When we left Vieques we felt a little strange because it was the first time we’d ever left this place. After almost 8 months, this is home now and we didn’t really want to leave our home. But family and friends were calling and that’s important too! So off we went to the mountains of Colorado for five weeks in a really good season. The end of summer there is still hot in the daytime, but cool at night. Actually too cool for us at times – when it hit 48F the second night we were ready to leave!
This trip coincided with a time of year in Vieques where things are simply dead. It’s the heart of hurricane season, the air is hot and still (when there are no storms), and tourists are almost non-existent. Many restaurants close for a few weeks to rest up for the high season to come, and many residents travel during this time. So the timing worked out well for us.
The primary purpose of the trip was to attend our son’s wedding (hi Zack & Danni!), which was a great event for all of us. They planned this thing in every detail, and everything went off like clockwork. My friend Mark even noted the fonts on the signage matched what was on the invitation, and on the website, etc. Every detail nailed. And the wedding was beautiful if I do say so myself. 🙂
But before the wedding, while we were there we drove with Dave (Deb’s Dad) out to western Colorado to visit our other son Matt and his fiancé Amanda, where they’d purchased a big tract of land to build on. They live on 35 acres of sage brush and rolling hills with amazing mountain views, and we had a great time camping with them for a few days. I really enjoyed watching his big dogs chase rabbits across the hillsides, breaking land speed records until the rabbits found a hiding place.
As we mentioned in the last post, we got to play golf with some good friends, we got to experience the beauty of stores that are fully stocked, and roads so wide you could land a 767 on them. We also got to enjoy some Colorado beer with even more friends. A LOT of beer and a lot of friends! This was really great actually, it was wonderful to check in with everyone and see how they’re doing. If they’re reading this blog, they already know what we’re up to, but we wanted to see how they’re doing. Of course, as life goes, there’re always some struggles, but all in all I’m happy to say our peeps are doing really well.
One day while Deb was having a girls days with her CO girlfriends, I even got to go visit my ex-colleagues at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. These are the folks I worked with on The Machine. I had a great time on that project, and not just because it was my last one, although that didn’t hurt! 🙂
We were fortunate because of the wedding, to see family who came in from several states. In fact, the wedding brought in various friends & family of the bride and groom from both coasts, many states, and even a few people from Europe. These kids are truly citizens of the world.
We then got to play dog-sitters for our 80 lb. grand-dog Hanz while the newlyweds went to Jamaica. At one point while trading pictures of dogs and beaches, Deb asked Zack “How is that you now live on a beach and we live in Colorado with your dog?”. His reply: “#TeamworkMakesTheDreamWork”. His dream maybe! But it was all good fun and Hanz is easier to handle now at 2 years old than he was at 1. Just 8 more years and his puppy phase will be over!
But all good grand-parenting and Jamaican beach vacations must come to an end, so we handed Hanz off, and starting packing our things. We loaded some USPS flat rate boxes to ship some of our old clothes to ourselves, as well as a couple of small items like a mini plastic Xmas tree thingy and a couple of ornaments.
Then we headed off to points east and south, to get back home to Vieques. It was a red-eye to Newark that allowed us about 2 hours sleep and then a morning layover that allowed us time for a much-needed breakfast. A short-ish repair to the AC system in the plane caused another delay on the tarmac (this is a theme in Newark) as we had to get in the take-off line again, but it wasn’t so bad this time. It did make our transfer in San Juan a little on the shorter side, but it all worked out fine. This time the trip took 15 hours, not 21 as on the way west and we arrived tired but so happy to be home!
We keep re-thinking that naive idea that we wanted to live on an island that you can only get to from another island. What were we thinking? This travel approaches the “brutal” level when you start with someone as ancient as me, then add in the stress of flying with the dogs, extra paperwork, extra cost, extra vaccinations, potty breaks in airports, etc. etc.
But honestly, the extra transfer to Vieques has always been the least of the worries. The cost isn’t terrible, and the flight is always, always beautiful; it’s wonderful even if Maxwell is barking in the cargo area (behind a mesh screen) the entire (half-hour) flight. In past flights he was quiet, either right at our feet, or just behind us in the cargo area as we sat in the back row. But this time, we were one row forward, just enough that we could hear him but not really talk to him because the engines were so loud. But good thing they were so loud!
The San Juan airport, at least the part we were in, is pretty sad when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat. Generally poor choices, and we settled on Church’s Chicken, a salad for Deb and a sandwich for me. Then I grabbed two Medallas at the bar closest to our gate. Now, I have to say, as delicious as those beers were to 2 thirsty travelers, the tourist pricing almost made me gag. It cost $21 for two beers – I thought we must have landed in New York City! Had I known before I ordered, we’d have had a couple of waters and grabbed Medallas for 1/10 that price at the Vieques airport bar (Isla Nena Cafe, in the parking lot of the little airport) at the other end of that half-hour flight.
But a quick flight and a taxi ride later, and lickety split, we were walking in to our home sweet home in Vieques, opening the place up after 5+ weeks. It was hot, hot, hot but started cooling off immediately once we got some air flowing through. We walked down to the neighborhood Colmado (small grocery store) to get some supper. Comfort food was in order so we grabbed a box of Mac n Cheese, and a can of green beans, then pulled a huge starfruit off the tree in the back yard. We thought about some fried Spam but thought that was going a little too far with the comfort food! We checked on our bananas too, they’re almost ripe! We were worried they would ripen while we were gone and we’d have a huge bunch of yellow/brown rot to come home to.
So we’ve been back for 3 days at the time of this writing and we’ve run some errands and re-stocked our hurricane supplies. There was a tropical storm/hurricane headed our way when we arrived so we got groceries, gas, and picked up some boxes at the post office. The storm (Isaac) has now gone south of us, so that worry is past and we’ll have time to prepare for any new ones. And next we’ll put the solar panels back outside, since the wind threat is gone. It’s a reasonably easy job to store them when a big wind comes along.
We also somehow managed to get to the beach twice already and it has been magnificent. Calm, blue waters, warm sand, and no people. I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway, except I have the beautiful and funny Deb with me, instead of the dirty and oh-so-silent Wilson! (I really should get a volleyball though).
We’re settling back in, while remembering how hot it was this time last year in Utila, Honduras. So this isn’t so bad; in fact, not bad at all.
At first we did think that we were going to have to fight the mice for ownership of the place. We left the house closed up, with a mouse bait trap on the back porch where they seemed to be coming in under the back door. When we returned, there were lots of droppings along the door threshold, and then we noticed droppings in a lot of places in the kitchen, in one of our hurricane prep boxes, etc. But we saw no mice, and 3 days later, we still haven’t seen any. So we believe the bait has been working, it just took a little while for them to find it and partake of its yummy goodness. Wish us luck, I think we’re winning the critter wars!
So here we are, back home where we belong, and back to normal. Our normal. While we were gone, we missed some island friends who came into town from NY for a bit and left (muy triste!), but we’ll see them again in a couple of months. There are other friends gone from this place now too, but still several people are here that we need to check back in with, and to do that, well, it looks like we’re going to have to go to the bar. That’s life here. Here at home.
TODAY’S SPECIAL: “Tin Cup Chalice” by Jimmy Buffett – we were singing this to ourselves the whole time we were gone.