Author Archives: Jim Muller

Trail Cam

Our dogs had a couple of encounters with porcupines: both with Trippe being the victim. Once we were able to extract the quills and once a visit to the Vet was required. I didn’t feel like the varmint had left the area so I placed a salt block in the woods and pointed the trail camera at the salt block. 90% of the photos were of deer and an inquisitive red squirrel. The rarest was of a visiting fisher.

Making Firestarters

We are getting a new electric stove after decades of service from our old stove. I took advantage of the remaining operable burners to conduct the somewhat messy job of making firestarters. The firestarters are composed of cardboard egg cartons filled with sawdust and shavings and soaked with melted paraffin. All together I made 96 firestarters which we mainly use in starting fires in the woodstove. I used to use paraffin blocks but the granulated paraffin melts much quicker with no shaving of the blocks needed.

Meanwhile Kathryn was took Dakota on a tour of colleges which included a stop at Hilbert College where Eric and James joined in for dinner at a local sushi restaurant.

Breaking Trail

Now that we have enough snow and continuing cold temperatures to maintain the snow, Kathryn and I have been breaking trail in an attempt to re-establish our Lollipop Loop Trail. The snow has been deep enough that we have only been able to do sections at a time. Initially, from our house to cookout corner, then to the top of Kirkland’s field, then to the woods and finally 1/3rd of the way around the clockface.

St Johns 2022

It seems that every 4 years we make an opportunity to vacation in St John Virgin Islands. This year we planned a trip as Eric said it was his favorite vacation. We were joined by Skip, and Eric’s friend James – making a party of five.

Just prior to our planned departure Virgin Islands tourism changed the testing requirements from having a positive COVID test 5 days prior to departure to 3 days prior.  Given the holidays and lack of personnel to conduct tests it was a stressful time for Kathryn as she tried to line up appointments and testing capabilities.  If you thought trying to schedule a covid vaccine was tough, wait until you try to get tested. It took a miracle, but we pulled it off.

  • NYS Thruway to Syracuse
  • Flight toAtlanta
  • ATL to St Thomas
  • Taxi from the St Thomas Airport to St John via ferry
  • Take a 10 mile taxi across St John Island to the house

On January 7 for his birthday, Eric went parasailing with his buddy James.

Eric had his birthday meal at his favorite restaurant, Skinny Legs

Our weather was typically 82 with blue sky and fluffy white clouds. Water temperature was mid- – to hi 70s. For a couple of days we were sidelined by short rain showers (which is a good thing in St. John -recharges the water cistern for the house) so we slow rolled the trip to the beach

The boys wanted a day out of the sun, so Skip, Jim and Kathryn went snorkeling. Lots of wind, making the north shore murky, so we decided to go to the less popular east end. We started at Hanson Beach (saw a turtle and some rays) then went to rocky Haulover Bay South which was very clear and had some nice coral. Now the guys are having a good after-dinner pitch game.

We went back to Hansen Beach and did some paddle boarding and snorkeling. Saw some rays and a large sea turtle. After seeing the turtle, James said “now we can go home” but I don’t think he meant it.

Our house had a nice balcony which encouraged sitting out during the night times.  We would hear absolutely no traffic or road noise. Island life is nice. ( just wish the neighbor would turn off all those d### outside lights!).  People leave their outside lights on all night. Especially here, on St. John. It’s not like anybody or anything is going to sneak up on them through this nasty underbrush or even on these crazy roads.

January 11  we went to Maho Bay which is usually not one of our favorites because there tends to be more people there. However we saw MANY turtles ( around 9), including a HAWKSBILL turtle (which is on the endangered list) so it was totally excellent.

Early dinner on the porch; we brought down a lot of food, including all our meats, which was a very good decision. We just paid >$2 for a single tomato for our tacos and $5.99 for a half gallon of milk. Rum is cheap, though.

We went to Leinster bay where we saw 5 turtles, several rays, lots of fish, a couple star fish, including a star fish with 6 points. Since then I have had some communication with the person reputed to be the “Island’s expert on sea stars” and she said ” You are very lucky. These are very rare.” She wanted details on where, I think she is going to go look. I am excited about my sighting.

Skip’s last day on the island and by tradition, he got to choose which beach. So at his request, we returned to Salt Pond Bay, where we started our vacation. Snorkeling was much better this time, the swells had calmed, the water was clearer, there were lots more fish visible and several turtles present

All week, Eric and James have been saying how much they are looking forward to going back to school. just now they got an email saying Hilbert College is going to remote classes for two weeks. We are happy to have Eric home for an extra fortnight, but sorry for their disappointment. But they are taking it well.

For our last day of vacation, we went shopping in Cruz Bay, had lunch at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, then enjoyed the sunset at Hawks Nest Bay.

Our last sunrise from Coral Bay, St. John, USVI, at least for now. It seems Mother Nature is trying to make us regret leaving St. John. The weather forecast says it will be -2 when we land in Syracuse and there is a winter storm watch for Sunday/Monday with 8 or more inches of snow, gusty winds, and temperatures in the teens. Winter, here we come!

Since it is about -12 here this morning, and it was about 82 when we left St. John, we are dealing with a 94 degree difference in temperature. Since we are missing St. John, it might be of interest to note the changes we observed since our last visit.  

  • It rained every day we were there. That’s right, every day. Short intense showers that did not interfere with our plans, but relieved our anxiety about showers and toilet-flushing
  • Mosquitoes are present.
  • We saw many more turtles than we have ever seen. We saw more turtles this trip than we have in all our previous trips combined. In fact, we saw turtles at almost every beach we snorkeled
  • There seems to be significantly less coral and less fish overall
  • A lot of people are snorkeling without using fins
  • The goat population in Coral Bay has exploded
  • We were unable to get bananaquits to come feed; I saw one in the tree, but that was all
  • Food on St. John is even more expensive. $6 for half a gallon of milk, $8 for a small block of cheese, etc. I didn’t even look at the cost of meat
  • Skinny Legs is generally so busy you have to wait for for a table, at any time of the day
  • Love City Market is bigger
  • There are a couple new restaurants in Coral Bay including a pizza place which serves kick-a## drinks
  • Vi’s is not open; no conch fritters to be had
  • There is a new ferry that goes in and out of Crown Bay, which is only 10 minutes from the airport, and saves that drive through Charlotte Amalie to the Red Hook ferry
  • There is a new gas station just outside Cruz Bay on Center line Road
  • There is a lot of building happening in Cruz Bay
  • People who fly Delta get their own line through Customs. We were told “Delta paid a lot of money” to get special treatment for their customers

Winter Camping at Burbine

It has been a few years since I have been winter camping. I met Matt for an overnight camping at Thomas Burbine Memorial Forest which houses a disc golf course, nature trail, fishing pond and a lean-to. It was a short and easy hike to the lean-to as we dragged our sleds filled with camping gear and firewood. Matt and I had camped here at in March of 2020 at the outbreak of COVID. During that visit the lean-to was plagued by mice – which annoyed Matt as he stayed in the lean-to but were just noises to me as the mice scuffled in the leaves. After a brief inspection we declared the lean-to to be mouse free. Staying in the lean-to made life easier as it provided seating and made packing up in the morning much more convenient. Overnight temperatures were in the high twenties and we received a slight snowfall – just enough to make sliding the sleds out easier and reveal the deer and fox prints made that morning.

The day after this popped in my head:

No hooting owl
Or coyote’s howl
No breeze across my face.

A day’s gone by
I don’t know why
I find I still think of that place.