Our Ometepe Mini-Adventure

Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua consisting of two volcanos, one extinct and one not-so-extinct. It is also a bit of a tourist mecca, owing to its chilled out vibe, its beautiful scenery, and its cheap cheap cost of travel. So while it wasn't on our original itinerary, we had a few days to spare and decided to head out and have a look for ourselves. Between a couple of lazy days of catch up computer work and reading in hammocks, we rented a scooter and had a bit of an adventure!

Driving in a foreign country is always an adventure in itself. Because Ometepe has more bikes than cars and really only 2 intersections, it could have been much worse. The cow traffic jams, bursts of weather, and surprise speed bumps, however, kept us on our toes. Luckily, all that Scoot Scoot time made me an expert Scooter-er, so we felt about as comfortable as could be expected.

Our first stop was a search for a geocache. I feel obliged to get a cache in every country I visit*, which sometimes is a hassle but this time turned out to be great. It took us to an out of the way National Park that held ancient petroglyphs. We snagged the cache and then wondered around the completely deserted park for a while before meandering back down towards civilization.

To dodge an incoming squall, we ducked into a little restaurant in a not-even-a-town only to find it to be a Southern Californian's dream. Farm-to-table is a term that is kicked around all the time, but this place was serious: coconut milk hand made from trees on the property, lettuce and tomatoes from their garden, fresh pasta hand made with egg from their chickens, beef from the neighbor's grass-fed cow, and coffee from local (like within 100 yards) beans roasted over a sustainable wood fire. Finish it off with tiny cacao num nums (grown on property sweetened with honey from their land) and you might as well be a millionaire in Santa Barbara. Just about the only thing not hyper-local was the beer Della treated herself to, the first of the trip. Bill total on this splurge of a meal with dessert, drinks, and stuff-you-to-the-gills goodness for two: $15.00.

With the squall past and darkness not far off, we decided to head back, but figured we had enough time to go the long way 'round to complete our circumnavigation of the Concepcion volcano. What we didn't count on was 1) the main highway turned to rutted dirt road for 8km and 2) the sky would open up and dump on us. But despite all that, we loved seeing the even less populated parts of the island and even were treated to a nice howler monkey show.

Once back to town, safe and dry, we moseyed to our now favorite dinner place for our usual fare. Amazing chicken, beans and rice, smashed fried plantains, and a salad served by the sweetest little lady totaling $6 with tip (for both of us!). Totally the right price for an awesome meal and a great way to wind down our little Ometepe adventure day.

If you ever find yourself in Nicaragua with a few days to kill, I can't think of a better way to do it than checking out Ometepe!
Tuesday December 13 2016File under: travel, Nicaragua

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Della and the Animals of Costa Rica

From the moment our plane touched down in Liberia, Costa Rica and the pilot had to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting a giant iguana, this trip has been about animals. Costa Rica is a great place for animals! You can't seem to go 10 miles without seeing a National Park. It makes for some convenient tourist-ing, that's for sure.

I don't know if you knew this, but Della likes animals. I mean, she really likes them. Like really likes them. So this has been great being able to see all the animals through her eyes. Everything is so cute from the gecko to the howler monkey and pretty much everything in between*.

And while we haven't been able to get a photo of her with every animal we've seen, we thought it might be fun to try. So, without further ado, here're a few picture of Della with animals in Costa Rica. (Be sure to read the caption for the story.)



It's not only the native and wild animals that are of interest.


Friday December 9 2016File under: travel, Costa Rica

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Pura Vida


Hear the words "Pura Vida" and you know you're in Costa Rica. It's pretty much their mantra. You hear it from the cashier at the mini-mart, you hear it from your waiter, you hear it from a passing local on the street. It means "pure life" or something along those lines, at least for a literal translation. But it means so much more.

After only a week here, I know I haven't grasped the full meaning, but I'm starting to get it. It means no worries, enjoy yourself, welcome, isn't this amazing?, namaste, and so much more. Over the next couple weeks, I look forward to learning more about Pura Vida from the super friendly locals and the lovely vibe that this place permeates.

Besides our lexicographical endeavors, Della and I have been up to pretty much what you might expect folks in Costa Rica to be up to: ziplining*, frolicking in the ocean and on the beaches, seeing lots of good wildlife, and just taking in the good life. Pretty standard, really. But since a picture is worth a bunch of words, here are a few snaps from week 1.

Sunday December 4 2016File under: travel, Costa Rica

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Thanksgiving on the Farm

Being a city boy mostly these days, it was nice to spend some time at the family farm in Oklahoma this Thanksgiving. I was surrounded by family, noodles, hay bales, baby lambs, peanut brittle, pitch*, and more...and it was great! I took Della along to give her a taste of the Midwest and she took to it quite nicely*

There's a beauty and simplicity to county life. The days centered around meals (which were plentiful and wonderful!) and excursions. Such excursions took us to dad's old homestead, which has seen better days, Norman to visit friends and family and cruise through the old stomping grounds, and a neat little roadside attraction off Route 66 that featured a 60 foot LED pop bottle and the soda selection to go along with it*.

Yes, it's good to go back home once in a while. This trip to Oklahoma reminded me that I should make a habit of going back more often. It was just so wonderful to be surrounded by family, the simplicity of life on the farm, and lots and lots of good eats!
Saturday November 26 2016File under: holidays, Oklahoma

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My Crossword Resume Grows

Just this week, Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #16 was released and contained 2 of my puzzles! It's my first puzzles published in book form and, while no NYT or WSJ, it's still exciting. The book contains puzzles by well known names in the industry*. If you've been meaning to re-up your crossword game, pick yourself up a copy (preferably from your local bookstore, but here's the amazon link just in case).

This represents my seventh published venue for a puzzle: Every time I have a puzzle published, I get a little giddy. It represents so much to me: accomplishment of a goal, persistence, recognition that what I've made is worthy, and so much more. Each new venue is another notch on that accomplishment list, and it just makes me smile. I've got my sights set on the next puzzle and the next venue, so stay tuned. In the meantime, go do a crossword.

Thursday November 17 2016File under: crosswords

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Minor Media Mentions - Anacortes Pride


Again for posterity, I submit this article from Anacortes Pride, the monthly newsletter/paper from the Anacortes School District. It was an honor to be profiled and really really fun chatting with the superintendent. The conversation ranged all over, much more than could be covered in this Q&A. The paper copy will go in my scrap book, but now it's in my digital scrapbook as well!
Thursday November 3 2016File under: media, Anacortes

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Zombie-tastic!

I recently had the opportunity to be an extra (or "background talent") for a TV show called

Being a film/tv extra has been my latest quest, an item on my life goal list that I hope to be able to check off soon.* Getting a chance to go on set for a TV show and participate in a few scenes was a big step in that direction.

And while I'm stoked to be moving in the direction of my goal, in reality, being an extra has its ups and downs. On the one hand, it is super interesting seeing how a set works, all the people around*, different jargon, number of takes to get a shot, the make-up process, famous people all around*, the food arrangement, talking to other extras and crew about experiences they've had, hearing how a director directs, stunts and stunt doubles*, and so much more. Really, with so much magic surrounding TV and movies in my eyes, seeing its inner-workings in person was really really interesting.

On the other hand, being an extra, esp. a zombie extra, has its downsides. Pay is minimum wage (8-hours guaranteed). The make-up takes forever to get off*. The outcome of your day on set is very random*. In my 2 very long days, I might be in 5 seconds of film (which mostly just shows my back). Kind of lame. And above all, it is super boring. Hours upon hours pass just waiting in the waiting tent (while totally covered in make-up, including your hands, so you can't even dinkle with your phone). Occasionally crew will chat, but mostly, they've got jobs to do. You never know when anything is going to happen or what it will be.

Despite the ups and downs, I'm really stoked to have had the opportunity. I put a few bucks in my pocket, got to see a behind the scenes look, got a really neat story to share, and snapped a few interesting pictures along the way.


If my footage doesn't get left on the cutting room floor, look for the back of my zombified head in Season 3, Episode 14, probably airing sometime in the spring. (My hands might make a guest appearance in episode 11 or 12 too!). However it pans out, I'm sure I'll post about it here, so stay tuned.
Wednesday September 21 2016File under: extra, pics

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Summer Performing 2016

This past summer has been a whirlwind of performing for Della and me. This weekend is the first in months we haven't had a gig*. And looking forward, there's at least one per weekend for the next month. So much for me "not being a performer." :-)

Although it's been busy, it's been super fun. Going to festivals and parties ain't a bad way to make a buck or two. And Della and I have been honing in our acts and are getting ready to debut our first show this weekend at the Sh'Bang at the Lookout Arts Quarry. It should be a blast.

The photos below hardly do justice to all the running around we've been doing. We're usually just so busy we forget about taking photos. Luckily, folks are kind enough to share theirs with us (which are way better than ours would be anyway).

So here are a few photos from Summer 2016. I hope you enjoy having a look as much as I enjoyed putting them together! (Photo captions give some context.)

Give'er
by the
River
Anacortes
Busker
Fest
 
Weddings
 
New Old
Time
Chautauqua
Skagit
County
Fair
 
Birthday
Parties
 
Lots of
Other
Fun Stuff

Sunday September 4 2016File under: pics, juggling

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Sleeping Around 2015-2016

Another year, another year's worth of sleeping around data. This brings me to 8 years worth of data on where I slept every night. That's 2922 nights. It's kind of crazy having a log of something so simple for so long, but I love it. And I love analyzing it. So, without further ado...

Observations:
  • Housesitting is off the hook, almost doubling from years past.*
  • Nights At Home, correspondingly, are way down at less than 40% of average
  • Domestic Travel (travel outside of Washington state) is at an all time low, meaning that while I may not be at home much, I'm sure staying close to home
  • International Travel is up nicely, reflecting that rambling trip to Egypt, etc.
  • Car nights are down, due in part to the uptick in housesitting and Della getting the Green Room*
  • Another year of just one tent night, though it is almost cheating because it was quite a deluxe tent out in the desert in Jordan

Additional Stats
# of Housesitting Houses8Some were Della's, some were mine. Some were one off, some were long-time clients
# of states (other than WA)5OR, AZ, WI, NY, CT
# of countries (other than US)7Hungary, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, UAE, France, [International Waters]*
Longest stretch at home8The longest stretches away from home, though, were 60, 58, and 45

If you care to have a look at the data yourself, do so here*. And if you really want to get into the weeds of data, you can look over my last 7 Sleeping Around posts: '08-'09, '09-'10, '10-'11, '11-'12, '12-'13, '13-'14, '14-'15. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed my analysis even a tenth as much as I enjoyed making it. Really, nothing better than this data set helps me encapsulate my life in numbers.
Wednesday August 3 2016File under: stats

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Half Beard 2016


My ridiculous beard posts have gotten noticeably fewer in recent times (perhaps following the trend of BdW posts in general). One of the main reasons for this is that I've been growing the beard longer than usual. To me, it's more or less the same, except that I do enjoy have something to fidget with. But as I'm reminded when I head out into the world, it can catch some people off guard, which in turn catches me off guard. Some people, esp. those who I've met more recently, very much do not recognize me beardless.

With the heat of summer weighing heavily and with the knowledge if I didn't shave it soon, I'd have to wait until next Spring(!?), I gave Della the clippers and said "have a go!". She decided it was time to chop the hair as well which was fine by me! Plus, she beat her personal best hair cutting time by 10 minutes (which even included time for a mid-trim photo shoot!)
Monday June 20 2016File under: beard

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