Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Erica's #28 and #101 - Drop a message in a bottle in a body of water AND Spend a day at the beach

I'm combining these two, since they occurred on the same day in the very same place!

If you read my music festival blog, you read about our group of 10 catching a cab on the island of Tortola during day-in-port #2 on Cayamo.  We took a short but steep ride from the port to a little place called Brewer's Bay, on the opposite side of the island.  The views from the top of the hill/mountain on the cab ride over were breathtaking - I know the shots I got on the fly don't do it justice at all, but here's one as a sample:

Nice, huh?  Brewer's Bay is gorgeous too...nice sweeping beach, a little bar/snack hut, clear turquoise waters, and even a rocky area to one side that provided opportunity for the many snorkelers to do some underwater sightseeing.  Sure, there appeared to be people living in makeshift tents in the wooded area just behind the beach, but who wouldn't want to live here?  (Side note:  I changed out of my swimming attire back in these very same woods before we headed back to the port - this was preferable to the unsavory little bathroom located at the bar!)

Our group staked out a spot, and then most of us took right to the water, where many of us spent most of the day rotating in and out of the water, tossing a football around in the surf.  Some of the group spent a good portion of the day in the sand, napping, chatting or reading and enjoying the scenery.  At one point, we all headed up to the bar for a few cold drinks and deep-fried snacks before heading back to the beach for more fun in the sun.

Since one of my goals was to drop a message in a body of water, and we happened to find ourselves on a cruise, I managed to snag someone's empty wine bottle the night before this beach day, and brought it with me to the beach.  I decided against just dropping it off the side of the cruise ship, as I didn't want to spend the remainder of Cayamo experiencing what the brig is like on a nice big boat.  Time spent in our interior cabin was confinement enough for me.  I wrote up a useless message, since big, sweeping sentiment eluded my mind at the moment I was writing this thing, corked the bottle, and headed toward the surf.

I had to swim a ways out to make sure the bottle didn't just come right back to shore.  I was about even with that anchored catamaran when I shoved it on its way out to sea.  Good thing the water was so clear - I am a strong swimmer, but tend to panic/hyperventilate a bit when I can't see the bottom in a body of water.

I have no illusions that it was swept out into the deep blue Atlantic - I'm sure it washed back to this very same beach when the tide next came in.  Brewer's Bay is likely too large and protected to have a strong current, but hey, you never know!  I put an email address inside in case anyone who found it wanted to contact me - no word yet!

We had a great day with friends on the beach, couldn't ask for a better way to wrap up our time in the British Virgin Islands!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Erica's #93 - Get a fish and keep it alive for at least 3 months(3/4/2014)

A couple of years ago, we got on a pet fish kick and went out and adopted 4 goldfish, assuming they would be the easiest for those of us who aren't masters of fish-rearing to keep alive.  I mean, I remember winning goldfish as a kid at carnivals by tossing the ping pong ball in their little bowl, and they always seemed to last much longer than my parents would have liked them to. Realistically, no 8-year-old is going to clean a fish tank, or remember to properly feed the fish.

Alas, all four goldfish, named after the Golden Girls, naturally, experienced burial via porcelain throne within just a few weeks.

When we decided to have another go at keeping fish alive around Thanksgiving last year, we opted for a couple of Tetras.  They are supposed to be beginner fish (and they were half off on Black Friday).  For good measure, we picked up a couple of ghost shrimp - those things are pretty amazing, you can see right through them!

Well, the first couple of Tetras went belly-up within a day.  We took them back to the pet shop (they actually have a 2-week warranty on fish), and got replacements.  We had our water tested, and came home with new fish, hoping for the best.  Well, the results were the same, poor deceased Tetras within a day or two.  The shrimp seemed pleased with the horrible city water (with some fish-friendly stress coat added) they were subjected to, and seemed to be thriving though.I went back to the pet store for one last attempt, and finally talked to a guy who said Tetras weren't REALLY beginner fish, as they are labeled, and really require a larger tank, heater, etc. that we didn't currently own.  He recommended trying a Betta (which we should have probably started with, since I had one in college that lived a good two years in a tiny bowl, with all of the cleanliness a busy and lazy college student provides).  Lucky us, Bettas were on sale, so I picked up the last lonely female Betta (they aren't as "pretty" as the males), and brought her home.

And...over 3 months later, she's still alive!  She did manage to kill all of the ghost shrimp within a couple of days - for anyone who hasn't had a Betta before, they are aggressive, and you can really only have one per tank, as they will fight to the death.  She wasn't a fan of the shrimp, and they only managed to avoid her for so long...RIP ghost shrimpies.

But Sushi (as she has been named) is alive and well!  Success!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Erica's #71 - Go to a concert outside the U.S.(2/10/2014)

Yes, this is going to be yet another Cayamo-related post!  (Plug for Cayamo - take that journey, and you'll be able to cross a ton of things off of your bucket-list!)  Presumably, we saw a ton of concerts outside the US while on Cayamo.  There were 33 musical acts on the boat, and we did get to see a great deal of them perform at one time or another over the week.  This post will be about one specific show, since it happens to be the only show we saw on land outside the US...

If you've read my blog about going to a music festival, you probably read about us going to the island of Jost Van Dyke to a little beach bar called Foxy's to see one of our very favorite bands, Humming House, play.  We hopped on a smaller taxi boat, took a ride (including a free beer!) over to the island, and went for a swim in the beautiful blue water of the bay before the show.  After we picked up our complimentary rum punch drink from the bar, we gathered around to hear Humming House play.

If you haven't listened to Humming House yet, you really should, and here's your chance:

Pretty great, right?  They're even better live!  They have so much energy and charisma on stage - they sucked us right in when we went to see the for the first time in Indy, on the recommendation of some friends, not knowing what to expect.  They won over a couple of fans for life that night!

After playing their set, they stepped down in front of the stage with their instruments and played a few songs unplugged while the crowd gathered in close to experience this unique moment.  There just aren't that many times in life when you can enjoy a moment like that - listening to music in its purest form, at a bar on a gorgeous Caribbean beach, the sun shining down, surrounded by friends.  It really was one of our greatest days.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Erica's #76 - Go to a Music Festival and Mel's #37 - Go on a Cruise

We really blew this one out of the water - not only did we make it to a music festival, we went to a floating music festival on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with a very fun group of friends!  Ahh, Cayamo...

All ready for our "Bertscursion"!
It's hard to describe Cayamo - it is somehow more than just a music festival, and more even than you would expect from a music festival combined with a cruise vacation.  Cayamo is a magical thing, almost a living, breathing entity in and of itself.  If you haven't been, you just don't know.  We'd been once before, back in 2010, and, while it remains as one of the best vacations we've ever taken, Cayamo 2014 definitely topped it!  Spending Cayamo 2014 with 8 other people who we'd now consider great friends, even if we hadn't met or spent much time together before setting foot on the boat, made this time around even more unforgettable.

Cayamo features musical acts around every corner from about noon until 3am (if you know where to find the late-night jam crew) daily - there really never is a dull moment, except for that part where you stumble back to your cabin, exhausted from another fun-filled day, and rest up a bit so you can tackle the next day.  We spent our mornings reading on the sun deck, and were cleaned up and in our best beach-wear, ready for seemingly endless hours of listening to some of our favorite music acts, old favorites and new sounds, by early afternoon.

We saw some really high quality music on the ship - Buddy Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Brandi Carlile, Humming House, The Lone Bellow, Erin McCarley, Lucie Silvas, Stephen Kellogg, Max Gomez, Hey Marseilles, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, The Secret Sisters, and Shawn Mullins.  There are probably others that I've left out, but there is never a lack of talent on Cayamo!

The crew at Foxy's
Cayamo's port-of-call this year was Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.  On our first day in port, we had an excursion booked with all of our friends on the boat to see one of our favorite bands, Humming House, play a show at a beach bar called Foxy's on the island of Jost Van Dyke.  What a day that was - you couldn't ask for a better location for taking in some amazing music - frozen rum drink in hand, toes in the sand, a beautiful Caribbean-blue bay lapping at the shore just yards away.

Day two in port found our group catching a cab for 10 to the other side of the island, to a little place called Brewer's Bay.  I should mention that Tortola is a very hilly little place, and the cab ride was slightly harrowing, but we survived.  The views were astounding as we crested the high points on the winding road across the island.  Most of our group spent a good portion of the day in the water playing some version of catch, or a slightly modified version of hot potato we termed "tap-tap".  Throw in some beach-side brews, a little soaking up the sun on the beach, my swim to the middle of the bay to drop off my message in a bottle (blog on that to come later), and ending the day with lunch in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the port, and you had ten happy people climbing back on the ship to sail away from the islands.

Brewer's Bay
We sailed away from Tortola to the sweet sounds of The Lone Bellow (another of our favorite bands) on the pool deck.  It eased the pain having to watch the beautiful shores of BVI fade into the sunset, knowing that we were now headed back toward home and real life.

We pretty much had the best week ever on this trip, no exaggeration.  We couldn't ask for better company, better weather, or better music to be surrounded by.  I'll leave you with a few highlights, including photos:
  • These people:
  • Our pal Mis singing in the Atrium backed by Brandi Carlile during Brandioke
  • The Humming House dance party in Bliss Lounge that lasted until about 5am Friday morning (the morning we returned to Miami) - there's a dance party somewhere in that dark photo!
  • Cagney's Steakhouse - delicious!
  • Floating around in the Caribbean
  • A stage with this backdrop
  • The quarter-pusher machine in the casino - "FREE" bubbly!
    "It's like Plinko, but sadder"
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Seemingly endless buckets of these - Bar Serveeeece!