New addition to our family

Once upon a time, there was Spongebob, named such because I looked like a total squarepants riding him.


Spongebob was a 1986 Yamaha XS400.  With a stiff tailwind and a bit of a downhill slope, he could almost get up to 100km/hr.  Great starter bike.  I remember driving around and seeing a fancy convertable with the top down and thinking, “You paid 20 times what I did and I’m having more fun than you.  I have top, front, back and sides down.”

Next came Cartman, the 1989 ZX750 Ninja.  He was called Cartman because he wasn’t fat, he was just big boned.  By modern sport bike standards, he was heavy and slow but I got him up to 230km/hr one time and generally cruised at 180 or so.  Amazing I never lost my license.  He was, shall we say, distinctive in his coloration.


I got rid of Cartman when we got married to save a few bucks on insurance.  For two years I was rideless, gazing jealously as other guys rode around, free of the constraints of seatbelts and speed limits.  So, without futher ado, I present to you, “Quagmire.”  This name, courtesy of Sharon, comes from the sound his engine makes….Giggity giggity giggity….


Quagmire is a Honda Shadow, VT1100.  Lots of displacement and torque but still a big performance drop from Cartman.  Hopefully just the thing to keep me down to reasonable speeds and definitely a lot more comfortable for passengers.  Note the generous seating and backrest.  Hopefully my wife won’t need a back brace and hip replacement after riding.



Ow, my eye…

So I’ve been working in the basement with my compressed air nailgun and for some reason, I forgot to wear my safety glasses the other day.  Of course, that’s the day I get some blowback into my eyes.  It didn’t seem so bad but there was definitely something in there because every now and again I’d feel a scratch in my eye.  So this morning, I decided to see if I could get it out.  I pulled out my lower lid, put about 8 drops of Visine in and turned my head back to let the drops rinse out my eye.  What do you know, it actually worked.  Not only that, the piece of metal that was in there actually stuck to my cheek.  Here it is.  Pretty small but when it’s in your eye, it feels like a 2 by 4.




Want to take off that pesky holiday weight? Try new and improved “Montezuma’s Revenge”, by Mexco.

Sorry it took so long to write about the last day but it seems I smuggled some illegal immigrants into the country with me.  More on that later.

We were originally supposed to fly out at around 3pm which would have had us leaving the hotel at noon which was pretty perfect really.  Unfortunately, the blizzard of the year had backed up all the flights in and out of Toronto so our flight was delayed by about 12 hours.  We had checked out at noon but the hotel was kind enough to give us a courtesy suite until 7pm after which we just hang out around the resort killing time.  It sounds great to get an extra day but it really wasn’t since we were in limbo, packed and ready to go without much to do and the weather hadn’t really recovered after the thunderstorm anyway.


Finally we got on our plane after only a few issues.  You know, minor stuff like my mom nearly fainting and needing to rest in a wheelchair while we got our tickets and went through security.  Both my parents were feeling poorly but made it through the flight.  Sharon and I were doing okay, me especially since I had slept a couple hours on a couch at the resort.  So we landed in Toronto, picked up our cars, grabbed a coffee and said our goodbyes.  On the road again, heading back to Ottawa.

The original plan was that Sharon would sleep while I drove and then she could take over at some point.  I was feeling pretty good so I made it 3/4 of the way to the last rest stop at Brockville where we stopped for a snack.  Then, when we got back in the car, it hit me.  Fever, hammering me so suddenly my body seemed to go into shock.  I’m normally warm in the car and have the heat turned down with no jacket while Sharon is wearing her parka.  This time is was me, curled up in my seat, parka and mitts on, hood up, heat blasting, shaking uncontrollably with my teeth chattering.  I could feel the warmth on my face but my core body felt like I was in an October rain.  We drove the last hour to Ottawa like that and when we arrived, it was all I could do to help Sharon unload the bags.  Oh, and pose for a picture so we could show everyone how much snow we got.  All I could do just to stand there so no smile for you.  I almost forgot to mention, this fever came with severe bone and muscle aches as well.  Fun.



I was shaking so badly I could barely drink enough water to down some Tylenol before I put on a big sweater and crawled into bed.  The next 12 hours or so became an exercise in temperature management.  I could feel the heat of my body coming out from under the blankets but I couldn’t stop shivering.  Eventually the fever transitioned to where I actually felt hot so I could take off the sweaters but my temperature peaked at 39.1C (102.4F).  Not a record by any means and no doubt the Tylenol did a good job to keep it down but either way, not very comfortable.  Sharon kept bringing me cold compresses for my head and water to drink.

My mind gets funny when I have a fever.  I frequently get delirious.  Here’s an actual conversation, taking place with Sharon reading a book and me lying on the bed, writhing in pain, sweating from fever:

me: Wanna fool around?

her: God no!

me: Me neither!!! Bwahahaha

(several minutes of uncontrolled laughter)

her: Are you delirious?

me: Probably.  Given my past history with fever, you should probably watch me because I tend to throw up in interesting places.

her: Huh.  Where’s the dog when you need her?

me: Here Casey….come get some leftovers….bwahahahaha

(several more minutes of laughter)

me: That wasn’t funny….she was a good dog….

(start crying)

It’s true folks; you can’t make this shit up.  So anyway, the fever kept transitioning from dry to sweaty, the sweaty bringing my temp down a bit (and soaking the bed), the dry spiking it and bringing the weird head trips.  Eventually the diarrhea started.  In retrospect, I wish I had some sort of counter type device that I could have used to keep track of the frequency but I wouldn’t be shocked if I went more than 50 times over 24 hours.  And let me tell you, the average human bunghole is not made for that kind of mileage.  Fortunately when your butt is acting more like a super-soaker than a cake decorator, there’s minimal wiping but I sure wish someone would invent Chapstik for that end.

So kids, here’s a little detail they don’t teach you about the Montezuma’s Revenge in school.  This is not the “gurgle gurgle, whoosh” diarrhea most of us are familiar with.  This is the “Aieee, someone is probing my guts with a huge knife, get it out, get it out, get it out!” variety.  On the bright side, you actually have to force it out so there are no “accidents” when you are just trying to make it to the bathroom.  On the dark side, there’s the whole “knife” thing.

Later in the afternoon I noticed a certain pinkish quality which I attributed to the red coating on the Tylenol.  The pink kept getting redder and redder so I got Sharon, who had come home early, to take a look.  “That’s blood.  You’re going to the clinic.”  I had been holding out, hoping I could avoid having to sit in a waiting room, but large quantities of blood from that particular orifice freaked me out.  She went ahead, got me on the waiting list at the walk-in and came back to get me so I wouldn’t have to wait for too long.  As predicted, the doctor gave me Cipro and some dietary instructions and sent me on my way.  Roughly 24 hours later the Cipro has kicked in and I’m starting to feel a little better.  I can make it up the stairs without crawling.  I can stand up straight without holding my guts.  I can eat a banana and a piece of toast.  I can even sit upright in a chair long enough to write a blog entry.  The weird thing is, I’m the only one who got it.  My parents got a bit sick and feverish but it didn’t sound nearly as bad as this and Sharon was fine.  The other couple who were there with us were fine too.

When I was young I had pneumonia and learned what it felt like to be in the grips of something that could kill you if you didn’t intervene.  A cold or flu makes you feel rotten but there’s a certain quality to the big sicks that scare you.  Make you feel like they want you to slip up so they can take you.  If only you were a little weaker or didn’t have antibiotics or enough water, we’d get you and you’d spiral away and die in a pool of pain and filth.  I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a mud hut in the jungle with something like this tearing at your insides.  We’re lucky to live where we do in the age we’re in.

I weighed myself in Cozumel before I came back and I was up 10 pounds.  Now I’m only up 3.  7 pounds in 48 hours.  Now that’s dieting folks, that’s dieting.



Island tour

After last nights thunderstorm, the day was windy and cool so we decided to take a taxi around the island.  We had heard that the east coast was quite beautiful and it wasn’t a good day for swimming so a guided tour seemed like the perfect thing.

We stopped at one of the nice beach resorts on the southwest portion of Cozumel where I got this picture of some dolphin statues.  I also saw some very, very overweight ladies in thong bikinis and went blind for a while but it wore off with no ill effects other than a mild headache and some vision spotting.


Back in the 70s when Jacques Cousteau “discovered” the region and popularized it with divers, the Palancar and Columbia reefs were two of the most famous.  Still today they are a top dive destination and the barrier reef that stretches from Cancun 1200km down to Belize is the second longest in the world after Australia.

As we found in Spain and Portugal, the little places off the beaten track are often much more interesting and Palancar was no exception.  You drive through a swamp to the lovely beach where there is a little restaurant and dive shop and hardly any people.  The swamp had some interesting inhabitants.

These little birds have bright yellow under their wings and run across the lily pads.


These ducks were very alert, always keeping to the shallow areas and keeping an eye on their neighbor.


This big fellow was the reason they were so careful.  Some of the locals were saying that it’s much easier for him to catch ducks when the water is higher because they can’t stay in the shallow spots so easily.  I was only a few meters from him and he was definitely eyeballing me as well.  Never saw a blue-eyed crocodile before.


This is the view down the beach.  There’s a certain feeling when a place has too many people and this didn’t have it.  Sea shells all over the beach and trees full of coconuts, it’s nice to feel like you’re in a real place rather than some sanitized, shrink-wrapped, tourist area.


The east coast was very rugged and fairly un-populated.  It was quite calm today since the wind was blowing off the land but in general, it’s too rough for swimming which is part of why it isn’t developed.  There isn’t even electricity on that side so the few restaurants and shops have diesel and wind generators.  This hill, the highest point of Cozumel, (yeah, it’s REALLY flat) has the famous ‘Coconuts’ restaurant and this area is very popular with locals escaping the tourist crowds as well as surfers and various wind-sport people.


Our driver was kind enough to take us to the big liquor store to pick up some things for the suitcase and then back to the resort for lunch and siesta.  Across the street to the mall to pick up a few things at the farmacia since most prescription things in Canada are off the shelf in Mexico and back to the room for our ‘Hallmark’ moment….aww….aren’t we a romantic couple.


And that’s another day, much like every other.  Wonder what all the poor people are doing?  Now it’s off to dinner and Casino Night in the lobby.




I was feeling a little off today, a little too crispy perhaps.  We had lined up a day at Chankanaab which is a snorkling, wildlife, beachy sort of place with dolphin swimming and such.  I’m not going to talk too much and just let a few pictures speak for themselves.  You’ll probably notice our iguana obsession surfacing again…I’m beginning to think Sharon may wind up adopting one.






Since I wasn’t feeling that great, other than for snorkeling, I hid under a hut all day to stay out of the sun.


This was the view from where I was sitting.

day5-6.jpg They had a botanical garden type thing there.



When we got back in the afternoon, I was really feeling quite poorly so I had the Mexican sunstroke cure.  Chipotle and ham sandwich, two advil, a beer and a siesta.  Much better.  Still on the lizard theme, we had a little gecko hanging out on our porch.


A little after the sun went down a big thunderstorm rolled in off the water.  I stayed out on the porch taking photos, trying to catch some lightning.  Here’s a good one:

day5-11.jpg The rain was blowing in sideways so I eventually had to evacuate inside.  Here’s what our room looked like with the storm outside.

day5-12.jpg We capped it all off with dinner at the Asian restaurant.  Fantastic meal.  I had a seafood stir fry with shrimp and octopus which made me wonder why I had never had octopus before.  It’s not the most attractive thing I’ve ever eaten but it’s mighty tasty.  I even got Sharon to try a piece and then had to fight her off for the rest of the meal from stealing all my food.  It was that good.



Day 4, skin getting redder, not sure how..much….longer….

Started out taking a cab down the road to a place called Dzul Ha.  It’s a little place where there is a nice reef right near shore that you can just walk into the water and snorkel around.  Apparently Hurricane Wilma wiped it out pretty bad but it’s come back to the point that it’s interesting again.

Saw some interesting stuff.  Eels, funky shrimp, the usual assortment of fish.  My dad and I both got stung by something on our wrists that we didn’t see.  Must have been a jellyfish passing by or some such.  Burny but not too bad.  Also, I was diving around a reef and a little brown fish was nearby so I shooed him with my hand and would you believe the little bugger nipped me on the hand?  Cheeky!  He was about the size of a large goldfish so I’ve got to give him an A+ for attitude.  I’m sure he would have needed about a dozen bites just to break the skin but it’s cute when they think they’re scary big fish.

That was about it for the day.  We went back to the hotel and just chilled out by the pool, drank some cervezas, played a little pool volleyball or “Calvinball” as I like to call it.  Met some crazy people:


This guy was basically hassling everyone but was so much fun doing it that nobody seemed to mind.  It’s always neat to meet some cool people on vacation.  Not sure where he was from but he seemed like he might be part Newf….not saying anything, just saying. 😉

Did some more snorkeling off the pier and actually saw some big predators.  Bunch of gars and a big barracuda.  Then we went up to try the hot tub and discovered that a half bottle of bubble bath is too much.  On the bright side, it gave us a little reminder of what it must be like to be buried in snow in Ottawa.  No it didn’t…I’m just playing with you.  It was GREAT!


Okay, enough blogging.  Off to dinner.




Question mark after golf since I’m not sure if that’s what we were playing.  With a certain amount of creative scorekeeping, foot-wedges and looking the other way, we both managed to score in the low hundreds on this hideously difficult and unforgiving course.


That hole that they’re playing out of is called a ceynote or sinkhole, of which the Yucatan is dotted with.  Apparently there are no aboveground rivers here but many underground rivers and lakes and occasionally the ground collapses forming these sinkholes.  Some of the better ones are actually open down to the water where you can dive and such.

Going back to the course, we have a rating of 76 and a slope of 148 which makes it about as tough as a golf course gets.  Randy and I went through over a dozen balls on the front nine although we found our swings on the back.  We were golfing with some fellows from Houston, one of whom was hitting ProV1s and when we were trying to help him find a ball in the rough, he told us not to bother.  Apparently there are snakes there which only give you about 15 minutes to get to the doctor before you die so it’s not really worth it to try to find your ball.

Still, very interesting.  I had planned to take more pictures but it was all we could do to stay on pace.  Talk about feeling like a king though. The course was owned by the Palace chain so other than green fees and club rentals, everything was included.  Want something from the cart?  Just ask, sandwiches, beer, you name it.  Made enough good shots to keep me coming back but not enough to cause Tiger to lose any sleep.  I believe this is the first time that I had to slow down on the cart path to shoo iguanas out of the way and I’ve definitely never played with monkeys and agouti cruising the fairways before.

Apparently Sharon is fairly easy to entertain and just about any guy on the street who asks her if she would like to play with his monkey is quite likely to get a positive reaction.


It’s all done for the good of the animals….donations go to some sort of “save the wildlife” fund.  I was expecting the monkey to poop on her since that seems to be the number one requirement on the monkey job description but these guys must have been fresh out.

Every now and then I see something and make a photo that moves me in some way.  It’s unfortunate that it’s so rare.  I generally don’t like my pictures and find them shallow and pretty and devoid of emotion or meaning.  This one moves me a bit.  Some old guy sitting on the dock waiting for the ferry.


Oh and one other thing.  Sharon and I are dorks.



Tulum and Iguanas

Hmm…25-35 cm of snow with possible freezing rain in Ottawa for the next 24 hours.  That doesn’t sound very good.  We took a tour of Tulum which is an ancient Mayan city on the coast of the Yucatan.


Not the most impressive ruins but still pretty and in a very nice location.  Of course, Sharon and I being the kids that we are, spent most of our time looking at the iguanas which are about as common as seagulls around the area.  It’s sort of like if someone came to Ottawa to see Parliament and spent the whole time taking photos of squirrels.  I’m sure the locals just shake their heads.


Handsome fellows though and quite agreeable to pose for pictures.  After Tulum we went to another one of the resorts in the Palace chain for lunch and a swim.  It’s basically in the middle of an eco-park/zoo and you get to live in tree-houses.  Sounds pretty awesome to me.  We took photos of alligators and monkeys and swam in a estuary.  No time to post any more now but it was a good day.  Tired and sunburnt.

On a sad side note, I experienced my very first scalp burn today.  Hair isn’t quite what it used to be.  Sucks getting old don’t it?