the afternoon. We found an awesome blowhole kind of thing that sounded like an emphysematic giant breathing (kind of creepy, actually), and found a great waterfall that was formed by the waves on one side coming through a hole, then down the other side of the peninsula... pretty cool, but only got video of that one, and I can't post video here. All the rest are just pictures of crappy old Caribbean sunsets and scrambling around on amazing limestone formations. Oh, and some great pictures of Tam... on a cliff, by a cactus, etc...
9 October 2016
The island life! Just a few shots from St. John... snorkeling on sunken airplanes, playing at the beach, hanging from trees. These are a few of my favorite things. Especially when I get to do them with my favorite girl!
8 October 2016
We took a ferry over to St John's today to celebrate 5 days in a row of my orientation being over. It's about a 20 minute ride from the East End, where we live, over this ridiculously pretty water. We have met a bunch of people here already. Some are fellow nurses (who, obviously, are all crazy) and a few bar tenders and charter boat crew members and captains. The one common denominator is that everyone here DRINKS! A lot! Every night is dinner and drinks and boat trips and drinks, and beach and drinks. Holy shit! I can't keep up... I am becoming an alcoholic, and, as anyone who knows me can attest: I am a super lightweight, total wimp when it comes to drinking. I am doing my best to keep up, but I feel like I am failing terribly. I may just have to put my foot down eventually and not drink one night. We will see...
1 October 2016
We got in our little condo here. Mixed emotions... first, we have had to leave Pete behind with dog sitters for the entire contract. There is absolutely nothing for rent here that accepts pets. Nothing. I will definitely miss the little mutt! It's crazy how anti-dog it is here, you only see a few around, and those are usually the pets of the folks living on boats.
On a brighter note, though, this picture was taken from our patio, and the bright blue bay you see out there is where we kiteboard! Pretty convenient... we can just walk about three minutes and we are there! Can check the wind from the porch!
29 September 2016
Here is the beautiful Tam modeling our less-than-beautiful "island Jeep" that we rented for the rest of our stay here (until the 1st of January). Not much works on it, a few parts and pieces missing, but seems like it is fairly mechanically sound. As a bonus, the brakes work, which seems pretty important because every road here is either on the side of a cliff, going up a cliff, or going down a cliff.
Driving on the left side of the road is interesting... I have driven in plenty of left-side countries, but this one is really weird because you are driving in standard left-drive, US cars. When you drive in the right side of a car, driving on the left side of the road seems pretty intuitive, but when you jump in on the left side, like normal, it's really easy to forget to stay on the left. This earns you a lot of honking, yelling, and dirty looks!
26 September 2016
It turns out that looking for a house here is a bit of a challenge. There is an "Absolutely no pets" mentality here. We cannot find a place that will accept Pete. It is a little comical the reactions I get... Almost like I am asking to set up a child pornography movie set in their house or something. I get these long lectures from people on the phone about how their house/condo/apt will never be the same, and how it needs extreme cleaning after we leave so that the next tenants will not know that there was a dog in there. It's Pete, for shit's sake, nor a fucking leper colony! Anyway, today we walked from our temporary digs to the beach, and had to run the 'iguantlet' through a whole field of iguanas to get there. In numbers like this they can be a little intimidating! The other little guy was on our patio this morning so we shared our breakfast of local fruits with him. Zoom in on him in the picture a bit-he is totally adorable!
25 September 2016
We just got to St. Thomas! In the first hour we rented our car, and, on the advice of the wonderful and ridiculously friendly rental car agent (who talked to us for an hour about what fruit grew on the island), we drove to the once-monthly farmers market on the very Western tip of the island. There we met the friendliest local farmer who proceeded to explain the medicinal value of every item and every individual fruit at his tent. We talked to him for at least an hour, in which we learned his entire life history (born here, raised in Connecticut, returned here after Nam, airplane mechanic, worked too many hours, became a farmer, studied honey and medicinals etc. etc. etc.).
Now I know what "island time" really means! Everyone here is so friendly, they just talk and talk and everyone ends up late...
Oregon you are beautiful and I love you but you are turning cold in this relationship. I will be back when you warm up again in the summertime. Till then, thanks for all the good times and the lovely people I adore that live there.
Now we are off for a date in the Virgin Islands and it ended up on our 15 year anniversary! How perfect. We are on the plane with almost everything we own but have no house picked out yet for when we get there. Should be interesting...hope for a nice place on the beach.
Off we go again... We are headed out to St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, for another 13 week contract. I realize I have been really bad about blogging recently, but I will be catching up here soon. I will even go all retro and try to fill in the missing last few months. For now, though, it is Tam and I off on another grand adventure! Off to the Caribbean, to the land of pirates and rum, and palm trees and beaches, and, most importantly, poorly funded/understaffed hospitals and tons of trauma. Hope I can keep it all together for this one!
21 May 2016
Oh, and... Damn the ER is busy here. Always. All night. All day. Whew.
I have finished my first two weeks in the ER at Queen's West. I believe that the first two weeks of any contract or new job is the worst thing you can do as an ER nurse. Learning where everything is, learning the facility policies and practices, getting to know your fellow staff members, and figuring out which rooms are where, are all challenges that eat up all of your brain processing power and leave very little time for actual nursing. My last shift everything started falling together. Whew... Just in time!
Nursing here is a lot different than I am used to. The Hawaiians have really gotten the short end when it comes to health. Almost ALL of them have diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, they are on dialysis (if they actually go), and obesity runs rampant. I attribute a lot of this to us bringing our mainland/European lifestyles here in the 1700's and 1800's, but they seem completely accepting of the fact that they have such shortened life expectancy. It is sad, really.
16 May 2016
I had a day off! Tam and I went hiking with another travel nurse we met, and had yet another fun adventure. We hiked the Pali Puka trail up this crazy ridge. The trail runs along the edge of a rather precipitous drop from a nearly vertical, two thousand foot cliff. In many places there are cliffs on both sides of a one foot-wide trail. It is really a beautiful place. The "Puka" is the hole in the cliff that we are sitting in. The pictures don't do it justice, but the exposure is breathtaking. This hike is officially illegal, most likely due to the howling wind that is trying to tear you off the trail all the time. Fun! Fun! Fun! And great views. We stopped on the point of the triangular peak you see above me in the pictures. The trail goes on from there, but that will be another day. I will need to wear shoes for the rest of it. Tam was also geocaching, and we found one way up top of the peak (which is the paper that I am holding up).
7 May 2016
Whew. Queen's Medical Center really does a comprehensive orientation. Just finished 4 days of facility orientation and EMR training this week, have one more day of orientation to their West Campus (where I will be working for the next few months), then start in the department. At this point I just can't wait to get back to being an ED nurse. Too much paperwork. Having said all that, though, it really is a great facility. They take a lot of pride in their organization, and everyone is very friendly and helpful.
More to come... I think I will go kiting this afternoon.
27 April 2016
Well, I just rented our house for the next three and a half months. It is up on the hill above the Foodland in Pupukea, on Oahu. We have an amazing view of the North Shore beaches around Waimea and Sunset... Right from our bedroom window. Not to mention the view of our back yard, about two or three acres of grass and beautiful landscaping. Can't wait to move in on Saturday!
26 April 2016
San Fran airport. I have a moment to reflect here, a moment to think about the last month, and all of the paperwork and uncertainty that went into getting this contract. I am now signed up with 5 different agencies, mostly because each one serves different hospitals in different areas and, well, Tam and I are pretty picky about where we want to work. Each time you apply to a new agency it means gathering together all of your paperwork, immunizations, certifications, licenses, and whatever else they may need (and I think I have had a dozen PPD's).This usually takes a while. This contract on Oahu was almost too late... We had made the decision to pull our submittals about an hour before they called.
I guess the point here is this: this lifestyle may not be for everyone, but I feel like I am starting to embrace the sense of adventure here, the not quite certainty of which contract is next, and the joy of being able to pack up in an afternoon and head out to wherever may call.
14 April 2016
Update! It's snowing outside on April 14th. Cold as hell today. All day. But, it made my latest work decision that much easier to finalize. Hawaii called. Looks like I am taking the contract on Oahu! Tam and I will be over there from May 1st until August 15th. I will be working at Queens West Hospital, a reputedly great facility, only about 3 years old, on the Far North end of Honolulu (just 30 minutes South of the North Shore)! We will also be back in time to have the best part of the summer in Bend.
Now, I am off to work at 2 new hospitals in Corvallis and Lebanon next week. This should be fun... 3 new hospitals in the next three weeks.
12 April 2016
This is how I feel lately. I have been doing paperwork, did a training for Epic electronic medical records in Corvallis, and spending countless calls on the phone to my recruiter for Oregon Per diem shifts. This will be my bread and butter this summer while we are in Oregon. It will be nice to just take per diem shifts and not worry about long contracts. We will be able to work all over the coast this summer... Cold as hell, but really pretty place to hang out, kite, camp, crab, and hike. The rest of the time in Bend and Hood River... Two of the best summer seasons anywhere!
9 April 2016
Just a few more pictures of us hiking around in Oregon. The first of these were at Drift Creek Falls outside of Lincoln City on the coast. It has this really cool 240 foot long suspension bridge about 200 feet over the river that was dedicated to a trail builder, Scott Paul, who died in a rigging accident while building the bridge.
The rest of them were taken at Green Peak Falls on the Alsea Falls trail, just South of Corvallis/Philomath Oregon. This is the double wide fall, approximately 60 feet in height.
Both waterfalls (in two completely different places in Oregon) are about 3 (really easy) mile hikes, out and back, with amazing mossy wooded scenery the entire distance. Great day walking in the woods with my favorite girl!
8 April 2016
Just took a relaxing day hiking around in the woods on the Oregon coast. Yes, it is cold. Yes, it is foggy and wet. No, it is not tropical. Strangely enough... I really have missed certain parts of being in Oregon. Just not enough to be here in the winter... April is cold and wet enough for me!
7 April 2016
The new house on the coast... Tam and Pete fit in there great. Hope I can fit too!
4 April 2016
We bought ourselves a new house to travel nurse out of while here in the States... 91 square feet, tows behind the element, and it even has a bathroom and shower! So, now that we are picking up per-diem shifts, and kind of waiting around Oregon for other contracts or summer to happen (whichever comes first), we have the perfect little portable home!
It does look a lot like a toaster towing a breadbox, eh?
30 March 2016
Just for the record... Travel nursing contracts are not difficult to get. We are just being really picky about where we want to go. When you see us post that we are going to work on a contract in Nebraska... Well, then you know the money ran out and we needed to take whatever was available.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that!
This is what we have been up to for the last two and a half weeks. The house we are staying in does not have WiFi, so we have logged an unreasonable amount of coffee shop time. I have applied to two more agencies, submitted to 5 hospitals, and now we wait... I don't know if it's all the coffee, all the indecision, or all the stress of trying to remember which decisions are affected by which previous decisions, but I have been struggling with some crazy anxiety. I just need to get to it!
I have submitted to Guam (no contracts currently), US Virgin Islands (they haven't payed their bills in a few months, so no agencies putting nurses in there right now), Oahu, Maui, and Molokai (just waiting to hear back on those). So, while we wait, I have applied to another agency to work some one day per diems around the state for a week or two. Whew!
If nothing happens with Hawaii in the next couple of weeks we will pack it up and head to South Padre Island and kite for a bit.
16 March 2016
Well... Here we sit in Bend, still, waiting for word on work in the US Virgin Islands. We had a few changes to our plans while we were in Colombia, so set our plans back a little bit. Now, as a result, we are stuck in freezing-ass land waiting for the hospital in the USVI's to pay their bills to the agency so we can start a contract. If they do...
So now the decision is to wait (already doing that one), try to pick up some per-diem shifts around Oregon through the summer (we kind of wanted to be up here in July and August... just not this spring), or, the best sounding option, to go rent a house in Puerto Rico for a month and go kite some more. Obviously, the last one sounds the best because we are waiting anyway... And, well... There is still some money in the bank... And it's a pretty cool place to wait for a contract... Hmmm. We shall see.
8 March 2016
What a change 24 hours can make! Here we are in our favorite breakfast place in Bend, OR. planning the next phase of our lives. I just came back in from walking Pete in a March snowstorm (you can see it in the picture if you zoom it in a little), in my flip flops, freezing, because all of our winter clothes are all stored.
More info to follow as to the course of our lives for the next three to six months...
Oh, and I added the picture of the mug because my two hundred pound male waiter brought my coffee in it for breakfast... We both had a little chuckle about the innuendo.
6 March 2016
The aircraft control tower on Gran Roque! On a scissor lift! I guess it could be handy in a hurricane... Just lower it down and drive it behind another building somewhere. Pretty smart.
One last photo from the little single-engine Caravan on the way out... We will miss this place. Heading back to the land of freezing-ass-cold for a couple of weeks to regroup and get loaded for our next adventure... The one where we actually start working again!
And, as a side note, as pathetic as this sounds: I am really missing that little black dog of ours. Can't wait to see Petey!
And, of course, Brittany too... We get to see her when we land (Yes, I am writing this on the plane). It's been a couple of months so catch-up time is in order!
Well there is this car...the town water truck. There was also a gain traffic jam on the way to the airport of foot dollies carrying luggage from the posadas. I will try to do a late post of the Venezuela part of the trip after I finish my taxes in the default world. Until then I will be back in Oregon doing that. I will probably start our next blog soon on the next travel destination. This was a kite travel one and next will be our travel nursing one, of course we are only travel nursing where there is wind.
The archipelago of Los Roques.
As I have mentioned before, there is a fair selection of posadas one can stay with on Gran Roque. I peeked in a few and they all seem fairly similar, at least in appearance, and, since we only stayed in the Posada Movida, I can only tell you what we experienced. At first, the price of (roughly) $120.00 a night seemed incredibly expensive, but it starts to sound better when you consider what that includes: a very clean, comfortable room with private bath and AC, all meals (usually 4 a day), all beverages including beer and wine, and boat service to all the outer islands from 8:00 to 6:00 every day for kiting/snorkeling/beaching. The boats stay out with us all day in case we need a kite rescue or choose to do a downwinder. The service is unbelievable, topped only by the food (we may have gained weight on this portion of the trip), and the friendliness of the staff! Yes... I did say it includes beer and wine!
Alexis, a native Venezuelan from Caracas, has been living on Gran Roque for ten years, and starting this season is managing the Posada Movida. He seems to have found his true calling in life. Last year he was an assistant to a boat captain, and this year he is the hard-working manager of the whole show. The owner is an Italian named Mario, who we did not meet as he was back home in Italy, and he should feel completely comfortable with his choice in managers. Alex is the first up, and the last to bed every day. He keeps amazing fresh food on the table, gas in the boats, and happy guests in his rooms. Somehow he does this all in a country that, at this time, doesn't even have toilet paper or breakfast cereal to go around. When I asked him how he does it, all he would say was "well, I'm on the phone all day". He has this innate passion for his job, and it shows in everything he does for his guests. This was a great experience, highly recommended by the two of us feeling spoiled rotten.
4 March 2016
My favorite island to kite on here so far... Cresk Ky! Offshore wind and the smoothest, glassiest water ever!
Girls in bikinis, too!
3 March 2016
A couple of awesome pictures of Tam on Gran Roque... Need I say more?
The little town on Gran Roque. Very cute, Caribbean style architecture and paint, with the bright colors and awesome plants that grow in this climate. My particular favorite is the one with all of the painted bricks... Yep. They are painted on, the wall being completely flat, plastered smooth underneath!
1,200 Venezuelans are incredibly happy to call this little place home. I am blown away by the quality of life the people here have, and by the blatant, total appreciation they all express for being allowed to live here. There are little guesthouses here in town, called posadas, with the expected service employees, a school, a huge amount of fisherman providing food only to locals and guests on the island. The whole area is a protected reserve, so there is no commercial fishing. As a result, the reefs are healthy, teeming with a multitude of life, and the fish are friendly and willing to interact freely.
Oh, and not a car on the island!
2 March 2016
Gnomio, oh Gnomio, wherefore art thou, Gnomio?
On Dos Castillos Ky, in Los Roques, Venezuela!
Gnomio living it up on the beach in paradise... Haven't seen him in a while. He was resting after too much fun traveling in Panama.
1 March 2016
Because I really do think Tam is the coolest, most beautiful girl in the world...
I am the luckiest guy in the world!
29 February 2016
The island of Francis Ky! The Venezuelan spelling of the traditional Bahamanian (I believe) word "Cay" (coral atoll island), is spelled "Ky". So, all of the names end in Ky.
Such great kiting!
28 February 2016
Every day the great people that run the Posada Movida, the guesthouse we are staying at, bring us and all of our gear out to a different sand bar/island, where they set up a shade area with beach umbrellas. Under the umbrellas are coolers with water, beer, a huge lunch, snacks, and sodas. This is all included in the price of the posada. They stay out there with us all day, and provide boat support for us to do downwinders, and for the occasional rescue if needed.
27 February 2016
...We are kiting...
Final approach into Gran Roque. The only island in the archipelago that has posadas (little hotel/guesthouse type places) where you can stay.
We made it! Even with all the gear in the plane.
Off to kiting!
In the air... Flying into the Los Roques National Reserve. These are all pictures of the archipelago as we flew in. Quite a beautiful place. Everyone in the little Super Otter transport plane was jumping out of their seats in anticipation at this point!
Off to Los Roques with a huge pile of gear, and with a huger pile of friends! Waiting in the auxiliary airport in Caracas for our little prop plane to the island. Any bets on whether or not this little plane can leave the ground with all of this in it?
26 February 2016
This is the great place we stayed in Santa Veronica (see the post from a week or so ago), that we kited Salinas bay out of. Just wanted to include the information for both of these guys. Both are great business owners and hosts. They take a ton of pride in what they have built, and do all they can to assure that their guests have the best experience possible.
I just wanted to include the business cards and the hat, because I can highly recommend this place to anyone coming down for a kite trip.
Besides... Between mid-December and the end of April the wind cranks here... Every day, all day.
We have been staying in an AB&B in El Laguito, which is on the Southern tip of Boca Grande, a peninsula about 4 km from the historic old city (El Centro) in Cartagena. No waves in the picture today, but we have surfed head high waves here for a couple of days. The waves drain out into this glassy little slick (left side of photo), which, despite the offshore winds, is an awesome place for freestyle kiting. There is a local who spends all day, every day, on the beach with his jet ski ready to rescue anyone stuck downwind for approx. five dollars. It is possible to take your gear, by taxi, up to La Boquilla for nice long 12 km. down winders that take you right past the corner of the old city wall with its rusty old cannons staring you down as you pass. Fun waves to surf on the downwinder! All in all, this was another awesome spot to kite, but less remote, in the city, with fun night life surrounding you if you are so inclined.
23 February 2016
We have been in Cartagena for the last four days, have kited every day, and gone out into the old city every evening for dinner. We haven't really done much sightseeing or tourist stuff, but we did find this statue to take inappropriate photos with.
22 February 2016
This is our Air B&B place in Cartagena... Right on the beach, kiting out our back door. A couple of these pictures are out the bedrooms and off the patio, looking down at the beach where we just kited. Super sweet 3 bedroom, 3 bath, for $80.00 a night!
Kite post-Was looking on air bnb and picked this place in Cartagena due to this first pic. Can you see it? In the window we saw a faint possible outline of a kiter in the ocean out the window. We wanted to be able to walk to the kite area. There isn't many kiting resources in Colombia yet and it is difficult to find places or info to stay near kiting sometimes. This one paid off for the guess. We are right in the flat water and it has a point break kite spot also and right in town. Went out with two other kiters on our 9s when we got here and kited till sunset. Then watched the moonrise. Got an awesome place right on the beach. Sleeps 7 and we split between us 4 for about 20$ a night 😃 today we will probably do a downwinder from Bouquilla back to our place where the downwinder would end. Then maybe kite over to an island tomorrow.
Back in Cartagena with Jason and Carson! I do love this city. It seems like great energy, and we had fun here when we came through a few weeks ago. Once again, kited right into the sunset, but this time we had lots of flat water for freestyley funness! Now we are off to dinner in the old town...
The front guard of the hostel. This dog is awesome. He fell in the pool last year, was unable to get out, and nearly drowned by the time they found him. As a result, any time you are swimming, the dog paces the sides of the pool with this expression of concern not imagined possible on his doggy face. He is really sweet. There is another, bigger, dumber, sweeter version of him here too, but all he does is sit around and beg for food... Typical dog.
I'm not normally one to overly promote a place, but this place continues to amaze me. For a kiteboarding hostel, this is a must stay!
Check it out!
I have been talking a lot about the quality of the kiting here in Santa Veronica. Yesterday was equally as good, if not better, than the session the day before, with a repeat of sunset/moonrise, great waves, but with hand drag kiteloop backrolls onto waves, and the occasional darkslides thrown in.
There is another great experience here... The Hostal Agua de Vela here in Santa Veronica. The owners, a French couple, Roman and Sayida, run their place like it is their passion. From our experience, this makes for a very pleasant stay, comfortable, clean, and an amazing breakfast every day.
Each day, Roman loads everyone in the Hostel up in his car (usually about 10 of us) and drives 10 minutes to Salinas to deliver everyone to the kiting area. He also makes several trips in the evening to bring us all back before dinner. Really great service here.
20 February 2016
Wow! That worked out great! Kited for about six hours today, and had what is probably the best day of kiting ever. Perfectly lit on my 9m kite all day, surfing great shoulder-high waves, double back rolls over waves, big jumps, one-handed dead mans, and fun boosty transitions and backroll transitions all day! Caught the longest right I have ever been on on my kite, with tons of turns and maneuvering all over it. I am finally starting to be able to crank turns on the face and off the lip with some sort of consistency, so I feel like I am starting to really appreciate surfing under a kite!
The last hour of my session was just me and one other person out, with this amazing glassy water, nuking wind, and perfect glassy-faced waves. Just to make it even better, I had this perfect tropical, glowing sunset on one side, and a nearly-full moon rise on the other side. If I have had any doubts before today, I have completely, totally fallen in love, again, with kiteboarding...
Sitting here in our super-comfy hostel, looking out at waves and wind, feeling really lazy, planning our downwinder and second session in the bay for today. The wind just blows, and blows, and blows here. There is an awesome little point break at the end of the bay with great rights, that then fade into a little flat water inside section with occasional perfect thigh-high kickers coming through. It is such a joy to ride smooth flat water with kickers in it! Rode it yesterday, had a great session out on my 6.5m Solo, fully lit, watching Tam surfing waves and dial in a bunch of perfect backrolls. She is just killing it lately!
Viva la Colombia!
19 February 2016
Tam wanted to find a donkey to ride out into the desert and search for anteaters. She was so excited when she found one. She was going to find the owner to discuss rentals, but, as she grew progressively closer, she began to realize that she would probably need to pick this little guy up and carry him. He's not quite big enough to ride Tam! These pictures show Tam demonstrating her skills as a donkey whisperer. He was a sweet little guy!
This is my attempt at donkey whispering... He seems less than amused. Hmmm?
An amazing meal with friends after kiteboarding all day in macking winds... Seafood chowder in coconut shells that are placed directly in the fire and delivered to the table still crackling. So tasty. We sat here in Santa Veronica, at La Red Restaurant, and enjoyed the lee side, out of the wind, and watched the sun go down. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...
14 February 2016
There is a bunch of information in the blog about the San Blas Islands. As far as kiting goes: expect approximately 50/50 consistency for wind days, with light winds (15-20 mph range) and big kites. Also, expect some of the most beautiful, remote, kiting in the world! Panama Kitesurfing Cruise puts on a great trip, with kiting different sites each day, some adventurous downwinders, and, thankfully, activities for no wind days.
If you go into this with the mind-set that it is not just a kite trip you will be safe. There was some phenomenal snorkeling, with lots of big sting rays and sharks to be seen. The reefs here are very healthy, so don't beat them up kiting!
The guys are great, and they run a great trip... Amazing food (and so much of it I actually gained weight on this trip), on an amazing sailboat... It's hard to beat. It's a little pricey for our budget (check the prices online), but, in the end, worth every penny!
More Punta Chame: Staying here is the crux... There are two places for $35.00 and $40.00, respectively. Casa Amarilla, the cheaper, is beautiful, very comfortable, run by a super friendly French couple, with the best food in Panama (quite expensive at $16.00 for lunch and dinner). This one is not on the beach, but a ten minute drive (kind of need a rental car out here). The Punta Chame Kiteboarding Guest House is another option, $40.00 - $45.00 for bungalow, a little less for dorm room. It's on the beach, with beach to launch on only at low tide. Otherwise, fun guys running the place (we didn't eat here). They were having problems with water, and we were informed that they had just had a room robbed the night before, but since there were no locks on the doors of the bungalows we should keep our valuables locked in the car (another argument in favor of a rental car). This one is all about location...
There are two other places out there, both over $125.00/night. Not for us!
Kiting Punta Chame, Pacific side Panama: We enjoyed it here. The wind is steady, pretty consistent (we got eight out of nine days), and blew from 15mph to 27mph for us. This translates to 15m and 12m kites for us. After I tore my 12m I was able to take my 9m out for a couple of sessions with no problem, and one day we should have been on 9m kites, but just stayed out on 12's (fun... powered up).
There is a gigantic beach for launching and landing, it is really safe, with quartering onshore to onshore winds. It is all short-fetch chop, with sometimes shoulder-high rollers. There are three small, flat water lagoons that can be kited to and back when wind is more onshore for more freestyley fun. All in all... Really safe, but watch out for stingrays! Lots!
About kiting (it is, after all, a blog partially about wind and water): I have a lot of people looking for information about the places we have been kiting on this trip, so I will try to put down some observations of where we have been so far. Some of these spots have been addressed in the blog already, with pictures and whatnot, so feel free to look back for those.
Most importantly: these are my observations. Please don't be mad at me if your experience differs...we are all individuals, with different expectations!
13 February 2016
This is a fair description of the flat-water kiting in the bay at Nautica Velero... The gustiest place I have ever kited. Yes, even gustier than the worst Hood river days I've had the pleasure of! Wind range from 10-40 mph, changing every few seconds, with micro eddies and crazy down-drafts, is the norm here. On the outside of the peninsula the wind is steadier, still crazy strong, with HUGE open ocean rollers breaking all over the place. It's a very wild feeling place, probably not for the faint of heart, but still really fun kiting. There are not many outs on this beach (it is covered in driftwood everywhere but a 1/2 of a football field launch area), so upwinding is an essential skill. Tam and I did do some fun downwinder/upwinder runs down the waves outside of the peninsula, then beat our way back up the inside in the gusty flats. These took about 3 hours total, but you could stay longer and play in waves if you wanted... All in all: tricky spot, but you can walk out from the hut!
We are staying where there are anteaters and characters. The guy we rent the hut from is hilarious and always saying "I don't give a f*%^ about ______ , bro." The same way honey badger don't give a sh*%. Not in a bad way, just as a statement. We are pretty hardcore camping at his palapa on the beach. They are doing construction on the road so we haven't had running water now for three days and were in the salty windy, windy, really windy desert, so I am pretty proud of myself for not being a princess. We did however rent a motorbike so we could get back to town without being stranded on the kite beach with no water and eating fried fish everyday. It is pretty deserted here at night just us and Jose the guard. We move in with the swedes Tuesday and they have a pool, And running water, Yay showers! We are turning into salty pirates here. Kiting big rolling waves and some of the gustiest flat water ever. But no doubt there will be lots of wind everyday...all day long for kiting.
Nautica Velero. A little thatched hut on a sandy peninsula just South of quaint, fairly European, Puerto Colombia. It sounds idyllic, and it did have the incentive of kiting right out the front door, but all is not always as it seems... Three days without any running water or electricity, dinner was a fluid concept of "no food tonight, posible manyana", with no way to get a taxi into town, and all this for the not-too-awesome price of $35.00 a night. The owner, Carlos, has a motto, that he uses multiple times daily in any number of different situations, of "I don't give a fuck, bro, we just gotta relax and go kite". He seems to feel that this applies to this particular situation as well, so we might be able to take a shower sometime...
10 February 2016
Back in... Well... Okay, so we just drove through, dropped the girls off at the airport, and now we are back in Puerto Colombia. Gotta get some rest tonight, then back at it kiting tomorrow! Haven't kited in a week, so I am going crazy. Can't wait to get back to it! Next (in three days) will be Jason and Carson coming in for 12 days of more fun and kiting, so this next bit it will be Tam who is outnumbered by boys this time... Poor girl!
8 February 2016
An attempt to catch all of the breathtaking views all at once... My best attempts at panoramic photos. They seem to go better with less coffee!
We hiked into Tayrona National Park, located just North of the town of Santa Marta. Beautiful! We walked In, for about 2-1/2 hours, with a little bit of food, about 30 pounds of water, and unfortunately (for me) only one pair of shorts... We rented tents there and stayed one night before hiking back out the next night. Tam, Talia, and Rebecca all chose to ride horses out, while the cool kids, Shai and yours truly, toughed it out and hiked back (45 minutes when you are not stopping to take 3,432 selfies, like on the way in)... A very beautiful place, set aside as a natural area by the government and incredibly well protected and maintained. Buenos trabajo Colombia!
While I was hiking in the jungle I kept noticing this little band of monkeys following me... Had an absolutely awesome time hanging out with all of these girls for the last week (a bit exhausted, though, from trying to keep up the whole time). We all danced, ate, hiked, swam, sweated, and got crammed into overloaded buses together... Great time!
Hiked in to camp at Tyrona beach in the jungle, swam and snorkeled in the blue water. It was lovely. Got lazy and found horses to gallop back thru the jungle instead of hiking out, also amazing!
7 February 2016
Whew. Long day and night of following Tam, Rebecca, Talia, and Shai all around Barranquilla. I did not take a single picture, but instead just absorbed it all: The biggest parade ever... The most extravagant costumes and floats imaginable. The crowds... Frantic, and, as usual, pressing to get through lines to get to the front, but incredibly cheerful and festive at the same time. Then, la noche.... Rebecca on a mission to find the perfect place to shake her booty all night long. I think we may have walked across Barranquilla four times, but in the end found a street party in front of a licores mercado with a million super happy, festive locals. Very loud, very fun. Got back late. Now breakfast to refuel before heading back out do it all over again today! I will try to get a picture.
Carnival! Danced all night! Also picked up Shai to join the crazy festivities, Yay!
6 February 2016
Pretty fancy hotel that provides you with gratis shoe shine kits. Don't know if they realize exactly the quality of guest they have staying in room 412... Not sure what to do with this!
We will be wandering off into this landscape in a few minutes, to experience first-hand the wonders of the second-largest Carnaval in the world, in a Latin American city of 3 million people. If you haven't heard back from us in a week, send out the infantry...
In Barranquilla for CARNAVAL! Woohoo! This is the view from the rooftop pool and restaurant in our high-rise, downtown hotel. Not normally my style, certainly, but the only thing available during Carnaval... Oh, man, the struggle is real!
5 February 2016
Love the knockers here.
So almost everyone worried we would get stopped in the jungle by some Colombian drug lords, kidnapped, or end up in jail etc etc... We got pulled out of the car on the way to the beach at a random place in the desert by a bunch of guys with guns. Everyone was pretty serious and our bus was nervous. Seemed like it may go bad but Instead of jail etc we ended up making some new friends. By the time we left, everyone on the bus was laughing at the situation. Don't worry peeps we got this. We are well protected now. Although later on the beach we did get attacked and massage raped by old ladies, scariest part of the trip so far and cost us a fortune. They wouldn't take no for an answer and just keep massaging and then demanding lots of money. If this is the worst thing that happens on our trip I'll be happy.
4 February 2016
The old city of Cartagena, surrounded by this fortress-like wall with cannons in all directions, a lot of this was built by each wave of conquering Europeans as they came through, starting as early as the 1400's. There is an interesting mix of architectures from each different period and each different cultural influence. It always seems strange, though, to stand on a wall that was built 500 years ago, while looking at a modern, vaguely Miami-esque skyline across the bay.
Just some shots (yes, selfies too) of us being ourselves around this amazing city of Cartagena. I really like it here! Best. Coffee. Ever. !!!
I have my own building here. The Tam building, it's a theater!
This is only funny if you know our little dog Pete...
The girls... Discussing Pegasus statue wieners... I wandered off at this point.
In Cartagena today! Beautiful city, with wonderfully warm, open, and helpful people. There is a lot of national pride here, pride in their history and heritage. It shows. These are just a few of the photos of the nice contrasts between the old and new here... So far the travel is easy, and the experiences very positive with the Colombians, as long as you are not standing in lines... They will resort to shoving, kicking, and throwing elbows to get to the front of the line. It turns out I am a really shitty line-stander. I am a bit too polite, all like "oops, sorry, perdon, perdon, con permisso, con permisso", and by then the line is long over. Oh well.
First day in Puerto Colombia with these three amazing, crazy, powerful women! Of course... Food first.
3 February 2016
Look who I found! I love that since we took to living on the road I am managing to still get to hang out with a lot of our friends. ❤I have some of the most awesome friends, I am truly blessed to be so lucky. ️Thanks for coming to visit us. I say I have no friends where we are going since we are always moving someplace new to us, but this is a perfect dilemma solver. Also finally have more girl to guy ratio. Poor Mike is stuck with us all week. Tomorrow to Cartagena! Ole!
31 January 2016
Ok so posting late to catch up. Where did I leave off. Oh yea... So just left all our friends in Panama City. Had a great last night in the French quarter at a rooftop bar overlooking the old and new city skyline with great DJs playing super chill dance music. We will be missing our kite friends until we meet up next month in Venezuela. Tomorrow we head to Colombia to kite and meet up with the girls.
28 January 2016
The view from our room...
27 January 2016
This is what a bunch of knuckleheads do when the wind drops. We hiked in to this great little waterfall and jumped off the rocks like monkeys, of course. The rest is just a couple of lazy days on one perfect island after another. Sometimes even two or three different ones in one day. The Kuna are awesome people, love to sell their wares (mostly beaded bracelets, beer, or a coconut with the top chopped off), and very friendly.
They are hard working people, but do have a tough existence out here. Their islands are disappearing more every day (current estimates are that nearly all of the Kuna will be permanently displaced in the next 15 years or so), and the reefs, while incredibly healthy, do not produce the fish they once used to. There is no fertile land for growing crops, so they are increasingly dependent on income from other sources (mostly tourism, now).
Kiting San Blas! Video to come later...so many pretty islands, beautiful water, and reefs. We kited from one pretty gem to the next and they seemed to go on forever in blue and turquoise water so full of life.
Just an example of the food we have been eating... Fresh lobster, fresh fish, coconut rice... Every day. Breakfast, second breakfast, then a platter of fruit, followed by lunch, then dinner in the evening. I may have gained 10 pounds on this trip so far!
Jungle and waterfalls.
This is the 75 foot sailboat, the "Sovereign Grace", and it's very busy captain, John. He is refitting the entire boat from stern forward, and every day, while we are off playing in the wind, he and his crew of two are busy sanding and painting.
John is a Kiwi that has been living in Australia for most of his life, but has called the San Blas Islands his home for the last ten years. He is great with the Kuna Indians out here... Really watches out for their well being, and always willingly throws his lot in to help improve their lives. This guy has some great life experiences, and he is an awesome storyteller for it all.
26 January 2016
Doesn't get much better than kiting all day our own island and then getting lobster for dinner with great company to share with. Yum!
25 January 2016
The Kuna are the indigenous island people who live on the San Blas islands. They don't allow scuba diving or much commercialization which I find great in protecting their beautiful jungle and islands. They let us visit their homes. Some islands were whole hut city's and some were just one hut but most were deserted. They were always happy to have us for a bonfire, drinks, enjoy their beach, sell their beadwork, embroidery, or fresh caught seafood with us. They use a whole tree and dig out a canoe then two sticks and any fabric for a sail to get around the islands. Some have a little bigger dugout and a motor but most had tiny tippy canoes that I have no idea how three of them and a sail don't fall over all the time from while they are out at sea getting dinner.
23 January 2016
So this is the crew of knuckleheads that we are spending 9 days on a boat in the San Blas Islands with. Great, very diverse, group of friends... Some I don't know that well, and some a bit better, but, in all cases, really looking forward to getting to know them better!
Also looking forward to exploring the islands. There are hundreds of little coral atolls with anywhere from one to lots of palm trees on them, with beautiful coral reefs surrounding all of them.
More on this all later... Got a boat to catch.
Meeting up with our friends and we're off to the San Blas on the boat to go kite. This is our home now for a while. Yay!
22 January 2016
We are in Panama City, having just left Punta Chame yesterday in the afternoon. It's odd... This is primarily a kiteboarding trip, but we haven't really mentioned the kiteboarding! So, a quick kiteboarding update: we have been kiting! Every day (except the day that we went up to El Valle). It has been great, the wind has blown all day every day (with tide variations), and we have had a blast. I attempted to kite in these three amazing lagoons with Tam and a pretty cool kid we met named Brendon. I got to the first lagoon, missed a looped hand-drag back roll, inverted my kite, and in sorting out the resulting mess... Got stung by a stupid stingray. Anyway, missed the rest of the lagoons since I had to kite all the way back upwind to get my foot in some hot water...
Tam assures me that the other two lagoons were far more beautiful, with even more perfectly glassy flat water.
Otherwise we have had a ball. Tam has been kiting really well... Jumping like a crazy woman!
21 January 2016
Some of the more intact, older architecture in Panama City. Fun place to walk around and be touristy. The narrow streets, cafes, stores, and restaurants tucked away at every turn lead one to believe that this must be what our uninitiated, romantic assumptions of walking around Southern Europe would be like. Always amazes me how old some of these buildings are, and how they manage to survive in this corrosive salt-air environment. I guess they just don't build 'em like they used to!
19 January 2016
Goodby Punta Chame. We're off to Panama City to meet up with a group of good friends to go kite on the sailboat with.
Yep. Tam went from "Midwestern preacher white", to "raccoon", then to "raccoon with some sort of strange bumpy rash", to "lobster with some sort of strange bumpy rash", and appears to have awoken this morning as a slightly grumpy, sunburned girl with a bunch of mosquito bites. She is still so cute, though!
Due to her crispy condition, any incidental contact in bed was strictly forbidden, with threat of death (or at least serious bodily harm) for any violation. The beds in Panama aren't huge, so I spent most of my night huddled in fear on my tiny little corner of mattress, with nobody but a few nosy mosquitos for company. Going to encourage sunblock today!
18 January 2016
I have a new sunburn spot each day. Even living in Cali I guess I have not gotten out enough the last few months to keep any kind of a tan or in any kind of shape this winter. I am so excited to see the sun and warmth here I forget how white I really am. First day I burnt my face and fingers and thumb from kiting and not reapplying sunscreen. Then my calves got burned bike riding in the volcano. After that sprinkle on a few mosquito bites from the jungle and I thought I was good to go. Well today my bootie reminded me that it had not yet seen the sun, tonight it is now a bright red color after only a few minutes rolling my kite up. My New Years resolution weight loss plan kicks in full gear now since sitting isn't a great option for a bit. Kiting, walking, and swimming is about all for a few days...I was just recovering from biking up and down the giant volcano hills. On the bright side I am way ahead of my resolution plan. I will post some of my fav pics from the last few days.
We found 6$.
We took a nice 2 hour walk around the point of the Punta Chame peninsula before dinner. This black-sand beach was perfectly flat, manicured even, but, strangely, tipped up at about 22 degrees. It went on like this for miles without change. Very odd. I did find six dollars on the beach, but Tam said they weren't worth anything... They were fairly abundant (found another 10 bucks the next night), and I was thinking we could at least buy a beer or something...
Either way... So beautiful here!
16 January 2016
These buses... It's like a competition. They are all privately owned and operated, and I think that the more outlandish they appear, the more people are loyal to riding on each particular bus. The artwork is really amazing. This one captured Tam's attention because of the unicorn on the side. I liked the Hulk Hogan on the fender! They do come with appropriately annoying Latin American, polka-esque thumping-base music, played at maximum volume to drown out the roar of the diesels through the unmuffled stacks in the back. And, boy, are the owners proud of them. They are spotless!
I'm not very knowledgeable on plants (as a matter of fact I can kill most any houseplant just by putting it in my living room), but I can appreciate it when nature creates some amazing things... These were just some random flowers you see growing around the jungles here. The birds here are equally as beautiful, but, damnit, the little buggers won't hold still for close ups like the flowers do! My not being a botanist means I can't tell you the names of these, but you are welcome to look them up yourself... I am too busy kiteboarding to do it!
As you know, we have been traveling with our gnome, Lucky. He is starting to get pretty beat-up looking, and we may need to find some paint for him soon. Don't worry, though, he is still enjoying his travels. A few pictures here of his adventures crossing suspension bridges and hiking to waterfalls.
Looking for the sacred square trees. Found everything else instead. The last one is the square one but wasn't as impressive as the rest of shapes we saw while we were looking for it.
Biking old volcanos. It was hard getting uphill on a beach cruiser single gear. The best part is downhill of course. I hope this stays true for my age in life. You are tired and stinky and exhausted and it can get miserable going up but you just don't really care once you start coasting down the other side. You can only smile and take in the scenery.
Tam may think she looks like a patchy raccoon with burned fingers (yeah, she sunburned her fingers too), but she is still the most beautiful thing around. Lucky to get to travel with her... Every day I put this down in the "happy" column in my long list of things I am grateful for.
15 January 2016
We finally got to kite, ALL day! The water was warm and it was such a great sunny day out. There are so many birds here it is crazy. My favorites are actually the vultures. They skip sideways down the beach. Plus they were kind enough to keep a poor pelican company quietly with his broken wing. Mike said I'm crazy but I think it's all in perspective. They sat around him calmly like a friend circle all day, in what was probably a bad day for him. I imagined the pelican told them when it got to the end and was bad to take him quickly so he may return to the sky. Perspective.
We have to leave the area for a night since our room isn't available. We will head up to El Valle, a volcano, and check it out with a guy we met here for a couple days. It will give me time to nurse my sunburn I got from getting so excited about kiting I wouldn't come back in to reapply sunscreen. Now I look like a patchy tomato raccoon. Kiting also doesn't give you a nice even tan, just certain parts.
Yesterday was a long jet lag day. When we got in from a 20+ hour flight we were so tired and found out our pick up to get to the coast had to cancel because the car broke down. Soooo we rented a car. It went fine and we got to see the city, Panama Canal, a pigeon that looked like a hawk, and lots of beautiful sights. But when we got to the room we reserved the toilet and shower had quit working, the pool was murky, someone had just had their stuff stolen from a bungalow and none of the locks worked, the room wasn't cleaned and there was debris all strewn about like homeless squatters may have taken over so we decided to find another option. Normally we would not be deterred but it was still expensive, we were tired and we found a beautiful place for the same amount to finally get some much needed sleep. Yay sleep!
Our cabana. Super pretty here with the best food I may have ever tasted.
Just one of the locals...
14 January 2016
Buenos Dias from Panama! Weather here is perfectly perfect... That kind of warm humid air that envelopes and comforts you and makes your skin feel so healthy. Some pictures from our drive from the airport, through Panama City, to the sleepy remote Punta Chame peninsula.
I handed Tam my phone because I was busy negotiating the foreign roads, and she got pictures from the passenger seat. We got the cool Jenga Building (that was my name for it) and some other interesting architecture. Not pictured was this really cool, sail-shaped building that was described as the "Trump Building" (that jackass does have a pretty keen eye for architecture, if nothing else). We also got a picture of the "Bridge of the Americas" as we drove over the Panama Canal. I don't know why, but I found this strangely exciting, probably because of the amazing history of the canal itself, but I was so excited Tam looked at me a bit funny.
Also got a quick shot of a local traffic jam... They moved on quickly!
Panama and the traffic jam culprits.
We are still alive after quitting our LA jobs and becoming homeless. I am still both super excited and terrified. We have now Traveled up the Cali coast thru the Redwoods. Did a stop for Kody there...he always loved camping, hiding in the giant trees and picking clovers when he was little. I still miss him no less than ever. We arrived to Bend and I got to work with my favorite ER crew a few days, catch up with friends, drop off Pedro, and now today is our last day in the US for a long while. Next destination Panama to kite board in punte chame for a week and then on to a sailboat with some of our favorite kite peeps to kite the San Blas islands a few weeks...can't wait to see them.
Everything is in motion today. Yesterday turned out to be a scramble to correct some paperwork errors that we made in our application for licensure in Guam. This culminated in completion at the post office, three minutes after closing, with some really grim looking postal workers tsk'ing at us and tapping their feet in that impatient way that only government employees with somewhere else to be are capable of. But, we finished! This has been a strange process, selling everything we own and becoming very mobile. Now, if we decide to move to the other side of the world, we can be ready in an afternoon. What a great feeling... Tam may be a little more anxious about the commitment, the unknown, than I am. I am just excited to get my feet moving again!
So, from here: Punta Chame and The San Blas Islands in Panama, to Colombia, mostly on the coast, from Barranquilla to Cartagena, then finish in Los Roques National Park in Venezuela. Then to Guam to start working again!
9 January 2016
Love my job.
8 January 2016
Tam, the ever vigilant copilot...
Anyone that knows me, at least fairly well, knows my hatred for cold and snow. This is a relatively begrudging admission that, yes, there is a certain beauty in this harsh season. That's all I can say about that. Now... I haven't seen snow in almost three years, and I have come to realize that I hate it even more now than I did before. Only five days left to the tropics! Can't wait!
Pete knows he smells Lucky the gnome around here somewhere... The redwoods.
Yesterday we quit our jobs at Marina Del Rey hospital and became homeless. We sold all of our stuff that wouldn't fit in our car and moved out of LA. I really liked LA and living on the beach but it's time to move on and travel the world. We won't be anyplace very long anymore. This blog is dedicated to travel, chasing wind, making sure we are near the water (we really need the ocean to live), working as travel nurses and wandering around this planet in search of the weird, the lovely, and all the people who make it magical. I am not an eloquent writer nor do I have good punctuation, or care to, so if you need that to read the blog please only read Mike's side of the blog. I can only say mine probably won't be boring all the time.
7 January 2016
Continuing on with our blog. Anyone who knows Tam knows that she tends to exaggerate a LOT! My job here will be to keep her honest. Also, since I have just a weensy bit of a problem with taking cheesy-ass pictures of state lines and border crossings I would need something else to focus my lens on... Then my genius kicked in, and voila! The answer: I will just post pictures of Tam taking all of the cheesy-ass pictures I refuse to take myself. I like taking pictures of her, so this is a win-win. Today was just a trial run, but there are several in here already of her taking cheesy tourist shots. Oh, and pictures of Pete, and pictures of our travel-gnome, Lucky. Yes, that is a frog on Lucky's face. Expect many more great things from Lucky... So, welcome to our Blog. We have decided to title it "Wind, Water, Work, Wander". Seemed fitting somehow.
Launch for hire sounds like a good new job for us. I would love to kite this water.
We have decided to blog our travels... We have left LA, have driven North, very slowly due to crappy California weather (which is about the equivalent of fairly average June weather in Oregon), and have made it as far as Eureka since leaving. We did go by Point Reyes on the way up, which actually turned out pretty fun (see attached pictures), but then everything is fun when you travel with Tam! She was telling me the other day that she wanted to blog... I said "oh hell no", but, as usual, in the end she won, so, here is our blog. Tam says she wants to take pictures of all of the major landmarks we encounter, like state and country lines, natural wonders, and touristy crap like national parks, and Japanese tourists taking pictures of touristy crap like national parks. I can't do it. Sorry guys. This wasn't really acceptable to Tam, though, so I still needed an angle. Here's what I came up with: My part of this blog will be devoted to keeping Tam honest...