Sunday, March 24, 2013


I have a six-point check list that helps guide me when I’m planning a perfect winter get-away. If I can hit 3 of the 6 marks, I’m sure the vacation will be good. Hitting four of the marks is better and until this year, I’ve never been anywhere that rated more than 5 scores. Here’s my checklist:

1)Warmth of the tropics. I’m not talking jacket warm, I’m looking for sweaty warm on a sunny afternoon.
2) White sandy beaches. I don’t really care if the sand is white, red or black, but white sounds better.
3) World Class Fishing. Fishing for what? I don’t really care other than the bigger, the better and if they happen to be tasty, that’s an additional plus.
4) Cold Margaritas, (good food, plenty of choices - but cold Margaritas are very important.)
5) Affordable prices. This one is tough since you have to factor travel expense, accommodations, food and fishing.
6) Small town atmosphere. This may not make everyone’s list, but I choose to live in the boonies and heading for a city (even one with the above 5 attributes) for a vacation isn’t high on my list.

In February, I found a perfect-six at the Isla Mujeres (Isle of Women) which is about 6 miles off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. Cancun is in the Tropics. That’s why it’s become a popular winter retreat for millions of people.  Isla Mujeres is small town. I loved it.
Isla Mujeres features white sandy beaches on one side and rocky, California-like beaches on the other. Both sides have numerous restaurants and stop-over points where cold Margaritas are dispensed. And there’s never a line. Okay, maybe by the ferry boat docks it might take a minute to get a cervesa-frio, but elsewhere, a cold drink and warm welcome is instantaneous.
One of the reasons Mexico has become a popular tourism spot is affordability. Cancun is huge and offers lots of flight options. The ferry costs 12 bucks round trip. On the island a taxi can take you from one end to the other and back for $3 - if you feel the need to travel.
And the fishing is good. I hired Capt. Jorge Mostalac ( for 4 days for what a comparable experience state-side would cost for a day.
A perfect-six? Absolutely!


Saturday, March 9, 2013


     It’s hard to look at a snow covered landscape and think spring is anywhere near. But yesterday made me confident. Though the temperature only climbed to around 40 degrees, with little wind and almost zero clouds against the blue, it was easy to feel the warmth of the early March sun. 
I didn’t look for robins, it wasn’t sandhill cranes flying like last week. I spent the afternoon in the “sunroom” on my pole building repairing, oiling and respooling my fishing reels. Just outside the solar heated ell, I checked for (and found) thousands of “snow fleas,” the little insects that are one of the a surest signs of spring. In the world of entomologists, they are known as Achorutes nivicola; to others they are springtails, but when they emerge to play on the surface of melting snowdrifts, it’s easy to understand their snow flea moniker. 
        They are not even distantly related to real fleas and with a magnifying glass, they don’t look much like a flea, either. They don’t climb on dogs, cats or people. I’m told they feed mostly on decaying vegetation and fungi. But when you walk outside and spot what looks like energetic flakes of pepper frolicking on remnant snow, it’s snow fleas. 

I suppose there’s some life cycle reason for them to crawl out from under where ever they huddled down for the winter. Perhaps it’s a prelude to their breeding season or an escape from the meltwater dripping under the snow. I like to think it’s just the joy of spring, calling them out for a few hours of spring’s promise.