Saturday, August 29, 2009


We have spent the last three days aboard the Carnival Destiny but I did not take a single picture. I wish I had better stories to tell as well. I need to get on and post an evaluation of our trip. The idea of the cruise is fun, but it winds up being a lot of walking. The great part of the cruise I think are the excursions you can take, but for us this makes no sense.

Because we embarked on Grand Turk we have both immigration and customs issues to deal with in Miami. In line to walk off the ship, the BUZZER went off when I put in my cruise card and we were escorted out of line to an area wher we had to wait on a ship's officer to come see us.

Lucas says, "Why has everything got to be so hard with this family?"

Then we were escorted down through immigration by one of the ships officers, placed at the front of the line, cleared within seconds, took someones reservation on a private taxi to the airport, then hopped onto the Crown Plaza shuttle which pulled up right beside us. We were express checked into our room by 10:00AM.

We have been sitting here all day, albeit with a hotel room that acesses the outdoor pool, until we leave at 5:ooam for our plane to CMH. The best part of the day was going across the street to the Latin Cafe for coffee con leche and a cuban sandwichs. Lucas, I am not sure what he expects out of life if he thinks it is hard now!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Diving and Leaving

We had a very nice dinner with Martin and Janice and their son Josh on Monday. Where they are living overlooks the western beach and sunsets are dramatic. Ours was not, but dinner was great. And as a bonus, Lucas did not fight anyone.

On Tuesday we did our last dive on Grand Turk. We did an evening dive from 5:00 to 6:00, a sunset dive. This was one of the best dives I have had here. The setting sun makes the quality of light remarkable and we were overwhelmed by large marine life, including an outstanding four foot Nassau Grouper. This was also Josh's discover scuba dive. As your first dive I don't think it could have been better either.

We dove tunnels, which is where we did our last dive last year. I am thinking that this sunset dive will be our tradition of leaving Grand Turk. So, I guess its not all bad.

I would never think us a dive family, not like some of the real dive families that come through here. But between the four of us, we have logged 30 dives in the last nine weeks that the boys have been here. Lucas has 24 dives (21 hours under water) before his 15th birthday. Davis, at 12, is certified.

Lucas is clearly the best diver in the family. He is like a fish in the water. A couple days ago he was just sitting at the bottom of a hundred foot sand bottom canyon. I watched him for a long time. He was just stationary, looking at something. Everyone else was swimming far above him. Amazing. Yesterday he was swimming with a turtle at 90 feet trying to touch it. A few days ago he was scolded for working his hand under the sand until a garden eel popped out of its hole, something I have only seen one other person do. Amazing.

I a couple of hours we will be embarking on the Carnival Destiny. This weekend the family will be back in the states. Though school starts today I think, it was $3000 cheaper to travel back the week after school starts, so though it makes Lucas' first week of high school a little difficult...what are you going to do!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rum and Cubans

Today we all took a boat trip out to the wall. Mart, Luke, and I went diving. Deneen and Davis snorkeled around.

We came out of the water at 1:45, just in time to get to Alessio and Jackie's house for lunch/dinner. The dinner of grilled sausages was great. The conversation lively. Cuban music resounded thoughout the house.

Dinner lasted for about four hours. The last hour or so Alessio got out the rum and cigars that he brought back from their trip to Cuba several weeks ago. Then we talked politics very loudly. For anyone who has had dinner with Alessio and Jackie you know what I'm talking about.

Like happens at many dinner parties, after the rum and Cubans Lucas got into a fight. Now, I must say that for the most part Alessio was having all the rum and Cubans, and it was not really a fight fight. Though it did end with Lucas (or really the rum I have to add) knocking Alessio over and into the table, where as the serving plate of sausages fell onto the tile floor and broke into several pieces, and where as Alessio cut both his arm and leg on the tiled side table.

Then the fight started. Not only is a nice serving dish impossible to replace on Grand Turk. This was also a special plate given to Jackie before they came to the island several years ago. I could not stop laughing, and I ate another sausage off the floor.

On our way home we discussed how many parties were going to end with Lucas beating someone up and breaking something. This makes three that I have been to. Though I don't think you would guess it, it just seems to happpen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two Partied Out

Friday we were scheduled for a Children's Club trip to Gibbs Cay to swim with the stingrays. In the morning, however, the ocean was rough and visibility very poor. This was owing to Hurricane Bill to the North of us. At noon, we cancelled the the trip.

On Thursday we had toured the Carnival Liberty with Children's Club. Everyone on staff was still tired from watching 20 kids on the boat, on the Lido deck cafeteria, in the pool, on the slide, back in the Margarittaville pool. In the end, Friday evening was going to be way too busy anyway.

Friday was the changeover party for the Cruise Center director. Mike Reimers, who has been here since I arrived, is leaving to open the new Carnival cruise center in Roatan, Honduras. I liked Mike and am sorry to see him go. He is one of the people here who I wished I would have had more time to get to know better.

The party was at Margarittaville. Whenever I go to parties like this, I am torn between being a good representative of the museum and selfishly eating great food that we normally don't get.

Last night they had chips and the best salsa I have had in a long time. We got involved in this long conversation with another guest, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to get some more salsa.

Luckily, Deneen has been with me at the last few parties and I am able to excuse myself by saying, "I need to get my wife some more chips, she just loves this salsa!"

After I had three plates of chips...this may seem excessive but I actually found a bowl of guacamole so I thought it was a complement to the kitchen staff...the buffet line was opened and we went up to get chicken fajitas.

We sat with Kelly and Gearheart from the Bohio, though we see them often I don't think I have sat for dinner with them since Dinah and I had them over last January. They are someone else I wish I had time to get to know better.

Anyway, at 9:00 I looked at my watch and said, "Sorry, we have to go."

We were already late for our next party. Just after 9:00 we arrived at the last museum music jam. Everyone was already there. This party had a rather rocky start, as when I got there there was mostly just kids hanging out, my three sons included.

But we started playing, people left, others came. By the time I turned around it was 11:58. Deneen went home. Lucas, Martin, and I went to get Poop Deck chicken.

At 2:30 this morning I awoke on the floor of the living room. Everyone was asleep, every light was on, every television was on. Most places this is typical, but here this is soooo against my conservative use of electricity rules. It drives me crazy.

At 10:30am I awoke, went out to the living room, and kicked Martin and Lucas awake. We have twenty minutes to get toast and coffee and get to our 11:00 dive.

Its Saturday. This is Deneen and the boys' last weekend on Grand Turk. We are tired from the parties, but the reality is that the parties have just started.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Children's Club Tuesday

Yesterday was the third Children's Club day. I think these have been the funnest Children's Club programs that we have done since I have been here.

In the morning, Davis completed his third and fourth open water dives for his PADI scuba certification. We had two dives with Mitch from Blue Water Divers. Short and quick, there is too much to do today.

The Children's Club program was a mangrove study. It turned out to be three hours of kayaking in North Creek. The kayak excursion had to be moved from South Creek to North Creek after the hurricane because of the destruction in South Creek. I have never been in North Creek. Paddling out was no problem, except keeping everyone together. We kayaked to the mangroves. We kayaked to the jellyfish spotting field. Then we tried to return.

I have always heard that the tidal current in North Creek is very strong. This is what makes it dangerous (if you remember the post from a few weeks ago). In fact the current is very strong and tide was coming in. Paddling the hardest you could got you nowhere. Kayaks were spread all over the creek, which looks more like a large lake.

After an hour of vigorous paddling, everyone was able to beach their kayaks onto a dredged jetty that extends into the creek. There is a large dredge barge with a huge crane rusting where it stopped working in mid project years ago at the end of this jetty, but that's a story I have not heard yet. Everyone walked down the jetty back to kayak shack. Only Reuben was able to get his kayak back to the dock. This left 15 kayaks to be carried back portage trail style.

When we finally got back to the museum an hour and fifteen minutes late it was time for the program to be over. But we stayed to have our snack of Poop Deck chicken.

Unlike every other day we have a program everyone sat eating their snack in total silence. Everyone was totally exhausted.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes it is!

I did not even get to finish my last blog and here I sit in Grand Turk.

Austin to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, overnight at the Crown Plaza, Miami to Provo, Provo to Grand Turk. I got in Sunday afternoon.

When I left everything was blue skys. Today, we have two named storms in the Caribbean. We also have three ships in port because of the storms south of us. Children's club meets on Tuesday and we are not prepared yet. Also, the Astrolabe is now a week overdue to the editor.

Back to work.

Friday, August 14, 2009

is it Saturday yet?

Austin is crazy.

There are over 1900 musical acts here playing at nearly 200 venues. I had no idea.

In the 1930s Austin developed a unique form of Blues, the East Side Blues. I have actually sat through a symposium on how the archives of this historical musical period is being preserved.

As it exists today, everyone here is an amazing vocalist.

I have heard lots of bands here, but tonight I heard the best one.


I am running late, go figure...but I wanted to jot something down while I was thinking about it.

My feet hurt soooooo bad. I have blisters all over my heels from wearing dress shoes for two days.

I presented my paper this morning, but that is a boring work story. This afternoon I rented a car and drove north into the suburbs where you can Xchange and Xbox.

On you can locate a GameStop anywhere in the US. What an amazing ubiquitous conglomerate of sameness you have managed to create here! Though, evidently there are more GameStops than meet the pixel. At exit 245 on I-35 where the Kohls is located, get to that in a minute, there were two. Niether came up on

I like the adventure, but does it really have to be all the time? I bought and exchanged three Xboxes today. Yes, you heard correctly. This took do long that I now have to keep the car overnight, which means I have to find somewhere to PARK IT.

My last memory of Martin is that he is standing at the door holding the power converter saying, "Are you sure you don't want to take this?"

Smart man. Who would have thought. Everything is the same about the new Xbox except the new power converter does not have a square pin in the center.

For $10.00 dollars I could have exchanged our used Xbox for a new Xbox. Not could have, did! I had to buy a new one to open the box to see if the power cable fit.

Xchange...(think sound of a cash register)

The problem was it did not fit. The young man could not swap the power cable and because I did not have mine I had to return the new one.

Xchange...(think sound of a cash register)

"Is your power cable nearby?" asked the young man.

"No," say I, "it is on a small island off of Florida." Now, this is not exactly not the truth.

OK, we rip open the new used Xbox. I pick it up to put it in my bag and something sounding like a small piece of metal falls from the bottom to the top.

"Is it suppose to sound like this?" as I turn it over and over with what I think is a samll nut pinballing around all of the internal magic circuts of the Xbox.

Xchange...(think sound of a cash register)

Well, to make this a short story, I am in the possession of a second new used Xbox marked "checked" and "cleaned."

I was hunting down a Kolhs so that I could get a new battery and watch band for my watch that is constantly at 2:07. If it read 5:00 I would wear it, because anyone who knows anything about Jimmy Buffet knows this would be funny. But 2:07 is not humorous in any way. Believe me, I have been trying to think of a joke about it for thirty minutes and it is just not funny.

Well, Kolhs in Texas evidently does not carry Columbia watches so it is 2:07.

What they do have is 80% off sandals. What a country. It is an amazing life you live here in this place of $10 sandals and $2 beer. I guess that is the trade for ubiquitous sameness.

Anyway, now I am really late, but I have my dancing sandals on, and my feet are happy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ain't No Party Like an Archivist Party

I am in Austin, Texas, attending the Society of American Archivists annual conference. Tomorrow I am participating in a symposium on sustaining Caribbean archives.

This is just a comment for Jamey - welcome back to the fourth floor.

I booked too late to stay in the conference hotel, so I had to book a hotel about six blocks away. The unintended consequence of this is that I am in the heart of the music scene. Austin, evidently, is the "live music capital of the world." There are over 200 live music venues here. Plus, the award winning PBS show Austin City Limits.

I got in very late last night but was still able to catch two blues bands. One band had a 13 year-old drummer. This band happened to be playing in the "best dive bar" in Austin, which also had two for one hamburger. I had forgotten what a great hamburger tastes like.

I would tell more, but I am off to the Plenary session and then to the exhibit hall reception.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Linda's Birthday

I am in Miami. My sister Linda is in Orlando. This has nothing to do with each other. Except that when I called to say happy birthday I found out that she was in Florida.

Yes, I am in Miami. With the desperate year we have had on Grand Turk, I am still amazed that we are just an hour and a half from Miami. But we are. My journey began early with a flight to Provo to take care of some business before an afternoon flight back to the US.

I stopped at Unicorn Books in Provo to ask Toni if he had a great book he could recommend that I read on my flight today. I left with The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maarten Troost. It is a travelogue of two years the author spent on a small island in the Pacific. Evidently living on a small island is the same everywhere. The difference is that Maarten Troost is an exceptional writer. It is suppose to be funny, but I know all of the jokes already.

For both myself and Maarten Troost getting to a small island in the middle of nowhere is in itself a story. But evidently getting off is also a story.

Getting into the US through the Miami airport requires a mile and a half jog. I had to do this carrying 50 pounds of luggage. I am not kidding about this. The walk between the gates and immigration is so long there should be people cheering at the end and you should break through a tape at "US Citizens." OK, that is my funny joke I told to three people as I passed them. Evidently it gets a laugh 33% of the time.

Even before this I had four baggage checks and had to remove my shoes twice.

This is about how my day has gone so far...

"What is this?"

"An Xbox."

"What is this?"

"An Xbox."

"What is this?"

"An Xbox."

"Hey, an Xbox!"

I will get to that at another time if my Xbox mission is successful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Children's Club Tuesday

Today was our weekly Children's Club outing. We loaded onto a bus and were off for an ECO ADVENTURE.

Now when I say we loaded onto a bus, I mean that 32 of us got on a twenty passenger bus. The tour was fantastic. We visited several natural history sites with one of the best tour drivers on the island.

The highlight for sure was our visit to North Wells. This is one of the oldest heritage areas on the island. The north wells were created by Bermudians in the seventeenth century as fresh water wells so that the horses and donkeys left on the island would not die.

Today, the area attracts a variety of wildlife, because it is one of the few areas in the bush where water is found.

The minute we got out of the bus kids started chattering about a dog in the well. The story is one you have heard over and over and over. Who is going to climb into the well to rescue the trapped puppy?

After we had loaded everyone back on the bus, I climbed into the shallow well and Martin and I pulled the dog out of the water. It appears that the dog had been in the water for a few days with nothing but its head above water. It came out easy enough, but had difficulty walking. The bus driver had a leftover lunch on the bus, which the dog ate enthusiastically.

We went back later to make sure the dog had recovered and moved on home. It had.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Deneen

We flew over to Provo for Deneen's birthday. OK, we flew over because I had to meet with a couple of people on Deneen's birthday. But we are in Provo none-the-less.

I thought I had an in to get a great deal on a room at Ocean Club West but this fell through. By the time everything was organized we had to drive over and book into the Comfort Suites. Then, for her birthday I took her to the Thursday night Rotary meeting.

I think Deneen has become accustomed to a little more swagger than the Comfort Suites has to offer (in her defence, she thinks I have come to expect a little more comfort). And though we got a good nights sleep, the whole birthday thing seemed a little dull. Unfortunately, the Comfort Suites was fully booked Friday night. I thought tourism was down and the hotels were empty on Provo? Well, at the Comfort Suites they have closed up one of their two buildings - Ah - they are only renting out half of their rooms. Anyway, I was sorry we downgraded Deneen's birthday.

So today...

last night we ran into a friend with some connections and today we checked out of the Comfort Suites and booked a room at Nikki Beach, voted #2 on the Travel Channels list of hottest beach destinations.

I don't know why anyone would ever book into another hotel. This is just the nicest place we have ever stayed. The minute I walked into the room at Comfort Suites I regretted checking in. The minute I walked into our room at Nikki Beach I had the opposite reaction.

I just sent Davis out to get sushi and bring it back to the room. He just came back saying they would not let him buy sushi because the sushi was all sitting on a girl in a bikini. I did not believe him, but he was adamant. So I'll be back...

OK, he was telling the truth.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Children's Club

Tuesday was the first of our August Children's Club programs. We took a group of 28 to Waterloo, the Governor's residence, and got a personal tour of the mansion by Rosemary Wetherell the governor's wife. This was fantastic.

Though the house is the official residence of the governor and his family, it looks exactly like most of the historic homes I have worked on as it is a Georgian style hall house built in 1815.

I could not help interjecting erudite facets of architectural history and saying things like, "You know this carpet is very valuable and it should not be walked on."

And,"this bronze cannon is being polished too often, there should be a cleaning schedule to insure its proper preservation."

From my past experience with my own family, I am sure that they appreciated my input. I am only here to help after all.

After this, we took the bus to Oasis South and put the kids in the water for a swim lesson. This went great for the first ten children, but listening evidently is very hard and the second group just could not wait for instruction so everyone got in the water making teaching impossible.

We were suppose to snorkel out to the bio rock off of the Oasis beach. On Sunday Deneen, the boys and I did this. It was amazing. The bio rock is cool and all, but we saw two large sting rays followed by a flounder, and then a flying gurnard, which I was able to get to spread its wings.

On Tuesday the wind was strong and I greatly underestimated how poorly people swim. I am spoiled by children who swim effortlessly. At the last minute we changed plans and were able to take a boat out to the bio rock. This turned out to be a good plan as it was nearly impossible to keep track of everyone in the water. Even though there was one adult for every two snorkelers in the water, and they all had inflatable vests on, someone was hanging on every adult. By the time we got home Deneen, Martin and I were exhausted.

We ended the day with a cookout on the beach. All and all, this was the best Children's Club event we have held since I have been here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Today is my birthday. This has been a long 42nd year. How do you spend a birthday after a year such as this?

Today Martin,Lucas, and I dove with a film crew from a television show called Turquoise Morning. This is a picture of the film crew and Lucas wiping the hair out of his eyes while being interviewed on national television.

This dive was my 50th dive on Grand Turk. We dove with Roger Hartling, who is finishing a dive guide to Grand Turk. The highlight of the dive was a 5 foot eagle ray that swam along the wall below our entire line of divers. It was very cool.

The interviews went great. Martin is very good on his feet. Lucas will probably be edited out. I had to instruct him after the dive that we have standard phrases he needs to memorize when talking about diving on Grand Turk.

When asked about sharks you say, "The only time you see a shark is when they don't see you first, sharks tend to stay away from people."

When asked what you would do if you saw a shark you say, "One of the first rules about diving is don't touch anything, so my advice is don't try and touch it."

This is the new dinner conversation, talking points about being on camera.

After the dive I took the film crew through the museum and then down historic Duke Street. We wrapped on the beach in front of the SandBar at 2:30. I jumped in the truck and raced back to the museum where I had to do a cruise ship tour because it is Saturday and I have no staff to work the cruise ship which came in at 1:00.

OK, that's all done. We went to the cruise center to swim this evening.

Right now I just pulled a rum cake out of the oven. I am cooling a vanilla espresso cake, and I have two layers of chocolate Toblerone chip cake baking. Happy birthday.