Joie de Vivre

The Rascal Belt Bag

Inspired by my pal’s recent travel blog tips, I thought I’d share something here, too. I’ve rediscovered the fanny pack.

I love bags, luggage, backpacks, etc. How I stopped using a fanny pack in the mid-1990’s escapes me, but I’m making up for lost time. That’s right – the fanny pack is back!

I didn’t want to carry a backpack or messenger bag everywhere, and while I love those long shorts with all the extra storage pockets, I wanted to travel lighter.

I decided to get a Timbuk2 fanny pack. It’s not the cheapest, and maybe not the most feature rich, but I’m a Timbuk2 fan, and figured I’d start here. Also, it’s called “THE RASCAL BELT BAG” so I guessed that was a good sign. I was correct.

The bag has two compartments. The bigger compartment has an inside zipper pocket for credit cards/money. The smaller front compartment has a key fob, and a divider.
Here are the items I carried. My phone is missing, because I used it to take this photo. I also picked up an RFID blocking “front pocket” slip wallet, which worked perfectly on this trip, and easily fit inside the zippered money compartment.
I hung the pack from the beach umbrella to keep it from getting sandy and too sunny.
Sometimes, I wore it the front.
Sometimes, I wore it over my shoulder, which was very comfortable.
Sometimes, it was invisible, even though it was there.

Here is a true story.

On the last evening in Old San Juan, I decided to not bring the rascal belt bag. As a result of this, both my keys and glasses slipped out of my shorts pocket in the back of an Uber. I heard the keys and picked them up, but missed the glasses. After a very panicky 15 minutes in our room, we realized what happened and had to ask the driver to come back, which she did, thankfully.

Joie de Vivre


My favorite restaurant in San Juan was a place called Deaverdura, and I think this place deserves its very own post.

We managed to get past the chain barring the door, and to a table. The hostess/waitress told us, quite rapidly, what we “would like to order,” so we ordered that. There were no prices on the menu, and to my surprise, this was the cheapest meal of the trip.

What arrived at our table was a sampler, and while I didn’t catch the names of everything on there, everything on there was delicious. I also ordered ceviche and crispy cheese balls that were delicious.

One of the best parts was when a pigeon flew in to eat some crumbs, and no one flipped out. The hostess gently encouraged the bird to leave, but let it be when it stayed inside. The pigeon finally left of its own accord, and I found the whole scene to be very sweet, if not a violation of heath codes.

Joie de Vivre

The Old San Juan

Jim and Beverly in old San Juan

We spent 8 days on Puerto Rico, and it was wonderful. Here are a few key moments, aside from the big one. We rented an AirBNB in Condado, San Juan. It was a block from the ocean, and walking distance to a lot of restaurants, shops and other hotels.

I think Old San Juan was my favorite – we visited several times, and walked for miles through the city. It’s like a combination of New Orleans and San Fransisco, only much older than both. San Juan is the oldest city in the country, founded in 1521 (St. Augustine was founded in 1565). In particular, Castillo San Cristobal captured my piratey imagination.

We had a lot of outdoor fun. Aside from walking for many miles to forts, bookstores and various beaches, we went kayaking and hiked in a rain forest. While there was no rain is said forest, there was a pretty cool rope swing into a watering hole.

One day, we rented a car, and drove to the south of the island. I stuck a toe in the Caribbean sea, and we walked around Ponce. It seemed… slow, either because of COVID or maybe the last hurricane. There was a magnificent fountain in the center of the square, and I have a theory that it’s the actual “Fountain of Youth” that Ponce de Leon was searching for.

We left Ponce and headed for Arecibo.

Somehow, we got off 10 and ended up on 123, a nauseating winder of a road. Along the way, we found the most beautiful cemetery.

In Arecibo, we found a magical beach where waves hit the rocks and made huge plumes of white spray. It’s by the lighthouse.

The weather was wonderful, the ocean was warm, and the nights on our balcony were delightful.

I love ceviche and I love empanadas. I grew up eating both, and I had more of the former this trip, including some not in the photos below.

One thing I don’t want to forget – I was called “papi” by younger men several times on the trip. I thought they were calling me “old man.” And, well, this 18 year old was, but we googled it, and here’s what came up:

Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish, but in many Spanish-speaking cultures, particularly in the Caribbean, it is often used as a general term of affection for any man, whether it’s a relative, friend, or lover. The English “baby,” used as a term of endearment for spouses and children alike, is similar.

It was a wonderful trip, and I look forward to going back sometime.

Joie de Vivre


Beverly and I went to San Juan Puerto Rico for vacation, and I asked her to marry me on our first day there. She said “YES!”

Engagement Ring

My talented daughter Chloë designed and made the ring. The stone is blue topaz, Beverly’s birth stone, and it’s set in a daisy. It was wonderful to have Chloë’s help. I’m honored and touched by her artistry, attention to detail and willingness to help me.

We are very happy! I am a lucky fella!

I love you, Beverly!

Joie de Vivre

Of alligators and other alligators

We went to Florida for a quick trip to visit our parents. I wanted to post some of these pics, which include alligators, pickle ball, lovely beaches and a surprise light-up toilet.

Joie de Vivre

California Dreaming

Over a 1300 mile+ drive, my darling and I explored northern California. Neil, if you’re reading this, I apologize for not being able to visit due to time constraints.

We started in Sacramento, then attended a memorial service in McArthur, way up north.

We drove down to Eureka, then on to Ft. Bragg, then San Fransisco and back to Sacramento.

I finally got to try an In and Out burger, animal style. So good! And look at that address! We also had Jack in the Box tacos, and the best corned beef hash I’ve ever eaten. Also, some of the best Chinese I’ve ever eaten. There’s some good food in California. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Fort Bragg is famous for its glass beach, from when they used to dump their garbage in the ocean and the ocean would return smooth glass bits. The beach has been picked clean, mostly, but we found this. We left it there, too. There was also tide pools, and I made some interesting recordings which will appear in future S.Ex exercises.

As we drove along the Trinity river, we encountered this fire, and watched helicopters air life water from the river. It was hazy almost everywhere we went, and we could see the Dixie fire blazing away from the airplane.

We spent two days around the redwoods. It was peaceful and still in there – no bugs, no sounds. These trees are some of the oldest living things on earth.

It was chilly! A very refreshing break from the Baltimore heat.

And we saw a lot of interesting things along the way.

Someone finally scored a pair of Fluevogs.