The Trip Begins

First thing we had to do was get to Puerto Rico. Neither of our boys had ever flown, except when Auggie was a little tiny baby, and that was a bit of a nightmare. The bonus was that both boys were totally jazzed about flying on a plane. Both were totally cool through both legs of the journey and couldn’t have handled it better.

Arriving in Puerto Rico, there’s one thing that either I hadn’t fully processed, or that was under represented in the stuff I read. This is a Spanish speaking island. Yes, many people also speak English, but certainly not everybody, and almost none of the signs are in English. Beth right away says, I wish we’d been more serious about learning some Spanish. Ah well, we just put our shoulder into it and headed off, picked up a rental car and got rolling, thanks to the good coverage of AT&T and the heaven sent GPS of the iPhone.

Our travelling companions had been talking to somebody during the layover in Charlotte and mentioned that we were headed to Puerto Rico. “Oh, they drive crazy down there, nothing like here in the states, be careful.” We laughed about that, at least until we started driving. Because we were trying to avoid some traffic, we started off detouring through some San Juan surface streets, and it became immediately apparent that we were in a foreign land. Thank god for the hours I’ve spent playing Need For Speed, Colin McRae Rally, and GT Racing. Because I immediately needed all of it. Drivers don’t so much stop at side streets as use their cars to menace you into letting them out. Drivers will suddenly swerve or slow down without reason or warning. You’ll see cars here that you haven’t seen on the road in the states in 20 years. I saw not one but two Datsun B210’s. And it’s not like these have been kept in some kind of vintage auto collection, they’ve been driven and crashed a lot.

The paradise of Shack’s Beach was advertised as being 90 minutes from the airport, but really, with the drivers we saw, I don’t think you could make it in less than 2 hours. If it’s offered by your car rental company, I highly recommend getting the toll pass. Waiting to pay the exact tolls at the booths seemed to stack up cars 10 deep every time. By getting the electronic pass, you could jump past 40 or 50 of these potential maniacs in one fell swoop. The driving is better on the 2 lane highways of the country, just because there’s fewer places for people to come at you from, but if you’re driven crazy by people going slow in the left lane so you have to pass on the right, chomp some valium before getting behind the wheel.

Once off the main roads, the other thing of note is that some of these streets are narrow. We didn’t come across any gravel roads or anything like that, but it was not uncommon to encounter roads that were only a lane and half wide or less. Combine this with the unpredictability of the oncoming drivers, and you can see how that can cause some tension. Pulling up to the house at the end was probably less climatic than it should have been, just because I was glad to be off the road, and the place looked every bit as advertised.

We got unpacked, and decided our first stop was going to be at Ola Lola’s. One of the thing that finally sealed the deal of us coming to Shack’s Beach.

Puerto Rico

So we decided to take our first big family trip, and wanted to go to the ocean.  After looking at a variety of places, we ended up choosing Puerto Rico.  No passports, reasonable airfare, and lodging is cheap in the summer because it’s the off season.  Once the location was decided, I had to go to work looking for a place to stay.  We were headed down with another couple and their two boys.  I headed to Home Away to find the right place.  Knowing almost nothing about Puerto Rico, it also started my education about the island.

The eastern side is much more developed for tourists.  It’s closer to San Juan, and there a number of very large resorts that we could try.  But none of them really spoke to us.  Next up was the west coast, near Rincon.  This area is known for the bigger waves and is loved by surfers around the world.  These places were looking better.  Houses on the beach with pools, but I was having trouble finding any with open dates for our vacation.  Finally, there was this listing for a cool looking little place on Shack’s Beach.  It had 3 bedrooms with a pool, and said it was 30 meters from the beach.  Problem was, the map didn’t really show that.

I contacted the owner and found that the area where this house is doesn’t really exist to Google Maps.  Located in the farthest northwest corner of the island, the house is in a little collection of about 20 houses, nestled at the bottom of the cliff to the north of the small town of San Antonio, and about halfway between the larger towns of Isabela and Aguadilla.  The owner sent us some information about the place, and I was able to pinpoint it by finding the location of the nearby Villa Montana resort.
View Larger Map

The biggest draw for this little spot of paradise is a beach called Playa Shacks.  A pretty well kept secret, it is home to a beautiful coral reef about 100 meters offshore, with a big opening in the middle of it called the Blue Hole.  After a finding bits and pieces of additional information, we committed to renting the little pink house with the pool, and hoped.

What follows is the story of having our vacation wishes fulfilled, and then some.

Shack's Beach
Shack's Beach and the Blue Hole

RIP Bookerdog

It is with very heavy heart that I have to tell you that our dear boy Booker died today.  He was diagnosed as having cancer that was putting so much pressure on his body that he couldn’t breathe.  We did the only thing that seemed to be right by him and let him go peacefully.  We got Booker the day before Beth and I really started our journey together and he has been a central part of our lives ever since.

We love you boy.

The Bookerdog Nose

Guinea pigs

This is a post from auggie Did you know we got 2 guinea pigs ? There names are ginn & frisk. Ginn is the one that runs around a lot. Frisk is the one that is amost allwas hiding. So there you have it,auggie out! Sent from auggie’s iPhone


Sometime in the last month, I made stir fry for supper. This is not uncommon in our house. We usually have some kind of stir fry once every week or so. On this particular night, E was not impressed by my efforts. He took a few bites and said, oh-so-seriously, ‘Mom, I think I’m allergic to stir fry.’

Bookerdog on the DL


This photo is of the poor Bookerdog stuck in his crate after what appears to be a partial tear of a knee ligament on his left hind. Just spending a morning chasing his kong in the yard, and he ends up with 3 weeks of crate rest.

Get better soon BD!

And there it is!

Well, that was pretty quick. We’re now live on with WordPress, PHP, and mySQL. Kinda crazy how easy

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this was. I didn’t break the pictures in the blog posts, yet.

I’ll be getting the rest of our old pictures reloaded in these cool galleries. In the mean time, you can see the stuff we have on Facebook.

Totally New Direction

So I’ve been working with moving everything to WordPress, and that’s what you’re seeing here. I’m kinda freaked out by how easy it was to create this thing and import all the old Blogger content. As I get ready to move it, I need make sure that I don’t break the links to the old photos. But once I

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do that, I think we’ll be on our way.

Just a quick post

So I’ve been dealing with trying to get all of the archives working. And everything except the main archive page has republished. Blogger claims that one possibility to fix this is to upload a new post. So here you go.

Just to make it worthwhile, here’s a picture of Beth after she finished her half marathon.

For real this time

Booker digs our shag, man
Originally uploaded by Bookerdog


How cool is this new layout? Tim surprised me tonight with the new digs here at… Thanks, baby!

OK, so, some highlights. You’ll notice Tim’s and my Twitter Updates at right. If you don’t know about Twitter, you have to check it out, friends! I want to know what’s going on with you — 180 characters or less at a time! Just think: you might actually use a couple of those 100s of text messages you’re allowed a month!

You’ll also find some updated links on the right. I highly recommend the unbelievable insights of my friend JT at his fantastic site, The Sauerbrun Report.

So no more clicking on this site with that look of yearning like Bookerdog up there, OK? We’re back!