Archive for April, 2012


I have been taking my snorkelling equipment on vacations to warm temperatures for decades.

My first recollection of snorkelling was borrowed from a friend on a beach in Saskatchewan with one of those snorkels that had a curve on the top and a ping pong ball in a cage to keep water from coming down the shaft.  I nearly drowned.

In 1988 Pat and I went to Bavaro Beach in the Dominican Republic with friends.  At the time I was totally incapable of relaxing on the beach like the others so I signed for a Snorkelling cruise.  Dropped from a fun boat on a coral reef with minimum equipment I found Nirvana. Floating over the scenes you only see in exotic aquariums.

When I got home I bought my own snorkel, mask and fins and over the years used them for hundreds of hours in our pool and the occassional trip to the south.  I became a bit of an expert.  When I took my PADI skin diving course there were no issues with mask clearing etc .

I brought my fins and mask and snorkel on this trip to Hawaii and it has been a big part of my personal enjoyment.  We spent 2 of our days on Lanai island on the Manele beach and I on the first day went out snorkelling as I have done on beaches everywhere.  I was stunned by the best coral reefs and variety of fish that I have ever seen.   And free from the beach

We are now stayign on Maui and I have paid for several boat snorkel trips one to Molokini considered the best Snorkelling site on Maui.  A small crescent shaped island that is the tiny part of a volcano standing above the sea.  Lots of fish and acres of coral.  Then on to turtle bay were I swam with big green turtles … Great

First Days in Maui

We have now spent our first few days at our rented Condo in Maalaea on Maui Hawaii.  Pat and I spent a long time searching for the best condo rental unit for this portion of our trip.  We learned that you wanted to be in the SW quadrant of Maui for the best sunshine and views.  Then we looked for the best unit with great views and modern furniture and appliances.

We have everything we wanted in the unit, but we have learned that Maalaea is the windiest spot in Maui if not all of Hawaii.  There is a funnel of wind between the volcanoes that goes right through this area.

The good news is that we are right next to the acquarium and the harbour where I will be taking my snorkelling cruises.  We can walk to both.  The grounds and the pool are perfect and the views towards the 10,000 foot volcano on the south side of Maui is right out our patio door.  But the trade winds blow like the dickens.

So we have to drive to the quiet beaches.  Actually less distance than we would have to drive back home.  We did drive south to  Wailea about 20 minutes south where we would buy if we win 6-49.  In the wind shadow of the volcano and with homes and beaches that are perfect.  For Blaine and Lisa this is the Scottsdale of Maui.  I cannot afford to buy there but I am hoping someone in the family does so we can visit.

Cloudy windy day, although 80 degs plus, so we spent the day at the Aquarium and then exploring by car.  Tomorrow (tuesdsy) I take a 5 hour snorkelling cruise while Pat shops for a dress to wear to Corrie and Ryan’s wedding.  Then we dine outside again.

I saw it snowed in Toronto yesterday and only 9 deg in Courtenay so better here even with the 35 mph wind



We had a great 5 days on Lana’i island. To those that have not been there it is one of the smaller of the Hawaiian islands.  Only 18 miles by 13 miles.  Population of 3500 almost all in the little village called Lanai City.  At one time this was the biggest Pineapple plantation in the world which was the reason for the town.  The plantation stopped in the 90s and the land turned back to the near desert scrub.

Two major resorts were built 4 seasons Manele Bay (where Janine and Meagan spent their honeymoons) and 4 seasons Koele.  Both with spectacular golf courses and rooms that rent for minimum $400 per night.  We did not stay there.

There is a small inn called Hotel Lanai which is the lodge built in the 1920s for the executives and clients of Dole that came to visit.  Small comfortable rooms but with not phone, no TV, no internet and no Air Conditioning.  But the town is at 1700 feet altitude so the lack of AC was not a factor as the temp dropped to the mid 60s each night so we just kept the window open.

On the ferry ride to the island we were told by a tour guide taking a group to the Manele Bay resort, that you had better like the person you are travelling with to Lanai as you are going to spend a lot of time with that person.

There is very few people on the island at any time.  We did meet some great people and had dinner with a couple on Friday night, but most of the time it was just the two of us.  The island only has 30 miles of paved road but hundreds of miles of rough trails or tracks that lead everywhere.  We rented a 4wd Jeep for 2 days and wandered to isolated beaches and ruins where we were the only people we saw for hours.  We came to one mile long beach where there were only 3 other people. One trail went along the ridge of the ancient volcano that formed the island with great views.  Only 11 miles but it took us 2 1/2 hours and would not have been possible without 4wd and big tires.  A great adventure with wonderful views as the prize.

The last two days we spent at Manele Bay beach which was a 20 minute ride on a shuttle.  According to Frommers travel guide this beach is not only considered the best in Hawaii it is the best in the USA.  I could not disagree.  A crescent beach of white sand with lava ridges enclosing on both sides. Shade trees where needed and no commercial development.  Swimming out there were shallow coral reefs starting 100 feet out and filling the bay.  Thousands of fish.  Absolutely the best snorkelling I have ever experienced.  As this was next to the resort there were more people but I am talking of maybe 100 people on a big beach.

A great 5 days, and tonight we are settled in on the SW corner of Maui. Entirely different experience with shopping malls and thousands of people.



Mother has passed on.  What a polite phrase for that irreversible step where you can no longer contact someone ever again.

I have been expecting and truthfully hoping for this event for some time.  When I attended church with Pat and she prayed for mother to get better, I prayed for her to be taken.  A horrible thought for a son but she has suffered so long and her life was miserable.

But when the phone call came through that my prayers were answered I should have felt joy or at least relief, but I admit I had the selfish feeling of sadness because I would not be able to enjoy talking to her.

In the last few years I had gotten in the habit of talking to her 3 – 4 times a week.  Never great events but conversations.  For the last few months we had reminisced more as she suffered from short term memory losses.  I would normally end by describing the unusual or exotic meal that Pat and I had prepared or were preparing and inevitably her comment was “no wonder you are so fat”

I love that woman and I will miss the phone calls………

Vacation Safety Training

Over the last few weeks I have been preparing for the vacation by watching programs such as Mayday and the series of documentaries on Titanic.  Pat calls it morbid but I call it Safety Training. 

From the many plane crashes on Mayday I have learned – make sure you have shoes on for the landing and taking off  – do not inflate the life jacket until leaving the plane if you hit water  – make sure the pilots do not have unpronounceable last names

The many documentaries on Titanic as well as the recent one on the Costa Concordia I have learned – when the ship is listing 30° and the crew says everything is all right please return to your stateroom, grab your life jacket and get to the boats – when at the lifeboat muster station stand in front and do not allow people to get in front of you – the old adage about women and children first is gone with modern equality the new motto is “every man for himself” – make sure you save some mementos of a sinking ship as they are worth a ton later.

For the time in Hawaii I have been studying Dog the Bounty Hunter.   Apparently Hawaii is not all beaches and pretty mountains.  I saw that I should avoid most of Honolulu and if I ever do get arrested over there and escape, do not visit my girlfriend as thats the first place they look.  Pretty sure this last lesson is a remote chance. 

In any event I now feel secure in that I have taken full Safety Training


Pat and I have just joined one of the local Probus clubs in Comox Valley.  We have belonged to the newcomers club for the last 3 years which has introduced us to many new friends.  But Newcomers is essentially a women’s club where the activities may include spouses but not the club.  In any event we must now leave as you can only be a Newcomer for 3 years. 

Pat will move into the Alumni club which also has many activities, but over the years we have met so many people that also belong to Probus. 

Probus clubs are essentially a byproduct of the Rotarian clubs but aimed at Professional Business people who are retired.  Started 50 years ago in the UK but now world wide.  Most members are couples so the monthly meetings are open to both men and women.  Not very different to the newcomers club in that the club is a core of many subgroups that hike, travel, go to pubs, garden, golf  … whatever.  There is a community service portion of Probus but it is mainly aimed at social activities and less at fund raising. 

You must have a professional background and have to be invited to join. We have had several couples hint at inviting us but finally a friend took us to a meeting where we could sign up.  I think it is going to be right up our alley.  At the first meeting Pat and I already knew at least a dozen people. 

I think we are going to enjoy this.  Not the least of which I will no longer be the mere spouse of a member, but an active participant. 

Pat will remain with the alumni group, as well as her activity with the Catholics Women’s League (where I do not expect many good time parties) and we will also belong to the Miata club.  So our social connections over the years ahead may be full. 


Good Friday 2012

I was reading a book where one of the characters maintains a blog site.  She spent hours editing and perfecting every issue.  Apparently because I am being published I should do this as well.  In her case she was getting thousands of readers.  Granted she was using more descriptive titles.  Reminiscent of my title about Granddaughters are easy where I had many responses asking for pictures from creepy guys. 

But this is a hobby not a vocation so accept the spelling mistakes, but realize the profound lessons I deliver however hidden.

Pat and I drove down to Victoria to see James and Monique.  They were visiting Victoria to visit an alternative medical facility to help Monique.  Do not worry this was not a shaking chicken bones over an incense fire kind of place.  James and Monique took it in with a sense of reality but the good thing was that Monique came out with a better realization about healthy eating.  I hope they go home with the same enthusiasm as they shared with us.  (good luck with teen-aged kids demanding pizzas and deep fried chicken wings) 

While it was a cool day, the sun was shining and Victoria was gorgeous.  Cherry trees in blossom and flowers everywhere. 

We took them to a seafood restaurant on the harbour (Wharfside) that Pat and I have visited many times.  Unfortunately, while the ambience was the same and view of the sunset over the mountains was beautiful, they were under new management and the meal was not quite as good as we have had there before.  Same pricing, less food.  In any event James and Monique loved it as they did not realize it was not up to par.

Next morning we picked them up and drove down to China Town where we had Dim Sum. 

Monique looks… well very good for a bald lady.  She is losing weight but not extreme.  Her excitement for a new experience was normal and aside from being a bit more tired (and with less appetite) she was the same.  Very positive attitude.  She IS GOING TO GET OVER THIS.

We have never had a weekend out with James and Monique without the kids, so this was a unique experience.  The combination of the sunny weather and Victoria made this special.

Roof Tiles

When we had our house built, I felt very secure because we had these heavy roofing tiles.  Last forever.  Not like the problems we had in Ontario with asphalt shingle or the horror of Cedar shingle that only last 10 years.

But today I have doubts.  We had another of the horrendous wind storms that has been recurring this spring.  In some cases near hurricane wind bursts.  In the weeks past we have not had an issue although neighbours had tiles blown off.  I thought we were secure but at noon today in pouring rain there was an almighty wind burst that made the house shake and then the sound like thunder.  I went outside and found that a tile had blown free at near the top of the house, slid down and smashed some other tiles.

Pouring rain as I said.  I tried to phone the contractor that installed the roof, but his phone was disconnected.  I found another contractor who came over and will work on the repairs.  He went up on the roof briefly (in very high wind with me holding his ladder) and determined that we have a good water tight membrane covering the roof under the tiles so we should not have leaks, but he pointed out to me that the tile that blew off, and many tiles around, were never nailed to the roof.

Each tile weighs about 10 lbs and there are holes at the top edge that have to be drilled out before putting in screws or nails.  Apparently our original roofer skipped the nails on many of the tiles and depended on their weight.  The guy that came told me that this was common as they cannot use automatic nailers for tiles, and we normally do not get the winds that we have experienced this spring.

It will take a week until they can source the replacement tiles and finish the repairs.

I feel a bit like the little pig that thought his house of sticks would be OK only to have the big bad wolf blow it down.