Monday, March 19, 2018

A Different Adventure

As you all know, I rarely write about anything other than travel. But not all adventure is travel-based. My Auntie Judy decided to move to an independent, senior living type of complex. At 82 she was finding it more and more difficult to maintain her property in the mountains, so she put her home up for sale. Then came the big shock... She passed away before she could move into the fancy place down in Redding. I guess it's good because she got to pass away at home with her kitty by her side (who now lives with us).

Well, she left her home to me and as tempting as it is to keep it, it's just too far away and really not feasible for us. That leads me to the current adventure. We've finished moving her stuff out of the house and it's show-ready.

Here's the problem, it's a unique. Really unique! Have you ever heard of geodesic domes? Well she had two of them. Side-by-side, identical domes attached by a shared laundry room. We have a tenant on one side, which makes a great source of income. He's been there for 8 years, so unless you want him to leave he's content to stay.

For those of you who've read this far, you may be curious why anyone in their right mind would build a geodesic dome. I was, so I did some research and learned about the function and history of this little super-structure. So, here you go Geodesic Dome 101:

Geodesic: Shortest possible line in a dome.
Dome: half a sphere.
Polyhedron: multi-sided, not a smooth dome.
Geodesic dome: a dome constructed of short struts following geodesic lines and forming an open framework of triangles or polygons.

To give credit where credit is due, the principles of its construction were described by Buckminster Fuller. This pair of homes, or duplex, is made in the classic design first popularized by Fuller in the U.S.. He coined the term “Geodesic Dome” in the late forties. Our domes were built in 1979.

Because of the triangular design this structure is incredibly strong. In fact it’s frequently built to provide emergency shelter when just about everything else has been destroyed.

Why would anyone want a geodesic dome for a house? Several reasons actually:

1. It’s one of the strongest structures built by man, especially for its size and weight. It is built with triangles—an extremely strong polyhedron.
2. It’s less expensive to heat and cool because it has less surface area for transference.
3. It’s easier to decorate than a spherical dome because it has flat surfaces, not rounded.

4. There is no need for support beams whatsoever. Therefore if you want a bigger or smaller room you can have the walls moved without fear of destroying the integrity of your home.

5. If you are and artist or have a green thumb, the lighting possibilities are endless.
6. In this case of two domes, one can be a home and the other side an artist studio or a greenhouse.
7. Or you can rent the other side out for additional income, which allows you to travel and be away for weeks at a time (an important feature for a home in the country).

8. For you survivalists, this is 3.09 acres fenced in around the structures. It has a giant RV port, two carports and a double-deep, triple-wide garage with a two-car garage door. Extensive rugged sheds are near the domes, plus a chicken coop and animal stalls in the woods (but within the fencing). Plus the domes are almost zombie-proof!

9. It has a laser detection system to alert you when someone comes through the gate (on foot, in a car, or even if they climb the gate).
10. Between the geodesic domes is a laundry room with interior entry doors, allowing you to go from dome-to-dome without having to trudge through the snow or heat. This room has two more exterior doors, therefore it’s an excellent mud-room.

11. Last but not least… Location, Location, Location. Located in the tiny community of Lewiston, CA, it’s a 30 minute drive to Redding and twenty minutes from Weaverville. It has a good small town elementary school, and is nestled in the Trinity Alps for endless outdoor activities.

If you have questions please ask me or contact Shannon Aikins.


Monday, November 20, 2017

11-12-17: Trying New Things

Joe and Larry went diving this week. Isla Mujeres doesn’t get rave reviews for its diving, but it does have a couple of features. One is a bizarre under-water museum of statues. If you’re interested Google it, because it is pretty weird. They also have a couple of shipwrecks. The guys went to the wreck, and it’s a real wreck, not set there for divers. That means it’s a tough dive in a strong current at 85ft. I didn’t go because going diving from a boat that is as big as a ski boat isn’t my idea of a good time. Club Med has spoiled me.

Karina had decided she’d like to learn how to snorkel. Since she’s a swimmer, she thought it would be easy. Turns out it’s not. First of all, she bought a child’s mask and snorkel on accident in Guatemala. So it basically didn’t fit her face and was rigid plastic… I know because I had to give her mine. She basically hated snorkeling, but she did it. For the rest of the day she had a headache. I guess it’s not for everyone, especially if you’re a nose breather.

Karina amazed me on this trip. She is so brave and curious. She’ll try anything. Here she is on her first vacation, her first time to an island, first time in the sand, and the ocean. First time to float on her back, see yacht, to eat a banana split with beer, and much more, lol.

Speaking of curious, we are always wandering into hotels. It’s kind of a free excursion. We were walking around north beach by Mia Resort and we came across a new outdoor bar/restaurant (brand new) called Cha Cha Cha. After we listened to the band for one beer, we cut across the street to an appealing hotel entrance. It was still under construction and the owner was standing at the passageway. For some reason, maybe our praise for the beauty of the place, he gave us an impromptu tour. We clambered over little hills of sandy dirt to peer into the unfinished pool. We followed him through the imported thick wood doors from India into the presidential suite. He proudly pointed out the yard full of bubble wrapped gym equipment that had just arrived that day. He turned on the lights in the lobby to show us the artwork.

The next night our hotel told me and Joe that they would like to upgrade us to Playa Arena’s presidential suite! We figured they needed our room and we were right. So we stayed the last two nights on the top floor with a gorgeous terrace and a view of the ocean. 

The little pool was right on our patio and no one came up to it, so it was like a private pool. Unfortunately, when a heavy rainstorm came through it flooded our terrace and seeped into the room.  It was poorly designed. FYI, those little rubber discs covering the shower drains are there to keep the bugs from crawling up the pipes into the room… they also keep the sewage stench from wafting into your vacation.

Friday, November 17, 2017

11-10-17: Adventures Away From the Hotel

Occasionally we venture away from our little town at the north end. Last weekend we rented golf carts and headed off to the south end. The island is only about four miles long and just under a mile wide. There’re basically three towns, but dwellings are scattered everywhere. Larry and Lisa’s golf cart was on its last leg. After multiple stops and starts we limped into the southern park which is considered the most eastern tip of all Mexico. They have a little amphitheater to view the sunrise (that way you can be the first person in Mexico to see the sunrise).

The temple of Ixchel is located there… well what remains of it. The ruins were knocked down to the foundation the year we got married. Ironically it was Hurricane Gilbert that did it. 

The park is basically a flat-topped bluff. Just keep walking to the second trail to your right. This will take you down a stairwell to the well-designed sidewalk skirting the cliffs. At some points the waves crash against the rocks and spray you, so plan on the possibility of getting a little ocean spray. A restaurant is located at the entrance with a great view. They also have a few shops to buy local souvenirs.

Coming back up the island we stopped at the Launcheria (I think that’s what it’s called). They are famous for their Titinxic fish. We ordered one to split between five of us, and some guacamole, and were stuffed. The waitress tried to convince us to get one fish for two people, but we knew better from our last trip. You can easily make ten or eleven tacos from one Titinxic.

It’s much, much cheaper to take a taxi than it is to rent a golf cart. There’s a certain freedom to having the cart and they are fun. You can change your mind and whip a U-turn to check out some little roadside stand selling seashells. But taxis are everywhere and very convenient… usually.

Our second outing was go to the only micro brewery on the island – Isla Brewery. Tres Mentiras restaurant on the pedestrian street serves their beer, so we knew it was good. Our plan was to hit the brewery then the famous Mangos restaurant. Apparently Mangos was destroyed or is being renovated, because it has no roof. We hopped in the first taxi to stop and told him we were going to Isla Brewery. He didn’t know where that was, but he started driving anyway. I mean how lost can a taxi driver get on Isla Mujeres? It turns out that if it’s his first day on the job, he can get pretty lost! After zigzagging across the island for twenty minutes, he finally followed our instructions using Larry’s phone app. All that said it is a good brewery and Oscar’s Pizza is worth the short drive.

Lisa and I wandered down the alley in search of restrooms and suddenly we were on the marina! It was beautiful with the jungle greenery growing right up to the docks. I've always loved marinas, but especially since writing my recent screenplay about yacht piracy. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017


In order of abundance, the cockroach wins hands down. They are at least two inches long and fast. Unless you can run over them with a golf cart, there’s no way to get rid of them. But they actually stay hidden for the most part.

Then it’s the iguanas. These guys fascinate me. They look prehistoric as they creep along, stopping to do push-ups. But if you get too close, you’ll see the speeds they are capable of… fortunately they run away.

This morning, after the downpour all night, the sky was swarming with dragon flies. It was a beautiful sight.

Everywhere you look are birds. I wish they were tropical birds, but they are mostly your standard black or grey birds, some seagulls, pairs of doves, and the ever present pelicans (who look like they belong to the same era as the iguanas).

As for cats and dogs, the cats rule here. On our little street a man shows up every morning with a bag of cat food. Cats come running from every direction with tails straight up. He scatters the food around in little clumps. One restaurant, Lola Valentina’s has five house cats to keep the pest problem under control. Pretty much every restaurant has a working cat. Most of the old timers have chunks missing from their ears to prove their turf wars.

The dogs are mostly pets, but I’ve seen a couple of strays. Little dogs are the theme here. The other day an teenage puppy was having a stand-off with an old veteran cat. The dog was blocking the entrance to the cat’s yard. The cat wasn’t moving, it just stayed crouched in the middle of the busy pedestrian street. The puppy was frantically trying to work up the courage to come near the cat. I thought its tail was going to fall off, it was wagging so hard. It would hop forward a few inches at a time until the low growling from the old tom would intimidate it back again. Thirty or forty people stood or sat around to watch this little battle. Finally the pup got distracted and turned its back. In a blur the cat dashed into its fenced-in yard. The puppy sat stunned and defeated as it watched the cat stretch out within a foot of the fence.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Island Life

The WiFi was so weak I couldn’t get enough of a signal to post my blog with pictures. It will have to be done from home. So these were written in real time, but posted later with the photos. I was able to do Instagram photos, but it’s kinda hard to write anything very interesting with a smart phone :(

Larry and Lisa have joined our little group (on 11-4). They came on Saturday evening. I texted them, “Do you want us to meet you at the ferry or the hotel lobby?” Larry texted back, “The beach!”

Here’s the cycle of island vacations; Work-out, Eat, Beach, Eat, Beach, Nap, Eat, Music, Sleep, Repeat.

I have doubled my caloric intake! I knew I would but it still surprises me what a little piggy I become. For that reason, I start my day with a 30 minute speed walk. On the east side of the island it is very windy and they’ve paved about a mile of the shoreline with a walking path -- a promenade. Even though it’s in the sun, it feels good to have that constant breeze. All the fitness-minded people trot, walk and lunge their way up and down this path all day long.

My seat was on the pink bench with the kids :)
Then the big decision… breakfast. Which one of the hundreds of restaurants shall we try today? I tend to gravitate to the beach places. There’s nothing like coffee, fruit and yogurt while watching the oceans shifting colors.

Next we have to hustle down to the beach and get our favorite chairs. We like the ones under the palm trees and we have them put umbrellas up for us too. The other day an older gentleman stopped in front of Lisa and Larry’s chairs we’d reserved with towels (they had stopped at their room to change). He just stared at the chairs and then at us. Finally he said, “I like chairs in the shade.” I pointed out that they had umbrellas for that purpose. “I like the trees and the umbrellas,” he stated as he stared at us like we should move. I politely pointed to the neighboring palm tree and suggested he pull some chairs under it.

After splashing around in the ocean and oohing and aahing over the fancy yachts, we huddle and decide where we should eat again. Usually a beach place… usually fish tacos and beer. Then back in the water (and we don’t wait thirty minutes like our mom’s told us to do). We walk as fast as we can in the shallow water for a few minutes to reduce the guilt and then flop in beach chairs like we’re exhausted. Nap-time, or reading for those of us that don’t understand the concept of a nap.

Then it’s time for hot showers and clothes. Off to the four-by-four-street town of North Beach. How they can squeeze this many restaurants and bars in such a small town is beyond me. It’s not unusual to stop and listen to 3 or 4 different bands while wandering around. Surprisingly, we agree pretty easily on where to eat. Lobster is a big deal here. Joe had lobster tacos last night. I had filet mignon tacos :)