Five Days in Sydney

June 6, 2017 — by Casey Allen0

Sometimes I work hard – day after day operating long flights with hardly enough time to rest, much less do anything else, in between. Other times though, my job feels like a vacation. This was definitely one of those times!


Remarkable Places: Dominica

August 26, 2016 — by Casey Allen0

Dominica Panorama

Every so often when I am traveling, I become overwhelmed by the uniqueness of an area with a strong sense of place. Back in the summer of 2011 I started my first airline job and was based in Puerto Rico. We would carry passengers from San Juan to other islands in the West Indies. The island that quickly became my favorite destination was a small Windward Island called IMG_2122Dominica. As Caribbean Islands go, it felt unique to me – untamed and relatively untainted by tourism. It has the nickname “The Nature Island” because the majority of it is still covered in mountainous rainforest. I relished the legs that we flew to Dominica, at the time mostly for its challenging and scenic approach to landing (see separate post with video). Only once, on a rare set of days off was I was able to spend a little time exploring the island and doing some hiking; but it has since been high on my list of places to revisit.

On this trip, I went to Dominica to meet my friend Shiv, who was doing some business at the medical school located on the island. It was planned as a short stay of only two days, but Shiv and I have a motto when we travel together – Make it happen! We try to avoid giving excuses for why we can’t do something and instead find unique ways to make great things happen. This trip, that involved Shiv making a last minute flight change so we pack in both SCUBA diving and an all day hike to a boiling lake.

IMG_6046For me the highlight of the trip was the hike to Boiling Lake. The lake, which is actually a flooded fumarole (an opening in the Earth’s crust that emits steam and gas, in this case heating the overlying water) is the second largest of its kind in the world. The only way to reach the lake is an 8.1 mile hike, potentially as spectacular as the lake itself. We took the advice of the locals and hired a guide, as the trail is not well defined and it would be very easy to get lost. Starting at 1,690 feet of elevation in the Titou Gorge, the path undulates and winds through a rainforest with huge tropical trees before descending to a river where we stopped to eat some breakfast.

IMG_2161After the river the trail climbs steeply up a ridge that peaks at 3,168 feet. At the top we were standing right at the cloud bases, being hit by the unobstructed force of the trade winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature was cool – about 18C, and felt refreshing combined with the breeze. It’s fascinating to me that this mountainous island creates its own weather. The northeast trade winds get pushed up the steep terrain where the moist air is cooled to its dewpoint, forming clouds and often rainshowers that feed the lush vegetation on the leeward side of the island. Looking off in the distance we could see steam rising up from the trees surrounding the boiling lake.

IMG_2170The trail continued along the ridge before descending into what is called the Valley of Desolation. Almost all of the vegetation quickly disappears and is replaced by rock and loose gravel covering small streams of hot water and sulfuric gas.


Past the valley another climb through a forested area leads to the lake. The sight of the lake was like nothing I had ever seen. The water was a pale blue and was vigorously boiling from the center of the lake. Great amounts of steam were rising up from the water and being blown towards us by the wind. The effect was a bit ominous and I joked that it seemed a perfect location for a ritualistic sacrifice! We found a large boulder to perch on and ate our lunches while we watched the water boil.

IMG_6077On the hike back we stopped for a few moments and relaxed in a heated pool. Aside from the lush scenery, one of my favorite parts was the feeling of solitude. During the whole nine hour hike, we only passed two other people on the trail.

Click on the photo gallery above to see other parts of our stay in Dominica.


FoodNautical Pursuits

Grilled Permit with Feta, Tomato, and Balsamic Sauce

August 18, 2016 — by Ian Ritter

IMG_9920 edit
IMG_9916 edit
IMG_9913 edit
Good food is like a beautiful girl. They both look best when they have the least on.

girl waking upSeriously, think about it!  When was the last time you were just waking up and looked at your significant other as they sleepily looked at you and smiled as the morning sun washed the bed, and thought to yourself, “dude, I totally wish  she had on more clothes right now.” You’ve never done it.  Not one freaking time.  And there is a perfectly logical explanation for that!  She is perfect right now, totally natural, and it is in that natural state that real, perfectly flawed beauty is found.  The same holds true for fresh, real ingredients.

clearing inlet permit runBefore we dive into the meal, let me tell you how I came upon the main ingredient, the Permit.  I was lucky enough to snag a solo boat trip late in the afternoon and decided to run to a secret spot.  Per usual, I always have my speargun on

the boat just in case I see something in the ocean grocery that I want to take home.  On this occasion, I came upon this massive school of fish, grabbed my float line, jumped in the water, and speared some dinner.

Maybe I’ll write more about that in the nautical pursuits section, but for now, lets hit the food.

Fresh Permit.  You’ll never get it in the grocery, but it is a real treat.  Super firm, very flaky and a smooth, almost buttery taste.  Because I happened to have a number of different ingredients, I rocked it out three different ways.

IMG_9916 editMain course was grilled up, nice and easy (so that it was almost medium rare when I took it off), then a simple balsamic sauce (equal parts balsamic and olive oil in bender, salt and pepper and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard…blend it till smoooooooth), hit it with some fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese.  The creamy Feta with the tang of the balsamic combine with the sweetness of the tomato to be the perfect flavor when you take a bite of the firm grilled seared fish.  In my opinion, this flavor combo wouldn’t work if the fish wasn’t grilled with some marks on it.  It’s just this huge hit of simple, but familiar flavors all coming together at the perfect time.

IMG_9920 editJust for fun: Permit Ceviche.  I did the usual lemon/lime mixture, but I wanted to crank it up a notch and added some coconut water as well as oil, just a little bit of cayenne pepper and sugar.  Then a few avocado chunks to offset how firm the fish is and provide some creamy goodness.  the busted coconut seemed like the best place for it.   And last but not least, the Permit sashimi.  Honestly, not my fav.  It is way too firm for me.  This stuff is definitely better cooked.

Overall, this was a fantastic meal, especially because it was so simple.  It just goes to show, that even when you’re tired from being in the boat all day, you can still whip up a killer meal.


One Fine Day

August 17, 2016 — by Casian

Summertime in Florida means brutal heat and good paragliding weather. Combine that with some old tires that need changing and you get a damn good time.