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Archive for July, 2010

I wanted to share a photo I took in Namibia on the road from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund. To me this photo speaks. It simply and softly says, “Africa.”

a view of the Namibian landscape... it's Africa

And to get you excited as July ends, I want to explain “All Africa – All August” here at Stay Adventurous.

Starting this Sunday, August 1st (or really today) every week in August you will find photos, stories, links to other published work all on Africa. Again, All Africa – All August.

Tuesday: Photo. Wednesday: Adventure (Blog Post).

Friday: Photo. Sunday: SunsetSunday.

I hope you enjoy the look inside my African adventures this August as much as I did experiencing them (and then crafting them to share with you). Enjoy the weekend and ….

Stay adventurous, Craig

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Oysters. For some, the ultimate delicacy, for others just another mollusk.

And whether you believe it’s a myth or a fact that about its aphrodisiac powers upon digestion, I think we all can agree, the fresher the better.  And nothing is fresher than pulled directly from ocean after you place that order. That is exactly what I found in Mazatlán.

With a city name that originates from the indigenous Nahuatl language, Mazatlán,  actually translates to “place of deer.” Yet today with access to some of the most abundant fishing, savory shrimps, and as I discovered fresh oysters, its nickname ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ seems way more appropriate.

And one afternoon on my travels in port, the quest was simple. Seafood.

buckets of fresh shrimp for sale

Every restaurant offers shrimps every which way. Buckets from the day’s catch fill the markets at prices of just over $1 per pound. And for lunch we ate many. Prepared all different ways; grilled, fried, with spices, with sauces to even raw. All delicious.

But after our shrimp fest, a fellow travel writer yearned for oysters. He loved shrimp, but his passion, his ultimate, was the raw oyster.  And that became our next mission. Our driver and personal tour guide for the afternoon made a recommendation for (a considered) an off the beaten path stop. Definitely not on the tourist trail, yet the stop was right in the heart of the city.

the view up the coast in Mazatlan

Just as the Malecón ends and right before the Zona Dorada (the golden zone), one of the three neighborhoods of Mazatlan, a turn off  takes you to the beach. Whether still dirt or just a dusty road I can’t recall, but the distance was short. And a few gentleman sat at the end on the steps to the beach just watching the pacific waves in the heat of the afternoon.

After the typical greetings, we placed our order. Oysters. A dozen to share. Two gentleman went off to see with a rubber tube to find (fish for) our Oysters.  Not at a restaurant, we realized we also need some cervezas.  Handing over enough pesos for an ochito, (an 8 pack, beers come in 8 not 6) another gentleman ran to the corner store. His tip – to share in the beer.

Men off to sea to fetch some Oysters...

The men returned from the sea and our feast began. I began to think about the story of the investment banker and the fisherman. A lesson I learned early in my Wall Street career.  I’ll sum it up.

A banker goes on vacation to Mexico and meets a fisherman. After seeing his plentiful catch, he explains to the fisherman that he has great opportunity. If  he works very hard, builds a business, then goes public (IPO) he can make a lot of money. He can become rich.

“Really, why?” replies the fisherman.

“Well, then you can retire, spend time with your family, and go fishing everyday.”

The fisherman smiled and said, “but that is what I do now.”

Something to ponder. Perhaps the pearl of wisdom found inside the oysters, perhaps a needed reminder for me.

Oysters served

I always said I’d retire by 35. And as I tasted a few Oysters, sipped a cerveza, I realized I did. Sure I was working, but I definitely retired. I was no longer chasing “society’s success,’ but created my own view of it.  A view I really enjoyed that afternoon.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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The Green Flash.

Sunset aficionados know about it. Some don’t believe it exists, some quest for it like a crusade for the holy grail, and others, the fortunate few, can claim witness to its majesty.

I’ll admit I remained semi-skeptical until that day.  The day when walking along beach and watching the sun dip into the pacific ocean it occurred. I watched the Green Flash.

Just like a flash bulb photo from the 1930s, a brilliant blast of light pulsated immediately after the last edge of the sun dipped below the horizon. Not necessarily a gorgeous green, but when reviewing Roy G Biv’s rainbow of colors, yes green is the only color I could call it. The flash also seemed to travel along the horizon outwards from the center. Brilliant and beautiful.

watching the sunset from the sands of Laguna Beach

Immediately you take notice of the conditions. The wind, the water, the waves. No one really knows (or no one I know knows) the required settings. Maybe a scientist can explain it, maybe it’s our imagination, maybe it’s our eyes burning from staring at the sun. But once you see it, you do desire another chance viewing.

A simple search on You Tube will return numerous clips containing green flash sunsets, some real, perhaps some a little ‘adjusted,’ Either way, I looked at many. I never found one to match the beauty of my view with my own eyes.

On that day, I didn’t take a picture. I didn’t have my camera and I am partially glad for that fact. I could do nothing but watch. But the following day, I returned to the exact same spot. No green flash that evening, but I did take this photograph. Another splendid sunset from Laguna Beach, CA.

I am curious, please let me know ….

stay adventurous, Craig

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Walking home this evening, I noticed the moon. Then it hit me. Today, July 20th, marks the 41st anniversary of the first lunar landing. This day in history, American astronauts stepped on surface of the moon. Amazing. Really amazing.

the moon...

It also reminded me of the post, I wrote for GainVille last year. It truly captured my feelings on the eve of the 40th anniversary and it does so again today. We made the impossible – possible. We can do it again.

So to mark the anniversary, I thought to republish my prose. Enjoy…

Forty (forty-one today) years ago the world changed. Humanity watched two men take a few steps; small simple steps that crowned a determined decade-long drive. Man graced the surfaced of the moon.

Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who placed the first footprints on the moon marked the moment. He told the world, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” His famous words seem destined to echo through time and space forever. He knew humanity took a GIANT leap. We did.

A Giant Leap for mankind


For thousands of years people dreamed of reaching the moon, and many people alive today were born when it still was thought to be impossible. But it was achieved.  And arguably the landing must be mentioned in any conversation discussing man’s greatest achievements across human history.

So as we all watch in wonder again this anniversary, what can we learn?

First, we can enjoy anniversary news coverage (much less this year) that is not of a tragedy, a war, or a death, but of a positive human achievement. That alone maybe cause to celebrate. But perhaps we can also simply surmise that the once thought illogical is in fact possible.

That may be worth repeating; what we once thought illogical is in fact possible.

So as I continue to watch (and ponder) in amazement about the lunar landing, I am deciding to take my own giant leap to believing we can once again do great things both in the heavens above and here on earth. Are you with me?

the view of home from the moon...

Stay adventurous, Craig

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I arrived early enough to order a Margarita at the bar. After a self guided tour of Todo Santos I stopped back to Hotel California to relax, and eventually call for a taxi. Inside Jack Johnson tunes took over for the Eagles soundtrack and I noticed the lunchtime crowd cleared, a positive indication that the tourist buses from the cruise ships docked in Cabo San Lucas already departed.

With the place no longer dominated by day trippers, I debated staying longer. The hip bar and reasonable drink prices seemed a perfect place to spend the late afternoon, but I decided on only the one drink.  I decided to keep my plans and return to my Mexican Baja Oasis, Rancho Pescadero to watch the day end with the dipping sun.

Down that famous desert highway, just five kilometers, I returned in plenty of time to catch the moment. Before a delicious dinner and a second tequila cocktail,  I paused and enjoyed the view from my room. I sat outside on the balcony of the suite and watched afternoon turn to evening.

Then just as the sun entered the final layer of clouds, I snapped this image.  The light held a certain brilliance to it. That Baja Brilliance.

Happy Sunset Sunday.

the brilliance of the baja sunset

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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A new adventure awaits on every trip. But that doesn’t mean you never revisit the places you visited on prior travels. Of course, your time might not be the same. New memories await. And even if the place hasn’t changed – I learned you have.

I AM enjoying amSTERDAM...

A recent trip to Amsterdam, my third, included both a few new attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken Experience and a return to an old favorite spot. Both new attractions, very popular spots, I certainly enjoyed. Yet I learned long ago a city is more than its tourist attractions.

Orange is the color of choice in Holland

To me, exploring a city is walking the streets and finding that cafe for a coffee or finding that special restaurant for that special culinary creation. And  sometimes it is just about finding a place to sit down and enjoy conversation with new friends, loved ones, locals or perhaps even just for some good alone time. From my past travels to Amsterdam, one such  place where I enjoyed such moments was the “Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar”

I first stumbled upon the cafe on my virgin trip to the canal city. That was 12 years ago and in a different era for travel. A time when the internet was not mainstream (not sure when Al Gore invented it) and at a time when GPS or Google maps didn’t tell us how not to get lost. And frankly, a time I am glad to have known and traveled in. So for nostalgia,  I decided to let memories serve as both my guide and directions and not my iPhone on my quest to find the Cafe and Coffee Shop.

The beacon - Hill Street Blues Cafe

One evening just after sunset on the canal and after finishing up my walking audio tour I sensed a proximity. I was close. Ah, I knew it would come back to me. It did.

A left, than a right, guesses maybe, intuition more likely, I noticed the illuminated Union Jack and American flag. I arrived to the The Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar and could not hide my smile.

Certainly, better cafes exist in Amsterdam, but this place holds my memories. It was a time in my life when I traveled with two other Americans and fellow fraternity brothers. As recent college graduates armed with money from our corporate jobs we traveled Europe, celebrated freedoms and planned to travel the rest of the world if not attempt to conquer it.

I entered. The time warp began. I imagined my friends at the table as a wave of emotion overcame me. Wow, twelves years flashed before me. The good, the bad and the beautiful.

I then wondered, did I accomplish anything I talked about inside these four walls?

a view inside Hill Street Blues

Eventually, I realized I did and realized how much I changed in those 12 years even as the placed looked the same.  We all had.

So, my first thought, why not sit down open my journal and write down some ideas for the next 12 years. But, no that didn’t feel right.

Then it hit me.  I wrote thanks. Thanks for twelve great years, thanks for the many adventures, and thanks for the opportunity to see Amsterdam both then and now.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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This Sunday the sun sets for the last time at the World Cup tournament. Tonight a new champion will be crowned as Spain squares off with Holland. Unfortunately, it will not be the USA (again), but my experience at the World Cup will stay with me for a long time. From the vuvuzela vibrations, to writing a new USA chant, I soaked up the incredible energy that filled a country and a continent.

But still, who will win it?

If I use my own Sunday Sunset as a guide (not the Octopus) it would be a 1-1 draw. On prior Sundays I posted sunset images from the canal in Amsterdam, Holland and also the beach of  San Sebastian, Spain. But today we will have a winner.

Yes.

Yet, I truly believe the tournament is more than winners and losers.  This tournament unites people, it unites nations, it even unites humanity. It is something really special. Amazing actually. And to mark this special occasion, I decided to share an image from Rustenburg, South Africa taken during one of my moments at the World Cup.

On the evening on June 12th, when we packed up our tailgate I took this photo of a fan heading to the match as the sun set behind the mountains. That night the USA started its world cup campaign with a draw with a 1-1 against England.

the sun dips behind the mountains at the USA Worldcup tailgate

So, Happy Sunset Sunday to all the football (soccer) fans from all across the globe who will be enjoying the final tonight. A final played in Soccer City (not Football City), South Africa.

stay adventurous, Craig

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