Row Boat on Eleuthera Island

IMG_9650This was the yin to America’s yang, the gentle breeze to the nor’easter, the Sunday afternoon nap to the frenetic pace of Monday morning.

We landed at the diminutive North Eleuthera Airport.  My arrival at most airports start an immediate increase in heart rate,  sweat starts to roll like an Appalachian flash flood, my brain has to release enough endorphins to combat the stress of walking into the terminal feeling like a cobra slithering into a mongoose burrow.

But this, this was so different.  We were met with a sweet-tempered, warm rain and big broad smiles. My wife and I parked ourselves on the front porch of the terminal as if  we were waiting for a seat at Cracker Barrel for an after-church dinner.  We waited for my cousin and his lovely wife, who were our hosts for the week.  They were coming in on a later flight and arrived about a half hour later.

Instead of the anxiety storms in America, I was awash in serenity from the gitgo.  I felt like I was in the eye of a lilt.

My cousin rented a car from “Big E”.  When Big E’s rep shows up to give him the key and go over the paperwork, the front seat of the rental became the office.  When the transaction had been finalized, my cousin asked, “What do I do with the key when I return the car?”

Big E’s rep, “Just put it under the mat.”

Cuz, “What if someone steals it?”

Big E’s rep, “We are on an island. Where can they go? We just drive around till we find it.”

Occasionally, my attempt to engage in banter with the locals would take a strange turn.  I decided to cook dinner one night so we went down to the local dock to peruse the latest daily catch.  I found a local fisherman proudly displaying his wares.

Me, to local fisherman, “What kind of fish is that?”

Fisherman, “Jackfish.”

Me, “Does it taste fishy?”

Fisherman, “Does it taste like fish?”

Me, “I mean, does it taste too much like fish?”

Fisherman, with a little less smile and more confusion, “Don’t you want this beautiful fish to taste like fish?”

Me, ” I don’t think you understand what I’m asking.”

Fisherman, now totally exasperated, ” I think you want chicken!”

Evidently engaging in tete-a-tete in Paradise has a different thought process than the day-to-day in eastern Kentucky.

I left the poor confused soul muttering something about Americans with fish brains and bought a hog snapper instead.  I figured with a name like “hog snapper” it had to have enough of an identity complex so as not to taste too much like fish.  I was right, it was scrumptious.

In addition to dialogue taking different directions, time also seemed to take a not-so-American sense.

Me, to my cousin, “What time is it?”

Cuz, “Tuesday”

Time is difficult to explain.  Recalling my high school and college physics classes…well I can’t really recall them.  That seems to be one function of time.  Anyway, I always thought that time was the measurement between two physical events. Of course this is measured by a functional clock.

My observance of the relativity of time in a physical sense came from my wife.  She runs her life with the precision of a Swiss watch.  After a few days on this island, she removed hers from her wrist.  Time seemed to have a physical presence, not in an obtrusive, annoying I-wish-you-would-leave presence, but in a genteel, pleasant I-wish-you-would-stay presence.

One other conversation to report.  After the ATM gave me Bahamian dollars, which I mastered the exchange rate after about four days (it’s 1:1), I stated, “Why does it give me Bahamian dollars?”

Cuz’s lovely wife, ” Do we have to have the  fisherman conversation again?”

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Lighthouse Beach, Eleuthera Island

IMG_9834 2



I think this should be the official greeting on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas.   But more on that later.

After a thirty year hiatus from The Bahamas, Big Surf Daddy returned with his bride of the same number of years, Mrs. BS (she will probably not like the way this looks in print).   We were on Paradise Island for our honeymoon in 1985.  I remember we ate a lot of lobster.  So much so that the government banished us for thirty years, they said it would take that long for the lobsters to repopulate.   After we left they had to look  for another ocean delicacy for tourists and honeymooners to consume. They found it…. conch.

We ate conch fritters, conch pizza, conch chowder, cracked conch, conch ravioli, and my favorite,  conch salad.  This latter dish was prepared for Big Surf by a lovely Eleutheran chef in a small stand on the sea wall in Tarpum Bay.  As I watched her execute this simple native dish of chopped onions, celery, peppers, and fresh raw conch with the lime juice and orange juice dressing, I couldn’t help take in the scene of this small town located on the bay with one small dock and brightly colored houses.

It was getting late in the day and the sun was glistening off the aquamarine water of the Caribbean.  I asked her if she ever got tired of the view.  She looked at me with that “you really can’t be that daft” look.  Then she smiled as all Bahamians do when confronted with another stupid American tourist query and I knew.  How could anyone get tired of this?

How could anyone get tired of white sandy beaches kissed by water so aqua that it can only be experienced?  Just looking at it is somehow not enough.  How could anyone get tired of beaches that are so private, you feel like an Onassis.

The above photo is from the southern-most tip of Eleuthera Island called Lighthouse Beach.  The Atlantic Ocean is on the right and the Caribbean Ocean is on the left.  There are more oceans in this photo than people, and that includes the photographer.

Big Surf Daddy’s legend was born on Oahu but his heart was left on Eleuthera.

Oh, one bit of advice if you go and order the conch pizza, eat it all.  As my cousin found out, it doesn’t get better the next day and Immodium is not cheap on Eleuthera Island.

If you like this picture, so can see more of my photos here.


Ghost of Tybee Island




Winter is coming……sigh.

I feel like that mighty oak that stubbornly refuses to drop its leaves, desperately hanging on to autumn, somehow thinking that if he never drops his leaves, winter won’t exist.

Every year I refuse to admit winter is coming.  I don’t put my outdoor grill up.  I don’t put the garden hose up until it is solidly frozen.  I don’t clean the filter in the furnace.  I keep my short pants and short sleeve shirts where they are readily available. My wife mistakes this as procrastination or worse yet, laziness.  She is probably right, however since I am writing this, I will use my own self-awareness evaluation.

I look out the window and I see the leaves in my yard covering the grass…sigh.  The only tree in my yard that is hanging on to its leaves is a small sapling that has grown to adolescence in my gutter.  You can see the above analysis from my wife as to why it is still there.

Sometimes I battle winter by thinking about the beach, which is why I am using this picture.  I took this timed-exposure of myself dancing on the beach at Tybee Island this summer.  It was our last night on the beach and I wanted to get a shot of the lighthouse at night.  Big Surf Daddy (as some may recall, my beach alter ego) took over.

Big Surf buries himself deep within during the winter months.  Madam Zelda would not be able to channel him to the surface even with the most cooperative séancers at her disposal.  He has never experienced darkness at 5:00 PM or snow on Halloween.  He has no idea what flannel sheets feel like, or what a comforter is.  He thinks snow cream is some sort of cocaine smoothie.

This is a  picture of  Big Surf’s last night of consciousness on Tybee Island.

I am sure he is already sending threatening texts to Punxsutawney Phil about his forecast.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.



Sunset in Harbor Town


Big Surf Daddy went home for a week for a much needed break.   He was mentally and emotionally spent from the daily decision making of trying-to-make-people-happy-so-they-will-come-back-to-see-him-again part of his life.

My alter ego started surfacing weeks ago as I watched my watch play tricks on my already-vacationing mind.   It seemed like my watch was moving fast during the nine to five, laughing at me while I was chasing the carrot and trying to stay on schedule so I wouldn’t have to make those with appointments wait more than usual (see above description).   At the same time my watch would then seem to drag to an infinitely slow pace as the days would progress from sunrises to sunsets,  a paradox that would baffle John Cameron Swayze.

There was also a small matter of marrying off my only daughter two weeks previous to this trip to the sea.    During this time I felt like I was part of an emotional lab experiment, going from beaker to beaker and tube to tube while some malcontented, discontented lab assistant interjected another stimuli to see what would happen to the poor sap.    Would this photo of his daughter in pig tails dissolve his current state of stability?    Would a tincture of remembrance of her twirling in her dress cause him to combust into a depressed bawling plume of purple smoke?    Would a smidgeon of recollection of him holding her in his arms and wiping away tears suddenly make him go to goo?

As it turned out, my daughter had a lovely wedding and married a man who will be a wonderful, loving husband.   She was very happy on her wedding day and that kept me from submerging myself in the punch bowl until I saw a bright light.

After the wedding, Big Surf Daddy took over.   There is no memory of the two weeks after the wedding and before the departure to the beach, only a vast chasm filled with ocean breezes that extended from ear to ear.

Big Surf Daddy is at home on the beach.   He and Mrs. Big Surf headed to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.   Big Surf knew this trip to the beach would be special, because it was the first time he and his lovely bride of twenty-eight years would be at the sandy shore alone since before they had children twenty-five years ago.

There was a slight miscalculation in the anticipation of setting records on the bliss-o-meter…

Having the kids at the beach evidently was a big part of the beach experience for Big Surf and his lovely mate.  Big Surf only waded out into the waves on one occasion, to do a seapee.  He still found some shark’s teeth and went for walks with his lovely missus.  He read a book and took some naps.  But it wasn’t the same.

I took this photo of the harbor in Harbor Town on Hilton Head Island at sunset. You can see the light  in the lighthouse.  I thought it made a compelling picture.

There was one benefit to not having the kids with us at the beach…HALF-PRICE SEAFOOD!!!!!!!!!!!

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.


Amelia Island Pier in Morning Light

image_1I desperately need me some vacation time…

I am enduring the Facebook pages filled with photos of smiling people frolicking in the surf and eating scrumptious seafood platters.    I am enduring day after day of work waiting for my time in the sand, sun, and waves.

Big Surf Daddy is getting restless.

I introduced  you, my valued throng of readers, to my alter ego a few months ago.   The legend of Big Surf Daddy began in the Hawaiian Islands in 1984.

My friend and I were sitting on a beach on the south side of Oahu watching these large waves pound the beach.   Somehow we got the idea that we could body surf in these waves.   We surmised that it would be a much grander experience than body surfing on the east coast or even better, dare I say, than the beaches of Galveston.

My friend was convinced that we would have no problems making the necessary adjustments from the knee-high waves of the Gulf of Mexico to the twelve-footers on Oahu.

Of course this is the same friend that argued with me that anyone can hit a 90-mph fastball.   All that was needed was a  little practice.   After much dissent from my side of the Chevette as we were sweltering in Houston traffic, he began to muster more faith in his ability to connect with such a small orb flung at such a high-speed.   So we did what any normal twenty-something, less-than-mature, semi-adult males would do.   We pulled into the batting cages on Fondren Road and stepped into the cage named Ol’ Smoky.

Well, my friend looked like a little schoolgirl trying to swat a bee.    He never got close, blamed his shoes and left under a heavy barrage of I-told-you-so’s.    Unfortunately, he was now my inspiration sitting on that beach.

We were a bit curious as to why no one was in the water at this time.

We ventured out into the surf, full of excitement, knowing we were going to have the body surfing experience of a lifetime and all of these other pathetic landlubbers would just have to watch from the sandy shore of Wimpville.

As I caught the first swell, I knew this would be swell.    I just kept elevating and thinking that I had never, ever had this type of  ride on a wave.    At the crest of the wave, something strange started happening.    The internal gyroscope in my inner ear told my brain “This is not right”, as my feet were now more elevated than my head. Then came the roller-coaster type drop and the nose dive into the sand.   “Where is the water?  I was supposed to hit water.”    I hit the sand with my face…then I found the water.    The wave  deposited massive amounts of water on top of me with the force of an elephant stampede.

I finally crawled out of the water, breathless and battered.    I looked around for my friend and could not find him.   Panic set in, for he does not possess the adaptability to changing water conditions as I.

He  eventually surfaced or rather the ocean spit him out like a bad clam.

We sat on the sand looking more pitiful than two Exxon oil-spill survivors.

Staring into the void and wondering what just happened to us, my friend looked down and noticed that the undertow sucked his wedding ring off his finger.   Now most adults with only a functioning brain stem without the attached gray matter would realize they were lucky at this point and just sit in the sand and enjoy the ocean breezes.    But, alas, we decided to try it again.   We knew we would have better results if we just tweaked our technique just a little.

So out into the surf we went….

(See the above description for the results of the second and FINAL attempt).

Somewhere off the coast of Oahu, Polynesian pearl divers are still looking for an oyster containing the legendary ring that is rumored to have mystical powers that control the waves, but all they have found is an old pair of flowered swim trunks with the monogram “BSD” sewn in the waistband.

Legend has it that the winds still call out for the return of Big Surf Daddy to the south shores of Oahu.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.