Monday, June 30, 2008

My Cousin

In a departure from my usual blog postings, I'd like to share with you some much more interesting entries from my cousin, Dave Clair's, blog. He had a show on Bravo called "The It Factor" if anyone remembers from a few years ago and has been involved in a number of other projects. He's a producer who's currently working on a National Geographic special in the Congo. If I find his blog address I'll certainly post a link, but in the meantime, I thought that I'd just copy an e-mail that I received tonight since it's way more interesting than anything that I've done today.

Dear All -

Here are a few excerpts from my blog. There are a bunch of missing entries in this but you'll get the idea of what on earth Im doing.

SAt. JUNE 14

I'm leaving for the Congo in a week. Kind of overwhelmed. I've had to buy a lot of camping gear - of which I know very little. the fact of the matter is we shall be camping for a several days pretty much in the jungle. I've never really done rugged camping before. I live in LA-that says a lot right there about my rugged experinces. I did live in Brooklyn for a while but I dont even know if that will have adequatley prepared me for The Mighty Congo. Everyone raiese their eyebrows when I tell them Im going there. The first question is always How many shots do you have to get? (Answer: 6) the second question is Why?

Answer: A motlley crew of scientists and kayakers are embarking on a scientific espedition to explore and survey a scarcely known section of the world's mightiest river and in the process document the strange and sometimes monstrous fish that lurk in its dark waters. Why kayakers? Because they can take scientific instruments where only an ellite paddler can go: right through the wildest rapids, most powerful currents and bizarre water features (there's some weird physics involved) of this unique river. Why this river? Scientists have collected a diversity of species that they think is unique in the world. They think some kind of evolutionary mechanism, a species pump is operating in the river, creating a "Freak Fish Garden of Eden." I'm doing a National Geographic Explorer film about this journey.

I'll be leaving my Wetswood apartment for a month and camping with a group of scientists and kayakers. They've all done a lot of this stuff before. The scientists have been to this part of Africa two seasons running and the kayakers have been pretty much everywhere. I just bought my first tent and had to debate for a long time over whether to buy a leatherman or a big camping knife. I opted for the leatherman because buying something that seemed like it was mostly knife seemed like the wrong kind of choice metaphysically to prepare myself for this journey. I'm going in open-minded, not filled with fear.

Sun June 30th

Its Monday Night in Kinshasa, Independence Day. Today we recovered from a tough first run through the Congos mighty rapids. Well I didnt go. I had to make sure it was all being shot. But, it was exciting and beautiful. One old fisherman said "I'll see how tough these Americans are after they ride those rapids." Even though we were in a secluded part of the river a whole bunch of the local fishermen, mostly kids came and watched. When they saw Trip and his kayak crew riding the big waves they freaked out.. It was exciting-more exciting for them because they said afterwards that theyd never seen a boat out on those rapids. They thought it was impossible. And once the kayakers were out there in the middle of it they realized- and I realized how big the river really was: mountains of water. The kayakers were just dots that dipped and flitted over monster-waves.

When they reached the end of the rapids the kids all screamed in unison and ran down the beach to get Trip and the other kayak out. They picked up the guys in their kayaks and carried them out of the water ecstatically. John from the USGS was so moved he could hardly speak. For him it was like landing on the moon. "The highlight of his career " he said. He and Ned Gardiner had outfitted one of the kayaks with a sonar depth finder and GPS and were mapping the river bottom, speed of the water and the complexity of currents in the worlds most powerful rapids. When he downloaded the data tohis laptop after the first test pass through the rapids he could see below the surface into another wolrd. I guess the more you know about nature the more you wonder at it. He's from South Carolina hanging out with a bunch of mostly naked congolese kids having the time of his life. (Who knew science could be so much fun?)

It was a huge moment for everyone including me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Paint Store Finally Gets...

...a paint job! It's been kind of a local joke that the paint store has always been in such need of painting. In fact, the trolley tour guide has made it part of his regular tour (sometimes he runs out of landmarks) and he always gets a big laugh. I guess that Willy will have to change his tune and his tour now.

P.S. We've had a comment posted on my last blog entry. Anyone care to differ (or concur) with Ernest and Amy on the identity of the vine? Thanks for kicking off the botany discussion guys. Looking forward to seeing you for the Cookie Tour in November.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Vine that Ate Fernandina

Or at least this tree. Anyone know what this vine is? Anyone? Bueller?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bailey House

This lovely Victorian Queen Anne used to be a bed and breakfast but is now a private residence. It's quite a bit larger than this but I always like to peek through fences and freeze images in my mind (and my camera) when I take my walks. My favorite parts of the Bailey House are the fence, garden and porch so, here you have them. Enjoy. I always do.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The South

Every time that I look up into the oak trees around here and see the air plants and that dripping Spanish moss, I know that I'm in the South. To me, this is the quintessential southern scene. And we're loooooooaded with it. (As a true southerner, Ron White, would say.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Restaurant Changeover

One of our favorite restaurants, Angels' Porch, has recently changed hands. We'll miss Gino and Marlia desperately (as they go off to run a bed and breakfast in Brazil), but we're happy to give the new guy a chance. After all, Jack and Diane's purports to be the "tastiest spot on Centre". We'll see about that! Happily... They're not open yet but we'll keep you posted. Best wishes to our new neighbor. I wonder if they were the two American kids growing up in the Heartland. ( I LOVE Mellencamp.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good Snake

This is a good guy. He's a corn snake aka red rat snake. They're great for controlling the rodent population, so when the cats found him in the grass tonight, we made sure that we backed them off so that he can keep doing his job. They were ganging up for the slaughter. It was fun watching him scale the tree Harry Potter lock style; palm tree ridges provide some good footing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gettin' Ready for Kingfish

By very early tomorrow morning, these docks and tents will be swarming with people - all involved in the annual Kingfish Tournament. Last year there were extremely windy conditions but the show went on anyway. Not being a fisherperson, I don't follow the particulars but I'm told that this is quite the tournament. All that I know is that there are boatloads (pun intended) of people and it all ends with a nice fish fry.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Industrial Fernandina

Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's Amelia Island was known as the "Riviera of the South" and this was as warm as the Northerners could get in the wintertime because this was as far south as the railroad went. Tourism was king. Then.... Henry Flagler came along and took the railroad all the way down to Key West and all of the money got up and followed. That left quite a void in these parts and the paper mills and a redeveloped port followed. Today, tourism has come back with a vengeance but it co-exists with industry. It's a somewhat rocky marriage, but - with counseling - we manage to make it through all of the anniversaries. In fact, we're downright co-dependant, in that many families have one parent working in tourism and the other parent working in the industrial side of the economy. We've got a pretty good balance going on. The yin and the yang.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prepping for Beijing

Yes, our Fairbanks House girls groups take time out of their busy schedule of dining, shopping, resting, beaching, and laughing to prepare for their grueling event at the Olympics this summer. Sadly, I'm not sure if Ruth, Debby and Janette are preparing for a swimming, diving or gymnastics event. Whatever it is, we'll see them on the podium. Thanks for the laughs,ladies. It was fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

Probably not but this cute little scene up the street reminded me of the tale.

Monday, June 16, 2008

So We Had a Lightning Strike

And my handsome husband, Bill, is showing one of several 120 year old bricks that got blown out of the chimney as a result. As another result, our PBX (phone) system was blown out so the only communication that we have with the outside world is through our DSL internet line. Parts have been ordered, which we're assured will come overnight, so we're hoping to be back (fully) in business by tomorrow afternoon.

The housekeepers and I were in the house when it got hit and one of them was looking into the dining room when its corresponding chimney got hit. If anyone remembers the Harry Potter scene where they were using flu powder to get around, you'll understand why I expected Ron Weasley to be standing in our dining room fireplace afterward. Soot and ash was blown several feet into the dining room, as well as into the corresponding chimney-sharing fireplace of room #5. No Weasleys, Potters, Grifindors or Slitherins - just a mess. But no bodily harm so we're grateful to just have a story.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Another Pretty Porch

In my collection of porches that we've visited on my blog, I don't believe that I've ever included this pretty one right around the corner from us. The decorations frequently change but never the charm.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hansel and Gretel's House?

I don't know why this house - a couple of blocks from us - always invokes thoughts of Hansel and Gretel to me but it does. Maybe it's just the fairy tale charm or the little arbor or the cute little dormers... but it always makes me smile.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Boaters' Welcome Mats

Boaters like to put out the welcome mat in port, so I've captured a few examples from our marina tonight. We have... cute,



and a souvenir from the last marina where they docked. Wonder if they have a collection...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Clouds and Marina

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Carpe Diem

Another neighbor, Misty, believes that we should sieze every summer day. I agree. When we were looking for the right place to have our inn we were looking for a place with all of the character - and characters - of Cicely, Alaska. (You Northern Exposure fans know who you are.) I'm convinced that we found it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dog Rescuer

This is our next door neighbor, Fran, and her Australian Shepherds. Actually, two are hers and one is a foster dog. Hank, on the left, was rescued from the Humane Society and Fran is fostering him until they're able to find a home for him. A noble hobby, indeed. We've got lots of animal lovers on the island and there are lots of rescue/ adopt organizations as well. If you'd like to go home with an island pet, you can do so with the knowledge that they've been well looked after. And any donations to these worthy groups are much appreciated.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Ritz Carlton

I had a lunch meeting today at the Golf Club of Amelia Island, right next to the Ritz Carlton (pictured). Lunch was delicious and it was fun to be on "the southern end" of the island. Because all of my needs are met in town, and I can walk to everything, I rarely venture the few miles down to the resort end of the island. Through a special arrangement our guests enjoy spa and golf privileges at both the Ritz and Amelia Island Plantation so it was a treat to wander down there, myself. (I'm more of a townie though...) It's great to be in a place that offers so much on a thirteen-mile long island.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Girls Just Wanna Whaaaa?

These six ladies enjoyed their Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Getaway at the Fairbanks House this weekend and we were this happy too to have them here. Thanks Karin, Simone, Kimberly, Valerie, Joy and Felice. It was fun. This trip carriage tour, next trip Segways...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pretty Pastels

This cottage up the street from us always makes me smile... from the pretty blue paint on the house to the striped pink rockers on the porch and the colorful flowers in the yard. Not visible from this angle, there's also a lime tree. Happy happy joy joy.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Windy Whimsy

I enjoyed these variations on a theme outside of Front and Centre, a gift shop located at... well, I guess you can figure that one out. I've never known what these wind spinner thingies are called but I like 'em.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We've had storms all around us: to the north, south and west, but everything just dissipates before it gets here. That's good for our visitors but we could use a little bit of the wet stuff. But only between 2 and 5am. We're not in dangerous drought territory but I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

British Invasion

These teen Brits came off of the big sailboat, whose home base is London. They truly invaded Fernandina sounding very much like American teenage girls the whole time - just with a different accent. I missed the shot of the young gentleman accompanying them who was wearing a fine pair of trousers, a crisp white shirt and a bowler on his head. Nice kids. The ship sails out tomorrow, possibly before dawn, and they seem to have enjoyed their time here. I know that the locals were impressed.

P.S. No internet access the last two nights = no blog entries. Grrrrr...